One Another

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

“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).

Grace living is living for othersnot for self.

A dear sister in Christ shared her distresses with me regarding appalling posts she had seen on social media from fellow “Christians” (?). The wife of a “grace” pastor wrote something highly inappropriate. On another website, the sister saw a video where members of another assembly acted like fools with their “contemporary Christian music.” Here, their pastor had joined them in the entertainment! Most disastrous!!!

It is lamentable, but Christians often have no one to blame but themselves when lost people refuse to hear them talk about the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Scriptures. Unsaved souls see right through hypocrisy—especially in places where “righteousness” is proclaimed loudly and proudly. We have far too many individuals in denominational churches—and that number, sadly, is growing among “grace” circles—engaging in flagrant (open!) misconduct. Have they no shame? The church members? Not even the preachers and teachers? No wonder the complaint is lodged (and certainly with merit): “You Christians use grace as a license to sin!”

In contrast to Judaism, Christianity is certainly not a list of “dos” and “don’ts.” Yet, 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 declares: “[1] Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. [2] For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. [3] For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: [4] That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; [5] Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: [6] That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. [7] For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

We are free in Christ—to serve others (not self!).

Liberated to Serve

Thursday, July 4, 2019

“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 243rd 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.

God is Love

Thursday, February 14, 2019

“…God is love… God is love… We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:8b,16b,19 KJV).

The word “love” is used very flippantly in today’s world. Of the many who speak about “love,” few know what it is. On this Valentine’s Day, we offer sound doctrine from God’s Word to correct the misunderstandings of what love really is. What is love, according to God’s Word?

Today’s Scripture says that “God is love”—God does not simply love, but His very nature is love. What does that mean? In 1 John 3:16, we read: “Hereby we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:” Our Apostle Paul put it this way: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s nature is love—selfless, self-sacrificing!

God’s Word defines love and charity in 2 Corinthians 12:15: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” Love is seeking the best interest of others, even if it costs you something (time, energy, resources, et cetera). Charity is love in deed (demonstrated, manifested in action). God loved us, so He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. It cost God the Father His Son, and it cost God the Son His life. What a selfless act!

Our nature in Adam is selfish, but our nature in Christ is not. Paul declares, “the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). We who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, our Christian lives are driven and motivated by Christ’s love for us, not our love for Him. It is this unselfish love of Christ working in us that causes us to look on the things of others, to seek their edification and their benefit, not ours (Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:1-11). This will result in charity, our selfless actions reflecting that love of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:15).

As the lost world observes our Christian service, they will see, “God is love.”

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

Striving, Not Striving #5

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Philippians chapter 2 continues: “[5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Here is the “mind” all Christians should have. It is a mental attitude of utter selflessness, total humility, and undivided dedication to Father God’s will. Dear brethren, if we would believe and obey these verses, then the inconsequential disagreements and stupid arguments would disappear from our local churches. We would set aside self and look to benefit others. If Euodias and Syntyche followed these Divine instructions, then they would “be of the same mind in the Lord.”

Now, we turn back to Philippians chapter 1: “[27] Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; [28] And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.”

Recall that “the gospel of Christ” focuses on Christ’s finished crosswork. Philippians 2:5-8 reports that a certain mentality drove Christ to Calvary. If we adopt His attitude, then we will “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Our passion will be the defense of sound Bible doctrine as opposed to trifling opinions and self-centeredness. Then, our efforts will make a positive impact in eternity—something well worth our time and effort! 🙂

Scrooges and Christians

Sunday, December 16, 2018

“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.

Unity in Diversity

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 KJV).

Despite the diversity in the Church the Body of Christ, behold the unity in the Church the Body of Christ!

The Corinthians were carnal, fleshly, selfish saints who were guilty of infighting (1 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3). They had to be taught a lengthy lesson on charity, love in action (1 Corinthians chapter 13). At that time when God the Holy Spirit was still giving out spiritual gifts, the Corinthians used their “gifts” to help themselves and draw attention to themselves. However the Holy Spirit was being revealed to them was not a time for them individually to profit. Ministry at the local assembly was not for them to seek their own good but rather the advancement of those around them.

We should never view ministry as a competition between ourselves and other believers in Christ. If sound Bible doctrine, or grace, is working in us, and sound Bible doctrine is working in them, then we are working to the same end. There should be no envy, as it is the same Holy Spirit. The only reason we would feel covetous is if we were under the impression that it was all about us. We still have so much to learn about grace if we think that the Bible is all about us. We still have so much to learn about the Bible if we think that ministry is all about us. It is (should be) all about the Lord Jesus Christ!

Yes, we all play our own little part, our own unique role, in Father God’s grand scheme of things. He does not need us to participate but He does want us. He does not force us but He does invite us. If we do not have the right attitude, then it is best for us not to get involved in ministry at all. It will do far more damage than good. Saints, despite our diversity, we have unity in Jesus Christ!

To Help a Brother

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother (Deuteronomy 22:1 KJV).

Behold, the standard of selflessness!

While we are certainly under Grace and not the Mosaic Law (Romans 6:14,15), we do not throw away the non-Pauline Scriptures. We study all 66 Bible Books, Genesis through Revelation, for “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” (2 Timothy 3:16,17). On whatever topics God the Spirit is silent in Paul’s writings, Romans through Philemon, we can and should seek advice elsewhere in the Bible. As an illustration, take today’s Scripture. It does not contradict Pauline doctrine but rather complements it (cf. Galatians 6:10; Romans 12:9,10).

Read today’s Scripture in context: “[1] Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother. [2] And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again. [3] In like manner shalt thou do with his ass [donkey]; and so shalt thou do with his raiment [clothing]; and with all lost thing of thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself. [4] Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.”

Interestingly, the Lord Jesus took verse 4 and made an application in Matthew 12:11 to expose “Sabbath-worshippers” (not Jehovah God-worshippers) as the heartless, rigid, self-centered religionists that they were. Whether God through Moses, or God through Paul, we learn, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth” (1 Corinthians 10:24). If we follow the God of the Bible, self-regard will not be true of us! 🙂