God’s will

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #1

Friday, April 14, 2017

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Psalm 22:1-21 provides us with a glimpse of Jesus’ thoughts as He endured that awful crucifixion: He is greatly tormented physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Various verses in Psalm 69 provide additional insight, especially as death begins to close in on His soul. Written about 1000 B.C., these and other “Messianic psalms” graphically describe assorted events in our Lord’s earthly life (in this case, His crucifixion)… centuries before they occurred!

What Jesus Christ thought about while suspended on Calvary’s cross was the Holy Scriptures. He had faith in the Old Testament passages that applied to Him. No matter what happened to Him, He knew it was His Father’s will, and His Father would be glorified. As He stated earlier, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup [of Thy wrath; Revelation 14:10] from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt (Mark 14:36). “…The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him (John 8:29bc).

Do you realize what today’s Scripture is saying? Jesus Christ felt immense physiological and spiritual pain, but He thought about the overall view: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (cf. Psalm 16:8-11). Yes, the Old Testament spoke of His suffering, and those Scriptures must be fulfilled, but it also testified of His glorious kingdom that would follow, and those Scriptures also were to be fulfilled in due time! “…The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). While it did not diminish the extent of His distress and suffering, Jesus Christ kept in memory the glory His Father would give Him once He had endured the crucifixion (Philippians 2:8-11). It gave Him such joy. He felt grief unspeakable, but He also had joy unfathomable!

Our archived Bible Q&A: “Where was Jesus during the three days between His death and resurrection?

Start in Romans #3

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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

Why should people new to the Bible begin in the Book of Romans? Today’s Scripture tells us.

It is usually said that people should start reading God’s Word in the Book of John. However well meaning this is, it is spiritually hazardous. Christ’s earthly ministry, Matthew through John, was to and about the nation Israel, not us Gentiles: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Moreover, John’s goal is confirming to Israel that Jesus is her Messiah because He conducted a ministry of signs, special teaching miracles, in her midst (see John 20:30,31). “The Jews [not us Gentiles] require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22).

Paul is God’s messenger to us non-Jews (today’s Scripture). Ephesians 3:1-2 elaborates: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward….” Romans 16:25-26 says God wants to “stablish” (stabilize) us Gentiles using three components: (1) Paul’s Gospel, (2) the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, and (3) the Scriptures of the prophets. Paul’s Gospel is laid out first, and most clearly, in the Bible in the Book of Romans, the head, or introductory book, of his 13 epistles (Romans through Philemon).

Romans is divided into four sections. Chapters 1-5 deal with justification, or how to have our sins forgiven and a home in heaven. Chapters 6-8 discuss sanctification, or how that Gospel of Grace has changed our identity from Adam to Christ. Chapters 9-11 covers dispensational changes—we are not the nation Israel, but rather the Church the Body of Christ, with Israel still having a future in God’s program. Chapters 12-16 are application, or how we are to by faith use the grace principles in Romans so our lives can glorify our Lord and Saviour!

Friend, you will not mature in grace if you begin the Bible in the wrong place. Using John as an introduction to the Bible will hinder you from laying the Scriptural foundation God intended for you. Start in Romans! 🙂

Start in Romans #2

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

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

Why should people new to the Bible begin in the Book of Romans? Today’s Scripture tells us.

Romans begins with a name—“Paul.” The Holy Spirit led this Paul to pen today’s Scripture. When we come to him in the Bible, especially his conversion in Acts chapter 9; we read about the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ from heaven reaching down and saving a man who will become His spokesman to all the world.

Acts 26:16-18 were those words of Christ to Saul: “[16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee [apostolos = “sent one”], [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

Paul thus articulates in Romans 11:11-13 (today’s Scripture): “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:”

With Israel’s temporary fall, salvation is coming to us Gentiles (non-Jews) through Paul’s ministry. Hence, we must go to Paul’s epistles, or letters of doctrine, to read about that salvation. While his ministry begins in Acts chapter 9, we do not read his writings in the Bible until after Acts—the Book of Romans. In other words, Romans is the most fundamental information that God gave to Paul to give us Gentiles….

Start in Romans #1

Monday, April 10, 2017

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

Why should people new to the Bible begin in the Book of Romans? Today’s Scripture tells us.

Second Timothy chapter 3 contains the most well-known Bible verses: “[15] And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

The Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). “Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” actually defines “given by inspiration of God.” God the Holy Spirit spoke words, and He wrote them down and preserved them for us in our language. In English, that is the King James Bible (or, “Authorized Version”). Other languages have their own version, but they do not concern us here.

Second Timothy 3:16 affirms three primary purposes of Scripture—“doctrine” (tell us what we should believe), “reproof” (show us what we are doing wrong), and “correction” (remedy our bad thinking). These three elements will “instruct [teach] us in righteousness.” They will show us how God wants us to live, “that [purpose or intent] the man of God may be perfect, [not sinless but] throughly furnished unto all good works” (verse 17). The Holy Bible alone teaches us everything God wants us to believe, and it equips us to do everything He wants us to accomplish. Authority is not in church councils, preachers, priests, popes, doctrinal statements, hunches, impressions, creeds, et cetera. The authority is in the written Word of God, the Holy Scriptures.

In light of God’s present-day dealings with mankind, there is a special way to use the Bible text. Failure to approach Holy Writ, God’s way, will cause us more damage than had we never read the Bible. Friends, we must remember today’s Scripture if we are to make sense of all Scripture….

Not a Game

Thursday, April 6, 2017

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able (1 Corinthians 3:1,2 KJV).

Many such “Corinthians” can be found in churches today!

Recently, I watched my young nephew play a mock baseball game with his teammates. They have been practicing for some weeks; their “real” games are coming soon. Some boys threw, caught, and hit very well; most were clumsy. Coaches repeatedly advised them to pay attention. While their teammates batted, instead of watching and learning tips, they played around in the dugout. On the field, they looked up and around when they should have been watching the ball. One little boy, after hitting the ball, just stood there instead of running to first base. Another hit the ball and ran toward the dugout before the coach pointed him to the base. A coach fussed a player for taking off his glove when playing outfield. As I observed them playing, I just could not help but think that Father God is grieved because He sees similar behavior in the professing church!

Friends, inexperience is not sinful; prolonged immaturity is. Even the greatest professional athletes were unlearned at one time. Still, they practiced and matured, perfecting their sport. What would be sad is if they were no better playing today than when they first practiced many years ago! When I see many professing “Christians,” I see the aforementioned baseball game. Very few players pay full attention; they have focused their eyes on everything but what matters. Those “running” (busy) usually have no sense of what they are doing or where they are going! Perhaps they have been saved 40 or 50 years, but are still asking the same basic questions. Instead of listening to the “coaches” (or sound Bible preachers and teachers), they joke around on the sidelines.

They have not followed the Pauline edification process; they have not matured as God intended. Knowing nothing about dispensational Bible study, and ignorant of God’s grace, their flesh runs their life, which explains their confusion and misery. They must realize—Christianity is not a game!

An Eternal House in the Heavens #10

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

God already sees it! By faith, do you?

In the prophetic program (past or future), God forms a bloodline of a literal, physical, visible, earthly people—the nation Israel. Accordingly, He demands they perform literal, physical, visible, earthly works—physical circumcision, water baptism, tithing, Sabbath-Day observance, confession of sins, and so on. Moreover, He promises them literal, physical, visible, earthly demonstrations of His power—healed bodies, bountiful harvests, military victories, et cetera (signs, miracles, and wonders).

However, in the mystery program, our present-day, God is forming a spiritual, invisible, heavenly people—although just as real as Israel. The Bible calls it “the Church the Body of Christ,” people “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). In our Dispensation of Grace, Father God is not forming a literal, physical, visible group of believers. Therefore, we are not looking for literal, physical, visible, earthly works of God. We are to be looking, with the eyes of faith, at the invisible, spiritual works of God (2 Corinthians 4:18; today’s Scripture). One of these invisible, spiritual blessings is a glorified body, “eternal in the heavens.”

Ironically, “faith healers” are actually emboldening doubt rather than faith. They would have us walk by sight when Scripture instructs us to walk by faith. We do not have to see God visibly working to know He is with us. Rather, we know He is with us because His Word says His Holy Spirit is working in us to produce Christ’s life: “That [Father God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…” (Ephesians 3:16,17).

Saints, divine physical healing for our dispensation will occur at the Rapture. God is not interested in temporarily restoring these aging, weakening bodies. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns in the air to take us away to Heaven, we the Body of Christ will receive glorified bodies like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrected, glorious body (Philippians 3:20,21). Until then, we say “Amen!” 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are the people in 2 Corinthians 11:22—the 12 Apostles, or others?

An Eternal Word, To Be Preached Forever

Sunday, March 19, 2017

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:1,2 KJV).

In light of the abounding error (3:13), and considering the Scriptures can equip Christians to do God’s will (3:14-17), we are to never cease “preach[ing] [that] word!”

Two older friends of mine, a pastor and his wife, are celebrating their 30th year of ministry. I sent them a brief note voicing my appreciation of their faithfulness to upholding God’s Word rightly divided. The lady wrote back that they were thankful to Father God that younger men such as I would continue the work of the ministry once they graduated to Heaven. (Amen!)

No matter the point in human history, God has always had a testimony on Earth. Whether Noah, Elijah, or John the Baptist—all conducting ministries when so precious few believers were around—someone, somewhere, has always been preaching Almighty God’s Holy Word. They did not have a completed, written Bible, but they were faithful in sharing what divine revelation they had. How much more (!) should we—who do have a completed Bible—be faithful in declaring its truths to this lost and dying world?

Today’s Scripture makes an assumption. By commanding Timothy to “preach the word,” he would have to have the “Word” in the first place! As someone said, “There are many Bible agnostics today.” This is especially true of people in the ministry. They often do not believe they have a perfect Bible, just a “mere translation of flawed manuscripts.” While they in secret tell you that you do not have the Apostles’ original Bible in any language or version today, they publicly declare, “I believe, love, and defend the Bible.” As they privately discourage belief in Scripture, they preach from the pulpit, “The Bible is our final authority.” What foolishness!

Beloved, let us preach the “Word,” for we have the “Word” (King James Bible). Just as God’s words will last forever (Matthew 24:35), those words will always have a testimony in a human somewhere. If not us, God will have someone else do it! 🙂