Keep Your Soul

Friday, February 9, 2018

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26 KJV).

Whether rich or poor, the soul is not worth losing!

A biographical video featured a famous actor of a bygone era. Having appeared in dozens of films, he made his millions and received worldwide fame, married several times, lived in luxurious houses, and so on. An often-repeated phrase in the documentary was, “[This person] died.” This relative of his succumbed to death; that close associate died too. Lastly, he himself expired. Genesis chapter 5 came to mind: “and he died… and he died… and he died….” Since Adam begat all “in his own likeness, and after his image” (verse 3), he passed down his sin nature and its associated death penalty.

Friend, whether rich or poor, famous or unknown, we all live under sin’s effects. The aforementioned celebrity, despite a nice outward appearance, suffered problems like all of us. When we hear of people who never seem to have a “bad day”—everything is always going so well for them—they are withholding something. Somewhere, there is a bout of depression, a divorce or child-custody battle, an addiction, a financial struggle, a fear, an infirmity or weakness, et cetera.

Sin’s final consequence, of course, is physical death, immediately followed by the flames of Hell (and ultimately, the Lake of Fire). We can be “happy-go-lucky” millionaires or homeless peasants, and death will certainly find us. Death has been called the “great equalizer.” Indeed, it levels out all bank accounts, all acquaintances, and all possessions to “0.” Death also removes all uniqueness. Hell is a place where souls—identities—are lost forever (cf. today’s Scripture). The nameless (!), penniless (!) rich man in Luke 16:19-31 was “just another” tormented soul! “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Timothy 6:7).

However, thankfully, the God of the Bible provided a solution to our sin problem. We need rest entirely by faith in it: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). Friend, avoid Hellfire while you still have time!

Treasures in Heaven

Thursday, October 26, 2017

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 KJV).

In Heaven, not upon the Earth!

One of the most tragic, devastating life events is the loss of one’s property (especially a house) to some misfortune—natural disaster, health hazard, robbery, arson, bombing, and so on. Irreplaceable family heirlooms… gone forever. Vehicles… a total loss. Photo albums… permanently ruined. Important documents… marred. Memories remain… the structure severely damaged or destroyed. How distressing!

Dear friends and brethren, we never, ever want to grow too attached to this world. Certainly, we hold jobs, marry, purchase houses, settle down, and raise families. Nevertheless, we can be misled to believe this life is all there is or will ever be. Satan’s evil world system is very tempting… but it is also very temporary (1 John 2:15-17)! We can start seeking and idolizing wealth, material possessions, physical beauty, fame, and so on. Summarized, “Quickly get as much as you can, and quickly can as much as you can quickly get!”

The Lord Jesus knew all about the enticements of Satan’s evil world system. He thus warned His disciples not to grow too fond of this world. It was headed for the Tribulation (and still is!), and once those final seven years conclude, Satan’s reign will be terminated forever. This world and its elements are temporary. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Why are material riches “uncertain?” Jesus told us in today’s Scripture—moth, rust, and thief could always take them anytime!

For those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins, and are continuing in the principles of grace, we are treasuring up some wonderful things in Heaven. We do not see them today, but thankfully, they can never be lost so we are guaranteed to see them one day! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How could Paul write that he ‘heard’ of the Ephesians’ faith?

Inside Not Outside

Monday, October 9, 2017

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 KJV).

Whether 3,000 years ago or right now, today’s Scripture is one still worth memorizing!

A dear Christian lady once entered a church building. Having very little money, she wore the best outfit she owned. After the services, the pastor and his wife approached her. They informed her that she was not welcome to return because her clothes were not good enough! Deeply offended, she wanted nothing to do with Christianity or the Bible for a long time. (I recently ministered to her.)

I explained to the lady that that denominational church was too focused on externalism, formalism, outward appearances. While we should definitely dress modestly and sensibly, our financial situation may not permit us to buy expensive clothing. Furthermore, it is most unbecoming of a pastor to ban people from church services simply because they cannot afford nicer clothes. What if this physically poor person was really a spiritually poor person interested in coming to know Jesus Christ as his or her personal Saviour? Is God going to bar from Heaven one who cannot afford formal attire? No, the people kept out of Heaven are those depending on their self-righteousness, those who wear spiritual “fig-leaf” garments! Never forget, dear friends, that outward beauty does not make null and void ugly hearts of unbelief!

Thankfully, the God of the Bible looks beyond social standings, nationalities, physical sizes and shapes, ethnicities, wardrobes, financial statuses, romantic lives, faces, and external behaviors. Today’s Scripture says He looks on the inside—specifically the heart. The heart is part of our soul, the innermost region of our spiritual makeup where we make decisions (exercise faith or unbelief). Romans 10:10a says: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness….” Hebrews 11:6 reminds us: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Genesis 4:7?

The Thing Which is Good

Monday, September 4, 2017

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28 KJV).

On this Labor Day, we talk about work, “the thing which is good.”

In this day and age of increasing “government assistance,” people are becoming less and less aware of our hard work being the Lord Jesus’ preferred method of the source of our incomes. While the physically and mentally disabled are obvious exceptions, the God of the Bible expects all of us to contribute labor in order to provide for ourselves. For children and young adults, even being a student in school is work enough!

Observe the doctrine being communicated in today’s Scripture. The grace life does not merely teach us to quit doing bad things, but it also instructs us to start doing good things (Titus 2:11,12). Once a thief trusts the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins, then God expects that thief to quit stealing and find a job so he can provide for his needs!

The God of creation calls work “the thing which is good” (today’s Scripture). Work is not something to be avoided; it is something to be embraced for the Lord’s glory!

When the Lord Jesus Christ put the first man, Adam, on earth, that man had a divine commission. Adam was not to simply loaf around and do nothing: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to protect that garden, to till its ground, to prepare it for Jesus Christ to come down and dwell in with he and Eve (because of sin, that earthly kingdom over which Jesus Christ will rule is still awaiting fulfillment!).

Saints, may we work to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), and may we work to help those who truly are needy (today’s Scripture). In the words of God the Holy Spirit, that is “good!” 🙂

Lingering Lot

Saturday, June 24, 2017

“And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city” (Genesis 19:15,16 KJV).

In “lingering Lot,” we see many a Christian today!

Nephew to Abraham, Lot was a very compromising believer. While the world’s sins bothered him (2 Peter 2:6-9), he did not mind dabbling in them himself. For example, Lot “sat in the gate of Sodom” (Genesis 19:1): he was an important statesman in that most wicked city, enjoying high social standing and great wealth. Once God had enough of the homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah, He sent two angels to destroy them (see Genesis 18:16-22; Genesis 19:1ff.).

God also sent those angels to deliver Lot and his family before His righteous wrath falls upon Sodom and Gomorrah. In today’s Scripture, the angels urge Lot to hurry and take his wife and two daughters and escape. Three words stand out: “and while he lingered….” Lot wanted to stay just a bit longer, to take one last look at all his possessions he had acquired while officiating over Sodom. His beautiful home and its furnishings would be destroyed. His sinful acquaintances would be killed. (Notice how his wife “looked back behind him” once they did leave in verse 26, and she “became a pillar of salt!” She too had been attached to the material goods she and Lot had.)

Lot should have led his family out of such wickedness, yet he “lingered.” The angels had to thus forcefully grab all four of them (he, his wife, and their two daughters) and bring them outside the city! JEHOVAH God could have consumed Lot for being so wicked, so idolatrous, and yet He was “merciful unto him.” No doubt, many such saints will want to “linger” at the Rapture, when Christ returns to take all Christians to Heaven, desiring to stay behind and enjoy this evil world one last time. May we not be those “lingering” believers!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does the Bible say about blood transfusions?

Eagerly Seizing the Temporary!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed (John 6:26,27 KJV).

Human nature has not changed one bit in 2,000 years.

Frequenting thrift stores over the years, I have found name-brand items well below retail cost. Some items—including pricy clothing—are still new. Beware: Stand aside, as consumers may behave unseemly to get what they want!

After employees process and price items in store’s rear, they transport them by cart to the front for consumers to browse. Thus the showroom becomes dangerous. Upon hearing that cart’s wheels rattling and squeaking, alert customers make a “mad dash,” pushing and shoving, to access the cart’s items first! (My friend was nearly knocked down by one such “stampede!”) When I recounted that event to another friend, she summed it up perfectly—“uncivilized!” Sadly, adults will go to such extremes to have their way: like starving vultures diving to pick off a bite to eat, these consumers run and pounce on that cart!

While such scenarios are amusing (yes, I recently witnessed a stampede), it is unfortunate. If only people were as willing to come to Christ as they do that dumb merchandise cart! They bully to grab temporary items, but, upon death, someone will be just as eager to confiscate it. It is said that grave-clothes have no pockets—even if they did, the contents would do absolutely nothing for the individual. His or her soul would be in heaven (Christian) or hell (everyone else), not in that decaying body!

Friends, in the context of today’s Scripture, Jesus miraculously fed the 5,000 (verses 1-15). Now, they are selfishly chasing Jesus to get more food from Him. Verse 29 is the correction: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” They were striving for temporary food, when they should have trusted the eternal Son of God! (A most appropriate lesson… even in today’s world, huh?)

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we pray if it is God’s will?

The Price of Christ #1

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

“And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver” (Matthew 26:15 KJV).

How much is Jesus Christ worth in the eyes of lost man?

Let us read today’s Scripture within its context: “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him” (Matthew 26:14-16).

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me” (Matthew 27:3-10).

The 30 pieces of silver was enough to buy a field; it was an enormous sum of money. The King James Bible does not specify what types of coins the priests paid Judas, but the “30 pieces of silver” is estimated to be the equivalent of three or four months’ wages. According to the Mosaic Law, the price of a slave was “thirty shekels of silver” (Exodus 21:32). In the eyes of lost mankind, the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, was worth nothing more than a slave!