Inside Not Outside

Monday, October 9, 2017

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 KJV).

Whether 3,000 years ago or right now, today’s Scripture is one still worth memorizing!

A dear Christian lady once entered a church building. Having very little money, she wore the best outfit she owned. After the services, the pastor and his wife approached her. They informed her that she was not welcome to return because her clothes were not good enough! Deeply offended, she wanted nothing to do with Christianity or the Bible for a long time. (I recently ministered to her.)

I explained to the lady that that denominational church was too focused on externalism, formalism, outward appearances. While we should definitely dress modestly and sensibly, our financial situation may not permit us to buy expensive clothing. Furthermore, it is most unbecoming of a pastor to ban people from church services simply because they cannot afford nicer clothes. What if this physically poor person was really a spiritually poor person interested in coming to know Jesus Christ as his or her personal Saviour? Is God going to bar from Heaven one who cannot afford formal attire? No, the people kept out of Heaven are those depending on their self-righteousness, those who wear spiritual “fig-leaf” garments! Never forget, dear friends, that outward beauty does not make null and void ugly hearts of unbelief!

Thankfully, the God of the Bible looks beyond social standings, nationalities, physical sizes and shapes, ethnicities, wardrobes, financial statuses, romantic lives, faces, and external behaviors. Today’s Scripture says He looks on the inside—specifically the heart. The heart is part of our soul, the innermost region of our spiritual makeup where we make decisions (exercise faith or unbelief). Romans 10:10a says: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness….” Hebrews 11:6 reminds us: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Genesis 4:7?

Light Bulbs and Lenses #2

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

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

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

Every lost person who has come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has known the initial thrill of total forgiveness of all sins. They have experienced the joy of deliverance from the eternal penalty of sin—Hell and the Lake of Fire. The Bible, what once seemed “nonsensical,” is now viewed as invaluable. There is now a consciousness of sin, something absent prior to coming to Christ. Works-religion, once appearing so “meritorious,” is now recognized as worthless. Almighty God, once thought of as a “distant and cruel ogre,” is now seen as a loving Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on Calvary’s cross—His sinless shed blood and resurrection—is appreciated personally. There are eternal life, hope, peace, acceptance, love, and mercy. None of this was known before faith in Jesus Christ.

The above scenarios accentuate the spiritual light that God’s words bring when they are spoken in Gospel preaching and/or written in Gospel literature. It is not until the lost soul becomes a saved soul, that it really begins to realize its former destitution and wretchedness. Many have rightly likened this unto a light bulb being turned on inside the heart. What was hidden in shadows is now manifested. There is a whole new worldview, a strange but fascinating and fitting way of looking at life. However, sadly, spiritual confusion begins to creep in. So many contradictory churches and groups start introducing spiritual darkness. The new Christian soul, still eternally secure in the Lord Jesus Christ, starts experiencing the “lost” mentality it once suffered!

There is a reversion to ignorance. The Gospel and Scripture in general are no longer clear—now muddled by every belief imaginable. The high hopes at the moment of justification, being declared righteous before God, have disappeared. Christian thought and living now seems uncertain and burdensome. Whatever sharp Bible knowledge the soul had is now being worn down. At this point, some Christians just throw away the Bible in hopelessness. They go back to the world, indulging in human evil. Other Christians, still reeling to and fro spiritually, remain in church, simply because human “good” appeals to them.

They all need more light, and lenses….

Our latest Bible Q&A article: “Can you explain 2 Kings 2:23-25?

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?

A Pattern of Longsuffering

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting (1 Timothy 1:15,16 KJV).

God could be righteously angered and vengeful today. Thankfully, He is not!

A friend saw a television preacher claiming to “heal” someone. The disabled person showed no improvement, so the minister obviously faked it. My friend wondered why God did not strike that preacher dead for using the name “Jesus Christ” to deceive millions. I explained to my friend that, as opposed to the strict Dispensation of Law, where God was so severe in meting out judgment on such charlatans, we live in the Dispensation of Grace.

God’s “longsuffering” is typified in the Apostle Paul (see today’s Scripture). His salvation is a “pattern” of how people are saved into Christ today. Saul was an unbelieving, rebellious, indoctrinated, self-righteous, zealous Jew. In early Acts, he traveled and arrested, tortured, and executed any Jew—including women!—who followed Jesus of Nazareth. The Lord Jesus Christ observed it all from Heaven. He could have easily struck down Saul and whisked him off to Hell! Contrariwise, the Lord chose to extend mercy and love toward that wretched sinner. He personally appeared to Saul in Acts chapter 9. Saul, amazed and humbled, trusted the Lord Jesus Christ whom he had passionately hated.

Indeed, God chose that leader of sinners, the head of Israel’s rebellion against Jesus Christ, to become the Apostle Paul. He commissioned that man to go to all nations and preach the same grace God had shown him. Hence, God’s spokesman to the world opens each of his 13 epistles with, “Grace and peace.” Rather than wrath and war, God is (temporarily) patiently tolerating sinful man. The Lord Jesus Christ has paid our sin debt; hence, we enjoy grace and peace today. However, to benefit from it forever, like Paul, we must receive and trust it. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How did the Great Flood’s water save the eight souls in 1 Peter 3:20?

Just As I Am #6

Monday, July 24, 2017

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26 KJV).

Today’s Scripture highlights the sixth and final verse of Charlotte Elliott’s 1835 hymn, “Just As I Am.”

“Just as I am, Thy love unknown,
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

We receive the indwelling Holy Spirit after we hear and believe the Gospel of Grace, as Ephesians chapter 1 says: “[13] In whom [Christ Jesus] ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

Contrary to popular belief, everyone is not God’s child. For example, in John 8:44, the Lord Jesus uttered one of the harshest censures in all of Scripture, aimed at unsaved religious leaders: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do….” Ephesians 2:2-3 calls non-Christians “children of disobedience” and “children of wrath!” Today’s Scripture says we are God’s children by faith in Jesus Christ. We are not born into God’s family at physical conception or at physical birth. Scripture says we are born into God’s family—namely the Church the Body of Christ—when we place our trust solely in Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. But, never forget: it took God to put that system into place. No man dreamed it up. It was God’s invention.

Had Father God not made the first move by sending Jesus Christ, mankind would have never approached God. What sinner would have ever asked God to die for his or her sins? Who would have ever expected Him to do just that? Mankind would have been too prideful to ask anyway. Indeed, friends, it was a mighty gulf that God did span on that awful Roman cross on Calvary! That God would go through that much trouble to save such wretched creatures, this is something we will ever fathom. It is simply too far beyond us! All we can say is, “Thank You, Lord, I come and receive You!” 🙂

Our latest two Bible Q&As: “Who are ‘the poor’ in Galatians 2:10?” and “Who are ‘the fatherless and widows’ of James 1:27?

Just As I Am #5

Sunday, July 23, 2017

“For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe” (1 Timothy 4:10 KJV).

Today’s Scripture highlights the fifth verse of Charlotte Elliott’s 1835 hymn, “Just As I Am.”

“Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

Habakkuk 1:13 says of God: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity….” Almighty God is so holy that He cannot even look upon sin. Yet, Scripture speaks about some sinners going to God’s Heaven rather than Satan’s Hell. How is that possible? How can God be just in saving us sinners from our deserved ill fate? Does not His justice demand the punishment of those who offend His righteousness?

Today’s Scripture says “the living God… is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” How can these believing sinners escape their deserved eternal doom? Romans chapter 3: “[22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Father God made His Son, Jesus Christ, a “propitiation,” a fully satisfying payment for sin. Through that substitutionary death—Jesus Christ suffering God’s wrath and dying in our place—God can spare us our eternal death penalty of sin. We simply trust that good news to benefit from it! Father God promises to take, receive, welcome, cleanse, and relieve the believing sinner. Make no mistake, dear friends—Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork is truly the sinner’s only hope!

Just As I Am #4

Saturday, July 22, 2017

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30,31 KJV).

Today’s Scripture highlights the fourth verse of Charlotte Elliott’s 1835 hymn, “Just As I Am.”

“Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind,
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

The sinner comes to Jesus Christ with nothing to offer—not a scintilla of righteousness, not an ounce of worthiness, and not one smidgen of spiritual sight. Apart from the Spirit of God, he or she is completely and totally destitute of anything that really matters. However, once the Gospel of Grace is heard, once the righteousness of God is evident, once the grace of God is known, once the light from the Word of God penetrates that dark heart, the sinner fades away in his or her own sight and sees the sufficiency of and in Christ. What a stunning revelation! All the sinner needs, all that the sinner has sought, it is in Christ Jesus!

In Christ, the sinner finds “wisdom!” In Christ, the sinner finds “righteousness!” In Christ, the sinner finds “sanctification!” In Christ, the sinner finds “redemption!” Dear friends, it is in God’s design that everything we need, He furnished it to us in Christ. He did this deliberately, that there never, ever be boasting on the Christian’s part. No one in Christ will be right in saying, “God chose me to serve Him because of my education! God chose me to serve Him because of my decency! God chose me to serve Him because of my holiness! God chose me to serve Him because of my payment for sin!” No! Boasting is “excluded” because self is excluded (Romans 3:27,28). “Ye are complete in Him,” not in yourselves (Colossians 2:10).

When the saved sinner feels compelled to boast, let that saved sinner remember well who gave him or her everything now possessed: “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord!”

NOTE: The Grace School of the Bible Summer Family Bible Conference will begin tonight, July 22, at 7PM Central U.S. Time. It will be broadcasted live via internet from outside Chicago, IL, running until Thursday, July 27. There will be over two-dozen grace preachers talking about a variety of Bible topics. For more information (times, topics, and speakers), download the brochure from http://understandgrace.com/conferences/summer-family-bible-conference/. The live video feed will be available here: http://shorewoodbiblechurch.org/primarystream.html.