Monthly Archives: February, 2019

Seducing Spirits

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“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (1 Timothy 4:1)

These “latter days” are surely characterized by the tragic departure from the faith on the part of many. Unfortunately, even many of our churches have followed what should certainly be exposed as “seducing spirits,” embracing lies taught under the influence of Satan.

A list of such false teachings and practices within the church would surely implicate many. Let us look at the examples Paul gives in the next few verses:

First, he identifies the leaders and teachers of these errors as hypocritical liars who intentionally deceive their prey. They have deadened any possibility of right attitude by hardening their minds and searing their consciences (v. 2).

Next, we are given examples of their heresy: “Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving” (v. 3).

Many cults and pseudo-Christian groups have fallen into these traps, but both the institution of marriage and the provision of foods were specifically created by God for man’s enjoyment and blessing (marriage: see Genesis 1:28; 2:18, 24; foods: Genesis 1:29; 9:3). They are to be “received with thanksgiving” to a loving Creator, “sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5). Each of these and all of God’s creation are “very good” (Genesis 1:31), if used properly.

But the main point of this passage is that we should guard against the heresy of false teachers and from imposing on ourselves and our fellow Christians a false piety—practices which may make us feel “holier than thou” but which, in reality, impugn God and His creation.

Rather, let us be among those “which believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:3) of God’s loving provision of creation. JDM

The Prayer of Faith

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“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (James 5:15)

Without examining the various interpretations of this somewhat controversial passage, we merely note that one of the main ingredients of effective praying is faith. There are others, of course (praying in God’s will, no unconfessed sin, unselfish motives, etc.), but all these must be “mixed with faith” to be effective (Hebrews 4:2).

There are many such exhortations to pray in faith. Jesus said, “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22). Another example is James 1:5-6: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” And another: “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).

Every Scripture passage must be viewed in context, of course, including the context of the entire Bible.

The “faith” we must exercise is not only a spiritual confidence that God will answer (and this, clearly, is necessary), but also faith in God as Creator (and, therefore, able to answer!), Christ as Savior (therefore, justly willing to hear), and in the Holy Scriptures as the written Word of God.

James warns any man without genuine faith: “Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:7-8).

True biblical faith is faith in God the omnipotent Creator (Hebrews 11:3), faith in Christ as redeeming Savior (John 3:16- 18), and obedient faith in the revealed Word of God (1 John 3:22). Then we can believe in confidence that God will indeed answer our prayer of faith. HMM

Featured Audio: What God Says About Anger

Dr. David Hocking, Hope for Today Ministries

🎓 Do you know of someone who is struggling with anger? Perhaps you are the one struggling. The bible has much to say on the subject of anger. Presented by renowned bible teacher, Dr. David Hocking, four areas are addressed: Why do we get anger? When is it right to be angry? When is it wrong to be angry? How can we control our anger?

When Our Lord Comes!

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“After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)

This is the first of the great “I am’s” of Scripture, and it was given to Father Abraham at a time of both great victory and great despondence. The Lord had enabled Abraham’s little army to vanquish a much larger Amorite host, but then, still childless, he was suddenly overwhelmed by his loneliness and vulnerability in an alien land.

Then Jesus came! When Christ much later affirmed His eternal self-existence to the Pharisees (“I am,” He had said), He claimed that Abraham had seen His day and rejoiced (John 8:56). This experience, recorded early in Genesis, was, no doubt, that great occasion. As the living Word (John 1:1) by whom all things were made (v. 3), He assured Abram that He, Himself, would provide all needed protection (“thy shield”) and all needed blessing (“exceeding great reward”). And then it was that “he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal existing Creator and Redeemer of all things, is no less able today than then to be our protection—and our provision, as well.

Note also that it was the Word of the Lord which came to Abram in a vision. This is the first use of the Hebrew word dabar in Scripture to mean “word,” and here it is the Word of God personified. This still further identifies the vision with the pre-incarnate Christ, who would eventually become God’s incarnate Word (John 1:1, 14).

Thus, as to Abram, God says, “Fear not!” Adam, indeed, was justifiably afraid when he heard the voice of the Lord (Genesis 3:10), for he had only a fig leaf for a covering. But, like Abram, we have a strong shield, which is none other than the Lord Himself. HMM

When Nations Forget God

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“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17)

The subject of hell is widely ignored today, even by evangelical teachers and pastors. Heaven is commonly mentioned at funerals, of course, since almost everyone attending a funeral wants to think that the deceased has gone there (assuming there turns out to be such a place). Hell is rarely acknowledged as even a possibility, on the other hand, even for mobsters or other criminals.

Nevertheless, hell is real and it is going to be more fully populated than heaven. The Lord Jesus said (and He should know!), “Broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: . . . narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

But just who are the “wicked” that will be turned into hell? According to the Bible, “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), and “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). By the principle of Hebrew poetic parallelism, our text would indicate that “the wicked” are those who “forget God,” where the connotation of “forget” is “become oblivious to.”

Can whole nations become oblivious to the true God of creation—and do business and legislate and conduct all their affairs just as though God no longer existed? If so, those nations (or at least those citizens of those nations who practice such wickedness) are in mortal danger. “Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross” (Psalm 119:119).

But “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6) and “blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12). We who trust Christ therefore surely need to work and pray earnestly for our nation, and its people, that they return to genuine love of God and His Word. HMM

The Spirits of Truth and Error

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“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6)

Here we are given assurance that we will be able to tell the difference in people by the way they respond to the Word of God. The emphasis is on the believer’s ability to discern a spirit (attitude or character) of truth or error among those to whom we witness.

This is important because we are told not to cast “pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6) and to “shake off the very dust” from our feet against those who will not receive our witness (Luke 9:5).

Others disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness when they are really the ministers of Satan (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). How can we tell which is which?

The spirit of truth is relatively easy to discern. Those who hear the Word (Mark 4:18-20) and receive the Word with all readiness of mind (Acts 17:11) are of the truth (John 18:37). Such people come willingly to the light (John 3:21) and ask for a “reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

The spirit of error can be more difficult to discern. Its source is Satan (John 8:44), who deceives (Revelation 12:9) and uses his servants to manipulate and mislead (Ephesians 4:14).

Some of these run among God’s family and live “in error” (2 Peter 2:18). They can be fruitless trees and “raging waves . . . foaming out their own shame” (Jude 12-13), or like “tares” among the wheat that even the angels have trouble recognizing (Matthew 13:38-40). These won’t listen to truth.

Our job is to be ready to give the answer to the one and to reject the other. HMM III

How to Please the Lord

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“Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9)

In this verse, Paul expresses the strong desire to be “pleasing to” (the idea behind “accepted of”) the Lord Jesus Christ. It should likewise be our own ambition—whatever we do and wherever we are—to please Him. This, of course, will make a difference in what we do and where we go!

The Scriptures give us a number of specific ways in which we can be confident of pleasing Him. For example: “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). That is, our criterion should be pleasing Him—not ourselves. Similarly, we are warned that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). That is, our thoughts and deeds must not be governed by worldly considerations.

By suffering, willingly, for His sake, we can please Him. “If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable [‘well-pleasing’] with God” (1 Peter 2:20).

“Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6). We must walk by faith if we would please the Lord. This is not faith in the abstract, but specific truth—faith to believe the revealed Word of God and to act on that faith.

God is pleased with generosity. “But to do good and to communicate [to share what we have with others, for His sake] forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16). This certainly includes sharing the gospel, as well as our material possessions. “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

Finally, when our ways please the Lord, we have this gracious promise: “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22). HMM

We Are the Saints of Our Living God

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“Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.” (Philippians 4:21-22)

The apostle Paul typically began and ended most of his church epistles with greetings to and from “the saints.” The context in each case shows that this term was applied to all those who were “in Christ Jesus”—that is, all true Christians. The Greek word hagios meant essentially those people or things that are set aside or consecrated to the Lord. It is frequently translated “holy” and can be applied to objects dedicated to the Lord, as in Hebrews 9:24 (“holy places made with hands”).

The term is applied also to Old Testament believers. At the time of Christ’s resurrection, we are told that “many bodies of the saints which slept arose” (Matthew 27:52).

Some of these latter have been given the supposedly exclusive right to be called saints by the Catholic church. This is simply not true as the bible makes it very clear that all whom are born of the Spirit are the Saints of God! (I Corinthians 1:2)

Editor’s commentary note

Other than “St. Mary” and “St. Peter,” the best known of these may be “St. Patrick,” the so-called “patron saint” of Ireland. Patrick was certainly a very zealous missionary, largely responsible for the conversion of the Irish from paganism back in the early fifth century, and all we know about him would confirm that he was indeed a “saint” in the true biblical sense.

Although “saints” should be altogether godly and righteous as well as set aside to the Lord, that is not necessarily always how they act. Thus, special men have been called by God (i.e., pastors, teachers, etc.) “for the perfecting of the saints” (Ephesians 4:12).

Since the sole biblical criterion to be classed as “His saints” is “them that believe,” that includes us! That being the case, should we not be zealous to see that our lives are such as “becometh saints” (Ephesians 5:3)? HMM

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