Silly, Selfish Saints

Friday, February 3, 2017

And he [the Lord Jesus] came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest (Mark 9:33,34 KJV).

Today’s Scripture shows us just how human the 12 Apostles were!

If Jesus was the all-knowing God in human flesh, why did He ask them the nature of their argument? It was to bring them to the point of accountability, to force them to see their frivolity. Having behaved childishly, they were ashamed and did not answer Jesus. They knew they had not been saved to serve or glorify themselves. Rather, they were God’s servants, and should have been submitting to Him and glorifying His Son. Actually, they had argued to the point where they eventually asked Jesus (Matthew 18:1), “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Luke 9:46-48 reports: “[46] Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. [47] And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, [48] And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” Later, the mother of James and John sons of Zebedee asked Jesus if they could be the two highest officials in His kingdom (Matthew 20:20-28—be sure to read Christ’s answer). She meant well—wanting what she thought was best for her sons—but God disapproved.

While Christ trained these men, He tolerated their sinfulness. They did not always pay attention to His preaching and miracles. Sometimes they argued about the dumbest things, insignificant distractions. We should not be hard on them. Why? We Christians today often fall into the same traps. Churches split over the stupidest issues, ministers argue about petty matters, and church members often try to outdo everyone to gain the most recognition. As the Apostles learned, Christian living is not prideful living. If we wanted to live for self, we should have stayed lost, for it does not make sense for saints to live in such sin, selfishness, and silliness!

Hated But Humble

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (John 15:18,19 KJV).

We are hated but humble!

A new Christian emailed me in exasperation. Tired of how people had treated him, he wanted to go to heaven and leave this planet of such great evils! He explained he did not care how he lived anymore—even if those frivolous actions made other Christians or lost people stumble! Thankfully, the Bible truths I shared with him helped him recover himself out of the snare of the Devil.

That brother needed to be reminded Jesus Christ was treated most horribly. He was hated without a cause(John 15:25). People have various reasons for hating us. Some are justified. Perhaps we lied to or about them, or stole from them, or cursed them out! However, they had no reason to hate Jesus Christ. He did nothing wrong—to them or anyone else. All Christ did was preach God’s truth and love, and they demanded His crucifixion!! Despite how they treated Him, He still lived righteously for the sake of His Heavenly Father whom He represented. Brethren, let us do the same, remembering not to live unto ourselves, but unto the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Philippians chapter 2 exhorts us: “[3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why do we suffer?

Weep As Grace Saints Sleep

Monday, September 5, 2016

“(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)” (Philippians 3:18,19 KJV)

Why was Paul “weeping” here?

After leaving a life of many years in false religion, a lady observed an assembly of supposed “grace” people. She noted they acted “silly,” using grace as a license to sin. All was forgiven, so they did literally whatever they wanted at the expense of every lost and saved person watching them! Sadly, they gave ammunition to those who whine, “Pauline dispensationalists use grace as a license to sin!” This dear Christian, trying to grow in the Bible after several years of confusion, stumbled. Just what would the “grace of God” profit her? People in her denomination, although lost, at least behaved decently. These “grace” people, who supposedly “had the truth,” habitually misbehaved and spoke inappropriately. Shame!

Dear friends, if we claim to know God’s grace in truth, and yet we “live like the Devil,” we have no business even talking about “God’s grace!” Why? We have no idea what “grace” really is! In today’s Scripture, Paul confessed that he was “weeping.” There were Christians, not lost people, who were “enemies of the cross of Christ.” They lived contrary to Christ’s cross (“dead to sin, alive unto God”—Romans 6:1-23). Their “God” (idol) was their own set of desires/appetites. They acted selfishly. They boasted “in their shame.” Thoroughly carnal, worldly-minded, they had completely forgotten about their “conversation [which] is in heaven” (verse 20). While they would be saved into heaven, their spiritual edification (growth and advancement) would be “destroyed” (today’s Scripture).

Titus 2:11-14 says: “[T]he grace of God… teach[es] us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; … the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

This is the grace of God—learn it and believe it BEFORE you preach it!

Hiding Thyself

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again (Deuteronomy 22:4 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture reveal about human nature?

The Mitzvot are the 613 commandments of the Law of Moses (Exodus through Deuteronomy). JEHOVAH God meticulously instructed Israel about literally hundreds of behaviors. Why? God gave Israel the Law not only so they would learn about Him, but also that they would learn about themselves.

In those laws, not only can we see God’s mind and heart, we can see our human mind and heart. All people are descended from Adam, so they share his sinful identity. Israel had to learn this lesson via the Law. Remember, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).

Consider today’s Scripture. Why would God tell the Jews not to “hide” when they saw their brother’s livestock fallen down? The implication is that human nature is to hide when others need help. Unless we can gain something out of it, we will not bother to help others. That is the awful sin nature we all have from Adam!

Read the verses prior to today’s Scripture: “[1] Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother. [2] And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again. [3] In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost thing of thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself.”

Contrary to our human nature of hiding when others need help, God’s selfless nature (depicted in the Law) was further disclosed when He left heaven’s glory. He revealed Himself, to die on Calvary’s cross, and to save us who were wandering in sin!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does God give us ‘points’ for trying to be good?

When the Brethren Need

Thursday, August 4, 2016

“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:15,16 KJV).

How can Israel’s Scripture during the seven-year Tribulation help us understand how to serve our Christian brethren?

We should help other Christians as often as possible. Remember, Christ lived His earthly life serving others (Philippians 2:3-8). He did not live selfishly, demanding others serve Him. Matthew 20:28 declares, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” The Lord Jesus told His Father, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Christ came firstly to save the nation Israel, His covenant people, from their sins (Matthew 1:21). From Paul’s epistles, we learn that not only did Jesus’ crosswork apply to Israel, but that it is now available to all people by grace through faith without works (1 Timothy 2:4-7).

Believing Israelites living during the (future) seven-year Tribulation are exhorted to help their fellow Messianic Jews (today’s Scripture). When they see them suffering privation—no food, shelter, or clothes—they should be considerate and support them in their time of great need. After all, their attitude towards God’s people is their attitude toward God. What would they do if Jesus Himself stood at their door hungry, wearing rags, and homeless?

Sadly, there is far too much selfish living today—even among professing Christians! They live only for self and only for the here and now. They are not being taught any sound Bible doctrine so they have no reason to act in accordance with it. They need to heed Galatians 6:8-10: “[8] For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. [9] And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. [10] As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Liberated to Serve

Monday, July 4, 2016

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 KJV).

Today, as we in the United States celebrate the 240th anniversary of our nation’s independence, we invite our Christian brethren worldwide to rejoice with us concerning our freedom in Jesus Christ.

When we proclaim Romans 6:14—“Ye are not under the law, but under grace”—people tend to assume “loose living.” Does “grace living” really mean we can now live any way we want? Lest anyone be misled in that regard, God the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to write in the next verse, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid [May God never let that happen!]” (Romans 6:15). Grace living is not Law-keeping, but it certainly is not Law-breaking either.

God still cares how we live, albeit He is not operating the “weak and beggarly” system of “bondage” (Law) that He once did with Israel (Galatians 4:9). God proved to the entire world that since Israel could not keep His commandments perfectly, no other sons of Adam (the Gentiles) could either: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them [Israel] who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world [Gentiles] may become guilty before God (Romans 3:19).

We sinners cannot keep the Law. However, God in His grace provided us a way to escape that condemnation by sending Jesus Christ to offer Himself on Calvary’s cruel cross to pay for our sins. By simple faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the fully-satisfying payment for our sins, we can now be “made the righteousness of God in [Christ]” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We can be delivered from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire) and the power of sin (flesh-walking).

Why are we Christians free? To selfishly live any way we want? NO! Today’s Scripture says we are liberated to now serve others, especially our Christian brethren, just as Jesus Christ selflessly served His Father and selflessly died on our behalf. That is grace living!!!!

Please see our 2011 Fourth of July Bible study “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land,” which can be watched here or read here.

Shepherds Feeding Themselves

Thursday, June 16, 2016

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? …Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them” (Ezekiel 34:2,10 KJV).

Friend, do you know any “self-feeding shepherds?”

Many years ago, a deacon asked an incoming pastor, “Will you let the Holy Spirit lead you in guiding our assembly?” The pastor replied, “I came here to retire!” He was uninterested in God’s will (as they later painfully discovered when he introduced false teaching and collapsed the assembly!).

Our English word “pastor” in its original Latin meant “shepherd” or “feeder,” related to “put to pasture.” Jesus commanded the Apostle Peter, Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). The Apostle Paul warned the Ephesian church leaders: “[28] Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [31] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts chapter 20).

The Greek word rendered “overseers” (episkopos) is elsewhere translated “bishop(s)” (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 2:25). Poimen is often rendered “shepherd” but translated “pastors” in Ephesians 4:11. These men should be “guiding” (supervising) and “feeding” (nourishing) local churches, keeping them in sound Bible doctrine, and guarding them against false teaching. Alas, many bishops and pastors—whether today or in ancient Israel (today’s Scripture)—are self-feeding! While they enjoy thousand-dollar handmade suits and multimillion-dollar mansions, their people spiritually starve!