On the Sufferings of This Present Time

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 KJV).

Everyone suffers, Christians and lost people alike. Our suffering originates from three sources:

  1. We all live under the curse of sin. According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, matter is becoming less and less usable. Every living creature grows sick and eventually dies. Romans 8:21,22 and Genesis 3:16-19 explain the curse (the bondage of corruption) was instituted on creation because of sin. Romans 5:12 says, “Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
  2. We make mistakes, hurting ourselves and others. Others make bad decisions, and they negatively affect us. Of course, this too is closely related to #1 (sin). Christ said, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23).
  3. We Christians suffer for righteousness’ sake. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29).

Until we leave this present evil world of Satan, we will continue to suffer from all of the above. The good news is what Paul writes in today’s Scripture: this temporary suffering is nothing when compared to the eternal glorification that is awaiting us as members of the Body of Christ.

When we Christians receive our glorified bodies in heaven, we will be free from these bodies of sinful flesh, never to suffer again. What a hope we have in heaven, all because of Christ Jesus and His finished cross work on Calvary!

Saints, Ye Shall Be Caught Up!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 KJV).

The words of today’s Scripture are of great hope and comfort for us as members of the Church the Body of Christ. At any moment, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself shall come and take us, His Body, home to be with Him forever in heaven’s glory. “In a moment, in the twinkling [blink] of an eye,” we will be “caught up” (raptured) into the air (1 Corinthians 15:52).

One day, at the rapture, those who have died in Christ will be resurrected bodily, and given glorified physical bodies fashioned like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrected body (Philippians 3:20,21). Immediately after, we Christians who are living will be instantly transformed bodily. Together, with the now resurrected saints, we will take the grandest of all excursions. In that brief instant, we are yanked from this wicked, filthy world and ushered into heaven’s everlasting bliss and joy!

The rapture is not to be confused with the Second Coming, which will occur seven years after the rapture. At the Second Coming, God sends angels to gather His elect (Matthew 24:31). But, at the rapture, God Himself comes for the believers, us. Wow! The rapture ensures that we will avoid the wrath of the seven-year Tribulation, which is God’s program for Israel (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9)

Paul makes some 10 references to the rapture. This one is noteworthy (Titus 2:13): “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” We should be continually vigilant, waiting for the rapture to happen at any moment. Would you be raptured out? Have you trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour? If you have, ye shall be caught up!

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.]

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!

Do You Rightly Divide the Word of Truth?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

This is the key to Bible study and understanding Bible “contradictions.” God designed His Word to be studied, not casually skimmed. God also wants us to study “rightly dividing the word of truth.” We seek to be “approved unto God”—we do not seek man’s approval! Christendom’s greatest error is its refusal to study God’s Word, God’s way.

God created two realms, the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1); He designed a program to govern each realm. The prophetic program is that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). Romans 16:25,26 speaks of the mystery program, “which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest….” Every Bible verse fits into either the prophetic program or the mystery program. When we take verses from one program, and force them into the other program, Bible “contradictions” arise.

God’s people in the prophetic program are the nation Israel, His earthly people to whom He promised an earthly kingdom (Genesis 13:16; Genesis 17:8; Deuteronomy 4:38; 2 Samuel 7:23-25). God’s people in the mystery program are the Church the Body of Christ, His heavenly people to whom belongs the promise of a heavenly kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1-3).

Today, in the Dispensation of Grace, as members of the Body of Christ, Paul is our apostle (Romans 11:13). Everything that God has to say to us today in the mystery (secret) program is found in Paul’s 13 epistles, Romans through Philemon. The remainder of the Bible is God speaking to Israel concerning her prophetic program. All of the Bible is for us, but not all the Bible is to us or about us.

May we never take Israel’s doctrine and force it on others or ourselves. May we always seek God’s approval by “rightly dividing the word of truth!”