Filthiness and Foolishness!

Friday, October 19, 2018

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6 KJV).

Human nature, often assumed to generate only “worldly sins,” is actually composed of two extremes. Yes, we are naturally inclined to lasciviousness, dirty sins, wild living (what the religious crowd “shuns” and “condemns”). However, a more serious (but seemingly innocuous) vulnerability exists within us.

We are also inherently ascetic, self-disciplined, strict. Religion—offering our works to please God—actually leads to greater evil. Self-righteousness attempts to replace God’s righteousness (cf. Romans 10:1-3). Mankind believes he can substitute his “goodness” for God’s and God will supposedly be none the wiser. We can indeed fool other people but God looks beyond outward appearances. He sees our intentions, heart attitude (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:9,10). We really want Him to let us into Heaven, not solely because of Jesus Christ’s work, but rather because of our work. God sees it as foolishness!

God considers all human nature wicked. Thus, He deems all (not some) of its works unacceptable. Whether in religion or non-religion, man is constantly striving to replace God’s efforts with his, God’s ideas with his, God’s objectives with his. Almighty God will not overlook it: He will not alter His plan of salvation simply because we want Him. He will forgive us all our sins and save us unto eternal life, and then He will do good works in and through us. It is not to be confused with religion—us doing good works to gain forgiveness and eternal life. From all outward appearance, what God produces in and through people is identical to what religion produces in and through people. Nevertheless, God sees the difference inside.

When God the Holy Spirit comments on human “goodness,” His inspired Word calls it “but dung” (Philippians 3:8). How flattering! Notice today’s Scripture—“all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” The Hebrew root employed implies the monthly courses of a woman’s menstrual flux. “Filthy rags” is literally “menstruous cloths” (“sanitary pads” in modern English). Dirty, soiled! (Consult Leviticus 15:33, Leviticus 20:18, and Isaiah 30:22.) Again, from God’s vantage point, human “goodness” is filthiness!

The Hottest Places in Eternity #13

Saturday, October 6, 2018

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city (Mark 6:11 KJV).

Are there degrees of punishment in Hell and the Lake of Fire? Indeed!

“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:16). Verily, verily, the God-Man who died for man’s sins is the Judge condemning unbelievers at the Great White Throne Judgment (cf. John 5:22). Christ’s finished crosswork (Paul’s Gospel) ultimately saved all saints of all ages, but they did not know it at the time. However, lost souls do not have the merits of the cross credited to their account, do not have their names written in the Book of Life, and are thus worthy of the Lake of Fire, the second death (Revelation 20:15).

Doubtless, friends, some of you reading these lines sit in unbelief even now. The Gospel of the Grace of God is plain for those who want to understand and believe unto eternal life: “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). We pray you in Christ’s stead, be reconciled to God. Rely exclusively on the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour before it is eternally too late!!

Returning to the Great White Throne Judgment, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Forced to bow before the Lord Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge, the lost of the ages now go their way. Justice has been served; they have been given their preference. Banished from His presence forever, they leave to serve out their death sentence in the hottest place in eternity!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why are lost people not judged for their works immediately after physical death?

A New View of Eternal Life

Saturday, September 1, 2018

“Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour (Titus 1:1-3 KJV).

How does Paul’s special revelation add to our understanding of eternal life?

Eternal life is not simply living forever, as non-Christians will be perpetually conscious in Hell and the Lake of Fire (Matthew 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; Revelation 14:9-11. The Lord Jesus Christ defined eternal life in John 17:3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

As the Bible describes it, eternal life is intimate fellowship with Father God and His Son Jesus Christ. Our communion with Father God depends on Christ as Mediator: “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). “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 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” (1 Timothy 2:5-7).

With the Apostle Paul’s ministry, God revealed a special type of eternal life. It involved a new species of mankind—the Church the Body of Christ (see Ephesians 2:1-22). They would indeed enjoy God’s life, but not in an earthly kingdom (as with ministries previous to Paul). Instead, they would be the expression of God’s life in the heavenly places. When we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we immediately obtain eternal life. However, sin prevents us from fully experiencing God’s life (for now).

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:13,14).

Bible Q&A #530: “What about snake-handling?” (~13 pages)

Together With Christ (Thrice)

Monday, July 16, 2018

“Even when we were dead in sins, [Father God] hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; ) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:5,6 KJV).

The Greek preposition syn (or sun) appears three times in today’s Scripture. It means “with, together with” (as in synchronize, synthetic, synagogue, syncline, synoptic, et al.):

  1. “Hath quickened us together with” (synedzoopoiesen) “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13). We were both spiritually disadvantaged (sinners not saints—Ephesians 2:1-3) and racially, or covenantally, disadvantaged (Gentiles not Jews—Ephesians 2:11,12; Romans 9:4,5). As per our “dead in trespasses and sins,” God crucified us with Christ on Calvary (Romans 6:6-11). Then, our Heavenly Father quickened us together with Christ—resurrection. Now we are alive unto God. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).
  2. “Hath raised us up together” (synegeiren) — Our resurrection was already addressed, so this “raising up” must be ascension. Not only did Father God put us to death with Christ, not only did He resurrect us with Christ, He also raised us up together with Christ, which leads to the final phrase “made us sit together.”
  3. “Made us sit together” (synekathisen) — Sitting together means fellowshipping. Jesus’ enemies—along with poor, reverted Peter the Apostle—were “set down together” (Luke 22:55). In today’s Scripture, Father God reckons us as qualified to share in Jesus Christ’s authority in the heavenly places. The Lord Jesus is the highest Ruler, and we will share in His reigning. “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

While all said to be past tense in today’s Scripture, the last two are still future. God sees all as already accomplished, so we should—together with Him—consider it settled! 🙂

The Work of the Ministry #1

Monday, June 25, 2018

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11,12 KJV).

Ministry—what “work” it is!

Laziness never belongs in the life of the believer in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-10 declares: “[8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

God does not save us unto eternal life because of what we do. He saves us only because we trust in the merits of the sacrifice His Son Jesus Christ offered on Calvary’s altar. However, that does not mean God does not care what we do. As Christians, we should walk in our new identity. Our old identity in Adam is gone forever; it is senseless to behave otherwise.

Second Corinthians chapter 5: “[14] For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge [reason, conclude], that if one died for all, then were all dead: [15] And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. [16] Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. [17] Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

First Corinthians chapter 12 says: “[12] For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. [13] For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” God the Holy Spirit has placed us into the Church the Body of Christ for a reason. We are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works….”

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 28, 2018

“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 latest Bible Q&A: “Should women speak in church?

Nothing But the Blood #5

Thursday, May 10, 2018

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14 KJV).

Today’s Scripture highlights the fifth verse of Robert Lowry’s 1876 hymn, “Nothing But the Blood.”

“Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

There is absolute victory in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. His shed blood pays to Father God the ransom to free us from sin’s prison. We move from Satan’s family to God’s. Ephesians 1:7, sister passage to today’s Scripture, elaborates: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;….” Hence, Heaven is open to any and all who rely exclusively on Jesus: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

Concerning Israel’s sin problem, the nation so poisoned by empty and false religion, the Holy Spirit wrote in 1 Peter chapter 1: “[18] Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; [19] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:….” First John 1:7: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Revelation 12:11 speaks of believing Israel in the last days: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” As Satan is cast down to Earth during the latter half of the Tribulation period, the only overcoming will be in Christ’s blood and Word!

Colossians 2:14,15: “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.” Romans 5:9: “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

Indeed, nothing but the blood….