Something in Which to Glory!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:12-14 KJV).

In what shall we glory? About what shall we boast? In what shall we find value?

Religion produces people who enjoy bragging all about their “dedication to God.” “Look what I did—the ceremonies in which I have participated, the many prayers I faithfully recited daily, how much I put in the collection plate, see how many pleasures I gave up to please God! Come, see how much I love Him!” Dear friends, the Apostle Paul found great value in something—but that something was not what he did. All that human flesh can accomplish pales in comparison to the work in today’s Scripture.

As Lent begins, the time when religionists temporarily (a mere 40 days) relinquish some pleasant food or activity, let us remember that our performance is often non-performance. Once we place ourselves on that treadmill of “do, do, do,” we are guaranteed to fail at some point. Human flesh is simply too weak to maintain 100 percent—that is sin! Even concerning one rule, we cannot keep it perfectly. We mess up eventually.

If ever we believe that our puny works are worth bragging about, let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in today’s Scripture. While some boast in their religiosity (in the passage, the Judaizers applauding their rite of physical circumcision), and such denominationalists today urge us to obey their church’s instructions so they too may boast in our ability, let us eschew such foolishness. Being imperfect, all their works do not measure up to Christ’s finished crosswork. At Calvary, we find the only sacrifice that will ever please the God of the Bible. If we must boast, let us brag that He did what we could never, ever do!

See our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why is Jesus called ‘the Son of Man?’

God’s Grace on Parade

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

“…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20 KJV).

Today, especially here in southern Louisiana, the Catholic festival of Mardi Gras takes advantage of God’s grace. God’s grace abounds even when drunkenness, lasciviousness, and gluttony are committed overtly on our streets for religion. Because we live in the Dispensation of the Grace of God, they can flaunt their sin without being consumed by fire from heaven!

“Mardi Gras,” French for “Fat Tuesday,” is a day when religious people—professing “Christians”—lose self-control (excess alcohol, food, and partying). The following day, Ash Wednesday, they promise to live “holy” for the next 40 days (Lent). A priest will then place ashes on their foreheads proving that God forgave them for that riotous living. Blasphemy!

Regardless of all its biblical allusions (illusions!), Mardi Gras is still evil and anti-God. It was never Christian, originating from pagan Roman festivals, Saturnalia and Lupercalia (interestingly known for riots, drunkenness, gluttony, and fornication, and subsequent repentance).

The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles Peter and Paul, was clearly against Mardi Gras reveling and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3). So why do professing Christians engage in the very activities that God the Holy Spirit condemned?! As Christians, we should “deny” the activities of Mardi Gras (Romans 6:11-15; Titus 2:11-15).

If I appear offended, I am. Mardi Gras, despite its godly façade, is offensive to the great God and my Saviour Jesus Christ! God’s grace continues to tolerate such foolishness from mankind. Man parades his sin, and God parades His grace, holding back wrath.

Are you a Mardi Gras reveler? I declare unto you the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God. God did for you at Calvary what you could never do: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died to put away all of your sins, Mardi Gras revelry included.

If you rest in Christ Jesus alone as your Saviour, God will save you forever, make a trophy of His grace, and then YOUR life will be God’s grace on parade!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see our archived Bible study Q&A, “Should Christians celebrate Mardi Gras?

Who is a Christian? #8

Sunday, February 23, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

Our English word “Christian” is a transliteration of the Greek “Christianos.” In its most basic form, it means “follower of Christ.” When we look at the Bible’s usage of the title, we can fine-tune the definition. The term was first applied to Gentiles who followed Jesus Christ in Antioch of Syria (Acts 11:26)—modern Turkey. It specifically described the disciples or students of the Lord’s doctrine committed to Saul’s (the Apostle Paul’s) trust. Their core belief was faith or trust in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for sins (cf. today’s Scripture and its context).

Finally, the name became attached to the Apostle Peter’s converts, especially in the sense of following Christ in suffering persecution according to God’s will. First Peter chapter 4: “[12] Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: [13] But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. [14] If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. [15] But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. [16] Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

Paul’s final recorded words to King Herod Agrippa II were: “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds” (Acts 26:29). That is, “King Agrippa, I would you and all my listeners to be like me in trusting the Gospel of Grace!” Whatever subsequently happened to Agrippa is unknown. Regardless, he had heard directly from God’s Apostle of the Gentiles how to become a Christian… and now have we!

Who is a Christian? #7

Saturday, February 22, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

Verses 22 and 23 again: “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”

It is greatly helpful to notice Herod Agrippa II had Bible awareness before he ever met the Apostle Paul. Even as a Gentile, Agrippa was familiar with the Hebrew Old Testament. Read today’s Scripture again: “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Herod did not deny he believed the Hebrew Scriptures. What he refused to do was agree with—believe—Paul’s Gospel presentation.

Moreover, it is surely insightful to appreciate how Paul was not trying to influence Agrippa II to join a local church, get water baptized, say a “sinner’s prayer,” walk an aisle, “feel sorry” for his sins, keep commandments, partake of a holy meal, confess his sins, ask God for forgiveness, kneel and weep at an “altar,” promise to “do better,” or obey any other such common appeals prominent at “invitation time” in most local churches today. Paul wanted Agrippa to believehave faith in—the Word of God’s Grace!

Agrippa had head knowledge and head belief, but not heart knowledge and heart belief. It was just intellectual assent with the Old Testament, which therefore rendered him unable to receive Paul’s further revelation in heart faith. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10a). The same is true of most people today—even church members. Aware of the Bible, seeing some historical facts in it, they nevertheless cannot trust it in the heart. They speak of “God,” “Jesus,” “the Holy Ghost,” “grace,” “righteousness,” and so on, but there is no faith in the soul concerning Jesus Christ.

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Sin Divides #13

Thursday, February 13, 2020

“Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house” (Micah 7:5,6 KJV).

In religious circles, it is frequently bemoaned, “Doctrine divides! Doctrine divides! We should throw away ‘doctrine’ and just assemble around ‘love!’” Today’s Scripture and its context expose that dictum for the utter foolhardiness that it really is….

Doctrine does not divide; doctrine is not the problem. Sin divides; sin is the problem. False doctrine resulting from sin is to blame. True, if we gather around mere sentiments—so-called “love” instead of sound Bible doctrine—we have a semblance of harmony. Alas, such human efforts will not successfully substitute true unity (God’s life). That shallowness will eventually fail because true love—God’s life—is absent. Unless we maintain sound Bible doctrine, we can never have meaningful, permanent concord!

We do not create harmony using “love.” Genuine love—seeking another person’s highest good—is accomplished via sound Bible doctrine. Once we trust the doctrine that defines Almighty God’s life, then we experience in and among ourselves the selflessness that exists among the Members of the Godhead. Looking at Calvary, we see God’s love for us: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Do you appreciate the unselfishness here? The sinless Son of God dying a cruel death to pay for ournot His!—sins? Nowhere else will we find such self-sacrifice! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

When we trust the Gospel of the Grace of God, then God the Holy Spirit will create in us His nature and attitude. Here is how man gets along with fellow man—and woman! “Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7—the verse following today’s Scripture). While sin has caused divisions in Israel, Micah understood that the LORD would take care of it! 🙂

My Father’s Business #25

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? (Luke 2:49 KJV).

And, just what is the Lord Jesus’ Father’s “business?”

Trusting the Lord Jesus Christ exclusively as our personal Saviour, we are then able to understand our new identity and destiny. 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.” Christ giving His life a ransom for all was the message committed to the Apostle Paul (cf. Matthew 20:28).

Father God’s “business” today involves the Holy Spirit edifying us—building us up internally—that we appreciate the “full picture” of His work spanning the ages (past, present, and future). Closing Romans, the Holy Spirit moved Paul to pen: “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:…” (16:25,26).

Saints, approaching the Bible dispensationally, we gain great insight into Father God’s mind. Firstly, Christ’s finished crosswork has saved us from the penalty of sin (Hell). Secondly, it gives us victory over daily sins right now. Thirdly, we are members of the Church the Body of Christ, capable of glorifying Jesus Christ in the heavenly places in eternity future. Finally, God’s work with us complements His work with the nation Israel (also delivered from sins, they are His earthly people in eternity future). Ephesians 1:8-10—“the dispensation of the fulness of times”—is thus accomplished!

May we now say with Christ, “I must be about my Father’s business!” 🙂

-FINIS-

My Father’s Business #22

Sunday, January 26, 2020

And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? (Luke 2:49 KJV).

And, just what is the Lord Jesus’ Father’s “business?”

Father God has one “eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11): He will glorify His Son, Christ Jesus, in both Heaven and Earth. That is, He wants to fill us, the Church the Body of Christ, with the very life of Jesus Christ. While we are on Earth, this is temporary, for a kingdom in the heavenly places is our ultimate eternal destiny. He will also fill the nation Israel with the very life of Jesus Christ, and they will enjoy a kingdom in the Earth throughout the endless ages to come.

“In the dispensation of the fulness of times he [will] gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him [Christ]” (Ephesians 1:10). The result is Jesus Christ’s very life being expressed in Heaven and on Earth—what should have happened before Satan rebelled and man joined that revolt. Here is the wise plan of Father God, an outsmarting of His chief nemesis and all his associates! Had Satan really known the great lengths Father God would go to accomplish His eternal purpose, he would have never let Jesus Christ die on Calvary’s cross! Satan did not know it, but he was assisting in his own defeat when he incited Israel to crucify Messiah!

First Corinthians 2:6-8: “[6] Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: [7] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: [8] Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” With Christ’s shed blood (cf. Colossians 1:16-20), Father God purchased unto Himself two groups of souls to form two agencies (Israel and the Body of Christ). Calvary’s full benefits are now disclosed, no longer hidden, and Father God’s “business” is completely known today….