Growing in Grace #2

Sunday, August 12, 2018

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18 KJV).

What does it mean to “grow in grace?”

Titus 2:11-13 says, “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;….” God’s grace was never a secret (cf. Genesis 6:8), but it was not a dispensation until the Apostle Paul’s salvation. “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).

Paul said in Acts 20:24, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Beginning with Paul’s salvation and ministry, God began to manifest His grace (favor toward undeserving man) in a very special manner. Grace once limited to the nation Israel (Matthew 20:28) had now been extended to “all men” (Titus 2:11 above).

First Timothy chapter 2: “[3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” Be careful to notice verse 7! Paul was the first to proclaim that Christ Jesus gave His life “a ransom for all.

We will now look at today’s Scripture in context to see what the Holy Spirit says through the Apostle Peter….

The Wise Masterbuilder #7

Thursday, January 11, 2018

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10,11 KJV).

Who is the “wise masterbuilder?” In what way is he “wise?” What is he building? Where do we fit in?

Returning to the context of today’s Scripture, we begin the chapter at verse 1 and work our way down to ascertain its thought-flow: “[1] And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. [2] I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. [3] For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? [4] For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?”

As we read earlier in chapter 1, and just noticed in chapter 3, so we read in chapter 11: “[18] For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. [19] For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Again, the most basic problem in Corinth is “divisions” (schisms). They follow a wide variety of people—Peter, Apollos, Christ in His earthly ministry, and Paul. This has thus caused them to hold diverse doctrines (“heresies”). Moreover, pagan Greek philosophers and legalistic Jewish false teachers have further confused them. Sound Bible doctrine is under attack: the teaching ministry of the Spirit of God is being suppressed and the flesh (man’s sin nature) is in complete control at Corinth! (Sound familiar?)

The solution to the Corinthian dilemma—yea, Christendom’s problem even today—is to see and embrace the wisdom of the wise masterbuilder that can construct a mighty spiritual edifice to the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ….

The Wise Masterbuilder #6

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10,11 KJV).

Who is the “wise masterbuilder?” In what way is he “wise?” What is he building? Where do we fit in?

Earlier, we referred to the Apostolic conference in Jerusalem as documented in Acts chapter 15 and Galatians chapter 2. There, Paul and Barnabas met with James, Peter, and John. Many years later, at the very end of his life and ministry, the Apostle Peter penned as the Holy Spirit moved him: “[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.” Even at such a late date, Peter did not understand all Pauline doctrine: Peter knew God had given Paul “wisdom” not given to him (Peter).

When we consider Peter’s Jewish-oriented ministry, Christ’s Jewish-oriented earthly ministry, and Peter’s limited knowledge of Pauline theology, now we understand the purpose of today’s Scripture. It is actually a warning. Who is the “wise masterbuilder” according to God’s plan for the Corinthians? Peter? Nay! Christ in His earthly ministry? Nay! Who has laid the foundation as concerning those Corinthian saints? Peter? Nay! Christ in His earthly ministry? Nay! Today’s Scripture says Paul is the “wise masterbuilder” and Paul has laid the foundation. How is he “wise?” God revealed some special information directly to him.

Ephesians chapter 3:“[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)….”

Our first Bible Q&A of 2018: “Was Mary Magdalene really a prostitute?

The Wise Masterbuilder #5

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10,11 KJV).

Who is the “wise masterbuilder?” In what way is he “wise?” What is he building? Where do we fit in?

In 2 Timothy 2:15, we find some extremely useful instructions: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The “word of truth,” obviously, is the Bible, for Jesus Christ said to His Heavenly Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). The Bible is to be studied “rightly divided,” but how is this to be done? Since the Holy Spirit through Paul told us to “rightly divide the word of truth,” He also instructed us through Paul how to do it.

The Holy Spirit through Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 2: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

In “time past,” God dealt with mankind on the basis of physical circumcision (Jew) and physical uncircumcision (Gentile). However, beginning with Paul’s ministry, this changed. In the “but now,” there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile (cf. Galatians 5:6, Galatians 6:15)—all are considered Gentile (or “heathen;” Galatians 1:16). With the switch from “time past” to “but now,” God would send a man to preach to the Gentiles—Saul of Tarsus (cf. Acts 26:16-18, Romans 11:13). Chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, verse 2, says of the Corinthians: “Ye know that ye were Gentiles….”

The Corinthians’ main problem, as apparent in today’s Scripture, was forgetting whom God had sent to them….

The Wise Masterbuilder #4

Monday, January 8, 2018

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10,11 KJV).

Who is the “wise masterbuilder?” In what way is he “wise?” What is he building? Where do we fit in?

In Acts chapter 18, God sent the Apostle Paul to the Gentiles in Corinth. No minister of Jesus Christ had ever preached there before. Verse 11 says, “And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” He preached “the Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24) to these Hell-bound pagans and they believed unto eternal life! First Corinthians chapter 15 looks back: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;…. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….”

Throughout his 18-month stay, Paul also taught these former idolaters all about proper Christian (grace) living. After he departed Corinth, Apollos, another grace teacher, arrived and continued where Paul left off (Acts 18:1–19:1). Hence, some Corinthians clung to Apollos in 1 Corinthians 1:12.

There is no verse in Scripture that indicates Cephas (Peter) or Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry ever visited and taught in Corinth. Contrariwise, as per Galatians 2:9 (Acts chapter 15), Peter had already restricted his ministry to “the circumcision” (believing Israel, the “Little Flock” of Luke 12:32). From Acts chapter 15 onward, Peter had no ministry to unsaved Jews and unsaved Gentiles. Moreover, Peter and the other Israeli Apostles agreed to turn all “heathen” (unsaved) over to Paul (including Corinth, which Paul later visited in chapter 18). Furthermore, Christ’s earthly ministry was restricted to the nation Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24; Romans 15:8), so He had not gone to Corinth either.

Yea, a failure to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) caused the Corinthians’ schisms….

The Wise Masterbuilder #3

Sunday, January 7, 2018

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10,11 KJV).

Who is the “wise masterbuilder?” In what way is he “wise?” What is he building? Where do we fit in?

Two decades prior to today’s Scripture, the ascended Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saul of Tarsus in Acts chapter 9 to end his satanic ministry. Saul—an unbelieving, hateful, Hell-bound, Israeli religious leader—had not thought twice about torturing and executing his fellow Jews who had believed in Jesus as Messiah/Christ (Son of God and King of Israel). However, once God directly intervened and met Saul face-to-face, Saul was truly a changed man. There, on that road to Damascus, Saul came to see and trust that Jesus Christ, whom he and his nation had bitterly opposed and murdered, had actually died for his sins, had been buried, and had been raised again for his justification (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)!

After saving him, the ascended Lord Jesus Christ commissioned Saul. Many years later, now known as Paul, he spoke of his conversion. Acts chapter 26 reports: “[15] And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. [16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send [apostello] 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.”

The Holy Spirit thus caused Paul to write in Romans 11:13: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle [“sent-one”] of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Since God sent Paul to the Gentiles, He sent Paul to Corinth….

A Life That Will Please

Thursday, January 4, 2018

“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).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can live a life pleasing in God’s sight!

Everyone does “good” deeds. Yet, doing “good” is not necessarily good. For instance, people often do “good” just to receive praise/reward, make up for their wrongs, feel good, et cetera. Furthermore, despite our “good” deeds, we have plenty more bad ones! Pride, lying, evil thoughts, being a false witness, and being contentious are some of the things the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Mankind cannot even keep 10 simple rules from God. However, religion continues to urge us to keep seven sacraments, utter various prayers, give assorted offerings and “tithes,” attend numerous feasts and festivals, and perform sundry other tasks to “hopefully” please God and avoid hellfire. Whether we attempt to keep a church’s laws, our laws, or God’s laws, our flesh is far too weak to ever measure up. Just look at what God’s religion did to Israel—how much worse some man-made religion does to us!

As Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, a religious leader of Israel. He was a nitpicker concerning Law-keeping, and yet, after his soul salvation, he admitted that all of his religion was “but dung” compared to Jesus Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3:3-11). Even for the Christian, to live a perfect life is impossible (read of Paul’s miserable existence in Romans chapter 7). Paul had to forsake his vain religion and learn today’s Scripture: the Christian life is NOT the performance of the Christian, but the Lord Jesus Christ living and working in the Christian, as the Christian walks in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to him or her!

If we trust a Saviour who will save—the Lord Jesus Christ—and trust a Book that will teach—the King James Bible—we can redeem the year for the great God and our Saviour, “who loved [us], and gave himself for [us]!” 🙂