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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Without Blemish and Without Spot #3

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:…” (1 Peter 1:19 KJV).

How was Israel to see Jesus Christ was “without blemish and without spot?”

Passover/Calvary is two days away (Matthew 26:1,2). Israel’s chief priests, scribes, and elders connive to deceitfully arrest and murder Jesus. At Simon the leper’s house in nearby Bethany, Mary pours ointment on Jesus’ head (unknowingly preparing Him for burial). Judas Iscariot schemes with the chief priests to betray Christ for 30 silver pieces (verses 14-16). Jesus eats an early Passover with His 12 Apostles (verses 17ff.). On the Mount of Olives, He prays, before being betrayed and apprehended. His unjust, nighttime trial concludes late the next morning. Sentenced to death (!), He is crucified at 9 A.M.; He lets Himself die by 3 P.M. (Mark 15:25-38).

Israel could have verified Jesus as Messiah-Redeemer during those four days between Palm Sunday and Calvary. Rather than wrongdoing, He cleansed the defiled Temple, demonstrated God’s power, preached the truth, upheld the pure Mosaic Law, defended and expounded the Hebrew Bible, and exposed Israel’s perverted religious leaders. Scripture testifies of Christ Jesus during His last days: “the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4), “just [righteous]” (Matthew 27:19), “I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4), “I… have found no fault in this man… No, nor yet Herod…” (Luke 23:14,15), “I have found no cause of death in him” (Luke 23:22), “this man hath done nothing amiss [no wrong]” (Luke 23:41), “I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:38), “I find no fault in him” (John 19:4). (Cf. Matthew 27:23; Mark 15:14; Luke 23:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; cf. today’s Scripture)

Matthew 27:24,25: “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the [Jewish] people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.Israel knew Pilate was correct; however, they could not care less that Jesus was innocent. Like all other sinful (deceived) children of Adam, they refused God’s sinless Son as their King: they demanded He be crucified as an imposter (John 19:15)!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Peter merely cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant?

The Price of Christ #2

Friday, April 8, 2022

“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment” (John 12:3 KJV).

How much should Jesus Christ be worth in the eyes of Christians?

About six days before His crucifixion, Jesus is in Bethany, a town one or two miles (1.6 or 3.2 kilometers) southeast of Jerusalem. He has raised Lazarus from the dead just a short time earlier (John chapter 11), and they are holding a supper for Jesus there in Bethany (John 12:1-9). Lazarus’s sister Mary (cf. John 11:2) anoints Jesus’ feet as recorded in today’s Scripture.

Mary took a “pound” (roughly a pint or 0.5 liter) of the very intense aromatic essential oil “spikenard” and poured it onto Jesus’ feet. She then wiped His feet with her hair. (You can grasp Mary’s humility by remembering that sandaled feet that trod hot Middle Eastern sand were quite filthy, sweaty, and smelly. Can you imagine wiping your hair on those feet?)

Spikenard, whose plant derivative is still unknown, was just as the Bible says—“very costly.” In fact, when Judas—the thieving treasurer of the apostles—saw what Mary did, he bemoaned, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” (John 12:5). Verse 6 says, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” Judas just wanted the spikenard sold so he could pocket the money!

The word “pence” in our King James Bible means the Roman coins called denarii. A denarius was equal to one day’s wages, so 300 pence was roughly ten month’s wages (the denarius was originally worth the price of ten donkeys, so 300 pence was 3,000 donkeys!). Mary recognized the great value of the Lord Jesus Christ: He was worth far more than the mere 30 pieces of silver (three or four months’ wages) Judas later received for betraying Him. May we Christians value the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, as much as Mary did!

The Price of Christ #1

Thursday, April 7, 2022

“And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver” (Matthew 26:15 KJV).

How much is Jesus Christ worth in the eyes of lost man?

Let us read today’s Scripture within its context: “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him” (Matthew 26:14-16).

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me” (Matthew 27:3-10).

The 30 pieces of silver was enough to buy a field; it was an enormous sum of money. The King James Bible does not specify what types of coins the priests paid Judas, but the “30 pieces of silver” is estimated to be the equivalent of three or four months’ wages. According to the Mosaic Law, the price of a slave was “thirty shekels of silver” (Exodus 21:32). In the eyes of lost mankind, the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, was worth nothing more than a slave!

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?

The Misunderstood Messiah #5

Thursday, December 30, 2021

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Once Christ replied with sound doctrine (verses 42-47), Israel’s religious leaders simply resorted to name-calling again (verse 48): “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” A Samaritan was half-Jew/half-Gentile, and “the Jews [had] no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Notice Jesus was insulted twice more—they called Him a “Samaritan” and “devil possessed.” Throughout the rest of John chapter 8, Israel’s religious leaders continue arguing with Jesus and nearly stone Him to death (verse 59)!

Why did Jesus not simply “zap” these religionists and instantly throw them into hellfire? They belittled and blasphemed Him several times in this one account, and then attempted to murder Him, but rather than Jesus killing them with His spoken word (which would have been justified), He only conversed with them. Why?

Remember, when the Apostles James and John saw how the Samaritans refused to accommodate Jesus, they asked Him if He wanted them to call down fire from heaven and consume those sinners, He replied, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55,56). This First Coming of Christ was His “meek and lowly” coming: He did not come to judge man’s sins, but to die for them!

Even today, God is still not pouring out His wrath on wicked mankind (2 Corinthians 5:19), creatures who still snicker at Jesus Christ, deceive others in His name, persecute His saints, ignore His Word, and “rub His nose” in their sins. Lost mankind is wasting God’s grace and mercy that He is offering so freely. When His grace is finally exhausted, the undiluted wrath that has accumulated will finally be poured out (His Second Coming). May we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour now so we have our sins forgiven now, lest we face that angry, righteous God in judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)!

For more information, you may also see our archived Bible Q&A: “Did God ‘rape’ Mary?