The House of Bondage

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

“And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened be eaten” (Exodus 13:3 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is a timeless truth from Israel’s program, one that guards us against spiritual slavery even today.

Scripture refers to Egypt as “the house of bondage” 10 times (Exodus 13:3; Exodus 13:14; Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6; Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 8:14; Deuteronomy 13:5; Deuteronomy 13:10; Joshua 24:17; Judges 6:8). Each verse also reminds Israel that JEHOVAH delivered her from that slavery. Every time Israel read or heard these Old Testament verses, JEHOVAH reinforced the idea that He, by Moses’ leadership, had rescued them from Egypt, so they were to never again return there. Why?

Remember, the Jews spent centuries in Egypt as slaves. Egypt symbolizes two great Bible themes: the world and sin/Satanic captivity. Israel, in Gentile Egypt, was actually in the midst of all the nations (Gentiles) of the world. Just as the Egyptians had captured Israel and made them slaves to do their work, Satan had captured Israel and made them slaves to do his work (sin). As long as Pharaoh held Israel captive in Egypt, she was not in God’s Promised Land, she was surrounded by pagan idols and polluted with false religion, and she was unusable to JEHOVAH God.

Once JEHOVAH judged wicked Egypt and her false gods with 10 plagues (Numbers 33:4), and brought Israel out of Egypt with miraculous demonstrations, He wanted to guide her back to Abraham’s land, where He would descend and be her King forever. He had separated Israel from Egypt—the world—to do His work (righteousness).

Thus, when today’s modern-version proponents offer us their Alexandrian (Egyptian) manuscript readings, we remember God’s warnings about Egyptian paganism and spiritual ignorance. We refuse such slavery, such bondage, to false religion. We prefer our Antiochian (Syrian) manuscript readings, perfectly preserved for us in the King James Bible. After all, the Christians were first called suchnot in Egypt—but in Antioch (Acts 11:26)!

The Thing Which is Good

Monday, September 1, 2014

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28 KJV).

On this Labor Day, we talk about work, “the thing which is good.”

In this day and age of increasing “government assistance,” people are becoming less and less aware of our hard work being the Lord Jesus’ preferred method of the source of our incomes. While the physically and mentally disabled are obvious exceptions, the God of the Bible expects all of us to contribute labor in order to provide for ourselves. For children and young adults, even being a student in school is work enough!

Observe the doctrine being communicated in today’s Scripture. The grace life does not merely teach us to quit doing bad things, but it also instructs us to start doing good things (Titus 2:11,12). Once a thief trusts the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins, then God expects that thief to quit stealing and find a job so he can provide for his needs!

The God of creation calls work “the thing which is good” (today’s Scripture). Work is not something to be avoided; it is something to be embraced for the Lord’s glory!

When the Lord Jesus Christ put the first man, Adam, on earth, that man had a divine commission. Adam was not to simply loaf around and do nothing: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to protect that garden, to till its ground, to prepare it for Jesus Christ to come down and dwell in with he and Eve (because of sin, that earthly kingdom over which Jesus Christ will rule is still awaiting fulfillment!).

Saints, may we work to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), and may we work to help those who truly are needy (today’s Scripture). In the words of God the Holy Spirit, that is “good!” :)

Swords, Plowshares, and Right Division

Sunday, August 31, 2014

“And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4 KJV).

Before there is world peace, there must first be world war.

Today’s Scripture is often quoted by Christians and non-Christians to advocate world peace, but they obviously overlook Joel 3:10: “Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.” Then, to make matters worse, we find today’s Scripture quoted in Micah 4:3: “And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

It is Scriptural to “beat … swords into plowshares, and … spears into pruninghooks (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). It is also Scriptural to “Beat … plowshares into swords, and … pruninghooks into spears(Joel 3:10). Why does God’s Word teach two completely different ideas here? Dispensational Bible study is just as important to Israel as it is to us in the Dispensation of Grace! “Rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) is necessary—to not separate (divide) these passages is to confuse them. Again, Israel must also use the Bible dispensationally.

The key to understanding these “Bible contradictions” is to realize that “beating plowshares into swords and pruninghooks into spears” belongs in one dispensation, and “beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruninghooks” belongs in another dispensation. In Israel’s program, there is a time when war and weapons are necessary, and there is a time when war has ended, peace reigns, and agricultural production increases dramatically.

When we study the contexts of these passages, we learn that Joel 3:10 applies to the wars of the seven-year Tribulation period (especially the Battle of Armageddon), and Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 describe the subsequent Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ, when Satan is removed from Earth, and world peace from God will be in effect. What clarity!

If Just One

Saturday, August 30, 2014

“…[B]rethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:” (2 Thessalonians 3:1 KJV).

God’s Word will have “free course”…even to be glorified in “just” one!

I was thrilled when a dear brother once contacted me asking how he should start his ministry. God’s Word had so filled his heart that he was almost bursting, so driven to tell someone—anyone—about the message of God’s grace to us in Christ. He expressed, “If [I] could assist even ONE person….”

It greatly delights a pastor, a Bible teacher, or a soul winner, to hear when even one person is saved unto eternal life or saved unto sound Bible doctrine, spiritual fruit of their ministry, who then reach others. Yet, Christians often give up in witnessing because “no one” wants to listen to God’s Word. (Actually, there is always at least one person somewhere who wants to hear God’s truth. Diligently seek him or her!). Beloved, we are not here to save anyone or to force any saved people to mature spiritually. They have free will, as do we. What we are here to do is reach out to them in love, meekness, and patience—share the Gospel of God’s Grace with lost people and dispensational Bible study with Christians. If you reach just one person, rejoice in Christ. Just imagine if every Christian reached “just one!”

An amazing thought is, the Lord Jesus Christ’s heavenly ministry—His ministry through the Apostle Paul—has lasted almost 2,000 years now. Just imagine, by God saving that one man, the resulting ministry brought the Gospel of Grace to billions of people, and millions upon millions were saved! Right up to our present day, the same Lord Jesus Christ is willing to use us to continue what He started nearly 20 centuries ago. If we each only reach just one, and the Lord continues to tarry, extending our dispensation long after we have passed on, the manifold testimonies of those our converts generations future, will be ours in which to rejoice when we meet all those precious souls in heaven!

And, yes, as you might have guessed, it all starts with “just” one! :)

The More Excellent Ministry #5

Friday, August 29, 2014

“For the love of Christ constraineth us… God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14a,18bc KJV).

Our flesh is ever so weak, but Christ’s love—the unconditional love He has for us—drives us to push ourselves aside and think of others instead.

God never saves anyone to sit and do nothing. Romans chapter 6 is the simplest passage regarding Christian living, and when read with chapters 7 and 8, one unquestionably learns how the Christian life operates. (Read these three glorious chapters to get a blessing!) Father God wants us to let Christ live in us via the indwelling Holy Spirit taking verses we study and believe, and bringing them “to life” in our lives!

When we trusted exclusively Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of God’s Grace—Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)—the Holy Spirit instantly placed us into Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). That moment, we died with Jesus on Calvary’s cross and we were raised again with Him “to walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-6). We are “dead, freed from sin” (verse 7). Now, Jesus Christ’s life is in us; we are dead to self-living. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” (Galatians 2:20). We read in 2 Corinthians 5:15, the context of today’s Scripture: “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.”

In Matthew 20:28, Jesus Christ identified the more excellent ministry: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” As His Father instructed, Jesus did not come to be served (self life), but to serve others (Christian life). Christ’s love for us drove Him to Cavalry’s cross, so His love for us—yea, for lost people—compels us to tell them of that love exhibited at Calvary: “For God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). :)

The More Excellent Ministry #4

Thursday, August 28, 2014

“For the love of Christ constraineth us… God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14a,18bc KJV).

Our flesh is ever so weak, but Christ’s love—the unconditional love He has for us—drives us to push ourselves aside and think of others instead.

“For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written [Psalm 69:7], The reproaches of them that reproached thee [God the Father] fell on me” (Romans 15:3). Hebrews 10:5-9, quoting Psalm 40:6-8, contains a Messianic passage (prophetic of Jesus’ earthly life): “[5] Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: [6] In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. [8] Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; [9] Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God….”

Jesus delighted in doing His Father’s will (note Psalm 40:8); here, to lay down His life for our sins (John 10:17,18) and thus abolish the Old Testament animal sacrifices. As Christ, in His humanity, gained more awareness—more wisdom (Luke 2:40,52)—regarding Father God’s will for Him, He better understood what to do. Our Christian life operates in the same manner, for it is the same life of Jesus Christ!

What is Father God’s will today? He wants “all men to be saved” and all saved people “to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He wants lost people saved through faith in Jesus Christ (the Gospel of the Grace of God). He wants saved people to understand why He saved them (dispensational Bible study). God’s will for us Christians is for us to grow in knowledge of His will for us. This is where today’s Scripture and its context come in—“the ministry of reconciliation.”

Where Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry ended (His finished crosswork), our ministry literally begins….

The More Excellent Ministry #3

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

“For the love of Christ constraineth us… God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14a,18bc KJV).

Our flesh is ever so weak, but Christ’s love—the unconditional love He has for us—drives us to push ourselves aside and think of others instead.

What sort of life did Jesus Christ live on earth? If we can understand how He lives, then we can understand how He wants us to live in Him, or technically, how He wants to live in and through us. Philippians 2:3-5 reminds us: “[3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus….”

Our Lord Jesus Christ lived in complete awareness of what His Heavenly Father wanted accomplished. Unlike most Christians today, He did not wonder about in spiritual ignorance. His mind was so filled with the Word of God that nothing would distract Him from fulfilling it.

Isaiah 50:4-6 actually quoted Jesus Christ seven centuries prior to His incarnation: “[4] The Lord GOD [God the Father] hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. [5] The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. [6] I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”

Jesus Christ said, “I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29c). He had so studied the Old Testament passages describing His life and ministry, that He was able to fulfill them perfectly. Hence, God the Father was so pleased. If we want our Christian lives to be acceptable to God, it will have to be Jesus Christ’s life in us….