When Tempted to Lash Out at a Fellow Believer, Remember… : Devotional for February 10, 2022

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Today’s Bible reading from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Exodus 25-27, Psalm 90, Philippians 1

Did you know that the moment you surrendered to Christ, you became a partner in the gospel with every other believer on the planet?  God sent the apostle Paul to plant and establish churches all through Asia Minor, into Rome, and likely into Spain.  As he won many to Christ who rescued them from their sins both now and eternally, what God used him to do is acquired more partners in the gospel. 

So Paul leads off his letter to the Philippian church with this prayer of thanksgiving.  “Dear Lord, every time I think of these believers in Philippi, I am grateful and have joy because of having them as partners!”  I wonder, would Paul be able to say that of me?  Would he be able to say that of our churches here in Denver?  Would he be able to say that of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church.  As we see from the Ephesian church in Revelation, Christ told them they had lost their first love.  The essentials had moved to the peripherals, and the peripherals move to the essentials.   

What are the essentials? 

First-level theological issues would include those doctrines most central and essential to the Christian faith. Included among these most crucial doctrines would be doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity

While we could spend weeks on each of these issues, what we do see if a Christian or churches compromise on any of these doctrines, we undermine the gospel.  The gospel is not simply believing a set of facts, but it’s a surrender to all that Christ has revealed about His nature, His work in rescuing us, and how He aims to work in us!  That’s the good news—God will not hold us according to our sins, but will rescue us according to His grace. 

We are partners in this and because of this.  And the apostle Paul modeled this partnership.  Look at the first three words of this letter:  “Paul and Timothy.”  Paul was Timothy’s spiritual father.  Paul was 12 years older than Timothy (Paul born in AD 5, Timothy born in AD 17), making them 45 and 33, respectively.   Regardless of their backgrounds, they were ‘partners in the gospel,’ ‘servants of Christ Jesus,’ and ‘saints.’ 

So the next time we lash out at a brother or sister in Christ, either in person or on social media, remember they may well be a partner in the gospel of Christ. May that change our attitudes moving forward.

A False Gospel is No Gospel at All: Devotional for January 25, 2022

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Today’s Bible reading plan from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Genesis 43-44; Psalm 24; Galatians 1

So the recovery of the blessed doctrine of Scripture and Scripture alone is our rule of faith.  And what did Scripture teach?  Scripture teaches that salvation is by ‘grace alone.’  In Galatians 1:6, Paul in sheer exasperation tells the Galatian church,

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).

Notice Paul says that they are deserting the God who called you “in the grace of Christ” and are turning to a “different gospel.”  Paul is saying, “The grace of Christ is the Gospel.”  The Gospel is the Good News.  The reason we see that the Gospel is such good news is only truly possible when we see that our soul is in such bad shape!  In Galatians 3:10, the Apostle Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26 in saying, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’”

You say, “I know I’m not perfect, but I’m not as bad as so many others are.  I may not be a Christian, but I am a good person!”  You say, “The Book of the Law is not my authority.  I don’t see it like that.”  Well, in a situation like that, your opinion is not only missing the mark but misses the point.  What matters is what God says!  And whether we see it as our authority or not, it will be the standard by which we will be deemed fit for heaven or not. 

During the time of the Reformation, the church taught that salvation could be bought by indulgences.  The Pope at that time (Leo X) wanted to build St. Peter’s Basilica and used this horrid doctrine of indulgences on the people so they could buy salvation for their family members who were in purgatory.  “When a coin clings in the chest, a soul flies up to heavenly rest,” indulgence-advocate John Tetzel would say.  Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenburg church questioning this practice.

Without grace, we have the law looming over us and we live in fear of its dictates.  But we also must not add to grace.  The Reformation was a fight over the Scripture’s teachings of grace alone.  Not grace partly, then us coming along partly so that we may decide for it and ultimately earn it.  Grace stands alone — otherwise, it’s not grace.

From my sermon from October 30, 2005, preached at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.

Be Thankful the Cross Wasn’t the End: Devotional for January 24, 2022

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Today Bible reading from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Genesis 41-42, Mark 16

In the majority of our Bible translations, Mark 16 contains a rather startling insertion between vv. 8 and 9.

SOME OF THE EARLIEST MANUSCRIPTS DO NOT INCLUDE 16:9-20.

… which means that some of the earliest manuscripts do include this last section. I commend to you this article to delve more into this and to help you keep your confidence that this last section is canonical and belongs in the Gospel of Mark.

What I pray you will consider is this: what if the message of Christianity really ended where Mark 16:8 ends:

“And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

That, my friends, is not “good news.” This would be like every other hero who died–followers going to the graveside. The problem with Jesus’ death is that they claimed He was the Messiah and would reign as their King over all other kings and Lord over all other lords. To believe such in Roman times was the death penalty.

Yet, the story does not end with them being “afraid.” In fact, Jesus’ death galvanized the apostles and followers to such a degree that none of them feared death, and nearly all of them (save John) were martyred.

Be thankful for the cross–but be thankful that the cross was not the end. The tomb is empty. Christ is alive. Now, let’s go forth in boldness in His name!