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?

A Recipe for Disaster

Monday, November 26, 2018

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it (Hebrews 4:2 KJV).

Can we possess God’s Word and it not benefit us?

From the time He created man and placed him on Earth, the God of the Bible has extended a message for man’s faith and obedience. While a written Bible was not always available to man, there was God’s spoken Word. That message changed through time because man changed. These individual Divine revelations are “dispensations,” each applicable only for a limited time.

In today’s Scripture (actually beginning back in chapter 3), the writer of the Book of Hebrews recalls Israel’s history. JEHOVAH God had promised them the land of Canaan, but they refused to enter (Numbers chapters 13–14). Hebrews reveals their problem: “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (3:19). They did not believe God’s Word to them. No faith!

A person can own a Bible, carry it around, flip through it, read it daily, memorize it, tell others about it, hear it preached at church, and still be out of God’s will and still lack His power. No matter the dispensation, personal faith is always most important before God: “But without faith it is impossible to please [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Faith is the key to activating God’s Word in our lives. Once we believe the verses we read or hear, God the Holy Spirit works in us and then outwardly: “…To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). He makes the verses a reality in our lives, that we reflect the grace doctrine we believe, and thus He benefits us! 🙂

Sanctified Through God’s Truth

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17 KJV).

Jesus Christ prayed to His Heavenly Father for His followers in Israel’s program (especially His Apostles—verse 12). He would do likewise for us today in the Dispensation of Grace.

Sanctification is not to be confused with justification. The former is to be “set apart for the purpose for which God intended;” the latter means “declared righteous before God.” One must be justified (righteousness imputed to his account) before he can be sanctified (useful to God’s work—“holy,” a “saint”).

Just moments before His arrest, Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane communes with Father God by praying throughout John chapter 17. Verse 8 is crucial to grasping today’s Scripture: “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me: and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” Now, verse 14: “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

The Lord was not praying for His followers to be saved unto eternal life (they were already justified). What He desired was spiritual fruit, their identity in Him being manifested in the form of works. Father God’s Word—which He (Jesus) had just taught them for over three years—would be how the Holy Father would use those men for His purposes. He would send His Holy Spirit (Acts chapter 2) to empower them according to the words He had already given them in Christ’s earthly ministry. That message would be further expanded once the Holy Spirit came (see John 14:26; John 15:25-27; John 16:7-14).

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Saints, God’s Word to us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon—will effectually work in us on a daily basis if we believe it. Then, we too will be “sanctified through [God’s] truth!”

The Truth Through Time

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3,4 KJV).

As someone once wisely observed, “The first generation loves the truth, the second generation tolerates the truth, and the third generation snubs the truth.”

Today’s Scripture contains some of the Apostle Paul’s parting words to young Pastor Timothy. Verses 13-17 of the third chapter had said, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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.”

In light of how the Holy Bible (rightly divided) can deliver us from the doctrinal error running rampant, the Holy Spirit opens chapter 4: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (Notice today’s Scripture within.)

A culture saturated with God’s Word will gradually be weaned from it if its leaders do not faithfully transfer those truths to the next generation. “And the things that thou hast heard of me [Paul] among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also(2 Timothy 2:2). Brethren, may we be here “faithful!”

Special-edition Bible Q&A #550: “What does the Bible say about ‘ghosts?’

Believe What You Want!

Monday, October 29, 2018

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:12,13 KJV).

Beware, friend! The Bible will let you believe whatever you want!

Long ago, I wondered how Almighty God could let people use His Word to teach false doctrine. After all, they appealed to Scripture and still wound up confused: quoting the Bible, they taught the most heretical, apostate, blasphemous ideas. Need a verse to prove water baptism saves? Mark 16:16! Want a passage to show that eating Christ’s physical body and drinking His physical blood imparts eternal life? John 6:53-57! Need a verse to demonstrate that Jesus is just a Man and not God? Mark 13:32! Want to emphasize legalism as pleasing to God today? Matthew 19:16-17!

The Holy Bible (King James Bible in English) is plain and clear to any soul honestly and humbly seeking God’s truth. However, most who use it are simply looking for proof texts to defend their denomination. They do not want Scripture to say what it says where it says it when it says it and to whom it says it. Actually, since they are filled with religious arrogance (what God’s Book knows—yes, knows!!—about them), He has supplied verses to validate their pet positions! The result? Millions upon millions upon millions going to Hell… while quoting Scripture!!! Millions of Christians losing reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ… while quoting Scripture!!!

Certainly, God’s Word is no ordinary Book. It is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (today’s Scripture). The Bible reads us as we read it! It, being supernatural, evaluates our heart attitude and aim. If we approach it snubbing its dispensational layout (2 Timothy 2:15), we can expect nothing but difficulty and destruction (2 Peter 3:15-18). The God of the Bible values free will—yea, we are free to even deliberately choose error (Romans 1:18-32)!

Enlightening the Ethiopian Eunuch #7

Sunday, October 28, 2018

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet (Acts 8:26-28 KJV).

Why and how can this Ethiopian eunuch be enlightened?

Friend, you will most likely agree with the next statement. There is nothing more exasperating than having a Bible, reading it and reading it and reading it, and yet getting nothing out of it. Millions upon millions upon millions of poor, precious souls find themselves in the same predicament. They faithfully attend church services weekly or even daily, they hear the Bible read or sung, and yet they gain as much insight into God’s Word as if there never was a Bible! What is the first step in understanding and enjoying Scripture?

Philip was entrusted with the ability of interpreting God’s Word whereas the Ethiopian eunuch was not. What made the difference? Acts 8:29 says that the Holy Spirit was involved: He was operating in and through Philip! In stark contrast, the eunuch was filled with nothing but religious tradition and human viewpoint. The eunuch learned firsthand that philosophy and man’s opinions are no substitute for God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:1-16)! Philip is a believer in Christ and the eunuch is not; the former has the Holy Spirit, and the latter does not. Yet, the eunuch was seeking the truth, and God honored that heart attitude.

“I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” the eunuch proclaimed in verse 37. Through Philip, the Holy Spirit had personally taught him from the Isaiah scroll. He had seen truths he would have never known otherwise. Verse 39 closes with his water baptism, and when the Spirit of the Lord snatches up Philip to preach elsewhere, the eunuch goes on his way “rejoicing.” What delight the eunuch now has as he goes on home to Ethiopia! “I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil” (Psalm 119:162).

Enlightening the Ethiopian Eunuch #6

Saturday, October 27, 2018

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet (Acts 8:26-28 KJV).

Why and how can this Ethiopian eunuch be enlightened?

“[35] Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. [36] And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? [37] And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. [38] And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. [39] And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”

Verse 37 is key, as it is the eunuch’s profession of faith: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (This is omitted from modern English versions.) What exactly did Philip preach to him? There is no mention of Christ’s cross as good news. Did he say, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who died for my sins and rose again?” No. There is nothing about Calvary. All Philip told him was that Messiah was prophesied in Isaiah chapter 53, and Jesus fulfilled the passage. The eunuch saw that Jesus was Christ, the Son of God (the Gospel of the Kingdom—Matthew 16:16). In other words, he as a Gentile understood and believed what Israel by and large refused to understand and believe (John 1:11,12)! He was then water baptized, what Israel overwhelmingly rejected as well (Luke 7:29,30).

Indeed, the Scriptural record has rebuked Israel….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why does Peter start with Samuel in Acts 3:24?