In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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?

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!

Loving the Unlovely

Thursday, October 5, 2017

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8 KJV).

Behold, the Man (Jesus Christ) who loves the unlovely (you and me)!

An individual said that he was so disgusted with people as a whole after learning about a recent tragic crime. Despite what we may see in the news, dear friends, we will never see the atrocious view that the LORD God saw in Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Now, read verse 10: “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” So, God investigated the human heart. What did He see?

The answer is in Mark 7:20-23, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: “[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.”

If we could see the above heart—multiplied by (say) 10 to 15 billion—would we want to have anything to do with people? Well, God sees that all the time, and in spite of that awareness and foreknowledge, He sent His Son Jesus Christ (Heaven’s best) to die for us (Earth’s worst)! God’s very nature is love, seeking the benefit of others (even when they do not deserve it). That worked to our advantage, as Calvary’s cross demonstrates.

The aforementioned individual who was disgusted regarding the heartbreaking news, he added that he found it encouraging that heroes were protecting and saving lives during that troublous time. Likewise, it thrills our hearts to remember the Hero of today’s Scripture, who risked (and literally lost!) His life protecting and saving us from the eternal flames of Hell!

Light Bulbs and Lenses #5

Friday, September 29, 2017

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130 KJV).

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

Unless one is a Calvinist or a Dispensationalist, Matthew 20:28 is quite alarming: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” How could Jesus Christ say that He had come to “give his life a ransom for many?” For “many?!” Did He not die for the whole world? At the time of His earthly ministry, He came to pay the redemption-price for the nation Israel.

As the angel of the Lord told Joseph in Matthew 1:21 about the virgin Mary: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Surely, “his people” excluded Gentiles. How do we know? Isaiah 53:8, written 700 B.C., predicted of Messiah: “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” Who would be Isaiah’s people? Israel. No Gentiles are in view here.

Returning to 1 Timothy 2:5-7, noting very carefully the final words of verse 6 and all of verse 7: “[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.

Through the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit here makes a startling claim. Jesus Christ did not die for Israel only; He paid the sin-debt of the whole world (“all”). Notice the first word of verse 7—“whereunto” (“to which purpose”). In order for Jesus Christ to be declared a ransom for all nations, God appointed Paul “a preacher, and an apostle,… a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” Paul is the “due-time testifier” of this unrestricted, worldwide grace message. Now we are branching off into the second part of God’s will… “come unto the knowledge of the truth….”

Our latest Bible Q&A article: “What is the ‘temptation’ in 1 Corinthians 10:13?

Light Bulbs and Lenses #4

Thursday, September 28, 2017

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130 KJV).

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

First Timothy 2:4 says, “[God our Saviour] Who will have all men to be saved,….” Then, we read, “…and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Verse 5 begins with “for,” a particle of further explanation or amplification: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;….” So, “the man Christ Jesus” is “the one mediator between [the one] God and men….” Verse 6 issues additional information: “Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Finally, verse 7 expands verse 6, as we see: “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.”

So, there are the matters of (1) “salvation” and (2) “the knowledge of the truth.” “Salvation” involves the Lord Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and men, He “who gave himself a ransom for all.” The word “ransom” means “redemption-price.” From birth, we are naturally slaves to sin, descendants of Adam. Jesus Christ shed His blood to pay the price to deliver us from sin’s slave market. Romans chapter 3: “[23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption [payment of the price to free us] that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [fully-satisfying payment] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;….”

Sin brings death, but life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:10-14). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Through faith in Jesus Christ’s shed blood, we can be united with Father God. (Christ is “the mediator,” remember.) So, God’s first desire is for all people to be “saved”—freed, delivered—from sin’s dominion. The spiritual deliverance at Calvary once reserved for Israel is now available to all people, Jew and Gentile. This all-people message is interwoven with “com[ing] unto the knowledge of the truth….”

Christ Loved Me—He Died for Me

Sunday, September 24, 2017

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

The Gospel is not personal until it is coupled with personal faith!

Years ago, a Bible teacher gave a presentation to college students. After the lecture, a skeptical pupil approached him to complain. The student objected to the teacher reading Romans 5:8—“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He grumbled that the Bible’s promise was “not personal enough.” Actually, he wanted it to say, “God commendeth his love toward you… Christ died for you” (as in, directed to him personally rather than a group).

Sin causes such people not to appreciate the truths of God’s Word. They have no insight into Scripture, even when a Christian explains it to them. Why? Willful ignorance. The Lord Jesus Christ said in John 7:17: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” The key to “knowing of the doctrine” is “will[ing to] do [Father God’s] will.” Some lost people want to know God’s will; hence, they listen to and believe the Gospel preached to them. Others are content where they are, and will use any excuse—even the pettiest—to dismiss Scripture.

Today’s Scripture is a Christian (the Apostle Paul) reckoning—considering true—the application of Calvary’s merits to his personal account. It is only when someone willing to have faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork does one see the individual aspect of Calvary’s merits. An unbeliever who wants to stay dead in sins, does not see the full impact of Christ’s finished crosswork. There is mental assent, an intellectual exercise, but no heart faith that leads to righteousness (Romans 10:10a). The believer sees God’s love as personal, Christ’s death as personal. However, as long as lost people view verses through unbelieving lenses, they will see the verses printed on the page, hear the words proclaimed, but not trust the truth in the heart!

Our latest Bible Q&A article: “Can you explain 2 Timothy 4:13?