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nChrist
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« Reply #5520 on: February 03, 2020, 01:44:28 PM »

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The New Nature In The Believer
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


It has been well said that if there is anything good in any man it is because it was put there by God. And something good — a new, sinless nature — has been imparted by God to every believer.

While there is still within us “that which is begotten of the flesh,” there is also “that which is begotten of the Spirit,” and just as the one is totally depraved and “cannot please God,” so the other is absolutely perfect and always pleases Him.

Adam was originally created in the image and likeness of God, but he fell into sin and later “begat a son in his own likeness, after his image” (Gen. 5:3). It could not be otherwise. Fallen Adam could generate and beget only fallen, sinful offspring, whom even the Law could not change. But “what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin,” accomplished, “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:3,4),

As Adam was made in the likeness of God, but fell, so Christ was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, to redeem us from the fall, that by grace, through the operation of the Spirit, a new creation might be brought into being, a “new man… renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him” (Col. 3:10) a “new man, which, after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Referring to this “new man,” John says:

    “Whosoever is born [begotten] of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born [begotten] of God” (I John 3:9).

    “We know that whosoever is born [begotten] of God sinneth not…” (I John 5:18).
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« Reply #5521 on: February 05, 2020, 10:16:37 AM »

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Be Strong in the Lord
by Pastor Kevin Sadler


    "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Eph. 6:10).

As Paul begins to close the letter to the Ephesians, he addresses the spiritual warfare of the Body of Christ. Paul's instruction is for us to "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." In this spiritual battle, we need spiritual strength. As we are on the Lord's side, Paul points us to the Lord Almighty, from Whom we are to get our strength. In this epistle, Paul has been showing believers that we are "in Christ," in perfect, eternal union with Him. Being in Christ, we find that His life is our life and His power is our power. We, the Body, draw the strength and power for living the Christian life from our living Head.

    "What is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead..." (Eph. 1:19,20).

Being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might has to do with living by faith in the resurrection life and power which resides in every believer through Christ. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power we're to use to stand in this spiritual battle. The strength of the Christian life is dependence on God. So Paul points the Church to be "strong in the Lord," to depend upon Him.

Before salvation, Paul says we are "without strength" (Rom. 5:6). We are weak and absolutely unable to please God or save ourselves. Salvation is only through trusting Christ, and by Him alone we have victory over sin's penalty and punishment. After trusting Christ as our Savior, we are still weak in ourselves, and in the Christian life our sufficiency must be of God (II Cor. 3:5). Victory over sin's power in our lives occurs the same way we are saved from sin's penalty, by wholly trusting Christ and Him alone. His strength is more than sufficient for the battle, and we are guaranteed victory over anything Satan throws at us when we turn to our Lord (Phil. 4:13).

The question was asked in a Sunday School class: "How can we defeat Satan?" One little girl answered, "Let Jesus answer the door when Satan starts knocking." To be instructed to be "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might" tells us that our might is not strong enough for us to be able to stand in this spiritual battle, and it tells us that we face an enemy much stronger than we are apart from Christ. Therefore we need the infinite power of our Lord in this spiritual battle, and we appropriate that strength by yielding to the indwelling Spirit, through prayer and dependence on God, and by knowledge of, faith in, and obedience to His Word, rightly divided (cf. Eph. 6:17,18).
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« Reply #5522 on: February 05, 2020, 10:18:06 AM »

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Will Call
by Pastor Paul M. Sadler


Some years ago my grandfather gave me a memorable gift. It was a ticket to see a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game at Forbes Field. Being an avid baseball fan at the time, this was the gift of a lifetime. My grandfather had paid for the ticket in advance, but left instructions that I was to go to the "Will Call" window at the ballpark to pick it up. Before I could enter the stadium I had to have proof that payment was made, which "Will Call" provided in the form of a ticket. If I failed to arrive on time and pick up my ticket I would miss the opportunity to attend the game.

"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift" of His Son. God sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins. My friend, He personally had you in mind. You see, to enter into the presence of a holy and righteous God, you must be perfect. Of course, someone is sure to say, "But, nobody's perfect!" Herein lies the problem, you must be perfect; otherwise you will suffer the eternal consequences of your sins in the lake of fire. The Bible says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," which is a sad commentary on each of our lives (Rom. 3:23). Thankfully, Christ's finished work on the Cross is God's answer to the sin question. He paid the full debt of your sins at Calvary that you might have eternal life.

But what must you do to be saved from your sins and the wrath to come? Your ticket to eternal life, which has already been paid in advance, is waiting for you at God's "Will Call." According to the Scriptures: "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

I am happy to say I arrived at the "Will Call" window on time that day and enjoyed the ballgame. Years later someone shared with me about another gift, one that would be life-changing. It was the gift of God's dear Son. When I called upon the Lord He saved me by His grace. It was a decision I have never regretted. But what about you, my friend? God's "Will Call" is open today, but if you die in your sins, you will have missed your opportunity to be saved from the judgment to come. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!" (Acts 16:31).
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« Reply #5523 on: February 07, 2020, 10:17:58 AM »

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The Faith Of Jesus Christ
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


    “…the righteousness of God… by [the] faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe” (Rom. 3:22).

Note, the Apostle Paul here does not refer to faith in Christ, but the faith of Christ. Nor does he refer to what Christ believed, but rather to His worthiness to be believed, His fidelity, His trustworthiness.

We must not forget that faith is a reciprocal matter; it is two-sided. One side is objective; it believes in another. The other is subjective; it is a trustworthy character. One refers to what a person does; the other to what he is. If I have faith in you, you should keep faith with me; you should be trustworthy.

Seven times in St. Paul’s epistles he refers to “the faith of Christ” and each time his purpose is to emphasize our Lord’s worthiness of our complete confidence. That he does not refer to our faith in Christ is evident on the surface in each case. In the passage above he declares that the righteousness of God, which is “by the faith of Christ,” is conferred “upon all them that believe” (Here’s your faith in Him).

Similarly, in Gal. 3:22 he states that “the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise, by faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to “them that believe.” Here again, we believe because He is worthy of our confidence.

Again in Phil. 3:9, the Apostle expresses his desire for a righteousness not of his own, “but that which is through the faith of Christ” — and then adds: “the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Here’s man’s faith again! He has faith in Christ because Christ is completely faithful, completely worthy to be believed in. He paid the full penalty for our sins and is now in heaven dispensing the merits of Calvary — riches of grace, mercy and forgiveness.

But remember, “the faith of Christ” always precedes our faith in Christ. What good would it do us to believe in Him for salvation if He were not wholly to be relied upon for this? But He can be trusted “to save… to the uttermost [all] who come unto God by Him” (Heb. 7:25). This is why Paul could say to the terrified jailor at Philippi:

    “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
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« Reply #5524 on: February 07, 2020, 10:19:29 AM »

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Three Causes of Depression
by Pastor Paul M. Sadler


Sin: When Cain failed to bring the acceptable blood sacrifice that God
required, "his countenance fell." He descended into a state of depression
due to his disobedience. The Lord confronted Cain to do what was right!
In other words, bring the proper sacrifice and he would be accepted, but
if he refused to do so, "sin lieth at the door," that is, crouching at the door
to consume him with guilt. Disobedience and unaddressed sin in a life
can be one of the causes of depression.

Satanic Attack: After Elijah's incredible triumph at Mt. Carmel over the
prophets of Baal, Jezebel vowed to hunt him down and kill him. Since
this was no idle threat, Elijah fled for his life. On the lam, he sat down
under a juniper tree and descended into a dark place called depression.
Oftentimes after we experience a great victory for the Lord, Satan will
cause a shadow of melancholy to come over us. Many of the past giants
of the faith, who made major inroads into the kingdom of darkness, were
afflicted with bouts of depression.

Medical: Sometimes depression is a medical condition, which can be
caused by any number of reasons: biological differences, brain chemistry
(neurotransmitters interaction with neurocircuits), hormones, family
history, etc. If you suffer with clinical depression, it should not be taken
lightly. Consult your family doctor as soon as possible. There are many
very effective medications today that can help you live a normal life.
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« Reply #5525 on: February 08, 2020, 12:25:09 PM »

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World-Class Reconciliation
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


The Apostle Paul, referring to the crucifixion, declares that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:19).

How could He have shown sinners more conclusively that He desires their good than by imputing their sins to Christ and telling them that He is not imputing their trespasses unto them? Their trespasses will be imputed to them, of course, if they reject God's provision of salvation through Christ, but for the present it is a wonderful fact that we can go to any sinner and say on the authority of God's written Word: "Your sins have been paid for; God is not holding them against you. Will you accept His love and receive Christ as your Savior?"
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« Reply #5526 on: February 09, 2020, 10:52:05 AM »

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John 3:16
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Do you believe it?
With all your heart?
Do you believe that God gave His Son because He loved the whole world?
Do you believe that whosoever believes in Him receives everlasting life?
Gentiles as well as Jews?
Do you believe that John 3:16 applies to this age?
SO DO WE!–WITH ALL OUR HEARTS!

We emphasize this because we have been charged of late with putting a dispensational question mark opposite John 3:16.

We not only believe that John 3:16 applies to this age, but that it is more pertinent today than when our Lord first spoke it to Nicodemus.

But first let us turn to two other Scriptures, just as plain, though less frequently quoted.

In Matthew 15:24 we have the plain words of our Lord, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

In Matthew 10:5,6 we read “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

How can we reconcile these Scriptures with John 3:16?

    John 3:16, — “The world…whosoever.”

    Matthew 10:5,6; 15:24, — None but “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The key to this question is found in Acts 3:25,26 where Peter says to the house of Israel, “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, AND IN THY SEED SHALL ALL THE KINDREDS OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED. Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”

The Old Testament abounds with prophecies that salvation would go to the ends of the earth through Israel. This is why our Lord confined His earthly ministry exclusively to the house of Israel. This is why Peter said to the people of Israel, “Unto you first…”

It was no secret that salvation would go to all the world, but remember that it was to go through the covenant people.

We must not forget that John 3:16 was spoken to “A RULER OF THE JEWS.” This makes the words of our Lord doubly significant. It would not be at all amiss to paraphrase them thus: “For God so loved the world, Nicodemus — not only Israel, but the world— that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Sad to say, the rulers of the Jews rejected Christ. The glorious message of John 3:16 would never have reached the Gentiles if God had waited for Israel to proclaim it.

As a nation they themselves rejected God’s Son. They even persecuted those who preached Christ and Saul of Tarsus became the leader of the opposition.

It was in this crisis that God arrested Saul and saved him so that He might unfold His secret purpose of grace to him and through him.

We quote a few Scriptures from Paul’s letters:

    “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but…the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant…that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (I Tim. 1:13-16).

    “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned…so might grace reign” (Rom. 5:20,21).

    “FOR GOD HATH CONCLUDED THEM ALL IN UNBELIEF, THAT HE MIGHT HAVE MERCY UPON ALL. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:32,33).

    “For He is our peace, who hath made both one and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us…for to make in Himself of twain one new man…and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body BY THE CROSS” (Eph. 2:14-16).

This message of grace abounding, of grace reigning was revealed from heaven by the Lord Jesus Christ to the apostle Paul. He says in Ephesians 3:2,3: “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward, HOW THAT BY REVELATION HE MADE KNOWN UNTO ME THE MYSTERY.” This was God’s eternal purpose, “kept secret since the world began” (Rom.16:25), “hid in God” (Eph. 3:9), “in other ages not made known,” (Eph. 3:5), “hid from ages and from generations” (Col. 1:26), “THE MYSTERY” (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:9; 3:3,4,9; 6:19; Col. 1:26,27; 2:2; 4:3).

And now, thank God, though Israel, through whom the nations should have been blessed, gropes in darkness and staggers in unbelief, any poor sinner, Jew or Gentile, may rejoice that “GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.”
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« Reply #5527 on: February 11, 2020, 10:22:07 AM »

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Paraskevidekatriaphobia

by Pastor Ricky Kurth


If you don't know what that is, I can't say as I blame you. If I were a smart aleck, I might "explain" that paraskevidekatriaphobia is a derivation of triskaidekaphobia, but that would probably leave most of our readers just as befuddled. But the latter is the fear of the number thirteen, and the former refers to the more specific phobia of fear of Friday the 13th.

Before you start thinking that people with these phobias should just grow up and get over it, you might want to consider how society itself contributes to this fear. You've never stepped off the elevator on to the thirteenth floor of a tall building, simply because the highly educated architects that design our skyscrapers superstitiously refuse to include one. If that old movie made it seem rational that Kris Kringle was Santa Claus by noting that the United States Post Office directed mail to him, its easy to understand how buildings without a 13th floor make a fear of the number 13 seem rational as well.

The effects of paraskevidekatriaphobia are claimed to be extensive. Since many Americans refuse to fly or conduct business on a Friday the 13th, it is said the economy suffers an estimated 800 million dollar loss every time this date rolls around. Back in the 1930s, the influence of this phobia even reached the highest office in our land, as FDR refused to travel on Friday the 13th.

It may surprise you to learn that the origin of this phobia finds its roots in the Bible, when thirteen men observed the last supper. One was a traitor, and tradition (wrongly) holds that the Lord was crucified a few hours later on a Friday.

What's the cure for paraskevidekatriaphobia? An old joke says if you can pronounce the word, you're cured! In 1913, a pastor tried to cure people by officiating at Friday the 13th weddings without charge. But since superstition is the veneration of something that deserves none, a better way to help people overcome this superstition is to do what Paul did when he encountered some superstitious people (Acts 17:22) and preach the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (v. 23-31). The world considers Paul's gospel to be superstition (Acts 25:19), "but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18). Paul's use of the present tense here shows his gospel is more than just "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). Once we are saved, his gospel "is" still the power of God to help us overcome "the spirit of fear" with the spirit "of…a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7), a mind made sound by a full knowledge of Paul's gospel.
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« Reply #5528 on: February 11, 2020, 10:24:15 AM »

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The Time Element In Scripture

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
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How many Scriptural problems would be solved, how many seeming contradictions explained, if we were more careful to note the time element, emphasized so strongly in the Word of God.

In Romans 5:12 we learn that sin entered the human race by Adam. Then later “the law entered” (Ver. 20). But still later the Apostle Paul arose to say: “But now, the righteousness of God without the law is manifested” (Rom. 3:21).

Early in man’s history blood sacrifices were required for acceptance with God (See Gen. 4:4; Heb. 11:4), later circumcision and the Law (Gen. 17:14; Ex. 19:5), and still later, repentance and water baptism (Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38). But not until Paul do we learn of salvation by grace through faith alone, on the basis of Christ’s finished, all-sufficient work of redemption.

This is why the Apostle refers in Gal. 3:23 to “the faith which should afterward be revealed.” This is why he declares that our Lord “gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”, and adds: “whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an apostle” (I Tim. 2:6,7).

It is only as we recognize the time element in Scripture that we see the difference between “the kingdom of heaven” and “the Body of Christ,” between “the gospel of the kingdom” and “the gospel of the grace of God,” between the “dispensation of law” and “the dispensation of the grace of God.”

A comparison of Romans 3:21 and 26 shows how this time element is emphasized in Scripture. After discussing the function of the Law in Verses 19 and 20, the Apostle Paul declares: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested…” Then, in Ver. 26 he states that it is God’s purpose: “To declare, I say, at this time His [Christ’s] righteousness; that He [God] might be just and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”
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« Reply #5529 on: February 13, 2020, 12:39:06 PM »

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Paul, The Master-builder

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


In I Corinthians 3:10, the Apostle Paul declares by divine inspiration:

    “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise [instructed] master-builder, I have laid the foundation,and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”

In what sense was Paul the master-builder of the Church, and what “foundation” did he lay? Did he not himself say that “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ”? Yes, he did — and in this very passage! He sought to lay no other foundation than Christ, but God had chosen him to proclaim Christ in a new way.

Some years previous our Lord had asked His disciples: “Whom say ye that I am”, and Peter had instantly replied: “Thou art the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God” (Matt.16:16). This is how believers in general had recognized Him at that time (John 1:49; 6:69; 11:27; 20:31). Indeed, the Messianic kingdom was to be established upon Christ as God’s anointed Son (Messiah means “anointed”).

But with the raising up of Paul, God began to form “the Church which is Christ’s body” (Eph.1:22,23; Col. 1:24,25). This is the Church of today, and it is founded, not on Christ as King, but as the exalted Lord and Head of the “one body” (ICor.12:13).

Paul does not present Christ as Messiah, but as Lord. In Romans 10:9 he declares:

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as LORD, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Again in I Corinthians 12:3: “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit”. And again in Philippians 2:9-11, he declares that God has highly exalted Christ and given Him a name above every name, “that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

Have you confessed Him as your Lord and Saviour?
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« Reply #5530 on: February 13, 2020, 12:40:30 PM »

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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 live with a slate wiped clean of "all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking… with all malice" (Eph. 4:31).
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« Reply #5531 on: February 14, 2020, 12:08:48 PM »

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Walk, Don't Run!

by Pastor Ricky Kurth


    "...as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk... Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it..." (I Corinthians 7:17,21).

Some Christians find it troubling that the Bible counsels slaves to be content in their difficult circumstances, and walk in obedience to their masters rather than run away from them in rebellion (Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22). But there were legitimate reasons why men were slaves in those days, and God has never been in favor of freeing "a lawful captive" from his owner (Isa. 49:24).

The Apostle Paul did tell slaves, "if thou mayest be made free, use it rather" (I Cor. 7:21). For example, if a man was a slave because he was working off his financial debts, if someone offered to pay his debts, this was benevolence that no servant should ignore. But if there was no legitimate means by which a servant could be made free, it was God's will that he walk in the calling wherewith he had been called (I Cor. 7:17).

Of course, unbelievers think that this is terrible advice, and they aren't shy about criticizing the Bible for not encouraging slaves to run away from their masters. But that's because they're thinking of the kind of slavery that existed in the early days of our country, when innocent people were kidnapped from Africa and brought here as slaves to serve in an illegitimate form of bondage. This type of slavery is condemned in Scripture, and those who dared perpetrate it in Israel were given the death penalty (Ex. 21:16). Yet even when men were kidnapped and wrongfully enslaved, Paul's advice to be content in servitude was good counsel, for often it was just not possible for slaves to escape bondage, and God does not wish His children to live lives of abject frustration and misery.

But if you are thinking that it is equally impossible to "care not" for being a slave, consider the counsel that Paul went on to give servants in the very next verse,

    "For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman..." (I Cor. 7:22).

The key to finding contentment as a slave was to remember that believing slaves were free men in the eyes of the Lord. In other words, the secret to being content in the harsh circumstances of bondage was for servants to look past their circumstances and focus on how God saw them in Christ. That is, when slaves couldn't change their circumstances, the key to contentment was to change how they thought about their circumstances.

Now, is there anything you can learn from that about your difficult circumstances? Sometimes our situation in life can't be changed any more than a slave could change his. Of course, if there is a legitimate means by which you might be made free from your difficulties, by all means do what Paul told slaves to do with such an opportunity and "use it." But if you can't change your circumstances, why not follow Paul's advice and change the way you think about them?

If life has you feeling like a captive for whom there is no escape, never lose sight of the spiritual reality that you are "the Lord's freeman." Focusing on the problems that have you feeling imprisoned will only make you as miserable as the slave who focused on his. Focusing on "the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free" (Gal. 5:1) is the only path to rejoicing.

It's the secret of life.
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« Reply #5532 on: February 15, 2020, 02:41:01 PM »

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Are You A Token Grace Believer?

by Pastor Ricky Kurth


    "We ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

    "Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God" (II Thes. 1:4,5).

In 32 years of pastoral ministry, this writer has had the privilege to officiate at many a wedding ceremony. When it comes time for the groom to say "I do," we initiate this response by asking him, "Do you give your ring, and accept your bride's ring, as a token that you will keep the pledge and perform the vows that you have made this day?" Since the word token has been defined as "something that serves as an indication or an expression of something else," we then conclude the ring ceremony by saying, "These gold rings will serve as continual reminders of the lasting and imperishable faith that you have pledged to one another this day."

In the Bible, we read that God gave the rainbow as a "token" of His promise to never again destroy the world with a universal flood (Gen. 9:11-13). Similarly, circumcision is said to be a "token" of the covenant God made with Abraham (Gen. 17:11), and the blood of the Passover lamb was said to be a "token" of God's promise to Israel to spare their firstborn (Ex. 12:13).

Here in our text, the apostle Paul says that the patient manner in which the Thessalonians were enduring persecution was "a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God." That is, their patient endurance of tribulation was a sign that, when God finally does judge the world, "He will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31), for He will be paying the world back for persecuting His people. As Paul goes on to say in the verse that follows our text,

    "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you" (II Thes. 1:6).

You see, when a Christian is persecuted for his faith, an injustice has taken place; an unrighteous thing has occurred. In God's perfect system of justice, which can leave the debt of no sin unsettled, this injustice must be paid for, and God solemnly vows to right this wrong "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,

    "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

    "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (II Thes. 1:7-9).

Here God vows that He will someday avenge the Thessalonians for the tribulations given to them by their persecutors, beginning with the destruction that He will bring upon the world at His Second Coming. Of course, God knows that He will be charged with unrighteousness, as He always is when He is forced to sit in judgment upon men. This is why the Book of Revelation is sprinkled with affirmations that God's Tribulation judgments are not unrighteous, that they are rather "just and true" (Rev. 15:3), and "righteous" (16:5-7; 19:2). Similarly, here in our text, Paul is defending the righteousness of the Lord's Second
Coming judgments.

Next, Paul says that the righteous judgment of God on these persecutors of God's people will then continue in the Lake of Fire, the "everlasting destruction" of which he goes on to speak of here in II Thessalonians 1:9. Here we see clear evidence that all those in any age who reject God's provision for their sins will die in their sins (cf. John 8:24), and must themselves be made to pay for their sins.

Of course, the Thessalonians themselves could have retaliated against their persecutors, and forced them to pay for the crimes they committed against them. Surely there were times when they felt like evening the score. However, had they done so, it would then be unrighteous for God to someday recompense tribulation to their persecutors, and God will not be guilty of double jeopardy. As it was, Paul was able to tell the Thessalonians that the "patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure…is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God." If the world should someday ask why God is troubling them, He can reply, "Well, you used to trouble My people, so now, by the same token, I am troubling you!"

There is a lesson that we can learn from this. If we take vengeance on those who trouble us, that means God can't. What an incentive to leave vengeance to the One whose judgments are always fair and equitable! When we take vengeance, we often retaliate too little, leaving our sense of justice feeling unsatisfied. Or we retaliate too much, creating an additional imbalance of justice that leaves our adversary feeling a need to strike at us again. "But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things" (Rom. 2:2). God will judge all men fairly, for His judgment will be according to truth. No wonder Judgment Day is called "the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (2:5).

Are you a token grace believer? Is your patient endurance of those who trouble you a token that, when God judges your persecutors, He will do so in righteousness? None of us would ever knowingly and purposely take something away from God that He says belongs to Him, and yet this is what we do when we take vengeance away from the One who has said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay" (Rom. 12:19). If you are thinking of making someone pay for what they did to you, why not determine right now to leave it all with Him?
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« Reply #5533 on: February 16, 2020, 12:30:38 PM »

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Why "More Noble"?

by Pastor Kevin Sadler


    1 Thes. 2:13: "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."

    Acts 17:11: "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."

I had one of those "Aha!" moments when studying God's Word recently. It has troubled me for years as to why Paul said "these [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica." You hear it said often how the Thessalonian church was a model church. They were noble. Based off of 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, it's easy to see why we say that. So why were the Bereans more noble than these Thessalonians?

In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul gives thanks to God without ceasing for the Thessalonians. The reason he was so thankful for them here was for their response to the Word, that when they "received the Word of God," they received it "not as the word of men" but as the Word of God. Paul was deeply grateful that the Thessalonians recognized the true nature of his preaching and teaching.

The message Paul brought to them was a revelation from Christ that was unrevealed in the Old Testament. Paul received a new message, a new gospel directly from Christ, and he relayed it to the Thessalonians who "received" it as God's Word. In Galatians 1:11,12 Paul says, "But 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." Paul wasn't taught his gospel by man because his gospel could not be found or be taught to him from the Old Testament Scriptures. His gospel necessitated a revelation from Christ in heaven because it was new. It had been unrevealed in the past, hidden in the mind of God (Eph. 3:9).

Paul, in his missionary journeys, was making known the Word of God by God's authority, with his words and preaching, without it being found in the written Word of God at that time. Paul was grateful that the Thessalonians not only listened to the message as God's Word, but that they had swung open their hearts and embraced it warmly as God's truth. They didn't believe it was the "word of men," or just the word of Paul, Silas, Timothy (1 Thes. 1:1), or something they had made up or concocted, but that it was the very Word of God. They believed that the gospel of grace, the revelation of the mystery, and the truth of the Rapture that Paul brought to them was the Word of God, which Paul says was the "truth."

The two times "received" is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 it conveys two different meanings. The first "received" in the Greek primarily means, "to receive and take from another." It communicates the idea that the Word of God was heard, understood, and grasped. The second word "received" in the Greek goes a step further. It primarily means, "to accept and welcome eagerly." When we welcome God's Word, we're allowing its truth into our hearts. We receive it for ourselves. We make it our own. We believe it, embrace it, welcome it with full approval. We receive it into the inner man and make it a part of our lives, and by this the Word "effectually worketh...in you that believe."

The Bereans also "received the Word of God." The word "received" in Acts 17:11 is the word meaning that they accepted and welcomed eagerly the Word of God through Paul. But the reason why the Bereans were "more noble" than those in Thessalonica was because they "searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." They received it, believed it, but then they made sure.

President Ronald Reagan once said, "Trust, but verify." When Paul spoke of a gospel, a church, a heavenly hope, and a coming of Christ that was unrevealed in the Old Testament Scriptures, the Bereans trusted, but then verified and checked it out for themselves to make sure it was true. This made them "more noble" than the Thessalonians, who just received and trusted. It was noble as well that the Thessalonians trusted the message of Paul, and Paul was thankful for this. But the fact that the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so, made them "more noble." When we are like the Bereans and verify from Scripture the things we hear and read, then we too are "more noble" in the eyes of God.
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« Reply #5534 on: February 19, 2020, 03:44:56 PM »

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Two Things We Know

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


In Romans 8 St. Paul points to two great truths which every true believer knows. The first (Verses 22,23) he knows by experience; the second (Verse 28) he knows by faith.

    Rom. 8:22,23: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

The words “until now,” in this passage, are significant, for our Lord came to earth healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, making the blind to see, the deaf to hear and the lame to leap for joy. But He was rejected by sinful men and nailed to a cross.

After His resurrection and ascension His persecutors were given another chance, however, as Peter called upon them to repent so that “the times of refreshing” might still “come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19,20). But again the King and His blessed kingdom were rejected so that, in the words of Paul, the whole creation continues to groan and travail in pain “together until now.”

But in this passage the Apostle points out that even God’s children are not exempt from this suffering, for the most sincere believer, the most consecrated saint, must still partake of the sufferings and sorrows of the world while he waits for “the redemption of our body,” when “we shall all be changed” (I Cor. 15:51).

But while every believer knows about suffering and sorrow by experience, there is something else he knows by faith. Verse 28 speaks of this:

    “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.”

The true Christian is not a mere optimist; he is a believer in God’s Word, and God has much to say about how He is working all out for the good of His own. We have room here to quote but two passages:

    II Cor. 4:17: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

    Rom. 8:18: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
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