Dost Thou Keep This Commandment?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1 KJV).

Legalistic Christendom constantly stresses “keeping” the “commandments” of God. Despite this alleged “commandment observance” in so many churches, precious few keep the commandment of acknowledging Paul as God’s apostle of us Gentiles. Friend, what about you?

Paul begins nearly every epistle by referring to himself as an “apostle” (Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:1). He claims to be “an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1) or “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1). Today’s Scripture amplifies it—Paul was not chosen to be apostle merely “by” or “through the will of God.” He was ordained as apostle of Jesus Christ “by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ” (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 16:25,26).

Galatians opens with a special expression: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” (1:1). No man invented Paul’s apostleship, and no man appointed him as an apostle. Jesus Christ and Father God personally and directly selected Saul of Tarsus as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). Acts 9:15-16: “But the Lord said unto him [Ananias], Go thy way: for he [Saul/Paul] is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

John 13:20: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” Acts chapter 26, Jesus Christ to Paul: “[17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” What say you?

Edifying #6

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11,12 KJV).

What does “edifying” mean here?

The Holy Spirit said through the Apostle Paul: “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). “Godly edifying” (1 Timothy 1:4) is brought about by “the word of [God’s] grace”—the principles of grace the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ revealed directly to Paul.

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward” (Ephesians 3:1,2). “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). If the information is not God’s Word rightly divided—the grace message, Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon—then it is contrary to God’s will for us Gentiles. Such faulty teaching will not lead to “edifying” (spiritual building up) but rather extensive spiritual weakening and/or utter destruction.

When we ponder the rank Biblical illiteracyabsolute confusion—in the worldwide “Christian” community, it is obvious that precious few use the Bible dispensationally. Most preachers have failed miserably (!!) in “the work of the ministry.” Most churches and seminaries have not (!!) produced “perfected saints.” The Pauline design for the edification of the believer has not (!!) been followed; therefore, we see very few strong, skilled Christians.

Romans chapter 16: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:….” Paul’s Gospel is important, Paul’s epistles are significant, and all other Scripture in light of Pauline revelation is critical.

We summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

A Miserable “Law-Keeper!”

Thursday, May 31, 2018

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin (Romans 7:24,25 KJV).

As Paul closes Romans chapter 7, he is miserable and despondent. How he wants to be delivered from daily failures (religious bondage, legalism)! Suddenly, he realizes that he needs to thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Chapter 8 is the key to being rescued from all his daily disappointments and faults. He is to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh! He is to mind the things of the Spirit and not the things of the flesh!

Romans 8:1-6 is the key to Paul’s dilemma at the conclusion of chapter 7: “[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” We are to think the way the Holy Spirit thinks (grace), and that is how we guard against the predicament in chapter 7.

Today, read Romans chapters 6-8 in one sitting. Watch the truths in chapter 6 be ignored in chapter 7. Then, notice how they are reaffirmed and expanded in chapter 8. We are dead to sin (chapter 6), we are dead to the Law (chapter 7), and we are alive unto God by the indwelling Holy Spirit (chapter 8). “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).

Dear friends, we now close seven full years of “333 Words of Grace!” Only by God’s grace, onward into Year 8! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How did the Law kill Paul?

A Prayer According to God’s Will

Friday, May 4, 2018

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; (1 Timothy 2:1-3 KJV).

Yesterday was the United States’ National Day of Prayer. Today, we pray you pray according to the Lord Jesus Christ’s will for today!

Religious people—the general public, clergy, and government officials—recently assembled nationwide, like they do every year, and prayed for spiritual and moral revival of the “Christian” (?) United States of America. We commend their noble efforts, but God’s Word says there will be no godly revival of any of the world’s Gentile nations until Jesus Christ returns to earth at His Second Coming (Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 59:20–60:3; Zechariah 8:20-23; Revelation 11:15; et cetera).

The LORD’s words to King Solomon are often quoted on this day: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Friends, this is certainly God’s Word, but has nothing to do with Gentiles in the United States in the Dispensation of Grace. This verse has a context often overlooked—the nation Israel under the Mosaic Law, praying in relation to God’s Temple in Jerusalem (verses 15,16). Actually, that Temple was destroyed over 19 centuries ago! Unlike Israel, the United States was never a divinely-founded nation. The American people as a whole are not God’s people like Israel was.

Rather than praying 2 Chronicles 7:14, remember today’s Scripture (God’s Word to us Gentiles). The verse following today’s Scripture says, “[God] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Pray for those in authority, that they would trust Jesus Christ alone as their personal Saviour, and then grow in His Word to them so they can make wise decisions on behalf of the people they govern.

Benjamin Sustains in Famine

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

“And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God: If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so” (Genesis 42:18-20 KJV).

Can we find a New Testament parallel to this account?

A severe famine has struck the land of Canaan (see Genesis 41:53–42:20). In desperation, Jacob sends 10 of his sons to buy food in Egypt (the River Nile was a near constant water source here). When they arrive, a man in Egypt (Joseph—their estranged brother in disguise) decides to test them. They are to return to Canaan and retrieve their other brother, young Benjamin, if they are to be fed with Egypt’s grain. Without Benjamin, Israel will physically starve! Ultimately, they eat because of Benjamin (Genesis 43:15-17).

Israel’s spiritual fall—a spiritual famine—occurred in Acts chapter 7 with the stoning of Stephen. Paul the Apostle is converted and commissioned in chapter 9, with his ministry gradually strengthening. From chapter 15 onward, the 12 Apostles have a restricted ministry. According to Galatians chapter 2, they give all the “heathen” over to Paul’s jurisdiction. The “heathen” here would be all unsaved—both Gentiles and Jews (all without Jesus Christ). Paul is to preach his Gospel of Grace to convert them into the Body of Christ, and save them from spiritual damnation.

Once God had temporarily set aside national Israel, and her 12 Apostles released themselves from their obligation of going to her any further with the Gospel of the Kingdom, Paul began evangelizing those unsaved Jews. Israel’s only hope now is in Paul’s Gospel—his grace ministry and message. How does this relate to today’s Scripture? Well, Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1; Philippians 3:5). From mid-Acts onward, Israel is getting spiritual bread, the Word of God, from Benjamin. Since her program was paused, momentarily suspended, her only hope at spiritual sustenance and life was in the message of a man from the tribe of Benjamin! Fascinating!

Benoni and Benjamin #7

Saturday, April 21, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

At the close of Peter’s life and ministry, the Holy Spirit wrote in 2 Peter chapter 3: “[9] The Lord is not slack concerning his promise [of Christ’s Second Coming], as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance…. [15] And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; [16] As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Romans chapters 9-11 and 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 are the Apostle Paul’s divine explanations why the Second Coming and Millennium (“Benjamin”) have not yet followed Christ’s earthly ministry (“Benoni”). Of course, as Peter himself knew, some were failing to rightly divide the word of truth. So thoroughly confused in Scripture, they had created unspeakable spiritual destruction in themselves and their foolish audiences! (Sound familiar?)

In closing, perhaps you are saying, “How wonderful and insightful this was, Brother Shawn!” (I agree.) “I wish more people would see it!” (Indeed.) “So, why do they not see it? Has God not revealed it to them?” Friend, they can read as well as we, can they not? It is a heart problem—sin. The flesh, the natural man, sees this all as foolishness. It is easier to mock instead of study. When we look beyond Christendom’s superficial teachings, and refuse to be the lazy church members who do not (nor care to) understand the Bible, we actually have something fascinating to see in, and say about, it. Rather than wasting time with church tradition, superstition, and philosophy, we spend our time wisely by reading and studying (!!) Scripture.

Yea, we find amazing treasures in God’s Word when we look with the eyes of faith! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is Hebrews 13:3 a reference to the Body of Christ?

Benoni and Benjamin #6

Friday, April 20, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

When the Apostle Peter maintained Israel’s ancient (and puzzled!) prophets foresaw “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:10,11), he referred to the prophecies of a suffering Messiah (Psalm 22:1-21; Psalm 35:1-28; Psalm 69:1-36; Isaiah 53:3-12; et al.) and a reigning Messiah (Psalm 2:4-9; Psalm 22:22-31; Psalm 45:6,7; Isaiah 9:6,7; Isaiah 11:1-16; Jeremiah 23:5-8; et al.). Like Peter, only after the first set of fulfilled prophecies do we understand it all.

The one mountain the prophets observed ahead turned out to be two mountains aligned. Once Peter and his contemporaries stood on the first peak, though, they recognized a separate and distinct peak still future. They had just experienced Messiah’s First Coming (“the sufferings of Christ”)—His rejection, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven as a royal exile to sit at His Father’s right hand (Psalm 110:1; Acts 1:9-11; Acts 2:32-36). Now, in early Acts (Peter’s ministry), Messiah’s Second Coming is in view. The 12 Apostles, yea all the Little Flock, preach in early Acts, pleading with national Israel to repent of refusing Jesus and prepare for His return by trusting Him. Otherwise, these unbelievers will be consumed in His wrath when He returns to establish that earthly kingdom (“the glory that should follow”)!

As Israel was rapidly approaching that second mountain, something totally unexpected transpired. It was discovered that, while God had been revealing the prophetic program piecemeal, He had kept the mystery program totally secret. In addition to the prophets not understanding the details of one Messiah coming twice, they were completely unaware that a 2,000-year gap separated those comings. Here is the revelation Jesus Christ gave directly to the Apostle Paul. Then, in Acts chapter 15 (Galatians chapter 2), Paul taught Israel’s spiritual leaders about the extensive “mystery” valley below that no one had seen at all. Between the two “prophetic” mountain peaks was a major delay in Messiah’s Second Coming (Kingdom).

Rather than destroy all of Christ-rejecting mankind, Father God inserted between “Benoni” and “Benjamin” a parenthetical period of grace….