Hearing is Not Enough #10

Saturday, January 14, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough? (NO!)

As numerous people in history heard the Word of God but placed no faith in it, as myriads today hear the Holy Bible yet refuse to trust it, so many souls in the future will hear the Word of God and persist in unbelief.

Hebrews 3:15 speaks of the ages to come: “While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” See Psalm 95:7,8: “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness.” Psalms recalls Israel’s unbelief during the 40-year wilderness wanderings under Moses. Hebrews looks to the future, when countless Jewish unbelievers support the Antichrist. Having heard substantial information about Jesus being Christ, but not trusting Him as personal Saviour, their callous or unfeeling heart thus inclines toward the Antichrist (thereby leading to their eternal doom)!

As much sound Bible doctrine as we have heard, we should not only have believed it in our head but, more importantly, trusted it in our heart. If we believe in our heart less than what we have learned, the Lord is never (!) to blame for any resultant confusion, heartache, misery, or apostasy.

“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 [not simply ‘hear,’ but ‘believe!’](1 Thessalonians 2:13).

And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day(John 12:47,48).

Hearing is Not Enough #9

Friday, January 13, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

By the time of Acts chapter 7, Israel’s one-year extension to repent and believe the Gospel of the Kingdom is nearly over (see Luke 13:6-9, noting “this year”  in verse 8 follows Christ’s “three years” of earthly ministry). Stephen recounts Israel’s long history of unbelief—climaxing in Jesus’ rejection and crucifixion. He winds down his sermon with the following: “[51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. [52] Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One [Christ Jesus]; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: [53] Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”

Israel’s unbelieving leadership responds: When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth” (verse 54). Rather than admitting their sin, they proceeded to physically assault Stephen, yet the worst is to come! “[55] But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, [56] And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. [57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, [58] And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. [59] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. [60] And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Yes, they heard the Word of God, but they did not receive it in faith, so it cost God’s preacher Stephen his life.

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Hearing is Not Enough #8

Thursday, January 12, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

Read Christ’s Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:2-9, and Luke 8:4-8. The interpretation or explanation is provided in Matthew 13:18-23, Mark 4:14-20, and Luke 8:11-15. Overall, four classes of people heard the Word of God (here, the Gospel of the Kingdom), but only the last category (a mere one-fourth of the audience!) actually received by faith that sound Bible doctrine. The other three were various types of lost souls—but who all heard the Word! Furthermore, after concluding the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus cautioned Israel not only to “hear” His words but “do” them (Matthew 7:24-26); He closed the Sermon on the Plain likewise (Luke 6:46-49).

A remarkable passage is Acts 24:24-27: “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.”

Roman Governor Felix heard the Gospel of Grace from the Apostle Paul himself—and literally shuddered when he realized he was a lost, Hell-bound sinner! Alas, Felix procrastinated, delaying to place his faith in what he had just heard about Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins. For two years, he had more “Bible discussions” with Paul, and we can be absolutely certain Paul did all that he could to reach Felix (who, as it turned out, remained lost and kept Paul in chains!!). Like so many billions through the millennia, it was far better had Felix heard nothing from God, than to have heard so much from Him and yet believed none of it!

To reiterate, hearing the Word of God is insufficient….

Hearing is Not Enough #7

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

Romans chapter 10 is the Holy Spirit describing lost Israel in the Acts period, whether during Peter’s ministry or Paul’s ministry: “[14] How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? [15] And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! [16] But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? [17] So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. [18] But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”

In Isaiah 53:1 (quoted in Romans 10:16), seven centuries before Acts, Israel had failed to believe the words of God that were written and preached to her. The Word of God was there, so faith (trust in that Word) should have also been present (but it was not!). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Concerning Paul’s sermon to pagan Greeks in Athens, the Word of God was proclaimed, but there was no faith in the heart of these heathen listeners either! “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter (Acts 17:30-32). These actually ridiculed Divine revelation!

The above souls heard sound Bible doctrine, but it did not benefit them because there was no positive response (faith)….

The Misunderstood Messiah #5

Friday, December 30, 2022

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Once Christ replied with sound doctrine (verses 42-47), Israel’s religious leaders simply resorted to name-calling again (verse 48): “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” A Samaritan was half-Jew/half-Gentile, and “the Jews [had] no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Notice Jesus was insulted twice more—they called Him a “Samaritan” and “devil possessed.” Throughout the rest of John chapter 8, Israel’s religious leaders continue arguing with Jesus and nearly stone Him to death (verse 59)!

Why did Jesus not simply “zap” these religionists and instantly throw them into hellfire? They belittled and blasphemed Him several times in this one account, and then attempted to murder Him, but rather than Jesus killing them with His spoken word (which would have been justified), He only conversed with them. Why?

Remember, when the Apostles James and John saw how the Samaritans refused to accommodate Jesus, they asked Him if He wanted them to call down fire from heaven and consume those sinners, He replied, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55,56). This First Coming of Christ was His “meek and lowly” coming: He did not come to judge man’s sins, but to die for them!

Even today, God is still not pouring out His wrath on wicked mankind (2 Corinthians 5:19), creatures who still snicker at Jesus Christ, deceive others in His name, persecute His saints, ignore His Word, and “rub His nose” in their sins. Lost mankind is wasting God’s grace and mercy that He is offering so freely. When His grace is finally exhausted, the undiluted wrath that has accumulated will finally be poured out (His Second Coming). May we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour now so we have our sins forgiven now, lest we face that angry, righteous God in judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)!

For more information, you may also see our archived Bible Q&A: “Did God ‘rape’ Mary?

For What Saith the Scriptures?

Thursday, December 15, 2022

“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 ninth 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 nine 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! 🙂

NOTE: As special-edition Q&A article #1000 is still in development, “For What Saith the Scriptures?” is not being updated at the moment. However, remember, we still have 999 other Bible study articles archived at https://forwhatsaiththescriptures.org.

 

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks #3

Saturday, December 10, 2022

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13,14 KJV).

The fifth verse and the final verse of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.

“Thus spake the angel and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels, praising God, and thus
Addressed their joyful song:
‘All glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from Heaven to men
Begin and never cease
Begin and never cease.’”

People who know nothing about the Bible carelessly complain that the God of the Old Testament was a “bigot.” They dislike that He dealt almost exclusively with Israel, having almost no dealings with Gentiles. Additionally, they whine that Jesus was a “racist” because He said that His earthly ministry was limited to Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24). What fools and blasphemers!

When JEHOVAH promised Abraham that He would make of him a great nation, that nation was to be the channel of God’s salvation and blessing to reach all the world’s (Gentile) nations. “…[I]n thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Rebuking ignorant Nicodemus, Jesus said of Israel’s earthly kingdom: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus also said, “…[R]epentance and remission of sins should be preached in [my] name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). He told His apostles to baptize and teach all nations(Matthew 28:19). God was dealing with and converting Israel, that redeemed Israel go to all nations on His behalf when Jesus became their King!!! Read Zechariah 8:20-23 and Isaiah 60:1-3 (yet future).

Hence, the angels sang at Jesus’ birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” God wanted everyone“good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (verse 10)—to have a relationship with Him in Israel’s kingdom. Of course, Israel’s kingdom is still future. Romans 11:11-13 says salvation is coming to us Gentiles without Israel, through Paul’s ministry and Paul’s Gospel (Christ’s finished crosswork).

NOTE: I want to say a special “Happy Birthday” to my Mom, who will no doubt read this. Thank you for being faithful to Father God in leading me to Jesus Christ and teaching me the Scriptures all those years ago! 🙂

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #5

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

“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! 🙂

Lead By Good Example

Monday, November 28, 2022

“And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself” (Luke 23:35-37 KJV).

When we compare today’s Scripture to Matthew chapter 27, we can make an interesting deduction….

As the Lord Jesus is crucified, they make fun of Him, taunting and insulting Him. They simply cannot fathom how this “great” “Saviour,” this “mighty” “King,” could now seem so defenseless while they mercilessly torture Him. Why does He not deliver Himself? The Roman soldiers tease Him, “If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.” From where did they get this notion?

If we turn to the Book of Matthew, we find these remarks: “Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him” (Matthew 27:41,42). These “chief priests,” “scribes” (Bible copyists and teachers), and “elders” (aged men) are all members of Israel’s leadership. Apparently, once the Jews ridiculed the Lord, the Gentiles heard it and copied them! This was a reversal of God’s Old Testament hope for Israel, for the Jewish people (the worshippers of the one true God, sole possessors of His Book) were to be good spiritual examples to the Gentiles (who had nothing but mere idols and darkness).

“Therefore I [a Jew] will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen [Gentiles], and I will sing praises unto thy name” (2 Samuel 22:50). “O praise the LORD, all ye nations [Gentiles]: praise him, all ye people” (Psalm 117:1). Declare his glory among the heathen [Gentiles], his wonders among all people” (Psalm 96:3). Saints, lest we be like ancient, apostate Israel at Calvary’s cross, may we properly represent the LORD before the unsaved world around us—leading them to honor the LORD instead of dislike Him!

NOTE: Brethren, this is our final original devotional for 2022, as our classic Christmas studies will now run the rest of the year.

The Ravings of a Madman! #10

Sunday, October 16, 2022

“And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself” (Mark 3:20,21 KJV).

Who here is “beside himself?” Why has this designation been applied?

Saints, as we manage our lives and ministries, we must (!) remember our loyalty is solely to the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not follow preachers, denominations, or theological systems. We are not here to share “feel-good messages” so everyone will love and praise us. Our Lord Jesus conducted His life and earthly ministry to think like and serve Father God (John 8:28,29). He was not here to please people. Likewise, we are to be about Father God’s will, thinking like He does, walking by faith in His rightly divided Scriptures—regardless of what any fellow humans say or think about us. What is of ultimate importance is Heavenly Father’s assessment of us.

This is precisely how the Holy Spirit caused our Apostle Paul to view his life and ministry: “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. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God(1 Corinthians 4:3-5).

Let them belittle us: we need not their applause anyway. Let them abhor us: we need not their love anyway. Let them kill us: we need not their world anyway. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1,2). If we have the renewed mind, we are truly not the madmen! 🙂