The Saviour Who Suffered Surely Succours the Suffering Saints

Monday, June 27, 2011

“And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; and saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch” (Mark 14:33,34 KJV).

We have all experienced great emotional strain. In today’s Scripture, just hours before His arrest, the Lord Jesus’ soul is troubled, greatly tormented. He foresees His suffering and ultimate crucifixion. This foreknowledge is coupled with satanic oppression. It is as if Christ is being squeezed inside. He is “very heavy.” His soul is “exceeding sorrowful unto death.” Jesus Christ is vexed, troubled to the point of depression. This is probably one of the lowest points in our Lord’s earthly life.

Luke’s account records Christ as being so weak (His humanity evidenced) that an angel from heaven appeared to Him in order to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43). Verse 44 says, “Being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” He was praying very intensely.

Christ suffered for our sins, far more than we could ever suffer. Sin causes us pain, just as it did Jesus Christ. We all live in this sin-cursed world. However, no matter what temptation we suffer, Someone else suffered worse distress. If our Lord Jesus Christ could endure such extreme depression, surely we can endure much less trying times in Him. Even in the cases of severe suffering (to the point of desiring death), Jesus Christ empathizes with us.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ can draw on His strength in difficult times. Our Saviour can comfort us and give our hearts and minds peace. Regardless of our circumstances, God’s grace is sufficient for us, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9,10).

In times of depression and heartache, we need to look to Jesus Christ: “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour [help, relieve] them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

Sunday, June 26, 2011

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith.” We, as members of the Church the Body of Christ, are soldiers. In Philippians 2:25, Paul calls Epaphroditus his “fellowsoldier.” Paul also mentions Archippus, he and Timothy’s “fellow-soldier” (Philemon 1:2). The Apostle encouraged Timothy, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3,4).

Ephesians 6:10-18 describes the battle between God’s purpose and program and Satan’s purpose and program. The Bible says we must put on “the whole armour of God” if we are to endure that spiritual war. Verse 12 reads, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

How does Satan triumph over the Christian? It starts within the mind! We read in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

We must renew our minds by studying the King James Bible “rightly divided” on a daily basis (Romans 12:1,2; Ephesians 4:22-24; Ephesians 5:26). The Word of God is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). Let God’s Word that you have believed defend you as Satan attacks your mind.

Some of the Apostle Paul’s final words read (2 Timothy 4:6,7): “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”

Let us too keep the faith! Let us too fight the good fight of faith!

Forgiven Now and Forever

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” (Colossians 2:13 KJV).

Religion’s “short account system” of confessing sins is a misunderstanding of 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This verse has nothing to do with us for three reasons.

Primarily, we do not practice 1 John 1:9 because John is Israel’s apostle (Galatians 2:9). Paul is our apostle, not John (Romans 11:13). The doctrine found in 1 John belongs in Israel’s prophetic program, not our mystery program (the Dispensation of Grace). Confession of sins was Israel’s doctrine under the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 16:21; Leviticus 26:40; Numbers 5:6,7; Ezra 10:1; Daniel 9:20; et al.). Furthermore, in Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:5 John the Baptist water baptized Jews who confessed their sins.

Secondly, 1 John 1:9 is not written to saved people, it is directed to lost Jews. We read in 1 John 2:12, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” Apparently, there are two groups of people in 1 John: some saved (forgiven), and some lost (not forgiven). In 1 John 1:9 John urges lost Jews to confess their sins in order to be saved.

Lastly, our salvation and fellowship with God are independent of our performance. We are forgiven, apart from anything we have done. In today’s Scripture, our Apostle Paul tells us that we are “forgiven of all trespasses [in Christ].” Ephesians 4:32 says, “God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” We are forgiven (past tense), not because we confess our sins, but because of Christ’s finished cross work on Calvary. In Christ, we have unbroken fellowship with God forever and ever. How many times can we be forgiven of all unrighteousness?” Only once. In Christ, now and forever, we are forgiven of all sins—past, present, and future!

 

Forgiven and Ordained to Grace Livin’

Monday, June 20, 2011

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14 KJV).

Is Paul’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) a license to sin? No. According to today’s Scripture, grace teaches us NOT to sin. If we have trusted exclusively in the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we are “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are no longer in Adam; we are saints in Christ. So, grace demands that our daily living reflect our new identity:

  • live “soberly” — let your mind be transformed by the sound doctrine found in God’s Word rightly divided (Romans 12:1,2; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 3:10).
  • live “righteously” — allow the indwelling Holy Spirit fulfill the law in you (Romans 7:5,6; Romans 8:4; Ephesians 5:9).
  • live “godly” — permit God/Christ live His life in and through you (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 3:2).

Christ has “redeemed us” (bought us back) from our identity in Adam and the sins of the flesh (today’s Scripture) because He died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:3,4; Romans 4:25).

In Christ, we are ordained (appointed) to good works: “For we are his [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Grace living is not you living the Christian life, but you letting Christ live His life in you!

According to today’s Scripture, while allowing grace to teach us how to live in this present world, we should also be looking for our catching away (rapture) to meet the Lord in the air. What a glorious day that will be!

Saints, rejoice. You have been forgiven and ordained to grace livin’!

[Dedicated to C.N.]

He Looks Like His Father

Sunday, June 19, 2011

“Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (John 14:9 KJV).

In John 14:7, Jesus Christ told His apostles that they had seen God the Father. Puzzled, Philip replies, “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us” (verse 8). Today’s Scripture is Jesus’ response, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Oftentimes, a person bears resemblance to a parent. In the case of Jesus Christ, He looks just like His Father. If we could look at the Lord Jesus Christ, we would be looking at God His Father!

Hebrews 1:3 says Jesus Christ is “the brightness of [His Father’s] glory, and the express image of his person.” The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Jesus is “the image of God.” Colossians 1:15 says Christ is “the image of the invisible God.”

Why does God the Son bear resemblance to God the Father? While they are separate Persons, they are the same God! John 1:1 declares about Jesus Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Christ claimed: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). The Bible says in Colossians 2:9 that “in [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

God wants to take us Christians and form Jesus Christ in us. Ephesians 4:13 says, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” The Apostle Paul wrote, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,” (Galatians 4:19).

God the Father’s goal is to form Jesus Christ in us. As God’s children, in Christ, we will gradually begin to look like our Father, God!

Happy Father’s Day, especially to you heavenly Father! 🙂

We Have Now Received the Atonement

Friday, June 17, 2011

“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:11 KJV).

This is the only time the word “atonement” appears in the King James’ New Testament. The Greek word translated “atonement” here is usually translated “reconciliation, reconciling, reconciled” elsewhere (Romans 5:10; 1 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

In the Old Testament, once a year, on the Day of Atonement, Israel’s high priest would sprinkle animals’ blood on the mercy seat, the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, to first cover his sins and then the sins of the nation Israel (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:3-34; Hebrews 9:7). But “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). For that reason, “in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year” (Hebrews 10:3).

The book of Hebrews describes how Jesus Christ shedding His own (sinless) blood has done away with the animal sacrifices. “And every priest standeth daily ministering and oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man [Christ Jesus], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10:11,12).

That word “atonement”—wrongly translated “reconciliation” in modern Bibles—is needed in Romans 5:11 because it links us with the Old Testament practice of the Day of Atonement. Animals’ blood could never take away sins, the Bible says, but that blood did serve as a temporary forgiveness. When the blood of Jesus Christ was shed, the shedding of animals’ blood became null. What God accomplished for Israel at the cross of Calvary, He also accomplished for us (the Church the Body of Christ).

Notice “we have NOW received the atonement” (Romans 5:11). As Christians we have our sins blotted out today (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13). Israel will not receive her national forgiveness until the Second Coming of Christ (Acts 3:19,20; Romans 11:26,27).

Rejoice, saints, “we have NOW received the atonement!” Praise ye the Lord!

Beware of the Money-Hungry Preachers!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;…” (1 Timothy 3:2,3 KJV).

Today’s Scripture lists a few qualifications of the bishop, the overseer of the local church. One of the qualities of a bishop (sometimes called “pastor”) was that he be “not greedy of filthy lucre” (cf. Titus 1:7). The deacons were to also be “not greedy of filthy lucre” (1 Timothy 3:8). What is “filthy lucre?” Extorted money. Considering those qualifications, many preachers and deacons would be out of a job!

The Apostle Peter instructed leaders of the Jews, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof… not for filthy lucre” (1 Peter 5:2). Titus 1:11 speaks of many Jewish religious leaders who were “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers… who subvert [overthrow] whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.”

Religion is the world’s most profitable business, and for good reason. As long as someone occasionally reads from the Bible and mentions the name of Christ, no one would ever suspect the person would be guilty of extortion. Unfortunately, this very thing took place during Christ’s earthly ministry. Israel’s religious leaders “devoured” whole houses—all for the sake of money! Jesus called Israel’s Temple a “den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46; John 2:14-17).

Notice Jesus’ rebuke: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation” (Matthew 23:14; cf. Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47). The Pharisees and scribes had a good outward appearance, but they ministered under false pretenses—all for money. Just like today, if you pay enough, churches will pray for you.

Grace is not against giving, but it is against covetous preachers who extort money. Never let someone force you to give, such as binding you with Israel’s tithe. Beloved, beware of the money-hungry preachers!