The Greatest Veteran

Sunday, November 11, 2018

“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.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Acts 19:13-16?

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!

No Good Deeds, No Good Things #10

Friday, July 27, 2018

Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you (Jeremiah 5:25 KJV).

Here is the result of being under any performance-based acceptance system!

When pure Grace is proclaimed, the objection will invariably arise: “Grace is a license to sin, and I can live any way I want!” Dear friend, if you say that, you really have no idea what Grace is. Moreover, others will complain, “But do I not have to do something to make God happy with me?” Dear reader, you have not paid attention to what these passages have been teaching. Your flesh can do nothing to please God!

The Law system, once it shows a lost person his or her sinful state, has no further place in that individual’s life. “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1 Timothy 1:8,9). God added the Law to Israel’s program “because of transgressions” (Galatians 3:19)—to point out Israel’s sin, her failure to get God’s blessings based on her works. “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). How senseless it is to then have the Christian live under the Law… continually beleaguered by the sinfulness he or she has already confronted the moment of coming to Christ by faith!

“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). Read the entire Epistle to the Galatians: they had fallen prey to legalism. “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). Our religious performance will add NOTHING (!) to what the Spirit of God has already wrought, and is working, in our hearts. Father God gave us all blessings in Christ the instant we believed on His finished crosswork—everlasting life, limitless forgiveness, justification (imputed righteousness), free redemption, eternal sanctification, unconditional acceptance, and so on. Now, dear brethren, we go live in and enjoy those blessings! 🙂

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13).

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! 🙂

Perfecting #7

Sunday, June 24, 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).

What does “perfecting” mean here?

Dear friends, it is utterly impossible to become sinless in this life. Still, we can indeed be “perfected.” Whatever doctrine is lacking in our inner man, we can gain it by reading and believing God’s Word to us (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16,17). Are we going to daily read, daily study, and daily trust that Word—or just continue to claim ignorance?

If we do not have the assurance of salvation and a home in Heaven, we should without delay believe the Gospel of the Grace of God: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Faith in this Gospel is how God can forgive us of all our sins and make us right before Him. If we are saved unto eternal life, members of the Church the Body of Christ, then we need to study and believe the Scriptures rightly divided on a daily basis. Otherwise, we will not think and behave like God would intend Christians to reason and walk!

The Holy Bible, the completed canon, is meant to bring all Christians to spiritual maturity, an increasingly fuller understanding of all that Father God aims to do right now and on into the endless ages to come. Such believers can then oppose Satan’s lie program. It is therefore no surprise that Satan employs various schemes to tamper with and hinder that pure Word from spreading—counterfeit Bible manuscripts, false teachings (including non-dispensational Bible study, philosophy, and religious tradition), assorted “experiences” and emotional highs, and numerous other diversions.

If any of us in Christ today find ourselves unskilled and confused regarding the Scripture, it is not God’s fault but our own! Perhaps our preacher is culpable, maybe our denomination is also guilty of misleading, but God the Holy Spirit has done everything to spiritually enlighten us. Alas, 1 Corinthians 14:38 is spoken to many of us in Christ: “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” Brethren, may that not be true of us! 🙂

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….

Nothing But the Blood #2

Monday, May 7, 2018

“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18 KJV).

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

“For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

The God of Israel “pardoneth iniquity.” Why? He “passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage.” Why? He “retaineth not his anger for ever.” Why? How can He do these things? “He delighteth in mercy.” The God of the Bible is compassionate. Furthermore, He actually takes pleasure in holding back what we sinners deserve! How will He accomplish this? The Prophet Micah does not have the complete picture. All he can say is that wicked Israel, facing divine judgment (the fifth course of chastisement—the Babylonian captivity), will be forgiven one day. The LORD God will not be eternally angry at Israel!

In his Book, Micah also speaks of the (yet future) Tribulation period and violent, wrathful Second Coming of Christ. Despite that destruction, the Holy Spirit allows Micah to see Israel’s ultimate pardon. While there will be fury, there will also be mercy. God will hold back what sinful Israel deserves. How can He be fair, and yet not punish them to the extent that they deserve? With the revelation of the mystery, the Pauline revelation, now we see. It is on the basis of Christ’s shed blood!

Returning to Romans chapter 3, part of God’s Word to Paul: “[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;….” The “remission [forgiveness] of sins that are past” (cf. Hebrews 9:22b)—the cleansing of Israel’s sins—is found in the cross of Christ.

Nothing but the blood indeed….