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Two Minutes With The Bible

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#1
nChrist

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January 8, 2011

JUSTIFIED FREELY
by Cornelius R. Stam

"Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"
(Rom. 3:24).

It is wonderful to know that we sinners are not justified by praying, or paying, or saying, or sighing, or crying, or doing anything. We are justified freely, by the grace of God. But this passage from Romans will mean more to us when we learn how the word rendered "freely" here is translated elsewhere in the Bible. The same expression is found in John 15:25, where our Lord, quoting from the Psalms, said: "They hated me without a cause."

Why did men hate Him? He went about doing nothing but good: healing the sick, giving the blind their sight, causing the lame to leap for joy, preaching good news to the poor and deliverance to those who were bound. There was no good reason for crying, "Away with Him!" and "Crucify Him!" They hated Him "without a cause."

But in the same way we might ask: "Why should He die for sinners? Why should He pay for their sins? He had done nothing wrong." Ah, it was in love that He deliberately gave Himself into the hands of sinful men, that He, the sinless One, might pay for their sins. He did not die His own death, for death is "the wages of sin." He died our death, paying for our sins. So, as men hated Him "without a cause" (except their own sinful condition), so Christ has "Justified" believers "without a cause" (except His own divine love).

And so it is that we can now proclaim the glorious news that God has sent us to tell all mankind, that His righteousness is conferred "upon all those who believe," and that believers are "justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."

#2
nChrist

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January 9, 2011

Conversation Peace
by Pastor Ricky Kurth

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27).

Interestingly, whenever Paul uses the phrase “stand fast,” it is always to challenge people to stand fast in an area in which they were not standing fast! For instance, he tells the Corinthians to “stand fast in the faith” (I Cor. 16:13), for they had lost their faith in one of the fundamentals of the faith, the resurrection (I Cor. 15:12-50). He told the Galatians to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Gal. 5:1) because they were forsaking grace for the law. He told the Thessalonians to “stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught” (II Thes. 2:15), especially the “tradition” of working for a living (3:7-12). The Thessalonians had become so excited about the Rapture that many of them quit their jobs in anticipation of the Lord’s coming!

But here in Philippians 1:27, Paul tells the Philippians to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” This is because two ladies in the church were quarreling (4:2), and some in the church were siding with Euodias and some with Syntyche. “Striving together” is the Greek word sunathleo. The prefix sun means together with, and athleo is the word from which we get athlete and athletics. Athletes are often teammates who must strive together to achieve a common victory, and this is what Paul was calling on the Philippians to do for the cause of Christ.

Notice Paul isn’t talking about faith in the gospel. The faith of the gospel is our faithfulness or fidelity to maintaining the gospel as God gave it, just as old “high-fi” or “high-fidelity” records claimed to be highly faithful to the sound recorded in the studio. We are to strive together to maintain fidelity to the gospel God gave to Paul.

Finally, Paul does not say we should strive with one another for the faith of the gospel. He rather says we should be striving “together” as those who see the fellowship of the mystery with those who don’t. With all the about “peace on earth” that we hear this time of year, how refreshing it would be if we could enjoy the “conversation peace” Paul longed to see in Philippi! (Psa. 133:1; Eph. 4:3).

#3
nChrist

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January 10, 2011

PEACE WITH GOD
by Cornelius R. Stam

When our Lord was born at Bethlehem, the angels proclaimed:

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14).

Today we see anything but peace on earth, for He, "the Prince of Peace," has been rejected, and this world will never know peace until He is in control. This is why the Father said to the Son: "Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool" (Matt. 22:41-45). It is possible, however, for each individual to enjoy peace with God and to know that all is well as far as his eternal destiny is concerned.

Job 22:21 rightly says: "Acquaint now thyself with Him and be at peace," and Psa. 25:12,13: "What man is he that feareth the Lord? ...His soul shall dwell at ease." Even when the multitudes were about to crucify Christ, He said to His own:

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).

Every one of Paul's epistles opens with an important official declaration which God sent him to proclaim to all men: "Grace be to you and peace." And he explains how we may have this peace.

By nature all of us have sinned against God, but in Paul's epistles we are told that "He [Christ] is our peace" (Eph. 2:14), "having made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:20). In other words, we have sinned against God but Christ died for our sins so that we might be reconciled. And those who trust Christ and His finished work at Calvary are thus reconciled.

Surely this great truth could not have been more plainly stated than it is in Rom. 4:25; 5:1:

"[Christ] was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification. THEREFORE, BEING JUSTIFIED BY FAITH, WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST."

#4
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January 11, 2011

POWER TO OVERCOME
by Cornelius R. Stam

Every true Christian knows by experience that the Holy Spirit does not, upon saving us, take possession of us and thenceforth supernaturally cause us to live lives pleasing to God. Rather, as with salvation, so with the Christian life, He operates in the believer "by grace through faith".

Powerful assistance to overcome sin is freely provided by grace, but this help must be appropriated by faith in each individual case. There is no blanket provision for continuous victory throughout our whole life. We must look to Him in faith for the help we need in each separate battle.

Thus the Scripture teaching with regard to victory over sin is not that it is not possible for the believer to sin, but rather that in any given case it is possible for him not to sin. Thus too, the question in times of temptation is generally whether we truly desire to overcome, for deliverance is freely provided by grace if we will but appropriate it by faith.

But just how is deliverance provided? The answer is: BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. No longer need the believer remain enslaved to sin; for the Holy Spirit within, who imparted spiritual life to begin with, will also impart strength to overcome temptation. When tried and unable even to pray as we ought, "the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities" and "maketh intercession for us" (Rom. 8:26). When weak and ill, we may be "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man" (Eph.3:16). Indeed, the Spirit even strengthens God's people physically to overcome sin, for we read:

"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 [strengthen] your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:11).

And the following verse goes on to say:

"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh" (Rom.8:12). The thought is that, since believers have the Holy Spirit to help them overcome sin, they are debtors -- and not to the flesh, but to God, to live pleasing to Him.

#5
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January 13, 2011

DEMON POSSESSION
by Cornelius R. Stam

The modern revival of E.S.P., fortune telling, astrology, magic, the Ouija board, the spirit seance and a score of other occult practices have caused many to wonder whether human beings may be possessed or controlled by evil spirits.

Many Christian people recall the cases of demon possession recorded in the Bible in connection with our Lord's earthly ministry.

There is indeed much evidence that there was a great outbreak of demon activity when Christ was on earth. This outbreak seems to have abated soon after the Lord's ascension to heaven, but many are asking: Has another such epidemic broken out?

Whatever the answer to this question, the Scriptures clearly indicate that the best defense against the activity of Satan and his hosts is sincere faith in Christ, of whom we read that, "having vanquished" the powers of evil at Calvary, "He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2:15). It is on the basis of Christ's finished work of redemption that St. Paul joins believers in...

"Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath made us meet [fit] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son" (Col. 1:12,13).

Not only is the true believer in Christ "delivered... from the power of darkness," but upon believing he becomes "the temple of the Holy Spirit," a living shrine where Christ is worshipped. Thus St. Paul says again: "What! Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit" (I Cor. 6:19). How then could the Christian's body also be the dwelling place of an evil spirit?

#6
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January 14, 2011

"NOT ASHAMED"
by Cornelius R. Stam

The Apostle Paul uses three wonderful phrases in Romans One: "I am debtor" (Ver.14), "I am ready" (Ver.15), and "I am not ashamed" (Ver.16).

As God's appointed Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul declared: "I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise".

The gospel now was no longer to be confined to Israel, but was to go to all nations, and Paul felt himself a debtor to proclaim it, first because God had appointed him to do so, and second, because he held in his hands that which would save the lost. He was morally obligated -- and so are Christians today.

Notice: the Apostle did not say, "I am debtor, but" and then begin to give a thousand excuses, as so many Christians do. He said: "I am debtor...SO..." and his fidelity to his call is seen as he adds: "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel" (Rom. 1:15).

Oh, that the millions of Christians today would join Paul and say: "I AM READY to preach the gospel with all that is in me".

But in Verse 16, the Apostle explains why he was ready to put his all into proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; unto the Jew first and also to the Greek [Gentile or Nations]" (Rom. 1:16).

Many thousands of Jews had already come to trust Christ as Saviour, but the good news of Christ's finished work of redemption was -- and is -- "the power of God unto salvation to EVERY ONE that believeth".

Surely there is no other way. None of the pagan religions can give the assurance of salvation. They all represent efforts to find or earn salvation. Only the gospel, the good news of our Lord's payment for sin can give us the knowledge, the assurance and the joy of salvation from sin.

#7
nChrist

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January 15, 2011

"THE JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH"
by Russell S. Miller

Two Thousand Years ago a certain Man, innocent of all wrongdoing, was taken into custody by the authorities, given a trial in which He was charged of crimes He had not committed, and even when "no fault" could be found in Him, He was condemned to the cruelest death that man could invent.

Now it should not be supposed that simply because these Two Thousand Years have passed that this terrible miscarriage of justice will not be avenged in the Highest Court! Nor should it be supposed that everyone who has had a part in this travesty will escape the judgment of this Court!

You may think you know nothing, at all, about this event. But you are still guilty of His blood, and it behooves you, now, to cry unto Him, "the Judge of all the earth", for mercy and grace, in, what cannot be otherwise, your impending and eternal doom!

His name is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who, in the greatest of love and grace, paid our debt of sin, Himself, on the Cross of Calvary.

Though He was crucified at the hands of wicked men, Jews and Gentiles are guilty of His death. But more, it was your sins, your lifestyle, that nailed Him to the Cross, so you are not innocent in this matter, but guilty as charged. Yet because He not only was innocent of all wrongdoing, but righteous in all that He did, the grave could not hold Him. Death had no claim upon Him. Consequently, by His own Almighty power He arose from the dead; and alive forever more, He is seeking for all those who had a part in His crucifixion.

Now it seems to me that the wisest thing that any man could do under such circumstances is to plead for mercy from this Court of Justice. Because this Man, whom you have crucified (your sins also nailed Him to the cross), is alive, and He is coming again to take vengeance upon all mankind.

Jesus Christ is The Judge of All the Earth!

#8
nChrist

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January 16, 2011

IS REVIVAL POSSIBLE?
by Cornelius R. Stam

We have received responses from several friends who conclude from such passages as II Tim. 3:1-13 that there cannot possibly be a revival before the Lord comes for His own.

We have never concurred in this view. Verses 2-7 of this passage describe the condition of the ungodly about us. These have "a form of godliness" but not the reality and it is these who will "wax worse and worse" (Vers. 5,13). "From such" the Spirit exhorts us to "turn away" (Ver. 5).

But why, in the midst of these "perilous times" should the Church not be strong and united? The Word of God often shines brightest when the days are darkest.

It is true that our Lord said about the coming "tribulation," that "because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matt. 24:12), but this was a prediction concerning a particular situation, and while similar causes often produce similar effects, this is not always so. Not infrequently the wickedness of the world has driven saints to their knees and to the Word, with blessed results.

True spiritual revival takes place in the blood-bought Church of God not in the wicked world about it. That which is dead cannot be revived but that which has life can and should be. We know of no Scripture that should deter us from praying for a true spiritual awakening among God's people. Indeed we must be careful lest we cease praying and toiling for a revival on the grounds that "times are getting worse and worse and there's not going to be, a revival."

It seems to us that one of the surest ways to grow spiritually indifferent ourselves is to conclude that God will not grant us a spiritual awakening no matter what we do.

#9
nChrist

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January 17, 2011

Avoiding Strong Drink
by Paul M. Sadler, President

Scripture Reading:

"Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken."
-- Habakkuk 2:15

There are many passages in the Word of God, such as the above, that are timeless and transcend all the dispensations of God. While the liquor industry goes to great lengths to get people to believe that drinking is a harmless way to have a good time, the facts are otherwise. They are very careful never to advertise the drunk driver who kills innocent people or the homes that have been destroyed by strong drink. But a voice in the crowd says that a few social drinks will never hurt anyone. Most recovering alcoholics, however, tell a much different story of how their slide into a life of drunkenness all started with a social drink. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Prov. 20:1).

A couple of years ago, I was driving through Apollo, Pennsylvania where I saw a piece of twisted wreckage along side of the road. Upon slowing down, I discovered that it was an automobile, or at least what was left of it. Apparently someone survived the crash because there were beer cans strategically placed beside the car along with a sign at the rear bumper which read, "And they told us we were going to have fun." Someone lied!

While the world refers to alcoholism as a disease, the Word of God calls drunkenness a sin. It is not a disease, it is a matter of choice. Oh, the sorrow and heartache that has been caused by careless men and women who have given themselves over to the treachery of this sin. The answer is not found in the bottom of a bottle -- the answer is Christ. Only He can deliver the drunkard from his drunkenness.

Therefore, a life yielded to God is the solution to the bondage of this terrible sin. Throughout the year social gatherings often bring with them a strong temptation to join the crowd. For those who struggle with this temptation, it is important to remember that the victory is already yours though Christ Jesus our Lord. Simply claim it! Then live one day at a time, by God's grace, for His grace is more than sufficient (II Cor. 12:9). Amen!

#10
nChrist

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January 18, 2011

The Key to a Worry-Free Life
by Paul M. Sadler

According to doctors at the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, rattlesnakes thought to be dead can still strike, bite, and kill you. Doctors in Phoenix said they have a large number of patients admitted each year suffering from bites from rattlers thought to be dead. Sometimes the snakes were shot and their heads cutoff; but, the snake head retains a reflex action. In fact, one study showed that snake heads could still make striking-type motions up to sixty minutes after decapitation.

Satan, that old Serpent, was defeated at Calvary—his head was cut off. Hebrews Chapter 2 says that our Savior, by His death, destroyed him who holds the power of death. But for a season Satan can still strike and wound us. He can still hurt us and poison our relationships and spread his deadly venom into our homes and lives.

Paul admonished the Corinthians to take great care in this area, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (II Cor. 2:11). Although this may have been true in the apostle’s day, we are not sure it is the case today. It seems to us that many believers are unaware they are under attack. Satan can be very subtle and his devices are well planned. While his devices take on many forms there is one in particular that he uses quite effectively— worry! If the enemy can keep you off balance in this area he can successfully hinder your service for the Lord.

WORRY

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing 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

Do you worry? I didn’t think so, but there are some who struggle with this problem. Paul says, “Be careful for nothing.” In our modern day language we would say, “Don’t worry about anything.” The Greek word behind the term “careful” here is merimnao, which means to pull in different directions, to distract. This is exactly what worry will do to you—it will tear you apart both emotionally and physically. It can be one of the leading causes of ulcers, which is something else to worry about!

Worry always dwells on the future in regard to what may or may not happen. It mulls over every worst-case scenario imaginable.

#11
nChrist

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January 19, 2011

THE MYSTERY
by Cornelius R. Stam

In Eph. 3:1-3 "the dispensation of the grace of God" is specifically called "the mystery" (i.e., secret). It is thus designated for two reasons:

1. It had been "kept secret since the world began, but now," through Paul, had been "made manifest" (Rom. 16: 25). "In other ages" it was "not made known" (Eph. 3:5). Rather, "from the beginning of the world" it had been "hid in God" (Ver. 9), "hid from ages and from generations, but now... made manifest to His saints" (Col. 1:26).

2. It was at the same time the explanation, the key, to all God's good news, including that which had been proclaimed in ages past. It explained how it was that Abel could be declared righteous by bringing an animal sacrifice, "God testifying of his gifts" (Heb. 11:4), how Noah could become "an heir of... righteousness" by building an ark (Heb. 11:7), how anyone could be saved under the dispensation of the Law, and how it is that we can be saved today by grace through faith alone.

Thus we have in Paul's epistles, not only the gospel [good news] of "the secret" (Eph. 3:1-3), but at the same time, "the secret of the gospel" (Eph. 6:19,20).

This great secret, revealed to and through Paul, has rightly been called the capstone of divine revelation, for it concerns God's eternal purpose in Christ. Through Paul, the chief of sinners saved by grace, God has now made this glorious secret known to us (Eph. 1:9) that we, in turn, might make it known to others (Eph. 3:9).

#12
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January 20, 2011

Can God Forget?
by Pastor Ricky Kurth

“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17).

We know that God forgives the sins of His people, but does He forget them? It would seem so. Our text suggests that He “will not remember” the sins committed against Him by His children (Isa. 43:25). Believers have always found a great deal of comfort in this blessed thought.

But then God calls upon us to likewise forgive others “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). Doesn’t this suggest that we too should forgive and forget? Perhaps you are thinking, “But Pastor, you don’t know what they did to me!” True, but was it more than what was done to God when men crucified His Son?

Remember, God’s vow to forgive and forget the sins of His people includes even the brutal murder of His only begotten Son. We are tempted to think, “Well, it’s easy for God to forget,” but such is not the case. God says of the sins of unbelievers that He “will NEVER forget ANY of their works” (Amos 8:7). How then can this God of “total recall” forget our sins? Does His memory have a convenient “on/off ” switch that makes it easy for Him to forgive and forget? If so, then we who do not have such a switch would have an excuse for forgiving but not forgetting. But if God has such a switch, would He not also have to erase His memory of Calvary, or else forever wonder why His Son had to die? But it cannot be that God could forget the Cross, for Revelation 5:6 joins John 20:27 to reveal that the Lord’s resurrection body will forever bear the scars of the Cross, making it impossible for God—or us—to ever forget His sacrifice for our sins.

What then is the answer to our question? Can God forget our sins? Perhaps the reader has noticed that we never read that God will forget the sins of His people, but rather that He “will not remember” them. By a deliberate act of His “will” He chooses to act toward us AS IF He has forgotten our sins, on the basis of the blood of the Cross. That’s how fully and completely He has forgiven our sins. And if we are to forgive others “as” God forgave us, then we too must choose to act toward others as if we have so fully forgiven their transgressions against us that we have forgotten them—also on the basis of Christ’s shed blood. This and this alone is complete forgiveness of others, and it is high spiritual ground indeed.

May God help us to begin the new year with a slate wiped clean of “all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking...with all malice” (Eph. 4:31).

#13
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January 21, 2011

PETER AND HIS PENTECOSTAL BAPTISTERY
by Russell S. Miller

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you... For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES; And that He was buried, and that He ROSE AGAIN the third day ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES" (I Cor. 15:3,4).

Paul had not only "received" his Gospel, but he also "delivered" his Gospel, which was also "received" by the saints at Corinth. But a most interesting aspect about the gospel that Paul preached is found in the context of I Corinthians 15:3,4. Peter, the Apostle of the Circumcision, "Cephas" (I Cor. 15:5), had come to understand the Gospel that Paul preached, and he had also come to see that circumcision and the Law was no longer necessary for salvation.

In early Acts, Peter had preached the resurrection of Christ to sit upon the throne of David's prophesied kingdom (Acts 2:25-31). He did not know what the crucifixion of Jesus Christ had accomplished (Luke 18:34). In early Acts he only knew that "by wicked hands [Israel] had crucified and slain" the Son of God (Acts 2:22-24). Even as late as Peter's visit to see Cornelius in Acts 10, the Apostle Peter did not understand the preaching of the cross. It was through Paul's ministry, and the gospel of the grace of God, that Peter came to see what the finished work of Christ accomplished, and through this knowledge he became a stalwart for the truth.

In Acts 15:7-11 Peter declared that Jews are now saved exactly the same way Gentiles are saved today. No longer does the law, nor repentance and water baptism save. Would to God that all our Baptist friends would come to see the truth of the Mystery as Peter had. These are not the words of Paul and Silas in Acts 16:31, but Peter's own inspired words, to his own countrymen at that Jerusalem Council:

"BUT WE BELIEVE THAT THROUGH THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WE SHALL BE SAVED, EVEN AS THEY" (Acts 15:11).

It was no longer salvation through the Jews (John 4:22). And this is why he is called Cephas in Paul's epistles, a "PILLAR" for the truth of God's Word "rightly divided." Listen to Peter's words later written in his first epistle:

"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied" (I Peter 1:2).

Thus the Apostle Peter forsakes his Pentecostal baptistery for "the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ."

"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; But with THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:18,19).

Thus, the Apostle Peter came to understand the importance of the one divine baptism into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ:

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. THE LIKE FIGURE WHEREUNTO EVEN BAPTISM DOTH ALSO NOW SAVE US (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh [water baptism], but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into Heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him" (I Peter 3:18-22).

Now hear the Apostle Paul's own inspired words concerning the so-called Great Commission and its water baptism:

"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of [national] faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of the laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit" (Heb.6:1-3).

Thus Paul, in Hebrews 6:1,2, instructs all Jews to leave the so-called Great Commission with its repentance and water baptism, and come on to "perfection" through "the revelation of Jesus Christ" as revealed in his epistles. And having seen this, Peter gave to Paul and Barnabas "the right hand of fellowship" in Galatians 2:9.

And this, beloved, is consistent with the Apostle Paul's words in I Corinthians 15:3,4, and "the Gospel which [he] preached unto you" that "CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES."

#14
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January 22, 2011

The Teachings of Jesus
by C.R. Stam

In the controversy over "Pauline truth," not a few Fundamentalists have joined Modernists in attempting to exalt "the teachings of Jesus" (on earth) above the Word of God through Paul. "Which," they ask, "should bear the greater weight with us, the words of Jesus, or the words of Paul?"

But do they ask this because they truly desire to obey these "words of Jesus" and to see them obeyed? No, for they flagrantly disregard and disobey them, from the Sermon on the Mount to the Great Commission.

With regard to the Sermon on the Mount, they do not subject themselves to the law of Moses (Matt. 5:17-19); they do not bring gifts to altars of sacrifice (5:23,24); they do not give freely to all who ask of them (5:42; 10:8,9); they do not refrain from laying up treasures on earth (6:19,25,26); they do not sell what they have and give alms (Luke 6:30; 12:33).

And while professing obedience to the so-called "Great Commission" as "the Church's marching orders," they do not proclaim faith and baptism for salvation (Mark 16:16); they do not—they cannot—perform miraculous signs (Mark 16:17,18 ); they do not give the Jew first place in their ministry (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8 ), and they certainly do not teach others to observe all things that Messiah on earth commanded (Matt. 28:20 cf. 23:1-3).

They set "the teachings of Jesus" (on earth) over against "the teachings of Paul," not because they are determined to obey Jesus, but because they are determined to minimize that which God has "magnified"—the authority of Paul as "the apostle of the Gentiles" (Rom. 11:13).

They seek to exalt the teachings of the earthly Jesus above those of Paul because they have closed their ears to the oft-repeated and Spirit-inspired claims of Paul that the glorified Lord spoke again from heaven, to and through him, committing to him "the dispensation of the grace of God" and the program for the day in which we live (Acts 20:24; 22:6-10,17-21; 26:12-18; Rom. 11:13; 15:15,16; 16:25,26; I Cor. 3:10; 11:23; 15:3; II Cor. 5:16; Gal. 1:1,11,12; 2:7-9; Eph. 3:1-4,8,9; 6:18-20; Phil. 4:9; Col. 1:23-27; I Thes. 4:15; II Thes. 3:14; I Tim. 2:5-7; II Tim. 2:7-9; Titus 1:2,3, etc.).

They have forgotten the stern rebuke the Galatians received for failing to recognize Paul's teachings as a message from the risen, exalted Christ (Gal. 1:6-12). They have taken lightly Paul's words to the Corinthians:

"...if I come again I will not spare: since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me..." (II Cor. 13:2,3).

They have distorted Paul's inspired admonition as to his own writings:

"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing...from such withdraw thyself" (I Tim. 6:3-5).

#15
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January 23, 2011

Wrath or Respite
by Pastor Ricky Kurth

When natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis take their toll in death and destruction, many preachers insist these calamities are the result of the wrath of God on sin, pointing to such verses as Ephesians 5:6, where speaking of the sins of Verses 3-5, Paul says:

“...for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”

the Greek word for “cometh” here is in the present tense, we believe Paul is saying that while God’s wrath is coming, it hasn’t yet arrived. Consider: after the Lord announced that His betrayer was “at hand,” we read that “immediately... cometh Judas” (Mark 14:42,43). However, we know that Judas had not yet arrived, for Verse 45 tells us what happened “as soon as he was come.” You see, the word “cometh” means that something is presently on its way, but the word must be in the past tense for us to understand that whatever is coming has arrived.

While many preachers declared that Hurricane Katrina was God’s wrath on New Orleans for the debauchery of Mardi Gras, others surmised the catastrophe was rather an example of God’s mercy, for thousands more would have died had the levies broken during the storm rather than after. Herein lies the problem in determining what God is doing or not doing by trying to interpret circumstances, which are always subjective and open to speculation. The only sure way of knowing what God is doing is from the Word of God, and God’s Word tells us that the presence of even ten believers in New Orleans would have prevented God from destroying it (Gen. 18:23-33). And so while even insurance companies call tornadoes and earthquakes “acts of God,” the Bible asserts that we are living in the dispensation of grace (Eph. 3:2), an age in which God is dispensing grace, not wrath, an age in which mankind is experiencing a respite from His judgment.

But if the reader of this page is not saved, please don’t think you will get away with sin forever. Romans 2:5 describes you as one who “treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath.” You may not have an account with any bank, but you have a sin account with God. His wrath on your sin is not being revealed today, but the day of the “revelation of the righteous judgment of God” is coming. Why not “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

#16
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January 24, 2011

LOOKING UP
by Cornelius R. Stam

How many people, even Christian people, live in fear these days! They consider how we have gone from atom bombs to hydrogen bombs to nitrogen bombs, with megatons of explosive power. They read about all the deadly weapons being perfected by countries all over the world, and they fear that frightful destruction may at any time overtake them.

It does indeed appear that this world is headed toward the prophesied destruction, but true believers should understand that God has clearly predicted that He will recall His ambassadors before giving the world up in judgment. Paul, the apostle of grace, made it clear that no one can tell how long the dispensation of grace will last, but he did declare that this age would close with the coming of our Lord for His own.

"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
"Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (I Thes. 4:16-18 ).

In the next chapter, we have the prediction of the pouring out of God's wrath on the world but the believer in Christ will escape this.

Thus Paul reminded the Thessalonians how they had "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven..." (I Thes. 1:9,10). Thus too he reminded the Philippians: "Our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20). And thus, finally, he instructed Titus to be looking for that blessed hope, and the appearing in glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).

#17
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January 25, 2011

THE TRUTH OF CHRIST
by Cornelius R. Stam

"As the truth of Christ is in me..." (II Cor. 11:10).

How often St. Paul, in his letters, speaks with an oath! "God is my witness" (Rom. 1:9), "As God is true" (II Cor. 1:18 ), "Behold, before God, I lie not" (Gal. 1:20), "God is my record" (Phil. 1:8 ), "I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not" (I Tim. 2:7), etc., etc.

As Dean Howson has said: "When Paul makes a solemn statement under the sense of God's presence, he does not hesitate to express this."

But had not others spoken under the sense of God's presence? Of course they had, yet Paul calls God to witness far more often than any other Bible writer. Why is this? The answer is found in the distinctive character of Paul's ministry as the apostle of "the mystery." John the Baptist, the four evangelists and the twelve apostles did not need to speak with oaths since they proclaimed that which had already been prophesied. But with Paul it was different. Separate from the twelve, who were widely known as the apostles of Christ, Paul had been raised up to make known a wonderful secret which God had kept hidden from all who had gone before. While not a contradiction of prophecy, this secret had nevertheless not been prophesied; it was a new revelation. Hence it was appropriate that the Apostle should insist again and again that he wrote as in the presence of God.

As we consider Paul's oaths, however, we must ask ourselves whether anyone ever used the oath with more solemn sincerity. Did anyone ever suffer so intensely for the truths he proclaimed, or pay so dearly to convince others of them? Could anyone say with such simplicity to those who knew him best:

"Ye know... after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears and temptations [testings]... and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you..." (Acts 20:18-20).

#18
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January 26, 2011

"THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE"
by Cornelius R. Stam

Twice in the Book of Romans, once in Romans 3:22,23, and once in Romans 10:12,13, God uses the phrase, "There is no difference."

First it is used in connection with the guilt of man. Religious Jews, as well as godless Gentiles; cultured moralist, as well as degraded savages, are proved guilty before God.

In the first three chapters, their privileges and responsibilities are fully discussed, and their arguments are carefully considered. Then comes the awful verdict:

"THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE: FOR ALL HAVE SINNED AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD."

Must we not all bow our heads in shame and admit that the indictment is true? Must we not acknowledge that our condemnation is just? There may, indeed, be differences as to the nature or the degree of our sins, but in this there is no difference: that we all have sinned. And a just and holy God must condemn sin.

It is refreshing, however, to find the phrase used a second time in connection with salvation. Again religious Jews as well as godless Gentiles are included, but this time, how gracious the declaration!

"FOR THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE...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!"

In the matter of sin, God cannot be partial. He cannot be lenient with certain classes or groups whose advantages have been greater. All have sinned, and all must stand condemned.

But neither does He show partiality in the matter of salvation. The rich or cultured or religious are not preferred before others. The illiterate or immoral are not excluded. The Law condemns all, but Christ died to save all, that we might be "justified freely by His grace."

Friend, are you saved? Are you right with God? You can never hope to be accepted if you approach Him in your own merits, but if you come in the merits of Him who bore your sins, you cannot be turned away. "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."

#19
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January 27, 2011

THE CHRISTIAN'S PROSPECT
by Cornelius R. Stam

Those of us who trust in Christ for salvation have a glorious prospect. For the present, while waiting to go to be with Him, "we have redemption, through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1:7). In infinite love God has made us to be "accepted in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:6) and has pronounced us "complete in Him" (Col. 2:10).

Our position is now a blessed and exalted one, for God has made us to "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6) and has "blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3).

But this is only the beginning, for, referring to the Christian's death, Phil. 1:23 tells us that "to depart, and to be with Christ... is far better"; far better, not only than earth's sorrows and troubles, but far better even than earth's dearest treasures and joys.

But even this is not all, for the time will come when, the Church, "the Body of Christ," having been completed, the Lord will come to receive all of its members, living and dead, to Himself. Referring to the resurrection of the deceased believer's body, I Cor. 15 declares that "it is raised in incorruptibility" (Ver. 42), "it is raised in glory" (Ver. 43), "it is raised in power" (Ver. 43), "it is raised a spiritual body" (Ver. 44), for "as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (Ver. 49). And as to those believers who will be alive at His coming, he says: "We shall all be changed" (Ver. 51).

"For... we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself" (Phil. 3:20,21).

#20
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January 28, 2011

Hidden Treasure
by Pastor Ricky Kurth

“In Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

Everyone knows that when God told Solomon He would give him whatever he asked (II Chron. 1:7), Israel’s king asked for “wisdom and knowledge” (v. 10). However, in the parallel passage in I Kings 3, this account says that Solomon asked God for “an understanding heart to judge Thy people” (v. 9). Far from a contradiction, the variance in these parallel accounts is God’s way of giving us a fuller understanding of that for which Solomon asked, and a definition of wisdom and knowledge. Anyone possessing these two virtues would by definition have an understanding heart to judge or rule God’s people. When Solomon was given this, he became a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, “in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” i.e., an understanding heart rich in its ability to judge God’s people.

But those who acknowledge the Mystery that Paul mentions in the previous verse (Col. 2:2) know that God has an earthly people (Israel) and a heavenly people (the Body of Christ). It was “the glory of God” that He was able to “conceal” the Mystery for 4,000 years (Prov. 25:2) in the “unsearchable” heart of the King of kings, “the heaven for height, and the earth for depth” (v. 3). Thus Paul speaks of “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God,” and declares “how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out” (Rom. 11:33) when he says he wants us to understand the mystery of Israel’s blindness (v. 25), and how God’s plan to rule His earthly people would undergo a postponement that has now lasted 2,000 years. But when he speaks of the Mystery in Ephesians 3, he prays that we might understand the “depth and height” of it (v. 18 ). That is, he is praying that we might also understand that God has a plan to rule His heavenly people, the Body of Christ (v. 1-17), in “the heaven for height.”

Thus in God’s plan to rule His people Israel on earth we find some of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and in His plan to rule His heavenly people, the Body of Christ, in the heavens, we also find some of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, but unless we acknowledge both we do not understand “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” that are hid in the Lord Jesus Christ.




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