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 (!!!!!!)….

Saints, please remember this work of the ministry requires monthly financial support to operate (Galatians 6:6; Philippians 4:16-17; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Those who prefer electronic giving can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux. Anyone who wishes to donate by regular mail can visit https://333wordsofgrace.org/contact-us-mailing-address-for-donations/ for details. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! Unfortunately, since our ministry audience is so large and our ministry staff is so small, I can no longer personally respond to everyone. Thanks so much for understanding in this regard. 🙂

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?

Ecstasy

Saturday, November 20, 2021

“And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment” (Mark 5:42 KJV).

“Ecstasy” is “an overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement.” (Of course, it lends its name to the illegal drug that causes these effects.) It is also “a spiritual trance-like state.” This word is from the Greek “ekstasis,” literally meaning “standing out oneself” (a displacement of the mind). Our Authorized Version translators rendered it various ways.

The first instance is today’s Scripture: “And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment [“ekstasis”].” The Lord Jesus had raised Jairus’ little girl from the dead—and such fear and wonderment, joy and excitement, would cause anyone to stand out their mind! Upon learning from the angel that Jesus had resurrected, “And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed [“ekstasis”]: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8). These women could not believe it!

When Christ healed the “man taken with a palsy” (paralytic), the Bible remarks: “And they were all amazed [“ekstasis”], and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day” (Luke 5:26). Again, the bewilderment or awe was mind-boggling! The Apostles Peter and John, heading to pray at the Jerusalem Temple, encountered a 40-year-old lame man crippled from birth. In the name of Jesus Christ, Peter heals him: “And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement [“ekstasis”] at that which had happened unto him.” The crowds are stupefied!

As the Lord prepares Peter to preach to Gentile Cornelius, the Apostle beholds an extraordinary sight and hears startling words in a vision: “And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance [“ekstasis”],…” (Acts 10:10; cf. Acts 11:5). Lastly, as Christ readies the Apostle Paul for his ministry, “And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance [“ekstasis”];…” (Acts 22:17).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man? #5

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 KJV).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man?

Re-read Peter’s grand confession as recorded in the three Synoptic Gospel Records. “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). “And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ (Mark 8:29). “He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God (Luke 9:20). This, of course, is the Gospel of the Kingdom, that Jesus is Israel’s King-Messiah-Christ. Father God had expected the Jews to believe this “Good News” during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Now, be careful to notice how the Lord replied to Peter’s declaration of faith.

Again, all three Synoptic Gospel Records document it. “Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ(Matthew 16:20). “And he charged them that they should tell no man of him (Mark 8:30). “And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;…” (Luke 9:21). Jesus ordered them, He commanded them, not to tell anyone that He was Christ. Why? Does He not want them to believe on Him? Is not this Gospel of the Kingdom the only way at the time for them to come to His Father by faith? Then, why does He mandate His disciples keep His identity secret?

Remember, this Gospel of the Kingdom has now been preached in Israel for at least three years. John the Baptist proclaimed it, Jesus Himself has preached it, and the 12 Apostles have proclaimed it. In spite of this spiritual light, darkness abounds in Israel. The nation itself is both unable and unwilling to see Jesus as Christ (Matthew 16:13,14; Mark 8:27,28; Luke 9:18,19); they have wasted their time with unbelief and spiritual silliness. Therefore, six months before Calvary, Jesus orders His disciples to stay silent concerning His identity. Essentially, “If they still have not believed, they will not believe, so leave them in their ignorance. Do not tell them who I the Son of Man am!”

Who is Jesus the Son of Man? #4

Monday, August 30, 2021

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 KJV).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man?

On another occasion, the crowds of Jesus’ audience thinned because of conviction. Although they had followed Him physically, there was no following spiritually. The conversation’s deterioration throughout the chapter shows just how willfully ignorant they are of the truth: “[Jesus speaking] It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?” (John 6:63-67).

It was here—approximately the time of today’s Scripture—that “many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” Jesus turned to the 12 Apostles, inquiring if they would leave Him too. “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (verses 68,69). (If you read the next two verses, Judas Iscariot, the traitor, is an exception. Like the crowd’s unbelief, his faithlessness will be soon manifested.)

Here again, Peter, spokesman of the Little Flock, has been following the Lord in faith, not mindless adherence or pretending to be a disciple when he is not. Peter has realized and openly declares he has nowhere else to turn, for only the Lord Jesus Christ has “the words of eternal life.” As in Matthew 16:16, Mark 8:29, and Luke 9:20; so Peter confessed in chapter 6 of John, “we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” Let us go back to Matthew, Mark, and Luke to read Jesus’ “startling” reply….

Who is Jesus the Son of Man? #3

Sunday, August 29, 2021

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 KJV).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man?

After inquiring about the public’s opinion concerning His identity, and hearing all the ridiculous answers, Jesus posed a second rhetorical question. “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” Do the disciples know any better? Indeed! The Apostle Peter, spokesman of the 12 Apostles and the rest of the Little Flock, replies with that simple declaration, that awesome profession of faith. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). “And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ (Mark 8:29). “He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God (Luke 9:20).

Peter is an honest man, one of the few spiritually-minded souls left in his nation of millions. He has studied and received his Hebrew Scriptures by faith, and in Jesus he has seen them fulfilled scores, if not hundreds, of times. Going all the way back to John the Baptist’s ministry a few years earlier, Peter heard the preaching of God the Father in regards to His Son. Peter’s brother, Andrew, had also heard Father God’s words through John. “One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:40-42).

Jesus is “Christ” (Greek), “Messiah” (Aramaic), God’s “anointed” (Psalm 2:2; Acts 4:26). Peter, like the remainder of Israel’s believing remnant, understands the Son of Man is also the Son of God, occupying the unique office of Humanity and Deity. Furthermore, he titles Jesus “the Son of the living God,” as opposed to dead idols of wood and stone that the heathen worship in nearby Caesarea Philippi (Psalm 115:1-8; Psalm 135:15-18)….

Paul, the Viper, and the Barbarians #3

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm (Acts 28:3-5 KJV).

What is the Holy Spirit teaching through this bizarre passage?

Throughout Acts, national Israel obstinately remained in unbelief. Only a remnant trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether increasingly persecuting the Apostle Peter and the other 11 Apostles during the opening chapters, or constantly mistreating the Apostle Paul for the remainder of the Book, corporate Israel was undeniably hostile toward Christ’s representatives. Contrary to what denominationalism has taught us, Acts is not a Book of doctrine. Instead, it is the progressive record of how God was just or fair in transitioning from Israel to us Gentiles, from Peter’s ministry to Paul’s ministry, from Little Flock to Body of Christ, from Prophecy to Mystery, from Law to Grace. Chapter 28—the context of today’s Scripture—is the Holy Spirit’s final commentary on Israel’s status during the Dispensation of Grace.

Remember, unbelieving Jews did everything they possibly could to hinder, discredit, or kill Paul (Acts 9:23; Acts 13:45,50; Acts 14:2,5,19; Acts 17:5,13; Acts 18:12; Acts 20:3,19; Acts 21:11,21; Acts 22:30; Acts 23:12,27,30; Acts 25:7,15,24; Acts 26:2,21). Hence, the Holy Spirit also places into the record of Acts interspersed accounts of pagan Gentiles (non-Jews) accepting him and believing the Gospel of Grace. Today’s Scripture is one such example, especially as Luke has begun concluding Acts. Chapter 28 opens: “And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. And the barbarous people [foreigners ignorant of Greek language and culture—namely, Phoenicians or Punics] shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.” The negative—“shewed us no little kindness”—means these Gentiles were extremely friendly or hospitable to Paul and his companions. This was certainly in contrast to apostate Israel’s behavior toward him….

To Savour the Flavour of the Saviour #5

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men (Mark 8:33 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture and its context teach us about Satan’s policy of evil?

“Savour” means “give oneself to the enjoyment of, appreciate to the full, set affection on, place interest in.” Jesus’ “flavour” was the “indication of His essential character;” that is, He had fully given Himself over to delighting in working with His Heavenly Father. When we savour the flavour of the Saviour, we are thinking in accordance with the Head of the Church the Body of Christ: after all, His mind should govern us! (Recall Romans 8:5, Philippians 2:5, and Colossians 3:2.)

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1,2). As the perfect Man, the Lord Jesus Christ exhibited this lifestyle during His earthly ministry. Consequently, Satan attacked Him by using the sinful world system around Him. In fact, the Adversary even used Peter, Christ’s chief Apostle of Israel. Never forget today’s Scripture!

Brethren, the application we can make here is quite simple. If we are working with our Heavenly Father in the “family business”—the grace ministry—we can be absolutely (!) sure (!) Satan will use whomever or whatever he can to distract, discourage, and destroy us. Whether fellow Christians (even beloved pastors and fellow grace saints!), spouses, sons and daughters, or dear friends, if they are not submissive to the aforementioned renewed mind; they will become Satan’s mighty vessels in causing us to stumble in sin (apostasy and/or carnality). Still, we follow Christ’s pattern in today’s Scripture. He was not sidetracked from the Father’s plan: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8)! 🙂

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