The Holy Ghost

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….

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?’

Your Mind, Not Your Emotions

Sunday, February 19, 2017

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1,2 KJV).

A renewed mind, not domineering emotions, is the key to Christian living!

Some television shows and films are so well written and visually vivid that they seem to be real-life. Our emotions get involved, and these works of fiction become even more realistic. A humorous example involves a Christian couple I knew many years ago when I was a small child. This couple, friends of my parents, enjoyed watching a particular soap opera. On that television show, a man and his lover were having persistent relationship difficulties. So, the Christian couple, in their nightly prayers, suddenly found themselves asking God to repair the relationship of those two fictional television characters! These Christians decided they were just too enthralled by that show, so they gave it up completely.

Friends, as the above anecdote demonstrates, our emotions do not have a mind. It is therefore unwise to base our life on (shifting and deceptive) emotions. What we need to do is take the Word of God rightly divided, use it to renew our minds (correct our thinking), and make a conscious choice (exercise free will) to believe it. No matter what our emotions urge us to do, they are not meant to govern our lives. The Word of God and the Spirit of God are to control us. Jesus Christ said, “…The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). These life-giving words of God are the Holy Bible, as Hebrews 4:12 affirms, “…The word of God is quick [living and life-giving, active] and powerful….”

Brethren, let us walk—not by emotions and engaging in rash behavior—but with a firm understanding and trust in the Word of God rightly divided. The renewed spirit of our mind, governed by the Holy Spirit, is sure to produce a life that is pleasing in Father God’s sight.

Lifted and Fallen #6

Monday, February 13, 2017

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12,13 KJV).

Does the Bible teach “entire sanctification?” Today’s Scripture screams, NO!

Since we are all genetically related to Adam, all humans are equally prone to sin. Whatever Satan has used to seduce you to sin, he has utilized it to allure every other person, present or past. That is why the Bible says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man….”

Still, today’s Scripture pronounces we can indeed be victorious over sin. Nonetheless, it has nothing to do with our faithfulness (works-religion). Today’s Scripture goes on to say, God is faithful.” While Satan’s evil world system tantalizes us with various temptations, we escape them by “bearing” (enduring) them—not by having them removed. We have complete victory in Christ, but only in Christnot ourselves! Hence, Paul issues the command: “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” (verse 14). The indwelling Holy Spirit can cause us to avoid idolatry (that is, Israel’s mistakes). Yes, we will still sin, but that is because we reverted to the flesh when we should have been relying by faith on the Spirit of God and His Word rightly divided.

Dear friends, we had better learn—and never forget!—these lessons from Israel’s history. They serve as our example in how not to behave, how not to respond to God’s generosity (goodness and grace). While we hope we will not sin, we will sin until we are taken to Heaven. Thankfully, God has already taken care of our sin. Nearly 2000 years ago, He settled IN FULL our sin debt at Calvary. Now, we just walk in Him, living day-to-day, relying on Him (resulting in good works) not self (resulting in sins). When we sin, we just return to His Word, find verses to correct our behavior, and implement them to life by faith! 🙂

A New Nature, A New Day, A New Life

Friday, January 20, 2017

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

Today, January 20, 2017, is important to my family for two reasons.

Firstly, my parents celebrate their 37th birthday in Christ! It was on this day in 1980 that they both trusted Jesus Christ and abandoned works-religion. They were rendered dead to their old nature and old life in Adam, and were given a new nature and new life in the Lord. Wow! Secondly, my family and I as Americans celebrate that the United States of America today ushers out one president, Barack Hussein Obama, and welcomes a new one, Donald John Trump. Nationally, we become dead to old procedures and politicking, and alive to new principles and policies. How exciting!

We Christians in America have long anticipated a day when we could get our country back to the things of God—a nation with more accountability and justice, more economic stability, a better educational system, amiable social relations, and so on. Granted, until Jesus Christ returns, there will be no perfection. We know that man can never solve every problem in this sin-cursed world. Still, our incoming president is currently our best option available, and the Bible would have us make the best choice possible. The United States electoral process must be upheld, and the silliness must stop: Mr. Trump won fair and square, and he will be inaugurated as per our Constitution. But, those who prefer the “old arrangement” continue to fight to try and keep it!

Similarly, the old sin nature in Adam constantly pops up in the life of a Christian. It seeks dominion over the Christian’s life, sins thereby produced. However, God the Holy Spirit should be the Governor of the Christian. We are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10). The old administration of sin and death is gone; we need not live in the graveyard, defeated and miserable! Saints, Romans chapter 6 says we are alive in Christ! We are “new creatures in Christ” (today’s Scripture)—now, we need to act like who we are!

Our United States of America is a new nation—let us act like the new country we are too! 🙂

Bible Q&A #340: “Did little boy Jesus know He was going to die on Calvary?

Household Rules #11

Sunday, January 15, 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]?”

The Mosaic Law was not given forever; that dispensation was not meant to operate into eternity future. It was only given to Israel temporarily—namely, to prove to her that God would make her His people. The Jews could never do enough to please God: their religious efforts were utterly futile. Their nation would only exist because of God’s work. Although the Law was given to Israel, it showed all nations to be guilty before God” (Romans 3:19). “Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (verse 20). Chapter 3 proceeds to explain how there came a dispensational change—Law to Grace. With that new dispensation came a new Gospel!

Another one of the major “household rules” in effect today is we are under grace, not law (Romans 6:14,15)—that goes for initial justification before God, a right standing before Him to go to heaven, as well as for daily Christian living, practical sanctification. Our performance will never measure up to God’s perfect standards. However, Jesus Christ’s performance at Calvary does please God. The Gospel of the Grace of God, Paul’s Gospel, is most clearly and succinctly defined in 1 Corinthians chapter 15: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you…. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

We have a sin problem, friends, and commandments cannot help us. Thus, Jesus Christ died for our sins, shed His blood to pay for those sins, that by simple faith in Him and Him alone, we can join the Church the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:1-22), the Holy Spirit can baptize us into Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), all because of what Christ did, not because of our religious works….