Our Weakness and God’s Strength

Friday, March 27, 2015

“Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake” (John 13:37 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, Peter makes a daring claim, but the Lord knows the frailty of our humanity.

It is not uncommon to exalt Christian leaders as though they were super-humans. No, they do not have sinless lives and “constant faith to move mountains.” Even the Bible characters we love the most, save for the Lord Jesus Christ, they all faltered and stumbled at some point. Peter, the chief of Israel’s apostles, was no exception.

In the Upper Room, just hours before Jesus was betrayed and executed, He told His disciples that He was going away (verse 33). Peter, ignorant of Calvary, and all the events leading up to it, inquires, “Lord, whither goest thou?” Verse 36 continues, “Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” Today’s Scripture is Peter’s response: Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.”

Jesus tells Peter, “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice” (verse 38). And yes, despite Peter’s great efforts to fight off Jesus’ arresters with a sword (John 18:10-11), Peter lost his courage. All the disciples fled, actually (Mark 14:50). To make matters worse, Peter three times denied knowing Jesus (Luke 22:54-62). The poor man “wept bitterly” when he heard the rooster crow. As his Lord’s eyes fixed on him, he remembered the prediction, “The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” We can only imagine Peter’s anguish and Jesus’ sadness!

Dear friends, we can make to God all the promises we want, but we will fail at some point. Thank goodness He does not fail us like we fail Him! “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep [guard] that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:11).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are all Christians ‘ambassadors?’

The Five W’s of Denominationalism

Thursday, March 26, 2015

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8 KJV).

Beware of the “five W’s of denominationalism!”

Beloved, be careful, Satan’s “ministers of righteousness” are lurking (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). They aim to pollute your mind and cause you to forget that you are “complete [lacking nothing] in Christ” (Colossians 2:10)! Religion’s five-step plan will take a Christian’s mind off of God’s provisions for them given in Christ Jesus, and it will keep lost people’s minds focused on themselves and their efforts to make themselves accepted before God:

  1. Win ‘em! — They convert “unchurched” people to their denomination. Very rarely is a clear Gospel presentation given. Usually the person is still lost, still going to hell, although who appears to be going to heaven because he or she is now a “churched” individual.
  2. Wet ‘em! — They water baptize them, putting their names on the church membership roll. There are ever so many people in the world basing their eternal salvation on a water ceremony. One day, they will learn what a failure that “salvation” is!
  3. Work ‘em! — They give them various rules and regulations to follow for God’s acceptance: “x” number of daily prayers, a very thorough confession of sins, holy book reading, obligatory holy days or feast days, generous almsgiving and other “donations.” Even the clergy have difficulty remembering and obeying all those ecclesiastical laws!
  4. Whip ‘em! — They punish people who do not perform as the denomination demands: excommunication, shunning, threats about how God will curse them, how they are disobeying God or blaspheming His name or Spirit, et cetera.
  5. Watch ‘em! — They watch to see if their members straighten up or if they need more church discipline. They may send scouts to spy on suspicious members. If someone is caught “out of line,” it is time for another strike with the “whip!”

Oh, what a “weak and beggarly” system religion is (Galatians 4:9)! Oh, but what a strong and rich system grace is! We are accepted before God by simple faith in Jesus Christ! Friends, may we not let religion rob us of such clarity and simplicity! :)

A Love Letter, Not a Dust Collector

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13 KJV).

You are hereby exhorted to read the Scriptures and learn doctrine!

Earlier this week, I received an email reply from someone I had emailed nearly four years ago! My unopened message sat in her inbox for all those years until someone recently showed her how to finish setting up that account. Till she replied, I had forgotten all about it. Imagine my delight when we finally made contact!

Similarly, God wrote the King James Bible to us, a love letter, written in the blood of His Son Jesus Christ, transmitted through history with the blood of His saints. Yet, there it sits on people’s bookshelves as a dust collector for years! Occasionally, it is taken out to construct a family tree, or put on the coffee table to decorate the room, but it is rarely utilized for its intended purpose. Sadly, time is spent on everything but what matters most. Mainly, these distractions are televisions, computers, and cell phones. People do not put God’s eternal Word in their eternal souls, so out in eternity, what will they have? For the lost, it will be one great strike against them at the Great White Throne Judgment! For Christians, it will be a tremendous loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ!

Oh, beloved, my dear readers, may we not spurn the wonderful Word of God and the wonderful grace of God! May we blow the dust off His Book’s cover and actually read it for once. Consider the lost people who spend their whole lives—70 or 80 years—pursuing vanity and worthlessness. Without Jesus Christ, they go to hell. They could have spent 30 minutes reading the first five chapters of Romans. In that half-hour, they could have learned how to be saved from their sins, and they could have believed the Gospel and gone to heaven. They had many decades to read God’s Word. Now all they have is time without the Bible—eternity in hell!

Whether saved or lost, let us take time today to read and believe Romans chapters 1-5. It will be well worth the 30 minutes! :)

But Whom Say Ye That I Am?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16:15 KJV).

Who is Jesus of Nazareth?

As His earthly ministry was winding down, just prior to visiting Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus traveled to northern Israel: “[13] When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I am? [14] And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” Have you ever met anyone confused about Jesus’ identity? His disciples had met many such individuals. Imagine the nonsense they heard! Jesus is John the Baptist?! Elijah?! Jeremiah?! They had every name but the right one!

Jesus replied in today’s Scripture: But whom say ye that I am?” He asked His disciples, “Do you have a plausible explanation of Me? The average Jew does not have a clue, but have you? Have you been paying attention to My words and deeds these last three years?”

“[16] And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

Jesus commended Simon Peter for his faith. The simple fisherman, neither a student nor a graduate of “Saint Peter’s Seminary,” could see God’s Word ever so clearly! Through John the Baptist, Father God had borne witness of Jesus of Nazareth as being His Anointed (His Christ, His Son)—see John 1:15-42. Peter had heard and believed John’s message about Jesus. The heart of the Gospel of the Kingdom was that Jesus was Israel’s King-Christ and God’s Son—there was no death, burial, and resurrection as payment for our sins, revealed as of yet (that would come later with Paul).

In short, it really does not matter what lost people think of Jesus Christ. We know that He is God’s only begotten Son, and who died for our sins and rose again—He is our one and only Saviour and that alone matters.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How can the Bible say, ‘No man hath seen God at any time?’

The Apocalypse, God’s Lips, and Our Mouths

Monday, March 23, 2015

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 KJV).

What is the “Apocalypse” and how can it be honey from God’s lips to our mouths?

A Christian brother told me he utterly feared the Book of the Revelation. Doubtless a saved man, certain of his home in heaven because of the Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary on his behalf. Yet, in light of Revelation 22:18-19, he dreaded studying that last Bible book: he feared “adding to it” or “taking away from it” would bring God’s chastisement on him. The poor brother had to learn that that warning is given to unbelievers in Israel’s program, not us believers (members of the Body of Christ) in this the Dispensation of Grace.

While people often use the term “Apocalypse” in religious senses, they usually have little to no grasp of what the term means in the Bible. The first word of the Revelation is apokalupsis—“revelation, unveiling, uncovering.” As the (Greek) Bible uses it, “Apocalypse” describes the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today, the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS is hidden in the third heaven, having not been seen in 2,000 years, exiled since His beloved nation Israel rejected Him. The door to the third heaven is currently closed, but one day it will swing open, and out will ride the Lord Jesus Christ! He will be leading tens of thousands of angelic soldiers to purge Earth of all its unbelievers, utterly slaughtering those who have persecuted His Israel—stolen her land and killed her people. Just as Satan’s plan of evil crescendos, and it looks hopeless, the God of creation wins and then reigns over all creation!

No wonder John wrote to Israel in Revelation 1:4: “Blessed [happy] is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” The book of the Revelation (“Apocalypse”) came from God’s lips; it should be as sweet honey to our mouths! Let us read it. It comforts us that evil will lose in the end, and our Saviour will be exalted in the end. Let us use our mouths to praise His holy name! :)

A Rude Apostle

Sunday, March 22, 2015

“But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge…” (2 Corinthians 11:6a KJV).

Just how was Paul “rude?”

The Greek word translated “rude” in today’s Scripture is idiotes (from which we get “idiot”). It would be helpful to see how our 1611 translators rendered that word elsewhere.

First, Acts 4:13: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Then, 1 Corinthians 14:16: “Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?” The word “unlearned” appears in verses 23 and 24 as well. “Ignorant” or “unlearned” means “untaught, uneducated, in a particular subject.”

“Rude” in today’s Scripture did not mean that Paul spoke offensive, nasty language; it was “rude” as in rudimentary (basic, simple, plain). Paul knew proper Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic—he had been trained under the guidance of Gamaliel, the chief rabbi of that time. He was highly educated in literature, history, and religion. Jesus Christ even taught him doctrine never before revealed. In short, Paul was no idiot. But, he did not use his education to form statements that would manipulate people to make them do or believe. Unlike Apollos (Acts 18:24-26), Paul chose not to be an eloquent speaker.

“[1] And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. [4] And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: [5] That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1,4,5).

Many church leaders need to understand this simple fact. According to God the Holy Spirit, it is not about using highly technical theological terms and defending complex denominational dogmas. It is all about using plain, simple language that common people (even children) can understand and believe. Remember, the King James Bible is sixth-grade English for a reason!

Left Behind with Them in Mind

Saturday, March 21, 2015

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20 KJV).

While we saints tarry in this world, let us remember why we are here!

Not long ago, I spoke with a dear friend and Christian brother who shared some great news. Although still coping with his wife’s graduation to heaven, he was recently reminded of why he is still here on Earth. God is not finished using him in the ministry. A man who had “just so happened” to stop by his house, ended up being curious about spiritual matters, and they began to converse about the Bible. While time was limited, he learned that the man was a Christian, and he was able to help that other saint better understand spiritual matters.

Remember, if God were to remove all members of the Body of Christ from planet Earth, there would be no one left here to be His mouthpiece. There would still be the Bible, but there would be no living, flesh-and-blood testimony of His grace to us in Jesus Christ. Christians commonly say, “I want to leave this place and go to heaven! Things are getting so bad in this world and I want out! I want to go meet my loved ones who have died in Christ!” Yet, beloved, we must not be selfish.

Today’s Scripture says, “For our conversation is in heaven.” Ephesians 2:19 affirms that we are, “fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Because we are citizens of heaven, because we really belong in heaven (and we will get there one day), our “conversation” (lifestyle) should reflect that status. Not only should we be studying and memorizing Bible verses, not only should we be sharing those Scriptural truths with others, we are to have lives in accordance with those verses. While this Dispensation of Grace is operating, God needs spokespeople on Earth, and He has chosen the Church the Body of Christ for that role. As we continue in this Christian ambassadorship, let us live with the mentality that Jesus Christ will come for us one day! Keep looking up! :)