God’s wisdom

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 16, 2017

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

Be Wise, Beloved

Thursday, March 16, 2017

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17 KJV).

My brethren, be very careful!

Saints, it has come to my attention these last few weeks that a certain “fad” belief is circulating throughout online “Christian” groups. An ancient and controversial discussion of science and Scripture, it has seen resurgence on social media and video-sharing websites. While I in this study purposely withhold that issue’s name, an article dealing with it is currently being prepared and will be released (hopefully) in the near future. (As a scientist, I cannot resist remarking extensively on this most serious matter!)

What concerns me most is that professing Christians—some no doubt are genuine Christians—are reposting and sharing information without being Bereans. Instead of researching and using critical thinking, they are caught up in a mad frenzy of exposing “conspiracies.” Sadly, in their zeal, they have made God’s Word vulnerable to scoffing by the lost world that is witnessing their statements and actions. As with any denominational system or theological speculation, they are so totally twisting the Bible text out of shape to fit their view. People who do not even believe the Bible are correcting Christians for misrepresenting clear Bible verses! What started off as good intentions is now an all-out war against the Scriptures—a conflict led by “Christians!!”

Today’s Scripture could not be clearer. We must use our time “wisely.” Once we become sidetracked by all sorts of wild ideas, stirred up in our emotions and hasty in our actions and words, we run the risk of not only making fools out of ourselves. No, we make our dear Lord Jesus Christ look foolish! Our Saviour is not foolish, so neither should we be. We must stay in God’s Word, and be very careful that our words and actions cause those around us to hear and see the plain truths of that Word. It is unwise to carelessly circulate information without investigating it for ourselves. If ever we are hasty in spreading false information, we will not need to wonder why no one cares to hear us talk about “God’s truth.”

Household Rules #15

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God (Colossians 1:25 KJV).

And, just what is this “dispensation of God which is given to [Paul] for [us]?”

With the Lord Jesus Christ directly revealing to Paul the Dispensation of Grace of God, we have a completed Bible. Hence, Paul wrote in his final epistle: “[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” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

The Apostle Peter preached in Acts 3:21 about that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” In stark contrast, the Apostle Paul had a ministry concerned about “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest” (Romans 16:25,26). These are two totally different dispensations, never to be confused unless we want to be confused. God kept a secret, but He revealed it directly and exclusively to Paul. Without Paul’s writings, Romans through Philemon, we lose the “household rules” God withheld from other Bible writers and holy men of old.

We see Paul as God’s spokesman to us—not Jesus in His earthly ministry, Peter, Moses, John the Baptist, and so on. We realize Jesus Christ exalted in Heaven (Paul’s ministry), not just on Earth (rest of Scripture). We know we are under Grace (Paul’s ministry), not under Law (rest of Scripture). We see the Gospel of the Grace of God—Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins—as our way to a right standing before God (Paul’s ministry), not other Gospel messages (rest of Scripture). We recognize our completeness in Christ (Paul’s ministry), not needing rites and rituals and ceremonies to make God happy with us (rest of Scripture). We see ourselves as the Church the Body of Christ (Paul’s ministry), not the nation Israel (rest of Scripture). We recognize the difference between mystery (Paul’s ministry) and prophecy (rest of Scripture).

If we are to know God’s will for us today, we had better pay attention to His current “household rules”—Paul’s ministry and writings! 🙂

-FINIS-

Household Rules #14

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God (Colossians 1:25 KJV).

And, just what is this “dispensation of God which is given to [Paul] for [us]?”

Genesis chapter 1 contains God’s original instructions to man: “[26] And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth…. [28] And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it….”

From here until Paul’s apostleship (Acts chapter 9), Scripture talked about God’s plans for restoring earth’s governments unto Himself, offices Satan defiled with sin. Adam and Eve, Noah and his descendants, and Abraham and his descendants (Israelites) were all to serve in earth’s governmental offices. With Paul, God began something different—a heavenly people.

Remember, Satan had not only usurped God’s governmental authority in earth, but also in heaven. So, God formed Israel to be His earthly representatives; He created the Church the Body of Christ to fulfill His will and reestablish His headship in heaven. With the Pauline revelations, we see the entire will of God. Accordingly, Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:9,10: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:”

The secret God revealed to Paul “fulfils [completes] the word of God” (today’s Scripture). To wit, with Paul’s writings (Romans through Philemon), we have a complete revelation from God, a final set of “household rules.” We see how, by God withholding a secret, He outsmarted Satan (1 Corinthians 2:6-8), in earth and in heaven. Jesus Christ’s shed blood provides God with two believing groups—redeemed Israel and the Church the Body of Christ—to serve Him forever in two spheres—heaven and earth (Colossians 1:16-20)!

Now we conclude this devotionals arc….

Emmanuel’s Tabernacle

Saturday, December 24, 2016

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we can date the birth of Emmanuel, Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, was a priest, “of the course [order] of Abia [Abijah]” (Luke 1:5). Under King David, Israel’s priests were organized into 24 courses (1 Chronicles 24:7-19). A priest from each course served a week in the Temple ministration (and thus served one week twice a year). Israel’s calendar began with Abib/Nisan, equivalent to March 16-April 15 (Exodus 12:1,2; Exodus 13:4). Passover was observed on April 14, starting Israel’s religious calendar.

Passover week (The Feast of Unleavened Bread) lasted from April 15-21. The first course of priests served in the Temple around this time. Zacharias’ course, Abijah, was the eighth course after Passover (1 Chronicles 24:10), thus placing Zacharias’ service roughly eight weeks after Passover (or June 17-23). This was the time when the angel appeared to Zacharias to announce John’s conception (Luke 1:8-22). Once Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth leave the Temple and go home, Elisabeth conceives John (late June; Luke 1:23-25).

Six months after Elisabeth conceived John in late June (Luke 1:26), Mary conceived Jesus—in late December. Contrary to religious tradition, the birthday of Christ is not December 25. Late December is the time of Christ’s conception. The conception of Christ in Mary’s womb, not Mary’s conception in her mother’s womb, is the biblical immaculate conception: it was Christ’s conception, not Mary’s, that was sinless (Luke 1:35).

If a perfect human gestation lasts 280 days (9 months), late September/early October is the time of Christ’s birth. During this time of year, recall that God had Israel observing the Feast of Tabernacles, when Jews would dwell in “booths” (tents, tabernacles) for seven days (Leviticus 23:39-44).

While Israel was observing Tabernacles in September/October, God was born as a man (Jesus Christ) of the virgin Mary, and dwelt (“tabernacled”) with them! Sadly, very few Jews paid any attention to Jesus, “Emmanuel,” “God with us” (today’s Scripture). The rest of Israel ignored “God dwelling among them” (John 1:14).

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus born on the 25th of December?

You may also see our other archived study: “Why do people use ‘Xmas’ instead of ‘Christmas?’

Bethlehem of Judaea

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2 KJV).

Today’s Scripture, written about 700 B.C., prophesies the exact birthplace of Israel’s Messiah.

Notice the Bible is very specific: “Bethlehem Ephratah pinpoints the Bethlehem in southern Israel (there was another Bethlehem, in Galilee, northern Israel). Bethlehem of Judaea, as today’s Scripture teaches, is “little among the thousands of Judah” (a little-known village).

The Bible tells us that Bethlehem Ephratah was the birthplace of King David (1 Samuel 16:1-18). John 7:42 reads: “Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” Jesus Christ will inherit His father David’s throne, and David is a type/preview/shadow of Christ (Isaiah 9:6,7; Luke 1:31-33). Thus, they share Bethlehem Ephratah as their birthplace (cf. Luke 2:4).

“Bethlehem” is an interesting term. Jesus Christ likened Himself to the manna of the Old Testament. He claimed, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world…. I am that bread of life: I am the bread which came down from heaven…. I am that bread of life” (John 6:33,35,41,48). Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1,5,6): “Bethlehem” is Hebrew for “house of bread.” Thus, the “Bread of Life,” Jesus Christ, was born in the “House of Bread,” Bethlehem. Fascinating!

Furthermore, Joseph (Jesus’ legal father) lived in Nazareth. When Roman emperor Caesar Augustus sent out a decree for taxing the people of the empire (conducting a census), Joseph had to leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem of Judaea, taking pregnant Mary with him (Luke 2:1-5). Christ was born there in Bethlehem. Some 700 years beforehand, the Bible knew Joseph and Mary would not be in Nazareth for Christ’s birth, but in Bethlehem, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of today’s Scripture. Amazing!

These are evidences that the Bible is a supernatural Book—indeed, it is God’s Book.

God’s Perfect Timing

Saturday, December 17, 2016

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4,5 KJV).

As today’s Scripture indicates, the birth of Jesus Christ was no accident—God planned its exact moment from eternity past.

When God placed the first man, Adam, on earth, He purposed that man would “subdue [control] it,” to “have dominion” over it and everything on it (Genesis 1:28). Nevertheless, Adam sinned by joining Satan in his rebellion against God. Because of sin, man was now unable to accomplish on earth what God originally created him to do. God left the human race a promise, however, that there would come a Man, who would do what Adam failed to do. Instead of cooperating with God’s adversary like Adam had, this “seed of the woman” would “bruise [Satan’s] head” (Genesis 3:15).

Traveling up through the Scriptures, we see how God lays the groundwork for that seedline. In Genesis 12:1-3, or 2,000 years after Adam’s sin, we read God’s covenant with Abraham, that through Abraham a nation, Israel, will be born, and salvation and blessing will flow to the Gentiles through Israel. The seed of the woman becomes the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16).

In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, and 1,000 years after Abraham, we read of God’s covenant with King David, that “his seed” will inherit his throne and reign forever. The seed of the woman and of Abraham becomes the seed of David.

About 1,000 years after David, Matthew 1:1 speaks of Christ’s birth, and declares, “…Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” This is exactly what God had promised for thousands of years!

Jesus Christ’s birth was not some haphazard event of nature. God the Father had preplanned the exact moment of the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ (today’s Scripture). Over a period of some 4,000 years, the three members of the Godhead worked to bring about the birth of man’s Redeemer, a plan they had even before man was created! Amazing!