Sound Doctrine Versus Fables #4

Saturday, April 27, 2019

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3,4 KJV).

First comes the intolerance toward sound doctrine. Then, and only then, arrives the tolerance toward fables.

Recounting Israel’s centuries of unbelief, Stephen preached in Jerusalem (Acts chapter 7): “[41] And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. [42] Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? [43] Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.”

In Exodus chapter 32, just delivered from Egyptian slavery, the Jews fashioned a golden-calf idol while Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments (the first of which forbad idolatry). Since they insisted on false religion, God “turned” (Acts 7:42): He “gave them up to worship the host of heaven.” Here is astrology—worshipping stars, planets, the sun, and the moon (and the evil spirits thereby represented). Amos 5:25-27, which Stephen cited, reveals that the Jewish people were guilty of such devil worship throughout the 40 years of wilderness wanderings. They carried Moses’ Tabernacle (JEHOVAH God’s house) and a counterfeit tent (for their pagan sky/star-gods)! Since they rejected His Law, He gave them over to that silliness.

Friends, we should certainly not look down our nose at ancient Israel. Why? Today’s churches are often repeating such sins. They have compromised with the evil world system to some degree (usually, a very large degree). Having cast aside the truth, they are rife with error. They do not rely on the Bible alone; their “culture,” “traditions of men,” “philosophical speculations,” and such notions push aside God’s Book. Again, the order found in today’s Scripture is quite clear. Truth discarded, fables embraced….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why is the Bible Book of ‘Ecclesiastes’ thus named?

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 21, 2019

“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).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

An Unlikely Convert #4

Saturday, April 13, 2019

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

Who is this preacher?

Thus far, we have been reading the testimony of the Apostle Paul. Listen to him in his own words as he stands before Gentile King Agrippa, nearly 30 years after his conversion: “[9] I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. [10] Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. [11] And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities” (Acts 26:9-11).

Saul was bloodthirsty religious fanatic! He did not think twice about arresting and putting to death any Jew who followed Jesus of Nazareth. Yea, he was God’s leading enemy in the earth at the time. Saul was heading the world’s rebellion against the God of creation. In Acts chapter 9, Saul (the chief of sinners) met Jesus Christ (the Saviour of sinners)!

First Timothy chapter 1: “[12] And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; [13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

So, Paul’s salvation is a “pattern.” No matter how hopelessly lost someone appears, just remember they can come to Christ by faith as well. The mercy and longsuffering God extended toward Paul is still being offered to any and all today 2,000 years later. If only they would believe on Jesus Christ as Paul did!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain, ‘Give strength to the LORD?’

An Unlikely Convert #3

Friday, April 12, 2019

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

Who is this preacher?

Some people will never trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour: they will indeed go to Hell forever, fully content with their “good works.” We meet them daily. Others are lost now, but they will trust Him before physical death comes. These latter people are the few and far between. We encounter them as well. Seeing as to both classes, how do we differentiate them? How do we know who to witness to and who not to waste our time? Some argue that we need not witness at all, for if God has chosen to save them He will save them and if He has not chosen to save them then preaching to them is useless anyway. What malarkey! We should “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2) to one and all—and then let God take care of the rest!!

Ananias probably considered Saul of Tarsus the least likely person to believe Jesus is the Son of God. Saul was just too bitter of an enemy. However, via a heavenly vision—where the ascended Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to Saul—Saul realized his lost estate (see Acts 9:1-9). Not only did Saul pass from death to life, Ananias actually saw and heard him preach about that very Jesus Christ in synagogues throughout Damascus (today’s Scripture)!

Notice the shock of Saul’s audience: “[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. [21] But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? [22] But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”

Simply put, no matter how “hopelessly lost” someone appears, he or she can be delivered from the worst cult, the most extreme brainwashing. After all, look at Saul (!)….

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 Comforter #4

Thursday, March 28, 2019

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16 KJV).

Who is this “Comforter?” What are His roles?

In the 40 days following His resurrection, Jesus Christ opened the Scriptures so His Apostles could better comprehend them. All they had at the time was Genesis through Malachi (see Luke 24:44-48), but it was enough to get them going without Him. Those “Bible classes” resulted in the Apostle Peter’s astonishing grasp of obscure Old Testament Scripture as seen in Acts 1:16-20!

Just before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus said, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high(Luke 24:49). The parallel passage is Acts chapter 1, verses 4 and 5: “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

As sworn, the “Comforter” arrived in Acts chapter 2: “[1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Here, the Holy Spirit enabled the Apostles to speak in human languages they never formally learned, that their Jewish brethren visiting from foreign lands would understand God’s Word in their native dialect!

Over in Ephesians 3:16, we see Paul praying for us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace, “That he [God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;….” Here, the Holy Spirit functions as our fortifier, our “Comforter,” our Helper….