Evil Communications #5

Thursday, November 16, 2017

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:33,34 KJV).

What are “evil communications?” Are we immune to their effects?

Romans chapter 13 reminds us: “[11] And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. [12] The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. [13] Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness [sexual sins], not in strife and envying. [14] But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

Since the Lord Jesus Christ could come at any time for us at the Rapture, we should be walking as the people we are instead of who we are not. It is absurd for us Christians to behave like we were still under “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13): we have been “translated… into the kingdom of [God’s] dear Son.” We should conduct ourselves in that light.

Hence, in today’s Scripture, Paul wrote to Corinth: “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” They were to sober up, spiritually speaking, and start thinking according to Romans chapter 13 (quoted above). Jesus Christ was their “righteousness” (1 Corinthians 1:30). They were to think about their justified and sanctified identity in Him, and walk by faith in that. This is how they would “sin not.” The Word of God’s Grace to them through Paul’s ministry—not Greek philosophers and Judaistic legalists—was the key to successful Christian living.

Today’s Scripture concludes, “…for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” The Corinthians should be ashamed to the point of correcting their error. They should separate from “evil communications” (bad influences). Paul had preached to them, but they ignored the doctrine. They wasted the opportunity to know God’s grace, but they have another chance….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did God judge Nadab and Abihu so strictly?

The Greatest Veteran

Saturday, November 11, 2017

“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.

Spirituality or Futility? #8

Friday, November 10, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

God sent the Apostle Paul to us Gentiles to give us the Dispensation of the Grace of God, or Jesus Christ’s heavenly ministry (Ephesians 3:1-9). From Heaven, not Earth, Christ is speaking today. In this dispensation, God is forming the Church the Body of Christ, a heavenly people whom He has blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We are not the nation Israel; God is not finished with Israel. She will rise again after our dispensation (Romans 11:1-36)!

We are saved by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (Romans 3:23–4:8)—apart from any works of any kind. Upon believing the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13,14). We need no water (or any other) ceremony to “enhance” our Christian life. God gave us a new nature in Christ, power that produces good works and gives us victory over sin (Romans 6:1-23). The Law serves no purpose in our life because God’s grace teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts,” and “to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11,12,14). Jesus Christ died to put away sin, so we put it away in our life. Our hope is not God’s earthly kingdom (Israel’s hope) but rather His heavenly kingdom (Ephesians 2:6,7; 2 Timothy 4:18).

Romans is the most basic Book for this dispensation. It outlines justification, how to have a right standing before God. Therein we also discover sanctification, how God has set apart believers to do His will. Moreover, we see Israel’s past, present, and future statuses. Finally, there are basic but specific grace principles for everyday living. Three useful Pauline passages are Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3.

We study all the Bible, but anything other than Pauline doctrine and duty is but futility!

Sola Fide

Monday, October 30, 2017

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9 KJV).

On October 31, 2017, we Bible believers celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation!

The third Reformation principle, “sola fide” (Latin, “faith alone”), protests the well-known Roman Catholic mishandling of James 2:24. “A man is justified by faith and works” is clearly written to Israel (chapter 1, verse 1). Following God’s instructions to others is surely destructive. Lost people wake up in eternal hellfire quoting Scripture (including James 2:24!).

In this the Dispensation of God’s Grace, salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing. Romans chapter 3: “[26] To declare, I say, at this time [God’s] righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Our Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13) continues in chapter 4: “[3] For what saith the scripture? [Sola Scriptura!] Abraham believed God [Sola Fide!], and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace [Sola Gratia!], but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not [Sola Fide!], but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly [Sola Fide!], his faith [Sola Fide!] is counted for righteousness.” Rather than having religious self-righteousness (Romans 10:1-3), remember that Heaven is gained by faith alone in Christ’s righteousness alone! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

The Reformers, while lacking the more perfect Bible understanding we enjoy, nevertheless walked in the spiritual light they had. They understood justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Romans chapters 1-5). In the 500 years since, we have recovered the rest of the Book of Romans that religious tradition had stifled (chapters 6-16—victorious Christian identity and living, differences between Israel and the Body of Christ, and grace principles for various life situations). Brethren, let us walk in the light we have, further building on the Reformers’ efforts! 🙂

“Soli Deo Gloria!”
(Glory to God alone!)

Sola Gratia

Sunday, October 29, 2017

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24 KJV).

On October 31, 2017, we Bible believers celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation!

Sola gratia,” another Bible teaching the Reformers recovered (not invented!), is Latin for “grace alone.” How can we be justified—made right—before God? By God’s goodness alone? Or, because of God’s goodness and our goodness?

As per “sola Scriptura”—by Scripture alone—we see that Adam has caused man’s nature to be corrupt from conception. After committing his horrible sin with Bathsheba, King David confessed in Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” When David prayed, verse 1 has him saying: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” Why would God forgive David? Because of David’s “goodness?” Nay, evil David would be forgiven only because of God’s grace!

Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” The Lord Jesus affirmed in Mark chapter 7: “[20] And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” No wonder Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;….” Try reading Romans chapter 1 without getting nauseated!

Frankly, God does not “owe” us a way to Heaven, as there is nothing in our nature that He accepts. In fact, His justice demands that His righteousness be enforced. Anything short of His holiness—including man’s sin nature—deserves His wrath. That fury is Hell and, ultimately, everlasting punishment in the Lake of Fire. No religious activity (water baptism, church membership, confession, prayer, et cetera) can abolish man’s sin nature or rescue him from his deserved eternal doom. As David realized, man, spiritually bankrupt, must look beyond himself and his feeble abilities to God’s grace, what God can do for him!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “If suffering is sure to follow, why serve Jesus Christ?

Preachers of Little Faith

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17 KJV).

Over 50 years ago, a Christian minister lamented: “Great faith can be acquired only by hearing the Word of God. The reason most preachers have so little faith is because they spend more time around the television and on the golf course than they spend alone with God studying His Word.” Yes, whether five decades ago, or 20 centuries ago, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God!”

Today’s Scripture is actually a scolding of unbelieving Israel in the Acts period. Whether during the ministry of the 12 Apostles (early to mid-Acts), or that of the Apostle Paul (mid- to late Acts), the nation Israel overwhelmingly refused to believe on Jesus Christ. Paul wrote: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Too caught up in self-righteousness (religious works), they did not see that righteousness was only in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Sound familiar?)

Verses 16 and 17: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Paul here is actually quoting Isaiah 53:1. Some 700 years before Christ, the Prophet Isaiah had great difficulty convincing his Jewish audience to believe God’s Word that he preached to them. The same was true in the ministries of Peter and the 11, and Paul. Israel had and heard God’s Word, but few Jews had trusted it!

Today, we have the completed Holy Bible, but how many—even preachers—actually read, study, and believe it? Usually, they read commentaries, watch religious television, sing hymns, and recite confessionals and creeds. There are so many distractions, especially in religion, vying for our attention. We had better pay attention to God’s Book, for it is the only way to have faith! Let us not repeat Israel’s mistake!

Filled with the Fruits of Righteousness

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11 KJV).

“Fruits” are “the results of work or activity.” Who exactly is working?

Works-religion parading as “Christianity” has led us to believe that Christian living involves us making ourselves holy by working to keep rules and regulations. However, the Bible says Christian living is “being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ.” This is not self-righteousness, what religion produces. It is not artificial or superficial righteousness, what religion generates.

Nay, it is true righteousness, a new (righteous) nature in Christ and its resultant actions. First Corinthians chapter 1, verse 30: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:….” If we have trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we share His identity—He is our wisdom, He is our righteousness, He is our sanctification (holiness), and He is our redemption (freedom from sin). From Him springs forth our righteousness. From Him working in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit, righteousness abounds in our hearts and lives.

First Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” Ephesians 3:16 says: “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;….” Finally, Galatians chapter 5: “[22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” There is the life of Christ, friend, in its fullness, available by daily faith in Him… something religion can never produce!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is ‘excellent’ a ‘mistranslation’ in Philippians 1:10 in the King James Bible?