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« Reply #45 on: February 07, 2005, 10:35:41 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - THE UNCERTAINTIES OF LIFE


Feb 6

THE UNCERTAINTIES OF LIFE

By Russell S. Miller

Are you prepared to meet the Lord? Have you trusted Christ as your Saviour? Or will you meet Him as your Judge?

September 11, 2001: The news reports that terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center, and demolished it, in New York City, and attacks on other government buildings in Washington, and elsewhere, shocked the nation and the world.

Such unbelievably horrifying news should certainly awaken America! It is our prayer that the entire world will be awakened spiritually to real faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (This could have happened to your city, your place of business, and your office!) Have you been troubled by the uncertainties of life? Death comes to all, whether in the city or quaint little towns. Death is but a breath away, a heartbeat, and we have all broken Godís Laws, ignored His righteous standards, and have gone our own way. In short, as we read in Paulís letter to the Romans:

"FOR ALL HAVE SINNED, AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD" (Rom.3:23). And...,

"THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH; BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD" (Rom.6:23).

In the midst of all of lifeís uncertainties there is one constant, The Love of God.

"BUT GOD COMMENDETH HIS LOVE TOWARD US, IN THAT, WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US" (Rom.5:8).

Godís great love continues to delay His judgment upon the wickedness of manís sin (Acts 17:31). And for now, He extends, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom.1:2). Individually, by faith in Christ, "WE HAVE REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE" (Eph.1:7). If you will simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, God will save you, and then, when this life ends, you will be forever in Heaven with the Christ of glory.

God has made the plan of salvation very simple. When the jailor at Philippi asked Paul and Silas, "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30), the Apostle Paul replied:

"BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED..." (Acts 16:31).

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« Reply #46 on: February 07, 2005, 10:38:31 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - WHERE ART THOU? WHERE IS THY BROTHER?


Feb 7

WHERE ART THOU? WHERE IS THY BROTHER?

By Cornelius R. Stam

The first question of the Bible came from God Himself as He called to fallen Adam, hiding in fear from His presence:

"Where art thou?" (Gen. 3:9).

Adam and Eve made a great mistake in running and hiding from God, for their plight was hopeless without Him. But none of Adamís children have done any better than he. In Psalm 14:2,3 we find the Lord scouring the earth, as it were, "to see if there were any that did understand [their need] and seek God," but the answer was, "No, not one." How grateful we may be that in grace He sought us, that the Lord Jesus Christ came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10) and that "we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1:7).

But another question follows naturally. This question too came from God Himself, as He asked the murderer, Cain:

"Where is Abel thy brother?" (Gen. 4:9). Cain countered with another question: "Am I my brotherís keeper?" but he soon learned that he was his brotherís keeper as God drove him out of His presence, not only as punishment to him, but to teach us all that we are indeed responsible for those
about us.

The unsaved, who have never responded to Godís call:

"Whereart thou?" should remember that God also asks them, as He did unregenerate Cain: "Where is... thy brother?" By rejecting Christ as Savior men are also keeping others out of heaven -- others whom they might have been used to win to Christ, had they themselves been saved. You say: "God will save those whom He has predestinated." That is only one side of the coin. Our Lord said to two cities of His day, that if the "mighty works" done in them had been done in Tyre and Sidon "they would have repented long ago" (Matt. 11:21), and God says that He is "not willing that any should perish" (II Pet. 3:9) and has "committed" to His people the "word" and "ministry" of
reconciliation (II Cor. 5:18,19).

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« Reply #47 on: February 08, 2005, 06:03:48 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - HE THAT IS SPIRITUAL


Feb 8

HE THAT IS SPIRITUAL

By Cornelius R. Stam

"He that is spiritual judgeth [discerneth] all things, yet he himself is judged [discerned] of no man" (I Cor. 2:15).

The truly spiritual man is so far above the wisest sages of this world, yes, so far above the mass of Christians with whom he comes into contact, that he can understand them, but they can never quite understand him.

We should all long to be truly spiritual, but what is true spirituality?

In the Pauline Epistles the human race is divided, by the Spirit, into four classes: the natural man, the babe in Christ, the carnal Christian, and the spiritual Christian.

All four of these are referred to in one passage of Scripture (I Cor. 2:14ó3:4) and it should be noted that they are classified according to their ability to appreciate and assimilate "the things of God" as revealed in His Word.

Through diligent, prayerful study of the Word, and with a sincere desire to obey it, the spiritual man has come to know God and the Lord Jesus Christ more and more intimately. Babes in Christ and carnal believers about him cannot "discern" him, simply because they have not come to know God as he. But he, having grown to spiritual maturity, quite understands them. He is among those of whom it
is written:

"But strong meat [solid food] belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14).

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« Reply #48 on: February 09, 2005, 06:01:50 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - "SEPARATED UNTO THE GOSPEL OF GOD"


Feb 9

"SEPARATED UNTO THE GOSPEL OF GOD"

By Russell S. Miller

What is meant by the phrase, "separated unto the gospel of God"? The Word "separated" means simply "set apart" of course. Godís children have always been "set apart" as sacred unto Himself. However, we must not confuse Paul (as many do) with the other apostles. Though he considered himself "less than the least of all saints" (Eph. 3:8) he was, nevertheless, "THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES" (Rom.11:13) and "a chosen vessel unto Christ" (Acts 9:15). But "chosen" for what? Ah, this is where our text comes in:

"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God" (Rom.1:1).

Since our subject is Paulís "separation unto the gospel of God", we would ask, what is this good news for which Paul is "separated"? And, as always, the Bible is the greatest commentary upon the Bible, because Galatians 1:15,16 answers that question clearly, increasing our light and understanding upon the subject:

"But when it pleased God, WHO SEPARATED ME FROM MY MOTHERíS WOMB, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood."

God chose this man from before his birth, just as "He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world" (Eph.1:4). But wait thereís something else--"He called him by His grace." I Timothy 1:15,16 confirms that there, in Acts 9, Saul of Tarsus, the great persecutor, was SAVED and called by the "grace of God" alone (Acts 26:13-19). But more, he is saved that God may "reveal His Son in him." It is this "revelation"--ROMANS 16:25,26--that he was "SEPARATED" unto!

A revelation that was not made known to the prophets! A dilemma that baffled the Pharisees! And frustrated Pilate in his own court room! The disciples did not comprehend it! And neither could the devil figure it out! A Mystery that even "the angels desire to look into"! This "gospel of God" concerned "His Son" and the types and shadows in prophecy regarding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom.1:1; ICor. 15:3,4; Gal.1:11,12,16; IPet. 1:12).

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« Reply #49 on: February 11, 2005, 06:03:35 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - THE WORD OF TRUTH


Feb 10

THE WORD OF TRUTH

By Cornelius R. Stam

In Eph. 1:13 the Apostle Paul declares that men are saved and sealed by hearing and believing "the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation." This declaration is substantiated by many other passages of Scripture. Our Lord said: "He that heareth... and believeth... hath everlasting life" (John 5:24). This at a time when sacrifices and baptism were still required for the remission of sins. Even then men had to hear and believe to be saved, for "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Now, however, salvation is received by hearing and believing alone. Works for salvation are not merely unnecessary; they are forbidden.

Today salvation is "to him that worketh not, BUT believeth" (Rom. 4:5). "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" (Eph. 2:8,9).

God has changed His dealings with men from time to time down through the ages, teaching one lesson at a time. This is why it is so important to note the dispensational distinctions in Scripture, "rightly dividing the Word of
truth."

Once the works of the Law were required for salvation:

"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested" (Rom. 3:21) and men are saved solely by faith in Christ, "being justified freely by [Godís] grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24).

We are saved, then, as we hear and believe what Paul calls, "the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation" (Eph. 1:13), and we are established in the faith as we obey II Tim. 2:15: "rightly dividing the Word of truth."

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« Reply #50 on: February 11, 2005, 06:06:24 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - THE NOBLE BEREANS


Feb 11

THE NOBLE BEREANS

By Cornelius R. Stam

Many Christian groups and organizations call themselves Bereans, but it is surprising how few people know what a true Berean is.

The 17th chapter of Acts relates how Paul called upon his kinsmen at Thessalonica and for three sabbath days "reasoned with them out of the Scriptures," trying to show them that Jesus was the Christ.

Steeped in their own religion, however, the majority were unwilling even to consider the truths Paul proclaimed. Indeed, they resented the fact that some did believe and, in their bigotry, "set all the city on an uproar." Finally Paulís life was in such peril that the Christians there sent him away by night to Berea, a town about forty miles away.

At Berea Paul again sought out his "kinsmen according to the flesh" -- and what a different reception! Here is what the record says:

"THESE WERE MORE NOBLE THAN THOSE IN THESSALONICA, IN THAT THEY RECEIVED THE WORD WITH ALL READINESS OF MIND, AND SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY, WHETHER THOSE THINGS WERE SO" (Acts 17:11).

These people did not immediately close their eyes to further light. On the contrary, they gave Paul an interested hearing, listening with open minds to what he had to say. But they were not gullible either for, having listened to Paul, they subjected his word to Godís Word, searching the Scriptures daily to see whether those things were so. For this God called them "noble." They were the true spiritual aristocracy of their day.

We should all be Bereans, spiritually big enough to listen with open minds to the teachings of men, and then big enough too to subject their teachings to the Word of God, the Bible, to see for ourselves whether these things are so. Our Lord said: "Search the Scriptures... for... they... testify of Me" (John 5:39). As we do this we will find eternal life -- and more -- in Christ.

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« Reply #51 on: February 13, 2005, 05:02:46 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS


Feb 12

THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS

By Cornelius R. Stam

Some three thousand years ago, and about one thousand years before Christ, the Psalmist said:

"If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee..." (Psa. 130:3,4). The Psalmist did not explain, however, upon what basis a just and holy God could forgive a guilty sinner. This was to be proclaimed one thousand years later by the Apostle Paul, himself once "a blasphemer, and a persecutor and injurious"; the "chief" of sinners, but forgiven and saved by the infinite grace of God (Tim. 1:13-15).

Preaching Christ at Antioch, in the province of Pisidia,

Paul declared:

"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" (Acts 13:38,39).

But even this does not fully answer our question, for we must still ask: On what basis does God forgive sins through "this Man"? The answer is: on the basis of His payment for our sins on Calvaryís cross. Thus the Apostle wrote to the Romans, explaining how we may be...

"...justified freely by His [Godís] grace, THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS" (Rom. 3:24).

Now, thank God, through Christís finished work, there is not a sinner who needs to remain unforgiven, for:

"In [Christ] we have redemption, through His blood, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE" (Eph. 1:7).

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« Reply #52 on: February 13, 2005, 05:05:28 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - THE CHARACTER OF A NATION


Feb 13

THE CHARACTER OF A NATION

By Russell S. Miller

"Truth is on the scaffold, and wrong is on the throne."

This statement has more accuracy to it than any of us care to realize, when men in high places lie under oath, lie their way through the courts, across the country, and around the world; and the populous at large does not care enough to stand up and be counted, just so long as the economy is not upset. But this mentality is to be expected, I suppose, in the ungodly world in which we live.

It matters not what the evidence is, just so the villain manages to get away with his sin. Honesty, integrity, and uprightness are unimportant, apparently, in the character of a nation.

God doesnít look at it this way, however, and will bring every sin into judgment. He has brought great empires down to the dust because of pride and arrogance in the peoples of those nations. And regarding these who insist upon perpetrating lies, the words written in Paulís letter to the Thessalonians apply:

"And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a [the] lie:

"That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (IIThes.2:11, 12).

Here, the Apostle speaks of the end times, after the Church is caught away and just before Messiah returns to set up His long prophesied Kingdom on earth. During that great tribulation the world shall believe the big lie of antichristóthat he can successfully rule the world without Christ.

The book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ explicitly describes the outcome of his, and the worldís, contest with God in Twenty-Two detailed chapters.

"IN FLAMING FIRE TAKING VENGEANCE ON THEM THAT KNOW NOT GOD, AND THAT OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST" (IIThes.1:8).

Clearly, current events affirm that the Coming of the Lord is much nearer today than it has ever been. Are you ready for this moment of "truth"?

"BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED..." (Acts 16:31).

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« Reply #53 on: February 16, 2005, 11:43:56 AM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - GRACE NOT EARNED


Feb 14

GRACE NOT EARNED

By Cornelius R. Stam

Have you ever noticed that God does not hold the great men of Scripture up to us because of their personal goodness? Almost invariably their records are marred by failure and sin, but God bids us look at their faith, to see what their faith did for them. Even those who lived consistently good lives are not held up to us for their personal worth, because God knows their imperfections. Thus Rom. 4:2,3 says:

"For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory ó but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." And Verse 6 goes on to say about David:

"Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works."

This is because man cannot live a life good enough to make him acceptable to God, for with God only perfection is good enough. One sin spoiled the earth; God will not allow one sin to spoil heaven too. This is why in grace He gave Christ to die for our sins and to pay the just penalty for us. Because of the all-sufficient payment of Christ in our behalf, God can now be "just, and the Justifier" of those who place their faith in Christ (Rom. 3:26).

The famous eleventh chapter of Paulís letter to the Hebrews bears out the fact that salvation, or acceptance with God, is obtained, not by human effort, but by faith. This great chapter on the heroes in Godís "Hall of Fame," begins with the words: "For by it [faith] the elders obtained a good report," and then goes on: "By faith Abel ...," "By faith Enoch...," "By faith Noah...," "By faith Abraham...,"  etc., and closes with the declaration:

"...these all...obtained a good report through faith..."

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« Reply #54 on: February 16, 2005, 11:47:06 AM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - EVERY-MAN EVANGELISM


Feb 15

EVERY-MAN EVANGELISM

By Cornelius R. Stam

"Do the work of an evangelist." Paulís Spirit-inspired injunction in II Tim. 4:5 applies indirectly to every believer in Christ. Are not our pastors simply leaders in the work of the Lord? Shall the congregation sit idly by as the pastor alone does "the work of an evangelist?" God forbid! The pastor is rather to be an example to his flock to go and do likewise.

How well this writer recalls the days of the so-called Darby-Scofield movement when multitudes all over the country thronged to hear Bible teachers like Gaebelein, Gray, Gregg, Ottman, Chafer and Newell. These able men of God expounded the Word as the "blessed hope" of the Lordís return was being recovered. But these Bible teachers were evangelists too, in the truest sense of the word, and their evangelism was contagious.

In those days almost all premillenarians, including the young people, carried New Testaments in their pockets wherever they went. Why? They hoped and prayed for opportunities to testify to others about Godís plan of salvation through Christ and they wanted to show them the way from Scripture. In those days if a Christian failed to have a New Testament with him he was apt to be reproved with the words: "What! a soldier without a sword?" By contrast few believers carry New Testaments about with them today, and they certainly donít carry Bibles!

Some are telling us today that this brand of fundamentalism is out of date and ineffective in these fast-changing times. We reply that all of us ought to get back to this brand of fundamentalism, this earnest effort to personally win souls to Christ by showing them Godís plan of salvation from the Scriptures.

God help his people in general and each spiritual leader in particular, to "do the work of an evangelist."

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« Reply #55 on: February 16, 2005, 11:50:30 AM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - AN INDISPUTABLE FACT


Feb 16

AN INDISPUTABLE FACT

By Cornelius R. Stam

The theological confusion in the Church today is basically the result of her rebellion against the authority of Paul as the divinely-appointed apostle for the present "dispensation of the grace of God" (Eph. 3:1-3).

On every hand Paul is referred to merely as one of the apostles, sometimes even as one of the twelve, though the record of Scripture proves that he could not possibly have qualified as one of the twelve (See Matt. 19:28 and cf. Acts 9:1).

In Galatians 1 and 2 the Apostle throws down the certificate of his apostleship, as it were, to those who questioned it in his day. He opens his argument with the declaration:

"...I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

"For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:11,12).

The Scriptures teach beyond the shadow of a doubt that Paulís apostleship and message were absolutely unique and separate from that of the twelve or of any who had preceded him. This is what Christendom as a whole has refused to accept. Is it any wonder, then, that they confuse Godís prophesied kingdom program with "the mystery," committed to Paul for us in this present dispensation?

The Scriptures emphasize not only the Apostleís constant use of the first person pronoun, "I," "me," "my," but the unique character of his apostleship and message. Ignore this fact and confusion must inevitably result; accept it and a hundred seeming contradictions in Scripture disappear.

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« Reply #56 on: February 19, 2005, 01:06:23 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - BOLDNESS TODAY


Feb 17

BOLDNESS TODAY

By Cornelius R. Stam

Some may suppose that it would require little boldness today to proclaim grace in all its purity. Who is ever persecuted now, at least in free, enlightened lands, for preaching Godís grace? Ah, but do not be deceived. Satan was no less active in his opposition to the truth when Constantine exalted the professing Church to prominence than when his predecessors persecuted the Church and sent its members to death by fire and sword. Indeed, the devil was doubtless more successful in Constantineís day than he had been when persecution raged.

Does any believer in the Word of God suppose that Satan has relented in his opposition to the truth today, just because men, at least in this land, are not burned at the stake or thrown to the lions? Do not be misled. Satanís enmity against God and against His Word continues undiminished. His hatred of "the gospel of the grace of God," is as bitter, and his opposition to it as determined as it ever was. But well does he know that the constant discouragements connected with being in the minority often succeed in silencing those who would stand against physical persecution.

Today Satan uses the new evangelicalism with its highly-organized, highly-financed campaigns -- and its woeful lack of doctrinal and dispensational teaching of the Word -- to neutralize the saints. Multitudes are attracted to these neo-evangelical extravaganzas, at which the participants are for the most part performers, and those who stand for the truth often feel very small as compared to the vast unthinking majority. But let us never forget that God uses "things that are not" to accomplish His work (See I Cor. 1:26-29).

Let us, who know and love the truth, then, determine by Godís grace that nothing shall make us unfaithful to our glorious commission; that, whatever the cost, we shall faithfully and boldly proclaim to others the unadulterated gospel of the grace of God, "the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery."

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« Reply #57 on: February 19, 2005, 01:10:31 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - "A TRUE VETERAN"


Feb 18

"A TRUE VETERAN"

By Cornelius R. Stam

Before you have placed your trust in Christ as your Lord and Savior, there is nothing whatever you can do to please God or to gain acceptance with Him. John 3:35 declares that "the Father loves the Son" and cares what you think about Him and do with Him. This is why Verse 36 goes on to say:

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him."

But once you have received Christ as your Savior and Lord there is much you can do to please God. You can witness to His saving grace, you can please Him by living a godly life, you can work for Him, you can sacrifice of your means to further His cause, and yes, you can fight for Him. "Fight for Him" you say? Yes indeed, for this world system, our Adamic natures and Satan and his hosts, are all antagonistic toward the Christ who died for our sins. Satanís forces, especially, work behind the scenes to "blind the minds of them that believe not" (II Cor. 4:4). These fallen angels, we read, are "the rulers of the darkness of this world" (Eph. 6:12).

This is why God urges His children to be "strong in the Lord," putting on "the whole armor of God," so as to meet and defeat these evil forces (Vers. 10,11). This is why He puts a sword ("the Word of God") into our hands and bids us "stand... stand... stand!" (Vers. 11-14).

Ah, but a great veteran, who waged many battles in making Christ known to the lost, gives us an inkling of the thrill that goes with being "a good soldier of Jesus Christ."  In his last words, just before his execution, the Apostle Paul declared triumphantly: "I have fought a good fight!" (II Tim. 4:7). It was indeed "a good fight" in which he had been engaged, a fight to bring light and salvation and blessing to benighted souls. And the reward: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown" (Ver. 8 ).

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« Reply #58 on: February 19, 2005, 01:12:56 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - GLORIOUS CONSUMMATION


Feb 19

GLORIOUS CONSUMMATION

By Cornelius R. Stam

In Eph. 1:9,10 Paul makes a statement regarding the mystery which has baffled many students of the Word: "Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself:

"That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him."

This will be the glorious consummation of the mystery but we, of the dispensation of grace, are to show men and angels that true oneness is to be found only in Christ (Eph. 3:9-11).

The world knows nothing of this perfect oneness and, indeed, the Church does not experience it -- except in Christ. There is no true oneness anywhere -- in the world or in the Church -- except in Christ. We might illustrate this by two members of the body: our two arms. They hang from opposite sides of the body yet work together as one. But wherein lies their oneness? The answer is: In the head. It is the head which makes my arms and hands operate as one, and so our oneness as members of Christís Body, is in Christ, the Head. It is the recognition of Christ as our Head, then, and this alone, that can make us one, experientially. Thus the Apostle says:

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5).

Soon enough the Lord will take us out of this world and all those events will transpire which will finally bring in "the fulness of [the] times," when all in heaven and earth will be "gathered together in one... in Christ"! "What a day of rejoicing that will be"!

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« Reply #59 on: February 21, 2005, 04:46:49 PM »

Two Minutes With The Bible - That Precious Deposit


Feb 20

That Precious Deposit

By Paul M. Sadler, President

Scripture Reading:

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

  -- II Corinthians 4:7

The story is told of how a wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art.  They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael.  They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.  When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war.  He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier.  The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.  About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door.  A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.  He said, "Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life.  He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly.  He often talked about you, and your love for art." The young man held out his package.  "I know this isn't very much, I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this."  The father opened the package.  It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man.  He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting.  The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears.  He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.  "Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift."  The father hung the portrait over his mantle.  Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the great works of art he had collected.

The man died a few months later.  Shortly thereafter, there was to be a great auction of his paintings.  Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having the opportunity to purchase one for their collection.  On the platform sat the painting of the son.  The auctioneer pounded his gavel.  "We will start the bidding with this picture of the son.  Who will bid for this picture?" There was silence.  Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, "We want to see the famous paintings.  Skip this one."  But the auctioneer persisted.  "Will someone bid for this painting?  Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?"  Another voice shouted angrily.  "We didn't come to see this painting.  We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!"  But still the auctioneer continued.  "The son!  The son!  Who'll take the son?"

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room.  It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son.  "I'll give $10 for the painting."  Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.  "We have $10, who will bid $20?"  "Give it to him for $10.  Let's see the masters."  The crowd was becoming angry.  They didn't want the picture of the son.  They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.  The auctioneer pounded the gavel.  "Going once, going twice, SOLD for $10!"  A man sitting on the second row shouted, "Now let's get on with the collection."

The auctioneer laid down his gavel.  "I'm sorry, the auction is over." "What about the paintings?"  "I am sorry.  When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time.  Only the painting of the son would be auctioned.  Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets every thing!"

God gave His Son 2000 years ago to die on a cruel Cross.  Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, "The Son, the Son, who'll take the Son?"  Because, you see, whoever takes the Son inherits everything!

EARTHEN VESSELS

In biblical times earthen vessels were clay pots that had been thoroughly baked in an oven.  They were fraught with imperfections, which meant that no two were exactly alike.  Archeologists have discovered that those who lived during that period secretly buried their treasures in clay pots for safekeeping.  As we shall see, the master illustrator uses this facet of everyday life to illustrate a grand spiritual truth.

Those who have taken the Son are heirs, joint-heirs with Him.  As members of the Body of Christ, we are partakers of His glory, His power, and His reign.  In short, we are the recipients of the wealth of heaven!  While the believing Gentiles will partake of the blessings of the kingdom, they were never promised to be heirs.  In the kingdom, heirship is a question of nationality.

In the present dispensation of Grace, heirship is based upon relationship.  We are one in Him. Therefore, we have come into possession of what rightfully belongs to Him, and will share it mutually with Him for eternity (Rom. 8:17 cf. Eph. 3:6).

Today when men want to safeguard their riches they place them in vaults made of steel and concrete.  But God's ways are not man's ways. God has deposited the riches of His grace in earthen vessels.  We need not wait until we arrive in heaven to learn what we presently possess in Christ.  We have this treasure, that is, the gospel of the grace of God in earthen vessels.  Those who have been saved by grace are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies.  But what we positionally enjoy in Christ must become a practical reality in the Christian experience if we ever hope to maintain a godly testimony among men.  For example, we are forgiven in Christ, but grace teaches us that we are to forgive others even as Christ has forgiven us. But why would God place these unspeakable riches in such an unsecure place?  We are unworthy sinners, weak and frail, who have the sentence of death within us.  Perhaps the hymn-writer, Robert Robinson, has expressed it best, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love."  The answer to the question is found in the latter part of our passage.  "That the excellency [exceeding greatness] of the power may be of God, and not of us."  While others usually think more highly of us than they should, essentially it is the power of God working through us that produces results in the Lord's work.

Many years ago I was invited to minister the gospel at a Bible camp in the Rocky Mountains.  On the last evening, I spoke on "The Danger of Falling Into the Hands of An Angry God."  Earlier that day I hadn't been feeling well, due to altitude sickness.  In addition to being exhausted that night, I was short of breath.  At ten thousand feet it doesn't take much to get winded.  I now understand why it took Moses so long to return from Mount Sinai with the tablets of stone.  He undoubtedly had to keep stopping on his way down to catch his breath! As I arose to speak that evening I thought to myself, this is going to be an absolute disaster.  It was, or at least I thought it was, until I learned two months later that an entire family was saved that night.
Brethren, the gospel is the "power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom 1:16).

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