Thursday, June 28, 2018

Godly Faith Versus Religiosity, Fleshly vs Spiritual Jews, & God's Plan of Salvation

The apostle, Paul, loads this New Testament book of the Bible with general references to Old Testament principles about real faith versus the lack thereof. Through Paul, God challenges us to examine the faith that we claim for our brand of religion or philosophy. It raises the question of whether we have chosen earthly mumbo-jumbo, or IF we really believe God's eternal promises.

God warns us, further, that the Jews are still God's chosen people, whether we and the world like it or not. 1 Kings 19:18 is the main source to which Paul is referring when he mentions Elias (Elias is the common [Koine] Greek way of saying the Jewish name Elijah). The Jewish world in the time of Elias/Elijah was almost totally corrupt spiritually (like our world today), but God reassured Elias/Elijah that he was not the last believer alive. This is very important to understand, because there is a lot of religion and religiosity in our world today, but there is very little that agrees with what God says in His Word. God's Word is always right, no matter what the world says.

Romans 11 is really a wake up call to everyone in the world who professes anything for or against spiritual things, as it mirrors certain aspects of Romans 1. For, herein, God shows, again, that He is concerned about Christians, Jews, and Gentiles in general, that we might each, and all, figure out whether we are really believers in God's way of doing things, or if we are just playing religion, thus, only fooling ourselves about how God defines His Messiah and His only plan of salvation

Romans 11:1-36
  I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2  God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
3  Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4  But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
5  Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
6  And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
7  What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
8  (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
9  And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
10  Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
11  I say then, Have they 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:
14  If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
15  For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
16  For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
17  And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18  Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19  Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
20  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
24  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
25  For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27  For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
28  As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.
29  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
30  For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
31  Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
32  For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
34  For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
35  Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
36  For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Cast Yourself On This Rock, Don't Stumble Over It

Romans 9:33
"As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."

Hebrews 9:27
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” 

Like it or not, God says that we get only this one earthly life in which to choose where we are going to spend eternity. God's default setting for our deliberate rejection, our procrastination, and our neglect of His plan of redemption all yield the same tortured end, forever. Yes, neglect and procrastination are choices, also. So, please, don't choose to end up in hell and the lake of fire, forever, with the rest of the people who reject God's plan of salvation. This last link shows clearly that damnation is no party, and those there are alone in their suffering.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

God's Law & Promises Expose Our Sin Nature AND Offer Us Salvation

No matter how good or bad we think that we or someone else are, we have foolishly compared ourselves to one another, instead of comparing ourselves to God's perfection and His Law. ALL of God's Law and all human law that agrees with God's Law are good for testing ourselves, our deeds, and our motivations. There are way too many times that we either denigrate ourselves or someone else, or we elevate or worship ourselves or others, as  we fail to test all things by God and His Word. For instance, sin is promoted as a popular and cheap commodity, and even believers flock to the temple of sinful pleasure and self-indulgence, yet our willingness to forgive others who have sinned against us is at a premium. Coming in at last place, in the spiritual war, is our infrequent or grudging obedience to God's Word. 

Even, we, who call ourselves Bible believers, are swift to justify ourselves, and slow to condemn our own sin. We may also excuse or ignore the sin of others that our own sin might be overlooked, hoping that we can continue to practice that which displeases God. Sometimes, we think that we can 'clean up our act' without repenting, so that, maybe, we can snuggle up to God or our fellow Man, but, in our lack of repentance, we abuse God's love toward us and despise the blood of Christ that bought us back from sin. So we condemn ours actions. 

Even those who claim to be atheistic or polytheistic condemn their own sinful denial of God and His Christ, when they do righteous things that are mandated by The One True God and His Christ. I'm not picking on those whom most people would agree are sinners, for some of the most egregious sins are committed by those who profess a saving knowledge and faith in The One True God, saying that they believe His Word, yet we still willfully choose to sin against our Savior by "presumptuous" (deliberate, "I know better but I'm going to do what I want") actions. The Bible's Book of Romans is loaded with precious information about who we are, what we do, and how we need to and can 'get right' with God. How about making today a day of practicing repentance in all things? Let's call things what God calls them. Let's examine ourselves in His Light. Let's turn away from sin and toward God's Christ and God's ways, by faith and deliberate action. He does not call us by accident, so let us not wait to accidentally happen upon Him and His plan for our lives, since He is already holding us all together and giving us life.

Romans 3:3-31
 3  For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
4  God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
5  But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
6  God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
7  For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
8  And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
9  What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
13  Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14  Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15  Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16  Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17  And the way of peace have they not known:
18  There is no fear of God before their eyes.    
19  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
27  Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
29  Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
30  Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
31  Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. 

ALL of God's Law and all righteous human laws show us human sin. Sin is exposed and condemned by God and His Law. But, God's Law and human law do not stop sin. Law does not change human desire, motivation, or action. Righteous Law exposes sin and pronounces righteous judgment and penalties upon sin. 

In contrast to Law and its condemnation of sin, God has mercifully provided one and only one Way for the salvation and real peace for humanity, that we might escape the penalty for sin. That One Way is "repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ". God will accept nothing less than 100% observance of 100% of ALL of His Laws, OR, IF we accept His Gift to us, placing our faith and trust in Jesus, God's only Christ and Savior. The choice of your eternal destiny is yours.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

God Wants Me To Suffer, As He Did, By Fighting Against Sin? But, THAT is Not Popular Worldly Preaching!

Let's start by listening to Jesus Christ speaking with a man who was well acquainted with God's Word (including the prophetic promises of the coming of God's Savior).

John 3:1-21
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2  The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
5  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
8  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit
9  Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
10  Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
11  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12  If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
13  And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
14  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God

The process by which "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son", Jesus was tortured and bled to death, as is recorded in the Bible. He did that to buy me (and all humans) back from sin and worldly living. From cover to cover, throughout the Bible, God makes it clear that MY own sin is responsible for Jesus' suffering and death!! IF I acknowledge and accept that, the gift of His perfect sinless blood redeems me from the penalty of my sin, ...but, ...ONLY IF I believe on and trust in Him and HIS PLAN of salvation, instead of trusting my works or the world. I hold the decision card whether to accept or reject God's redemptive gift to me.

If I do choose to trust Him in repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ (as God desires), what comes after repentance, faith, and baptism by immersion (as He has ordained)? Guess what! He wants us engaged in sharing His Good News and in His holy war against the sin nature of our flesh and the world. As every maturing Christian soon learns, our biggest battle is against the sin nature of our own flesh, as it yearns for 'the old ways' in which we lived before we were saved from our sin. 

Welcome to God's war, Christian! May you battle sin earnestly and without fear, as you allow God's Holy Spirit and His Word to fill you and live through you. All glory to His Savior.

1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

James 1:21-22
21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

1 Peter 1:13-25
13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Romans 8:10-18
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
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.

Jesus tells us to be born again His way and then He tells us to be sure to dress in ALL the battle gear that He provides for us: Ephesians 6:10-18. Jesus does NOT send His family out to play, because salvation and Jesus sufferings are not a game. The Book of Ecclesiastes, especially tells us that life is too short and precious to waste on worldly things that distract us from what God wants for our lives. Throughout the Bible, God rarely uses the word "play" in a constructive manner. More frequently, He associates it with whoredom, fornication, and harlotry. By contrast, IF we want to have joy and peace with God Almighty, here and in the life to come, the LORD tells us to learn to rejoice in Him and in His ways. We shall not come to the end of our lives able to blame Him for where we end up, for, He tells us that WE are the ones who determine our eternal individual destinies of heaven, or hell. He's very specific that, when our present body is dead and gone, there is NEVER another chance for a 'do-over', nor for anyone to bail us out. May you allow God to help you to choose Him and His ways.