Christian good works

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.

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.

Until We Talk Again

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV).

Dear Christian friend, are you longing for Home—Heaven? You must remain focused on your current location!

Some brethren in Christ and myself were recently online, remembering the birthday of a mutual Christian friend whose untimely death caused him to tragically leave us. He graduated to Heaven nearly a year ago. My advice to them was that I was quite sure he would want us all to continue our labor in our Lord. I encouraged them to keep on in that labor, until we talk to our dear brother again!

If our deceased brothers and sisters in Christ could return and tell us something, it would be in the vein of today’s Scripture. After all, that verse was a Spirit-filled Christian exhorting other believers to be Spirit-filled. We should not simply be about the Lord’s work, but rather “always abounding” in it. That means constant, plenteous works, not sitting idly by and/or doing the absolute bare minimum. Christian ministry—which is really for all believers, not just preachers—is about maintaining good works” (Titus 3:8). These “good works” have nothing to do with religious rites, rituals, and ceremonies. It has to do with sharing God’s Word with others. That means preaching the Gospel of Grace to lost people, and teaching the Message of Grace to saved people. In addition to using the printed page, electronic devices, and our voices, that sound doctrine should also be communicated in our actions (daily living).

In the context of today’s Scripture—the whole chapter—we read about the reality of bodily resurrection. Our labor is not in vain in the Lord because physical death does not end our Christian service (see especially verses 50-57—the Rapture, our resurrection as Christians). Our earthly Christian sojourn will end one day. All of our earthly ministries will cease. Still, there is in Heaven waiting for us, a reward… and a reunion with the saints of the ages. We will talk again, and all work together in eternity to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ! 🙂

God is Love

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

“…God is love… God is love… We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:8b,16b,19 KJV).

The word “love” is used very flippantly in today’s world. Of the many who speak about “love,” few know what it is. On this Valentine’s Day, we offer sound doctrine from God’s Word to correct the misunderstandings of what love really is. What is love, according to God’s Word?

Today’s Scripture says that “God is love”—God does not simply love, but His very nature is love. What does that mean? In 1 John 3:16, we read: “Hereby we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:” Our Apostle Paul put it this way: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s nature is love—selfless, self-sacrificing!

God’s Word defines love and charity in 2 Corinthians 12:15: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” Love is seeking the best interest of others, even if it costs you something (time, energy, resources, et cetera). Charity is love in deed (demonstrated, manifested in action). God loved us, so He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. It cost God the Father His Son, and it cost God the Son His life. What a selfless act!

Our nature in Adam is selfish, but our nature in Christ is not. Paul declares, “the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). We who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, our Christian lives are driven and motivated by Christ’s love for us, not our love for Him. It is this unselfish love of Christ working in us that causes us to look on the things of others, to seek their edification and their benefit, not ours (Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:1-11). This will result in charity, our selfless actions reflecting that love of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:15).

As the lost world observes our Christian service, they will see, “God is love.”

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

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! 🙂

Lifted and Fallen #5

Sunday, February 12, 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!

After meticulously rehearsing Israel’s sins, the context of today’s Scripture says: “Now these things were our examples…” (verse 6). Also, verse 11: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” Then, we read today’s Scripture cautioning us to beware. Brethren, we should not get prideful, lest we fall into sin as they did.

The sins of the “flesh”—outward activities—are bad. However, the Bible also talks about the sins of the “spirit”—religion and mental attitudes (2 Corinthians 7:1). Filthiness of the spirit means following denominations and false religion, parroting preachers, idolizing theology, and constantly thinking about self (more money, power, fame, beauty, education, sex, et cetera). In fact, today’s Scripture is part of the Holy Spirit’s reproof of the Corinthians’ allowing idol worship and false religion to stifle their Christian lives (read chapters 8-11 of 1 Corinthians). Also, please refer to 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 and all of chapter 11.

First Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Quench not the Spirit.” We should not hinder the Holy Spirit from working in our lives (the verse implies we can hinder Him!). The saints at Thessalonica were mature, spiritual, but even they had to be warned about committing sin (both carnal sins and religious sins). The same admonition was issued in 1 Timothy 5:22, Titus 3:14, Ephesians 5:7-18, Philippians 2:12-16, Galatians 5:13-26, Romans chapters 6-8, Colossians 2:20-23, et cetera.

So-called “sinless” Christians today may avoid alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, adultery, and dancing, but they are quite drunk on pride, breathe out spiritual lies, sleep with other gods (including self), and move to the beat of Satan’s policy of evil! If they do not understand what God is doing today (Romans through Philemon), they are just as unapproved of God as Israel of old was….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did Paul engage in ‘missionary journeys?’

Lifted and Fallen #4

Saturday, February 11, 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!

“I would never do what he or she did!” We Christians may deceive ourselves into thinking we no longer sin. Religion (and self-righteousness)—not Scripture—led us to that conclusion. Friends, remember poor Israel as described in the context of today’s Scripture! We too are Adam’s sons and daughters, heirs of the same sin nature that drove the Jews to unbelief and disobedience! The same evil world system that existed 3,000 years ago, when Moses led Israel, is still with us today. Conditions are ripe for us—yes, us in Christ—to sin! We had better beware, and not puff out our chests in overconfidence.

Satan still uses false religion to intoxicate people—even genuine Christians— into believing lies straight from the pits of hell. They ignore the provisions God has offered us in Christ. All they do is complain and argue. His King James Bible is not perfect enough. The crosswork of His Son is good, but they also want to do their own works to gain God’s blessings. They ridicule Paul, His apostle to the Gentiles. They steal all of Israel’s blessings and make them their own—water baptism, tithing, spiritual gifts (particularly tongues and healing), material blessings, divine earthly government, prayer promises, Sabbath day, kosher food laws, end-time prophecies, et cetera.

Rather than staying with the doctrine to and about Church the Body of Christ, Romans through Philemon, they wander all over the Bible, yanking legalistic verses out of context in order to force them onto us today. No wonder they are so confused. Unless they start using the Bible dispensationally, they will remain confused! Committing such sins of the spirit is just as offensive to God as pursuing the sins of the flesh….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why do 1 Corinthians 10:8 and Numbers 25:9 disagree?