lost souls

Two Sons and Two Fathers

Thursday, April 20, 2017

“And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:” (Luke 23:18 KJV).

One son will be liberated to live, and the other Son will be sentenced to die!

At the time of Christ’s trial, Barabbas is a prisoner (Matthew 27:16). Barabbas is a murderer, a robber, and guilty of “insurrection,” or rebelling against the government (Mark 15:7; Luke 23:18,19; John 18:40).

It is Passover. Roman governor Pontius Pilate has a custom that, at the feast, he releases a prisoner, whomever the people desire (Matthew 27:15; Mark 15:6). “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:20-22).

Israel’s chief priests, rulers, and common people all demand Christ’s crucifixion and Barabbas’ release, so Pilate gives the sentence (Luke 23:23-25). Guilty Barabbas is set free to live, and innocent Jesus Christ is condemned to be crucified. While Barabbas’ involvement in the matter seems insignificant upon first glance, God included it in His written Word because to provide us with an amazing illustration!

“Barabbas” means “son of the father.” Barabbas is a criminal, and he represents sinful, rebellious mankind who is worthy of death. He is bound by sin, and faces eternal death. Spiritually, sinful mankind is the son of Satan—man is of his father the devil (John 8:44). Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, God, “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), but took upon Himself our sins and was punished in our place.

Innocent Jesus Christ took the place of guilty Barabbas, which actually represented Christ taking the place of the whole world, suffering God’s wrath on our behalf! “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust…” (1 Peter 3:18). Thus, through Christ’s finished crosswork, we sinful sons of Adam (and Satan) can be freed from sin, and we can become the righteous sons of God.

The Price of Christ #1

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

“And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver” (Matthew 26:15 KJV).

How much is Jesus Christ worth in the eyes of lost man?

Let us read today’s Scripture within its context: “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him” (Matthew 26:14-16).

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me” (Matthew 27:3-10).

The 30 pieces of silver was enough to buy a field; it was an enormous sum of money. The King James Bible does not specify what types of coins the priests paid Judas, but the “30 pieces of silver” is estimated to be the equivalent of three or four months’ wages. According to the Mosaic Law, the price of a slave was “thirty shekels of silver” (Exodus 21:32). In the eyes of lost mankind, the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, was worth nothing more than a slave!

Start in Romans #2

Tuesday, April 11, 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.

Romans begins with a name—“Paul.” The Holy Spirit led this Paul to pen today’s Scripture. When we come to him in the Bible, especially his conversion in Acts chapter 9; we read about the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ from heaven reaching down and saving a man who will become His spokesman to all the world.

Acts 26:16-18 were those words of Christ to Saul: “[16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee [apostolos = “sent one”], [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

Paul thus articulates in Romans 11:11-13 (today’s Scripture): “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:”

With Israel’s temporary fall, salvation is coming to us Gentiles (non-Jews) through Paul’s ministry. Hence, we must go to Paul’s epistles, or letters of doctrine, to read about that salvation. While his ministry begins in Acts chapter 9, we do not read his writings in the Bible until after Acts—the Book of Romans. In other words, Romans is the most fundamental information that God gave to Paul to give us Gentiles….

333’s 2100th – God’s Grace on Parade

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

“…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20 KJV).

Saints, we celebrate devotional #2100! (We also briefly address Mardi Gras.)

Here in (predominately Roman Catholic) southern Louisiana, Mardi Gras (French for “Fat Tuesday”) is a popular religious holiday. For centuries, this revelry has been advertised in the name of “Jesus Christ.” Lost people are certainly expected to act like lost people. We do not suppose they will behave like Christians. But, for them to misbehave—to engage in drunkenness, gluttony, and vulgarity—and unashamedly refer to it as a Christian holiday, is most outlandish and stupid!

So many people have great difficulty in reconciling how a loving God could let evil remain unpunished. They see endless murder, thievery, rape, oppression, malfeasance in office, dishonesty, and wonder if a “god” even exists. Still, there is a more obvious problem. How can a righteous God permit people to continuously (annually) engage in disorderly parades and lewd parties in the name of His dear Son? Why does He allow people to continue to disrespect Jesus Christ year after year?

God once judged sin most harshly on Earth: fire from Heaven consumed sinners, the earth opened and swallowed sinners, a Great Flood destroyed sinners, and on and on. For the last 2000 years, sinners have done just about anything they wanted on Earth—oppressed the poor, lied, cheated, stole, taken innocent lives, et cetera—yet there was no fire, no flood, no cleaving of the earth to punish them. Even today, God is silent. Why this major change in operation?

For the last 2100 days, we have considered the Word of God rightly divided. We have learned about the drastic dispensational change that occurred with the Apostle Paul’s salvation and ministry. Through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork—His dying for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4—God offers to all the world salvation from their sins. Rather than judging them, He is offering His grace, His unmerited favor to them. His Son was punished, that we might be saved from eternal damnation.

Whether at hundreds of Mardi Gras parades, or here at “333 Words of Grace,” God’s grace is clearly seen. May we not be foolish in rejecting it! Let us enjoy God’s grace by faith!

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

You may also see our archived Bible study Q&A, “Should Christians celebrate Mardi Gras?

They Love Fake News!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

“A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; 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?” (Jeremiah 5:30,31 KJV).

Israel in today’s Scripture, like many today, loves fake news!

There has been much discussion here in the United States in recent weeks about “fake news.” This has nothing to do with unintentional errors in reporting. It has everything to do with journalists deliberately fabricating news items to assassinate characters, spread propaganda, promote particular views, and (thereby) mislead audiences. These correspondents are not interested in reporting news; rather, they want to distort and interpret it for us. It is therefore no secret that a good portion of the American public currently has a very low opinion of its media.

Oddly enough, millions upon millions of Americans are still so heavily dependent on journalists and media to think for them and make their own decisions. They cannot think for themselves! For example, we have all seen people protesting for one reason or another. Yet, when they are interviewed, many of them have no clear idea of what they are against. While listening to their convoluted and flimsy comments, one can discern they are mindlessly parroting “fake news” headlines. It is so amazing that they really have a very poor sense of what is true and what is false. Oh, but, it should be added—they do not appear to want the truth anyway!

My fellow Americans, our nation has simply reaped what it has sown. For decades, the professing “Christian Church” has wasted its time and energy pursuing useless, worthless ideas and programs. They had no substantive answers to the critics. They did not raise their children in the Word of God, a meaningful Bible education. Error has now filled the massive void left by the “evicted” Holy Bible. Even today, there is no strong, truly Christian presence in our nation. Instead, we parrot our own nonsense—religious tradition masquerading as truth (or “fake news” in religion). Oh, but, it should be added—the average professing “Christian” does not want to know the truth anyway!

Subject Unto Higher Powers

Monday, February 20, 2017

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Romans 13:1,2 KJV).

Here in the United States of America, today is Presidents’ Day, when we remember all presidents, past and present!

Donald John Trump has been in office exactly one month today. Tensions, however, are still high and widespread in every echelon of our society—politics, communications, economics, educational, religious, familial, entertainment, and so on. In recent months, and especially recent weeks, people here and around the world have witnessed the “protesters.” Some are peaceful, which is allowed and encouraged by the First Amendment of our Constitution. However, others are anarchists and insurrectionists, people who have vowed to continue violently resisting our new president. These lawless individuals want to overthrow the government simply because they disagree with it. What do we expect from sinners who vehemently refuse to let God and His Word rule their lives?

My friend, contrary to popular belief, God did not ordain our president, or any other leader in power today. Rather, He instituted human government in Genesis chapters 9-11. Today, in the Dispensation of Grace, God is not choosing earthly leaders (He did in Israel’s program, but we are not in Israel’s program!) Nevertheless, the powers they wield, the offices they hold, are of divine origin (today’s Scripture). For people, especially we Christians, to rebel against government is to go contrary to God’s will for creation. Government is to maintain order and justice in society—even if it means the death penalty (Romans 13:4)! Ungoverned, human civilization would collapse, as disarray would be rampant and crime would remain unpunished. Provided it does not encourage us to disobey God’s Word, we should submit to human government.

We may not agree with our governmental leaders, friend, but the Bible does command us to pray for them in 1 Timothy 2:1,2. More than anything, we need to adapt God’s view of them: they too are unworthy sinners as we, also in desperate need of His Son as we. Be at peace with your government!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain, ‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable?’

Love Commended, Love Rejected

Monday, February 6, 2017

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8 KJV).

Friend, one of life’s greatest disappointments and injuries occurs when you offer someone your love and they trample it underfoot. They did not deserve your love; you did not deserve their hate. Likewise, we do not deserve God’s love, yet we enjoy it; He does not deserve our hate, and yet He receives it.

“Haters of God” (Romans 1:30) gripe about how He was so cruel and bloodthirsty in the Old Testament. What stares them in the face is the groundwork, the predictions, of the cross of Christ, found in those ancient writings. As they mumble and grumble in total ignorance, they ignore the love that God commended toward them at Calvary. To “commend” means, “to offer/present as worthy of acceptance or praise” (similar to “recommend”). Howbeit, they will neither accept nor praise that love that motivated Christ Jesus to die for our sins! Since they reject Father God’s truth and His love proclaimed therein, He will give them exactly what they prefer.

Second Thessalonians chapter 2 pronounces their impending doom, the coming of Satan’s emissary, Antichrist, the extreme depths of human wickedness: “[10] And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [11] And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: [12] That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Once they are consumed in Jesus Christ’s fiery Second Coming, and swiftly ushered alive into the everlasting fires of hell, they will know that it is not God who is “unloving.” No, they were unloving in that they “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” from such a hateful place!

My friend, hate God no longer. Come to Him by faith in His Son, and His Son alone!