Not Made Perfect by the Flesh #5

Friday, October 30, 2020

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3 KJV).

Can “the flesh” add anything to the Holy Spirit’s work? Nay, it cannot!

“I will be like the most High,” Lucifer boasted (Isaiah 14:14). As he told Christ, he desires worship: “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me(Matthew 4:9). Employing whatever sneaky means necessary, Satan accomplishes his goal. If he can counterfeit God’s actions, then people will be deceived and credit God. By attributing Satan’s work to God, man unwittingly worships Satan. It is an ingenious strategy, one seldom perceived!

Emotions mislead because the human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). While something may “feel” right, it may not actually be right. Feelings are fickle, changing with our circumstances. Therefore, we cannot use them to gauge truth and error. Adrenaline rushes come and go, so never should we confuse them with the permanent Holy Spirit. If we are externalists or formalists, we run the risk of faking at some point. For instance, if we observe people raising hands or dancing, peer pressure urges us to mimic them. The Holy Spirit is thus quenched and our flesh—namely, the fear of being “left out”—motivates the behavior. Satan smiles. Except for the rare Berean Bible student, no one is able to notice the error.

So-called “Christian revivals” are being held where protests, riots, lootings, and shootings have occurred. It is claimed, “The Devil is active, but God is moving!” Online videos show musicians hosting “Christian rock” concerts. Crowds—mainly young adults—raise their hands, jump, run, sing, sob, and pray. Supposedly, they are “coming to Jesus;” yet, a clear Gospel message is absent. When we compare their activities with the Scriptures, what is allegedly “God’s work” turns out to be a mockery of Jesus Christ. Remember, we are not made perfect by the flesh!

Bible Q&As #779 and #780: “Should Christians observe All Saints’ Day?” and “Should Christians observe All Souls’ Day?

Not Made Perfect by the Flesh #4

Thursday, October 29, 2020

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3 KJV).

Can “the flesh” add anything to the Holy Spirit’s work? Nay, it cannot!

The Galatians were preoccupied with the Law of Moses (cf. Galatians 4:21). Religious rules and regulations captivated them. They were deceived into believing their performance—their “flesh”—could somehow enhance their Christian life (cf. today’s Scripture). Did the Holy Spirit come to indwell these saints because of their religious works? No! Would He need their pious deeds to continue living in and through them? No! Sadly, today’s professing church is equally “foolish.” Nearly 20 centuries later, it still refuses to recognize rites, rituals, and ceremonies are incompatible with God’s grace! Like the Galatians not thinking clearly, we lack even basic spiritual common sense. We too have not let the Message of Grace renew our mind.

Philosophy and other vain speculations of lost (pagan!) people distracted the Corinthian believers. The first three chapters of 1 Corinthians are the Holy Spirit’s instructions to straighten out their confusion. Selfishness abounded in Corinth because spiritual ignorance flourished there. Whereas the Galatians were quite “strict” with their legalism, the Corinthians were quite “loose” with their sensuality. The Corinthians acted like spiritual babies because they also thought like spiritual babies. This too describes today’s professing church. Actually, the conundrums in 1 Corinthians parallel the chaos and confusion of modern “praise and worship.” Recall 1 Corinthians 14:40!

Instead of being thankful for the Message of God’s Grace—what the Holy Spirit has revealed in Pauline doctrine, Romans through Philemon—we unwisely believe we can improve the Christian life. Whether from Galatia or Corinth, we must learn the lesson: neither formalism (strict rules and regulations) nor fanaticism (no rules or regulations whatsoever) will ever replace the Holy Spirit’s work in grace believer’s heart. Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Jesus offer Himself to Israel if He knew they would reject Him?

An Anchor of the Soul #6

Sunday, October 18, 2020

“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:17-20 KJV).

What can we say about this “anchor of the soul?”

Bear in mind the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-3: “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

This was fulfilled in the short-term with Isaac’s birth (cf. Genesis 17:19 and Genesis 21:12, for instance). In the long-term, however, it refers to Jesus: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). Yet, Israel being a blessing to the world is still future. They have not yet risen to kingdom glory in order to convert the Gentiles (cf. Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 61:6; Zechariah 8:20-23).

When the writer of Hebrews alludes to Abraham in the context of today’s Scripture, he is reminding his Jewish audience they are the heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. At Christ’s Second Coming, Israel’s believing remnant will finally become God’s kingdom of priests. Until then, though, the Jews must endure Daniel’s 70th Week, and not let the Antichrist deceive them. The winds of false doctrine are blowing strongly, and Satan is attempting to distract them with error, so their souls must be anchored in sound Bible doctrine….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did God really demand Ezekiel eat excrement?

An Anchor of the Soul #5

Saturday, October 17, 2020

“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:17-20 KJV).

What can we say about this “anchor of the soul?”

Read all of chapter 6 of Hebrews. Notice today’s Scripture is the closing section. After exhorting the Jews to advance in spiritual maturity (verses 1-3), the writer describes the unbelievers who have rejected the Holy Spirit in the early Acts period (verses 4-8). Then, he switches back to spiritual maturity among Israel’s believing remnant.

“[9] But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. [10] For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. [11] And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: [12] That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

To prove his point, the writer of Hebrews subsequently alludes to the promise the LORD made to their father Abraham: “[13] For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, [14] Saying [Genesis 22:17], Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. [15] And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. [16] For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.” As Abraham through faith and patience inherited God’s promise to him, so his descendants (the audience of Hebrews) should trust God and patiently wait for Him to finish fulfilling His pledge to Israel….

An Anchor of the Soul #4

Friday, October 16, 2020

“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:17-20 KJV).

What can we say about this “anchor of the soul?”

One common eschatological (end-times) theme in Scripture is deception, spiritual lies being peddled in order to fool the masses. For example, see these excerpts from the opening of the Olivet Discourse in Matthew chapter 24: “[4] And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. [5] For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many…. [11] And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many…. [23] Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. [24] For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. [25] Behold, I have told you before.”

The Apostle John picks up the thought when the Holy Spirit causes him to write many years later: “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7). “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist(2 John 7). “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9). If Israel living after our dispensation is mindful of and trusting these words—including today’s Scripture—she will be anchored and safe from Satan’s false doctrine….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain, ‘Ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves?’

An Anchor of the Soul #3

Thursday, October 15, 2020

“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:17-20 KJV).

What can we say about this “anchor of the soul?”

Returning to Ephesians 4:11-16, we learn the Lord Jesus Christ bestowed spiritual gifts upon men—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers—to benefit the Church the Body of Christ. These foundational gifts resulted in the completed Bible we now study (Ephesians 2:20; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:37). With the canon of Scripture closed—Paul’s epistles revealing the mystery program, God’s secret will—we have all the information God intends us to have.

The completed Bible has this purpose: “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:….” (Ephesians 4:12,13). God desires strong and mature saints, people who have a clear understanding of what He is doing today, so they may join Him in that work! “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).

Moreover, God’s intention in furnishing us with His finished Word is found in Ephesians 4:14: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;….” Father God wants us to be spiritually stable, so Satan’s evil world system does not mislead us. He wishes the same for Israel, as today’s Scripture proves….

Weirdoes #1

Thursday, October 24, 2019

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:3,4 KJV).

Brethren, we may be unfairly judged of other Christians and/or the world, but the final verdict will come of the Lord.

Dear friend, we Pauline dispensationalists seem to be the least Christian people on Earth. After all, our beliefs largely differ from—an understatement if there ever were one!!—what is commonly passed off as “Christian.”

We do not water baptize, we do not tithe, we do not confess sins, we do not observe the Sabbath day, we are not legalistic, we do not call religious leaders “reverend” and “father,” we do not look for “signs,” we do not seek healing miracles, we do not strive to see visions and dreams from God, we do not look for angels, we do not have “altars” in our church buildings, we do not assemble at “God’s house” but we ourselves are God’s house, we refuse to be called “religious,” we do not claim to exercise spiritual gifts, we avoid excessive “praise and worship” (running, jumping, dancing), we do not engage in rituals and ceremonies, we do not follow church tradition, we do not believe we are Israel, we believe in a literal and physical return of Christ to take His people to Heaven, we believe He will establish Israel’s literal and physical Davidic kingdom one day on Earth, and so on.

Considering the above doctrinal statement, just what sort of Christian group are we? Christendom dismisses us as cultic, heretical, “church splitters.” We are often “quarantined,” treated like lepers with a contagious ailment. It is no secret that we get “weird” looks from church members when we explain the Bible rightly divided. “I have never heard of that before!” “If this is true, why do so few people believe it?” “Why do you study the Bible so much?” “You worship Paul!” “There are so few in your church or Bible study!” “What is wrong with you?” “You are a Bible fanatic!” “You have a problem with every church!” “You disagree with all denominations!”

Today’s Scripture says such persecution should not bother us….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “The ‘judgment seat’ or the ‘bema seat?’

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!

Translated Judgment #7

Saturday, September 22, 2018

In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe (1 Corinthians 14:21,22 KJV).

While it is commonly overlooked, today’s Scripture describes God’s righteous judgment on a certain group of unbelievers. Who are they? What is God’s message to them? Who is delivering that message?

First Corinthians chapter 14 outlines the six rules that regulated the gift of tongues (which gift the Corinthians were abusing). When the Holy Spirit was involved, these six principles were always in place. Any deviation, even slightly, meant that the experience was artificial and satanic. Someone was striving in his or her flesh to mimic or counterfeit God’s work.

Primarily, tongues served as a sign to the nation Israel (today’s Scripture). Secondly, twoor maximum, three—individuals were to speak in tongues during one meeting (verse 27). Thirdly, the speakers had to take turns, and not talk over each other (verse 27). Fourthly, the tongue had to be translated or the speaker was to remain silent (verses 27,28). Fifthly, only men spoke in tongues (verses 34,35). Lastly, there was to be decency, order, self-control (verse 40). These six rules describe the only type of speaking in tongues the Holy Spirit has ever (!) endorsed!

It was particularly important that tongues be translated. This interpretation allowed unsaved Jews to not only hear a foreign language (recognizing God’s judgment on their nation), but also learn God’s Word in their own native tongue (whatever it happened to be). An intelligible message, as opposed to gibberish, afforded them an opportunity to be convicted of their sin and converted to faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Now that that Acts transitional period is over, God dealing with Israel has passed, so the spiritual gifts have ceased (1 Corinthians 8:8-13). We have a completed Bible, total revelation from God, and thus temporary spiritual gifts and fragmentary revelation are unnecessary (2 Timothy 3:16,17; cf. Colossians 1:25-27).

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “Did Saul of Tarsus ever meet Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry?” and Did Paul just hear Jesus’ voice, or did he see Him, too?

Translated Judgment #6

Friday, September 21, 2018

In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe (1 Corinthians 14:21,22 KJV).

While it is commonly overlooked, today’s Scripture describes God’s righteous judgment on a certain group of unbelievers. Who are they? What is God’s message to them? Who is delivering that message?

Here are two simple Bible verses that will revolutionize the way you view God’s Word. “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22). “Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). Signs are Israel’s national heritage (see Psalm 74:9). When we come to today’s Scripture, we thus see that one of these “signs” is the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues: “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not….” The unbelievers during the Acts period were the nation Israel (Acts 9:23,24; Acts 13:45-48; Acts 17:5,13; Acts 18:6,12; et cetera).

In Isaiah’s day, Israel hearing foreign languages meant that her LORD God’s judgment had fallen on her for her unbelief and disobedience. Similarly, Israel hearing the gift of tongues working amongst Paul’s Gentile converts signified to Israel that her God was now operating in the world without her. It was a drastic change in program. God had taken the spiritual gifts—what had belonged to Israel—and given them over to the Gentiles. The gift of tongues operated amongst Paul’s Gentile converts so as to provoke to salvation in Christ the unsaved Jews scattered around the world.

The gift of tongues was not meant to be entertainment (as the Corinthians were using it—see 1 Corinthians chapter 14), but rather a clear testimony to Israel. It was important that the Corinthians correct their abuses of this most special spiritual gift. Today’s Body of Christ would do well to take heed to these verses, and address and fix their misunderstandings and misuses of spiritual gifts….

Bible Q&A #535: “Who are the ‘Grecians’ in the Bible?