Scrooges and Christians

Thursday, December 16, 2021

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

To the old identity, we say, “Bah, Humbug!” To the new, we say, “God has blessed us, everyone in Christ.”

Other than Jesus Christ’s conception and birth as found in the Holy Bible, there is one other classic story associated with Christmastime. British author Charles Dickens’ 1843 book, A Christmas Carol, focuses on the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge (the novella has some Christian influence).

From the onset, Scrooge is a wealthy, miserable, mean, stingy, and selfish old man. His employee, Bob Cratchit, is underpaid (yet, strangely, Ebenezer observes, Cratchit is cheerful). Scrooge refuses to donate to charities collecting for the destitute—to him, Christmastime is a time for others to “pick his pocket.” He even refuses to attend his nephew’s Christmas party. What a miser!

Through visitations by four Spirits—his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley; and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future—Scrooge is forced to realize what a thoroughly rotten man he is. Once confronted with his future, the awful events that lie ahead, he asks for another chance to make things right (which, thankfully, he receives and does!). The Scrooge at the end of the book is drastically different from the Scrooge at the beginning. Scrooge is now loving, warm, cheerful, and generous—he is a brand-new man.

Bible-believing Christians recognize parallels between Dickens’ work and the Holy Scriptures. The sinner starts off rotten, a rebel from birth—selfish, miserable, and mean. When he or she comes to realize that pitiful condition he or she is in, and comes by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins, God gives him or her a new identity (today’s Scripture). That identity is designed to influence subsequent actions. Scrooge did not simply change his outward activity; he had a change in heart first. This Christmas, let us be submissive to God’s Holy Spirit working in our hearts, as He uses sound Bible doctrine to manifest in our behavior our identity in Christ, that we be not Scrooges.

A Better Biography #8

Friday, November 19, 2021

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14,15 KJV).

How can the truths of today’s Scripture lead us to have better biographies?

Brethren, our Christian life will not operate on the basis of ignorance. Unless we have a renewed mind, thinking like God Himself reasons concerning the Christian life, we will have no Christian life: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1,2).

“If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24). “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:9-11).

God’s unconditional love for us, Christ Jesus’ unconditional love for us, was exhibited at Calvary’s cross (Romans 5:8), and it is offered us through the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). When we walk by faith in this Good News on a daily basis, we are living in light of our identity in Christ. As we allow God’s power demonstrated at Calvary to work in us, the Holy Spirit will produce in us the love the Law commanded Israel (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:13-16). God’s love will cause us to love others, leading us to better biographies! 🙂

A Better Biography #7

Thursday, November 18, 2021

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14,15 KJV).

How can the truths of today’s Scripture lead us to have better biographies?

When the Apostle Paul writes, “For the love of Christ constraineth us,” he is describing the process by which the Christian life operates. It is not we struggling to keep a series of rules and regulations, performing to get blessings from God (and receiving curses when we fail). Yea, rather, it is an intense working of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Him laboring to bring into the reality of our lives the Words of Grace: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

The idea of “constraineth” is a compelling or urging toward a particular course of action. We are tightly bound together, driven to a specific end, the goal in today’s Scripture: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” To “judge” here means to exercise the mind, to evaluate or examine evidence in order to reach a verdict.

Christ died for all (1 Timothy 2:5,6), since all were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1); but He is “specially [the Saviour] of those that believe” (1 Timothy 4:10); and, if He is the Saviour of Christians, Christians should live in light of that reality, conducting themselves not in accordance with their own selfish desires but for the glory of the God-Man who died for them and resurrected! After all, as He died, so they died to sin; as He rose again, so they arose to walk in newness of life (Romans chapter 6).

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What does ‘gainsaying’ mean?” and “Can you explain ‘penury?’

A Better Biography #6

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14,15 KJV).

How can the truths of today’s Scripture lead us to have better biographies?

The Book of Titus, the Apostle Paul’s “good works” epistle, has two noteworthy verses in chapter 3: “[8] This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men…. [14] And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.” The heart of this doctrinal treatise, however, is in chapter 2.

We re-read the Holy Spirit’s words: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork is plainly referenced in verse 14. The Saviour shed His blood to pay our redemption price, our buying back from sin. We use today’s Scripture to amplify: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” Friends, we dare not miss this important point! It is not our love for God, but rather Christ’s love for us. Our love for God is imperfect, weak, fickle, changing. If our Christian life depended on this faulty foundation, we would have no Christian life at all. Thankfully, God has not placed us under a performance-based acceptance system (Law). We are rather under a Christ-based acceptance system (Grace)….

A Better Biography #5

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14,15 KJV).

How can the truths of today’s Scripture lead us to have better biographies?

What the Law of Moses demanded Israel do—thereby showing the Jews they could not do—the Grace of God instructs and empowers us to do. Never forget, while we are under Grace not Law, God still cares how we live. If we did whatever we wanted as lost people (lived in sin before we came to faith in Christ), does it make sense that we Christians continue to live like people we no longer are? Grace is not a license to sin. Whoever says otherwise either has a poor understanding—or no understanding—of grace!

“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid [May God not let that happen!](Romans 6:11-15).

As members of the Church the Body of Christ, sin is not who we are anymore. The indwelling Holy Spirit will take the sound Bible doctrine we learn and believe in our heart, and work in us to produce the life of Christ Himself: “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;… 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).

Now we get to today’s Scripture….

Purity or Compromise? #7

Thursday, October 21, 2021

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8 KJV).

Will we be pure and thus purified? Or, will we compromise and thus be compromised?

If we doubt the Scriptures, taking a negative view of them, we will gradually relinquish more and more of them—leading to increasing uncertainty. To appeal to the world, to gain their “fellowship,” we have compromised. Eventually, we wind up like so many dear souls who have expressed throughout history, “I hate the Bible and have tossed it out altogether!” Here is apostasy, falling away from the truth, the result of failing to maintain doctrinal integrity. If this is the way we want it, then the God of the Scriptures will let us have it. Therefore, we must be extremely careful in this regard.

Believing the Scriptures, taking a positive view of them, we will continue to grow purer in our understanding of spiritual matters—causing greater confidence. To seek God’s approval, to think like He thinks, we have faith in what He has spoken to us. Ultimately, we experience what precious few souls have exclaimed throughout history, “I trust, understand, and enjoy the Bible!” Here is maturity, a greater awareness of the truth, the consequence of upholding doctrinal integrity. If this is the way we want it, then the God of the Scriptures will let us have it. Therefore, we need to be exceedingly careful in this regard too.

Dear brethren, as grace believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must be particularly vigilant to be people of faith not doubt, to be saints of purity not compromise. Even within the Grace Movement, it is often quite difficult to discern who is a Christian and who is not. This is to be expected of denominationalists who have compromised but not dispensationalists who are allegedly pure! Let us cogitate on these simple truths, and may we adjust our minds and actions accordingly.

Our latest Bible Q&As: “What is a ‘battlement?’” and “Can you explain ‘cogitations?’

Purity or Compromise? #6

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8 KJV).

Will we be pure and thus purified? Or, will we compromise and thus be compromised?

The Scriptures warn us about philosophy, loving man’s wisdom not God’s wisdom. Paul asserted in 1 Corinthians chapter 2: “[1] And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God…. [4] And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: [5] That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God….

“[13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [14] But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. [15] But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. [16] For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.”

Recall Colossians 2:8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Finally, 2 Timothy 3:16,17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” In God’s Word rightly divided, we have pure doctrine, that our souls be uncontaminated. However, if we “love the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:43), we will compromise with the world, it influencing us to infect our souls. It is our choice!

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Purity or Compromise? #5

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8 KJV).

Will we be pure and thus purified? Or, will we compromise and thus be compromised?

The last Book of the Bible written, the Holy Spirit’s final instructions to the Church the Body of Christ, is 2 Timothy. Paul’s farewell epistle, chapter 2, educates: “[14] Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. [15] Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [16] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [17] And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

“[19] Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. [20] But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. [21] If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” Never, ever, ever, ever, ever are we to use grace as a license to sin! We are to avoid not only false teachers—who cause us to sin doctrinally by not “rightly dividing the word of truth!”—but also anyone else whose behavior is a stumblingblock to our own. They are leaning unto their own understanding, are wise in their own eyes, and have not acknowledged the LORD in their ways. He is not directing their paths; they have not departed from evil. Beloved, may we beware of them….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What are God’s ‘testimonies?’

Purity or Compromise? #4

Monday, October 18, 2021

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8 KJV).

Will we be pure and thus purified? Or, will we compromise and thus be compromised?

“Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb [speechless, mute] idols, even as ye were led” (1 Corinthians 12:2). Before coming to Christ by faith in Paul’s Gospel, the Corinthians had worshipped and served pagan deities. Sadly, even after joining the Church the Body of Christ, they still worshipped and served idols! “Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them [ancient Jews under Moses]…. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry…. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (1 Corinthians 10:7,14,21).

In chapter 6 of 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul later writes to Corinth: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial [Satan]? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel [unbeliever]? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (verses 14-18).

The saints at Corinth had not fully abandoned their heathen religion, for they had not completely accepted Paul’s apostleship and doctrines. If they were to be doctrinally and functionally pure, able to be the Lord’s people in belief and practice (as they already were His people positionally), they would have to wholly separate from Satan’s religious system. Likewise, so must we….

Liberated to Serve

Sunday, July 4, 2021

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 KJV).

Today, as we in the United States celebrate the 245th anniversary of our nation’s independence, we invite our Christian brethren worldwide to rejoice with us concerning our freedom in Jesus Christ.

When we proclaim Romans 6:14—“Ye are not under the law, but under grace”—people tend to assume “loose living.” Does “grace living” really mean we can now live any way we want? Lest anyone be misled in that regard, God the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to write in the next verse, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid [May God never let that happen!]” (Romans 6:15). Grace living is not Law-keeping, but it certainly is not Law-breaking either.

God still cares how we live, albeit He is not operating the “weak and beggarly” system of “bondage” (Law) that He once did with Israel (Galatians 4:9). God proved to the entire world that since Israel could not keep His commandments perfectly, no other sons of Adam (the Gentiles) could either: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them [Israel] who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world [Gentiles] may become guilty before God (Romans 3:19).

We sinners cannot keep the Law. However, God in His grace provided us a way to escape that condemnation by sending Jesus Christ to offer Himself on Calvary’s cruel cross to pay for our sins. By simple faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the fully-satisfying payment for our sins, we can now be “made the righteousness of God in [Christ]” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We can be delivered from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire) and the power of sin (flesh-walking).

Why are we Christians free? To selfishly live any way we want? NO! Today’s Scripture says we are liberated to now serve others, especially our Christian brethren, just as Jesus Christ selflessly served His Father and selflessly died on our behalf. That is grace living!!!!

Please see our 2011 Fourth of July Bible study “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land,” which can be watched here or read here.