Lost (And Unknowingly So)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:3,4 KJV).

They do not know they are lost!

Recently, I sat with a woman who I had met some eight years earlier. Long ago, I had attempted to strike up a Bible conversation with her, but she really was not interested. When we met recently, she refused to discuss Scripture. Could it be any clearer that religious works have so blinded her? There are millions of people like this poor soul—religious error has been so forcefully drilled into them that it rarely goes away. From the cradle to the grave, Satan blinds them using unbelievable power. How does he do it? Utilizing religious leaders who pervert the Word of God!

Before we read 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, friends, we should notice the two heading verses: “[1] Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; [2] But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” Did you notice the references to “the hidden things of dishonesty,” “walking in craftiness,” and “handling the word of God deceitfully?” Paul says he has “renounced” them, given them up; that is, as Saul of Tarsus, an Israeli religious leader, he sent many people to Hell using works-religion (the Mosaic Law—Scripture!!)!

Still, on the road to Damascus, in Acts chapter 9, Saul of Tarsus realized that, despite all his religiosity, he was headed for Hell! Before one can be saved into Heaven, friend, one must realize he or she is lost. No matter how “good” you are in religion, sin will damn your soul forever. However, the Gospel of the Grace of God declares: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). Believe it, and be saved unto eternal life. Know you are lost and then know you are saved!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is wrong with ‘praise and worship?’

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 29, 2017

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

In the United States, today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who sacrificed their time and lives to provide our physical freedom. Likewise, as Christians, we have spiritual freedom, which was more costly. Someone had to die to give us the eternal life we now enjoy….

Scripture describes a spiritual warfare between good and evil, God’s truth program versus Satan’s lie program: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11,12; see also verses 13-20).

Satan distracts mankind from God’s pure Word, the Bible, keeping unbelievers lost (dead in their sins), and preventing unbelievers and Christians from knowing God’s will. The devil draws them away (seduces them) from God’s Word by using religious tradition and human “wisdom” (1 Timothy 4:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:1-3).

God loves us, so at Calvary’s cross, Christ fought for us sinners, died in battle (today’s Scripture), shed His divine sinless blood, and eternally rescued us from Satan and sin: “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).

Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”

If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Now, God can use us for His glory for all eternity.

Beloved, let us rejoice in our victory over sin, death, and hell that Jesus Christ secured for us by going to Calvary’s rugged cross! Jesus Christ is now alive forevermore—He is our Hero, the Greatest Hero!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study “The Greatest Hero,” which can be read here or watched here.

Persuading and Pleasing God #3

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture reveal about the Apostle Paul’s past?

As Saul of Tarsus, Paul was a Pharisee (Acts 26:5; Philippians 3:5,6), diligently serving men in “the Jews’ religion” (Galatians 1:13,14). The Mosaic Law (rabbinical) scholar that he was (Acts 22:3), no one was more dedicated to striving in works-religion than he. However, on the road to Damascus, Acts chapter 9, he met the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven. Pious Saul suddenly realized he was headed for Hell! He came to believe the new gospel message that the Lord revealed to him—Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day. Thereafter, Saul would no longer please men. In fact, at his conversion, he asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).

In contrast to his earlier life, Paul was now a servant of God. Galatians 1:11-12, the verses immediately following today’s Scripture, affirms: “[11] But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. [12] For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Rather than being faithful to a God-originated religious system that man had watered down over the centuries, Paul was now faithful to the commission God had given directly to him. He was truly now a God-pleaser instead of a man-pleaser (today’s Scripture).

The Lord Jesus Christ had revealed Himself to Saul outside of Damascus. In doing so, He revealed to Paul the Gospel of Grace—the first installment of the Dispensation of Grace. The Holy Spirit moved Paul to write to the churches at Galatia, that they learn his distinctive apostleship and message, to the end that they would learn not to be men-pleasers either. Brethren, let us learn the lesson: the answer to successful Christian living is grace, not law—Christ, not religion! It is not what we do; it is all that Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary’s cross! This persuades and pleases Father God! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should a woman lead a group in prayer?

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 16, 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).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

Start in Romans #3

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office (Romans 11:13 KJV).

Why should people new to the Bible begin in the Book of Romans? Today’s Scripture tells us.

It is usually said that people should start reading God’s Word in the Book of John. However well meaning this is, it is spiritually hazardous. Christ’s earthly ministry, Matthew through John, was to and about the nation Israel, not us Gentiles: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Moreover, John’s goal is confirming to Israel that Jesus is her Messiah because He conducted a ministry of signs, special teaching miracles, in her midst (see John 20:30,31). “The Jews [not us Gentiles] require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22).

Paul is God’s messenger to us non-Jews (today’s Scripture). Ephesians 3:1-2 elaborates: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward….” Romans 16:25-26 says God wants to “stablish” (stabilize) us Gentiles using three components: (1) Paul’s Gospel, (2) the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, and (3) the Scriptures of the prophets. Paul’s Gospel is laid out first, and most clearly, in the Bible in the Book of Romans, the head, or introductory book, of his 13 epistles (Romans through Philemon).

Romans is divided into four sections. Chapters 1-5 deal with justification, or how to have our sins forgiven and a home in heaven. Chapters 6-8 discuss sanctification, or how that Gospel of Grace has changed our identity from Adam to Christ. Chapters 9-11 covers dispensational changes—we are not the nation Israel, but rather the Church the Body of Christ, with Israel still having a future in God’s program. Chapters 12-16 are application, or how we are to by faith use the grace principles in Romans so our lives can glorify our Lord and Saviour!

Friend, you will not mature in grace if you begin the Bible in the wrong place. Using John as an introduction to the Bible will hinder you from laying the Scriptural foundation God intended for you. Start in Romans! 🙂

Better Late Than Never!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14 KJV).

It is better to make wise spiritual decisions late in this brief life than never!

A lady called a pastor friend of mine to share her life story. She was 14 years old when she abandoned her false religious system. For the next 36 years, she remained lost, dead in her trespasses and sins. She trusted Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour at age 50. For the next 40 years, she spent her Christian life confused, struggling to understand the Bible. Now, at age 91, she had found my friend’s television program and learned about dispensational Bible study. She was so excited!

More recently, I learned from another coworker in the ministry that his friend just died. The ailing man, riddled with cancer, had been entangled in Eastern religions for years. However, my friend and a Christian sister had both shared the Gospel with him throughout the last few weeks of his life. At age 81, he finally trusted Christ. He is now in the Lord’s presence!

Friends, procrastination is dangerous, especially concerning spiritual matters. Some people wait decades before they trust Jesus Christ as personal Saviour. Anytime prior, they could have died unexpectedly and gone straight to Hell! Others will postpone until their last few weeks, days, or hours alive until they finally believe the Gospel. They do not realize just how precarious the situation in which they are! At anytime, they could suddenly pass away without forgiveness of sins and a home in Heaven!

If you do not know where your soul would go if you died right now, please do not wait another minute. My friend, you are not guaranteed next week, tomorrow, or even the rest of today. The Gospel of the Grace of God is: “how that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). You could be in your 20s, or nearing age 100, but you really have no idea just how long you have left here in this life. Trust Christ now; now may be all you have!

An Eternal House in the Heavens #8

Monday, March 27, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

While we are here in these physical bodies, we know absolutely that we are not in the Lord’s presence in Heaven: “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord” (verse 6). Once we leave these physical bodies, however, we know with certainty that we will be in the Lord’s presence in Heaven: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (verse 8). Sandwiched between these two verses is the parenthetical phrase, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight: )” (verse 7). Remember, we, by faith, look at the invisible, eternal things rather than the visible, temporary ones (2 Corinthians 4:18)!

Once we meet the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive our glorified, resurrection bodies at the event we call the “Rapture” (1 Corinthians 15:49-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), then we will go before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Second Corinthians chapter 5 continues: “[9] Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. [10] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

Not to be confused with the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15, which is for the lost people of the ages, the Judgment Seat of Christ is reserved only for Christians, members of the Body of Christ. Our Christian service will be evaluated: Jesus Christ will determine the spirituality, or maturity, of our inner man. The quality of the sound Bible doctrine—that is, dispensational Bible study—we store in our inner man will result in a reward. Notice, “the things done in his body…” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The reward is the capacity in which we will serve our Lord and Saviour as we function in those new outward bodies….