In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 23, 2017

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

Dear saints, take a moment this Thanksgiving to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures!

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins. To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process (that is especially true regarding handling difficulties, the grace way!).

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. Today’s Scripture says, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn this.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Be thankful in every thing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saint, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.”

*Excerpted from our Thanksgiving 2012 Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see, “What are our spiritual blessings in Christ?

Ready!

Monday, November 20, 2017

“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: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:22-24 KJV).

Dear friend, are you prepared to die?

Physical death comes very (!) quickly, dear friends. It strikes everyone—rich and poor, religious and non-religious, man and woman, of every nationality. We cannot even begin to imagine how surprised those dear souls are who wake up in a lost eternity. Here, they just had so many plans. They wanted to purchase this vehicle, sell that property, marry this person, move to that neighborhood, build this house, work at that job. They were enjoying earthly life to its fullest; some led moral lives, so fervent in religion, while others were thugs, busy in worldliness. All is permanently over now!

Whoever they were (it made no difference), instantly, they woke up to a falling sensation. These lost people—yea, their souls—are descending into Hell! They know what has happened to them and why. They remember their acquaintances back on Earth! Searing heat intensifies beyond description. Flames unknown to our world engulf them. This is the wrath of a righteous God exacting the payment of a sin debt that will never (!) be satisfied. They know they did not (!) have to come to such a dismal place.

The context of today’s Scripture continues: “[25] Whom [Christ Jesus] 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.”

Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). Friend, trust this Gospel of the Grace of God and you will be ready! 🙂

Spirituality or Futility? #8

Friday, November 10, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

God sent the Apostle Paul to us Gentiles to give us the Dispensation of the Grace of God, or Jesus Christ’s heavenly ministry (Ephesians 3:1-9). From Heaven, not Earth, Christ is speaking today. In this dispensation, God is forming the Church the Body of Christ, a heavenly people whom He has blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We are not the nation Israel; God is not finished with Israel. She will rise again after our dispensation (Romans 11:1-36)!

We are saved by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (Romans 3:23–4:8)—apart from any works of any kind. Upon believing the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13,14). We need no water (or any other) ceremony to “enhance” our Christian life. God gave us a new nature in Christ, power that produces good works and gives us victory over sin (Romans 6:1-23). The Law serves no purpose in our life because God’s grace teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts,” and “to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11,12,14). Jesus Christ died to put away sin, so we put it away in our life. Our hope is not God’s earthly kingdom (Israel’s hope) but rather His heavenly kingdom (Ephesians 2:6,7; 2 Timothy 4:18).

Romans is the most basic Book for this dispensation. It outlines justification, how to have a right standing before God. Therein we also discover sanctification, how God has set apart believers to do His will. Moreover, we see Israel’s past, present, and future statuses. Finally, there are basic but specific grace principles for everyday living. Three useful Pauline passages are Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3.

We study all the Bible, but anything other than Pauline doctrine and duty is but futility!

Sola Fide

Monday, October 30, 2017

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9 KJV).

On October 31, 2017, we Bible believers celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation!

The third Reformation principle, “sola fide” (Latin, “faith alone”), protests the well-known Roman Catholic mishandling of James 2:24. “A man is justified by faith and works” is clearly written to Israel (chapter 1, verse 1). Following God’s instructions to others is surely destructive. Lost people wake up in eternal hellfire quoting Scripture (including James 2:24!).

In this the Dispensation of God’s Grace, salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing. Romans chapter 3: “[26] To declare, I say, at this time [God’s] 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.”

Our Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13) continues in chapter 4: “[3] For what saith the scripture? [Sola Scriptura!] Abraham believed God [Sola Fide!], and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace [Sola Gratia!], but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not [Sola Fide!], but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly [Sola Fide!], his faith [Sola Fide!] is counted for righteousness.” Rather than having religious self-righteousness (Romans 10:1-3), remember that Heaven is gained by faith alone in Christ’s righteousness alone! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

The Reformers, while lacking the more perfect Bible understanding we enjoy, nevertheless walked in the spiritual light they had. They understood justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Romans chapters 1-5). In the 500 years since, we have recovered the rest of the Book of Romans that religious tradition had stifled (chapters 6-16—victorious Christian identity and living, differences between Israel and the Body of Christ, and grace principles for various life situations). Brethren, let us walk in the light we have, further building on the Reformers’ efforts! 🙂

“Soli Deo Gloria!”
(Glory to God alone!)

Light Bulbs and Lenses #9

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130 KJV).

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

Most church members believe successful Christian living involves keeping the 10 Commandments, remembering the Beatitudes, following the “Golden Rule,” et cetera. Nonetheless, when the Holy Spirit through Paul spoke about Christian living, He said the teacher was God’s Grace, not God’s Law.

Titus chapter 2 again: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] … the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Alas, even many “grace believers” have a shallow understanding of grace. Their misconduct causes other Christians (and even lost people) to cling to strict rules and regulations even more. Grace does not save us according to how we live, but it should influence how we live.

Romans chapter 6 is what grace teaches: “[6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. [7] For he that is dead is freed from sin. [8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: [9] Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. [10] For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

“[11] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. [13] Neither yield ye your members [body parts] as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. [14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

We conclude this devotionals arc….

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Light Bulbs and Lenses #8

Monday, October 2, 2017

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130 KJV).

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

During the past decade, dispensational Bible study has clarified many obscurities for me. Christian growth is like switching to eyeglasses of increasingly higher magnifications. The believer’s willingness determines: (1) the rate at which those eyeglasses are traded, and (2) the size of the gaps between successive magnifications. As focus improves when camera lenses are adjusted, the sincere Christian soul progresses in Bible understanding. The passage of time causes that which is vague to become sharper. However, without right division, God’s preferred method (2 Timothy 2:15), clarity is gone, the light is diffused or nonexistent, and Christian growth stops.

Consider Titus 2:11-14, the Christian life that precious, precious, precious few believers ever discern and enjoy: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Remember, “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” refers to the Apostle Paul’s “all nations,” or “Gentile,” apostleship (Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26; cf. Romans 11:13). Grace existed before Paul, yes, but it being offered freely to all nations when they deserved nothing but wrath, that was unheard of prior to Paul. “The Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2) involves more than God in His grace simply offering us redemption from the penalty of sin (Hell and the Lake of Fire). Titus chapter 2 says grace teaches us how to live daily and overcome the power of sin.

Why did Jesus Christ offer Himself “a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6), a “redemption-price for all?” To take those who would trust Him as personal Saviour, and give them an identity to overcome daily sinful living. Grace not only changes our eternal destiny in the future. It can change how we conduct our lives right now….

Light Bulbs and Lenses #7

Sunday, October 1, 2017

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130 KJV).

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

Apart from Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, we read in Scripture about Law-keeping as part of the believer’s life. Unless we “rightly divide the word of truth,” keeping Paul separate from the rest of Scripture, we will abandon God’s grace and return to the Law. The Gospel of Grace enlightens the soul. If we continue walking in the light of God’s grace, we will live by that light through faith, and the Law will be unnecessary. It is incongruous to begin in grace (salvation by God freely giving to us through Christ’s finished crosswork all that we need) and then revert to the Law (performance-based system found in the non-Pauline Bible Books).

People appeal to Paul’s epistles for the Gospel of Grace, but then conduct their Christian lives by grabbing the legalistic, non-Pauline Scriptures (works). That is silly—grace and law do not mix! We came to Paul’s “Gentile” ministry and epistles to learn about God’s “all-man” (worldwide) message of grace. Likewise, for Christian living, we must appeal to this heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:5-7 says: “[5] For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. [6] As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: [7] Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” How did we “receive Christ Jesus the Lord?” Likewise, our conduct is based on “[our] faith in Christ.” From where did we Gentiles learn about Christ? From Paul, His Apostle to us Gentiles (Romans 11:13). We “walk” likewise.

Romans chapter 3 again: “[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:….” We have been “redeemed”—purchased out of and freed—from the penalty of sin (Hell and the Lake of Fire). Hence, we no longer have to serve sin. God’s grace is our master, and by faith in Pauline revelation, we reign in the light of grace….

Special-edition Bible Q&A #425: “Were the 11 Apostles wrong in choosing Matthias instead of Paul?