The Goodness of God

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17 KJV).

Friend, would you give a cup of water to your enemy? One slice of bread? A piece of fruit? The God of the Bible gives much more to His enemies!

Some people have so offended us, we think twice about letting them drink from our garden water hose (let alone our kitchen faucet!). We hesitate to give them crumbs (much less a full course meal!). Today’s Scripture closes the sermon the Apostles Barnabas and Paul preached to the pagan idolaters in Lystra (southern Turkey). The one true God had given these heathen over to the satanic religion they had desired (verses 11-13,15,16); yet, He sustained their crop production with the natural laws He had ordained in creation. Recall Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:45, “…he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

The God of creation let them have His water (rain). He allowed them to eat His food that grew in His soil with His sunshine. His matter, His atoms, His molecules keep them from starving and dying. Back in Genesis chapter 1, He had created it all from nothing, spoken it all into existence; then, these spiritually blind Gentiles took His provisions and gave them over to worthless false deities! He knew the heathen of the world would ignore Him and worship and serve idols of wood and stone, gold and silver. They would prepare food and drink offerings for pagan gods, not Him (the God of creation, the God of Israel). Yet, He let them have their way. His creation—notice again that it is His creation—would be used to praise everyone and everything but Him. Sad!

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Calvary is the greatest expression of God’s goodness toward His enemies—us!

A Prayer According to God’s Will

Friday, May 3, 2019

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.

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 21, 2019

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

The Sins of the Times! #4

Sunday, March 10, 2019

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV).

Friend, you have surely heard of “the signs of the times,” but do you know anything about “the sins of the times?”

Reading today’s Scripture in context once more: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Human society, not simply one nation but the whole world, will run rampant with the following 18 sins—self-centeredness, wanting others’ possessions, bragging, haughtiness, slandering other people and/or God, rebelling against parents, never being satisfied, not set apart for God’s purposes, void of expected love, refusing to get along with others, lying to harm others, lacking self-control, savagery, looking down on and hating Christians, betraying each other, making rash decisions and engaging in careless behavior, inflated with self-conceitedness, fonder more of entertainment than of God. What more can we say here? That is our morning newspaper. This is our nightly news report. Here is the homepage of our favorite news website!

As if such conditions are not awful enough, there is an eye-opening qualification in verse 5: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Society will engage in those 18 sinful activities under the guise of “godliness.” They will have a religious or god-like appearance. While claiming to be doing right, championing their work as noble and “fair for all,” (false) religion provides the perfect cover for their duplicity. They call it “progress” and “breaking free from societal norms and old-fashioned thinking:” we can improve ourselves, they say, without God’s involvement. We can be our own god, and do our own thing in life. Let us make our own rules—decide what is right and what is wrong—since we have tossed out sound Bible doctrine….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “If God is everywhere, is He suffering in Hell?

The Sins of the Times! #3

Saturday, March 9, 2019

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV).

Friend, you have surely heard of “the signs of the times,” but do you know anything about “the sins of the times?”

Studying the Bible, we learn the term “last days” refers to God bringing Israel’s prophetic program to its conclusion, its ultimate goal (His earthly kingdom). A sequence of four major events accomplishes it: (1) Christ’s earthly ministry, (2) the pouring out of God’s Spirit at Pentecost, (3) the pouring out of His wrath during the seven-year Tribulation, and (4) the actual Second Coming of Christ. Signs involved throughout, God’s earthly kingdom is eventually founded.

However, God in His grace and longsuffering interrupted that timeline in the Book of Acts. The first two events have already transpired; the last two are future from us. Our dispensation sits in the middle, completely isolated from the prophetic program. God kept our mystery program a secret until He revealed it to Paul (Ephesians 3:1-9; Colossians 1:23-36). Pauline doctrine allows us to see what God planned all along but which knowledge He had intentionally withheld from Satan and his angelic allies (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).

When Paul speaks of the “last days” (today’s Scripture), he refers to the last days of our Dispensation of Grace (and our Dispensation divides the “last days” of Israel’s program, with one portion preceding us and the other following us). Paul does not urge us to look for earthquakes, famines, wars, or pestilences as noteworthy of the last days with respect to us. He has a different coming of Christ in mind—one not found in Matthew chapter 24!

Today’s Scripture in context: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

“Perilous [dangerous] times” indeed, but not due to war, earthquake, famine, or pestilence. There is rather a spiritual hazard….

The Sins of the Times! #2

Friday, March 8, 2019

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV).

Friend, you have surely heard of “the signs of the times,” but do you know anything about “the sins of the times?”

It is a common mistake to suppose Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry is directed toward us, that He is speaking to and about us in Matthew through John. However, we can read that He preached only to Jews (Matthew 15:24; Matthew 10:5-7), and He had no ministry to us Gentiles (Romans 15:8; cf. John 4:22). After He ascended into Heaven though, He showed the Apostle Paul some information kept secret in Matthew through John. God’s current dealings with man are described in that most recent Divine revelation.

“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, 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:…” (Romans 16:25,26). This is what the Bible means, “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).

The Bible is to be understood as a timeline: not every passage and verse is applicable all the time. If we fail to understand the Bible dispensationally, especially ignoring the fact that “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” was committed to Paul’s trust that he might then give it to us Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1,2), then we will overlook his special ministry to us (his unique epistles, Romans through Philemon).

God indeed dealt with man according to signs, miracles, and wonders. That time has come and gone; that is for another dispensation (and not ours!). Jesus told His disciples to look for signs of His coming (recall the Olivet Discourse) whereas the Holy Spirit through Paul speaks of Christ’s coming but never once attaches “signs” or admonishes us to watch for them. The only conclusion to draw is that there are two future returns of Christ. Signs precede one coming, while sins come before the other….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we be ‘fruit inspectors?’

Distributing the Four Gospel Records? #3

Monday, March 4, 2019

But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24 KJV).

To whom was Christ’s earthly ministry directed?

Matthew through John are God’s Word to and about Israel preparing to receive her Messiah-King (Jesus Christ) and earthly kingdom (Matthew 10:5-7; Romans 9:4,5). Jesus Christ and His associates (His heralder or forerunner John the Baptist, His 12 apostles, and so on) thus preached “the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 9:35; cf. Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; et cetera). They performed miracles to validate that Gospel message that God’s kingdom was near (Mark 16:20; Luke 8:1,2). Israel would be delivered from bondage to sin and Satan, and then she would take God’s Word to the nations. Yet, Israel has yet to be delivered! God has temporarily paused the program He was operating in Christ’s earthly ministry. Through Israel’s fall salvation is come to us Gentiles (Romans 11:11-14).

Jesus Christ gave the Apostle Paul “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” to give to us Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1,2). We do not find God’s present-day dealings with man in Matthew through John; we find our instructions in Romans through Philemon. How will Father God stabilize our souls? Through His Word “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15)! We must understand Paul’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3,4), then the rest of Pauline doctrine, and finally the entire Bible in light of Pauline revelation.

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:….”

Thus, Christian friend, if you are wondering where to begin with Bible translation or distribution, you are strongly urged to start with the Book of Romans. Romans is the clearest exposition of the Gospel of Grace by which we have a relationship with God today (chapters 1–5). It is also the most basic handbook for Christian living (chapters 6–16), with special emphasis on us not being the nation Israel (chapters 9–11). Simple!

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