spiritual immaturity

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!

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?

Competition

Saturday, February 18, 2017

“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)” (Philippians 3:17-19 KJV).

Even today, we find such “enemies of the cross of Christ” among our “Christian” brethren!

A pastor friend once held a grace Bible conference at his local church. He had discovered dispensational Bible study a few years earlier. Now, he was eager to hold a conference by inviting some grace preachers to his assembly. Of course, a denominational preacher in the same town, not far away from his church, who had already rejected right division and decided to compete against it. The same weekend my preacher friend held his Bible conference, the denominational pastor had his own conference. This was strategic. His church members were distracted, unable to attend the nearby grace conference and hear dispensational Bible study. They would not be freed from his denominational system!

Dispensational Bible study allows us to understand God’s grace given us in Jesus Christ. We find that in the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon. Once we recognize Grace—not Law—is how God deals with us today, then we will not stumble over Scripture’s legalistic passages. Rather than struggling under Law, we will know that it was nailed to Christ’s cross: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14).

However, some Christians fight against this—they want Law, the performance-based acceptance system found in the Bible. They prefer their rites, rituals, and ceremonies because human flesh gravitates toward human “goodness” (religion). Since they follow Scripture’s water baptism, tithing, Sabbath-day keeping, and so on, they believe this “Scriptural” approach is God’s will for them.

However, the Holy Spirit instructed in today’s Scripture for us to “follow Paul and those who follow him.” Only Paul’s epistles tell us we are dead to the Law, and free under grace (Romans 6:14,15). How sad many professing Christians ignore this!

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?