Lights in the World

Sunday, June 12, 2011

“That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life…” (Philippians 2:15,16a KJV).

Jesus Christ told His Jewish believers that He was “the light of the world” (John 8:12). He told them they were “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Consequently, He instructed His followers: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Today’s Scripture is an exhortation for us Christians to “shine as lights in the world” and “hold forth the word of life.” Undoubtedly, these are references to Christian good works and us proclaiming to the world the wonderful salvation in Christ Jesus!

In 2 Corinthians 5:20, the Bible says we are “ambassadors for Christ.” We represent our homeland, heaven! The two previous verses, 18 and 19, explain: “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

God has given us the privilege of telling the whole world that He has reconciled the world unto Himself through Calvary’s cross! We Christians are beacons of God’s grace in this cruel dark world. We extend the message of God’s grace to all people. We have something the lost world needs: the salvation found only in Jesus Christ!

While our Christian teaching and preaching seems worthless or futile at times, it never is. We have not run in vain, nor laboured in vain, just as Paul did not run in vain nor labour in vain (Philippians 2:16). Beloved in Christ, continue holding forth the word of life by being a light in the world—the lost world desperately needs your ministry.

Obey God or Men?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29 KJV).

What would you do if your government threatened to imprison or execute you for your refusal to deny the Lord Jesus Christ? Notice what the saints of old did when faced with such a predicament.

Israel’s religious leaders commanded the Apostles Peter and John to stop preaching in the name of Jesus Christ, yet the apostles continued preaching (Acts 4:18-19)! Peter and John were eventually arrested and imprisoned, but God miraculously released them from the jail (Acts 5:17-19).

Now, in the context of today’s Scripture, Peter and John have been recaptured. The high priest asked (Acts 5:28): “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?” The apostles’ response is today’s Scripture: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” After the apostles were beaten, they were released, yet they went right back to teaching and preaching Jesus Christ again (verses 40-42)!

In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded everyone to bow down and worship a golden image. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, Jewish believers in JEHOVAH God, refused to worship the silly idol, even after Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into a fiery furnace (verses 13-18). Miraculously, they were unharmed inside the furnace (verses 24-28)!

Later on, Daniel’s enemies manipulated King Darius to decree a law that no man should petition any God or man, other than petitioning Darius, for thirty days. The punishment for doing so was being cast into a lions’ den. Daniel, having full knowledge of that law, still prayed to JEHOVAH God, three times a day (Daniel 6:10). Finally, Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den. The Bible says, “So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God” (verse 23).

And so, we follow the ensample of the saints of old. Even when faced with the threat of imprisonment or execution, “we ought to obey God rather than men!”

The City of the Great King

Friday, June 10, 2011

“[Swear] …neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King” (Matthew 5:35bc KJV).

Although the name “Jerusalem” means “abode of peace,” this city has been anything but peaceful. Throughout its history, it has been destroyed twice, captured over three dozen times, and attacked over four dozen times. Currently, Jews and Palestinians are contending for it.

Jerusalem first appears in the Bible in Genesis 14:18. At that time it was simply known as “Salem,” meaning “peace” (Hebrews 7:2). In the Bible, Jerusalem is also called: “a city of truth” (Zechariah 8:3), “the holy city” (Matthew 4:5), “the city of David” (2 Samuel 5:6-9), and “the city of God” (Psalm 46:4). Ironically, just outside of the city walls of Jerusalem, “the city of the great King” (today’s Scripture), Israel crucified her King Jesus on Calvary’s cross (John 19:20; Hebrews 13:12).

Why is Jerusalem so important in Scripture? In the future, when Jesus Christ sets up His kingdom in the earth, Jerusalem will become the world’s capital! The prophet Isaiah (2:3) wrote concerning the establishment of Jesus Christ’s kingdom in the earth: “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”

One day, after His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will assume King David’s throne in Jerusalem (Mount Zion; see 1 Chronicles 29:26,27). From Jerusalem, Jesus Christ will rule the world forever and ever (Daniel 2:44; Luke 1:31-33). The prophet Jeremiah (33:16) describes the day when Jesus Christ establishes His earthly kingdom: “In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.”

When Christ, the Prince of Peace, comes back, Jerusalem will be “the [peaceful] city of the great King!”

Seek Another’s Wealth

Thursday, June 9, 2011

“Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth” (1 Corinthians 10:24 KJV).

Today’s Scripture sits in the context of whether or not it was acceptable for Christians to eat foods that had been offered to pagan idols (this is not a problem for us today). Paul instructed the Corinthians that although God did not forbid them from eating foods offered to pagan idols, they should not eat those foods in the presence of weak believers who did not think it was appropriate to eat those foods (1 Corinthians 10:25-33). The Apostle Paul also dealt with this issue in Romans 14.

The Bible says (1 Corinthians 10:23): “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” In this the Dispensation of Grace, we are not bound to observe the Mosaic Law. Paul does not instruct us, “Thou shalt…” and “Thou shalt not….” However, “all things are not expedient [profitable, beneficial].” Why? “All things edify not.” Galatians 5:1 says we have liberty in Christ, but let us remember that our actions may tear down someone (and not “edify,” or build them up). See also Galatians 5:13.

In Romans 12:10, the Bible says: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” That word “preferring” means to put the Christian brethren before yourself! Before you take action, consider how it may affect others. Will it destroy the Christian fellowship? Or, will it encourage and strengthen your Christian brethren? The “What can I get out of it” attitude brought on by our sinful flesh is overruled by the Bible instructing us to say, “What can others get out of it?”

Most importantly, we recall that the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, left heaven, “took upon himself the form of a servant” and “humbled himself” (Philippians 2:5-11). Christ Jesus thoroughly demonstrated that He loved us and He endured Calvary’s pain and shame because He was seeking our wealth… our forgiveness and our salvation!

Endure Hardness, Christian Soldier!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3 KJV).

Whether we realize it or not, a battle is being fought today. Satan, the archenemy of God, is fighting against God’s purpose and program for the heaven and the earth. This battle between good and evil has been underway for 6,000 years now.

In Matthew 12:30, the Lord Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Today, we are either on God’s side, or we are on Satan’s side. There is absolutely NO neutral ground!

If we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are on God’s side, so Satan seeks to discourage or destroy us. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:11,12: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Satan attempts to prevent God’s will from being fulfilled, so he has devised many “wiles,” schemes that he utilizes to attack us Christians. One of Satan’s most effective wiles is persecution (see today’s Scripture). Satan’s goal is to intimidate us into silence. This world is no friend of Christians because it has never been the friend of God. The Lord Jesus told His Jewish disciples, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

The whole world is against us Christians because our world is against God. Satan, the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4), governs our evil world system. “Evil men,” especially most religious leaders, are cooperating with Satan’s policy of evil (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Even some “Christian” pastors and theologians will oppose us when we teach and preach God’s Word!

Regardless of what “hardness” you may endure as a Christian soldier, remember, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

Do You Know About the Grace Life?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus 2:11,12 KJV).

Religion demands “do this” and “do that” in order to please God. In time past, Israel was under the Mosaic Law, a performance-based acceptance system. If the Jews wanted to receive the blessing, and avoid the curse, they had to obey God’s laws (Deuteronomy 28:1-68). By the cross of Christ, God abolished that system of Law, since it condemned everyone as sinners (Colossians 2:13,14).

Today, in the Dispensation of Grace, we are “not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14,15). In today’s Scripture, we learn that God does not teach us through the Law system, the manner in which He taught Israel. Today, God’s grace teaches us that HE—not us—will fulfill the Law as He works within our inner man. Our performance (or lack thereof) is not an issue today.

God’s Word “effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). As we study and believe God’s Word “rightly divided,” the indwelling Holy Spirit will take that sound doctrine and transform our lives. The Christian life is the life that Jesus Christ lives in and through the Christians, as the Christians walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to them (Colossians 2:6,7).

Galatians 2:20 affirms: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” See Philippians 1:21.

Grace living is letting God’s grace teach you that His indwelling Holy Spirit will equip you as a Christian to offer your body “a living sacrifice… proving what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1,2). “…Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me!”

Do You Know Your Apostle?

Monday, June 6, 2011

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:” (Romans 11:13 KJV).

Who is your apostle? Today’s Scripture tells us it is Paul. Peter, James, and John are Israel’s apostles, not our apostles (Matthew 10:1-7; Galatians 2:9). Today, most “Christian” preaching is nothing but a watered-down version of the program God gave the nation Israel in time past. God’s current program involves Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Only Paul’s epistles document God’s current dealings with man because God entrusted to Paul alone the Dispensation of Grace (present-day). The Lord Jesus sent Paul to be the apostle of the Church the Body of Christ (Romans 15:16; Ephesians 3:1-9; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11).

Unfortunately, since most churches preach nothing but “tradition of men” (2 Corinthians 4:2; Colossians 2:8), the majority of Christians have no idea Paul is their apostle. Oftentimes, we hear in traditional theology to “go by what Jesus said.” Please understand that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are God’s message to Israel, NOT His message to us (Matthew 15:24; John 4:22; Romans 15:8).

Our Apostle Paul says we do not know Christ after His earthly ministry (2 Corinthians 5:16). Many emphasize Christ’s earthly ministry to the extent that they ignore Christ’s heavenly ministry as He reveals Himself in Paul’s writings. Following Paul’s ministry, we understand “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25).

Paul writes, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37). While many greatly hate this verse, God’s Word is the final authority.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). All 66 books of the Bible are God’s Word. We study all Scripture, Genesis through Revelation, but we always recognize the author of the passage, the audience, and then the content of the passage. God calls this “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).