Our Priceless Treasure

“The Bible is the most priceless possession of the human race.”

Halley’s Bible Handbook (1965)

Prior to the time of the Reformation, lay people were not allowed to read the Bible. The church of that day decided who could read and have the Bible.

Some groups, such as the Albigenses (1208 AD) and Waldenses, who were fortunate enough to have the Bible, believed it, lived it, and preached it. For this, the Albigenses were exterminated by Pope Innocent III and the Waldenses were severely persecuted by the Inquisition, surviving only in the alpine valleys southwest of Turin, Italy. The authorities burned their Bibles.

With the advent of the printing press, it was impossible for the authorities to suppress the Bible. Men read it and men’s eyes were opened.

“There was study of the Scriptures in their original languages. Renewed knowledge of the sources of Christian doctrine revealed the vast difference between the native simplicity of the Gospel and the ecclesiastical fabric that professed to be founded on it. The Reformation owed its being to the direct contact of the mind with the Scriptures, and it resulted in the emancipation of the human mind from priestly and Papal authority. ” (Halley’s Bible Handbook)

I encourage you to obtain a copy of Halley’s Bible Handbook and read the Church History overview section. It is very thorough and informative. It is critical that we understand the past so we properly understand the Bible’s place in our lives today.

May you find your Priceless Possession today and begin to let its light overcome any darkness in your life. May its Truth set you free from the enslaving teachings and commandments of men.

May God richly bless you,

Carl

God’s “Abundant Lovingkindness”

Recently while studying Psalms, I became acquainted with the beautiful Hebrew word “chesed“. David used it in Psalm 5:7 where he is saying that the only way he can enter the Lord’s house is by His abundant lovingkindness, not by any merit of his own.

But as for me, by Thine abundant lovingkindness [chesed] I will enter Thy house, at thy holy temple I will bow in reverence for Thee.”

The Moody Bible Commentary says the following about chesed in this scripture:

“The term “lovingkindness” is chesed which specifically indicates God’s covenant love, His faithful and continual expression of what is best for those who are His own under the promise of Abrahamic covenant.

The Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12 included three components: land, a nation, and, most importantly to us Gentiles, an expansive blessing. The blessing is to Abraham (a Gentile), his descendants and then to all the families of the earth.

God promised Abraham in Genesis 12: 3

“….and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Note that

God’s love is seeking to ‘push’ His blessing as far as His justice will allow.”

Moody Bible Commentary

We Gentiles should say a big thank you to God for including us in His wonderful covenant.

The Messianic Prophecy Bible Project says the following about “chesed” :

“This other Hebrew word for love is more difficult to translate into English. Chesed is a love that cannot be sentimentalize; it has the attributes of strength, steadfastness, loyalty, and devotion that stem from a covenant between God and Israel or between people.

It has been translated as loving-kindness, mercy, steadfast love, compassion, loyalty, goodness, great kindness, favor and loyal-or leal-love.” (Leal is a old Scottish word that means “loyal and honest”.)

They go on to say:

Chesed does not dismiss the need for holiness and righteousness but, mercifully, despite failings on the part of the Jewish People, makes a way through unmerited kindness toward love for His covenant.

In fact, chesed is quite often paired with the Hebrew word translated mercy and compassion: rachum.  (see Isaiah 54:8; 63:7; Lamentations 3:22)

“And I will betroth you to Me forever, and I will betroth you to Me with righteousness and with justice and with loving-kindness [chesed] and with mercy [rachum].  And I will betroth you to Me with faith, and you shall know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19–20 [21–22])

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but my loving-kindness [chesed] will not be removed from you, and my covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the LORD who has compassion [rachum] on you.”  (Isaiah 54:10)

The Hebrew word chesed also appears in Leviticus 20:17 where the Law states that a man who uncovers the nakedness of his sister has committed a chesed: here it is translated as “a disgrace”.

In writing “chesed,” it suggests that the man has crossed a Divine line, giving chesed the added sense of being “characterized by overflowing and lack of boundaries.”  (Aish)

In this case, chesed is given a negative connotation.  But when holiness is the connotation, the intent is that the one who loves does so without boundaries — an act of love characterized by overflowing grace, mercy and giving.

To summarize, chesed is a love characterized by strength, steadfastness, loyalty, and devotion which is not limited in quantity to its recipient, but overflowing, abundant to meet the needs of His people.

We see this same characteristic of “overflowing” in Romans 5: 17 where Paul writes:

“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Emphasis added)

Here the word “abundance” means “superabundance”. Grace enough to save me with even more grace poured out on top of that! A superabundance of God’s grace poured out for my sins establishing me in His covenant as His child forever. God’s wonderful mercy toward His children!

King David was saved the same way we are. He was looking forward to Calvary by faith and we are looking backwards to Calvary by faith. It truly is by His abundant lovingkindness that anyone, OT or NT, is saved from the guilty and penalty of their sins and enter into His kingdom. He made a Way when there was no way.

Let us give thanks for His loving kindness and the superabundance of His grace in our lives today.

Carl

The Power of The Gospel: “Such Were Some of You”

The apostle, Paul, today will give us insight into how God’s power can deliver people from bondage. I pray this blesses you and yours.

[9] Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, [10] nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. …

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NASB (emphasis added)

In this scripture Paul is writing to the Corinth church in Greece. He is telling them people who practice certain sins will not “inherit the kingdom of God” or in today’s vernacular, “will not go to heaven when they die”.

This Corinth was the “new” Corinth created by Roman Emperor Julius Caesar as a retirement city for veterans of his Roman legions. The “old” Corinth was destroyed a hundred years before by Emperor Achaiacus, for rebellion and its citizens were sold into slavery. It was this “old”Corinth that contained the temple of the goddess Aphrodite, with its 1,000 – 10,000 (the number varies) temple prostitutes. In Paul’s day it was still a very immoral, wicked city. In the Hellenistic Greek world, the term “Corinthian” was associated with whore mongering and prostitution.

Into this immoral culture came Paul, preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the sins of the world; the Light shining in the darkness. Through His preaching, the power of God was released and many pagans trusted in Christ for salvation. As a result of their faith in Christ, they were born again.

Being born again CHANGED them. CHANGED them from the sinful people he had listed in verse 9 and 10. He says of them in verse 11:

“Such were some of you….”

God working in their lives caused:

Adulterers to quit sleeping with other people’s spouses and to become faithful to their spouse.

Fornicators stopped sleeping around, instead learning to possess their own vessel (body) in sanctification and honor (I Thess. 4: 4 ) and glorifying God in their bodies (I Cor. 6: 20).

Idolaters stopped worshipping demon inspired false gods and started worshipping the one and only True God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Homosexuals stopped sleeping with men and recognized the God-given natural function of the female (Romans 1: 7), in a marriage context.

The effeminate men quit playing the part of the female in the homosexual relationship and became the men God created them to be.

Thieves stopped stealing from others and started giving to others.

Drunkards stopped abusing alcoholic drink, resulting in soberness.

The covetous changed from “acting unethically to obtain more,” to being satisfied with what they had. They probably became givers.

Swindlers stopped extorting people to obtain money and other things. These also probably became givers.

Revilers stopped speaking rudely of others, maligning people’s character.

Paul goes on to say that this CHANGE happened in the Corinthians because when they were born again God did three things to each one of them. He:

1. “…washed…” them – Titus 3:5 says the following

“He saved us ….. by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

2. “…sanctified…” them – God set them apart from sin to Himself resulting in a willingness to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. They separated themselves from sin and grew in personal holiness.

3. They “…were justified..” – based on their faith in Christ, God declares them righteous before Him. They received the Holy Spirit in themselves.

CHANGE came in these people’s lives (and ours) because they were “washed, sanctified and were justified”. It is the work of a loving, forgiving God who loved us enough to send His Son to the Cross for our sins so we could be saved from the guilty and penalty of our sins and be CHANGED.

In closing, the Shantung revival in northern China (1920 – 30s) was a work of the Holy Spirit. He used a Miss Marie Monsen, a Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran, to awaken the missionaries and the Chinese church.

She asked everyone she met if they had been born again. As you can imagine, many missionaries and church members were greatly offended. But God used this and her teaching on sin to remove the blinders from the church members. Many were just religious and had never been born again by the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, they had not CHANGED.

Others realized that at some point in their Christian walk, they had stopped confessing their sins; thereby, stopping the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The CHANGING had stopped.

You see, being religious will not really CHANGE you. In Colossians 2:20-23 Paul is speaking about religious decrees (don’t eat this, don’t touch this, etc.) and he shows the futility of such man-made religion in verse 23:

“These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self -abasement and severe treatment of the body, BUT ARE OF NO VALUE AGAINST FLESHLY INDULGENCE.” (Emphasis added)

Trusting only in the work of Christ on the Cross can break the bondage in a person’s life. Jesus said you MUST be biblically born again to experience victory over fleshly indulgences. Paul, in our opening scripture is saying that the Corinth believers used to be controlled by fleshy indulgences but God CHANGED them. They, like many church members and pagans today, were practicing many forms of sexual sin and other wicked things but God set them free from their bondage.

Have you been CHANGED, my friend? Have you been biblically born again through faith, and faith alone, in the work of Christ! If you have not, today is a good day to ask Jesus to save you from your sins and to be washed, sanctified and justified by the Holy Spirit.

Don’t settle for “religion” or the “traditions of men”. The Lord Jesus is vastly different from “religion”. He is True Life and Freedom.

Carl

Christ: The Power and Wisdom of God

“For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search from wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, BUT to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

Corinthians 1:22-24 (Emphasis added)

“What God has done in Christ crucified is a direct contradiction of human ideas of wisdom and power, yet it achieved what human wisdom and power fail to achieve. It does……..deliver man from his bondage….”.

The First Epistle to the Corinthians – HNTC

Carl

Burning Bibles

“When they burned the New Testament they pretended a zeal very fervent to maintain only God’s honor, which they said with protestation, was obscured by translation in English, causing much error. But the truth plainly to be said, this was the cause why they were afraid, least laymen should know their iniquity”.

A Lollard (a follower of John Wycliffe’s teaching, circa 1450)

There was a time when the New Testament could only be read in Latin or Greek. It was men like Wycliffe who dared to make a translation in the mother tongue of the layman. He once told a monk that if he, Wycliffe, had his way the ploughboy would know more about God than him.

Needless to say, Wycliffe was very unpopular with the Pope and, though the Pope could not have him put to death due to his supporters, they dug up his bones years later and burned them for translating the New Testament into the English language.

As you read this, you may think this practice of burning Bibles is only confined to the timeframe of the Middle Ages. But it still occurs today in parts of Mexico and Central and South America. A friend recently returned from Honduras where several years ago they passed out Bibles to every home in a certain village. On this trip he was informed by a native who is a former catholic that the priest had made each family give him their Bible and then he burned them.

Wonder what the priest was afraid of?

Carl

Making Life Meaningful

A good friend recently sent me a copy of To End All Wars by Ernest Gordon. It is Gordon’s account of the true story behind the Academy Award-winning film The Bridge on the River Kwai. During World War II he was a member of the Scottish 93rd Highlanders captured by the Japanese and put in a POW camp in Thailand. They, along with other allied troops and indigenous people, were used as slave labor to build the infamous bridge and railroad for a future Japanese invasion of India.

He describes the horrible living and work conditions and hopelessness that they had to endure daily. Death was everywhere, with many good men dying. Interpersonal relationships were almost non-existent; it was basically every man for himself.

After almost dying of multiple diseases brought on by the non-stop hard work, poor diet and extreme climate, Gordon and some of the other men, at the bottom of the abyss of human existence, stripped of all human comforts and status, began to experience revival. A turning from despair, selfishness, greed and loneliness to serving their fellow prisoners with the love that only God could put into a human heart yielded to Jesus Christ.

Following is a quote from the book that sums up his experience. I strongly recommend this book. Courage to you. Carl

“We had two alternatives: we could choose the way of men, based on the sovereignty of the natural order, closed, sealed and impersonal; or we could choose the way of Jesus Christ, free and personal, based on the sovereignty of God the Father.

The wind of the spirit had blown upon us; we could not prove how or whence it had come. But our experience pointed to a source beyond ourselves. We knew personal fulfillment, love, joy, peace, wholeness, as we committed ourselves to the One who had called us. Only as we responded to this Word did we receive the power to progress towards true humanity. Our life on the horizontal plane was made meaningful at the point where it was met by the vertical. At the point marked by the Cross we found ourselves. “

Ernest Gordon – To End All Wars (emphasis added)

New Orleans Atheist Changes His Mind

Desmond Boudreaux was bitter from past church experiences as a child and eventually became an atheist as a young adult. He helped form a Marxist group in New Orleans which he hoped would help silence Christianity.

He said,

“The group I was with hated churches and Christianity. Once I got into it, I realized there was no peace in what I was pursuing. That’s when I met Justin and found Christ. The whole time I was searching for peace and truth, but could never find it. Whenever I found Christ, that’s when I truly found what I was looking for.”

The person who lead him to Christ was Refuge Church Pastor Justin Haynes. It was Christian love displayed by Pastor Haynes and other members of the church that caused a change of heart in Desmond. On April 8th, he was plunged beneath the baptistery waters to publicly display his newfound faith.

(Condensed from Baptist Message)

Bravo for Brother Desmond! Another soul rescued from the snare of the devil.

Maybe you, like Desmond, are looking for peace and truth; rest for your soul. The Risen Lord makes the following offer to you today:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Take My yoke upon you , and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

For my yoke is easy, and My load is light”. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Carl