333’s 2900th – The Mutual Faith of Paul and Us

Thursday, May 9, 2019

“For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Romans 1:11,12 KJV).

Dear friends, only by God’s grace, we have arrived at devotional #2900!

The word “faith” in today’s Scripture is the body of doctrine the Apostle Paul himself believed. He desired—yea, Holy Spirit working in and through him longed—to “establish” the believers at Rome. Such a yearning applies to all Christians, whether there or elsewhere, whether in the A.D. first century or the A.D. twenty-first century. On several occasions, Paul had intended to visit Rome personally, but hindrances abounded. Verse 13: “Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.” Satan’s evil world system delayed him (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:18).

Unable to travel to Rome, Paul wrote to them, and that epistle became our Book of Romans. In other words, Romans is the written form of what Paul would have spoken audibly had he had opportunity in Rome. Romans is a treatise—an exposition—of the Gospel of the Grace of God and how it impacts the world and us in particular once we believe it. If those 16 chapters were thoughtfully considered and believed, there would be far less heresy plaguing the professing church, far less confusion, far less ignorance, far less impotency, far less spiritual immaturity, and far less lost people sitting in the pews.

Over the last 2,900 days, dear brethren, we have striven in accordance with God’s grace to provide you with clear and concise Bible studies. We have endeavored to show you how the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul looks at our world and how He would have us function in it. If we want to have Christian lives and ministries just as impactful as Paul himself did, then we must (!) pay attention to and trust especially his 13 epistles, Romans through Philemon. Therein do we find Jesus Christ preached according to the revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:25,26). May we agree with the Apostle Paul!

Saints, thank you for praying for us, and onward we go to devotional #3000! 🙂

Logomachy!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

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 (2 Timothy 2:14 KJV).

Can you spot the logomachy in today’s Scripture?

Every Christian leader—preacher, Bible teacher, evangelist, deacon—would do well to become familiarized with the guidelines found in the “Pastoral Epistles.” These four Books—1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon—have been rightly called “the handbooks for the local church.” Therein, we find Divine counsel as to how the ministry should be established and maintained.

There are great threats to God’s work, and they often gain a stronghold in the subtlest ways. Chiefly, there is counterfeit (or false) teaching. Instead of grace-oriented doctrine, it is legalistic (law-oriented—performance) and/or humanistic (man-oriented—philosophical). Other ways Satan thwarts God’s ministry include: foolish questions, petty disagreements with brethren, bitterness and grudges, intimidation, spiritual immaturity, discouragement, selfishness, formalism/ritualism, pride, greed and materialism, carnality/fleshliness among church leaders and common members, and persecution (from other believers, the government, or lost people).

If we concentrate on today’s Scripture, we find the “charge” (or order) to behave a certain way so as to prevent the Adversary from gaining a particular advantage. We are to “strive not about words to no profit.” In Greek, “strive about words” is “logomachein.” As you might have guessed, “logos” carries the meaning of “thought, word, saying;” “machomai” is “war, quarrel, dispute.” That is to say, “striving about words” refers to “word-fights” or “heated debates.” (We actually have a rare English word derived from that Greek term—logomachy, “an argument about words.”)

Yet, is it not good to “defend the truth?” Hold it, friend. Read the entire verse: 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. There is “no profit” in such word-wars. Actually, the audience will be “subverted”—spiritually overturned, demolished, apostate (the Greek is “katastrophe!”). It was nothing but a “flesh parade:” there was destruction instead of edification. God the Holy Spirit was not involved; it was sinful man operating under the guise of “godliness.”

Brethren, may we exercise great discernment in this regard, lest we fall into such a trap!

The Comforter #5

Friday, March 29, 2019

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16 KJV).

Who is this “Comforter?” What are His roles?

John 14:17 says the Holy Spirit will “dwell with [believing Israel], and shall be in [them].” Contrary to popular belief, the indwelling Spirit is not unique to our Dispensation of Grace. Through the Prophet Ezekiel, the LORD God had promised centuries earlier, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (36:26,27).

Beloved, our flesh is weak. (Right?) Despite our best efforts, we cannot live the Christian life. Only Jesus Christ can live His life—whether in Israel’s prophetic program or our mystery program. As the nation Israel will be the expression of Jesus Christ’s life in the earth in the ages to come, so we the Church the Body of Christ will be the manifestation of His life in the heavenly places. It is not we duplicating His life but rather He Himself living in and through us. There is no imitation; it is the actual life of Christ!

How exactly does Christ live in and through us though? Does He unexpectedly take control of our bodies and manipulate us as puppets? (No!) Is there some mysterious, hair-raising, gentle breeze? (No!) Bolts of lighting striking the back of our neck? (No!) The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible (2 Peter 1:20,21; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). When we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, the Spirit of God indwell and seals us (Ephesians 1:12-14). We become “an holy temple in the Lord, an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21,22). He strengthens or fortifies us internally as we walk by faith in His Word to us, Romans through Philemon (Ephesians 3:16). Hence, daily Bible study—yea, daily dispensational Bible study—is so critical. Without the Comforter grounding us using God’s Word, neither Israel nor we can be vessels of Christ’s life!

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What is ‘the mark of the Beast?’” and “Why is ‘666’ the number of the Beast?

Deceived Christians!

Friday, March 15, 2019

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26 KJV).

I was assisting a dear brother in Christ having some extreme hardships. Understandably, he was utterly downcast. While we were together, he inquired of me, “Why is God sending me all these problems?” What a truly sad question. Oh, dear friends, it is more than that. It is a lie straight from the pit of Hell!

Religious tradition has deceived all of us to some degree. People not “rightly dividing the word of truth” have misled us (see 2 Timothy 2:14-26). They take Israel’s legalistic passages from her Law program, and put us under that performance-based acceptance system. Passages such as Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28 are used to claim that God will send trouble our way because of unconfessed sin, disobedience, and so on.

When I reminded the brother we are accepted in Christ, and God has no controversy with us (Romans 5:1), he objected by appealing to various misquoted verses. Instead of listening to and believing the sound Bible doctrine I was offering him, his flesh was fighting it. His denominational background, which is appealing to his flesh, was still hampering him even after many years of learning dispensational Bible study. This is a classic example of the widespread difficulty—people “that oppose themselves” (today’s Scripture). Flawed doctrine causes them to think and behave contrary to who they really are in Christ Jesus!

Instead of seeing themselves as Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, describe them, they have a distorted sense of reality. Satan’s evil world system has taken them captive into some fantasy world. The only way out is if they make the conscious choice to learn and believe sound Bible doctrine. We cannot recover them; the Bible says they must do it. Yes, we can and should teach them about grace, but it is ultimately their decision to make. We cannot make it for them!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What are the ‘warp’ and the ‘woof?’

The Good Man #6

Friday, March 1, 2019

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1 KJV).

How is this an apt introduction to the Book of Psalms?

The final verse of Psalm 1 reads, “For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Here is a suitable ending for the Book’s opening chapter. Read it in its entirety now.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

The 150 psalms found in the Book of Psalms feature two types of people—believers (“righteous”) and unbelievers (“ungodly”). They speak of Divine wrath and Divine rule—the Second Coming followed by the Millennium. God the Holy Spirit urges the nation Israel to be prepared for both major events. Lost souls will perish at the Second Coming of Christ; their course of life will lead to utter and eternal destruction, physical and spiritual. Believers in Jesus Christ, however, will survive and continue on into His 1000-year reign: their spiritual health and growth will increase throughout the endless ages to come. The remaining 149 psalms are spoken (technically sung) in light of all these events.

Praises upon praises of JEHOVAH God erupt throughout the Book. Believers rejoice in His goodness, faithfulness, wisdom, justice, power, and so on. In other words, they are the very people represented by the good man of the opening psalm! Eternity will ring with their singing and playing of musical instruments—we will join in with them! 🙂

Bible Q&A #585: “Must I have a degree in music to sing or play an instrument at a local church?

The Good Man #5

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1 KJV).

How is this an apt introduction to the Book of Psalms?

Onward to verse 5: “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” This points back to verse 4: “The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” Psalm 1—yes, all the Book of Psalms—foresees the end-times. In view especially are the two comings of Christ: the first is His suffering on Calvary’s cross, and the other is His reigning in the Kingdom. (Remember, there is no Dispensation of Grace revealed until Paul’s ministry. We the Church the Body of Christ are not under consideration here!)

In between Calvary and the Kingdom is a time of fiery wrath. This is the warning found in John the Baptist’s message near the close of Matthew chapter 3. Unbelievers will not survive that Second Coming. Notice 2 Thessalonians chapter 1: “[6] Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; [7] And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, [8] In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: [9] Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power…..”

With the ungodly fallen in God’s wrath, the sinners will not be among “the congregation of the righteous.” This “congregation” is the Messianic Church, God’s believing remnant found within apostate Israel. That “Little Flock” will inherit His earthly kingdom (Luke 12:32). We find them in Matthew 16:16-18, but they go as far back as Psalm 22:22 (cf. Hebrews 2:11,12). These Messianic Jews—those who trust Jesus as Messiah—will survive God’s wrath (the very wrath that consumed their unbelieving relatives). We now better appreciate Psalms, where it fits on the Bible timeline and how its narrative flows from beginning to end….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are the flames of fire in Hell literal?

The Good Man #4

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1 KJV).

How is this an apt introduction to the Book of Psalms?

Notice verse 4: “The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” Here are the “ungodly… sinners… scornful” of today’s Scripture. Instead of delighting in the law of the LORD, meditating in His law day and night, being spiritually nourished and bearing good spiritually-good fruit, having prosperous works, the ungodly are as the wind-blown chaff. Unbelievers are transitory; ultimately, their intentions and activities will fail (namely, at Christ’s fiery Second Coming).

“Chaff,” or the husks of seed to be thrown away after harvest, is often an Old Testament picture of the wicked. It underscores the worthlessness of the unbelieving heart, in contradistinction to believers (wheat). “They [the wicked] are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away” (Job 21:18). “Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them” (Psalm 35:5).

“Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 5:24). “Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney” (Hosea 13:3).

Thus, John the Baptist preached to Israel: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he [Christ] that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11,12). The context of Psalms is coming into better focus….