Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #3

Monday, December 5, 2022

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8 KJV).

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them spiritual birth.
Risen with healing in His wings,
Light and life to all He brings,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!”

Jesus Christ was literally the perfect example of living in fellowship with Father God. He did not make Himself the issue but rather glorified His Father who had sent Him. Yea, He said to His Father, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). What was Father God’s will? Check Hebrews 10:1-10. It was for Jesus to become a human that that human body die on that awful cross for our sins!

As our King James Bible says, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Modern versions so butcher this passage, saying Jesus Christ “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing.” Blasphemy!)

The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). That man may die and live through Him, Jesus Christ died. That man may die and live through Him, Jesus Christ resurrected. There is no greater name than the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:10)! Friends, let us join the angels in praising Him!

What Child Is This? #4

Friday, December 2, 2022

“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:1,2 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

As the shepherds and angels gathered around Baby Jesus’ manger, we can only wonder what immense joy filled their hearts. In that world of old—plagued by the same basic problems of our modern world—He was a Beacon in the dark and a Solace in the misery. They undoubtedly sang right in the midst of all those farm animals! They were so thrilled to see God working in their presence. They were now standing before His baby crib!

Sinners today are greatly encouraged—yea, urged—to come by faith to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, right this moment. They are not to come by faith to His crib, for He is no longer a Baby. Rather, they are to come by faith to His cross, where He gave up that life for us! “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). What we need to do is rely exclusively on Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, His shed sinless blood and His resurrection, as sufficient payment for our sins.

As with Jesus’ birth, for those who do not want to see anything, they do not see anything. Those who see are people who want to see. It has nothing to do with God hiding anything from anyone. What did Jesus tell the Jews? “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

Although Jesus Christ is not physically here today, we can still haste to bring Him laud. We can praise Him highly in a public context. First, we can believe on Him and His finished crosswork. Then, we can tell others how they too can be saved through Calvary!

What Child Is This? #3

Thursday, December 1, 2022

“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20,21 KJV).

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

While commonly assumed the wise men came to visit Baby Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem, a careful study of Matthew chapter 2 shows us that they met Jesus in Joseph’s house in Nazareth, when He was as much as two years old (verse 16). The Bible never specifies “three” wise men or three “kings,” either. Regardless of their number, these wise men, Gentiles from the East, came to Jerusalem looking for Israel’s King. Upon hearing the wise men, King Herod and all of Jerusalem were “troubled” (verse 3). Israel should be ready to receive her Messiah-King, but she is not. Gentiles are seeking Israel’s King, and they, the Gentiles, are ready! How odd!

The wise men learn that Israel’s Messiah was born in Bethlehem-Judah (verses 4-6), but a “star” (angel) leads them to Nazareth (verses 7-10). Verse 11: “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Jesus is a King, so the wise men have brought gold to Him. They have brought Him frankincense because He is a Priest. Myrrh has been brought to Him because He is a Prophet. Gentiles treat Israel’s King with more respect than Israel does!

Nothing has changed today. Some reject Jesus Christ while others accept Him. The songwriter, as does this author, urges people to accept Him!

In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 24, 2022

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

Dear saints, take a moment this Thanksgiving to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures!

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins. To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process (that is especially true regarding handling difficulties, the grace way!).

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. Today’s Scripture says, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn this.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Be thankful in every thing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saint, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.”

*Excerpted from our Thanksgiving 2012 Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see, “What are our spiritual blessings in Christ?

That I Might Save Some of Them #4

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13,14 KJV).

The operative term here is “some!”

Dear brethren in Christ, the Apostle Paul never realized his ministry would last 2,000 (!) years, that God would extend His grace, mercy, and peace to all people without distinction for 20 centuries. Despite the persecution, his ministry was not a waste of time after all, was it? Has it not eternally touched and benefited even us?

We are not omniscient (all-knowing), so we can never really gauge with certainty whom we are impacting with the Holy Bible and our testimony. For example, as we share sound doctrine electronically (online written studies and videos, especially through social media) and/or physically (Bible and Gospel tract distribution, Christian literature circulation), there is no practical way to estimate just whom that information will reach or may already be reaching. Imagine those tremendous implications.

Leave a Gospel tract in a public place. Potentially, not only will one soul read it and believe its verses, he or she might share it with 100 others (and you will know nothing about it!). Maybe a pastor of thousands will be reached, and he will broadcast those Bible verses to his congregation. You might post an online Bible study video, receive just a few “likes,” and assume you made little to no difference. However, what you do not know is the countless people who saw and accepted that information in secret (if they were to publicly admit it by “liking” it would jeopardize their social status!). What you will never learn until you get to Heaven is the hundreds, thousands, or millions of souls the Lord used you to reach—“strangers” from around the world, to whom you ministered via videos and books, people you influenced decades (or even centuries) after your death!

Overall, though, we do not endeavor to save “most” or even “many” people from their spiritual error (blindness, darkness, impotence, immaturity). We conduct our grace ministries as the Holy Spirit enables, “if by any means… [we] might save some of them.”

That I Might Save Some of Them #3

Monday, November 21, 2022

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13,14 KJV).

The operative term here is “some!”

Writing during the Acts period, Paul lamented in Romans chapter 10, verses 1-3: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 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.” Before coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul himself had been a fanatical works-religion man (even a leader) for many years in Judaism, so, as Saul of Tarsus, he was most familiar with self-righteous people who assumed they did not need the Saviour (see Acts 22:1-3, Acts 26:1-11, and Philippians 3:1-11).

Re-read Acts 9:20; Acts 13:5,14; Acts 14:1; Acts 17:1-4,10,11,17; and Acts 18:4,5. These are some of the passages that feature Paul’s “provoking” ministry to apostate Israel (it actually covered Acts chapters 9–28). When lost Jews saw and heard Paul exercising their (Israel’s) spiritual gifts amongst the Gentiles (speaking in tongues, physical healing, and so on—see 2 Corinthians 12:12), that indicated to lost Israel that God had moved from them (lost Israel) and gone to Gentiles through Paul’s ministry! If these lost Jews were receptive to Paul’s miracles and message, they too would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as Paul himself had: they would have to become like Paul’s Gentile converts (believe the Gospel of Grace of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, thereby joining the Church the Body of Christ). However, as the Book of Acts bears out, Jewish opposition against Paul intensified, until his horrendous final pronouncement of Acts 28:25-28 (read verses 17-29 for the context).

Yet, always remember, Paul’s Acts ministry was not a waste, for it had numerous Jewish converts (see Acts 13:43; Acts 17:1-4,10-12; Acts 18:7-11; Acts 19:15-18; Acts 28:23,24). Likewise, though our ministry endeavors seem fruitless, hopeless, and pointless, we never know whom the Lord is reaching….

That I Might Save Some of Them #2

Sunday, November 20, 2022

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13,14 KJV).

The operative term here is “some!”

Indeed, the believer’s ministry usually appears to be a waste of time. For example, the Lord Jesus taught a transdispensational (across the dispensations) truth that there is always a believing remnant, never 100% of audiences trusting God’s words. “Enter ye in at the strait [narrow] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13,14). There was just a believing remnant in Israel, a little flock” of saints (Luke 12:32), a small body of Jews who had recognized Jesus as their Messiah/Christ!

Actually, after three full years of the Lord’s earthly ministry, there were simply 120 believers in Jerusalem (Acts 1:15). Where were the several thousands He fed in Matthew 14:21 and Matthew 15:38? Apparently, they just wanted a free meal! “From that time many [not a few but many!] of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66). Joshua and Caleb, only two of 12 spies, believed God’s word as touching the Promised Land (Numbers 13:1-3,26-33; Numbers 14:6-10,30-39; Numbers 26:65; Numbers 32:9-13). Remember, Noah had seven converts after 120 years of preaching (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5). Consider the 7,000 believers in the Israeli kingdom of millions who had not worshipped the idol Baal (1 Kings 19:18). Think of the 3,000 converts in Acts 2:41 and the 5,000 believers in Acts 4:4—but what are these in a nation of millions? See the sad realities of 2 Timothy 1:15, Isaiah 1:9, and Genesis 18:23-33 (cf. Genesis 19:24,25)!

Paul, in today’s Scripture, knew his Bible well. Therefore, he understood he would not win all or even most of his Jewish brethren to Christ. Only some of them” would believe, and he continued his ministry to reach whomever he could….

That I Might Save Some of Them #1

Saturday, November 19, 2022

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13,14 KJV).

The operative term here is “some!”

According to a contemporary researcher, just 6% of Americans have a biblical worldview: to wit, only this small remnant of the purported “Christian” United States actually believes we should think and live according to a literal, historical interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. A mere 37% of professing “Christian” pastors have a biblical worldview (mainline Protestant leaders are 32%, but Roman Catholic leaders are 6%). In decreasing order, here are the percentages of church members who agree with the biblical worldview: 78% of Southern Baptists, 51% of Evangelicals, 48% of Baptists, and 37% of Pentecostals. Overall, a meager 2% of Millennials—those born between the years 1980 and 2000—have a biblical worldview.

Friends, these are truly some alarming and dismal values, but, frankly, they are likely overestimates. Whoever believes “we are bringing in God’s kingdom by preaching the Gospel” is surely mistaken! Postmillennialism—“Jesus will come back to reign once we reform Earth”—is ignorance. Yet, if these figures are accurate, and unbelief runs rampant amongst those who attend and even lead church services, why should we bother to try to share the Bible with anyone at all? Why preach the Gospel of Grace when so few will receive and believe it? Today’s Scripture serves as a reminder that soul-winning has been the Christian’s challenge for 20 centuries.

The Apostle Paul wrote Romans during the Acts period, when he himself was travelling to and preaching Jesus Christ in synagogues (Jewish places of worship) throughout the Mediterranean world (for a few examples, see Acts 9:20, Acts 13:5,14, Acts 14:1, Acts 17:1-4,10,11,17, Acts 18:4,5). Read those contexts. Lost Jews would persecute him and his converts, for they so hated the Lord Jesus Christ whom he proclaimed and served (the same Christ their nation had murdered on Calvary’s cross years earlier!). Yet, Paul endured those struggles and sufferings in ministry to try and save even “some of them….”

The Greatest Veteran

Friday, November 11, 2022

“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.

How to Have Faith

Friday, October 28, 2022

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

Dear friend, do you suffer from a lack of faith? Today’s Scripture is the remedy!

Remarking on the dire spiritual conditions he observed 55 years ago, a preacher penned: “One reason so many church people have so little faith today is because they hear so little Gospel—and the average church member rarely—if ever—takes time to study the Bible. What church folk know about the Bible today is what they hear from the pulpit in Sunday services and at an occasional Wednesday night prayermeeting.” If that gloomy description was applicable five decades back, how much more at this present hour?

In the context of today’s Scripture (read the entire chapter), the Apostle Paul is commenting on how national Israel has remained in unbelief throughout the Acts period (he is likely writing during Acts chapter 20). Whether it was the Apostle Peter preaching during the opening chapters of Acts (prophecy), or the Apostle Paul during the latter chapters (mystery), most Jewish people were content with their works-religion. Paul’s argument in Romans chapter 10 is that they have had numerous opportunities to hear the Word of God, and yet remain in unbelief and adamantly refuse to trust the Lord Jesus Christ! They have heard the Word, but they have not believed what they have heard. In other words, they are without excuse.

Today’s people are usually not so fortunate. When they go to church, they hear the traditions of men (which will not lead to faith). They hear philosophy and vain deceit (which will not lead to faith). They hear the rudiments or basic principles of this world (which will not lead to faith). They hear non-rightly-divided Scripture (which will not lead to faith). Colossians 2:8 has been ignored, so they are not “[following] after Christ!” No wonder they are apostate (departed from the truth), disappointed, weak, confused, and spiritually ruined!

Beloved, unless we take the Holy Bible (King James in English!) in our own hands and read it rightly divided for ourselves (2 Timothy 2:15), and (above all) believe it in our heart, our spiritual understanding will be limited and we will be easily deceived (Ephesians 4:14). Here is how we have faith!