Striving, Not Striving #4

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

As in every city, there were in Philippi “adversaries” or lost people contrary to the preaching of the Gospel (Philippians 1:28). They labored to frighten the Philippian saints into silence. Hence, verse 27 had exhorted these believers: Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel….” All Christians are on the same team, and should (!) be with each other (in mind and action) in the work of the ministry.

However, our sinful flesh gets in the way. The work of the ministry breaks down when one or more Christians adopt an attitude or opinion the Scriptures do not support. Now, lost and saved, those within and without, are united in upsetting God’s work. Philippians chapter 2 corrects this sin of pride of selfishness: “[1] If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, [2] Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. [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.”

Like team sports, each member should be thinking about how to make the next point or goal. Inner conflicts are counterproductive: they do not compete against teammates. Likewise, we should not be vying against fellow members of the Body of Christ. It is not about us. We do not have to have the attention or recognition (what the flesh craves). For the sake of God’s work, Paul asks Euodias and Syntyche to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” God’s mind should unite all Christians….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt?’

Striving, Not Striving #3

Friday, February 8, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Of all the tens of thousands of “Christian” assemblies, many are simply specimens of denominationalists as opposed to members of the Church the Body of Christ. They have neither known the clear Grace Gospel nor believed it. Most of all, saved or lost, the vast majority are spiritually immature. To them, drapery colors, upholstery fabrics, flooring, and wallpaper are worth fighting over. They, ignorant of sound Bible doctrine, cannot contend for the more excellent. Envy and gossip, not Bible study and charity, pervade their services. They engage in philanthropy but not spirituality.

In today’s Scripture, two Christian women are striving with each other concerning some unspecified disagreement. Whatever the case, it was a petty issue causing major disruption. There is a running joke, with some basis, that these believers in Christ are “Odious” (as obnoxious or unbearable) and “Soon-touchy” (as grumpy or quarrelsome). Notice Paul—yea, the Holy Spirit—never bothered to say whether Euodias was right or Syntyche was right. Why? Ultimately, they were both wrong! They were reminiscent of the childish, schismatic saints at Corinth from years earlier: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

The undisclosed issue between Euodias and Syntyche was not one of doctrine—for we should always contend for the faith, defend the doctrine—but something insignificant. It was not worth fighting over. Time and energy would continue to be wasted in pursuing this trivial matter that was hindering God’s ministry at Philippi. Rather than striving together for the Gospel, they were full of strife and thus contrary to the Gospel. Essentially, they were doing the Devil’s work for him! Satan does not have to labor, for even Christians, unfortunately, can (and often do) undermine God’s work….

Striving, Not Striving #2

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Back in Genesis chapter 17, the LORD God erected what Ephesians 2:14 calls “the middle wall of partition.” The term “the Circumcision” was synonymous with the nation Israel, Abraham’s seed; everyone else, the Gentile world, was “the Uncircumcision.” Abraham and his seed were to be physically circumcised to show themselves separate from the nations (see Genesis 17:9-14). This is Israel’s rise via the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Genesis 12:1-3). However, with the introduction of the Dispensation of Grace, Paul’s salvation and ministry, we see Israel’s fall—and “the middle wall of partition” being obliterated.

Ephesians chapter 2 again: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

“[14] For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. [18] For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

Jew and Gentile—once hostile opponents—have been made one in the Church the Body of Christ because of Calvary. If God can join these two rival classes into one creature, then all other antagonism should be aside with respect to the Dispensation of Grace….

What is God Doing? #4

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea” (Job 11:7-9 KJV).

What exactly is God doing? Can we say? Or, must we remain clueless?

From time immemorial, philosophers in all cultures have speculated as to the origin of the universe, the existence of one God or numerous deities, what that God or those gods might be doing, and sundry related beliefs. Overwhelmingly, however, their explanations can be summed up as “excellency of speech” and “excellency of wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:1), and “enticing words of man’s wisdom” (verse 4). It sounds right and appears good but it is grandiose verbosity—impressive long-windedness—failing to adequately address the matters at hand. Such was the dialogue between Job and his three friends!

As their name implies, the Corinthians resided in Corinth, a city close to Athens (then world intellectual capital). After the Apostle Paul visited them in Acts chapter 18 and led them to faith in Jesus Christ, they became increasingly infatuated with human philosophy. They supposed that man’s knowledge could provide them with insight into God’s wisdom. You would do well, dear friends, to read the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians. They gently rebuke these precious saints to return to the simplicity of God’s Word spoken through Paul. Despite all their philosophy and education, they were spiritual children, utterly clueless to the workings of God. True wisdom—the wisdom they lacked—would not be found “in the wisdom of men” but “in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5).

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (verse 9). Science, empiricism, could not help them learn God’s wisdom. Rationalism, reasoning, religious tradition, afforded them no Divine understanding. Intuition, hunches and inner impressions, could not bring them spiritual insight. If they were to “find out God,” “find out the Almighty unto perfection,” they would have to come God’s way….

What is God Doing? #3

Monday, January 7, 2019

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea” (Job 11:7-9 KJV).

What exactly is God doing? Can we say? Or, must we remain clueless?

Early man knew a fragment of what Almighty God was working to accomplish. With a completed Bible canon in hand, however, we can see just how minute their peek was. Now, the entire Divine counsel has been disclosed, exposed for all to see if they want to see it, proclaimed for all to hear if they want to hear it, and available for all to believe if they want to believe it! Just how do we go about discovering that information though?

First Corinthians chapter 2: “[1] And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. [2] For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. [3] And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. [4] And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: [5] That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

“[6] Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: [7] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: [8] Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. [9] But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

What God is operating today is “hidden wisdom” (verse 7)—something once secret but now made manifest….

What is God Doing? #2

Sunday, January 6, 2019

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea” (Job 11:7-9 KJV).

What exactly is God doing? Can we say? Or, must we remain clueless?

The Biblical Book of Job is one of the most well-known pieces of ancient world literature. Its protagonist, Job, although a righteous man, experiences disturbing inconveniences after God grants Satan permission to afflict Job (1:1-12; 2:1-6). Basically, wealthy Job loses his oxen, his asses (donkeys), his sheep, his camels, his sons, his daughters, and his servants (1:13-22). His health fails as he suffers a plague of boils or sores (2:7-10). Remarkably, after these ordeals, Job is still faithful to God (1:22; 2:10). Such bad news would send the ordinary saint into apostasy, but Job will neither accuse God foolishly nor sin with his lips. He worships and declares, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (1:21).

Chapter 2, verse 11: “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.” Most unfortunately, these three “friends” are, in Job’s own words, nothing but “miserable comforters” (16:2). They accuse him of all sorts of wrongdoing, that he is responsible for his troubles, and so on.

Much of the Book of Job is he and his friends, along with a fourth man (Elihu), engaging in many, lengthy, theological squabbles. Zophar is the speaker in today’s Scripture. He essentially tells Job that he cannot know what God is doing—it is just too high, simply too deep, just too long, and simply too broad. My, oh my, dear friends, what comfort indeed (uh, NO)! Thank Almighty God we can understand (and in great detail!) what He is doing….

What is God Doing? #1

Saturday, January 5, 2019

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea” (Job 11:7-9 KJV).

What exactly is God doing? Can we say? Or, must we remain clueless?

Dear friends, looking at the world around us, is it not difficult to believe that God is doing anything? After all, human society seems to be quite busy in doing what it wants—killing, stealing, dealing drugs, waging war, abusing, raping, using profanity, kidnapping, lying, tyrannizing citizens, and so on. Wherever we turn, evil, evil, evil is before us! Where is God? Is He “on vacation?” If so, is it temporary—or permanent? Does He even exist at all? These inquires exasperate millions of poor souls. Some are genuinely seeking the truth; however, many seem to be thoroughly content in ignorance.

It is ever so easy to get intertwined with the affairs of this world. Therefore, in 2 Timothy chapter 2, the Bible exhorts the Christian, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (verses 3,4). Distractions abound, for Christian and non-Christian alike. Additionally, we are quite enthralled in what we are doing—what we want, what we like, what we have, and so on. In all our hustle and bustle, do we ever bother to consider God’s desires? Have we contemplated what He would have us do? It is quite unlikely that we have spent even five seconds asking these questions.

The Holy Bible is not an accident; it came by “special delivery,” for a special reason. If we truly desire to know what God is doing (and yes, contrary to what we see in our circumstances, He does exist!), then we can open up His Book and read to see what He is doing. Rather than being content sitting in ignorance, we must we endeavor to see what God is doing and what He would have us do as well….