The Thing Which is Good

Monday, September 5, 2022

“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!” 🙂

Superfluous #5

Monday, June 13, 2022

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Corinthians 9:1,2 KJV).

What does “superfluous” mean?

Read today’s Scripture with its context: “[1] For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: [2] For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. [3] Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: [4] Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. [5] Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.”

Paul knew how “froward” or zealous the Corinthians were in their giving (verse 2, today’s Scripture). This Greek word is also translated “willingness” or “readiness” (Acts 17:11; 2 Corinthians 8:11,12,19). He had even alerted the Macedonian believers (northern Greece) how these Achaian believers (southern Greece, including Corinth)—as much as year prior—had been enthusiastic in giving of their resources to support God’s people (Israel’s believing remnant). That news encouraged other saints to make donations too.

It was thus “superfluous” or redundant for Paul to write to the Corinthians about giving (they were already well informed about the situation). Yet, just in case any Macedonians would visit Corinth, and Corinth be not ready, Paul sent the Corinthians this second epistle (and brethren, including Titus; 2 Corinthians 8:16-18) with guidelines for giving. Unless the Holy Spirit led Paul to pen 2 Corinthians, with chapters 8–10 in place, we would be without principles for giving under grace. Saints, let us be thankful for those “superfluous” words.

Superfluous #4

Sunday, June 12, 2022

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Corinthians 9:1,2 KJV).

What does “superfluous” mean?

Since the Lord’s introduction of the mystery program (the Apostle Paul’s ministry and message) delayed the conclusion of the prophetic program, it was only natural for Paul’s Gentile converts to then contribute financially to the welfare of Israel’s believing remnant already formed during the prophetic program. If Israel’s God was now the God of non-Jewish heathen—the fruit of Paul’s ministry—then these Gentile saints (the Church the Body of Christ) should support believing Israel (the Little Flock).

Romans 15:27 again: “It hath pleased them [Paul’s saints] verily; and their [Israel’s] debtors they [Paul’s saints] are. For if the Gentiles [Paul’s saints] have been made partakers of their [Israel’s] spiritual things, their [Paul’s saints] duty is also to minister unto them [Israel] in carnal [material, physical] things.” Hence, the Apostles James and Cephas (Peter) and John, leaders of the Jerusalem Church, prompted Paul and Barnabas to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10; the Acts chapter 15 conference). Contrary to popular belief, the “poor” here are not underprivileged people in general: they are the poverty-stricken Little Flock of the Acts period!

In today’s Scripture, the issue is members of the Church the Body of Christ (Paul’s ministry) giving financial aid to Israel’s “saints” or believing remnant (under the leadership of Peter and the 11 Apostles). As Paul established and visited local grace churches, he took up collections of money and goods to bring to “the poor saints which are at Jerusalem” (Romans 15:26; also, remember 1 Corinthians 16:1-3). By the time of today’s Scripture (2 Corinthians), the Corinthian saints (in 1 Corinthians) had already been made aware of the plight of the Jewish believers in Christ in Jerusalem and Judaea; the Corinthians needed no instructions about giving, so it was “superfluous” for Paul to write to them on the subject.

However, the Holy Spirit through Paul taught them again about giving under grace anyway….

Superfluous #3

Saturday, June 11, 2022

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Corinthians 9:1,2 KJV).

What does “superfluous” mean?

To prepare them for the Antichrist’s satanic religious-economic system (Revelation 13:15-18), Christ directed His disciples to relinquish and sell their material goods (Matthew 19:21-30; Mark 10:21-31; Luke 18:22-30). Guarding against Satan’s distractions, they were not to be attached to this world’s riches (Matthew 6:19-34; Luke 12:13-34). In Acts 2:44,45 and Acts 4:32-37, Israel’s believing remnant obeyed Christ: they literally sold their personal possessions and lived off a common fund.

Of course, our dispensation introduced in Acts chapter 9 postponed the prophetic program, so the Antichrist is still future and their common fund went bankrupt. In Acts 11:27-30, a “dearth” or famine struck Judaea (the neighborhood of Jerusalem), further compounding the Little Flock’s dire financial straits: “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul [another name for the Apostle Paul].” Hence, in some of Paul’s “Acts” epistles, we read such verses as the following.

“But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things” (Romans 15:25-27). “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality [kind donations] unto Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

Here is “the ministering to the saints” of today’s Scripture….

Teach Your Children #3

Sunday, May 29, 2022

“And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 11:19 KJV).

If single-parent homes are a calamity, “no-parent” homes are even more catastrophic!

Contrary to popular belief, the greatest gift that parents could ever (!!) provide their kids is not substantial bank accounts, expansive properties, lavish mansions, or even good genes. While wonderful to have, and there is nothing wrong in possessing them if we do not confound them with Almighty God, the fact of the matter is that they are all temporary. Inflation and irresponsibility diminish funds, taxes and upkeep make real estate a burden, buildings deteriorate with age and so require daily maintenance, and even the “best” DNA can be traced back to Adam (sin and ultimate death).

Long after Mom and Dad are gone (no longer there to advise), and their children remain, what will those younger generations do with their chronic sin problem? Have they ever been taught about the Lord Jesus Christ, how He paid for their sins in full at Calvary, and how the only way they can have victory over sin is by placing their faith in Him alone? Will they have a final authority, something solid and certain on which to build their lives? Have they ever been encouraged to read, study, and trust the Holy Bible rightly divided? Are they proficient in the Apostle Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, the principles of grace living? Or, like so many billions now, will they drift from this group to that group, aimlessly and hopelessly floating on that vast sea of error, struggling in vain to fill that God-shaped vacuum in their heart, to eternally perish once they drown in sin?

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3). Teach your children sound Bible doctrine, that they may teach their own children, and so on. If this we fail to do, remember well, we ourselves have contributed to the overall global problem.

Labour for the More Important Meat #5

Thursday, May 26, 2022

“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).

Where is our interest—in “the meat which perisheth” or in “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?”

Dear friends, though spoken and written 20 centuries ago, today’s Scripture is not “dead history.” It is just as true then as it is now. Human nature has not changed one whit. The God of the Bible is still treated like He is “Santa Claus.” Multimillions beg Him for a promotion or bonus at work, a larger home, a spouse and kids, a new vehicle, a safe journey, a miracle healing, and countless other temporary material blessings.

How many of these precious souls have ever stopped to think these sobering words?! “My, oh my, how I fear that I am dead in my trespasses and sins, and, having offended the holy, righteous Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, I am on my way to an everlasting Devil’s Hell! I had better look to Jesus Christ and believe on Him, lest my eternal soul be lost forever! He can supply me with eternal life, something infinitesimally more important than all these lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eye, and the pride of life!”

Indeed, we should not reduce the mighty God of the Bible to a mere genie in a bottle—even if countless “Christians” have already done it and still do it. The greatest work the Lord Jesus Christ could ever do for us, the most valuable gift He could ever give us, He gave it (His very life!) 2,000 years ago. He died for our sins, shedding His sinless blood, He was buried, and He resurrected victoriously on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). We need to trust Him alone as our personal Saviour, before it is eternally too late. In the grand scheme of things, nothing in this world really matters—so, why do we act like it does?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain ‘reel to and fro’ in Isaiah 24:20?

Labour for the More Important Meat #4

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

“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).

Where is our interest—in “the meat which perisheth” or in “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?”

Our five senses allow us to experience the natural world in which we live, so we are frequently pressured to pay attention only to what we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Nevertheless, through the eyes of faith, we appreciate the fact that this world is passing away—a fleeting arrangement of time and space.

The Apostle John advised Israel’s Little Flock undergoing the difficulties due to the Antichrist’s brutal regime and satanic religion: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).

In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, the Apostle Paul recommended: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Relentlessly hanging on to the material world and its pleasures is to ignore their short-lived status (see today’s Scripture). Far better it is to seek to obtain spiritual truth, that which will span the endless ages of eternity future….

Labour for the More Important Meat #3

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

“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).

Where is our interest—in “the meat which perisheth” or in “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?”

The physical bread with which Christ supplied them would impart life to their temporary flesh and blood bodies, but were they concerned about what would nourish their eternal, spiritual bodies? No. Appropriately, the Lord corrected their misconception. They had a greater need, and He alone could meet it. Verses 33-35: “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

He likened Himself to spiritual bread or spiritual sustenance. They needed to prepare for the ages to come, and this was the purpose of His earthly ministry to them. Alas, they failed to appreciate the full extent of what He could do for them and the rest of their nation. He invites them to come to Him and believe on Him (which they have obstinately refused thus far). If they come to Him, that is the equivalent of satisfying spiritual hunger; if they believe on Him, that is the same as quenching spiritual thirst. “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

If only the people of today’s Scripture were as passionate to learn these simple spiritual truths as they had been enthusiastic about partaking of more free food in the physical realm. Here in the 21st century, we have yet to make application of these passages….

Labour for the More Important Meat #2

Monday, May 23, 2022

“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).

Where is our interest—in “the meat which perisheth” or in “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?”

The individuals of today’s Scripture have been relentlessly searching for the Lord Jesus! Verses 24,25: “When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?” Having taken ships across the top half of the Sea of Galilee—a distance of 3 or 4 miles (5 or 7 kilometers)—they are relieved to finally reach Him in Capernaum.

Why have they gone through so much trouble to get to Him? To them, the Son of God is but a “food-delivery man!” Earlier, He had fed them with the other 5,000 people. Now, today, they are hungry again, so they have come to ask Him for another free meal. He can and could furnish them with infinitesimally more than they assumed. Alas, they do not see Him through the eyes of faith.

Though the Lord Jesus Christ had created those loaves of bread from nothing, they were like ordinary food in that they were subject to the same natural laws of decomposition. Such physical bread was temporary, rotting like the God-given manna (Exodus 16:20). Yet, they so desperately wanted to hang on to it. Also, as their circumstances showed, it was never eternally satisfying either. Today’s Scripture again: “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.” They were overlooking a (more important) spiritual component, something the miracle should have taught them had they been watching through the eyes of faith….

Labour for the More Important Meat #1

Sunday, May 22, 2022

“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).

Where is our interest—in “the meat which perisheth” or in “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?”

Once, a woman moved her car to retrieve a penny that had rolled under it. Driving forward, she ran over a parking meter and also broke a window as the car scraped against the side of a building. The vehicle then rolled down the sidewalk for half a block before stopping. Damages to her automobile alone were estimated to be $100 (a substantial sum in those days). Was the penny really worth all that trouble?! Interestingly, police were unable to confirm if the lady ever found the coin!

Doubtless, seeking little to no gain, we can go to great lengths and take enormous risks. This was true of the souls whom the Lord Jesus Christ addressed in today’s Scripture. Just a day prior, He had been on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee feeding more than 5,000 people using just five barley loaves and two small fishes (verses 1-14). “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone” (verse 15). He had supplied them with such delightful food that they would soon violently crown Him as their Monarch! This misunderstanding prompted Christ to dismiss the crowd and His disciples, while He Himself vacated the area headed in a third direction.

Ultimately, the Lord and His disciples journey to the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The people fed earlier also travel by ship to Galilee, seeking Him (verses 24,25). He reveals their motive in today’s Scripture: they have mixed-up priorities, for they are concentrating on the minor while ignoring the major. May we too learn the lesson He taught them….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is the Lord Jesus merely ‘the Holy One of God’ in John 6:69?