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

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

Desperate People

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

God’s good news is powerful to save men’s souls from destruction. I recently ran across this very short story of hungry souls desperate for truth. The author was speaking with acquaintances in Spain about how they came to Christ. The following is their story:

“One man heard the gospel in a cemetery, where they went on holy days to pray to the saints and their ancestors. Knowing this pagan custom, a small group of despised evangelicals had come there to give out literature. Another young man learned the gospel from a tract which a friend had torn up in anger and thrown to the ground. So starved was this religious person for truth that he laboriously pieced the tract back together, read it, and was saved.”

This man was so desperate for Truth, that he took the time to gather up the pieces of torn paper and, like a puzzle, fit them all together. Just so he could see what the tract said. Maybe he saw something in the “despised evangelicals” who gave out the tract, that made him believe they knew God in a different way than he knew Him. The result was he did find the biblical Jesus and he was born again by God’s grace through faith. Jesus welcomed him and began to quench his thirst for Truth.

Every day, though we don’t recognize it, we interact with desperate people that need to meet the true, biblical Jesus. As we have shared, there are many different Jesus’s in the world. Many people are deceived and are hungry for the Truth which satisfies.

You personally know the Truth (John 14:6), if you are biblically born again. Take the time to share a Christian tract with them or share a short testimony of what God has done in your life. You never know when you will save a soul from eternal destruction or sow a seed that will grow into eternal life.

May the Holy Spirit fill you with His boldness to be a daily witness!

Carl