Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #4

Friday, December 6, 2019

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:8-11 KJV).

The fourth verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Come, Desire of nations come
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart!
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

Angels can sing about God’s operations, but, unlike us humans, they cannot sing about salvation in Jesus Christ. When we read today’s Scripture, there should be leaping for joy! The God of creation, the God of the Holy Bible, the God of Christianity, has attempted to mend the broken relationship between Him and us. He has done everything to save us from our sinful selves and our utter foolishness. He can do no more than Calvary. Those merits of Christ’s finished crosswork cannot benefit us individually unless we individually appropriate them by faith. There is no merit in our faith, but there is immeasurable merit in what Jesus Christ did. We either agree with God by faith that Calvary’s finished crosswork is enough, or we ignore it and continue on our way to eternal hellfire. Simple indeed!

Reading from 2 Corinthians chapter 5: “[19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Do we agree with God by faith?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we pray to ‘bind evil spirits?’

The Greatest Veteran

Monday, November 11, 2019

“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.

What Pleases God #7

Friday, November 8, 2019

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (2 Peter 1:17 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we will define exactly what God thinks well of….

Ephesians 1:6 says Father God “hath made us accepted in the beloved.” The Greek word rendered “accepted” is “charitoo,” translated “highly favoured” in Luke 1:28. (“Charis” is Greek for “grace.”) It naturally follows that since we are God’s children, our activities should reflect our identity. Just as we please God positionally—in Christ, sharing all His traits (righteous, holy, beloved of God, et cetera)—so we should please Him practically by letting that identity transform our lifestyles on a daily basis.

First Thessalonians chapter 4: “[1] Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. [2] For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. [3] For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: [4] That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; [5] Not in the lust of concupiscence [strong desire], even as the Gentiles which know not God: [6] That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. [7] For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

Sinners cannot help but sin; sin is all the “old man,” the old nature, knows! Saints, however, are “freed from sin” (Romans 6:7); sin does not have dominion over us. We can choose to take our stand by faith in Pauline doctrine, and walk in accordance with it. When our conduct matches Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, we please Father God. The Holy Spirit is “grieved” (saddened) when we “quench” (hinder, prevent) Him from working in our lives (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).

Let us now summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

What Pleases God #6

Thursday, November 7, 2019

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (2 Peter 1:17 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we will define exactly what God thinks well of….

Hebrews 11:6 is a transdispensational truth: “But without faith it is impossible to please him [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” No matter the dispensation or place on the Bible timeline, the God of Scripture always looks first and foremost for faith. He is interested in people trusting His words to them (the content of the Divine revelation changing through time). If they believe His Word to them, then they will have works.

Works can be faked—someone simply “going through the motions.” Faith, however, cannot be faked. We can see people’s works, but they can fool us (mindless actions). God alone can see a heart of faith; He cannot be tricked. He can discern a heart of faith with Christ working in it (righteousness), versus a heart of unbelief attempting to counterfeit Christ’s works (self-righteousness). Belief in the Gospel of Grace makes the difference!

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God(Hebrews 11:5; cf. Genesis 5:24; Jude 14,15). Again, faith is most important—not works! As pertaining to us in the Church the Body of Christ, Father God “hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). God’s “beloved” here is Jesus Christ. As soon as we believed on Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (Ephesians 1:6,7,12-14); God the Holy Spirit eternally united us with Jesus Christ. Placing us into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), the Holy Spirit simultaneously transferred Christ’s identity to us!

The God of the Bible does not accept sinners; He does, however, see sinners in Christ as saints. Since Jesus Christ is God’s “beloved” Son (today’s Scripture), and we are in that Son, we are equally God’s “beloved,” and thus well pleasing in His sight as well….

Once Fallen Short, Now Rejoicing #5

Friday, October 18, 2019

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 KJV).

Here is the bad news… Now, the good news….

As saints, we never (ever!) have to fear the face of the angry LORD God. On the authority of the King James Bible, we say and believe it. Romans chapter 5 again: “[1] Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [2] By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We do not strive to have peace with God; we have (a settled fact) peace with God. How? “Through our Lord Jesus Christ.” After all, if Christ’s substitutionary atonement at the cross of Calvary did not accomplish that peace, then surely there is nothing we can do to obtain it!

Each of the Apostle Paul’s 13 epistles opens with the greeting, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3). (“Mercy” is added to 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.) God declares to the whole world—grace and peace!” By its very definition, “grace” is undeserved favor. Our sinful world has merited God’s wrath, not His favor. They have earned war with Him, not peace. Yet, they have grace and peace—and Calvary makes the difference!

Second Corinthians chapter 5: “[18] And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

“Reconciled” to God, brethren, we are destined to see “the glory of God….”

Once Fallen Short, Now Rejoicing #4

Thursday, October 17, 2019

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 KJV).

Here is the bad news… Now, the good news….

Romans chapter 4 continues chapter 3 with these opening words: “[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

By faith in Jesus Christ, we have imputed (applied) righteousness. Our works are meaningless before God because we cannot do enough good works to become good by nature. Almighty God must give us a new nature, and that new nature/identity will produce good works (see chapters 6-8). Since we have imputed righteousness, God is free to give us eternal life (see the remainder of chapter 4, Abraham and the LORD God’s promise to him concerning resurrection life or eternal life).

Chapter 4 concludes: “[22] And therefore it [faith] was imputed to him [Abraham] for righteousness. [23] Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; [24] But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; [25] Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”

With those wonderful declarations laid down, chapter 5 begins: “[1] Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [2] By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” God has declared us righteous (we are justified by faith), that He then give us eternal life, that we then “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” What we once could not exhibit as sinners, we are qualified and ordained to display now and forever as saints….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Isaiah 5:8, ‘Woe unto them that join house to house…?’

Once Fallen Short, Now Rejoicing #3

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 KJV).

Here is the bad news… Now, the good news….

Re-read today’s Scripture with its context: “[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. [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.

Although we have “come short of the glory of God,” lacking inherent righteousness, we can be “justified” or declared righteous in God’s sight. By His grace, God can impute or apply righteousness “freely” to our account. This is accomplished through “the redemption [buying back] that is in Christ Jesus.” While we are captive in sin’s slave market, Jesus Christ’s shed blood is the payment to free us. It can make atonement or return us to fellowship with God that Adam lost long ago.

Father God set forth the Lord Jesus to be a “propitiation,” or fully-satisfying payment or sacrifice for our sins. Christ’s substitutionary death becomes our death, God punishing Him as though He were the sinner. Through Jesus’ finished crosswork, God offers us His own righteousness. Here is the Gospel of the Grace of God that we believe to pass from eternal death to eternal life. Verse 26 again: “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Not only are we forgiven of our sins, we who have believed the Gospel have been declared saints. God sees us as though we never sinned, for we now share Christ’s very identity….