An Unlikely Convert #2

Thursday, April 11, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Saul of Tarsus was a brilliant man of evil reputation. A rabbinical theologian, he had a head knowledge of the Law of Moses, but no heart faith in it! Had he truly believed God’s words through Moses, Saul would have seen Jesus as Messiah. Hundreds of ancient prophecies had been fulfilled during the three years this “Jesus of Nazareth” had traveled the land of Palestine. However, like most of his Jewish countrymen, Saul worshipped his religion rather than the God who gave that religion. When God showed up in human flesh, Saul (like most of his Israelite kin) overlooked and spurned Him as an imposter. Saul eagerly imprisoned and/or kill anyone who confessed Jesus as Christ, God’s Son, His Anointed Saviour.

Acts chapter 7: “[57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him [Stephen] with one accord, [58] And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. [59] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Saul was present when his fanatical countrymen—fellow religious leaders—took the life of God’s spokesman Stephen. It gets worse.

Chapter 8 begins: “[1] And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. [2] And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. [3] As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. [4] Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”

Read the context of today’s Scripture again: “[13] Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:….” Ananias, although fearful and offended, by faith followed the Lord’s instructions. He would go minister to horrible Saul….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Will computers ever destroy us and dominate the world?

 

An Unlikely Convert #1

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Let us read the context of today’s Scripture: “[10] And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. [11] And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street whic is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, [12] And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

“[13] Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: [14] And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.” Ananias was a Jewish believer in Jesus Christ. He had heard of Saul of Tarsus, a most bitter enemy of Jesus. Saul was mercilessly hounding and slaughtering Messianic Jews. Imagine Ananias’ shock when the Lord Jesus appeared to him in a vision. Ananias feared greatly upon being told to seek out Saul! “[15] But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: [16] For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

“[17] And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. [18] And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. [19] And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. [20] And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”

Imagine Ananias’ shock now….

The Good Man #5

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1 KJV).

How is this an apt introduction to the Book of Psalms?

Onward to verse 5: “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” This points back to verse 4: “The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” Psalm 1—yes, all the Book of Psalms—foresees the end-times. In view especially are the two comings of Christ: the first is His suffering on Calvary’s cross, and the other is His reigning in the Kingdom. (Remember, there is no Dispensation of Grace revealed until Paul’s ministry. We the Church the Body of Christ are not under consideration here!)

In between Calvary and the Kingdom is a time of fiery wrath. This is the warning found in John the Baptist’s message near the close of Matthew chapter 3. Unbelievers will not survive that Second Coming. Notice 2 Thessalonians chapter 1: “[6] Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; [7] And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, [8] In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: [9] Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power…..”

With the ungodly fallen in God’s wrath, the sinners will not be among “the congregation of the righteous.” This “congregation” is the Messianic Church, God’s believing remnant found within apostate Israel. That “Little Flock” will inherit His earthly kingdom (Luke 12:32). We find them in Matthew 16:16-18, but they go as far back as Psalm 22:22 (cf. Hebrews 2:11,12). These Messianic Jews—those who trust Jesus as Messiah—will survive God’s wrath (the very wrath that consumed their unbelieving relatives). We now better appreciate Psalms, where it fits on the Bible timeline and how its narrative flows from beginning to end….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are the flames of fire in Hell literal?

Wise or Foolish? #7

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:…. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand…” (Matthew 7:24,26 KJV).

Dear friends, are we wise—or foolish?

Contrary to popular belief, the Gospel message preached in Christ’s earthly ministry was not our message. Jesus dying for people’s sins was not their good news; nevertheless, God had words for them to believe. In an abbreviated form, it is, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus Himself preached it in Matthew 4:17. Matthew 9:35 summarizes, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” This is not “the Gospel of the Grace of God,” the title of the message we preach today (Acts 20:24; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

Matthew 16:15,16 summarize the heart of the Gospel of the Kingdom: “[Jesus] saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” There is nothing here about Calvary (Jesus dying for sins). Contrariwise, it is all about who He is—He is Christ/Messiah, God’s Anointed One, Israel’s King (John 1:41,49). It is not about what He will do (as in the crosswork), but rather who He is. These believers are safe from being deceived when (counterfeit) Antichrist arises.

Jesus Christ is “the Rock” of the Bible, the sure foundation (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Peter 2:3-8; 1 Corinthians 3:11). However, if we fail to build on Him, it will be a disaster (cf. today’s Scripture). There will be such dissatisfaction if we neglect to see Jesus Christ according to the preaching of the revelation of Paul’s mystery (Romans 16:25,26). Furthermore, beyond our dispensation, those who accept Antichrist when he is revealed will be disappointed after they see the ruin and misery he brings them. As Christ said Himself, they are deceived, debilitated, and great will be their fall—eternally damned!

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Two Rocks #7

Saturday, June 9, 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?

Decades after Calvary, the Holy Spirit wrote to the Jewish kingdom believers in 1 Peter 2:3-10: “[3] If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. [4] To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, [5] Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. [6] Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

“[7] Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, [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. [9] But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; [10] Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

God will take Israel’s believing remnant and form a house in which He will manifest His life forever. Jesus Christ, the Rock, will serve as the house’s foundation (cf. Matthew 16:16-18). This “Little Flock” will be the new Israel, the heirs of God’s earthly kingdom (Luke 12:31,32; cf. Matthew 21:42-46). All unbelieving Jews—those depending on the counterfeit “rock” (idols)—will be judged and destroyed during the seven-year Tribulation and at Christ’s subsequent fiery Second Coming (Matthew 7:24-29; Matthew 13:37-43). Israel’s Little Flock will enter the Millennium as God’s kingdom of priests, fully capable of carrying His Word to the Gentiles, that the Gentiles give up their rocks (idols) and believe on the Rock as well….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Do we live in the ‘Church Age?’

Sifted Saints #5

Monday, March 13, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

In his final meeting with the Ephesian church elders, Paul through the Holy Spirit issued a grave warning in Acts chapter 20: “[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. [32] And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

Notice how Satan “sifts” members of the Body of Christ by having them overlook “the word of [God’s] grace” (verse 32). Thus they follow the Law, available in many forms—that is, 38,000 denominations! Splinter group after splinter group develops, until the distinction is no longer “Christian versus non-Christian,” but increasingly “this denomination versus that denomination.” So many precious Christian souls are entangled in such confusion and division!

As Satan attempted to “divide and conquer” the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, so he uses a similar strategy with us the Church the Body of Christ today. Remember, he attacked the Little Flock by focusing on its chief Apostle (that is, Peter). With Peter discredited, the Little Flock would collapse. Likewise, we see Satan attacking the Church the Body of Christ by concentrating on its leading Apostle (namely, Paul). There are “doctrines of devils” today aimed at questioning Paul’s grace doctrines, Romans through Philemon (1 Timothy 4:1-16)—people using the Bible but not “rightly dividing” it (2 Timothy 2:15). With the Bible not rightly divided, the Christians are divided and conquered!

Sifted Saints #4

Sunday, March 12, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

“Simon, Simon” underscores the seriousness in Jesus’ voice. After delivering to Peter the grim news about Satan wanting to split up the Little Flock—mainly by attacking its leadership, the 12 Apostles—the Lord comforts His chief Apostle. Not many people notice, but the Lord, in today’s Scripture, revealed that He had prayed specifically for Peter ahead of the impending ordeals. But I have prayed for thee….” (We do not read the actual prayer, although it preceded today’s Scripture.) Jesus prayed for Peter (remember, “thee,” singular), rather than the whole group (“you,” plural, as in modern versions).

“[T]hat thy faith fail not….” We are not to suppose that Peter’s faith will be unwavering (because, as we know, it was not). The implication is that he will fall; hence, his “converting,” or turning around, will be necessary. However, because of Jesus’ prayer, Peter’s denial of God’s only begotten Son will not be continuous. “[A]nd when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” We know that, after he denied Christ, Peter went out and “wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62; cf. Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72). Although not recorded in the Bible, we can assume that Peter was “converted” (moved from denier to embracer) sometime after.

When Peter would be turned around, re-oriented toward the right way, Jesus told him to strengthen his brethren. Those brethren would be vulnerable to Satan’s further assaults, but with Peter, their leader, now restored in faith, they would be also rescued from additional spiritual harm. Peter could encourage them to remain having faith in Christ. In fact, he will go on to declare to them the news of the resurrected Christ (Luke 24:34)! As a powerful, Holy-Spirit-filled Apostle, he will go on to lead the 11 Apostles of Jesus Christ into the Book of Acts. Except Judas, none of the Apostles were permanently lost to Satan. In short, the Lord Jesus’ prayer was effectual!

The Devil, however, still employs “divide and conquer” to hinder believers in Christ today….