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Two Minutes With The Bible

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#1
nChrist

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Peppermint
by Pastor John Fredericksen


I like peppermint. It has a refreshing taste and it can help refresh my breath, when it needs it, making it more suitable to interact in public. Peppermint also serves as an illustration or reminder of what we should be striving to be for the Lord.

Among Paul’s praises of Philemon was that “the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee” (Phile. 7). This precious saint had chosen to be like a peppermint for all the believers with whom he came in contact. It’s wonderful to read about this kind of testimony and what made him so refreshing to others. He demonstrated a sense of “love and faith… toward all saints” (v. 5). When these characteristics are present and genuine, they manifest themselves in a warmth and interest in others that is unmistakable. It will also be obvious in the tone and content of every word that comes out of one’s mouth.

Philemon was approachable even about sensitive matters. Paul felt free to be bold in asking him to kindly and lovingly receive someone (Onesimus) who had wronged him (vv. 10-16). This quality of being approachable engendered a respect, closeness, and freedom in relation- ships that made Philemon a blessing to others.

Philemon could be expected to respond in a correct spiritual way. Paul had “confidence”(v.21) that Philemon would do the right thing in the right way and with the right spirit. No wonder, then, that this believer refreshed the saints around him, including the Apostle Paul. Philemon was a grace believer who not only believed in grace doctrine, he lived and demonstrated grace.

As we consider this godly example, we should apply these truths by asking ourselves if we truly want to be the kind of saint that is like a refreshing, spiritual peppermint. We should want to be this kind of saint! A good way to begin is by asking the Lord to help us develop the kind of Christian character that makes us refreshing to other saints: loving, approachable, and so responsive to the Scriptures that others can be confident in our actions and reactions. If this is your prayer and heart’s desire, we encourage you to look for verses in Paul’s letters that will further empower you toward becoming this kind of godly example.

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#2
nChrist

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Washed, Sanctified And Justified
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


“And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:11).

The preceding verses of I Cor. 6 contain a long list of vile sins and vices into which men have fallen, and the Apostle adds:

“And such were some of you.” God’s Church is not made up of “good people” who have never fallen into sin. It is rather made up of sinners, saved by grace, through the infinite payment made for sin by Christ on Calvary’s cross.

“And such were some of you.” Had the Apostle included the more “refined” sins, such as pride, self-righteousness, etc., he would have had to say: “And such were all of you.”

Note further, however, that the Apostle says: “And such were some of you.” Thank God, he goes on to say of those who had been thus stained with sin: “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

How beautiful these three phrases: “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified”! The word “but” appearing before each phrase indicates that each should be considered separately. Such vile creatures were some of you, “but ye are washed,” cleansed from the sins that contaminated you. “But ye are sanctified.” Having been cleansed you are now set apart as sacred for His glory. “But ye are justified.” When God justifies us, who can condemn?

“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?”

All this is done for the believing sinner, as our verse says, “in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

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nChrist

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Let It Get You Down
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3: 14).

When adversity strikes, the world keeps telling us: “Don’t let it get you down,” but believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have learned that it is good to let troubles and difficulties get them down — down on their knees.

A native evangelist in Africa sat outside his hut discouraged and unhappy. Trouble and disappointment had brought “great coldness” into his heart and he seemed ready to give up. The Lord, he felt, had utterly forsaken him. As he sat there, though, his little girl kept nudging him and saying: “Daddy, go inside and pray .” Finally it worked! The evangelist went inside, poured his heart out to God and arose feeling sure that the Lord would see him through.

It is good for us to get down on our knees before God. There is no attitude more appropriate to the redeemed sinner. And as we pray, often falteringly….

“The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

“And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose”
(Rom. 8:26-28 ).

“Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding. shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6,7).

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nChrist

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Applause
by Pastor Paul M. Sadler


Scripture Reading:

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.”
– Colossians 3:17

There seems to be a growing trend in Christendom for congregations to physically applaud those who are ministering in the things of the Lord. Pastors are applauded when they wax eloquent or say something humorous. Also, after soloists lift the hearts of the saints into the heavenlies they are often met with a round of applause as they step down from the platform. Having pastored a number of local assemblies, I’ve risen from my chair, on more than one occasion to interrupt the hand clapping of the saints. While I am sure their applause was well-intentioned, it is nonetheless very irreverent and disrespectful to the Lord.

When the world gives a standing ovation after a performance of an actor or comedian they are expressing their appreciation for having been acceptably entertained. They are also praising the performer for his excellence in an art which has been cultivated through years of hard work.

When the servant of the Lord comes to the platform, to minister on our behalf, the purpose of his labor of love is not to entertain the congregation. It is to be viewed rather as a ministry, which is an integral part of our worship of the Holy One of Heaven. Anyone who serves the Lord, sincerely, would never want the applause of men, but would insist that all the honor and glory be given to God. May all our adoration go to the One Who is worthy to be worshipped, for He has given us his Word and the opportunity along with the gifts to minister on His behalf. Amen!

CHRYSOSTOM ON APPLAUSE
345-407 A.D.

“… some clapped their hands in applause, according to the custom of the times. Then Chrysostom raised his voice: ‘How does your applause help me?’ It will be the right approval if you practice in life what I say to you. The church is no theater, where men listen for their own pleasure.” (From the Life of Chrysostom, by Frederic Perthes, P. 18 ).

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The Triumphal Entry -- Past Or Future?
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


Did our Lord actually ride in triumph into Jerusalem to become King of the Church? Or is His true triumph still to come?

True, the townspeople cried: “Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:12,13). But Jesus responded by entering the city, riding “an ass’s colt” (Verses 14,15). Surely this was not a very regal sight! Once before, when He knew that they “would come and take Him by force to make Him a King, He departed…into a mountain Himself alone” (John 6:15).

He knew that it was not yet time for Him to reign. First must come the cross, then the throne. Zechariah had prophesied of this entry into Jerusalem, saying: “Behold thy King!” Look at Him! and then he describes His entrance: “Lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass” (Zech. 9:9).

At this entry, “When He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it” (Luke 19:41). At this entry He entered into the temple, looked about and went out again (Mark 11:11). It was His Father’s house, but He could not worship there. It had become a den of thieves. No, this was no triumphal entry. Look at Him, meek, lowly, riding on an ass’s colt, and then see Him coming again as Revelation 19:11-16 describes it. How different the symbolism!

Once meek, lowly, and “having salvation.” Now, “in righteousness doth He judge and make war.” Once, riding “an ass’s colt.” Now, “Behold! a white horse!” And those eyes, once filled with tears are now “as a flame of fire.”

Our Lord’s true triumphal entry is still future. According to prophecy He will come again, put down all rebellion against Himself, and reign in glory and power. Thank God He has not yet done so! In love He still points to Calvary, where He died for our sins and offers us the riches of His grace.

“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).

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Is It Important Who You Spend Time With?
by Pastor John Fredericksen


Whether we realize it or not, we are all affected by the people with whom we spend time. Their attitudes, philosophies, language, and spirituality (good or bad) have a tendency to rub off on us, even if we don’t realize it. The Lord warns us about this in I Corinthians 15:33: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” This isn’t true only for young people. It is true for believers of all ages. We might not want to think this could happen to us, but the Lord encourages us not to be deceived about this important principle.

David realized how important it was to surround himself with the right kind of spiritually minded people. His testimony was, “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts” (Psa. 119:63). He intentionally chose to minimize the time he spent around the ungodly, or only somewhat spiritually minded, and to maximize his time around truly dedicated believers. Doing so gave him continual encouragement to walk after the Lord with a pure heart and not after the ways of the world.

The Apostle Paul must have embraced this principle for living too. As we look through his letters, it is easy to see the close relationship he maintained with many saints who were truly living for the Lord. Luke, Aquilla and Priscilla, Philemon, Titus, and Timothy are only a few he mentions with whom he had consistent fellowship. In contrast, neither Paul nor David spent a great deal of time with the lost, or ungodly, unless it was with ministry in mind.

We are not suggesting that believers cut themselves off from the unsaved or become hermits. We have instruction and examples to the contrary. We learn from II Corinthians 5:20 that “we are ambassadors for Christ” with the ministry of reconciliation or, in other words, the mission of sharing a clear gospel of grace with all that we can. Similarly, Ephesians 3:9 tells us Paul’s mission was also to “make (or help) all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery.” We too should share this goal of seeking to share with everyone the gospel of grace and the joyous news of God’s secret program of grace that is distinct from Israel and the Mosaic Law. So, we should have a ministry-minded outreach to others.

The proper balance to find should be in still maintaining an outward ministry, yet limiting our time with the lost, unspiritually minded, or even marginally spiritually minded. It is important for us to “be not deceived” about how others influence us and therefore to choose, like David and Paul before us, to make friends and companions of those who are so spiritually minded that we will be continually encouraged in the Lord. Is it important who we spend time with and how much time we spend with them? It certainly is! May God help each of us to cultivate the best kind of friendships: those with dedicated, spiritually minded believers of like precious faith.

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#7
nChrist

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It Didn't Add Up!
by Pastor Ricky Kurth


In Daniel 9:25, the prophet Daniel was told that from the going forth of the commandment to restore Jerusalem “unto the Messiah” would be 69 weeks of years (cf. Gen. 29:27; Lev. 25:8 ). Frankly, this very specific prophecy baffled Bible students for many years, for the predicted time of 483 years (69×7) “unto the Messiah” did not match up with the time of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then, in his book The Coming Prince, a Bible teacher named Sir Robert Anderson realized the problem lay in the different ways Jews and Gentiles mark time. We number our years using a solar calendar wherein each year has 365¼ days, but the Jews used a 360-day lunar calendar, with each year consisting of 12 months of 30 days each.

Evidence of this is found in Genesis 7:11, where we read that the deluge began “in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month,” yet exactly “an hundred and fifty days” later (v. 24), “the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month” (8:3,4). The only way an exact period of five equal months can end 150 days later on the same day of the month is if each of those months has 30 days. Further evidence of this is seen when we remember that the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week is sometimes said to last “forty and two months” (Rev. 11:2), and sometimes it is said to last “a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (v. 3). The only way 42 equal months can work out to 1260 days is if each of those months has 30 days.

Once Sir Robert recalculated the prophecy using lunar years, he found that the 69 weeks “unto the Messiah” worked out to the very day the Lord Jesus rode the colt into Jerusalem and made an official presentation of Himself to Israel. No wonder the Lord lamented later that day, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!” (Luke 19:42).

The point? When you are asked why men should trust the God of the Bible, why not give the reason God Himself gives—fulfilled prophecy! (Isa. 42:8,9; 44:7,8 cf. John 13:19). To those who would tout the gods of the world’s other religions, God says, “Produce your cause…bring forth your strong reasons…let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen…shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods” (Isa. 41:21-24).

The God of the Bible alone is God!

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#8
nChrist

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You Can't Get By With This
by Pastor Ricky Kurth


One of Pastor Stam’s favorite jokes went something like this:

Teacher: “Johnny, what’s the difference between a pronoun and a preposition?”

Johnny: “Yeah, that’s what I say, what’s the difference!”

Despite Johnny’s indifference, we know there is a great deal of difference between pronouns and prepositions! These parts of speech are important, especially when it comes to Bible study. For instance, Pastor Stam once wrote:

“Not once does Paul in his epistles teach that members of the Body of Christ are baptized with or in the Spirit.”

In response to this, we sometimes get letters asking about this verse:

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” (I Cor. 12:13).

But a close look will reveal an important difference in the preposition used in each case. The Apostle Paul taught that believers today are baptized “by” the Spirit, but Pastor Stam doesn’t say we’re not baptized by the Spirit, he says we are not baptized “with” the Spirit. No contradiction here!

Speaking of Christ, John the Baptist predicted:

“He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 3:11).

This prophecy was fulfilled at Pentecost, where “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues” (Acts 2:4). It is important to notice that Christ is the Baptizer here, and that He baptized people with the Spirit. This is often confused with I Corinthians 12:13, but in this passage the Spirit is the Baptizer, baptizing people into the Body. That’s quite different than what happened at Pentecost, where the Lord was the Baptizer, baptizing people with the Spirit, enabling them to speak in tongues.

This explains why believers today are not able to speak in languages they never studied, as they did at Pentecost, for we do not have their baptism. But if we do not have their baptism, we must also conclude that at Pentecost they did not have our baptism. That is, we are not baptized by Christ with the Spirit, and they were not baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ.

We realize this runs contrary to the common teaching that the Church began at Pentecost, where it is said that believers were first baptized into the Body, but we believe the difference in prepositions used in these passages is just one of many evidences that the Body of Christ began later, with the raising up of Paul.

You just can’t get by with mixing with and by!

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#9
nChrist

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Sad, But True
by Pastor Paul M. Sadler


Scripture Reading:

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” — I Corinthians 10:12

Heard a story told by a Grace Believer who met another Grace Believer in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge:

“I was standing in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge admiring the view when another tourist walked up alongside of me to do the same. I heard him say quietly, as he took in the beauty of the view, ‘What an awesome God.’

“I turned to him and said, ‘You a Christian?’

“He said, ‘Yes, I am a Christian.’

“I said, ‘So am I,’ and we shook hands. I said, ‘Are you a liberal or a fundamental Christian?’

“He said, ‘I am a fundamental Christian.’

“I said, ‘So am I,’ and we smiled and nodded to each other.” I said, ‘Are you a Covenant or dispensational, fundamental Christian?’

“He said, ‘I am a dispensational, fundamental Christian.’

“I said, ‘So am I,’ and we slapped one another on the back.” I said, ‘Are you an early Acts, mid-Acts or late Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian?’

“He said ‘I am a mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian.’

“I said, ‘So am I’ and we agreed to exchange Christmas cards each year. I said, ‘Are you an Acts 9 or 13, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian?’

“He said, ‘I am an Acts 9, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian.’

“I said, ‘So am I’ and we hugged one another right there on the bridge. I said, ‘Are you a pre-trib, or post-trib, Acts 9, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian?’

“He said, ‘I am a pre-trib, Acts 9, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian.’

“I said, ‘So am I,’ and we decided to exchange kids for the summer.”I said, ‘Are you a 12 in or 12 out, pre-trib, Acts 9, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian?’

“He said, ‘I am a 12 in, pre-trib, Acts 9, mid-Acts, dispensational, fundamental Christian.’”I said, ‘You heretic, and I pushed him off the bridge!’” — Author Unknown

The above is sad but all too true, with the exception of being pushed off a bridge, although some may have even considered that! Of course, the shoe could have been on the other foot; that is, the weary traveler might have held the 12 out position — heaven forbid! The point is, no matter how deeply our convictions may run on secondary issues, they should never disrupt our fellowship together. Issues such as: Are the 12 in or out of the Body of Christ? Was Paul the author of Hebrews? Should we observe holidays? Was Paul in or out of the will of God in Acts 21? Where did the Church begin — Acts 9, 11, or 13? And on and on we could go.

Our Fellowship in Christ must rest solely on the Fundamentals of the Faith and the Doctrines of Grace found in Ephesians 4:4-6. There is no room for further discussion on these matters. On other areas of the Word of God where we may find ourselves in disagreement, let us “agree to disagree” in a Christ-like manner. This will help maintain the unity of the Spirit among us and glorify God in the process.

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#10
nChrist

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Full Assurance
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


It is wonderful to have the full assurance of salvation, and it is God’s will that every one of us enjoy this assurance. Toward the close of his life the Apostle John wrote by divine inspiration:

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life…” (I John 5:13).

There are three bases upon which believers in Christ may enjoy the full assurance of salvation: First, God urges every true believer: “Let us draw near, with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith…” (Heb. 10:22). This is the full assurance that results from simply believing God; much as a child implicitly believes what his father has said and is absolutely sure that it is true. God says: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36). We may simply — and with good reason — believe His Word and enjoy the full assurance of faith.

Second, we may enjoy what Heb. 6:11 calls “the full assurance of hope.” The hope of the Bible, however, must not be confused with wishing. The Christian’s “hope” is “an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Ver. 19). It comes from having proved God. Thus the full assurance of hope is the confidence that results from having accepted God’s Word.

But third, and best of all, is what Col. 2:2 calls “riches of the full assurance of understanding.” This full assurance is God’s reward to Christians who study His Word and His purposes, beginning with His plan of salvation as revealed in “the gospel of the grace of God.” When one not only believes God’s Word, but begins to understand it he cannot but be gripped by its sublime reasonableness, its powerful logic, and its provision for his deepest needs, and thus he comes to enjoy “all [the] riches of the full assurance of understanding.”

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#11
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Three Brutal Murders
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


Every student of the Word should know the three brutal murders around which all history revolves. These three murders represent Israel’s response to God’s three-fold call to repentance. They explain the unpardonable sin and form the background for the present dispensation of grace.

It was John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets, who was sent as the forerunner of Christ to call Israel to repentance. He was beheaded by Herod, the wicked and licentious “king of the Jews”. After John, Christ Himself took up the cry: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. Him they crucified. Then, at Pentecost, Israel was given a third opportunity to repent, until they shed blood again, stoning Stephen to death.

It should be noticed, too, that their guilt, as well as their bitter enmity, increased with the second and third murders! Had Israel, responded to John’s call to repentance Herod would never have dared to even put John in jail. This explains why our Lord did nothing to release him from prison, even though this had offended John. It was not His, but theirs to do something about John’s unjust imprisonment and every moment he spent in prison testified against them. Read carefully Luke 3:18-20; 7:19-29; and Matthew 14:1-11. As to the beheading of John the Baptist, they permitted it. As to the crucifixion of Christ, they demanded it (Luke 23:23,24). As to the stoning of Stephen, they committed it, casting him out of the city with their own hands and stoning him there.

And so that generation in Israel committed the unpardonable sin which our Lord warned would not be forgiven, either in that age, or in the age to come. Thus we close this article by quoting those precious passages from Paul’s epistles which clearly DENY the possibility of any “unpardonable sin” during the present “dispensation of the grace of God”:

“We have redemption through His blood, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).

“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. BUT WHERE SIN ABOUNDED, GRACE DID MUCH MORE ABOUND: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom.5:20,21).

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#12
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The Rest of the Story
by Pastor Ricky Kurth


During the Second World War, radio personality Paul Harvey began ending his daily newscast with a feature he called, “The Rest of the Story.” These factual narratives always concluded with an interesting twist that made for a surprise ending. Listeners were often fascinated to learn that even when it came to stories with which they were familiar, there was always more to the story than what they had previously heard.

This is sometimes true of the greatest story ever told, the gospel of Jesus Christ. There may be more to the story than what you have heard in the past, and the part you may not have heard just might be the very thing that is keeping you from believing what the Bible says about how to be saved from your sins. Let’s begin by reviewing the part you may have already heard, the part that maybe left you feeling skeptical about the Bible’s plan of salvation.

The Bible clearly teaches that you cannot work your way to heaven by doing good works:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” (Titus 3:5).

Perhaps you’ve heard these verses before, and wondered, “Does that mean God does not want us to do good works?” Since this didn’t seem to make any sense to you, maybe you chose not to believe what you considered to be such an unbelievable gospel.

If that’s the case, it might comfort you to know that God knew in advance that people would wonder about this. That’s why right after that verse we quoted that says salvation is “not of works,” the next verse goes on to say that believers are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:9,10). If you are wondering what it means to be “created in Christ,” remember that God created a creature named Adam in the beginning. Today, when someone believes the gospel, God makes him “a new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17). And just as God’s first creature was created to do the good work of dressing and keeping the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15), believers in Christ are likewise “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” That is, while you cannot be saved from your sins by doing good works, once you are saved by grace, you’ll want to do good works because you are saved (not in order to get saved) to express your gratitude to God for saving you.

We see the same thing in that other gospel verse we quoted, where right after saying that salvation is “not by works of righteousness which we have done” (Titus 3:5), Paul adds “that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works” (v. 8 ). Here again we see that after we are saved by grace through faith, God then reminds us to do the good works that we were created to do.

So you see, just because God does not ask you to do good works in order to be saved doesn’t mean He doesn’t want you to do good works! He just wants you to understand that good works come after salvation, not before. Most people get the cart before the horse, and you just can’t get to heaven in a cart like that!

Does the gospel story seem a little more believable to you now? If so, you should know that while you can only be saved by believing, it is important to believe in the right thing! It is not enough just to believe in God, for “the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). It is not even enough to have faith in Christ; you must have “faith in His blood” (Romans 3:25). That is, you must believe that the blood He shed on the cross paid for all of your sins, and that you don’t have to add a single good work to what He has already done on your behalf. Romans 4:5 says:

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

If you are still not sure how to be saved from the judgment of God on your sins, ask yourself this question. If you died today, and God asked, “Why should I let a sinner like you into My Heaven?” what would your answer be? If your answer is anything other than, “Christ died for my sins,” or if you try to add your own good works to what Christ did for you on Calvary, then you are not fully trusting in His blood. Why not rather follow the advice of the Apostle Paul? When a man asked him, “What must I do to be saved?,” Paul replied quite simply,

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30,31).

And now you know the rest of the story!

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#13
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Forgiveness
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


“WE HAVE REDEMPTION THROUGH [Christ's] BLOOD, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE” (Eph. 1:7).

The climax of Paul’s first recorded sermon is reached in Verses 38 and 39 of Acts 13, where he declares:

“BE IT KNOWN UNTO YOU THEREFORE, MEN AND BRETHREN, THAT THROUGH THIS MAN IS PREACHED UNTO YOU THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS:

“AND BY HIM ALL THAT BELIEVE ARE JUSTIFIED FROM ALL THINGS, FROM WHICH YE COULD NOT BE JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW OF MOSES.”

Thus God through Christ, forgives and justifies those who believe. Nor is this all that was accomplished for us by the death of Christ at Calvary. There is also reconciliation, baptism by the Spirit into Christ and His Body, a position at God’s right hand in the heavenlies and all spiritual blessings there.

“The forgiveness of sins” must come first, however, and the above passage assures us that in Christ we have this — not barely, but “ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE”. Indeed, the next verse continues: “WHEREIN HE HATH ABOUNDED TOWARD US…”

Thus Ephesians 2:2-7 declares that though we were once “the children of disobedience”, and therefore “by nature the children of wrath”, “God, WHO IS RICH IN MERCY, for His GREAT LOVE wherewith He loved us”, has given us life and raised us from the dead, exalting us to “heavenly places in Christ…”

His purpose in all this? “THAT IN THE AGES TO COME HE MIGHT SHOW THE EXCEEDING RICHES OF HIS GRACE IN HIS KINDNESS TOWARD US THROUGH CHRIST JESUS” (Verse 7).

When God forgives us He no longer sees us in our poor selves, BUT IN CHRIST, who took our place, dying for our sins on Calvary’s cross. There He hung in our place that we might now stand in His — “COMPLETE IN HIM” (Col. 2:10).

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#14
nChrist

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The Wisdom Of This World
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam

“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (I Cor. 1:20).

This challenge was hurled at the intellectual world of nineteen hundred years ago, so famous for its philosophy, literature and art. Nor are these the words of one who himself lacked the benefits of higher learning. Rather, they flowed from the pen of one of the most learned men, one of the greatest thinkers of all time: the Apostle Paul. More than this, they are found in that Book of books, the Bible, which has withstood, not barely but magnificently, all the attacks of a thousand critics through centuries of time. This Book says:

“The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (I Cor. 3:19).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10).

Actually, the “intellectuals” in any age are those who assent to the theories of those who agree with each other that they are intellectual! Dissent from them and you have automatically branded yourself an illiterate!

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

“And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

“That no flesh should glory in His presence” (I Cor. 1:27-29).

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#15
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Go, And Sin No More
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


The self-righteous Pharisees had brought a fallen woman to Jesus and, “when they had set her in the midst”, they began to accuse her, saying: “Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou?” (John 8:5).

They were using this fallen woman to embarrass the Lord into agreeing that this woman should be stoned, or else leaving Himself open to a charge of repudiating Moses’ Law.

At first He made “as though He heard them not”, but, when they continued asking, they got what they asked for! Simply answering: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”, the Lord turned away again to let that sentence do its work. They had “set her in the midst”. Now He had set them in the midst and, “being convicted by their own conscience”, they “went out one by one” (Ver.9).

And there stood the woman alone before Him: a great sinner and a great Saviour. Since none of the Pharisees had dared to cast a stone at her, the Lord said: “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (Ver.11).

Thus the Lord graciously forgave the sinner-woman, yet without ignoring the demand of the Law. He had not denied that the woman deserved punishment. He had only pointed out that the Pharisees themselves were sinners; that they, like she, needed a Saviour.

Thank God! Since “Christ died for our sins”, God can justly forgive us — and He will, IF we but acknowledge our sin and our need of a Saviour, and do not join the self-righteous who keep “going about to establish their own righteousness” (Rom. 10:3).

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save SINNERS…” (I Tim. 1:15). God is very gracious to those who will acknowledge their sin and their need: “For the same Lord over all is RICH UNTO ALL THAT CALL UPON HIM.”

“FOR WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED” (Rom. 10:12,13).

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#16
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Unions Or Unity?
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


Here is a company of Bible-believing Christians joined together in, let us say, an evangelistic endeavor. All are trusting in the shed blood of Christ for salvation, though some are Baptists, some Presbyterians, some Episcopalians and some represent other denominations.

Are all these believers one? Yes, in Christ, for “there is one body” (Eph. 4:4).

What united them? The “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) by which the Holy Spirit unites all believers to Christ and to each other: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body whether we be Jews or Gentiles…” (I Cor. 12:13).

Yet these same believers, all trusting in the finished work of Christ for salvation, remain sadly divided as far as fellowship in the work of the Lord is concerned. They may have blessed fellowship in their evangelistic endeavor, but at its conclusion they go back to their mutually exclusive church organizations.

The reason? Basically it is that they have confused “the gospel of the kingdom,” proclaimed by Christ on earth and His twelve apostles, with “the gospel of the grace of God,” proclaimed by the ascended, glorified Lord through the Apostle Paul (Acts 20:24; Eph. 3:1-3).

Striving over baptismal modes and meanings, most of them still require their particular forms of baptism for entrance into their churches, while explaining at the same time that the ceremony has no saving value and that it is not required by God for entrance into the true Church.

Can’t we stop being Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists and just be Christians? Why should the Church of Christ remain divided and weak, when God says:

“WE BEING MANY ARE ONE BODY IN CHRIST, AND EVERY ONE MEMBERS ONE OF ANOTHER” (Rom. 12:5).

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#17
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God's Gifts To His Church
by Pastor Paul M. Sadler


Scripture Reading:

“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry.”
– Ephesians 4:11-13

Paul warns us about those who, whether wittingly or unwittingly, would spread unsound doctrine among us. We are living in a time when some of the brethren seem to deem it important to find something new. Of course, it is not our intent to discourage anyone in regard to exercising the “Berean spirit.” However, care should be taken not to undermine the foundation upon which our faith rests. We do well to remember that the “Doctrinal Statement” our forefathers forged for us was a product of intense debate with the denominational leaders of their day. Each plank of the statement was carefully crafted as a defense and confirmation of the Fundamentals of the faith and Paul’s gospel. Therefore, let us not be too quick to challenge those things which are “tried and true.”

At this late hour, there are those who tell us that the “gifts” of evangelists, pastors and teachers or pastor-teachers are no longer in operation today. Some have even gone as far to say that the enabling “gifts” have also passed. This flies in the face of our “Doctrinal Statement,” which has served us well for over fifty years. It states:

“The gifts necessary for the ministry of the Body of Christ are those enumerated in Eph. 4:7-16. Of these, only the gifts of evangelists and pastor-teachers are in operation today. All the sign gifts of the Acts period, such as tongues, prophecy and healing (I Cor. 12:1-31), being temporary in character, have ceased (I Cor. 13:8-11).”

Here in Ephesians, one of Paul’s later epistles, the apostle sets the tone for the course of this dispensation. Clearly, the context of this portion concerns itself with the gifts God has given to His Church. It is true that the gifts of “apostles” and “prophets” passed with the completion of the Word of God (I Cor. 13:8-13 cf. Col. 1:25). Once the Word of God was dispensed, these two offices and the gifted men who held them were nonessential. We now have something far better, the written revelation that they handed down to us, which is to be obeyed in matters of faith and practice.

There is no indication, whatsoever, that the gifts of evangelists, pastors and teachers have ever been withdrawn. In fact, Paul plainly states their purpose: “For the perfecting [maturing] of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the Body of Christ.” And how long shall this continue? “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge [Gr. epignosis -- full knowledge] of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:13).

Surely, it could not be said there has ever been a period in Church history, past or present, that the “unity of the faith” has been attained, much less a “full knowledge” of the Son of God. But this is exactly what we are being asked to believe; that is, the unity of the faith has been attained. Perhaps, we should put this to the Berean test.

Creation: Some believe God created all things in six literal twenty- four hour days. Others teach the “ruin and reconstruction theory” that God created, destroyed and re-created. This is commonly called the “gap theory” which places millions or billions of years between the original creation and the re-creation.

Redemption: The battle has raged for centuries over whether Christ died for the sins of all mankind or merely for the sins of the elect. Which do you believe?

Things to Come: It is well known there are those who believe the events covered in the Book of Revelation are entirely futuristic. Many would challenge this assertion as absurd. They teach that the early chapters of the Apocalypse describe the various stages of Church history up to the present “Laodicean” age. If we agree that there are two camps of interpretation on any Biblical subject, then we have yet to come into the unity of the faith.

There is not one scintilla of evidence that the “unity of the faith” has ever been attained by all. Even in Paul’s day, the saints were wielding the sword of the Spirit against one another (II Tim. 1:15 cf. 2:17-19). In addition, we must inquire: Has the Church come to a full knowledge of the Son of God? That is, of His person, work and present heavenly ministry. We shall answer this question with a question: Has the Church, which is His Body, acknowledged the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the Mystery?

The “unity of the faith” and a “full knowledge” of Christ is a goal set before us that will never be fully attained until the Rapture. Thus, the responsibility of Gods gifts to His Church is to proclaim the whole counsel of God in light of the Pauline epistles. Why? that the saints might be established in the faith!

There is also an experiential side to this truth as well. When God called me into the ministry nearly thirty years ago, it was definitive. Other pastors have testified of similar experiences, which confirms that the “gifts and callings of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29). Beware of those who would rob you of this precious truth!

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#18
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The Incarnation of Christ
by Pastor Paul M. Sadler


Historically, it is a well-established fact that Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem in the days of Herod the King. Matthew and Luke record our Lord’s arrival with remarkable simplicity that even a child can understand. But it is the Apostle to the Gentiles who explains the significance of the incarnation of Christ.

According to Paul

When Christ left heaven’s glory, He as God, emptied Himself of the outward manifestation of His attributes. It was essential that the Lord veil the glory of His deity so sinful humanity could exist in His presence.

—Philippians 2:6,7

Christ’s entrance into the world was through natural means like any other birth. He was born of the woman that He might accomplish the great work of redemption.

—Galatians 4:4,5

Our Lord humbled Himself by stepping into a sinless human form so that He might experience all the trials and temptations we encounter. Therefore, He took upon Himself the form of a servant that He might minister to others.

—Philippians 2:7,8

Into this pure, sinless vessel was poured our sins and iniquities. As a result, He was made sin for us so that His righteousness might be imputed to us.

—II Corinthians 5:21

The Manger and the Cross stand at the opposite ends of our Lord’s earthly life, but they are uniquely connected by a special revelation given to Paul that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” It has been said, “Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, if He’s not born in you, your soul is still forlorn.”

Although tradition often overshadows the truth, may God, in His infinite grace, use us as instruments to show a lost and dying world the Way, which is Christ Jesus.

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#19
nChrist

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How Small We Are!
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


Just behind me, in the supermarket check-out line, were two little boys. I noticed that the older one kept looking up at me and then down at his brother again several times in succession. Finally, nudging his little brother and pointing up at me, he said: “Hey, Joey, look how little you are!”

Those who have seen me in the flesh know that I am not exactly small, physically, and I can easily imagine that, standing next to these little fellows, I made them look small indeed!

But all this pertained only to the physical, and as I left that supermarket, I began asking myself: “How big are you, actually, in the sight of God?” I thought of Psalm 8:3,4, where David mused over the same question:

“When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man that Thou art mindful of Him…?”

Yet we are so important to the heart of God that He entered the stream of humanity, as it were, and became one of us in Christ, Son of God and Son of Man. Why? Hebrews 2:14,15 gives us one important reason:

“…that through death [His death for our sins] He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

Moreover, insignificant as we are in ourselves, He would use us mightily to His glory for, according to I Cor. 1:27,28, He has “chosen” the “foolish,” the “weak,” the “base,” the “despised,” and those who “are not” to accomplish His purposes and to bring to naught the plans of the world’s great ones.

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#20
nChrist

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Faith Versus Presumption
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


The Word of God declares in Hebrews 11:6 that “without faith it is impossible to please Him”.

There is nothing that will haunt a man like the fear that God may be displeased with him, nor any joy comparable to the assurance that He is pleased. It is foolish, however, to suppose that we can please God with the things we think He desires. We must give Him what He says He desires. Thank God, it is not difficult to determine this, for He tells us again and again in His Word that it is faith He desires most of all. He wants us to trust Him, to take Him at His Word.

The Bible tells us at length how God loved us in spite of our sin and gave His blessed Son to die on Calvary’s tree to clear our title to heaven, but alas, instead of taking Him at His Word, thousands turn away from His gracious offer, “going about to establish their own righteousness” (Rom. 10:3).

They do “good works” and make great sacrifices, thinking that a God of love will surely accept their efforts and overlook their sins. But this is presumption, not faith. How can a just God overlook sin? We should thank Him that in His matchless love He himself paid for our sins so that we might be free, and that salvation is “the gift of God”, obtained by faith alone.

Cain presumed that God would accept his attractive sacrifice instead of the prescribed one, but God refused both him and his offering. Pharaoh presumed that he could take his armies through the Red Sea as Moses had done, but he perished in the sea for presuming on God. Naaman, the leper, refused God’s way of cleansing, saying, “I thought…”, but the great general remained a leper until he took God at His Word. Will you take God at His Word and trust Christ as your Saviour?

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