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.

For What Saith the Scriptures?

Saturday, December 15, 2018

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3 KJV).

Today, our Bible Q&A website, “For What Saith the Scriptures?,” celebrates its fifth anniversary!

A question rarely asked in Christian circles, “What saith the scripture?” is found twice in the Bible—today’s Scripture, and Galatians 4:30, “Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”

God’s will for our lives is summed up in 1 Timothy 2:4, “[God our Saviour] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” There are two issues here—soul salvation from sins and everlasting hellfire, and soul salvation from false teaching unto sound Bible doctrine. Firstly, God wants everyone to become Christians by trusting in and relying exclusively on His Son Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork at Calvary as sufficient payment for their sins. Secondly, God wants Christians to trust in and rely on the grace doctrines found in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Amazingly, both occurrences of “What saith the scripture?” have a special application to us—each instance correlates to one of the issues in 1 Timothy 2:4! The question “What saith the scripture?” in today’s Scripture uses the Bible to answer the question of soul salvation from sins and everlasting hellfire (faith instead of works, “all men to be saved;” 1 Timothy 2:4). The question “What saith the scripture?” in Galatians 4:30 uses the Bible to answer the question of soul salvation from false teaching unto sound Bible doctrine (grace instead of legalism, “come unto the knowledge of the truth;” 1 Timothy 2:4).

For these past five years, we desired you to have a clear understanding of how to have forgiveness of sins and justification unto eternal life, and for you to have a clear understanding of what God’s Word has to say about issues in your Christian life. We were honored to serve you in this additional capacity; thank you for the prayer and support this past year. As always, we welcome your Bible questions, and hope to serve you in that way for years to come! 🙂

Our final Bible Q&A of 2018 (Q&A #565): “Should we Bible believers investigate and promulgate conspiracy theories?” (~23 pages)

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks #1

Saturday, December 8, 2018

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:8-10 KJV).

The first and second verses of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.

“While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around
And glory shone around.
‘Fear not,’ said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds;
‘Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind.’”

Due to the decree of some pagan Roman emperor, Joseph and pregnant Mary traveled some 70 miles (113 kilometers), from Nazareth to Bethlehem-Judah (Luke 2:1-7)! There, in little Bethlehem—a humble town rather than a magnificent world city—Israel’s King, yea the King of kings and Lord of lords, was born. Micah 5:2, written some 700 years earlier, was perfectly fulfilled: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Note that our King James Bible says Jesus Christ is “from everlasting,” demonstrating His deity. Modern versions water this down, saying “from ancient times/days.” Blasphemy!)

Not far from where Jesus was born and laid in the manger, shepherds were out that night guarding their flocks. (See, contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not born in wintertime. There is additional Scriptural evidence that it was early fall, very late September or very early October.) The angel of the Lord appeared to these shepherds. Angels appearing to Israel was usually some sign of judgment (see 2 Samuel 24:15-17, for example). When the shepherds of today’s Scripture saw the angel of the Lord, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, they were very fearful.

The angel reassured them with such wonderful news!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #5

Friday, December 7, 2018

“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. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 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 5:14-17 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!”

Religion has done an excellent job (wrongly) teaching us that God likes to rehabilitate humans—that He wants to make us quit doing certain things (“fleshly”) and make us start doing other things (“churchy”). What a very shallow, and actually a false, perception. God wants to do much more than what we could ever do by ourselves.

For good works to reign in our lives, God has to kill us! As sinners, in Adam, we are dead in our trespasses and sins, no life in ourselves (see today’s Scripture). Nothing we can do in our own strength will ever change our (sinful) nature in Adam. However, God offers us death to Adam and a new identity through Christ at Calvary. When we trust that Jesus Christ died for our sins, in God’s mind, we died to sin, too. Christ did not simply die for us but as us. Romans chapters 5 through 8 describe the victory is in Christ, not in Adam or in ourselves. Success is by the power of the Holy Ghost working with the grace doctrines we study and believe, not in our struggles to do right. And so, “Christ [is] formed in [us]” (Galatians 4:19).

Something about which the angels cannot sing, but we can, should, and do! 🙂

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #3

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

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

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them spiritual birth.
Risen with healing in his wings,
Light and life to all he brings,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!”

Jesus Christ was literally the perfect example of living in fellowship with Father God. He did not make Himself the issue but rather glorified His Father who had sent Him. Yea, He said to His Father, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). What was Father God’s will? Check Hebrews 10:1-10. It was for Jesus to become a human that that human body die on that awful cross for our sins!

As our King James Bible says, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Modern versions so butcher this passage, saying Jesus Christ “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing.” Blasphemy!)

The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). That man may die and live through Him, Jesus Christ died. That man may die and live through Him, Jesus Christ resurrected. There is no greater name than the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:10)! Friends, let us join the angels in praising Him!

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

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!

Hot Air—And Cold!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits (Ecclesiastes 1:6 KJV).

Behold, a most curious verse in a most interesting place!

Scoffers and skeptics portray the Bible writers as primitive, bumbling ignoramuses. They were not as “sophisticated” as we, “knowledgeable” as we, “enlightened” as we. Whereas they were so “superstitious,” here we are so “scientific.” The fact is, not only do we have an inflated view of ourselves, we hold a naïve view of them.

Earth’s atmosphere circulates in a highly complicated manner. We can think of it as a series of conveyor belts stretching from pole to pole, with “cells” or “belts” swirling up and down (vertically), and north and south (horizontally). Air parcels or air masses, depending on their temperature, will rise (warm) or fall (cool). This movement—greatly influenced by the Sun, Earth’s rotation, and vast ocean basins—drives our winds and the other weather phenomena we experience (as in fronts and storms).

Interestingly, today’s Scripture, written by King Solomon some 3,000 years ago, depicts wind movement just as we understand it according to modern science. The Bible is not a science textbook, but when it speaks of science, it speaks most accurately. Notice the word “circuits.” This is the idea of circles, or loops, or (if you prefer) a series of conveyor belts passing over rollers. The wind “returns” as it cycles around—down, south, up, north; or up, north, down, south. Most aptly, they are termed “wind belts.” Depending on the latitude, north or south of the Equator, wind travels along Earth’s surface in large sweeping motions.

Attempting to grasp the complexities of our natural world is quite exhausting. Our brains are fairly limited, yet our Creator has endowed us with some ability to analyze and understand His handywork. We, being so further removed from creation than the Bible writers, are actually less enlightened. Moreover, despite our technological advances, we (like them) still struggle with the basic challenges of this fallen world. We have yet to eliminate rampant crime, ceaseless war, rank cruelty, extreme poverty, absolute starvation, and so on. The human race, as a whole, has drifted further and further from the LORD God… just like the wind!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Saul of Tarsus not refuse his water baptism by Ananias?