Saturday, October 8, 2016

“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:1,2 KJV).

Why were Israel’s religious leaders “grieved” that Apostles Peter and John were teaching the people?

The word “grieved” here carries the idea of worry or irritation. It was used to describe the Apostle Paul’s attitude toward the devil possessing the girl who incessantly harassed his party in Philippi. Luke reports in Acts chapter 16: “[16] And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: [17] The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. [18] And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

Today’s Scripture says Israel’s religious leaders were “grieved that [Peter and John] taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Part of that group was Sadducees, religious leaders who denied the Scriptural doctrine of resurrection (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Acts 23:8). Remember, Peter and John were “preaching through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” They were contradicting religious tradition, and they had to be silenced! (Sound familiar?) After all, Peter had preached to Israel in the previous chapter: “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14,15). No wonder those Sadducees were so disturbed!

Israel’s religious leaders knew they were losing their long-held influence over God’s people, and they were not about to let it happen. They knew the 12 Apostles were drawing people away from their vain religious system. What happened to Peter and John here? Read Acts chapter 4 to find out!

When We Deceive Ourselves

Friday, May 6, 2016

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10 KJV).

Do you claim to be sinless?

Years ago, I spoke with a religious family member about the Gospel of the Grace of God. Nearly 90 years old, she had been instructed in her denomination for many decades. When I asked her about her sins, she said, “I have never done anything wrong in all my life!” Just think, friends, about how many times we have sinned in our decades alive. Consider how many times we have sinned today. Now, think about a woman living 90 years, and then saying most seriously, “I have been sinless all my life!” Talk about delusional. But, the people spoken of in today’s Scripture were equally mistaken.

Instead of realizing “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20), most Israelites from Christ’s earthly ministry thought they were “pretty good” before God. Note how John the Baptist corrected such erroneous thinking in Matthew 3:9. Paraphrased, “Just because Abraham is your ancestor does not automatically make you sinless!” This was directed to the Pharisees and Sadducees, Israel’s religious leaders who thought they were sinless. As the Pharisee in Luke 18:11 prayed, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican [tax collector]!”

Today’s Scripture, while often misunderstood as something for believers to practice today, was actually written to correct this unbelieving, so-called “sinless crowd,” in Israel. In order to be saved into God’s family, they had to confess their national sin of breaking God’s Law Covenant. They had to quit trying to establish their own righteousness and come to understand God’s righteousness manifested in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:1-13). Many today need to learn this lesson. They too hide behind their religion. God is not fooled. Until they realize they are lost and going to hell, they have no chance of being saved and going to heaven!

Ye Do Err!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29 KJV).

If Jesus spoke audibly today, He would say this not only to much of the world, but also to 99 percent of “Christian” church members and leaders!

Today, Christianity has more books than ever before—millions and millions of books, millions upon millions upon millions of copies of those books. You would assume that, because of all these “Christian” books, today’s churches would abound with the most Biblically-literate people to ever walk the planet. Alas, this is not so—quite the opposite, actually. They know books, but not the Book! Not long ago a dear, elderly friend in the ministry bemoaned, “The average lost person fifty years ago knew more about the Bible than the average preacher does today!”

For example, a friend and I were recently researching a local church that touts its thousand-plus weekly attendance. When I found their statement of faith online, I discovered that it cited 12 basic Bible verses and one familiar 15-verse-long passage. Yea, it was a very doctrinally-shallow document—one verse supporting almost every tenet.

More recently, I skimmed a “Christian” handbook for teens, published less than a decade ago. The “Bible-believing” author, with denominational approval, wrote: “So when the creation story of Genesis describes the earth as flat, is that true in the sense of factual? Of course not. Did creation take six days as we know them? Not likely.”

While much could be said about his faulty theology (and horrific grammar!), I can only wonder what “creation story of Genesis” (?) he was reading when he claimed God’s Word indicated that the earth was “flat!” Like many today in religion, the author just fabricated an idea (denominationalism), he pretended it was “Scripture” (the average reader would never check the Bible for himself anyway!), and then he demeaned the very God and Book he claimed to adore (“I only believe the Bible verses my church supports literally!”)! As Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures!”

Beloved, be on guard against these “wolves in sheep’s clothing!”

Eye Service

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

“But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” (Matthew 23:5-7 KJV).

Jesus Christ rebukes apostate Christendom with these same words even today.

Religion (Christendom) teems with people performing ceremonies, rites, and rituals to gain God’s attention and acceptance. However, Christianity focuses not on what we do for Jesus Christ, but what Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary, and what He will do in and through us if we, by faith, allow Him.

In today’s Scripture, Jesus condemned the religion of His day. Judaism was once the pure religion that JEHOVAH gave to Israel through Moses. In the 1,500 years since Moses, Israel’s religious leaders had polluted that God-given religion. Israel’s clergy were generally divided between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, although the Pharisees dominated (according to verse 2, Jesus is speaking mainly of them in today’s Scripture). Law-keeping was not about honoring JEHOVAH God who gave it, but rather rule-keeping for rules’ sakes. In fact, they added to the 600-plus laws God had given!! They largely preferred man-made rules, “the commandments of men” (Mark 7:1-13; cf. Colossians 2:8). Israel was burdened by and buried in laws (Matthew 23:4; Acts 15:10; cf. Galatians 4:9)!!!

The Apostle Paul admonished Christian servants (employees) not to work with “eyeservice” (Colossians 3:22-25). It was not to be showy, put-on, eye-catching work done diligently just for the sake of praise; it was to be honest, genuine labor from the heart, whether someone was watching or not.

In today’s Scripture, Jesus exposed how the watered-down Jews’ religion” (Galatians 1:14) enabled Israel’s religious leaders to brag about their “broad phylacteries” (large boxes that held many scraps of “paper” with Old Testament verses on them, worn on the forehead or wrist). They loved to wear special clothing (long robes with large fringes; Luke 20:46), to be seen and praised of men because of their long prayer” (Matthew 23:14), to be commended for their “pious” appearance and dedication.

Beloved, avoid those who make such “a fair shew in the flesh” (Galatians 6:12)!