No Sunday Morning Second-hand Sermons!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

Rather than “second-hand” sermons, we need “study” sermons!

Long ago, a minister wrote the following: “Many sermons on Sunday morning are second-hand sermons, copied from some outline book published by the denominational headquarters… and that ought not be! Studying is hard work—but it is profitable in the ministry!” In this day and age, I wonder how sermons delivered from the pulpit are first downloaded from the internet?

Please do not misunderstand, friends. There is nothing wrong with consulting sources for Bible insight. We can all learn from teachers and preachers. However, there is a difference between using these sources and abusing them. Copying sermons verbatim is not ideal for two reasons. Firstly, the person copying is robbing himself of personal Bible study—not to mention running the risk of being greatly deceived! Secondly, those who will listen to the copied sermon will also be robbed of personal Bible study—to be deceived as well! The audience will figure that they can let the writer do all the hard work (studying) and they will simply (and easily) listen to the fruit.

The reason why denominational headquarters are followed so meticulously is that people fear displeasing men. They dread upsetting the denominational leaders, for they just may be “out-of-work” and “out-of-church” if they drift too far from “approved” verses and teachings! Today’s Scripture says that we are to be “approved unto God;” beloved, we are not to be “menpleasers.” Remember, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men (Colossians 3:23).

We are looking for God’s approval, not man’s approval. The quicker we learn that, the more joyous we will be in the ministry. We will not be disappointed when people disapprove of us, for we were never looking for their approval anyway! “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God(1 Corinthians 4:5).

Not Entangled

Friday, June 16, 2017

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier (2 Timothy 2:4 KJV).

Before you get too worked up about this world’s conditions, remember not to get distracted from what really matters!

Recently, I was talking with a brother in Christ who was very disturbed by what is going on in the world. In his own words, his “blood was boiling.” He was angry, raging, quite frustrated over corrupt politicians, violence, and evildoers going unpunished. Moreover, he ranted and raved against his national government. While I understand his frustrations, I did politely remind him to be civil when he would discuss it with others (he said he was going to tell others what he had told me). The man has been saved for years, many decades, but God’s grace has yet to transform the way he thinks about this world.

As “outposts from the third heaven,” beloved, we simply cannot get too attached to the people and things of this temporary world. We can get all worked up about scandals and conundrums in politics, religion, economics, sports, educational institutions, social issues, and so on. It is only human to get so enmeshed, trapped, involved, entwined with human affairs. However, as members of the Church the Body of Christ, we are God’s people. We are to be concentrating on God’s thoughts instead of common human thoughts. Father God is not worrying or fretting in Heaven today, and if anyone should concerned, it should be the Person who can control it.

Dear friends, we must never let Satan’s evil world system distract us from what really matters. Those “doctrines of devils” can come in the subtlest forms, and we must be vigilant that they do not get a stronghold in our thoughts. As soldiers of Jesus Christ, we must concentrate on our “marching orders,” and those instructions are: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection [focus] on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).

Bible Q&A #390: “Does Acts 26:22 disprove the Apostle Paul’s special doctrine?

Merciful to a Sorry World

Thursday, June 15, 2017

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting (1 Timothy 1:15,16 KJV).

You can trust that!

The United States—yea, the world—has been rocked by so many tragedies in recent days. Current trends on social media read, “Sending our thoughts and prayers.” Scoffers ask, “How is that working out?” To wit, despite all the “thoughts and prayers,” well wishes, and hopes of religious people, violence and bloodshed remain “front page” news. Where is God? When will He get enough? Will He ever show Himself? Does He even care? When will enough be enough? Is “He” even there?

Christians, who have the Holy Bible, the true Word of the true God, should be leading the world in understanding prayer. They should know what prayer is, and what it is not. Alas, how ignorant they are—how unbelievably and pathetically uniformed! They have the Scriptures but have no idea what they say about prayer. Now we see why skeptics say what they do—they mock people who really do not know the truth either! Beloved, religious people talk about “God” so flippantly we need not criticize the scoffers for doing likewise!

Friends, here is the simple truth. God is not working according to the way most people are praying. Hence, people pray for a certain outcome that actually does not come. They pray for violence to end, for peace, for God to come and judge the evildoers. Actually, here is a shocker…. God is not working today as He did in time past. What He is interested in today is having people come to His Son, Jesus Christ, by faith, that they receive forgiveness of sins and a home in Heaven. Rather than God pouring out wrath today, ushering in world peace today, He is pouring out peace and grace on undeserving sinners!

He will come back in due time and judge this wicked world. Today, He silently offers grace, extending an opportunity for all to be made right with Him! 🙂

Not Mixed With Faith

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2 KJV).

We can read and memorize all the verses we want, but, if we are not approaching Bible verses in faith, we will not gain the profit God put in them.

I had a recent phone conversation with a brother in Christ who is in the ministry. He is dealing with an individual who jumps from religious group to religious group (five or six current affiliations). This man, whether saved or not I am unsure, constantly asks the brother various Bible questions. How sad it is that people can ask so many questions and still be so ill equipped, unable to distinguish truth from error. Yea, treating the Bible like some “intellectual gym class” will severely harm rather than greatly help!

Take, for example, the nation Israel in the wilderness (Hebrews chapter 3— previous to today’s Scripture). They heard the voice of God thundering from Mount Sinai. They saw the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed on them. Unlike the pagan nations around them, Israel had access to the one true God (Deuteronomy chapter 4 in its entirety). Alas, Israel did not believe a word God said (today’s Scripture)! They heard, heard, heard… but they did not believe, believe, believe! Hearing the Word of God does not benefit you if you do not believe it! Paul said this of unbelieving Jews in Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Israel had heard the Word of God for centuries, and yet was still in rank unbelief during his Acts ministry!

The writer of the Book of Hebrews, speaking to Israel during the future time after our Dispensation of Grace, urges the Jews to believe the kingdom doctrines Jesus Christ taught during His earthly ministry. They are to believe on Him as their Messiah, the Son of God, their Redeemer; they must wait for Him to return at His Second Coming to establish that earthly kingdom of God. That wonderful news cannot profit them if “not mixed with faith!”

Our One Baptism!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13 KJV).

Behold, our one baptism!

If there is one controversial topic in Christendom, friend, it is the issue of water baptism. Someone once rightly called it, “religious TNT!” Throughout the centuries, and even today, church members of various groups argue about whose mode of water baptism is correct. Not long ago, somebody emailed me to complain about one of our Bible studies on water baptism. Of course, the individual did not care to hear what the Bible said; clearly, all that mattered to him was church tradition!

There are many misconceptions about water baptism. The chief one is that we Christians must be water baptized today in order to show that we have been buried with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life. That is nothing but religious tradition, and it will profit us nothing in eternity. In Ephesians 4:5, we read that there is one baptism” operating in the Dispensation of the Grace of God. According to 1 Corinthians 1:17, the Apostle Paul admitted, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel….” Clearly, the one baptism for today is not water baptism! Could there be a “baptism” other than water?! Horror of horrors! Religious people are shocked to discover the answer is “yes!”

Today’s Scripture talks about the one baptism that is valid in this the Dispensation of Grace. It is not water baptism either! The one and only baptism we need today is when the Holy Spirit takes us—after we believe the Gospel of the Grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)—and places us into the Church the Body of Christ. We have no reason to squabble or get confused about sprinkling, pouring, immersion, formulas, et cetera, because water baptism has absolutely nothing to do with us anyway! Horror of horrors!

Now, friends, do we believe the words of the Holy Spirit through Paul? Or, does religious tradition mean everything to us?

Our latest Bible Q&A: How did John’s converts ‘justify God?’

A Prayer Life Fallen Apart

Monday, June 12, 2017

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV).

Beloved, when your prayer life ceases, fret not!

An online Christian sister admitted on social media that she had just realized how her prayer life is “pretty close to useless.” Having learned more about how to study God’s Word dispensationally—how everything in Scripture is for us to read but not everything therein is to or about us—she recognizes how she has been praying inappropriately. I told her we have all been there at one time. It was good that she reached this point because most believers never do. Moreover, now that she has identified the problem, she can proceed to fixing it. The solution is there in God’s Word rightly divided, she just needs to study more and discover it!

As a Christian delves deeper into the Bible rightly divided, his or her prayer life increasingly disintegrates. Why? He or she has been praying primarily one of two ways. Firstly, praying like Israel. The primary model prayer of Christendom, of course, is the so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” Matthew 6:9-13—“Our Father which art in heaven….” Secondly, praying like heathen. Jesus Christ discussed that as well. Verse 7 says, “use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

Friends, we should see how our Apostle Paul prayed. Since his salvation is our “pattern” (1 Timothy 1:15,16), then his ministry and life are also our patterns. If Paul knew what God was doing today, and he did according to Ephesians 3:2, then it is safe to assume that Paul prayed in-line with what God was doing today. As other members of the Body of Christ, we would do well to follow the four model Pauline prayers—Ephesians 1:16-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9-13.

Indeed, friends, we pray with whatever Bible understanding we have. We do it with understanding nonetheless—neither mindlessly repeating nor haphazardly snatching verses! As it becomes clear where and how we pray wrongly, we let the rightly-divided verses fix our thoughts and hearts. Once we are re-oriented by God’s grace (I speak from experience), we will not miss that old so-called “prayer life!” Onward to maturity! 🙂

What a Treasure!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

“I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil” (Psalm 119:162 KJV).

The Holy Bible—what a treasure!

Recently, I sat with a dear Christian lady who has been saved for just under two years. She came out of a false religion, and she is still taking “baby steps” in Bible understanding. It is an extremely slow process, as her background and age hinder her, but she is making progress and we thus rejoice in Christ. I was delighted to talk with her for a couple of hours, answering her Bible questions. How thankful she was to see how simple and enjoyable the Scriptures were!

Brethren, whether we have been in Christ for two years or two decades, we should be growing steadily in the Word. Sadly, some of us have stopped in our understanding. They never reached maturity, and they have ceased maturing. Once fervent in the Word, their zeal has diminished. They gradually drifted from the Word, and now they are ever so far away from where their Heavenly Father would have them. The cares of this world have distracted them, and, what little Bible knowledge they had is now suppressed. Sadly—and, oh, what a shame!—they have given up!

The moment a lost soul comes by faith to the knowledge of sin, and the knowledge of soul salvation found only in Jesus Christ, the Bible is seen as a great treasure. After all the years of misery, confusion, disappointment, and deception in various places, that soul has finally found the greatest answer of all. God’s Holy Word shows itself to be a fortune in the midst of poverty! Instead of meager crumbs, there is a spiritual feast! However, as the years pass, the Christian soul loses that grand perspective. If there is no steady (daily) intake of that same Word, the distractions will overwhelm them, and they will go back to thinking like the lost people they used to be.

Christian friend, if you find yourself in this dilemma, there is a solution. You need to adopt the view of the Bible you held when you first came to Christ. It is a great treasure! Get back in it and rejoice in it! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Satan want to ‘sift’ the circumcision saints?