spiritual growth and maturity

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! 🙂

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 House in the Heavens #9

Tuesday, March 28, 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).

You may not see it, but God already does!

Christians worldwide live in physical bodies that are falling apart—cataracts, malnutrition/starvation, arthritis, hearing impairments, amputations, brain damage, heart disease, forgetfulness, cancer, thinning bones, high blood pressure, speech difficulties, limited mobility, and so on. While we should take care of our bodies as best as we can by taking advantage of medical science, exercise, and nourishing diets, the fact is that these bodies are not going to last forever anyway. All “healing” claims aside, lost and saved alike are buried in the same crust of Earth! To concentrate so much on maintaining these temporal bodies is a most serious error in the modern world. (People without hope in the next life are definitely trying to make the absolute most of this one!)

Short of the Lord’s coming, Christian brethren, these “outward men” of ours will succumb to the ultimate weakness—mortality—and thus they will “sleep” in the dust of the Earth. Paul, led by the Holy Spirit to write today’s Scripture, knew that as he penned it. As the outward man was growing weaker (and closer to death), the inward man was growing stronger in God’s grace: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Steady, daily intake of God’s Word rightly divided would continually “renew” that inner man!

Our Apostle was more focused on what would be the condition of our inward men at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9,10). The physical body would return to the ground, to be resurrected a spiritual body—a literal body just as real, just more advanced (no longer subject to death, and not limited by time or space). What would last forever is: (1) our soul currently living within our physical body, and (2) the resurrected body, “eternal in the heavens,” in which our souls will reside forever. Remain focused on these two eternal things!

Now, we conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How long was Christ’s earthly ministry?

An Eternal House in the Heavens #8

Monday, March 27, 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).

You may not see it, but God already does!

While we are here in these physical bodies, we know absolutely that we are not in the Lord’s presence in Heaven: “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord” (verse 6). Once we leave these physical bodies, however, we know with certainty that we will be in the Lord’s presence in Heaven: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (verse 8). Sandwiched between these two verses is the parenthetical phrase, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight: )” (verse 7). Remember, we, by faith, look at the invisible, eternal things rather than the visible, temporary ones (2 Corinthians 4:18)!

Once we meet the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive our glorified, resurrection bodies at the event we call the “Rapture” (1 Corinthians 15:49-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), then we will go before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Second Corinthians chapter 5 continues: “[9] Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. [10] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

Not to be confused with the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15, which is for the lost people of the ages, the Judgment Seat of Christ is reserved only for Christians, members of the Body of Christ. Our Christian service will be evaluated: Jesus Christ will determine the spirituality, or maturity, of our inner man. The quality of the sound Bible doctrine—that is, dispensational Bible study—we store in our inner man will result in a reward. Notice, “the things done in his body…” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The reward is the capacity in which we will serve our Lord and Saviour as we function in those new outward bodies….

Resolute to Speak in Christ!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:17 KJV).

Despite all the corrupters, we will keep God’s Word pure!

I periodically receive emails from discouraged grace believers, people “beaten up” by denominationalists. Whether in-person or on social media, they have encountered much opposition. (I know!) Individuals constantly attack the King James Bible as “faulty” and “a mere translation.” Jesus Christ’s crosswork means nothing to them because their religious works mean everything to them. There is much anti-grace rhetoric (legalism). Individuals viciously ridicule the Apostle Paul. Dispensational Bible study is questioned and denigrated as “nutty” and “cultic.”

This should neither surprise nor discourage us. Whether today, or throughout Bible history, very few follow Father God. Never forget, my dear brethren, Noah preached for 120 years, and all he converted was seven precious souls (2 Peter 2:5)! Untold millions mocked and refused to hear him, thus perishing in the Great Deluge. Pride kept them from entering that Ark, eternally damning them. Even today, pride keeps billions of lost people from being saved by trusting Christ as personal Saviour (1 Timothy 2:4). Moreover, pride prevents millions of Christians from “coming to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

Some 2,000 years ago, people were “wresting” (perverting) the Scriptures—especially Paul’s epistles—to their spiritual destruction (2 Peter 3:15,16). When we learn of so many people today vilifying Jesus Christ, the King James Bible, Paul, and dispensational Bible study, we recall today’s Scripture: “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”

A disheartened grace believer recently wrote to me concerning the hostility: “After it’s done beating me up a bit I tend to try to redouble my resolve to know the word of grace.” In other words, the opposition motivates him to endeavor to learn about God’s grace even more! (It took me years to gain that same attitude, but I agree 1000 percent!!) The more they question God’s truth; the more we reinforce it in our minds, over and over and over again. Daily, constantly, eternally! 🙂

Just Read the Book!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh (Ecclesiastes 12:12 KJV).

How can today’s Scripture help us avoid a lifetime of “weariness?”

In concluding the Book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon made a very famous confession: “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”

Recently, I dealt with a confused woman who I have been ministering to for some years. She has attended our Bible studies, asked questions, and even came to one of our grace conferences. Over the years, she has been tossed back and forth with various ideas. She also attends local denominational churches where perverted doctrine is taught. Her overall problem is not that she is lost. I believe she is a saved woman. No, her problem is that she reads too many best-selling “Christian” books rather than reading only the Book.

Reading non-biblical religious books is okay, provided that you first know how to rightly divide the Word of God. Friend, you CANNOT afford to expose yourself to hundreds upon hundreds of books written by people who do not even know how to use God’s Word, God’s way. You will disorient and exhaust yourself. Just think about the poor woman. Looking for the will of God in “books, books, books, books…” will tire and defeat you. Remember today’s Scripture!

There are billions of weary people today in religion. Why? They have spent so much time reading confessions, catechisms, and commentaries. Since their church authorities have not taught them how to use the Bible, they do not know how to use it. Thus, they rely on the church authorities to “interpret” it for them. Many of these precious souls are not even told the truth about the Bible anyway because the “authorities” do not know the truth either!

While this lady I reach still has a long way to go in Bible understanding, she was recently exposed to rightly divided Bible verses yet again. She needs to believe those verses, and push aside all of the books competing for her allegiance! Let us by faith do the same! 🙂

Bible Q&A #355: “Do some things happen by ‘chance?’

You may also see our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?