free will

As Ye Have Spoken, So Will I Do

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

“Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you” (Numbers 14:28 KJV).

Dear friend, be careful what you wish for—God will give it you!

The 12 Jewish spies have returned from scouting the Promised Land (chapter 13). However, 10 spies offer an evil report, thereby disputing God’s Word: “[27] And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. [28] Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great….” Israel disheartened, doubting God will give them success, says, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we(verse 31).

Chapter 14 opens with Israel’s further complaints: “[1] And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. [2] And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” They would rather die in the wilderness than enter God’s land! Not long after, they tempt the LORD the tenth time.

Today’s Scripture with its context: “[26] And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, [27] How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. [28] Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: [29] Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me, [30] Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.” Indeed, dear friends, God gave them their wish!

Eager to Preach, Eager to Leave!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:2-4 KJV).

One is ready to preach—the other is ready to leave!

Recently, I saw a man sitting and reading his Bible. I walked over, introduced myself, shook his hand, and sat down beside him. I began to ask him some questions to get a sense of his spiritual understanding. Although not talkative, he permitted me to share verses with him. Suddenly, we were interrupted, distracted, and a pressing matter forced him to temporarily leave. I told him we could talk some more when he returned. Eventually, he did come back to the room where I was, but no longer with a Bible in hand. Also, he did not approach me. (I had already decided not to engage in any further dialog unless he initiated it.)

The above scenario, while terrible, has repeated itself millions of times throughout the centuries. People have read the Bible, appeared to be genuine Scripture readers, sounding like Christians, but really having no interest in hearing the things of God. They would rather keep their worthless church traditions, preconceived ideas, and age-old superstitions. While we cannot read hearts, God can and does. We can fool a preacher into thinking we love the Bible (as that man did with me), but God is never fooled by anyone. He knows who is a member of the Church the Body of Christ, and who is simply a church member. He knows who has been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, and who was baptized simply into water.

Saints, we should do our very best to preach a clear Gospel message and teach plainly the rightly divided Scriptures. Still, some people will object. They want religion, not Bible. They want themselves, not Christ. They want fables, not truth. We need to respect their wishes. If they do not want the truth, then they should be left in error!

Dominion

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

“Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy; for by faith ye stand” (2 Corinthians 1:24 KJV).

What makes religion different from Bible-believing Christianity is such “dominion!”

The Greek word translated “have dominion over” in today’s Scripture is kurieoo, from kurios (“lord”). It occurs first in Scripture in Luke 22:25-26, Jesus’ response to an argument His disciples had over who was the “greatest:” “[25] And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. [26] But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Notice kurieoo, “exercise lordship over.”)

Kurieoo appears again in Scripture, in Romans 6:9 and 14 as “hath dominion over:” “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him…. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Then, Romans 7:1: “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?” Next, Romans 14:9: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” (The next instance is today’s Scripture). Finally, 1 Timothy 6:15: “Which in his own times he shall shew who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of king, and Lord of lords;”

In light of the aforementioned surveys, we better Paul’s usage of the term in today’s Scripture. The Apostle never forced himself on anyone (in that case, the unruly Corinthians). He “helped” or “served” them instead (cf. today’s Scripture and Luke 22:26). God’s grace motivates us to do right, friends, but it does not command us or force us as governmental leaders use laws. Christianity is not about religious leaders dictating to or bullying us. (That is religion!) We make conscious choices by faith in Bible verses we read, and we therefore “stand.” Never, ever let any preacher, theologian, denomination, or church sit on a throne in your Christian life! 🙂

Forgiven for Christ’s Sake #6

Saturday, July 16, 2016

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32 KJV).

What is true forgiveness?

Father God took our offenses against Him, all of man’s sins, and He placed them on Jesus Christ. As the Passover lamb’s blood was shed and applied to Jewish doorways, so the Death Angel would pass over them while judging Egypt, the blood of our Passover lamb was shed at Calvary to protect us from God’s wrath in hellfire. “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7b). “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18). He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26b). In Scripture, “forgiveness” means, “send away,” “forsake,” “let alone,” “lay aside.”

Romans chapter 4: “[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [6] Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, [7] Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”

And, Ephesians 1:7: “In whom [Christ Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Also, Colossians 1:14: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Finally, Colossians 2:13: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him [Christ Jesus], having forgiven you ALL trespasses” (cf. today’s Scripture).

God’s forgiveness of us provides us with a pattern of how we are to forgive others. Friends, lest bitterness result, we must send it away by faith to Calvary’s cross where God’s Son died to put it away!

Our latest Bible Q&A articles: “Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?” and “Does Romans 9:20-21 support Calvinism?

Forgiven for Christ’s Sake #5

Friday, July 15, 2016

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32 KJV).

What is true forgiveness?

Sins—wrongdoings—can and do come between others and us. Someone doing us wrong becomes a hindrance to fellowship. Likewise, as children of Adam, our sins have come between God and us. Long, long ago, before we were even born—yea, before anything was created—God looked down through time to see us, the human race. He saw all the troubles we would cause His creation. What a mess it would be! Still, He valued free will so much. He risked His purpose and plan to allow us opportunity to follow or reject Him. Above all, He would make provisions to cover those mistakes of ours. Despite everything sinful man would do to mess up His creation, He would still bring about His will.

Friends, the cross of Christ was not an afterthought or an accident. It was in the mind of the triune Godhead all along (Acts 2:23). Father, Son, and Holy Spirit simply let man and Satan in their free will carry it out in blindness (Acts 3:17). Sinful man and Satan had no idea God would use the death of His Son for good (1 Corinthians 2:6-8)! On that awful cross, the blood of Jesus Christ, needed to wash away our sins, was shed so abundantly. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

While mankind was going on in his sinful ways, God sent His Son. Romans 5:6-8 explains: “[6] For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. [7] For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. [8] But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Rather than pretending like mankind had no sins, God saw those sins and He punished His Son for those sins. With the sin-debt paid in full, forgiveness was (and is) now possible… for us and others!

Ye Would Not!

Friday, June 24, 2016

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37 KJV).

As in Christ’s earthly ministry, so today—God never takes free will away!

Recently, a brother in Christ shared his heavy burden with me. One of his relatives is in dire health, suffering 99 percent brain damage. His doctors say, even if he survives, he will be in a vegetative state. The brother explained to me that he shared the Gospel with this man years ago, but had not heard from him since. He is still worried the now-dying man never did anything with the Gospel—especially sad now that he is holding to life by a thread and maybe drawing closer to hell.

This brother had to understand it is beyond his control. He has shared the Gospel most faithfully, and there is nothing he can do for his relative but pray for him now. His brain is not functioning properly anymore, but he still may be aware in his soul. We cannot be sure just how alert such people are spiritually. If they so desire, God can always bring His Word to memory in those who have heard it years before.

Beloved, we should never beat ourselves up wondering if we shared the Gospel enough with someone who is dying or who has since died. If they only heard us share the Gospel with them once, that one time was all that we were able to do. While we care for them deeply, we cannot force people to trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. The God of the Bible is all about freedom. If people do not want Him, He will not force them to accept Him. After three years of ministry, with a heavy heart, Jesus looked at Jerusalem and wept. They had no interest in Him or anything He had to say to them (today’s Scripture).

God has done everything to keep people out of hell by sending Jesus Christ to die for their sins. If they want to ignore that, that is their choice. Let it not be ours!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Jude 9?

Captive!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26 KJV).

Satan is desperately trying to keep his captives from hearing God’s truth!

A lady visited my home yesterday to invite my family and me to an upcoming program at her (nearby) church. Knowing her cult, I determined the best way to approach her was to mention the verse on her booklet’s cover. As I suspected, her religious tradition denied the everlasting nature of hell (“annihilationism”). The “wicked” would simply be burned up and become nonexistent, never suffering forever in fire and brimstone as the Bible teaches.

Yes, she was highly trained in her religion, arguing that the Bible verses commonly interpreted as “everlasting torment” were really “representations.” Still, she could not clearly explain what she meant—only that those passages were not literal. She grabbed Bible verses here and there to validate her denomination. I cautioned her that religious groups ignore verse contexts, politely “hinting” that I was aware of her dishonesty (without me ever actually saying “liar, liar”).

She did not know the Gospel by which we are saved today. (Once I gave it to her, she did not accept it). We talked about many Bible topics for about an hour before she, convicted by the Word, had to “hurry home.” She was very knowledgeable of verses to support her theology. But, she was surprised that someone (me) would mention verses she did not understand. Exiting my front door, with me following, she again said, “A loving God could not send people to suffer hell forever.” One final time, I gave the Gospel of Grace. I told her that God loved sinners so much that He did everything He could to prevent them from experiencing eternal judgment. He sent His Son to die for their sins. Rejecting Christ again, she hurried down my driveway to her vehicle.

Saints, let us preach God’s Word, patiently, gently, lovingly. What people do with it is their responsibility. We did ours! 🙂