spiritual warfare

Leave Me Alone, I Am Comfortable!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

“Who hath believed our report?” (Isaiah 53:1a KJV).

No one wants to listen to you share the Bible? Now you know how Isaiah felt!

Browsing recently in a store’s “Christian” book section, I began a casual conversation with an elderly lady also looking. She claimed to have trusted Christ and I rejoiced. Then, we started talking about Bible versions and dispensational Bible study. I cautioned her how we should be so vigilant in this day of “itching ears.” She listened with interest, until… she began asking me about various popular modern-day Bible teachers and preachers (whose books stood on shelves before us). Once I gave her my assessment of those people’s theologies, she became increasingly resistant. She finally told me she was “not interested” in listening anymore. How dare I expose error and false teachers! She was so loyal to them and refused to hear anything contradictory. I wrapped up our conversation and she hurried off!

In Jeremiah’s day, we read the LORD’S words: “[30] A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; [31] The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (5:30,31). Paul told the Corinthians who enjoyed their false teachers: “For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise” (2 Corinthians 11:19). And then that great prediction of apostasy in the Body of Christ: “[3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3,4).

Few Jews listened to the Prophet Isaiah’s preaching (today’s Scripture). Paul quoted Isaiah in Romans 10:16 to refer to his own unbelieving rebellious audience. We could quote it to apply to our ministries today. Many prefer to hear the lies of religion, and we give them their wish—they want it so and so we leave them be. Saints, be not discouraged. Some still want to hear the message of God’s grace, and His Word rightly divided. Let us continue for their sakes! :)

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did the 12 preach the Gospel of the Kingdom after Christ ascended?

The Common Prison and The Extraordinary Message

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

“Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison” (Acts 5:17,18 KJV).

Oh, man’s shameful treatment of God’s faithful apostles!

For several months now, Peter and the 11 other apostles of Israel have been preaching to their Jewish brethren, pleading with them to trust Jesus as their Messiah, that they not be consumed in His wrath when He returns. The Holy Spirit has been working mightily in and through these 12 men: they have performed various healing miracles, confirming the kingdom message that they are preaching (Mark 16:17-20; Hebrews 2:3-5; et al.).

Israel’s religious leaders know the apostles’ activities threaten their organization. In the chapter previous to today’s Scripture, Israel’s religious leaders “commanded [the apostles] not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (verse 18). Peter wisely answered, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (verses 19,20). The apostles were further threatened but not imprisoned.

Today’s Scripture is some time later, after many other healing miracles occurred, after many other sermons about Jesus Christ have been preached. Israel’s religious leaders arrest the apostles and throw them into prison. Not the prison for political or elite wrongdoers, but the common prison.” The apostles are thrown into a dangerous environment. The worst criminals—the murderers, rapists, et cetera—are in the “common prison” with them! God certainly had His eyes on these dear Israeli apostles. In fact, they miraculously survived that “common prison” until the angel of the Lord came by night to release them (verse 19)!

Israel’s apostles went on from the common prison to preach again to the common people. Praise God that they were not bitter or slack. Despite their persecution, they preached their hearts out. Nothing could keep them from talking about the Messiahship of Jesus. They eventually gave up their lives for Him! Beloved, surely, in light of what these men faced for Jesus Christ, we can endure name-calling and ostracism! :)

Another Jesus

Sunday, April 12, 2015

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached… ye might well bear with him” (2 Corinthians 11:3,4 KJV).

Who is this “other Jesus?”

The other day, I was sharing the Gospel with a dear man. As I began to introduce him to the Bible, he said that all Christian ministers, regardless of denomination, preached the same Jesus Christ. Their sermons all “sounded pretty much the same.” Dear friends, in today’s Scripture, Paul corrected such erroneous thinking.

If Paul admitted that he feared the Corinthians would accept someone who “preached another Jesus,” then surely, “preaching Jesus” is not necessarily good. For example, cults and world religions preach Jesus according to their theological bias; they do not present the full picture of Jesus Christ as found in the Holy Bible. They highlight His good deeds, remember His kindness, and admire His wise sermons. But, they do not see Him as the Son of God, the only Saviour. Furthermore, they may not even believe He was crucified and resurrected! Certainly, these people are “preaching Jesus” to some extent, but they are not preaching the Jesus of the Bible.

When Paul talked about “preaching another Jesus” in today’s Scripture, he was referring to someone who did not “preach Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25). There are two ways to preach Jesus Christ using the Bible—according to prophecy (non-Pauline Bible books) and according to the mystery (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon).

While most of today’s “Christian” preaching is derived from Matthew through John, we do not find our salvation in those books—Jesus did not die until the end of those books! If we want to learn Jesus Christ’s ministry today to us Gentiles, not His ministry to Israel (Matthew through John), we have to go to Paul’s epistles. There, we find Jesus Christ crucified for our sins, buried, and risen, to be the Head of the Body, for the purpose of reconciling the heavenly places unto Himself. That is Jesus whom Paul preached, and let us not embrace another Jesus!

When the Roll is Called Up Yonder #3

Friday, April 10, 2015

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13 KJV).

The third verse of James Milton Black’s classic 1893 hymn “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” highlights today’s Scripture.

“Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”

Some dear Christians just sit around idly waiting for Jesus Christ to come for them. While it is tempting to join them, today’s Scripture teaches otherwise. Through Paul’s all-nation ministry and epistles (Romans through Philemon), God’s grace that brings salvation has appeared to all nations. That same grace teaches Christians to live separate from the world—to reject ungodly living and worldly desires (cf. Ephesians 2:1-3)—and to live “soberly, righteously, and godly” (with sound thinking and right living; today’s Scripture). As we are walking (not sitting) in the grace life, God’s life manifested in and through us, we should be looking for the return of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Only one of two events should end the activity of every Christian’s ambassadorship on Earth—physical death or the Rapture! While there is still breath in our bodies, and the Rapture remains future, there is still time for God to use us on Earth. Let us get out there and tell everyone we can about the Lord’s wonderful love He commended to us at Calvary’s cross, and how the grace life is the answer to life itself!

One day, dear brethren, the work that God started with us here on Earth will culminate in the heavenly places. The roll shall be called up yonder one day, but until it is, let us labor in the Lord hither today! :)

Onward to Maturity!

Sunday, April 6, 2015

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up in him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:14,15 KJV).

Friends, it is not God’s best for us to remain in elementary Bible principles. We need to grow up eventually: we must progress from basic concepts to deeper thoughts, from ineptness to proficiency.

Weeks ago, I observed my little nephew’s baseball team practicing. All near seven years of age, he and his teammates were clumsy in hitting, catching, and throwing the ball. Still, they diligently practiced. Since then, they have won a championship—beating three opposing teams in one day! When I considered their development, I was reminded of today’s Scripture. God wants us to be “workmen (2 Timothy 2:15), not children. We should be growing in the Bible, becoming more skilled in His Word, more equipped with sound doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16,17), just as an athlete trains hard to win the game. Our Adversary, Satan, wants us to remain unskilled, unpracticed in God’s Word, that we not stifle his work.

Sadly, some grace people refuse to spiritually mature. They want only basic grace teaching. They remain fumbling “in practice,” too unskilled to move to an actual “game,” let alone a “championship.” They single out one basic grace Bible teacher and listen to no other grace teachers. Certainly, we have to start somewhere in the Bible, but to go no further in the Scriptures than the (basic) one who taught us, is to wrong ourselves and those we reach.

If we would study the Bible for ourselves, and not merely rely on one grace Bible preacher or teacher, the results would be amazing. We would learn from others, we would also learn from our own studies, and then we could teach others both what we learned from others’ studies and what we learned from our own studies. Unfortunately, some Christians do not get very far in the Scriptures their whole lives. They are unable to teach the Bible.

Onward to maturity, that religion’s cunning ministers not deceive us!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Was the Holy Spirit really given in John 20:22?

The Apocalypse, God’s Lips, and Our Mouths

Monday, March 23, 2015

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 KJV).

What is the “Apocalypse” and how can it be honey from God’s lips to our mouths?

A Christian brother told me he utterly feared the Book of the Revelation. Doubtless a saved man, certain of his home in heaven because of the Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary on his behalf. Yet, in light of Revelation 22:18-19, he dreaded studying that last Bible book: he feared “adding to it” or “taking away from it” would bring God’s chastisement on him. The poor brother had to learn that that warning is given to unbelievers in Israel’s program, not us believers (members of the Body of Christ) in this the Dispensation of Grace.

While people often use the term “Apocalypse” in religious senses, they usually have little to no grasp of what the term means in the Bible. The first word of the Revelation is apokalupsis—“revelation, unveiling, uncovering.” As the (Greek) Bible uses it, “Apocalypse” describes the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today, the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS is hidden in the third heaven, having not been seen in 2,000 years, exiled since His beloved nation Israel rejected Him. The door to the third heaven is currently closed, but one day it will swing open, and out will ride the Lord Jesus Christ! He will be leading tens of thousands of angelic soldiers to purge Earth of all its unbelievers, utterly slaughtering those who have persecuted His Israel—stolen her land and killed her people. Just as Satan’s plan of evil crescendos, and it looks hopeless, the God of creation wins and then reigns over all creation!

No wonder John wrote to Israel in Revelation 1:4: “Blessed [happy] is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” The book of the Revelation (“Apocalypse”) came from God’s lips; it should be as sweet honey to our mouths! Let us read it. It comforts us that evil will lose in the end, and our Saviour will be exalted in the end. Let us use our mouths to praise His holy name! :)

Let Him Alone!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

“Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone” (Hosea 4:17 KJV).

Let us hear and follow these wonderful words of wisdom from Hosea of old!

As a Bible teacher, I assure you there is no greater thrill than to teach the precious words of God to open hearts, and to see those words work effectually in those who believe them (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Some people are so eager to hear the wonderful words of God that they will sit down and let you teach them for hours and hours on end. They are starving spiritually, and oh, how you are so burdened to give them as much spiritual food as possible! As someone starving would grab handfuls upon handfuls of food and force-feed themselves, these precious souls never seem to get enough verses. They make ministry so rewarding and delightful.

On the other hand, you get the exact opposite type of feedback from others as well. You could teach them God’s Word for years, but they have no interest in anything spiritual. As in the days of Jesus Christ’s preaching in the flesh, you will meet people who have “gross” (callous) hearts and ears “dull of hearing” (Matthew 13:15). Eventually, Jesus stopped preaching to national Israel, and confined His ministry to smaller crowds. He taught for three years and look how many Jews He converted—only 120 believers in Jerusalem in Acts 1:15!

In today’s Scripture, JEHOVAH God told the Prophet Hosea not to bother preaching repentance to Ephraim (the northern kingdom, Israel). After many decades of idolatrous kings, the nation was too far gone. The Assyrian armies were coming for Ephraim, God’s judgment was imminent, and they were beyond hope. “Hosea, do not waste your breath!”

What did Jesus say about the Pharisees who were offended by His preaching? “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). Paul wrote, “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 14:38). Once people resist us sharing the Bible with them, we need to move on instead of twisting their arms. Beloved, we need to use our time wisely, speaking to those who do want to hear! :)