Scrooges and Christians

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

To the old identity, we say, “Bah, Humbug!” To the new, we say, “God has blessed us, everyone in Christ.”

Other than Jesus Christ’s conception and birth as found in the Holy Bible, there is one other classic story associated with Christmastime. British author Charles Dickens’ 1843 book, A Christmas Carol, focuses on the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge (the novella has some Christian influence).

From the onset, Scrooge is a wealthy, miserable, mean, stingy, and selfish old man. His employee, Bob Cratchit, is underpaid (yet, strangely, Ebenezer observes, Cratchit is cheerful). Scrooge refuses to donate to charities collecting for the destitute—to him, Christmastime is a time for others to “pick his pocket.” He even refuses to attend his nephew’s Christmas party. What a miser!

Through visitations by four Spirits—his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley; and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future—Scrooge is forced to realize what a thoroughly rotten man he is. Once confronted with his future, the awful events that lie ahead, he asks for another chance to make things right (which, thankfully, he receives and does!). The Scrooge at the end of the book is drastically different from the Scrooge at the beginning. Scrooge is now loving, warm, cheerful, and generous—he is a brand-new man.

Bible-believing Christians recognize parallels between Dickens’ work and the Holy Scriptures. The sinner starts off rotten, a rebel from birth—selfish, miserable, and mean. When he or she comes to realize that pitiful condition he or she is in, and comes by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins, God gives him or her a new identity (today’s Scripture). That identity is designed to influence subsequent actions. Scrooge did not simply change his outward activity; he had a change in heart first. This Christmas, let us be submissive to God’s Holy Spirit working in our hearts, as He uses sound Bible doctrine to manifest in our behavior our identity in Christ, that we be not Scrooges.

Earnest #8

Monday, November 23, 2020

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:21,22 KJV).

What exactly is an “earnest?” How is the Holy Spirit involved?

Although Father God has wrought a mighty work in us believers in Christ, we are actually a “work in progress.” Indeed, our souls and spirits have been redeemed, purchased out of sin’s slave market with Christ’s shed blood.

Romans chapter 3: “[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.”

However, we are not yet redeemed physically: we are still in these mortal bodies of flesh and blood. Since God is still operating the Dispensation of Grace, He has left the Church the Body of Christ on Earth. To delay His wrath another day—so more people trust His Son and escape the coming judgment this present evil world deserves—He keeps us here. The Apostle Peter learned this from the Apostle Paul: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

We have been justified (made right in God’s sight). We are being sanctified (daily set apart unto His plan and purpose). We will be glorified (brought into the heavenly places). The indwelling Holy Spirit is our “earnest”—or “taste” (“arrabon” in Hebrews 6:5)—that what mighty work God started in us He will also finish. The eternal life we are promised in Heaven can be ours now… and the indwelling Spirit of God guarantees it! 🙂

Death! #8

Monday, May 18, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Sin has “wages” (payments): physical death (soul and spirit separated from physical body), spiritual death (soul and spirit separated from God on Earth—can be remedied by faith in Christ!), functional death (believer separated from Christian living), and second death (soul and spirit separated from God in the Lake of Fire—permanent!).

We enter this world “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [resurrected us, given us life and energy] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; )…” (verse 4). Thus, God through Christ overcomes spiritual death. The “eternal life” of Romans 6:23 especially emphasizes subsequent Christian living. If we as believers want deliverance from daily sinful conduct, we read and trust chapters 6–8. Thus, God through Christ conquers functional death.

Some of the Church the Body of Christ will physically die, but not all. Those believers alive at the Lord’s return—the Rapture, the resurrection, “the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:18-25)—will never experience physical death. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Living or dead, all Christians will receive a new body. Thus, God through Christ overcomes physical death. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile [sinful, corrupt, subject to death] body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20,21).

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25,26).

To Pray a Better Way #10

Saturday, March 7, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Father God “searcheth [investigates, looks into] the hearts;” He is aware of “the mind of the Spirit” (today’s Scripture). The Holy Spirit works in us by activating His inspired words that we have read and believed rightly divided. Consequently, we can pray in agreement with Father God’s current will. The Holy Spirit uses sound Bible doctrine to work in the grace saint as that child of God prays with a heart of faith. He enlightens the believer’s understanding, so that saint not only perceives God’s will for the present age, but can also pray accordingly. Unlike in religion, in the Bible, the Christian is not left clueless, wondering how to pray!

Provided we are aware of “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2)—the doctrine outlined in Paul’s Epistles, Romans through Philemon—then we will not be disappointed with “unanswered prayer.” We cannot make God do something He is not doing. If the content of our prayers conflicts with Pauline doctrine, then displeasure and doubt will constantly beset us. Praying like a saint in Israel’s prophetic program, will get us nowhere because we are the Church the Body of Christ and we are in the mystery program. We cannot take Israel’s verses, assume God will respond that way, and then complain He “lied” when our expectations are not met. Indeed, non-dispensational prayer is more harmful than no prayer!

Saints, if we have any hope in the world of praying effectually, we must let God speak first. He has already spoken in Paul’s Epistles. Have we listened to Him before asking Him to listen to us? Or, are we operating in unbelief, naming and claiming non-Pauline Bible passages as though they are to and about us? Articulating dispensationally-correct prayers is to pray a better way! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are the ‘Scythians’ and the ‘Barbarians?’

To Pray a Better Way #9

Friday, March 6, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Friend, provided we are willing to “read” Paul’s epistles (Ephesians 3:4), if we are ready to “study… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), provided we are willing to “consider what [Paul] say[s]” (2 Timothy 2:7), and if we are ready to “believe” those Divine words (1 Thessalonians 2:13), the indwelling Spirit of God will take that sound Bible doctrine and transform us from the inside out.

Living in this fallen, sin-cursed world, our circumstances are complex. It is also daunting to try and express our concerns in words (groanings which cannot be uttered;” today’s Scripture). We are really unable to say what God’s will is regarding the matter. It is here that the Holy Spirit intervenes to transform our minds, using the verses we have read and believed. Exercising the mind of Christ, we seeing the matter as He Himself does. Difficulties distract and cloud our thinking. We entertain the notion that God does not love us and He does not care. How wrong we are!

In great tenderness, the Lord spoke to soothe suffering Paul: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Once asking the Lord to remove his “thorn in the flesh”—that mysterious, multilayered hindrance—Paul learned to think differently. The Apostle publicized what he had learned: “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (verse 10). Yes, the grace saint can find great value in his troubles rather than escaping them.

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

To Pray a Better Way #8

Thursday, March 5, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Returning to 2 Corinthians chapter 12, we better understand Paul’s example: “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me,….”

Paul became aware of a reality through direct revelation from the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of praying according to the prophetic program (with the rabbinical understanding he had growing up), he learned to pray a better way. That better way is set off by the expression, “And he said unto me…” (verse 9). What mattered at that point in time is what the Lord told Paulnot what the Lord had told Israel centuries earlier! Rather than seeing difficult circumstances as a hindrance to ministry, Paul began to view them as a benefit. Instead of God changing Paul’s situation (his expectation), He adjusted the Apostle’s mentality.

Continue in 2 Corinthians chapter 12: “[9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” The Holy Spirit took what the Lord Jesus Christ said directly Paul, and then worked in Paul to transform his prayer life. With Paul understanding the new dispensational change, he saw relief—not in deliverance from the problems but in comfort during the problems….

To Pray a Better Way #7

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Prayer would be utterly impossible without the ministry of the third Member of the Godhead. He intercedes or mediates by connecting our spirit with Father God. We better understand this by remembering the Holy Ghost played a vital role in producing the Holy Bible. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20,21). “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17). When God inspired the Bible, He put His Spirit in some words.

Once we believed 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)—the Holy Ghost came to dwell within us. See Ephesians chapter 1: “[12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. [13] In whom 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.”

God the Holy Spirit works by illuminating His inspired and preserved Word that we read, allowing us to believe it, and then causing us to pray in accordance with those Bible verses. Provided we permitted God to speak first, then speaking to Him will not be difficult….

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

To Pray a Better Way #6

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

It is no secret that prayer is a daunting exercise for most. Today’s Scripture pinpoints the reason: “for we know not what we should for as we ought.” We should know how to pray, but we do not. That is, we should know how to glorify God the most in any given situation. Alas, two problems hamper effectual prayer.

One was applicable in Paul’s day. At the time of the Acts period (during the writing of Romans), God has not yet revealed everything about the Dispensation of Grace. “I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 12:1). All of Paul’s Epistles are not fully revealed and written—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon were penned after Acts. It took approximately 35 years for the mystery program to completely unfold, the culmination of Pauline revelation being 2 Timothy (his final writing).

The other reason for unanswered prayer is a lack of personal awareness of what God has already revealed. Whether Christians in the 1st century or 21st century, unless there is individual Bible study, we cannot expect to know how to pray. God is not going to “zap” us with truth as we kneel and beg earnestly in a prayer closet! We must open the Holy Scriptures and read them for ourselves. There will be no voice whispering in our ears, and no “warm, fuzzy feelings” in our heart. God has already spoken, and He will not speak further. He has preserved that inspired record so we can read it. Friends, if we fail to read the Bible and learn His will, it is not His fault. It is our (!) responsibility to “search and see.” Once we open the Scriptures, though, the Holy Spirit begins to intercede for us….

To Pray a Better Way #5

Monday, March 2, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

We read the verses that immediately precede today’s Scripture: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

Before our glorification in the Heaven, we must suffer with Christ in this cursed creation—that includes physical illness and death (short of the Lord’s coming). In addition to bearing witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (verse 16), the Spirit of God helps “our infirmities” (today’s Scripture). The “infirmities” there are not so much bodily afflictions as much as they are deficiencies in our understanding of them. In other words, we need to have a better awareness of what God is doing in the midst of our dire circumstances. Paul learned it, and we should learn it as well….

To Pray a Better Way #4

Sunday, March 1, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Returning to 2 Corinthians chapter 12, “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

To say the least, Paul had great difficulties (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:22-28). His enemies—unbelieving Jews and Gentiles—constantly plotted his demise. Ridiculed and mocked, he often had inadequate food, clothing, and shelter. He was frequently mercilessly beaten, robbed, slandered, and imprisoned. (Ultimately, beheaded!) Throughout his earthly sojourn, he also tolerated bodily illness or disability that involved reduced vision (cf. Galatians 4:13-15; Galatians 6:11).

A rabbinical scholar, Paul knew the Old Testament. JEHOVAH God overthrew Egypt to free Israel, conquered wicked King Saul to rescue David, and defeated Babylon to liberate Israel. “Why does God not deliver me from my enemies?,” he surely wondered throughout Acts. “I am the LORD that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26) was certainly on Paul’s mind as he suffered his physical ailment. He understood the Mosaic Law curses of financial loss, disease, and starvation (Leviticus 26:16,17,25,26). Facing his struggles, Paul therefore asked God for relief. The Lord’s reply was stunning to say the least….

Special-edition Bible Q&A #700: “Are we dispensationalists guilty of ‘limiting God?’