Categorized! #6

Thursday, April 28, 2022

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night (Revelation 12:10 KJV).

Behold, the evil categorizer!

Just before we the Church the Body of Christ occupy the heavenly places and subsequently reign for our Saviour’s glory (Ephesians 1:3,20-23; Ephesians 2:6,7; Colossians 1:16-20), the defiled heavenly realm must be vacated of all evil beings. Satan’s multimillions of angelic cohorts—the “spiritual wickedness in high [same in Greek as ‘heavenly’] places” (Ephesians 6:12)—must be addressed. Here is the purpose of the battle in the context of today’s Scripture.

We re-read Revelation 12:7-9: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” With Satan and his troops defeated and permanently evicted from outer space (second heaven), they are thrown down to Earth to afflict it for the last 42 months of Daniel’s 70th Week. Those last three-and-one-half years will close with Christ’s glorious return.

As we fill Heaven’s governmental offices, God’s authority in the heavenly places is restored. Israel’s believing remnant on Earth, aware of our occupation high above, prays, “Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven(Matthew 6:9,10; Luke 11:2). To wit, as God’s kingdom has now been founded in Heaven, Israel’s Little Flock implores the Lord to return to them and also establish His earthly kingdom with them. Jesus Christ’s Second Coming to Earth is His reply.

Yet, there is a difficulty: Israel’s unresolved sin dilemma obstructs righteousness in the Earth. Let us consider one last passage to see Almighty God finally settle the sin issue for His earthly people….

Bible Q&A #945: “What are ‘bunches of camels?’

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 17, 2022

“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.

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #2

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Jesus knew Bible prophecy had to be fulfilled: He had to suffer in accordance with the Old Testament prophets. Even when He spoke seven times from the cross, He quoted various Old Testament verses. The Old Testament prophets also gave Him comfort: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (today’s Scripture).

For instance, He remembered that Jonah’s prophecy had to be fulfilled: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). On the third day, He would live again, and be reunited with His heavenly Father!

He knew that His Father would resurrect Him. His spiritual torment and physical death were only temporarily, as David quoted Jesus 1000 B.C., “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:24-31).

Our Lord thought of reigning over that glorious kingdom that His Heavenly Father would give Him after His resurrection. As the psalmist wrote centuries before Calvary’s crosswork, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:6-8). “Begotten” refers to Jesus’ resurrection, not His nativity in Bethlehem (Acts 13:33,34).

Jesus Christ, during His torturous crucifixion, thought about and rejoiced in the promises in the Scriptures that applied to Him. Likewise, we, during difficult circumstances, can remember and joy in God’s promises to us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

We too can share Messiah’s joy amidst grief! 🙂

See our archived Q&A: “Did the disciples go to the wrong tomb on Resurrection Sunday?

The “Triumphal” Entry

Sunday, April 10, 2022

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4,5 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why Jesus Christ rode on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion?

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), Jesus’s crucifixion on Calvary’s cross is just five days away. Leaving Bethany, He travels to Jerusalem (a mile to the northwest). Israel’s believing remnant in Jerusalem is excited to hear that Messiah is returning to “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35); in anticipation, the great multitude throws their garments and palm branches on the ground. As Jesus enters the city, they cry out, “Hosanna [“O save!”]: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; cf. Psalm 118:26).

While often called the “Triumphal Entry,” there really was no victory being celebrated in today’s Scripture—the victory was to come later! What we need to realize is that Jesus Christ was humble (“meek”) here: as a King riding on a donkey into Israel’s capital city, He demonstrated He desired peace with Israel (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9). He had not come to destroy her, though He would have been just in doing so; He had come to save her from her sins, her enemies, and her satanic bondage (Matthew 1:21; Mark 2:17; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 1:68-75; Luke 9:55,56; Luke 19:9,10; Acts 3:24-26; et cetera).

Just a few days later, Jesus Christ appeared weak and defeated. He never fought back as the Roman soldiers mercilessly abused Him; He allowed Himself to be crucified on Calvary. It was His meek and lowly coming; now was not the time to pour out His wrath. He resurrected and ascended into heaven as a royal exile. Revelation 19:11 says Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem on a white horse, a sign of war and wrath (Zechariah 14:1-4)—that will be His true triumphal entry, for He will conquer Satan’s world system forever!

Believing Unbelievers #7

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25 KJV).

Is it possible to be a believing unbeliever? According to today’s Scripture, YES!

We can fool people some of the time, but we can fool God none of the time. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The Holy Bible penetrates down to our innermost being, for it is the means whereby the God of the Bible evaluates just what ideas our heart entertains and exactly what plans our heart devises.

Dear friends, let us never forget to avoid religious hypocrisy at all costs. To appear to be a Christian, to sound like a Christian, but still be “in Adam” instead of being “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) does not deceive the Lord! He knows it is not Christ’s life in us but our flesh copying or mimicking. A denomination or theological system has been formed in us, but not Christ (Galatians 4:19). The internal, not the external, is what carries the greatest weight in eternity. Indeed, it is entirely possible to be the most pious soul on Earth—the world’s most dedicated church member, incumbered with innumerable rules and regulations—and still wind up going to eternal damnation, for believing in the head is no substitute for believing in the heart.

To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in the heart means we have already learned and admitted our performance is insufficient and always will be. In our heart, we have reckoned as true our need for the Saviour and all that He has done and all that He can do for us at Calvary’s cross. Ultimately, it is His life in us, “That Christ may dwell in [our] hearts by faith…” (Ephesians 3:17). May we be believing (heart) believers, not believing (head) unbelievers. Remember, God knows the difference! 🙂

Believing Unbelievers #6

Monday, March 28, 2022

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25 KJV).

Is it possible to be a believing unbeliever? According to today’s Scripture, YES!

While advantageous (when compared to ignorance), being knowledgeable of Bible truth in and of itself does not automatically guarantee one has a right standing before God. For example, consider this startling passage: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Did they not address Jesus as “Lord?” Did they not perform “good” deeds? They preached, cast out devils, and did “many wonderful works”and even gave Jesus (not Satan) all the credit. Despite this, He rejects them, telling them He has never had an intimate relationship with them. Moreover, He remarks, “Ye that work iniquity [evil, wickedness]!” They had spiritual light, but they were deceived because they did not genuinely receive it and actually believe it in the heart. It was intellectualism and fleshliness, religious busyness, but not God’s work in and through them. Unfortunately, Hell and the Lake of Fire will be packed with billions of such souls. They sat in church buildings and attended Bible studies for decades, seeing and hearing God’s Word over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. They looked like and talked like believers. Yet, no personal faith in the heart was ever exercised in Christ Jesus’ finished crosswork at Calvary.

They knew of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it was far better for them to have known Him, or, rather, for Him to have known them….

Believing Unbelievers #5

Sunday, March 27, 2022

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25 KJV).

Is it possible to be a believing unbeliever? According to today’s Scripture, YES!

The opening verses of Acts chapter 8 report the Evangelist Philip’s ministry in Samaria. However, Satan is working here too! “[9] But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: [10] To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. [11] And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. [12] But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. [13] Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.” Be sure to note verse 13, “Simon himself believed also.”

When the Apostles Peter and John subsequently visited Samaria, Simon saw their miracle-working power and offered to pay them to receive their spiritual influence (see verses 14-19). Verses 20,21: “But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.” Whereas Simon had “believed” (verse 13), the Holy Spirit through Peter condemned Simon’s heart as wicked. Like those of today’s Scripture, carnal or fleshly Simon believed in his head, but his heart was void of faith. Remember, Romans 10:10, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness….” Religious intellectualism, superficial mental agreement, is not true faith. Genuine faith is our heart or soul trusting God’s Word….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘listeth’ mean?

Believing Unbelievers #3

Friday, March 25, 2022

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25 KJV).

Is it possible to be a believing unbeliever? According to today’s Scripture, YES!

Those present in Jerusalem in John chapter 2 were indeed religious, for they had come to celebrate Passover according to the Law of Moses. Furthermore, when they witnessed Jesus’ miracles, the Bible informs us “many believed in his name.” Their piety and “faith” make them appear to be genuine believers. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit’s commentary provided in the rest of the passage indicates something else entirely.

“But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” The Greek word translated “commit”“episteuo”—was rendered “believed” in the previous verse. Although they believed in Him, He did not believe in them. The reason is provided in the fact the Lord Jesus Christ was and is an omniscient Being. He knows what people are like; no one has to lecture Him on the human condition. After all, He Himself wrote the following verses: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9,10). You can also read His unappealing assessment of us in Matthew 15:10-20 and Mark 7:14-23!

Human nature is sinful, for it constantly tries to replace God’s life with something else (human “good” and/or human evil). Also, emotions and “thrills and chills” (an insatiable quest for entertainment) corrupt man’s internal makeup. We like to be amused—and that was precisely the problem with the spectators in today’s Scripture. They were not people of faith in the heart, but curiosity seekers looking for a “good time.” Even now, 20 centuries later, it is a recurring difficulty in religious circles….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is a ‘casement?’

Believing Unbelievers #2

Thursday, March 24, 2022

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25 KJV).

Is it possible to be a believing unbeliever? According to today’s Scripture, YES!

Remember, the nation Israel is God’s “sign” people (Psalm 74:9), for “the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22) and, as Jesus told His Jewish audience, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). Consequently, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people (Matthew 4:23; cf. Matthew 9:35). “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,…” (Luke 8:1).

The Lord performed miracles to demonstrate or validate the Gospel of the Kingdom He was proclaiming. In His kingdom, blessings from God will preclude sickness and eliminate bondage to Satan. He also endowed His Apostles with this supernatural power: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mark 16:17-20; cf. Matthew 10:1-8).

When Christ executed miracles, it was not simply to give people carefree, problem-free lives. These miraculous demonstrations were proof His message was worthy of His audience’s trust. Yet, if they did not have a positive attitude toward these supernatural events, they would overlook the meaning and thus fail to genuinely believe the message conveyed thereby….

Bowed Together! #8

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

“And he [the Lord Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” (Luke 13:10-12 KJV).

What lesson is the Holy Spirit conveying through this passage of the Holy Bible?

Recall the Sabbath Day was to serve as Israel’s weekly reminder to contemplate God’s work during the Creation Week and subsequent rest (cf. Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11). Every Saturday, the Jews were to stop their labors and remember God’s purpose and plan for Creation. Why had the LORD rested that first Sabbath? His work completed, it was time for Him to enjoy the Heavens and the Earth! Alas, sin entered the world through Adam in Genesis chapter 3. Whatever God intended for Creation has yet to be fulfilled. Israel had been formed to take Adam’s place in the Earth, but she too rebelled and willfully followed Satan!

Sabbath rest ultimately looks toward Millennial Kingdom rest, when all Creation is delivered from Satan and sin, and God’s original purpose in Creation is finally brought to pass (see Hebrews 3:7–4:11). Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ performed a series of Sabbath miracles—including the healing of the “bowed together” woman—to highlight the deliverance connected to His earthly kingdom.

Upon hearing God’s wonderful promises to sinful Israel, Satan objects in Isaiah 49:24, “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?” Verses 25 and 26: But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour [!] and thy Redeemer [!], the mighty One of Jacob.

“And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him” (Luke 13:17).