Blinded!

Friday, November 22, 2019

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:1-4 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is just as true today as it was 20 centuries ago!

A Christian sister and I were once speaking with a dear, sweet lady about the Bible. We asked her if she knew where she was going when she died. She replied rather confidently, “I am going to Heaven.” This sounded good, obviously, and we were waiting for her to tell us the Gospel. However, when we proceeded to ask her how she knew she was going to Heaven, she responded: “People have told me so!”

Long ago, a man had been taking care of his ailing wife for several years at their home. Someone heard of that arrangement and commented, “Surely, he is going to Heaven. He is so good to her.” It was later determined—to that “someone’s” shock—that that man was physically and sexually abusing his wife!

Friends, it is most unfortunate that, of all topics, people are so ill-informed concerning the Gospel of Grace. Their eternal souls are in danger of going to a place of everlasting torment. Yet, they believe otherwise because they are depending on weak speculations and faulty assumptions. Satan’s evil world system has so blinded them with works-religion (cf. today’s Scripture). In fact, they are so lost they really cannot appreciate the fact they are lost!

The Apostle Paul, as unsaved Saul of Tarsus, was once deceived in works-religion. He had likewise deceived others. Once he trusted Christ, however, he gave up believing and telling religious lies. Brethren, let us speak the truth of the Gospel of Grace—1 Corinthians 15:3,4—with such clarity that we avoid any misunderstandings in the minds of people already thoroughly confused about God’s Good News!

Signs of Shallowness #8

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:11-14 KJV).

Behold the signs of shallowness!

The writer of the Book of Hebrews could have written more about Jesus Christ, but national Israel was unable to handle it. So, it was necessary to start with the basics (higher doctrine would be presented later). Hebrews itself is the most fundamental treatise—a “beginner’s guide”—to the work of Christ with respect to Israel. Like Romans does for us the Church the Body of Christ, Hebrews underscores Calvary’s crosswork for Israel. As we do not stop in our edification in Romans, so Israel does not stay in Hebrews-level doctrine. They are to further mature, grasping the Books of James through Revelation.

Building on today’s Scripture (the close of chapter 5), the Holy Spirit began chapter 6: “[1] Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, [2] Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. [3] And this will we do, if God permit.” The “perfection” here is not sinlessness but spiritual maturity. God gave the Bible to Israel to grow her spiritually, and to mature us the Body of Christ spiritually.

Indeed, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That [purpose/intent] the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17). We know exactly what God is doing, and we need not be shallow in our understanding….

The Greatest Veteran

Monday, November 11, 2019

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15 KJV).

Today is Veterans’ Day in the United States, so let us especially thank the “Greatest Veteran of All Time.”

We thank veterans, living and departed, the often-forgotten men and women who risked their lives to secure our freedom. Just as we remember flesh-and-blood veterans who fought for our physical liberty, we reserve our worship and utmost respect for the least esteemed Veteran, He who secured our spiritual liberty.

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Through Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary, we have eternal victory over sin, death, hell, and Satan. Everything that God has planned for us is dependent upon Christ’s victory at Calvary.

Jesus Christ nailed the Mosaic Law to His cross (today’s Scripture). His sinless blood covered our failure to obey God’s laws; Jesus’ righteousness annulled our unrighteousness (sin). Christ not only liberated us from sin and its penalty (the everlasting lake of fire), but today’s Scripture affirms He also triumphed over Satan himself!

Christ has “spoiled [destroyed] principalities and powers [Satan’s power], he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it [His cross].” Jesus Christ destroyed Satan’s plans. Through Christ’s cross, God has “delivered us from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13), Satan’s evil system of Ephesians 2:1-3.

During a recent cemetery visit, I noticed American flags flying above deceased veterans’ headstones. These individuals can no longer hear or regard our thanks, but Jesus Christ’s body is not decaying in some tomb. If there ever was a Veteran most worthy of our gratitude, it is our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He died in battle, allowing Himself to be executed on a Roman cross of shame and scorn, He resurrected. He is alive and well today, alive forevermore!

Saints, eternity will ring with our thanks to the Veteran worth thanking, the Lord Jesus Christ.

*Adapted from our 2010 Bible study, “The Greatest Hero.” The Bible study video can be viewed here.

What Pleases God #8

Saturday, November 9, 2019

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (2 Peter 1:17 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we will define exactly what God thinks well of….

“He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me” (2 Samuel 22:20; cf. Psalm 18:19). King David celebrates after JEHOVAH God “delighted” (was pleased with) him and delivered him from all his enemies. This previews believing Israel’s future deliverance at Christ’s Second Coming, liberated from Satan and all other Jew-haters. “For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).

When compared to His Son’s perfect sacrifice of Himself on Calvary’s cross, God has “no pleasure” in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin (Hebrews 10:6-8). As concerning us Christians in the Body of Christ, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). God has “no pleasure” in hearts of unbelief (Hebrews 10:38). He was “not well pleased” with a large number of Jews who came out of Egypt (1 Corinthians 10:5); hence, they died in unbelief in the wilderness in the Book of Numbers. As Israel killed Messiah Jesus, and then persecuted and slew His Apostles and their converts during the Acts period, the Holy Spirit commented on how the Jews “please not God” (1 Thessalonians 2:15).

“But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased (Psalm 115:3; cf. Psalm 135:6). “By him [Christ] therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:15,16). “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs” (Psalm 69:30,31). Saints, we know what pleases God! Now, how will we respond? 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the ‘appearing’ of the Lord in 2 Timothy 4:8?

What Pleases God #7

Friday, November 8, 2019

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (2 Peter 1:17 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we will define exactly what God thinks well of….

Ephesians 1:6 says Father God “hath made us accepted in the beloved.” The Greek word rendered “accepted” is “charitoo,” translated “highly favoured” in Luke 1:28. (“Charis” is Greek for “grace.”) It naturally follows that since we are God’s children, our activities should reflect our identity. Just as we please God positionally—in Christ, sharing all His traits (righteous, holy, beloved of God, et cetera)—so we should please Him practically by letting that identity transform our lifestyles on a daily basis.

First Thessalonians chapter 4: “[1] Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. [2] For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. [3] For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: [4] That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; [5] Not in the lust of concupiscence [strong desire], even as the Gentiles which know not God: [6] That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. [7] For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

Sinners cannot help but sin; sin is all the “old man,” the old nature, knows! Saints, however, are “freed from sin” (Romans 6:7); sin does not have dominion over us. We can choose to take our stand by faith in Pauline doctrine, and walk in accordance with it. When our conduct matches Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, we please Father God. The Holy Spirit is “grieved” (saddened) when we “quench” (hinder, prevent) Him from working in our lives (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).

Let us now summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

What Pleases God #6

Thursday, November 7, 2019

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (2 Peter 1:17 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we will define exactly what God thinks well of….

Hebrews 11:6 is a transdispensational truth: “But without faith it is impossible to please him [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” No matter the dispensation or place on the Bible timeline, the God of Scripture always looks first and foremost for faith. He is interested in people trusting His words to them (the content of the Divine revelation changing through time). If they believe His Word to them, then they will have works.

Works can be faked—someone simply “going through the motions.” Faith, however, cannot be faked. We can see people’s works, but they can fool us (mindless actions). God alone can see a heart of faith; He cannot be tricked. He can discern a heart of faith with Christ working in it (righteousness), versus a heart of unbelief attempting to counterfeit Christ’s works (self-righteousness). Belief in the Gospel of Grace makes the difference!

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God(Hebrews 11:5; cf. Genesis 5:24; Jude 14,15). Again, faith is most important—not works! As pertaining to us in the Church the Body of Christ, Father God “hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). God’s “beloved” here is Jesus Christ. As soon as we believed on Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (Ephesians 1:6,7,12-14); God the Holy Spirit eternally united us with Jesus Christ. Placing us into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), the Holy Spirit simultaneously transferred Christ’s identity to us!

The God of the Bible does not accept sinners; He does, however, see sinners in Christ as saints. Since Jesus Christ is God’s “beloved” Son (today’s Scripture), and we are in that Son, we are equally God’s “beloved,” and thus well pleasing in His sight as well….

What Pleases God #5

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (2 Peter 1:17 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we will define exactly what God thinks well of….

Paul’s epistles make four references to God’s “good pleasure.” Ephesians chapter 1: “[4] According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: [5] Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, [6] To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

“[7] In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; [8] Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:….” It delighted Father God to make us the Church the Body of Christ a part of His will for creation! We, a corporate entity, will glorify His Son in the heavenly places!

Philippians chapter 2: “[12] Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. [13] For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Second Thessalonians chapter 1: “[11] Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: [12] That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Until we get to the heavenly places, it is Father God’s good pleasure to use us now on earth….