An Unlikely Convert #4

Saturday, April 13, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Thus far, we have been reading the testimony of the Apostle Paul. Listen to him in his own words as he stands before Gentile King Agrippa, nearly 30 years after his conversion: “[9] I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. [10] Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. [11] And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities” (Acts 26:9-11).

Saul was bloodthirsty religious fanatic! He did not think twice about arresting and putting to death any Jew who followed Jesus of Nazareth. Yea, he was God’s leading enemy in the earth at the time. Saul was heading the world’s rebellion against the God of creation. In Acts chapter 9, Saul (the chief of sinners) met Jesus Christ (the Saviour of sinners)!

First Timothy chapter 1: “[12] And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; [13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] 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. [16] 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.”

So, Paul’s salvation is a “pattern.” No matter how hopelessly lost someone appears, just remember they can come to Christ by faith as well. The mercy and longsuffering God extended toward Paul is still being offered to any and all today 2,000 years later. If only they would believe on Jesus Christ as Paul did!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain, ‘Give strength to the LORD?’

An Unlikely Convert #3

Friday, April 12, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Some people will never trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour: they will indeed go to Hell forever, fully content with their “good works.” We meet them daily. Others are lost now, but they will trust Him before physical death comes. These latter people are the few and far between. We encounter them as well. Seeing as to both classes, how do we differentiate them? How do we know who to witness to and who not to waste our time? Some argue that we need not witness at all, for if God has chosen to save them He will save them and if He has not chosen to save them then preaching to them is useless anyway. What malarkey! We should “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2) to one and all—and then let God take care of the rest!!

Ananias probably considered Saul of Tarsus the least likely person to believe Jesus is the Son of God. Saul was just too bitter of an enemy. However, via a heavenly vision—where the ascended Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to Saul—Saul realized his lost estate (see Acts 9:1-9). Not only did Saul pass from death to life, Ananias actually saw and heard him preach about that very Jesus Christ in synagogues throughout Damascus (today’s Scripture)!

Notice the shock of Saul’s audience: “[19] And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. [20] And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. [21] But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? [22] But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”

Simply put, no matter how “hopelessly lost” someone appears, he or she can be delivered from the worst cult, the most extreme brainwashing. After all, look at Saul (!)….

A Better Covenant #7

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31 KJV).

Look, the New Covenant—a better covenant!

Considering Israel’s sinful past, how could her people ever have a future in the LORD God’s program? After all, they habitually broke the Old Covenant by worshipping and serving pagan gods. We must remember that, long before the Law/Mosaic Covenant (Exodus chapters 19–24), God had promised to make Israel His people via the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3). The Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional; it depends solely upon God’s performance to bless Israel.

However, sin deceived Israel and she assumed she could make herself God’s people. She wanted that legalistic system at Mount Sinai. God knew it would end in failure—Israel did not. The Jews had to learn firsthand that their works would never, ever be a substitute for God’s grace. Therefore, God let the Mosaic economy operate for over 1,500 years. It was to point them to the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Alas, when He visited them, they preferred the Law and demanded His crucifixion! They supposed they were “good enough,” without a sin problem.

Romans chapter 11 describes Israel’s glorious future despite her failures: “[26] And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: [27] For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34). After our Dispensation of Grace concludes, national Israel will be saved at Christ’s Second Coming. Her sins will then be “blotted out” (Acts 3:19-21). Ezekiel 36:21-38 says JEHOVAH God will then put His Holy Spirit in the Jews and cause them to keep His laws—what they could never do by themselves! God will indeed make them His people, one united kingdom (Judah and Israel reunified).

While we are not under the Old Covenant, and yet it condemns us (Romans 3:19,20), so the New Covenant (to be made with Israel in the future) impacts us. The blood shed to ratify the New Covenant can save us, for the same blood that saves Israel saves the Church the Body of Christ (without any covenants—see Ephesians 2:11-22)!

A Better Covenant #6

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31 KJV).

Look, the New Covenant—a better covenant!

God did not deal with Israel via a performance-based acceptance system until they wanted it. They preferred to work for the blessings instead of enjoying those blessings God would give them simply because of His grace. Many such people even now favor laboring under the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law). They ignore the grace-based acceptance system available through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork! Christ worked, He paid our sin debt in full with His shed blood, and He resurrected on the third day to give us a right standing before God. We trust Him alone, place our faith in Him exclusively, and His merits are applied to us. We are blessed, becoming God’s righteousness in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Calvary’s finished crosswork is how God will cleanse Israel of her Old Covenant sins. He will also use that blood shed as the basis for Israel’s New Covenant. Hebrews chapter 10: “[10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [11] And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: [12] But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;… [14] For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

“[15] Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before [Jeremiah 31:33,34], [16] This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; [17] And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. [18] Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. [19] Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, [20] By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;….”

Now, we summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is there any chance more angels will leave God and follow Satan?

A Better Covenant #5

Friday, March 22, 2019

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31 KJV).

Look, the New Covenant—a better covenant!

Read Galatians chapter 3: “[19] Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. [20] Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. [21] Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

“[22] But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. [23] But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. [24] Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. [25] But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. [26] For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

What God desires first and foremost is faith, not works. He wants us to trust His Word, the Divine revelation that shows us that we are totally helpless sinners who cannot save ourselves. We need Him to function as our Saviour. Israel did not learn that lesson. Rather than letting it be a mirror to show them their sin, they assumed the Law gave them a right standing before God. Romans 10:1-3 describes apostate Israel during the Acts period: “[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.”

However, when the prophecy of today’s Scripture is fulfilled, Israel will have finally learned the lesson of the Law….

God’s Grace on Parade

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

“…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?

What is God Doing? #14

Friday, January 18, 2019

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea” (Job 11:7-9 KJV).

What exactly is God doing? Can we say? Or, must we remain clueless?

After penning nearly three thrilling chapters of doctrine, the Apostle Paul prays for the mature Ephesian saints: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19).

What is the breadth of God’s current work? He is bridging the former chasm or division between Jew and Gentile, joining them to make “one new man,” “a new creature,” the Church the Body of Christ, the dwelling-place of His Spirit (Ephesians 2:11-22; Ephesians 3:6,9). What is the length of God’s present work? The Body of Christ was not a “last-minute decision,” but rather something God planned long ago—“before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). It is part of His “eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11).

What is the depth of God’s current work? Ephesians 2:1-9 says He is reaching down to the very pits of sin to be reconciled with such evil creatures (people willfully following Satan, the flesh, and the evil world system). Before we came to faith in Christ, this was our lot! What is the height of God’s present work? As God empowers us members of the Body of Christ to function, He is impacting the “heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3,20-23; Ephesians 2:6,7; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12).

It is Paul’s wish—yea, the Holy Spirit’s objective—that we understand exactly what God is doing….