works-religion

Persuading and Pleasing God #3

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture reveal about the Apostle Paul’s past?

As Saul of Tarsus, Paul was a Pharisee (Acts 26:5; Philippians 3:5,6), diligently serving men in “the Jews’ religion” (Galatians 1:13,14). The Mosaic Law (rabbinical) scholar that he was (Acts 22:3), no one was more dedicated to striving in works-religion than he. However, on the road to Damascus, Acts chapter 9, he met the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven. Pious Saul suddenly realized he was headed for Hell! He came to believe the new gospel message that the Lord revealed to him—Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day. Thereafter, Saul would no longer please men. In fact, at his conversion, he asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).

In contrast to his earlier life, Paul was now a servant of God. Galatians 1:11-12, the verses immediately following today’s Scripture, affirms: “[11] But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. [12] For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Rather than being faithful to a God-originated religious system that man had watered down over the centuries, Paul was now faithful to the commission God had given directly to him. He was truly now a God-pleaser instead of a man-pleaser (today’s Scripture).

The Lord Jesus Christ had revealed Himself to Saul outside of Damascus. In doing so, He revealed to Paul the Gospel of Grace—the first installment of the Dispensation of Grace. The Holy Spirit moved Paul to write to the churches at Galatia, that they learn his distinctive apostleship and message, to the end that they would learn not to be men-pleasers either. Brethren, let us learn the lesson: the answer to successful Christian living is grace, not law—Christ, not religion! It is not what we do; it is all that Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary’s cross! This persuades and pleases Father God! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should a woman lead a group in prayer?

Persuading and Pleasing God #2

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture reveal about the Apostle Paul’s past?

Colossians 3:22-25 describes the employee-employer relationship: “[22] Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; [23] And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; [24] Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. [25] But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”

Christian employees should submit to their bosses’ authority. Furthermore, they are not to be diligent only in the bosses’ presence (remember the “fair shew” in religion—Galatians 6:12). Notice today’s Scripture: “not with eyeservice, as menpleasers….” Work should be done “in singleness of heart, fearing God.” Whatever we do, we “do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” God is not looking for religious slaves, doing what they have to do because someone is watching them and will punish them for carelessness. Father God wants hearts of faith, sincerity, people purposing to follow His Word and will. Notice how verse 24 says we “serve the Lord Christ;” we are “the servant[s] of Christ” (today’s Scripture).

Returning to Colossians, we see a “reward.” At the Judgment Seat of Christ, Jesus Christ will personally review, evaluate, our Christian service. Second Corinthians 5:9-10 says, in part: “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” First Corinthians 4:5 says of that day: “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. The Lord will be interested in exposing the doctrine underlying our earthly actions—whether sound Bible doctrine (good) or something else (bad). Christians who strove to please men will lose reward because underlying sound Bible doctrine was absent from their inner man.

Persuading and Pleasing God #1

Monday, April 24, 2017

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture reveal about the Apostle Paul’s past?

Notice the “now” persuade men and the “yet” (as in, “still”) please men. These are really glimpses into Paul’s past. As Saul of Tarsus, he was a men-pleaser, a religious fanatic, consumed by self-righteousness. Scripture continues: “[13] For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: [14] And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.” Notice “the Jews’ religion” appears twice—Saul had been quite busy in a God-given religion that men watered down!

Galatians chapter 6 talks about men-pleasers in works-religion: “[12] As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. [13] For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.” Even today, denominational preachers brag about how many people they water baptized last year. Church members boast how faithful they were in maintaining church programs. Top donors to churches and missionaries are praised with flattery. Preachers please congregants because they are giving the church members what they want to hear—works-religion. The people, in turn, are pleasing the preachers by obeying the denomination’s demands—religious works. Thus, religion is one gigantic cycle of pleasing others. Almighty God is displeased because people want to satisfy everyone but Him!

Dear friends, today’s Scripture is very clear. If we want to serve men, if we purpose to impress men, we should not be servants of Jesus Christ. We should have stayed dead in our trespasses and sins, and not come to Him by faith. Now that we have come to Him, though, our goal is to persuade and please Him alone. We should not be pacifying other humans with mindless, rote, religious busyness.

Be Not Foolish!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Galatians 3:1 KJV).

On this “April Fools’ Day,” we remember not to be foolish concerning works-religion!

A friend was recently swindled. His outdated computer printer needed ink, so he purchased the “hard-to-find” cartridges from some questionable online company. After weeks of not receiving his package, he phoned the company. The representative, after claiming they had no record of his payment, hung up the phone. My friend called the company again. The other associate was friendly, and promised to investigate the matter.

Days later, my friend received a package by mail—his long-awaited ink cartridges. However, within a week, he discovered the ink’s inferior quality. It began fading on the page! (He contacted the company yet again, and is still awaiting a supposed “refund.”) My friend is certainly intelligent, but he behaved most foolishly. He should have been more careful and done research before giving his hard-earned money over to just anybody—especially since he had been deceived and cheated years earlier when ordering from another online ink company!

Similarly, the Galatians were “foolish” (today’s Scripture). Not that they were stupid, but rather they were not using the intelligence that God had given them. They were not exercising their spiritual minds. When Paul had visited and taught them, the Holy Spirit had furnished these saints in Galatia with spiritual insight. Not only had they been introduced to Jesus Christ via the Gospel of Grace, they had also been instructed concerning sound doctrine. Alas, they had become “bewitched.” Someone had used the Mosaic Law to “cast a spell on them.” The legalistic message these teachers were promoting appealed to the Galatians. Even today, scams and gimmicks appear good in some way in order to be passed off as genuine.

Friend, in the spiritual/religious world, we had better be careful what systems and organizations with which we get involved. Not all preachers serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Not all “Christian” churches are truly Christian. Not all “Bibles” are actually Holy Bibles. Our standard for gauging truth and error is the King James Bible rightly divided. Without it, we too will be “foolish” and “bewitched!”

Not the Righteous, But Sinners

Saturday, March 18, 2017

“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:10-13 KJV).

Jesus Christ came to save the bad people, not the “good!”

You have probably seen videos of police officers working in the field. They encounter people engaging in many activities—robbery or theft, domestic abuse, prostitution, extremely reckless driving, fighting, drunkenness, and drug use or drug dealing, to name a few. Due to their poor decisions, these souls are in some very tough situations. The religious crowd—puffed up in self-righteousness—dismisses these people as “hopelessly hell-bound.” However, these “sinners” are more likely to come to faith in Christ than those sitting in the church pews! Consider today’s Scripture.

Scripture says “many publicans and sinners came and sat down with [Jesus] and his disciples.” The Pharisees found this revolting! Why did Jesus not associate with them (these religious leaders)? How could He, a supposed “prophet of God” and “religious teacher,” eat with such dishonest publicans (tax collectors) and various “sinners” (people with bad reputations)? The Lord Jesus overheard His critics asking His disciples that question, and He responded: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

These publicans and sinners recognized their sin problem. They also saw Jesus as the only Physician who had the cure for their spiritual illness. Too caught up in religion and their own “goodness,” the Pharisees were content in condemning people who were humble enough to admit their sinfulness. We need many such “publicans and sinners” today, and far fewer “Pharisees!”

Given Versus Came #6

Monday, February 27, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

While we have merely scratched the surface, we conclude this devotionals arc by reading the context: “[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God…. [14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [15] John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. [16] And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. [17] For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Israel did not need Law—hundreds of rules and regulations she could never keep. She needed grace, “grace for grace,” abounding grace—what God would do to make her His people (see verses 12,13).

Long before Israel demanded the Mosaic Law, God had promised her father Abraham that He would make of Abraham’s seed a nation of people for His name (see Genesis 12:1-3). The New Covenant qualifies Israel to receive the blessings of that Abrahamic Covenant. Moreover, that New Covenant cancels the sin debt accumulated under the Old. In the New Covenant, God puts His Spirit in the Jews and causes them to keep His laws. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10). “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them (Ezekiel 36:27).

We see here a glimpse of Israel functioning as God’s “kingdom of priests” in the Millennium, Christ’s Second Coming onward. Messiah’s Law is much stricter than the Mosaic Law (see Matthew chapters 5-7). However, the New Covenant, unlike the Old, provides Israel with forgiveness for her past transgressions and the ability (indwelling Holy Spirit) to never, ever to repeat them!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does the King James Bible mean—‘reins?’

Given Versus Came #5

Sunday, February 26, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

Notice Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” When Jesus Christ came to Earth, specifically to Israel, He was their greatest sign. The JEHOVAH God who had dealt so frighteningly with Moses on Sinai when delivering the Law, had now revealed Himself by taking on a human body! Jesus, living among other Jews, was indeed “Emmanuel, God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

John 1:11 says, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” JEHOVAH God came to His own people, Israel, but they rejected Him. Moreover, they conspired with the Gentiles to kill Him (Psalm 2:1-3; Acts 4:23-28). Still, it was in God’s design to use man’s free will to accomplish His end. With man crucifying Christ, there would be shed blood, allowing the implementation of a new covenant for Israel. Please see Hebrews 8:8-13: “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah….” “For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins(Romans 11:27—verse 26 identifies this as Christ’s Second Coming, yet future from our day).

Israel accumulated much wrath under the Old Covenant, but grace would cover it. Jeremiah 31:2 speaks of Israel’s redemption and restoration: “The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” Zechariah 12:10 describes this Second Coming: “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications….” As does Acts 3:19,20: “[Israel] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ….”

With Jesus Christ coming once to Israel to shed His blood, He will return to ratify the covenant that typifies for them “grace and truth….”