Two Rocks #4

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges (Deuteronomy 32:31 KJV).

There are two rocks in Scripture—one good and one bad. Friend, which is your foundation?

Some 700 years B.C., Isaiah chapter 8 taught: “[13] Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. [14] And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” JEHOVAH God can serve one of two purposes. Firstly, to believers, He is “a sanctuary”—a place of safety and stability (Rock). Secondly, to unbelievers, He is “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.” This passage is quoted twice in the New Testament Scriptures to apply to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul writes in Romans 9:33: “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (See verses 30-33 for the context—Isaiah 28:16 is conflated here with Isaiah 8:14). Peter pens in 1 Peter 2:8: “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (See verses 3-10 for the context.)

JEHOVAH God, the LORD God, of Isaiah 8:13-14 is Jesus Christ. Christ is God the Son in human flesh. As in the Old Testament economy, the Israelites can believe on Him or they can disbelieve. They can receive Him by faith or reject Him in unbelief. If they have faith in Him, He is their Rock (strength—the foundation of everything God will do with them as a nation). If they refuse Him, they will fall or trip over Him (“stumblingstone,” “stone of stumbling”). They will see Him as a scandal, disgrace, or embarrassment (“rock of offence”).

Romans 9:30-33, looking back on Christ’s earthly ministry, shows us how He was mostly a “stumblingstone and rock of offence.” Israel, fixated on self-righteousness (Romans 10:1-3), ultimately refused Him. Their religious leaders encouraged their unbelief (1 Peter 2:7,8). However, some Jews did believe on Him….

Nothing But the Blood #4

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7 KJV).

Today’s Scripture highlights the fourth verse of Robert Lowry’s 1876 hymn, “Nothing But the Blood.”

“This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Have you ever encountered someone bursting with self-righteousness? They have never done anything wrong, everyone else causes their problems, and so on. Religion has caused them to be thus. Some 20 centuries ago, Israel was the same during Christ’s earthly ministry and Acts. Romans chapter 9: “[31] But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. [32] Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; [33] As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

Romans chapter 10: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. [4] For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Israel was “good enough,” and so rejected Jesus Christ as Saviour when He visited them.

Contrariwise, the Christian believer realizes his own unrighteousness, and that his justification before God is entirely dependent upon Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork. Relying on our own “works,” we would be hopeless. However, since we are not the focus, we are surely “heirs according to the hope of eternal life!”

Nothing but the blood indeed….

NOTE: If you missed the live streaming of my Grace School of the Bible graduation a few weeks ago, the video is now posted online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-TjUeG45yI&feature=youtu.be.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Pastor’ or ‘bishop’—which is the correct title?

Sanctimonious!

Monday, March 12, 2018

“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be free from sanctimoniousness.

Christians engage in wishful thinking when talking about being “sinless.” Earnestly trying to control their sin, they place themselves (or allow a denomination to put them) under a sin-management system. For example, they have been programmed to exclaim, “Keep the 10 Commandments!” Why, how many do they obey? Fewer than those they hang around our necks? When the Law system fails—and we know it does fail because “the Law… [is] weak through our [sinful] flesh” (Romans 8:3), “weak and beggarly” (Galatians 4:9)—what do they do? They attempt to cover it up with more works, further disappointing and winding up more condemned. No, brethren, we do not need rules and regulations to live right: the Law commands us to please God always, but gives us no capacity whatsoever to do it. Rather than the laws of God, we need the grace of God!

Today’s Scripture outlines how grace living operates. When we came to faith in Christ Jesus as our personal Saviour, God saw us crucified and resurrected with Christ (Romans chapter 6). “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (verse 11). This is the “renewed mind” of Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:8-17, and today’s Scripture—“put off” (sin) and “put on” (righteousness). Positionally it is factual, but it must be applied daily by faith if it is to be practically true (daily living fits the identity). We still have a sin nature, but we do not have to sin.

God wisely arranged it this way (Grace not Law) so we could never have a “goody-goody” attitude, glorying in our “fair shew in the flesh” (Galatians 6:12,13). Brethren, we have nothing about which to brag. We are not making ourselves holy (religion); we are simply behaving like the people God already made us in Christ! This is not simulated holiness; this is true holiness.” It is all God’s doing, not ours!

A Life That Will Please

Thursday, January 4, 2018

“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).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can live a life pleasing in God’s sight!

Everyone does “good” deeds. Yet, doing “good” is not necessarily good. For instance, people often do “good” just to receive praise/reward, make up for their wrongs, feel good, et cetera. Furthermore, despite our “good” deeds, we have plenty more bad ones! Pride, lying, evil thoughts, being a false witness, and being contentious are some of the things the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Mankind cannot even keep 10 simple rules from God. However, religion continues to urge us to keep seven sacraments, utter various prayers, give assorted offerings and “tithes,” attend numerous feasts and festivals, and perform sundry other tasks to “hopefully” please God and avoid hellfire. Whether we attempt to keep a church’s laws, our laws, or God’s laws, our flesh is far too weak to ever measure up. Just look at what God’s religion did to Israel—how much worse some man-made religion does to us!

As Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, a religious leader of Israel. He was a nitpicker concerning Law-keeping, and yet, after his soul salvation, he admitted that all of his religion was “but dung” compared to Jesus Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3:3-11). Even for the Christian, to live a perfect life is impossible (read of Paul’s miserable existence in Romans chapter 7). Paul had to forsake his vain religion and learn today’s Scripture: the Christian life is NOT the performance of the Christian, but the Lord Jesus Christ living and working in the Christian, as the Christian walks in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to him or her!

If we trust a Saviour who will save—the Lord Jesus Christ—and trust a Book that will teach—the King James Bible—we can redeem the year for the great God and our Saviour, “who loved [us], and gave himself for [us]!” 🙂

Not the Righteous, But Sinners

Saturday, March 18, 2017

“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:10-13 KJV).

Jesus Christ came to save the bad people, not the “good!”

You have probably seen videos of police officers working in the field. They encounter people engaging in many activities—robbery or theft, domestic abuse, prostitution, extremely reckless driving, fighting, drunkenness, and drug use or drug dealing, to name a few. Due to their poor decisions, these souls are in some very tough situations. The religious crowd—puffed up in self-righteousness—dismisses these people as “hopelessly hell-bound.” However, these “sinners” are more likely to come to faith in Christ than those sitting in the church pews! Consider today’s Scripture.

Scripture says “many publicans and sinners came and sat down with [Jesus] and his disciples.” The Pharisees found this revolting! Why did Jesus not associate with them (these religious leaders)? How could He, a supposed “prophet of God” and “religious teacher,” eat with such dishonest publicans (tax collectors) and various “sinners” (people with bad reputations)? The Lord Jesus overheard His critics asking His disciples that question, and He responded: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

These publicans and sinners recognized their sin problem. They also saw Jesus as the only Physician who had the cure for their spiritual illness. Too caught up in religion and their own “goodness,” the Pharisees were content in condemning people who were humble enough to admit their sinfulness. We need many such “publicans and sinners” today, and far fewer “Pharisees!”

A Life That Will Please

Wednesday, January 4, 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).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can live a life pleasing in God’s sight!

Everyone does “good” deeds. Yet, doing “good” is not necessarily good. For instance, people often do “good” just to receive praise/reward, make up for their wrongs, feel good, et cetera. Furthermore, despite our “good” deeds, we have plenty more bad ones! Pride, lying, evil thoughts, being a false witness, and being contentious are some of the things the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Mankind cannot even keep 10 simple rules from God. However, religion continues to urge us to keep seven sacraments, utter various prayers, give assorted offerings and “tithes,” attend numerous feasts and festivals, and perform sundry other tasks to “hopefully” please God and avoid hellfire. Whether we attempt to keep a church’s laws, our laws, or God’s laws, our flesh is far too weak to ever measure up. Just look at what God’s religion did to Israel—how much worse some man-made religion does to us!

As Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, a religious leader of Israel. He was a nitpicker concerning Law-keeping, and yet, after his soul salvation, he admitted that all of his religion was “but dung” compared to Jesus Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3:3-11). Even for the Christian, to live a perfect life is impossible (read of Paul’s miserable existence in Romans chapter 7). Paul had to forsake his vain religion and learn today’s Scripture: the Christian life is NOT the performance of the Christian, but the Lord Jesus Christ living and working in the Christian, as the Christian walks in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to him or her!

If we trust a Saviour who will save—the Lord Jesus Christ—and trust a Book that will teach—the King James Bible—we can redeem the year for the great God and our Saviour, “who loved [us], and gave himself for [us]!” 🙂

Never in Bondage?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

“They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” (John 8:33 KJV).

Is that so?

If you listen to today’s popular “Christian” preaching, you get the impression that people are not really all that bad. They have “some good in all of them.” Thus, so many actually believe they will make it into heaven eventually. They just keep “making an effort” so “God will give them ‘points’ for trying” (as a religious friend told me). Many see no need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ because they do not fully appreciate the fact that they are lost and going to hell!

Jeremiah 17:9 says about our human heart: “…deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Our heart will cause us to believe any lie and we will not know any better. Just look at the Jews’ response in today’s Scripture. They told Jesus they had never been in bondage to any man before. Of course, they overlooked the Roman soldiers walking by! (Rome was currently ruling over Israel.) Not to mention Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, and Greeks had ruled Israel centuries prior!

The Jews were too prideful to admit that pagan dirty “dogs” (Gentiles) were dominating them. Since they could not learn a physical lesson, they completely missed the spiritual one. They were too prideful to admit their sin. Jesus was talking about Him being able to free them from the bondage of sin (verse 34), but they were thinking in terms of the natural world (physical freedom, which they said they did not need because they were supposedly no one’s slaves).

I will never forget an almost 90-year-old religious relative who, while I was sharing the Gospel with her, told me that she had “never sinned” in her whole life! (That dear lady has since left this world… I can only wonder where her soul is today!) Perhaps as many as 100,000 precious souls wake up in hell every single day. They thought they were never in “bondage” to sin; now, they are in “bondage” to hell forever! Brethren, reach them by God’s grace while you still can!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did Jonah live in the whale’s belly?