Bible Thoughts to Consider

August 30, 2013 - "Salvation is of the Lord"

The prophet Jonah was instructed to go to Nineveh and cry against their great sin which had come up before God. Jonah, not wanting God to bless the enemies of the Hebrews, disobeyed. A mighty tempest arose against the ship which Jonah boarded - a figure of God's law arising against sin - the law entered that sin might abound. The mariners soon learned the cause, and tried with all their strength to bring the ship to land - but they could not. Jonah himself, willing to be cast into the sea - a figure of Christ willingly going to the cross of Calvary - and God's power manifest in all - blessed the mariners and they finally gave up and threw Jonah overboard - there was no other way of salvation. As soon as they cast Jonah in, the sea became calm. As soon as Jesus Christ suffered, bled and died on the cross, peace was made with God for the sins of God's people against His holy law. To those who believe they can save themselves and others by their works, or by their obedience, or by anything they do - we say, Go on, row hard, and keep rowing until you are worn out, and finally realize that you can never quench the violence of the waves of the law. Only the grace of God through the sacrifice and offering to God of Jesus Christ upon the cross can ever reconcile God to sinful men. Salvation - temporal, spiritual, and eternal - is of the Lord. The God who calmed the waters, by the sacrifice of His only begotten Son on the tree of the cross, also prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah, and then to vomit out Jonah on dry land - a figure of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, after three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. And then, in like manner as Jonah went to preach to Nineveh, God sent His servants to preach peace to the Gentiles after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let us be true to this, our high calling.

June 18, 2013

While multitudes have turned aside unto fables, in their quest for money, numbers, influence, and power, the true Church of Christ, which has existed since the Apostolic day, is steadfastly continuing in and satisfied with the same Bible truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ which have blessed God's people for nearly 2000 years. Man-made religion is based upon the idea that God's sovereign, eternal election of His people before the foundation of the world, is unjust and must be patched up to make it palatable to the ungodly world, in order to offer them a chance to be saved. They refuse to believe the corrupted nature of man is such as requires a change in the inner man, which can only be brought about by God's effectual calling, not by an offer or proposition of salvation. CALLING, not an offer, is necessary in every case. Men receive faith as a gift, by spiritual birth, which faith is the evidence which enables them to believe the witness within themselves from the Spirit, that they are the children of God. Jesus taught the same thing, for he said, No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him. John 6:44, and read the entire chapter.

It is commonly taught that God would be unjust unless He gives all men a chance to be saved eternally, and usually this is coupled with the idea that if men do not have a chance to hear and believe the gospel, they will be saved in ignorance - if this is true, no doubt it would be better to leave them in ignorance, for otherwise the gospel would become the means of their condemnation. But our reply is that God was just when he found the whole race of men guilty, and condemned them to death; and no one who is already condemned to death has a right to expect to be given a chance to escape from prison, before it is just to hold them there. We also reply, that guilty men need more than a chance - they need to be saved. If God is unjust unless He gives all men a "chance" then He may also be unjust unless He actually SAVES all men. God doesn't work "part-way" - He finishes what he starts. He promises, calls, and carries out His purposes, without any failures. We agree with the Apostle Paul in justifying God when He sees fit to have mercy upon whom He will have mercy, and compassion upon whom He will have compassion, and praise Him for his sovereign grace. All the efforts of men to save other men in heaven, will never save one soul that would not have been saved by God alone without the help of man.

All other ground is sinking sand.

Monday, October 20, 2003:

I would like to share a few thoughts from the book of Joshua, chapter seven, regarding the sin of Achan, of the tribe of Judah. The chapter (7) begins by saying "But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel." God had already given His command, and told what would happen if any took the forbidden spoils of Jericho for his own use.

If I understand this correctly, the Lord was angry with all the children of Israel, on account of the sin of one man, Achan. In the eyes of God, there was "guilt by association," here, and Israel as a whole suffered because of what one man had done, even before they knew what he had done. Today, the church is suffering because of what a few are doing, although some may try to hide behind a veil of ignorance; but the guilt is on the whole - not just one person or one tribe - and the guilt will remain there until the body of the church judges and deals with the ones who have committed the sin, which God is able to make known. It is not possible to let the accursed thing stand, without putting it away from us completely, and still have the blessings of God as though nothing was wrong. There were some who died in battle, before this was fully known, and dealt with by all of Israel. The judgment of God upon us ALL seems to be very clear today, as well.

Some brethren are advocating today that God had twelve tribes back then, and that none of them had any right to take any action regarding anything done by anyone in another tribe, but only his own tribe could deal with him. I cannot find scripture to support this idea, and our lesson clearly refutes this theory. Some also say that only God has a right to deal with offenders at all, and that He forgives them, if they admit their guilt, and we should always pray for all offenders. It certainly was not so, in the case of Achan, as his sin was "unto death." Achan was put to death: by the command of Joshua - "all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor." (verse 25).

Joshua, in chapter 7, verse 26, says, "Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones." They carried out the punishment that God had made known and commanded beforehand, and they were required to carry it out in order to obey God. Those who transgress, today, know that God has written His judgments that will befall them, and the whole church is required to carry it out. Not one local church, while the others show contempt, but all together must act and carry out the judgment of God. I am not suggesting that one local church cannot exclude one of her own members, or take care of her own discipline. She can, and must do so. But all the other churches must also recognize it and uphold it, so that they all act as one, together, in order to obey God.

When all Israel acted, and cleared away this evil by all of them condemning it, then the Lord turned away his fierce anger from them, and they again received his blessings. But even though Achan admitted his guilt, yet he still received the just punishment of his sin. He tried to hide his sin, but the Lord made it known, and it was discovered. The accursed things, the accursed sins, are not hidden today, and ignorance is no excuse for those who either pretend there is no sin, or else pretend to be ignorant of the accursed thing, which is among us today, nor is there any excuse for those who will not join with all Israel in putting it away.

I recognize the fact that all Israel suffers until all Israel puts it away. I also know that Israel once divided, and part of the tribes were led off and separated from the others. God's judgment fell upon them because of disobedience and they lost the visibility of the typical church. That has also happened with the gospel church, through the ages, since it was established, and seems to be happening again today, with some going out from us and losing their claim to the name of the true gospel church. One thing is certain, this lesson does not teach the kind of unscriptural "church sovereignty" which some advocate, which allows all manner of disorder to be engaged in by a local church, and forbids other churches to say anything about it, and have no right to deal with it.

The church of Jesus Christ is ONE CHURCH, not as many different churches as there are local bodies where it meets in local assemblies. They are all members of one body, and all subject to Christ their Head and King. All are required to join in putting away those things which God has commanded us not to take, which are accursed.

May we join together to put away the accursed thing from us, today, is my humble prayer,

Sunday, April 20, 2003:

"And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it." Matthew 28:2.

I tried to preach from this text this morning, and would like to offer a few brief thoughts on it, hoping it may be of some comfort to others. If I should err in anything, or if any wish to add to it, please do so, as I realize my inability to grasp the full sense of God's precious word, and thank Him if I have any spiritual understanding at all.

God is a "spirit," having all wisdom and goodness, and is everywhere present. There is no need for Him to move about, as He is "already there." His work, and His salvation, is not limited to where, how, or whether the gospel, the Bible, or preachers may go, nor is His work limited, at all, except as He sees fit to limit it, by his choice to have mercy and compassion on whom He will. He has all power both in heaven and in earth, and He works according to His will without consulting puny man. He created the natural world, and made everything that was made. The angels (except where referring to God himself) are created beings, and are they not all ministering spirits? Jesus had power to lay down his life, and He had power to take it up again. No man has such power, in fact it is far beyond our ability to even understand. But we are told that this power is the power of the "Spirit." The Spiritual is so much better than the Natural. The Spirit of God reveals Jesus Christ to every one who ever believes in Him, independent of "flesh and blood." It takes such power of the Spirit to change an unbeliever into a true believer, inwardly.

Concerning man, Jesus said, "in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." - Matthew 22:30. Mortal man, the progeny of Adam, is born in weakness, corrupt in sin, of few days and full of trouble. He dies, and has no power to raise himself from the state of natural death. Neither does man have the power, will, or ability to raise himself out of the state of death in sin, in which he is born. But the power of God which created man a natural being, alone, is able to create a spiritual man within His children, by which God is said to be the God of the living, and not of the dead, and hence He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob although they in body died long ago, but they live in the spirit. In the resurrection, this earthly shall put on the heavenly, this mortal shall put on immortality, and even this natural body shall made a spiritual body. Glory, glory.

Jesus suffered for our sins in his own body of flesh on the tree of the cross of Calvary, and laid down his life (the life of the fleshly body). He was laid in the tomb, and a great stone was placed over the mouth, and a seal put upon it, and a watch set, and the Romans soldiers made it as 'sure' as they could. But thanks be unto God, the SPIRIT has all power, and by the SPIRIT OF HIM WHO RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD (Romans 8:11), Jesus came forth from the tomb, on the third day, as he said, without any need for the stone to be rolled away, and apparently before it was rolled away. The power of the angel of the Lord was such that this "great stone" was easily taken away, or rolled back, allowing eyewitnesses to go in and see where he had laid, and see the grave clothes which were still there, while the keepers were as dead men from fear. And then He appeared to many in his resurrected body. The truth of the resurrection was so evident, that the belief in it of the early church was almost universal, (a few, after a few years, saying it is "past already," thus making shipwreck); and the story told by the Jews that his disciples came and "stole him away" while the soldiers slept, is foolish, except to the unbelieving carnal mind which cannot accept spiritual things. The message of the Apostles, including Paul who did not believe until Christ was revealed in him by the Spirit, was one united theme: Jesus is risen from the dead, and they also beheld him as he ascended "up" to God, or, in Paul's case, after He had ascended into glory.

We have never known anything but what it is to live in a body of "flesh." I suppose it would seem rather against our human nature to think that to be "spiritual" in "body" could be "better." But considering the daily reminders of the weakness of the flesh, the knowledge that death is "at hand" every moment of our life, with all that afflicts us, surely spiritual life must be far superior. To be like the angel of the Lord who rolled this stone away, (perhaps with just an easy touch - moving it immediately away) would be far superior to the state we find ourselves in, in the flesh. But to be made like Jesus, and be satisfied, is truly a glorious thought indeed.

Why should it be thought a thing incredible with us that God should raise the dead. He spoke the worlds into existence, made man from the dust of the earth, and can He not call the sleeping dust forth again? He whose angel so easily moved the stone, who by the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, who quickens untold millions of His children into spiritual life within, enabling them to both believe and love Him, - will not He, who spared not His own darling son, also with him freely give us all things? Yes, as the hymnwriter has said, Hallelujah, Christ Arose!

Monday, January 27, 2003.

Jesus said, "Ye are the salt of the earth," and "Ye are the light of the world. Matthew 5: 13, 14. These words were spoken to His disciples, obviously not of the whole race of Adam. There is a generation (the non-elect) against whom the Lord hath indignation forever (Malachi 1:4), and surely whoever they are, the Lord does not love them with an everlasting love. The whole race was plunged into darkness by Adam's sin, and Paul says of the saints at Ephesus (who were Gentiles according to the flesh - Eph. 3:1), that they "were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." - Eph. 5:8. Paul tells us further (in II. Tim. 1:10) that Jesus Christ hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, and Peter says "ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I. Peter 2:9), so we believe the effectual calling of Christ is necessary to lift us out of nature's darkness into the marvelous light of God. Paul also says, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (II. Cor. 4:6). I notice that as in the beginning, darkness was first, but the light was commanded, and shone, which darkness could not overcome - such a powerful light had to be God Himself, who is light and in whom there is no darkness at all (pure light), not a light of the gospel or from us. God saw fit to "divide" the light from the darkness, not completely do away with all darkness, although He had the power to do so if He had pleased to do so. He separated Light and Darkness and made both Day and Night, even as He will separate those who are darkness from those who are light, at the end of time, when He separates His sheep from the goats. Why didn't all men believe Moses when he wrote that God created the heavens and the earth? They were darkness. Why did some believe Moses? They were light (by God's grace). Why did not all men believe the witness of John the Baptist, or of Christ himself? Even because they could not believe, for they were not of His sheep (they were darkness). Why do some not believe our report? The arm of the Lord has not been revealed to them, they are darkness (some of them may be "sometimes darkness," but if they are ever "light" it will be because GOD shined in their hearts with the same irresistible power by which He commanded the light to shine out of darkness in the creation of the world. The salt of the earth - yes, it is white, small (humble), full of flavor, a preservative, and suits God's taste (His portion is His people).

Sunday, November 10, 2002.

Scripture: Romans 10:5-8, "For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, THAT THE MAN WHICH DOETH THOSE THINGS SHALL LIVE BY THEM. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, SAY NOT IN THINE HEART, WHO SHALL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, WHO SHALL DESCEND INTO THE DEEP? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? THE WORD IS NIGH THEE, EVEN IN THY MOUTH, AND IN THY HEART: that is, the word of faith, which we preach."

The Apostle Paul in the above verses quotes from Deut. 30:11-14, the instruction God gave to Moses to deliver to the children of Israel as a charge to them, before his death. Deut. chapter 28 is full of instruction regarding the blessings of obedience and the curses attending disobedience, and in Deut. 30:19, Moses set forth before them "life and death, blessing and cursing," and says: "therefore choose life." This "choosing of life," consisted of "keeping the commandments of God," from the heart, out of love for God. The choice to be made was not a choice between becoming children of God, or not, or of going to heaven, or not. Rather, the choice was regarding their salvation or deliverance in time, to a life of joy and peace in obedience to God, rather than losing the blessings of this time world and being given over to idolatry, false teachings, and all the evil which attended those things. Israel, figuratively, was commanded to love and serve God and to prove their love to God by keeping His commandments. The gospel church, the anti-type, is under the same instruction in the gospel age, to prove our love to God by keeping His commandments. The blessings bestowed on those who walk in obedience, are timely blessings. The curses imposed on disobedience by God's children to His commandments, are timely chastisements. Eternal salvation is by the person and work of God, the Spirit, and His precious son, Christ Jesus alone, and is not in any wise dependent on our obedience. Timely salvation or deliverance, through obedience to the commandments of God, both under the law dispensation, and in the gospel day to "obey the gospel," is taught from one cover of the Bible to the other, both by precept and by example of the saints in all ages. To name a few, which we have considered, we think of Abraham (whose living faith mixed with works spared him the grief which Lot endured, and blessed him with a view of Jesus Christ which made him glad); Moses (who was obedient in all his house, but for disobedience was not permitted to enter into the land of Canaan although he beheld it from afar); King Saul (who was told that "obedience is better than sacrifice", and who lost his timely salvation, the kingly office being taken from him); King David (who prayed that the Lord would restore unto him the "joys of his salvation"); King Solomon (whose idolatry in his latter life led him away from the time salvation he once enjoyed, yet we are assured that eternal salvation was not taken from him); and many more. In the New Testament, on the day of Pentecost Peter answered the question of those devout Jews who asked "Men and brethren, what must we do" by preaching to them the importance of "obeying the gospel" - submitting to the Lord's commands, repentance, baptism, and saving themselves from the opposition of an untoward (unbelieving) generation of Jews among whom they dwelt. This was a salvation or deliverance "in time." This also, is taught throughout the New Testament, examples are too numerous to mention. We recommend that Deuteronomy 30:11-14 be read with its surrounding chapters, as Romans chapter 10 is studied, and we believe the interpretation will be very clear - that Romans chapter 10 is speaking of a gospel salvation, a timely deliverance from error, idolatry, false and blind unbelief, and a deliverance or salvation which is full of joy, or what Peter called "the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Tuesday, May 29, 2001:

Scripture: Romans 10:13-17, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" etc.

Question: In the 17th verse, where the apostle says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," does he mean that faith is "created" by hearing, or that faith is "manifested" by hearing? Paul is declaring that the gospel was preached to Israel of old time, by the prophets, and they did not believe it, except the remnant who were given faith as a gift from God; and he now proclaims the need for preaching in his own day (and ours), not in order to save their souls or give them faith or make them children of God, but rather to make manifest that they are the children of God (if so be He had given them faith), and save them to the truth and deliver them from error by admonishing them to be obedient to the gospel. The same preaching, if it were the cause of giving faith, would have the same effect upon all alike, but if the gift of God is the "cause" of their believing the preaching (Ephesians 2:8), then no wonder the same preaching has a different effect upon different hearers, depending upon whether God has blessed them with faith or not.

Monday, May 28, 2001:

Scripture: Genesis 22:11-13, "And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son."

Question: Since Jesus taught that Abraham rejoiced to see his day, and saw it, and was glad, we understand that the above trial of Abraham's faith is a type and figure of the vicarious, substitute offering of Jesus Christ for His elect. Is it not obvious from this chapter that the ram which was offered up, was a substitute for Isaac, the promised son, and not for Ishmael, the son of Abraham according to the flesh? Does not the figure, then, teach that the offering of Christ was for His elect or chosen seed of people, whom He foreknew with an everlasting love, and not for all mankind?

Sunday, May 27, 2001:

Scripture: Romans 9: 27, "Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL BE AS THE SAND OF THE SEA, A REMNANT SHALL BE SAVED."

Question: Does not this verse show that the number of God's people was not dependent upon what men do, or what nation they live in, or their natural birth or will to be citizens of a certain country, or members of a certain church, but rather it is determined by the election of God, which was determined in the eternal covenant, which David said, "for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow." II. Sam. 23: 5. The number of people God purposed to save has not been changed, or added to, since He determined it before the beginning of time. If all men joined a church, or the chosen nation (national Israel) the number of the elect would not be changed.

Saturday, May 26, 2001:

Scripture: Isaiah 53:1, 5, "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" and "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

Question: Have you ever noticed how this chapter ties in with Romans chapter 10, where Paul says, "But they have not all obeyed the gospel," (v. 16); and I. Peter 2:24, where Peter says, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: BY WHOSE STRIPES YE WERE HEALED."

Friday, May 25, 2001:

Scripture: John 17: 9, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."

Questions to consider: Why would Jesus die for the whole race of Adam, and yet not pray for the whole race? If Jesus did not pray for the world (the whole race of mankind), was it not because they were not all His elect (given to Him by the father)? Does not this text show that Jesus prays for the specific persons God gave to Him to redeem, and for them only He died on the cross, to atone for their sins and reconcile a just and holy God to them?

Feel free to send your thoughts to us in reply. Elder Robert Webb.

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