Saved or Lost? #8

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

The physical realm abounds with abnormalities or seeming impossibilities (extreme or rare medical conditions). Similarly, the spiritual world is filled with eccentric or appalling disorders (contradictions or paradoxes). These sinning saints appear to be unbelievers in thoughts and/or actions, but are indeed members of God’s family!

Believers in the God of the Bible have done stupid things, spoken foolish words, and entertained silly ideas. The Apostle Peter thrice denied he knew his Saviour (Mark 14:66-72). Moreover, he had even intensely argued with the Lord how this would never happen—essentially calling Christ a “liar” (verses 27-31; also see the other occasion in Luke 22:31-34)! Moses, in an infantile rage, struck the rock twice when the LORD had ordered him to speak to it instead (Numbers 20:1-12). Let us not forget how Noah ruined his testimony with drunkenness in Genesis 9:20-27!

Abraham listened to his wife (not the LORD) concerning his sexual relations with Hagar (Genesis 16:1-4): resulting son Ishmael, a product of Abraham’s flesh (law, religious performance), competed with God’s promised son, Isaac (grace). King David committed adultery, fathered an illegitimate child, and then murdered the adulteress’ husband to cover it all up (2 Samuel 11:1–12:14). In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, a Christian brother is fornicating with “his father’s wife” (hopefully, it was his stepmother and not his biological mother)! Not even the Gentile idolaters had such a revolting reputation (verse 1)!

Believers in Christ Jesus in John 12:42,43 were silent about their faith, since they would be excommunicated from the synagogue if they were outspoken (“for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God”). King Solomon was romantically involved with almost 1,000 idolatrous women, not only permitting their heathen religion in the Promised Land but even practicing it himself (1 Kings 11:1-13)! Finally, the Apostle Paul, awaiting his execution, wrote some poignant words concerning a grace ministry coworker: “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10; cf. Galatians 1:4; 1 John 2:15-17).

Yes, these were believers (!!!!!!)….

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Samaria and The Holy Ghost #6

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14-17 KJV).

What is going on in today’s Scripture? Is it something we should practice?

The Holy Ghost was given in Jerusalem (Acts chapter 2), previewing Israel’s New Covenant and Millennial Kingdom blessings. To demonstrate how He would one day rejoin the Northern Kingdom (10 tribes, including the Samaritans) to the Southern Kingdom (two tribes; capital city Jerusalem), the Holy Spirit moved Philip to preach to the Samaritans and then motivated Apostles Peter and John of the Jerusalem Church to confirm or authorize these Samaritans’ entrance into the Little Flock (Israel’s believing remnant).

Denominationally-minded people, no matter how sincere, are sincerely wrong if they believe today’s Scripture defines what the God of the Bible is currently doing with us. We should be ever so careful before we “name and claim” passages—ignoring contexts and lacking a firm understanding of what the Scriptures have already stated about those topics. Contrary to popular belief, just because it is in the Bible does not mean it is our pattern. We can be “Scriptural” and still be outside God’s will!

According to the Bible, Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), God’s spokesman to us. We do not appeal to Peter or John—including today’s Scripture. If we study Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, we will discover there is absolutely nothing about laying hands on anyone to impart the Holy Spirit to them. That is Israel’s doctrine, not ours. If anyone wants the Holy Spirit today, they need to believe Christ died for their sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed [preserved] with that holy Spirit of promise,…” (Ephesians 1:12,13).

Samaria and The Holy Ghost #5

Monday, June 6, 2022

“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14-17 KJV).

What is going on in today’s Scripture? Is it something we should practice?

Remember, Jerusalem is “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35). It will be Israel’s capital when the Lord Jesus Christ sits on David’s throne in the ages to come. The 12 Apostles are the new Jewish governmental leaders: “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).

Also, recall the Samaritans (Northern Kingdom) had broken away from the Davidic dynasty (Southern Kingdom) many centuries before Christ. As the Son of David and thus Heir to David’s throne, Jesus Christ selected His princes to rule with Him. The 12 Apostles therefore represent Jerusalem’s government, and Samaria must be brought back under and submit to David’s house. After all, according to Jeremiah 31:31, the New Covenant will reunite “the house of Israel” (Northern Kingdom) and “the house of Judah” (Southern Kingdom). You can also read Ezekiel 37:15-23, the reunion of “Joseph/Ephraim” (Northern Kingdom) with “Judah” (Southern Kingdom) to enjoy Kingdom glory. “And David my servant shall be king over them: and they all shall have one shepherd…” (Ezekiel 37:24).

So as to preview these New Covenant blessings, the Holy Spirit in today’s Scripture works through Apostles Peter and John—representing Jerusalem and David’s throne—to approve the Samaritans’ conversion. Samaria receives authority and power from Jerusalem’s Apostles, surrendering to David’s government, thereby reversing the political division brought about under the Law of Moses all those hundreds of years prior….

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Samaria and The Holy Ghost #4

Sunday, June 5, 2022

“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14-17 KJV).

What is going on in today’s Scripture? Is it something we should practice?

The Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant (see Luke 12:32), was not to preach to Samaritans until after converting Jerusalem and Judah (recall Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8). Yet, with Jerusalem and Judah still in unbelief, the Book of Acts records Philip moving to Samaria and evangelizing the Samaritans (the context of today’s Scripture). Philip’s actions signal God is no longer operating the prophetic program, for Philip, filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:3,5), has departed from the commission given to the Little Flock.

Israel had fallen back in chapter 7, when Stephen, another one of the seven Spirit-filled men selected in chapter 6, was stoned to death (see Acts 7:51-60). Stephen’s murder was Israel’s unforgiveable blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31,32). From chapter 7 of Acts to the end of the Book (chapter 28) is the 30-year-long transition period from Israel’s prophetic program to our mystery program.

When the Holy Ghost had been poured out on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), that was a foretaste or preview of the New Covenant blessings: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26,27). Though the prophetic program had been paused in Acts chapter 7, and our mystery program was beginning with Paul (see Acts chapter 9), the Lord through Luke writing Acts chapter 8 shows us how the New Covenant (yet future) will reunite the Samaritans and Jews under one government….

Samaria and The Holy Ghost #3

Saturday, June 4, 2022

“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14-17 KJV).

What is going on in today’s Scripture? Is it something we should practice?

The Samaritans were ethnically, religiously, and politically distinct from the pure-blooded Jews: hence, “the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Samaritans, although sharing Israel’s patriarch Jacob as their own forefather (verse 12), resulted from Gentile-Jewish marriages during the centuries before Christ. The Samaritans had a hybrid religious system (syncretism), some Law of Moses mixed with heathen beliefs. Instead of worshipping at Jerusalem (Mount Zion), the Samaritans worshipped at Mount Gerazim to the north (verses 20-22). Samaritans vehemently opposed the Jews visiting Jerusalem for religious reasons (read Luke 9:51-56). Lastly, Samaritans (Northern Kingdom) had broken from David’s house or dynasty (Southern Kingdom).

Consequently, during the first installment of the so-called “Great Commission:” “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5,6). Like the Gentiles (non-Jews), the Samaritans (half-Jew/half-Gentile) were spiritually unclean. The full-blooded Jews were to be reached first with the Gospel of the Kingdom. Later, the Lord expanded the commission in Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Their order was to convert Jerusalem first, then Judaea (region surrounding Jerusalem, or Southern Kingdom), next Samaria (Northern Kingdom), and finally the world or the Gentiles (also, see Luke 24:47 and Matthew 28:19,20). However, with Philip and today’s Scripture, there was a radical departure from that sequence….

Samaria and The Holy Ghost #2

Friday, June 3, 2022

“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14-17 KJV).

What is going on in today’s Scripture? Is it something we should practice?

In chapter 6 of Acts, seven men “of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom” (verse 3), were chosen to manage the food distribution amongst the Messianic Jews in Jerusalem. One of these seven believers was Philip. When Saul of Tarsus ruthlessly persecuted the Jerusalem church, Philip fled the city and traveled to Samaria in the north to preach to them (Acts 8:5-13). The 12 Apostles, who had remained in Jerusalem (verses 1-4), hear of Philip’s converts in Samaria and send Apostles Peter and John to investigate (see today’s Scripture). Strangely enough, although these Samaritans are now believers, they do not receive the Holy Ghost until Peter and John lay hands on them. Nearly 2,000 years later, and Bible readers still needlessly struggle with this unusual situation.

One of the curses of the violated Law of Moses was Israel’s political destruction: “I will break the pride of your power,” the LORD promised them in Leviticus 26:19. This prophecy was fulfilled once idolatrous King Solomon died, David’s kingdom split into two kingdoms, 10 northern tribes and two southern tribes (see 1 Kings 11:1-13,28-39). “Samaria” eventually became a title for the Northern Kingdom. Due to their isolation from Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem (Southern Kingdom), the northern tribes quickly fell into pagan idolatry or devil worship (see 1 Kings 12:25-33; 1 Kings 13:32; 1 Kings 16:23-33; et al.). Furthermore, when their evils led to their eviction from the Promised Land centuries later, idolatrous Gentiles resettled the area and further corrupted it with false religion, Jews even intermarrying into these families (2 Kings 17:24-41).

Samaria languished in spiritual darkness all the way to Christ’s earthly ministry….

Mother: A Virtuous Woman

Sunday, May 8, 2022

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10 KJV).

Today is Mother’s Day, so we dedicate this devotional to godly women (specifically mothers). I especially dedicate this to the virtuous woman who has been in my life for almost 34 years… my mom!

Today’s Scripture is the first verse of the Bible’s “Virtuous Woman” passage (Proverbs 31:10-31). King Solomon explained that the virtuous woman:

  • has a husband who safely trusts in her (verses 11,12).
  • is not lazy, but is strong because she works to feed and clothe her family and herself (verses 13-19,21,22,24,25,27).
  • pities the poor and needy (verse 20).
  • has a husband who is well-known because of her godly lifestyle (verse 23).
  • opens her mouth with wisdom, and speaks kindly and lovingly (verse 26).
  • has children and a husband who praise her (verse 28).
  • excels in what she does (verse 29).
  • has works that praise her (verse 31).

Verse 30 explains the virtuous woman is “a woman that feareth the LORD.”

The Apostle Paul wrote that godly women should: not slander/gossip, not be controlled by alcohol and emotions (sober minded), be teachers of good things, love their husbands and children, be cautious and modest, maintain the home, be “good,” and should obey (respect) their husbands… “that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5). A Christian woman, especially a mother, should be a virtuous woman in beliefs as well as in deed. She needs to set an example for her children (especially her daughters).

A Christian woman and/or Christian mother places her faith in this sound Bible doctrine, the indwelling Holy Spirit will then take that doctrine and transform her for God’s glory (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Her mind will be renewed by sound Bible doctrine, and that will transform her outward activity (Romans 12:1,2).

Are you a Christian woman or Christian mother who desires to be the woman God intends you to be in Christ Jesus? Place your faith in this sound Bible doctrine, and God will take care of the rest!

 HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO OUR READERS WHO ARE MOTHERS!

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

Archived: “What does the Bible say about motherhood?

A Prayer According to God’s Will

Thursday, May 5, 2022

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;(1 Timothy 2:1-3 KJV).

On this United States’ National Day of Prayer, we pray you pray according to the Lord Jesus Christ’s will for today!

Today, religious people—the general public, clergy, and government officials—will assemble nationwide, like they do every year, and pray for spiritual and moral revival of the “Christian” (?) United States of America. We commend their noble efforts, but God’s Word says there will be no godly revival of any of the world’s Gentile nations until Jesus Christ returns to earth at His Second Coming (Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 59:20–60:3; Zechariah 8:20-23; Revelation 11:15; et cetera).

The LORD’s words to King Solomon are often quoted on this day: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Friends, this is certainly God’s Word, but has nothing to do with Gentiles in the United States in the Dispensation of Grace. This verse has a context often overlooked—the nation Israel under the Mosaic Law, praying in relation to God’s Temple in Jerusalem (verses 15,16). Actually, that Temple was destroyed over 19 centuries ago! Unlike Israel, the United States was never a divinely-founded nation. The American people as a whole are not God’s people like Israel was.

Rather than praying 2 Chronicles 7:14, remember today’s Scripture (God’s Word to us Gentiles). The verse following today’s Scripture says, “[God] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Pray for those in authority, that they would trust Jesus Christ alone as their personal Saviour, and then grow in His Word to them so they can make wise decisions on behalf of the people they govern.

The Worship of the Calf #3

Thursday, September 30, 2021

And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 32:4 KJV).

Why is calf-worship so prevalent in Holy Scripture?

Thrice more God refers to Israel’s calf-worship at Mount Sinai. “Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations;…” (Nehemiah 9:18). They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image (Psalm 106:19). “To whom [God] our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands” (Acts 7:39-41). Nevertheless, 500 years after Moses, the Jews resumed their calf-worship.

Once King Solomon died, Israel was divided into two southern tribes (Judah) and 10 northern tribes (Israel). This weakening of Jewish political might was God’s judgment for Solomon’s repeated idolatry (1 Kings 11:1-43; cf. Leviticus 26:18-19). Judah remained loyal to David’s house through son Solomon and grandson Rehoboam, but Israel swore allegiance to Jeroboam the servant of Solomon. Jeroboam, fearing Israel would worship at the Jerusalem Temple according to God’s true religion revealed to Moses, instituted a counterfeit religion up north. What do you suppose was Jeroboam’s preferred idol?!?

“Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt…. And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made” (1 Kings 12:28,32).

Calf-worship continues in Israel….

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

Seven Men Named Before Birth #2

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1 KJV).

Who are the seven noteworthy men in Scripture named before their births?

Hagar, Sarah’s slave girl, really had no choice in the matter of serving as her mistress’ surrogate. Abraham fathered a child by her. When animosity arose between the two women, Abraham evicted pregnant Hagar, after which time God informed her it was His will that the unborn child be named “Ishmael” (Hebrew, “God hears”); God has heard Hagar’s situation and pities her and her boy (Genesis 16:11). By the time of chapter 17, Abraham and Sarah are now 13 years older. Sarah, aged 90, is still barren. Upon learning God will give him a son through Sarah, 99-year-old Abraham falls on his face and laughs—rejoicing not scoffing (verse 17). As verse 19 relays to us, God directs Abraham to call this son “Isaac” (Hebrew, “laughter”), the beginning of the nation Israel.

Over 1,000 years later, King David reigns over Israel. In 2 Samuel chapter 11, he has that infamous affair with a married woman, Bathsheba, and arranges her husband’s murder to cover up the resultant pregnancy. David marries Bathsheba. The LORD, in chapter 12, sends the Prophet Nathan to condemn David for his wickedness: furthermore, the king learns his newborn baby will die, which he does. David and Bathsheba subsequently have another child, Solomon, “and the LORD loved him” (verse 24). Verse 25 tells us God had already chosen a name: “Jedediah” (Hebrew, “beloved of JEHOVAH”).

After King Solomon’s death, with the kingdoms of Israel (north) and Judah (south) divided, his servant (Jeroboam) and his son (Rehoboam) head internal civil wars (1 Kings chapters 11–13). While both pagan idolaters, Jeroboam is the worse; he establishes heathen religion in those northern 10 tribes. In chapter 13, while King Jeroboam is engaged in idolatry, God’s prophet warns him: a descendant of David will be born, “Josiah” (Hebrew, “founded of JEHOVAH”), and this man will bring extensive religious reform in Israel (verses 1-3). Some 350 years later, King Josiah invades the northern kingdom and destroys Jeroboam’s shrines (2 Kings 23:15-20).

Now, just three men remain on our list….