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?

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!

Sola Fide

Monday, October 30, 2017

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9 KJV).

On October 31, 2017, we Bible believers celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation!

The third Reformation principle, “sola fide” (Latin, “faith alone”), protests the well-known Roman Catholic mishandling of James 2:24. “A man is justified by faith and works” is clearly written to Israel (chapter 1, verse 1). Following God’s instructions to others is surely destructive. Lost people wake up in eternal hellfire quoting Scripture (including James 2:24!).

In this the Dispensation of God’s Grace, salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing. Romans chapter 3: “[26] To declare, I say, at this time [God’s] righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Our Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13) continues in chapter 4: “[3] For what saith the scripture? [Sola Scriptura!] Abraham believed God [Sola Fide!], and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace [Sola Gratia!], but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not [Sola Fide!], but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly [Sola Fide!], his faith [Sola Fide!] is counted for righteousness.” Rather than having religious self-righteousness (Romans 10:1-3), remember that Heaven is gained by faith alone in Christ’s righteousness alone! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

The Reformers, while lacking the more perfect Bible understanding we enjoy, nevertheless walked in the spiritual light they had. They understood justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Romans chapters 1-5). In the 500 years since, we have recovered the rest of the Book of Romans that religious tradition had stifled (chapters 6-16—victorious Christian identity and living, differences between Israel and the Body of Christ, and grace principles for various life situations). Brethren, let us walk in the light we have, further building on the Reformers’ efforts! 🙂

“Soli Deo Gloria!”
(Glory to God alone!)

Preachers of Little Faith

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

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

Over 50 years ago, a Christian minister lamented: “Great faith can be acquired only by hearing the Word of God. The reason most preachers have so little faith is because they spend more time around the television and on the golf course than they spend alone with God studying His Word.” Yes, whether five decades ago, or 20 centuries ago, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God!”

Today’s Scripture is actually a scolding of unbelieving Israel in the Acts period. Whether during the ministry of the 12 Apostles (early to mid-Acts), or that of the Apostle Paul (mid- to late Acts), the nation Israel overwhelmingly refused to believe on Jesus Christ. Paul wrote: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] 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.” Too caught up in self-righteousness (religious works), they did not see that righteousness was only in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Sound familiar?)

Verses 16 and 17: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Paul here is actually quoting Isaiah 53:1. Some 700 years before Christ, the Prophet Isaiah had great difficulty convincing his Jewish audience to believe God’s Word that he preached to them. The same was true in the ministries of Peter and the 11, and Paul. Israel had and heard God’s Word, but few Jews had trusted it!

Today, we have the completed Holy Bible, but how many—even preachers—actually read, study, and believe it? Usually, they read commentaries, watch religious television, sing hymns, and recite confessionals and creeds. There are so many distractions, especially in religion, vying for our attention. We had better pay attention to God’s Book, for it is the only way to have faith! Let us not repeat Israel’s mistake!

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?