Frozen in Death #5

Saturday, June 18, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

Read Matthew 21:18-22 and Mark 11:12-14,20-26. On the Monday before His Thursday crucifixion, Christ Jesus was near Jerusalem when He encountered a fig tree “and found nothing thereon, but leaves only” (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:13). Here was Israel’s religious system symbolized—advertising its superficial “greeneries” (alleged “life”) but, upon closer examination, utterly fruitless inside (spiritually dead and therefore useless to God)! In fact, this narrative of the fig tree is presented in conjunction with the Lord purging the polluted Jerusalem Temple of Satan’s emissaries (see Matthew 21:12-17 and Mark 11:15-19). You can also compare it to The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree in Luke 13:6-9, Christ seeking fruit (faith and good works) in national Israel but finding none during His three-year earthly ministry.

Let us ponder another illustration. Imagine a dead tree with bare branches, with neither leaves nor fruit. We can glue green leaves to it, and hang ripe fruit from it—but that nice external appearance does not detract from the fact that tree is lifeless. Religion is dead, so it cannot produce the life of God. Think of yet another analogy. We can take a dirty, dead battery and clean it with soap and water—but it is still powerless. Religion has no power, so it cannot produce the works of God.

Victorious Christian living occurs when we are strengthened with might by [God’s] Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts by faith…” (Ephesians 3:16,17). If we are alive in Jesus Christ, it is His life, and He will produce fruit: “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11). “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart(Ephesians 6:6). We learn and believe the principles of grace outlined in Romans through Philemon, thereby eschewing spiritual hypocrisy, duplicity, and immobility!

Frozen in Death #4

Friday, June 17, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

In Matthew chapter 15, the Lord Jesus censured the vain, hollow religious system corrupting His nation: “[7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias [Isaiah 29:13] prophesy of you, saying, [8] This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Also, the parallel passage, Mark chapter 7: “[6] He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Verily, they read and heard the Hebrew Bible during synagogue services every Saturday Sabbath. Doubtless, they sang excerpts from the Book of Psalms at their religious gatherings—including the feast days. “How we love God! Praise the LORD!” However, it was empty talk: there was no internal faith in their spiritual heart to correspond to the holy words proceeding from their physical lips. Their unbelief, refusing to trust Jesus as Christ during His earthly ministry, proved that was so. What is far more important is the heart attitude, a love for the LORD’S Book and a sincere quotation of its teachings, not blindly following religious “authorities” who simply and mindlessly utter sound waves for religious duty’s sake!

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16). It is the Word of God’s Grace—His Bible rightly divided—that we trust and then apply to our daily lives, the resultant joy manifesting itself in songs. Here is how we avoid boarding the “frozen ship….”

Samaria and The Holy Ghost #6

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14-17 KJV).

What is going on in today’s Scripture? Is it something we should practice?

The Holy Ghost was given in Jerusalem (Acts chapter 2), previewing Israel’s New Covenant and Millennial Kingdom blessings. To demonstrate how He would one day rejoin the Northern Kingdom (10 tribes, including the Samaritans) to the Southern Kingdom (two tribes; capital city Jerusalem), the Holy Spirit moved Philip to preach to the Samaritans and then motivated Apostles Peter and John of the Jerusalem Church to confirm or authorize these Samaritans’ entrance into the Little Flock (Israel’s believing remnant).

Denominationally-minded people, no matter how sincere, are sincerely wrong if they believe today’s Scripture defines what the God of the Bible is currently doing with us. We should be ever so careful before we “name and claim” passages—ignoring contexts and lacking a firm understanding of what the Scriptures have already stated about those topics. Contrary to popular belief, just because it is in the Bible does not mean it is our pattern. We can be “Scriptural” and still be outside God’s will!

According to the Bible, Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), God’s spokesman to us. We do not appeal to Peter or John—including today’s Scripture. If we study Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, we will discover there is absolutely nothing about laying hands on anyone to impart the Holy Spirit to them. That is Israel’s doctrine, not ours. If anyone wants the Holy Spirit today, they need to believe Christ died for their sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed [preserved] with that holy Spirit of promise,…” (Ephesians 1:12,13).

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 30, 2022

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

In the United States, today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who sacrificed their time and lives to provide our physical freedom. Likewise, as Christians, we have spiritual freedom, which was more costly. Someone had to die to give us the eternal life we now enjoy….

Scripture describes a spiritual warfare between good and evil, God’s truth program versus Satan’s lie program: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11,12; see also verses 13-20).

Satan distracts mankind from God’s pure Word, the Bible, keeping unbelievers lost (dead in their sins), and preventing unbelievers and Christians from knowing God’s will. The devil draws them away (seduces them) from God’s Word by using religious tradition and human “wisdom” (1 Timothy 4:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:1-3).

God loves us, so at Calvary’s cross, Christ fought for us sinners, died in battle (today’s Scripture), shed His divine sinless blood, and eternally rescued us from Satan and sin: “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).

Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”

If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Now, God can use us for His glory for all eternity.

Beloved, let us rejoice in our victory over sin, death, and hell that Jesus Christ secured for us by going to Calvary’s rugged cross! Jesus Christ is now alive forevermore—He is our Hero, the Greatest Hero!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study “The Greatest Hero,” which can be read here or watched here.

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What does ‘in array’ mean?” and “What does ‘environ’ mean?

Labour for the More Important Meat #5

Thursday, May 26, 2022

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:26,27 KJV).

Where is our interest—in “the meat which perisheth” or in “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?”

Dear friends, though spoken and written 20 centuries ago, today’s Scripture is not “dead history.” It is just as true then as it is now. Human nature has not changed one whit. The God of the Bible is still treated like He is “Santa Claus.” Multimillions beg Him for a promotion or bonus at work, a larger home, a spouse and kids, a new vehicle, a safe journey, a miracle healing, and countless other temporary material blessings.

How many of these precious souls have ever stopped to think these sobering words?! “My, oh my, how I fear that I am dead in my trespasses and sins, and, having offended the holy, righteous Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, I am on my way to an everlasting Devil’s Hell! I had better look to Jesus Christ and believe on Him, lest my eternal soul be lost forever! He can supply me with eternal life, something infinitesimally more important than all these lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eye, and the pride of life!”

Indeed, we should not reduce the mighty God of the Bible to a mere genie in a bottle—even if countless “Christians” have already done it and still do it. The greatest work the Lord Jesus Christ could ever do for us, the most valuable gift He could ever give us, He gave it (His very life!) 2,000 years ago. He died for our sins, shedding His sinless blood, He was buried, and He resurrected victoriously on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). We need to trust Him alone as our personal Saviour, before it is eternally too late. In the grand scheme of things, nothing in this world really matters—so, why do we act like it does?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain ‘reel to and fro’ in Isaiah 24:20?

Labour for the More Important Meat #4

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:26,27 KJV).

Where is our interest—in “the meat which perisheth” or in “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?”

Our five senses allow us to experience the natural world in which we live, so we are frequently pressured to pay attention only to what we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Nevertheless, through the eyes of faith, we appreciate the fact that this world is passing away—a fleeting arrangement of time and space.

The Apostle John advised Israel’s Little Flock undergoing the difficulties due to the Antichrist’s brutal regime and satanic religion: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).

In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, the Apostle Paul recommended: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Relentlessly hanging on to the material world and its pleasures is to ignore their short-lived status (see today’s Scripture). Far better it is to seek to obtain spiritual truth, that which will span the endless ages of eternity future….

Labour for the More Important Meat #3

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:26,27 KJV).

Where is our interest—in “the meat which perisheth” or in “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?”

The physical bread with which Christ supplied them would impart life to their temporary flesh and blood bodies, but were they concerned about what would nourish their eternal, spiritual bodies? No. Appropriately, the Lord corrected their misconception. They had a greater need, and He alone could meet it. Verses 33-35: “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

He likened Himself to spiritual bread or spiritual sustenance. They needed to prepare for the ages to come, and this was the purpose of His earthly ministry to them. Alas, they failed to appreciate the full extent of what He could do for them and the rest of their nation. He invites them to come to Him and believe on Him (which they have obstinately refused thus far). If they come to Him, that is the equivalent of satisfying spiritual hunger; if they believe on Him, that is the same as quenching spiritual thirst. “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

If only the people of today’s Scripture were as passionate to learn these simple spiritual truths as they had been enthusiastic about partaking of more free food in the physical realm. Here in the 21st century, we have yet to make application of these passages….

Labour for the More Important Meat #2

Monday, May 23, 2022

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:26,27 KJV).

Where is our interest—in “the meat which perisheth” or in “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?”

The individuals of today’s Scripture have been relentlessly searching for the Lord Jesus! Verses 24,25: “When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?” Having taken ships across the top half of the Sea of Galilee—a distance of 3 or 4 miles (5 or 7 kilometers)—they are relieved to finally reach Him in Capernaum.

Why have they gone through so much trouble to get to Him? To them, the Son of God is but a “food-delivery man!” Earlier, He had fed them with the other 5,000 people. Now, today, they are hungry again, so they have come to ask Him for another free meal. He can and could furnish them with infinitesimally more than they assumed. Alas, they do not see Him through the eyes of faith.

Though the Lord Jesus Christ had created those loaves of bread from nothing, they were like ordinary food in that they were subject to the same natural laws of decomposition. Such physical bread was temporary, rotting like the God-given manna (Exodus 16:20). Yet, they so desperately wanted to hang on to it. Also, as their circumstances showed, it was never eternally satisfying either. Today’s Scripture again: “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.” They were overlooking a (more important) spiritual component, something the miracle should have taught them had they been watching through the eyes of faith….

Labour for the More Important Meat #1

Sunday, May 22, 2022

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:26,27 KJV).

Where is our interest—in “the meat which perisheth” or in “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?”

Once, a woman moved her car to retrieve a penny that had rolled under it. Driving forward, she ran over a parking meter and also broke a window as the car scraped against the side of a building. The vehicle then rolled down the sidewalk for half a block before stopping. Damages to her automobile alone were estimated to be $100 (a substantial sum in those days). Was the penny really worth all that trouble?! Interestingly, police were unable to confirm if the lady ever found the coin!

Doubtless, seeking little to no gain, we can go to great lengths and take enormous risks. This was true of the souls whom the Lord Jesus Christ addressed in today’s Scripture. Just a day prior, He had been on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee feeding more than 5,000 people using just five barley loaves and two small fishes (verses 1-14). “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone” (verse 15). He had supplied them with such delightful food that they would soon violently crown Him as their Monarch! This misunderstanding prompted Christ to dismiss the crowd and His disciples, while He Himself vacated the area headed in a third direction.

Ultimately, the Lord and His disciples journey to the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The people fed earlier also travel by ship to Galilee, seeking Him (verses 24,25). He reveals their motive in today’s Scripture: they have mixed-up priorities, for they are concentrating on the minor while ignoring the major. May we too learn the lesson He taught them….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is the Lord Jesus merely ‘the Holy One of God’ in John 6:69?

Understanding Jesus Christ

Monday, May 16, 2022

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,…” (John 1:1,14 KJV).

Friend, would you like to understand the Lord Jesus Christ?

Approximately 3,500 years ago, Satan was permitted to torment Job. Suffering immeasurable pain, Job blamed God. He declared: “For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman [mediator, arbitrator] betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:32,33). Job longed for someone to serve as an umpire between himself and “distant” God. That mediator could take Job by the hand and take God by the hand, and join them in unbroken fellowship. Job assumed this was the only way God would be appeased and his afflictions would subside.

Today’s Scripture, penned some 15 centuries after Job’s ordeal, explains the “daysman” finally arrived. The second Member of the Godhead, God the Son Himself, took on human flesh. At the Incarnation, it was humanity added to Deity, the only combination that would form a Person who was able and willing to reunite sinful man with holy God. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;…” (1 Timothy 2:5). “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth… Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10,12).

As sinners, we need more than just another philosopher or religious teacher to tell us “how to do right.” We need a Saviour who will make us right, a Mediator who will declare us righteous! Here is the ministry of the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, it is an exclusivist message, for here is the “one [!] mediator between God and men.” “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).