Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Christ's Authority and the Sending of the Holy Spirit

We learn from the Bible that Jesus Christ has ALL authority. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, grew up into adulthood, and began to preach at thirty years of age. About three years later, he commissioned the apostles to preach. He said unto them: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus had constantly taught that He came from the Father, and brought His message to man. He came to do the Will of the Father. In John 6:38-40 it says: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” The inspired apostle Paul later wrote: “For He has put all things under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:27). This expression is an idiom meaning God placed all authority in His hands, in His care. We need to understand then that Christ’s authority is God’s authority. At the transfiguration God announced: “....This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5) We must ensure then that everything that we do religiously is based upon the authority of Jesus Christ, and not the doctrines of men because Christ said: “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). 

Christ Sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles

Have you ever heard anyone say that they were being directed by the Holy Spirit? Sure, you have. But let’s see if Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to any or all men. Jesus states in John 15:26-27: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” This is what Jesus said as He was talking to His chosen apostles. He never promised the baptism of the Holy Spirit on any person except these. Outside of the apostles and Cornelius in Acts chapter 10, no one ever was baptized with the Holy Spirit. If they were, they could do the very same things that the apostles could do. In reading Acts 2:1-4 we find that Christ’s promise was fulfilled. It says: “Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

It says in John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” This passage of scripture clearly says that the Holy Spirit came to the apostles, sent by Jesus, to guide them into all truth. While many have claimed the power of the Holy Spirit in a direct measure, those who so claim are not properly informed as to whom the Spirit was to be sent to in the first place. Luke, the writer of Acts, wrote the words of Jesus in Luke 24:49 which says: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high". Before Christ’s ascension into Heaven, He told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. They received the Spirit in Acts, chapter 2.

The Bible will not mean anything to anyone if one does not believe that Jesus Christ was given all authority by God the Father and that Christ later sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles. The Bible is truly the inspired Word of God, and that is why it is so very important that we believe it and do the will of God in our lives; because, in the end, it is the very words of the Bible, the words of Christ, that will judge us in the last day (John 12:48). Have you allowed God’s word, the Bible, to form your life? 

Monday, November 21, 2022

Thanksgiving - More Than a Holiday

This coming Thursday the nation will celebrate together a time of "Thanksgiving" for this country that we live in. The word "thanksgiving" is mentioned several times in the New Testament. We would not get a chance to celebrate the upcoming "Thanksgiving" holiday if God had not created earth and man to begin with. Paul writes to the Corinthians and says, "you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God" (1 Corinthians 9:11). Paul was stressing to the Corinthians that the true reason why wealth was bestowed was not for self-gratification, but in such a way as to cause thanksgiving to God. Yes, we should always want to have a spirit of thankfulness in our hearts to our God. We are told in Philippians that we are to be "anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). We are also told to have "...an attitude of thanksgiving;" (Colossians 4:2). The true attitude of thanksgiving is an attitude from our heart that says, "I am truly thankful to God for everything that He has given me to enjoy and use while on this earth". Yes, "Thanksgiving" is more than just a holiday, it's an attitude. An attitude Christians should always have on their heart year-round, realizing that all that one has is from God. We can truly be thankful for that!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Tradition and "I Think"

In regard to tradition, have you ever heard someone say, "that which is good enough for mother and father is good enough for me?" This has been said many times when it comes to family religions. When it comes to religion, any excuse that one uses to do what they want to do seems to be a good excuse as far as they are concerned. But let’s look at this same reasoning when it comes to other areas of our life. Are the farm tools used by our father and grandfather good enough for us? Is the office equipment of a hundred years ago good enough for you? If it is, then why do we have the modern machinery, computers, and electronic devices that are used today? Is the model “T” Ford good enough for us, or do we prefer the modern, faster, more convenient automobile?

So why is this true in religion? Here’s a question for us to ponder: “Could it possibly be that mother and father did not learn all about the truth of God?” If not, would it be wise to hold to their “tradition” of religion if such is not found in God’s Word, the Bible? If we really are as honest as they, will we not accept any new truth we learn? The apostle Paul wrote: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). And Peter said: “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Jesus Himself said: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37-38). When it comes down to tradition, we better make sure that we are following the tradition of Christ, and not our family, friends and other loved ones. 

Besides tradition, many have an “I think” philosophy. I have often heard people say, “I think that one religion is just as good as another.” When I’ve heard that, I must say that it honestly set me back on my heels for I was thinking, now where in the world did he read or hear that? Certainly not from the Bible that I read. In the judgment, will God judge, or will I be my own judge? Will He decide whether I go to Hell, or will I? The answer is obvious. Yet many think themselves to be the judge - or whether they are NOW saved. Just as I will have to meet with God’s approval then, so must I do so now. Yet, I hear this: “I think I am saved.” Or I've heard: “I'm satisfied with my baptism or the church of which I am a member of.”

These type of statements are alarming to me. When I hear them, it makes me think that we have just missed the whole point of religion and the Bible. The questions we should be asking are these: “Will God find me righteous at the judgment? Do I know for certain, based upon God’s written Word, that I am saved? Can I read in the Bible about the church in which I am a member of? Is God really satisfied with my baptism?” We must make sure that our answers are determined by what God has said, not what man has said. God is the judge of present and future righteousness and is the one that has set the standard of the things we must do in order to be saved and go into heaven. God has to be satisfied with what we are doing, not me, or anyone else. Knowing then that God is our judge we better be striving to do all we can to please Him because our eternal destiny depends on it (John 12:48).

The Hebrew writer wrote: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” and “having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 9:27;5:9). Only those that obey Christ will be able to enter into heaven. Many today think that they can ride the coat tails of their fathers, mothers, grandparents, or friends into heaven. Matthew 7:21 says that only those that do the will of the Father will enter heaven. Let us all live daily, letting God’s inspired Holy Word guide us, being obedient and faithful to His Word, so that we can know that we will have an eternity with Him in heaven. Remember, Jesus also said “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). 

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Watch and Beware of Satan

In the past I have written several articles on the blessings of being a Christian and the wonderful love of God. But there is another force that we need to be seriously aware of and that is Satan himself. Matthew 4:1 says "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil". It is Satan that temps us and every day that goes by we can see the hand of Satan somewhere in it. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote "Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control" (1 Corinthians 7:15). Paul was giving this advice to those that are married because he knew that Satan is always standing ready to tempt all with fleshly desires. One must understand that Satan is a very strong force and we cannot let our guard down for an instant because if we do, we will be tempted by him in an instant. Peter stressed this in his writing of 1 Peter 5:8 when he said "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour". Friends, we must see Satan as an active force just waiting for us. Satan has been called a "murderer from the beginning" and "does not stand for truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44). Not only is he a murderer and full of lies - the father of lies, but he is a sinner, John says "the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).

Don’t Give Satan the Advantage
We can see from all the above passages that Satan is "no good" and we need to be watchful and cautious of him. At this point you may be asking "what should I do with him?" First of all, don't give him the advantage. Paul said "...that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes". Once he gets the advantage it becomes harder and harder for us to overcome him. We must continually watch out for him (1 Peter 5:8), and resist him as James says in James 4:7 "Submit therefore to God, Resist the devil and he will flee from you". As Christians, we should be confident that when we do resist Satan that he will flee from us.

Put on the Armor of God
So how do we keep from giving him the advantage, to watch for him, and to resist him? By living a life that is sober as mentioned in 1 Peter 5:8. Another way to do this is to put the armor of God on us. Paul told the Ephesians "Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). We need to study the Word of God and dwell on Godly things while practicing a life of Godliness all the time. When we do so, there will be much less opportunity for Satan to tempt us.
Satan - The Great Deceiver
Here are just a few things that Satan does that hasn't been mentioned earlier. He entraps (1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26), blinds (2 Corinthians 4:4), takes the truth away (Luke 8:12), resists good (Zechariah 3:1; Revelation 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:18), promotes evil (Luke 22:3; Acts 5:3), transforms himself (2 Corinthians 11:14), and he deceives as stated in the book of Revelation 12:9 "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him".
There will come a time when Satan will cease to exist. "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). Do you know when that will occur? When this world comes to an end. Do you know who will join him? All mankind who have not believed and have not been baptized into Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16). In addition, those who are in the church who have not remained faithful to the end (Revelation 2:10). WATCH and BEWARE OF SATAN! BELIEVE IN JESUS - Our eternity with God depends on it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Our Feelings and the Creeds of Men

Our Feelings
We will never unite on matters religious unless we have the same standard. Referees in a football game would never be able to agree on what was or was not a penalty if they did not use the same rule book as their standard. Whether in the secular or religious realm, we must use the same standard if we are going to come to the same conclusion. If our standards are different, then our practice MUST be different. If our practices are different, then maybe our standard is different. Is God a god of confusion? In 1 Corinthians 1:10 it says: "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." In order for us to be able to speak the same thing, and not to have divisions, then we must make sure we are receiving God's instructions from His inspired Word, the Bible.

While most people claim the Bible is their guide, the facts in the case deny it. For example, we might hear one say, "I know I'm saved, for I feel it." For one to make a statement like that would mean that their inner feelings have become their authority because the evidence of salvation is in their feelings or conscience. The Bible is not their authority, even though they may say it is. Many people (because of teaching), have different feelings. One says I feel like I'm saved when I believe. Another says, I feel like I'm saved when I repent, and another says I feel like I’m saved after I am baptized. Can feelings REALLY tell us when we're saved? Or shall we have God's Word as evidence on whether or not we are REALLY saved? 

The Creeds of Men
Did you know that human creeds have long been the curse of society, a major cause of religious division and an instrument for causing families to be alienated. What a blessing it would be if we could have a great big book burning and destroy every human creed in existence. But of course this will not happen, because men love their religious creeds and family traditions more than the Holy inspired book that God gave us, the Bible. When men go to the source, the standard in religion, the Bible, and do those things that are contained therein, we have unity. But when men add to the Bible and start writing their own creeds, manuals, etc., then we have division. God never intended for there to be division in the area of religion, that was something man came up with! Jesus prayed: "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:" (John 17:21-22).

Still, many have their own belief, traditions, and creeds. One denomination has a discipline that teaches the doctrine of "faith only" as wholesome and full of comfort. Yet the Bible clearly says in James 2:24: "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." Faith only implies, and men will say, that no acts of obedience are necessary, whereas Jesus said: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). I invite you to make an honest choice when it comes to the area of religion. You can determine within yourself to serve a human creed, or simply rely on the Word of God, the Bible. Which will it be? Only the Bible offers what you and I need for eternal salvation. We can't get to heaven any other way except through obedience to God's Word, and His Word ONLY. It is always my hope and prayer that one will truly investigate and meditate on the Word of God and make the right decision to obey God in all things based on the Bible, and not on personal feelings or the creeds of men. Our eternal destiny depends on it.