Grace Living (Christian Life)

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.

The “Triumphal” Entry

Friday, April 21, 2017

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4,5 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why Jesus Christ rode on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion?

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), Jesus’s crucifixion on Calvary’s cross is just five days away. Leaving Bethany, He travels to Jerusalem (a mile to the northwest). Israel’s believing remnant in Jerusalem is excited to hear that Messiah is returning to “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35); in anticipation, the great multitude throws their garments and palm branches on the ground. As Jesus enters the city, they cry out, “Hosanna [“O save!”]: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; cf. Psalm 118:26).

While often called the “Triumphal Entry,” there really was no victory being celebrated in today’s Scripture—the victory was to come later! What we need to realize is that Jesus Christ was humble (“meek”) here: as a King riding on a donkey into Israel’s capital city, He demonstrated He desired peace with Israel (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9). He had not come to destroy her, though He would have been just in doing so; He had come to save her from her sins, her enemies, and her satanic bondage (Matthew 1:21; Mark 2:17; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 1:68-75; Luke 9:55,56; Luke 19:9,10; Acts 3:24-26; et cetera).

Just a few days later, Jesus Christ appeared weak and defeated. He never fought back as the Roman soldiers mercilessly abused Him; He allowed Himself to be crucified on Calvary. It was His meek and lowly coming; now was not the time to pour out His wrath. He resurrected and ascended into heaven as a royal exile. Revelation 19:11 says Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem on a white horse, a sign of war and wrath (Zechariah 14:1-4)—that will be His true triumphal entry, for He will conquer Satan’s world system forever!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?

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.

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #2

Saturday, April 15, 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?

Jesus knew Bible prophecy had to be fulfilled: He had to suffer in accordance with the Old Testament prophets. Even when He spoke seven times from the cross, He quoted various Old Testament verses. The Old Testament prophets also gave Him comfort: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (today’s Scripture).

For instance, He remembered that Jonah’s prophecy had to be fulfilled: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). On the third day, He would live again, and be reunited with His heavenly Father!

He knew that His Father would resurrect Him. His spiritual torment and physical death were only temporarily, as David quoted Jesus 1000 B.C., “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:24-31).

Our Lord thought of reigning over that glorious kingdom that His Heavenly Father would give Him after His resurrection. As the psalmist wrote centuries before Calvary’s crosswork, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:6-8). “Begotten” refers to Jesus’ resurrection, not His nativity in Bethlehem (Acts 13:33,34).

Jesus Christ, during His torturous crucifixion, thought about and rejoiced in the promises in the Scriptures that applied to Him. Likewise, we, during difficult circumstances, can remember and joy in God’s promises to us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

We too can share Messiah’s joy amidst grief! 🙂

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?