If Only I Saw, Then I Would Believe

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

“The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25 KJV).

“Doubting Thomas” not only describes a confused apostle of Israel, but also much of the world’s population. Bible skeptics whine, “When you show me some proof that God exists, then I will trust Him!”

From its earliest days, the nation Israel was accustomed to seeing and hearing God perform miraculous works (the LORD sent Moses to Israel with the power to handle snakes and heal; Exodus 4:1-9). “The Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Christ even said to Israel, “Unless ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48).

For three years, the Lord Jesus performed an inestimable number of miracles. He walked on water, raised the dead, cast out devils, healed the sick, and yet most of those Jewish witnesses never trusted in Christ. Christ said, “some of you believe not” (John 6:64). Some Jews refused to believe, even after they saw His miracles!

Some Jews were so fascinated with Christ’s miracles that they totally missed the reason why He performed those miracles—to teach them that He was their Messiah-King. John 2:23-25 says: “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.” Jesus knew these people just wanted to be awed, not saved.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Seeing the Lord Jesus Christ through the eyes of faith, not the physical eyes, is enough “proof” for me.  Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Mixed-Up Jonah

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

“Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six-score thousand [120,000] persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:10,11 KJV).

Nearly everyone is familiar with the story of Jonah. Circa 800-750 B.C., the LORD instructs the prophet to go to Nineveh, the wicked capital of Assyria, and to speak on His behalf against their evil deeds (1:1,2). Naturally, Jewish Jonah is extremely resistant to minister to pagan Gentiles, so Jonah heads in the opposite direction—a ship bound for Spain (1:3)!

God causes a storm that makes the mariners afraid and inquisitive (1:4-8). Jonah confesses that he has run away from the LORD. Lest the ship sink, the mariners eagerly agree to throw Jonah overboard (1:9-16). For three days and three nights, Jonah is dead in the belly of a fish (1:17-2:9).

Then, God speaks to the fish, and it vomits Jonah onto dry land (2:10). Jonah is revived. As before, God commands Jonah to go to Nineveh, so Jonah obedient preaches, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (3:1-4). Nineveh responds to Jonah in repentance (3:5-9). Nineveh listens to God, so God decides not to destroy Nineveh (3:10).

Now, Jonah is “very angry” with Nineveh’s response (4:1-5). The LORD causes a gourd to grow over Jonah and shade him, pacifying him (4:6). Then, God causes a worm to destroy the gourd, and Jonah is saddened and angered because the gourd died (4:7-9). Today’s Scripture is God’s response: “Jonah, you pity a silly gourd plant that died, but you have no pity for lost, hell-bound Gentiles!”

Many times, we pity animals and plants suffering and dying more than we pity our family, friends, and neighbors dying and going to hell. May we never be like mixed-up Jonah. People, unlike plants and animals, have souls that last for eternity. Your priority should be people’s souls. Are they?

Neither is There Salvation in Any Other

Monday, August 15, 2011

“Jesus Christ of Nazareth… Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10,12 KJV).

Is there really only one way to heaven? Today’s Scripture gives us the answer—a resounding “YES!” Jesus stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The Apostle Paul declared: “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5,6).

Jesus Christ “gave himself a ransom for all.” The words “for all” indicate that Christ died for every person, since everyone’s salvation depended upon Him. If there was another way to heaven beside Christ, then He died for nothing! Why would Jesus Christ allow Himself to suffer all that physical and spiritual pain if there was another way to save us from our sins? The Lord Jesus Christ endured the shame of Calvary’s cross and His heavenly Father’s wrath because there was no other way to reconcile us unto God.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:14,15: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

Because of Adam’s sin, every human is born spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, separated from God (Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1-3). The only way to be saved from the penalty of sin—everlasting separation from God in the lake of fire—is to come to Calvary’s cross by faith. Have you trusted exclusively in the shed blood and physical resurrection of Jesus Christ as the fully satisfying payment for your sins? I hope you have!

According to God’s Word, salvation can only be found in Jesus Christ. “Jesus Christ of Nazareth… Neither is there salvation in any other.

An Holy Nation and a Kingdom of Priests

Sunday, August 14, 2011

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” (1 Peter 2:9 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is often misunderstood to apply to us Christians. Is the Church the Body of Christ a “holy nation?” Of course not! The “nation” of Scripture is always Israel. Furthermore, if Peter is an apostle of Israel, and Galatians 2:9 says he is, then he is speaking of Israel.

In fact 1 Peter 2:9 is identical to what the LORD said through Moses (Exodus 19:5,6): “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” Regardless of what preachers say, Exodus 19:5,6 claim 1 Peter 2:9 describes Israel.

The book of the Revelation, also written by an apostle of Israel (John; Galatians 2:9), says: “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1:6). In Revelation 5:10 we read: “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” All of these verses belong to Israel. You either believe God’s Word or you do not (a “Christian” I recently spoke with about this refused to believe the Bible).

Isaiah 61:6 confirms that “priests” applies to Jews, not to us: “But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.” Israel will become a kingdom of priests when Christ returns to set up His earthly kingdom at His Second Coming.

Paul never calls us members of the Church the Body of Christ “priests.” We are “ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Why Did God Save Us?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:9,10 KJV).

Why did God save us? Certainly not because of our works (Titus 3:5)! Today’s Scripture enlightens us in that regard, as does the entire epistle to the Ephesians. God the Father has one grand purpose: to appoint His Son Jesus Christ as the Head of all governmental authority, in the heaven and in the earth. God did not save us for our sakes; He saved us for Christ’s sake!

As members of the Church the Body of Christ, we will restore God’s authority in the heavenly places. “And [God our Father] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6,7).

The Apostle Paul prayed, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” (Ephesians 1:18). Jesus Christ will inherit us, the Church which is His Body, and appoint us as His rulers in the heaven!

Why did God save us?

  1. So we could be His “ambassadors” on earth, vessels He can use to tell others about His plan and purpose for the heaven and the earth. We have been entrusted with the wonderful Gospel of Grace, the salvation that is only found in His Son Christ Jesus. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day!”
  2. But ultimately, so we could be God’s instruments to rule in the heaven for His glory (to be fulfilled one day when our earthly sojourn is over)!

Art Thou Too Superstitious?

Friday, August 12, 2011

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious” (Acts 17:22 KJV).

Religion causes people to behave very strangely—they claim to see apparitions in common objects, they speak incoherently, they allegedly (and “magically”) transform ordinary bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood, and they proclaim physical healing (while still taking medication and owning health insurance!).

The Greek word translated “superstitious” in today’s Scripture is “deisidaimonesteros,” meaning, “fearing more devils than anyone else.” Are you like the Athenians? Are you like most “Christians” today? Art thou “too superstitious?”

Pagan idolatry had permeated Athens: “the city [was] wholly given to idolatry” (verse 16). Paul told the Athenians (verse 23): “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”

For fear of ignoring a deity, and angering it, Athens wanted to cover every base, so they appealed to every god and goddess. Today, many cross their hearts and purchase medals/idols for protection. They pray to anyone and everyone. Others join as many churches and religions as possible, hoping to appease whoever is the “right” God. How sad.

In the context of today’s Scripture, Paul informed the Athenians that he was preaching to them the “unknown God” (verse 23). The Athenians knew there was a God other than their silly pagan gods, but they were worshiping that one true God “ignorantly.” This describes most church members in Christendom. They know about Jesus Christ, but how many really know who He is? How many have truly trusted in Christ for their soul salvation? Precious, precious few.

Religion is vain—it will never, ever save anyone. No religion or church saves. Only Jesus Christ saves. As Paul preached to Athens, we too proclaim: Trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour (that He died for your sins, He was buried, and He was raised again), and you will be saved… that is no superstition!

Every Word of God

Thursday, August 11, 2011

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4 KJV).

The prevailing argument in seminaries and Bible colleges is that God’s thoughts, not His very words, are important. Accordingly, many modern Bibles translate using dynamic equivalence: the translator is bound to convey the overall thought of the verse/passage, but he or she may add words to or remove words from the Bible text!! In the Bible we learn that God is interested in preserving His actual words, not just His thoughts.

The Bible says (Deuteronomy 8:3): “…man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”  Our Lord Jesus Christ quoted this verse in Matthew 4:4 (and also today’s Scripture): “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Jesus Christ said: “…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). He also said (Matthew 24:35): “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (cf. Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).

Moses declared to Israel: “These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them” (Exodus 35:1). Joshua 24:26 says, “And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God….” The LORD commanded Israel to memorize and teach their children Hiswords(Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

Proverbs 30:5 says: Every word of God is pure….” We read in Psalm 12:6,7: “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” God promised to preserve His pure words forever.

Man lives by “every word of God.” We have “every word of God” preserved in the King James Bible, not in the inferior, depraved modern Bibles.