A Scriptural Study Newsletter edited by Elder Vernon Johnson

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

 

 

 
“Redeeming the Time”

Dear little child of God, I would like to ask you a question, how is the best way to experience the gospel to its fullest? Or maybe I mean, when is it that we really receive the teachings of the gospel? How do we best experience the best of the blessings that God has given us?

As I see it there is a simple answer to this question. And I believe that the answer is found in one statement, made two passages of scripture written by the Apostle Paul. And that statement is that we, as the people of God, are to spend our days “redeeming the time.”

What does this statement mean to us? Have you ever heard the popular statement that “time is your enemy”? I know that you have probably heard this message at one time or another probably though popular worldly TV, radio and magazine ads. Think about it and you’ll see what I mean, the TV announcer says, “It’s the year end clearance, and now is the best time to buy!” You know: ”get all that you can while the getting is good?” It sounds like if you don’t buy that car right away, they’ll stop making cars and you’ll never be able to ever get another car as long as you live. Right? Do you see what I mean?

Or maybe you have been seeing an ad that tells you how to “avoid those unwanted wrinkles,” brought on us by the ravages of time, which by and by, the ad informs us that they just happen to have the solution for that terrible almost life threatening problem. Oh, and as a side note, did you ever notice that each and ever time the ad shows someone who looks like they are only maybe twenty to thirty years old? They don’t even look as if they are old enough to even know what a wrinkle looks like, much less ever have one!

Anyway all of these things that are of, and in the world really only serve one single purpose. And that purpose is only to inflame the “lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” which “is not of the Father, but is of the world!  (Gal. 5:16, 1 John 2:16).

So what about us, God’s children who are in the Kingdom Church of God. We know what is the right thing to do. The inner man inside of us which is born of the Spirit desires to do the will of the Spirit, that is to do Godly things. But the outer man of our flesh, only desires to do the desires of the flesh. And these messages appeal to that part of us, don’t they? You know, new car, house, and clothes; look better, be better, and feel better.

And Jesus tells us that without Him we can “do nothing” (John 15:5). But with God all things are possible, so Paul tells us that we “who are spiritual” are to bring our bodies under subjection to the inner spiritual man, to “let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Rom. 6:12; 1 Cor. 9:27). That is to bring our natures under the control of the inner man, and to not give in to lustful desires.

Put simply, we through God’s Spirit are to know what our “priorities,” are in our lives, which is that we are to be “redeeming the time for the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).

And the “days are evil” simply tells us that each day of the world is only evil, and that there is no good to be found in nor through it. So we are to take full advantage of each and every opportunity that God blesses us with while we are here on the Earth. And I would like to share my view of the three most important things in our lives. The three most important “priorities” are, first, to serve God with a whole heart, second, to serve one another in the Kingdom Church, and third, the love and fellowship of our families. Beloved child of God all other things in the world pail in comparison to these. When we put these as the “priorities” all other things seem to fall into their place. For example, why do we go to work? I sit not in order to support one of these “priorities”?

When we put our job above any of these things the result is chaos in our lives. The father who becomes a workaholic neglects his family, and his children suffer and grow up not knowing how to be fathers to their own children. Mothers go out and leave their children to be raised up by strangers, and they never know the real security of a real home. And these children grow up always struggling, not being able to trust anyone. After all the person that they were closest to were never there for them when it really counted, and they grow up rudderless and without direction in life.

Beloved spend the time that God has given you in service to these three things. Know that these are the only real things that matter in this world. And these three can be summed up into one saying, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). When we have this as our “priority” Jesus tells us that all the other things will fall into their proper place. He says, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.” (Luke 12:24 29).

Solomon, the wisest king of Israel, sought out in his life to find out what was really important in life, and here is what he concluded, he say, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” The fear of God, beloved “is the beginning of wisdom” (Psa. 11:10; Prov. 9:10).

Let me conclude with the thought of the Apostle Paul who said, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Let us make the most of each every opportunity to speak a kind word of encouragement to a brother or sister, loving one another and giving each other the best advantage in their interaction since the opportunity if missed can never be retrieved again. May God bless us to be “redeeming” our opportunities “for the days are” indeed “evil.”

 Elder Thomas McDonald


Two Salvations

Paul said, “I endure all things for the elect’s sake that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (II Tim. 2:10)

Paul had suffered ridicule, persecutions, including beatings, stonings, jail and many more things because he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul endured all these things for a particular group of people. He endured them for the elect’s sake. He did not endure them for the non-elect’s sake, but only for the elect. We are told in the scriptures that the elect are those that are “chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world.” (Eph. 1:4) God chose them solely by his grace. This choice was not of works, either foreseen or actual.

Now Paul did not endure the pain, suffering, and persecutions that the elect might obtain eternal glory, for they already had eternal glory. The key phrase in our text is “also obtain.” This means that they may obtain something in addition to that which they already had. Since the elect already have eternal glory, Paul suffered that the elect may obtain a salvation that is in addition to eternal glory. This, brothers and sisters, means that there are two salvations taught in the scriptures. Paul preached and subsequently suffered that the elect might obtain a salvation that is in addition to eternal glory.

We know that all the elect are predestinated, called, justified, and glorified according to Rom. 8:29, 30. The Lord said not one of the elect would be lost (John 6:37-39). But, do all the elect obtain the salvation that is in addition to eternal glory? The answer is no. Paul said that they may obtain it. Something that they may do is also something that they may not do. Thus this timely salvation is conditioned on the response of the elect.

The Old Baptists are right when they claim there are both an eternal salvation and a timely salvation that are taught in the scriptures.

Those things which pertain to our eternal salvation: i.e.; salvation from the condemnation of sin; salvation from the bondage of sin; and salvation from the corruption of sin are all by the grace of God.

First, we are saved by the sacrificial atonement of Jesus from the condemnation of sin. It was said of Jesus, “He shall save his people from their sins.” Paul wrote to Timothy about the work of God in saving us from the condemnation of sin. “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Jesus finished the work of saving his people (the elect) from the condemnation of sin while on the cross. Rom. 8:33, 34 confirms this: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” This we were told was not according to our works, but according to God’s purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

Second, we are saved from the bondage of sin by God’s sovereign work in the new birth. Rom. 3:9-20; 1 Cor. 2:14; and Eph. 2:2, 3 tell us plainly that we as natural men and women were in total bondage to our corrupt sin nature. However, in Rom. 8:2 Paul writes, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” The new birth has made us free from having to serve the corruptions of the flesh. In Tit. 3:5 we read of the new birth that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Thus we conclude that our salvation from the bondage of sin is not by our works of righteousness but by the grace of God.

Third, our salvation from the corruption of sin will take place at the resurrection from the dead, when our bodies will be changed and fashioned like the glorious body of Christ. This mortal shall put on immortality and this corruptible shall put on incorruption. 1 Cor. 15:57 reads, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” God gives us the victory. We don’t earn it, labor for it, or deserve it, but God gives it to us by his grace. The end of God’s covenant of grace (Rom. 8:29, 30) is glorification. All of the elect will be glorified.

In summary, we conclude that salvation to eternal glory is solely by the grace and works of God and is sure to all the elect.

In contrast, our deliverances (salvation) here in time as we live are conditioned on the responses of the elect. The elect may or may not obtain these timely deliverances, but their eternal destiny is sure regardless of whether the elect obtain the timely deliverances.

The preaching of the word of God is instrumental in bringing about these timely deliverances of the elect. Paul said, “Brethren, my hearts desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” The question we ask here is “That Israel might be saved from what?” Paul proceeds, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” From this we gather there are three things Israel needed saving from. First, they needed saving from their ignorance of God’s righteousness. Second, they needed saving from going about to establish their own righteousness. Third, they needed saving to submit themselves unto the righteousness of God.

I submit that the Israel Paul was praying for were of the elect. According to the scriptures, the non-elect don’t seek after God; God is not in all their thoughts; they have no fear of God; and they have said in their hearts there is no God. Now such individuals would have no zeal of God as the Israel Paul prayed for has. Paul would not pray for the non-elect for he knew their eternal destiny and also knew that they couldn’t be saved in a timely sense either.

The elect need to be saved from their ignorance. Through ignorance the elect will worship falsely and believe falsehoods. The gospel brings the knowledge of God’s truths to the minds of God’s elect. Furthermore, through ignorance, the elect go about to establish their own righteousness. The problem with this is that there is nothing we can do or say that will make us right with God. All of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in His sight. Man does many things to try to establish his own righteousness before God. He tries to keep the law, he tries to keep a works system, he puts forth unscriptural principles for himself and others to keep in an effort to get right with God. Alas, all the efforts that man puts forth to get right with God and to try to make it possible for others to get right with God, are but vain efforts.

The Lord said, “In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Whole systems of vain worship have arisen through the efforts of men to get right with God and to give others a chance to get right with God. Through these systems and all the efforts and labors and billions of dollars spent on trying to get right with God and give others a chance to get right with God, not one person has gotten right with God thru those efforts!! The elect need delivering from these systems and efforts. The gospel that brings knowledge that Christ has made us right with God is the remedy for the elect if they will believe it and submit to it. The elect need to submit to the fact that Christ is the end (fulfillment) of the law for righteousness. Christ said “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest...” Those who labor trying to establish their own righteousness and are heavy laden with a burden of sin-guiltiness need to come to Christ. We preach the gospel to bring knowledge of salvation unto the elect that Christ has already saved them from their sins that they may rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Next, the elect need to be delivered here in time from the service of sin. In Rom. 6:17 we read, Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whither of sin undo death or of obedience unto righteousness. Therefore, the elect need to be admonished to obey God. Peter said to the elect, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation. We live in an untoward society whose chief desire is to serve the flesh. All about us there are the allures of the devil, the flesh, and the world. However, as blood bought children of God, we owe a much higher allegiance to serve God and keep his commandments. We should save ourselves from this untoward generation and live godly lives and lifestyles to the praise, honor, and glory of God. The gospel ministry need to preach the whole counsel of God to the elect that they may be admonished to save themselves from serving sin.

The elect need to be delivered into the kingdom of God (God’s church kingdom in this time world). The gospel calls on God’s elect to repent, be baptized, and to take up their crosses and serve God in his kingdom. Now we are told that baptism does not put away the filth of the flesh (sin), but is the answer of a good conscience towards God. When a person hears the true gospel and is convicted in his heart of its precious truths, he begins to have a desire to serve God. The gospel calls on him to repent of any ungodly lifestyle and from any false worship and to publicly profess the Lord thru water baptism. In doing this the elect child of God enters into the Lord’s church to worship God in Spirit and truth and to serve him acceptably according to God’s word. This delivers the child of God into a close fellowship with God and to those fellow sojourners who have done likewise.

Now there are many other things taught in the scriptures concerning our timely salvation, but this will suffice us for the current writing. May God bless you with understanding to see the two salvations taught in his word.

Elder Vernon Johnson


2 Peter 2:2-3 “False Teachers”

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

The Lord said there would arise false prophets and false teachers and that they would deceive many. Paul warned the elders at Ephesus: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”

Some have assumed that a false teacher must not be a child of God. But notice Peter said that they “even deny the Lord that bought them.” Thus those denying the Lord are also purchased by the Lord! Now it isn’t that they deny the existence of Jesus or even deny that there is a Jesus. What they are denying is that the Lord bought them. They substitute for the Lord’s covenant of redemption a system of eternal salvation based on the works or actions of men. Now the scriptures plainly tell us that our salvation from sin and the new birth are not of works (Tit. 3:4, 5; II Tim. 1:9; Rom. 9:11; 11:5, 6; Eph. 2:8-10) but solely by the grace of God.

The false teachers teach that man must perform some action or actions such as hearing and believing the gospel; accepting Christ; water baptism; repentance; a continual stream of good works; getting what they say is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, etc., in order for one to be born again and to be saved from sin.

The motive for the false teacher is set forth in the above text; i.e., covetousness. Balaam, one of the old testament false prophets, loved the wages of unrighteousness, and he loved the recognition it brought. The false teachers of today also love the wages of unrighteousness. Now they will feign themselves to be pious and to have a great concern for the cause of Christ.

The false worship systems of today are money based. They are continually raising money for mission work, for payment of the ministers salaries, for the various programs that they support. The vast majority of the “so-called” ministry move from one location to another location that offers them more salary or benefits.

This raises the question: “Should a preacher even receive a salary?” Peter exhorted the preachers to feed the flock of God willingly, but not for filthy lucre...” (I Pet. 5:2). Paul said, “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.” Paul went on to tell the elders at Ephesus, “I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring (i.e., providing for your own necessities and them that are with you) ye ought to support the weak...” Thus the gospel ministry is to labor as Paul labored and to provide for their own necessities and to provide for the necessities of those that are with him (family members) and to help support the weak. This is quite different from a salaried ministry. Some have thought that Paul changed all this in I Cor. 9th chapter. Paul set forth the rationale for a financial supported ministry in the first 13 verses. But in verse 15 Paul wrote, “But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.” Then in verse 17 Paul says of preaching the gospel, “For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward...” Then in verse 18 Paul tells us what that reward is: “What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.” Paul said his reward was that he may make the gospel of Christ without charge. Furthermore, he said that to charge for the gospel would be an abuse of his power! Paul has clearly stated to us that selling or charging for the gospel is wrong. Those who sell tapes of gospel preaching above cost or those who publish gospel sermons and charge above cost of production are just as guilty as those who receive salaries for preaching the gospel and pastoring churches. It is simply making merchandise of the Lord’s people.

It is covetousness of the false teachers that has led to the speaking of perverse things and bringing in of damnable heresies; i.e., especially false works systems of eternal salvation. Because these systems appeal to the flesh they gain wide acceptance for the fleshly man wants to believe that he can do something to secure his eternal salvation. It makes him feel important. Once it has become widely acceptable to believe the works of man are responsible for his salvation from sin, then the truth that salvation is by grace alone is evil spoken of. People see it as a threat to the importance of their own works and efforts to try to secure eternal salvation.

Now we Old Baptists need not think that we are immune from false teachers. There has arisen a new generation of false teachers among those professing to be Primitive Baptists. They covetously are teaching tithing, or “first fruit giving,” salarying the ministry, raising funds for mission work. Some are embracing Calvinism, which I suspect, most of the other false teachers will fairly soon embrace.

The scriptures are a thorough furnish unto all good works. We don’t need to change a thing from the scriptural pattern. We don’t need to change our belief in salvation by grace and we don’t need to change the manner in which we worship or our church order or government from that which the Lord has given us. What the Lord has given us is everything we need to worship and serve him acceptably.                                                           

Elder Vernon Johnson

Primitive Baptist