Excruciating Thursday

Thursday, April 18, 2019

[Reader discretion advised: Christ’s sufferings are graphically described below.]

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9 KJV).

His three years of earthly ministry have expired, but His greatest work is yet to come!

During the all-night interrogation in the “kangaroo court,” His sentence is passed—execution by crucifixion. They have scourged, beaten, and punched Him. Covered in their spit, they laugh at Him, and strike His head with a rod to force on the crown of thorns. His back shredded, His skull possibly fractured, His beard ripped off. His massive blood loss weakens Him further. Having been stripped of His clothing, He struggles to carry His heavy cross to Mount Calvary: Simon must carry His cross for Him. The crowds watch Him, laughing and jeering. His little flock looks on in total shock.

They lay Him on the wooden cross, yanking His limbs to nail them in place. His bones unbroken, but exposed, and His limbs dislocated. They pierce His hands and feet with long spikes, severing the median nerve in the hands, causing permanent hand paralysis. They raise up that cross, and He hangs, slowly suffocating due to His own weight. Every breath becomes increasingly difficult, His lungs fill with fluid, His heart becomes progressively strained. Eventually, He cannot breathe, and thus dies.

Now imagine His spiritual suffering. Three hours into His crucifixion, His heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost have abandoned Him. For the first time ever, He is totally alone. Physical and spiritual darkness now cover the earth. The weight of all the world’s sin and sins of all time crushes His soul. God’s undiluted wrath falls upon Him, as it does on those suffering in hellfire. He cries out in agony. Hanging on that cruel cross, with His spiritual eyes, He observes Satan himself and all his evil creatures snickering and cheering. He looks out to see His disciples staring at His helpless disfigured body. Oh, if only they knew how His physical and spiritual bodies were being tormented, utterly tortured beyond imagination!

After six hours of excruciating pain, He finally lets Himself die….

Please check out our archived Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus Christ really crucified on Friday?

The “Triumphal” Entry

Sunday, April 14, 2019

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4,5 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why Jesus Christ rode on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion?

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), Jesus’s crucifixion on Calvary’s cross is just five days away. Leaving Bethany, He travels to Jerusalem (a mile to the northwest). Israel’s believing remnant in Jerusalem is excited to hear that Messiah is returning to “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35); in anticipation, the great multitude throws their garments and palm branches on the ground. As Jesus enters the city, they cry out, “Hosanna [“O save!”]: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; cf. Psalm 118:26).

While often called the “Triumphal Entry,” there really was no victory being celebrated in today’s Scripture—the victory was to come later! What we need to realize is that Jesus Christ was humble (“meek”) here: as a King riding on a donkey into Israel’s capital city, He demonstrated He desired peace with Israel (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9). He had not come to destroy her, though He would have been just in doing so; He had come to save her from her sins, her enemies, and her satanic bondage (Matthew 1:21; Mark 2:17; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 1:68-75; Luke 9:55,56; Luke 19:9,10; Acts 3:24-26; et cetera).

Just a few days later, Jesus Christ appeared weak and defeated. He never fought back as the Roman soldiers mercilessly abused Him; He allowed Himself to be crucified on Calvary. It was His meek and lowly coming; now was not the time to pour out His wrath. He resurrected and ascended into heaven as a royal exile. Revelation 19:11 says Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem on a white horse, a sign of war and wrath (Zechariah 14:1-4)—that will be His true triumphal entry, for He will conquer Satan’s world system forever!

The “Offensive” Gospel!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5 KJV).

Behold, “the offence of the cross” (Galatians 5:11)!

I recently asked an elderly lady if she thought people could know where they go when they die. She answered, “Since most people are good, Heaven.” Afterward, naturally, she revealed her good deeds—especially her kindness toward others. Therefore, I inquired again, “Where will you go?” That pointed question was unexpected, prompting her hesitant reply, “I hope Heaven.” Notice when it became personal she was unsure. The Holy Spirit used those questions to convict her, and she actually expressed concern of being “scared.” Yes, this sweet little lady could not hide behind her “good works” any longer. She recognized she was Hell-bound!!

It was quite a friendly conversation from start to finish. Without doubt, by the time we parted ways, she understood her dire predicament and, most importantly, the solution. What she did with the Gospel of the Grace of God was her choice. I left her some printed material (verses). Just maybe she will contact me and we can talk more if necessary.

We often hear people stressing “good works” as necessary to enter Heaven. Point out to them Matthew 7:11—“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children….” Focus on the fact that man’s nature is “evil” despite doing “good” deeds. Rather than God emphasizing man doing evil, He underscores man being evil.” By nature, man himself is the problem. Consider Matthew 7:21-23 quite carefully: read it over and over until you get the impact. It is surprising to say the least! “Good” deeds can be exceedingly deceptive.

Lastly, I offered her a simple analogy. We can pick all the oranges from an orange tree, hang apples on it, and yet never change its nature. The tree can produce only oranges. Likewise, the sin nature can yield only sins. We can trade fleshly sins (lasciviousness) for religious sins (self-righteousness), and our nature is unaffected. However, in Christ, through Calvary’s crosswork, we receive a new nature, and it produces the good works God accepts. Ultimately, though, it is the new nature (not its resultant good works) that gets us into Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

Our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day?

The Sins of the Times! #6

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV).

Friend, you have surely heard of “the signs of the times,” but do you know anything about “the sins of the times?”

“For the Jews required a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22). “Except ye [Israel] see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). Rather than seek “signs of the times”—which is Jewish (are we the nation Israel?) and prophetic (are we not in the mystery program?)—we perceive the sins of the times. These are, first and foremost, spiritual sins, false religion increasingly counterfeiting Christianity (see 2 Timothy 3:6-17).

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry [forced religious celibacy!], and commanding to abstain from meats [mandated religious fasting!], which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:1-3). “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3,4).

Never do Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, predict some great, worldwide revival before the close of the Dispensation of Grace. It will not come, friends. In fact, the opposite is true (see above verses). This world will one day meet an angry, holy God—that cannot be avoided (it is only delayed!). False religion cannot be stopped and our self-serving society will not be destroyed until Jesus Christ returns. Our Christian duty—yea, privilege—is to preach the Gospel of Grace and teach grace principles while we are here, while our Dispensation of Grace is still open, to reach the precious few willing to hear and believe. How urgent (!!) it is that lost souls be saved from that horrible wrath to come; how pressing (!!) it is that Christian souls be saved from the rampant deception! Go out and get the Message of Grace out!!! 

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?’

The Sins of the Times! #5

Monday, March 11, 2019

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV).

Friend, you have surely heard of “the signs of the times,” but do you know anything about “the sins of the times?”

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (verse 5). Strangely, people actually (mis)use Scripture to justify their sins. They deny sound Bible doctrine, but readily misquote and/or mishandle God’s Word to teach and do their pleasure. God has given them over to their delusions: they think they are worshipping Him, following His will, but nothing could be further from the truth. We are to “turn away” from or avoid such individuals!!

Someone may inquire as to why Paul spoke of the perilous times in the future tense—“perilous times shall come.” Were not the sins of verses 2-4 present when Paul wrote those words 20 centuries ago? Indeed, those actions are really the “norm” for our dispensation! Yet, society’s conditions are worsening: such sins are not new, only intensifying and multiplying for four reasons.

Firstly, God’s grace through Calvary has been offered and rejected for 2,000 years. The more the world has heard of God’s love for them, the more they have grown to hate Him like never before and progressively hardened to His will (Proverbs 29:1). Secondly, more sects, cults, religions, and denominations have arisen to further corrupt society’s thinking: false teaching has had an extra 200 decades since Paul to proliferate. The sins of the flesh will grow more rampant because the sound doctrine to fight them has been pushed aside for religious lies.

Thirdly, larger populations mean more sinners are present to influence each other in wickedness. Lastly, the longer sin remains unpunished, the more widespread it becomes (Ecclesiastes 8:11). People are abusing God’s goodness and forbearance by continuing to willfully sin, when they should believe on His Son before they are judged in His righteous wrath (Romans 2:3-11)!

As this dispensation winds down, we become more and more removed from the Fall (when man first abandoned his Creator) and increasingly closer to the zenith of Satan’s policy of evil (the Antichrist, the man of sin, the son of perdition). Man is becoming more hostile toward God and himself….

The Sins of the Times! #4

Sunday, March 10, 2019

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV).

Friend, you have surely heard of “the signs of the times,” but do you know anything about “the sins of the times?”

Reading today’s Scripture in context once more: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Human society, not simply one nation but the whole world, will run rampant with the following 18 sins—self-centeredness, wanting others’ possessions, bragging, haughtiness, slandering other people and/or God, rebelling against parents, never being satisfied, not set apart for God’s purposes, void of expected love, refusing to get along with others, lying to harm others, lacking self-control, savagery, looking down on and hating Christians, betraying each other, making rash decisions and engaging in careless behavior, inflated with self-conceitedness, fonder more of entertainment than of God. What more can we say here? That is our morning newspaper. This is our nightly news report. Here is the homepage of our favorite news website!

As if such conditions are not awful enough, there is an eye-opening qualification in verse 5: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Society will engage in those 18 sinful activities under the guise of “godliness.” They will have a religious or god-like appearance. While claiming to be doing right, championing their work as noble and “fair for all,” (false) religion provides the perfect cover for their duplicity. They call it “progress” and “breaking free from societal norms and old-fashioned thinking:” we can improve ourselves, they say, without God’s involvement. We can be our own god, and do our own thing in life. Let us make our own rules—decide what is right and what is wrong—since we have tossed out sound Bible doctrine….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “If God is everywhere, is He suffering in Hell?

The Sins of the Times! #3

Saturday, March 9, 2019

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV).

Friend, you have surely heard of “the signs of the times,” but do you know anything about “the sins of the times?”

Studying the Bible, we learn the term “last days” refers to God bringing Israel’s prophetic program to its conclusion, its ultimate goal (His earthly kingdom). A sequence of four major events accomplishes it: (1) Christ’s earthly ministry, (2) the pouring out of God’s Spirit at Pentecost, (3) the pouring out of His wrath during the seven-year Tribulation, and (4) the actual Second Coming of Christ. Signs involved throughout, God’s earthly kingdom is eventually founded.

However, God in His grace and longsuffering interrupted that timeline in the Book of Acts. The first two events have already transpired; the last two are future from us. Our dispensation sits in the middle, completely isolated from the prophetic program. God kept our mystery program a secret until He revealed it to Paul (Ephesians 3:1-9; Colossians 1:23-36). Pauline doctrine allows us to see what God planned all along but which knowledge He had intentionally withheld from Satan and his angelic allies (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).

When Paul speaks of the “last days” (today’s Scripture), he refers to the last days of our Dispensation of Grace (and our Dispensation divides the “last days” of Israel’s program, with one portion preceding us and the other following us). Paul does not urge us to look for earthquakes, famines, wars, or pestilences as noteworthy of the last days with respect to us. He has a different coming of Christ in mind—one not found in Matthew chapter 24!

Today’s Scripture in context: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

“Perilous [dangerous] times” indeed, but not due to war, earthquake, famine, or pestilence. There is rather a spiritual hazard….