counsel

Shine as Lights #10

Thursday, May 25, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

When Paul’s converts—whether the Philippians of old, or us today—follow by faith those principles of grace the ascended Lord Jesus Christ entrusted to him, they are preparing for the Judgment Seat of Christ. We want to have this “gold, silver, precious stones” (sound Bible doctrine) stored up in our inner man: we want to have as little as possible of “wood, hay, stubble” (worthless teaching) (1 Corinthians 3:8-15).

All members of the Church the Body of Christ are the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s 2,000-year-long ministry through the Apostle Paul. Brethren, if we walk now by faith in the Dispensation of Grace, Romans through Philemon, there will be so much rejoicing on Paul’s part at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Moreover, all Christians will see the results of their ministries fully exposed, also rejoicing in how God used them to benefit other Christians. (I look forward to seeing you there, dear brethren!)

Immediately after the Judgment Seat of Christ, Father God will gather all His “lights” (members of the Body of Christ), and literally light up the heavens with them! Romans 8:18,19 says: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” What a day that “manifestation” of “glory” will be!

We began this series with a quote by a brother who has since moved to Heaven. Accordingly, to conclude, we use another quote from him: “We are the only Bible this careless world will read. We are God’s signboards in a sinful world. Men watch us, and they judge Jesus by the way we live, work, act, and talk.” Think as lights—“shine as lights!” 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A articles: “What is ‘the botch of Egypt?’” and “What are ‘emerods?’

Shine as Lights #9

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

Christian living in the Dispensation of Grace is summarized so beautifully in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. We should constantly remind ourselves of this our “Great Commission:”

“[14] For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: [15] And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. [16] Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. [17] Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [18] And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Brethren, Christianity is not about us striving to demonstrate our love for God. Nay! It is Christ’s immense, unfailing love for us that drives us, both to preach and live the Gospel of Grace. We live and preach, that others may believe, live, and preach; also becoming “lights” to shine in this dying, dark world. In the ages to come, there will be a grand “lighting” like this universe has never seen….

Shine as Lights #8

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

While Paul ministered for 35 years throughout the Roman Empire, he risked his life daily. As he preached the Gospel of the Grace of God, an “illegal religion,” he suffered greatly at the hands of unbelieving, sinful men—imprisonments, beatings, lashings, muggings, deaths!, and so on (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Sometimes, he lacked food, clothing, and shelter (Philippians 4:11-13). How many modern “feel-good” preachers would endure this for Christ’s sake?

Today’s Scripture concludes: “…that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” Despite all the Apostle’s suffering, something thrilled his heart beyond words. A mighty of harvest of souls had resulted! His time and energy were not wasted! One day, he would see those former idol-worshipping pagans stand in Heaven, there only because of Christ’s finished crosswork! But, there was more. They had not only believed that Gospel of Grace for justification unto eternal life—they had believed it to enjoy eternal life daily. Now, the Lord Jesus Christ would accept their work, their Christian service, at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They had shined as lights in the world; they had held forth the word of life!

These dear souls, once Hell-bound, now in Heaven, will be Paul’s reason for praising God! First Thessalonians 2:19,20: “[19] For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? [20] For ye are our glory and joy.” Philippians 4:1: “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” Paul did not “run in vain” when he initially preached the Gospel to them. Neither had he “laboured in vain” when he spent time teaching them daily grace living….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How do we not live after the flesh if we live in bodies of flesh?

Shine as Lights #7

Monday, May 22, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

We should “do all things without murmurings and disputings,” that we be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world—us “holding forth the word of life”—that the Apostle Paul may “rejoice in the day of Christ.” “The day of Christ” is “the Judgment Seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9,10)—when Christians are rewarded for their service to their Saviour while they lived in this present evil world.

Read Philippians chapter 1: “[6] Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:…. [9] And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; [10] That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. [11] Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

Notice verse 6 above points to Philippians 2:13, a verse that heads today’s Scripture: God is working in us “both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Until “the day of Jesus Christ,” the Holy Spirit has sealed us: He is working in us, so we should not “grieve”/sadden Him (Ephesians 4:30) or “quench”/hinder Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19). God’s grace teaches us how to live (Titus 2:11-14). We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are dead to sin; we are alive unto God (Romans chapter 6). We who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts; if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:24,25).

We return to Philippians….

Shine as Lights #6

Sunday, May 21, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

“Holding forth the word of life….” As we reprove the works of darkness by preaching and living the truth (Ephesians 5:1–6:9), so we “hold forth the word of life” by preaching and living it. “Holding forth” means “identifying it, paying attention to it, seizing it, and extending it to others.” Notice related usages. Jesus “marked” how some guests chose prominent positions at the feast (Luke 14:7). The lame man “gave heed” to Peter and John, expecting to receive something (Acts 3:5). Paul decided to “stay” for a while in Asia while he sent Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia (Acts 19:22).

“The word of life,” of course, is the Holy Bible, especially rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15). Jesus said: “It is the spirit that quickeneth [gives life to and makes active]; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (verse 68). “Life” here is God’s life—how God lives—how Jesus Christ lives—how we Christians (should) live. God created physical life from nothing by using His spoken Word; He provides spiritual life similarly.

When we “hold forth the word of life,” we urge others to receive it (after all, eternal life through Christ is a gift offered—Romans 6:23). Again, we are not merely preaching the Gospel of Grace; we are living it. Titus 2:11,12,14 says: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;…. [14] [Christ Jesus] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Let us see the result….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle?

Shine as Lights #5

Saturday, May 20, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

No matter our country, it is a “crooked and perverse nation.” Governed by Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), it is thus turned away from God and wholly corrupt. (That evil world system will remain until the Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.) God has left us on this planet as “outposts of the third heaven.” Since we are from another world (“the kingdom of [God’s] dear Son”), we are to behave differently from this world controlled by “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13).

“…Among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” In the midst of the unbelieving masses, we Christians live—nay, rather, we shine. As luminous celestial bodies contrast the deep, dark recesses of outer space, so we “stick out” in this lost and dying world. We are lighthouses, guiding souls away from danger and destruction. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, describing Israel’s believing remnant, excerpted: “[14] Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Ephesians chapter 5 adds: “[7] Be not ye therefore partakers with them [children of disobedience, verse 6]. [8] For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: [9] (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; ) [10] Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. [11] And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” We return to Philippians….

A Higher Education: It Is Up to You!

Friday, May 19, 2017

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 KJV).

Eleven years ago today, I graduated high school. Consequently, we dedicate this devotional to high school students who are nearing graduation.

Are you about to graduate high school? What would God have you do afterward? Go to college? Trade school? Something else? What career should you pursue? If you do plan on education after high school, where should you attend school? These are tough questions, and while God’s Word does not answer them, you can make decisions that conform to sound Bible doctrine—that is God’s will.

In today’s Scripture, Paul encourages downcast Timothy. Timothy was considerably younger than the Apostle Paul. Older people who are teaching false doctrine are intimidating young Timothy: “Tim, you are too young to teach God’s Word. Let us handle it.” Young Timothy conceded, became silent, and allowed the (“older and wiser”) false teachers to continue teaching their damnable heresies (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 1:5-8). Paul replied, “Timothy, Speak up! Let no man despise thy youth!”

Christian youth can be just as effectual in their station in life as Christian adults. The lost world is watching us Christians, and we need to be sure that our actions are in accordance with the sound Bible doctrine we claim to believe (lest we be guilty of confusing the already-puzzled unbelievers). Whether “young or old,” our speech, our lifestyle, our acts of love, our determination, our belief in sound Bible doctrine, and our separation from that which God hates, is the way we communicate to the lost world God’s Word and its preeminence in our lives and hearts (today’s Scripture).

Above all, dear graduates, whatever you do post-graduation, “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). After all, it really is not your life—it is Christ’s life in you (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4), so He alone deserves the glory! 🙂

*Based on a Bible study by the same name, which can be read here. Also, see the study “The Spirit-Filled Student.”

By the way, you may also be interested in reading this archived special-edition study about my own college experience.