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!




Bishop of Our Souls

The word, bishop, comes from the Greek word, episkopos, and literally means an overseer. In most instances this title has reference to a pastor or gospel minister (Acts 20:28; Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 3:1, 2; and Tit. 1:7) and denotes their responsibility and accountability to watch over the flock (congregation) over the which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers. However, in one instance, the term is used in reference to Christ: 1 Pet. 2:25, "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and BISHOP of your souls."

Jesus Christ is the "bishops of our souls." Jesus and Jesus alone has the responsibility and accountability for our eternal salvation as he said in John 6:37 39, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.  And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." Consequently, we are "preserved in Jesus Christ" (Jude 1) and not a one of us shall be lost: "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." (John 10:28 30).

While we may suffer troubles in this life we are as secure as Job was when Satan designed to destroy him as the Lord said,"Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life" (Job 2:6). Satan cannot touch our eternal life because our Bishop is watching over us and not one of us will be lost!

Jesus' work as a Bishop extends beyond just preserving our eternal life. He also watches over his people as we live in this time world.  According to Ps. 34:7, "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." This lesson is illustrated in II Kings 6:13 18 when the king of Syria had sent an host to capture Elisha the prophet and when Elisha's servant saw the great host encompassing the city he cried, "Alas, my master! How shall we do?" To which Elisha answered, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they which be with them." Then Elisha prayed, "Lord, I pray thee, open the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."

Ps. 34, 121, and 139 are full of precious treasures of the Lord's oversight over his people. A few of these nuggets are presented below:

1. Ps. 34:4, "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." The Lord's people have many fears in life, yet the Lord watches over us and delivers us from our fears.

2. Ps. 34:6, "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles." In Job we read that "man is born unto trouble, as thesparks fly upward." We also read in Job 5:19, "He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee." Again, the Lord watches over us in our troubles and delivers us as he did the "poor man" of Ps. 34:6.

3. Ps. 34:9, "O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him." The word "want" here means "lack." Thus the Lord watches over us to supply all of our needs so that we do not lack anything that we need.

4. Ps. 34:15, 17, "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry...The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles." Thus the Lord watches over us, listens to our prayers, and delivers us from our

5. Ps 139 tells us just how closely and intimately the Lord watches over us: Ps. 139:1 10, "O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my down sittings and mine uprisings, thou understandest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from they spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."

6. Ps. 121 also speaks of the Lord's watch care over us. The three key words in this chapter are help, keep, and preserve. The Lord is our helper, he is our keeper, and he is our preserver. With such an overseer as this we truly have no reason to want or fear for indeed the Lord is the "Bishop" of our souls.


1. For the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
2. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.
3. But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.
4. The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. 5. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
6. The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.
7. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.
8. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
9. For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
10. I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.
11. For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.
12. For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants.
13. The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me:
14. I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.
15. The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.
16. The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.
17. Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
18. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.
19. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
20. For the Lord will not cast off for ever:
21. But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
22. Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:
23. The LORD will be the hope of his people,
24. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Only One Way to be Born Again

How many ways are there for being born again? Were people in the Old Testament days born again in a different way than in these New Testament days? Are those who die in infancy or those who are mentally incapable of responding to the gospel born again in a different way than those who do hear the gospel? Are people who never have an opportunity to hear the gospel born again in a different way than those who hear the gospel?

We read in John 3:8, "The wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. In a previous installment we noted that this scripture taught the sovereignty of God in bringing about the new birth. It also teaches us that "every one" is born of the Spirit in the same way. There is no such thing as some being born of the Spirit in one way and others being born again in a different way.

I want to look at five examples of people who were born again at different times and under different circumstances. It will be noted that they were all born again by the grace of God without man's help or cooperation.

Let us first look at David. David said in Psms. 22:9, 10, "But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me to hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly." Based on the above we know that God was David's God while still in his mother's womb and that he was made to hope while still a suckling infant. David was indeed born of the Spirit at a very early age. Due to this fact, the Spiritual birth had to be by the sovereign work of God without any human instrumentality. Remember our text says, "so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Thus we are all born of the Spirit in the same way that David was.

Second, we look at John the Baptist. The angel Gabriel prophesied to Zacharias concerning John in Luke 1:15, "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." Also we read in Luke 1:41, 44, "And it came to pass, that, when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost...For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy."

Please note that John was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother's womb and was filled with "joy." "Joy" is the second of the 9 fold fruit of the Spirit listed in Gal. 5:22 and its presence proves John was born again while yet in his mother's womb. John's spiritual birth had to be by the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit without any human instrumentality. Remember our text says, "so is every one that is born of the Spirit." In the same way that John was born of the Spirit, so are we born of the Spirit.

Third, we look at the thief on the cross. At one time both thieves were railing upon Jesus (Matt. 27:44), but something happened to one of the thieves as he hang on the cross, for we read in Luke 23:39 43, "And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly: for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Certainly a fundamental change had come over this thief who went from railing on Jesus to praising him and recognizing him as Lord during the first three hours he hand on the cross. This change was not brought about by any human instrumentality, but was the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit.  Remember our text says, "so is every one that is born of the Spirit."  We are born of the Spirit in the same manner that the thief on the cross was born of the Spirit.

Fourth, we read in Acts 9:1 6 about Saul of Tarsus, "And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priests, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me? And he said, Who art thou Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecuteth: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished, said, Lord what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." We can all recognize that Saul went from being the church's worst persecutor to being the church's strongest defender based on what happened to him on the Damascus road. This change in Saul's life was not brought about by human instrumentality, but by the sovereign work of a Sovereign God. Remember our text says, "so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

Finally, in Acts 10 we read of a Gentile by the name of Cornelius. In the last part of chapter 10 we read about how Cornelius and his household and friends heard the gospel preached for the first time.  However, prior to hearing the gospel we have the following evidences that Cornelius was already born of the Spirit prior to ever hearing the gospel:

A. In verse 2 Cornelius is called a devout man.
B. In verse 2 Cornelius is said to "fear" God.
C. In verse 2 we find that Cornelius gave much alms to the people.
D. In verse 2 Cornelius prayed to God always.
E. In verse 4 we find that Cornelius' prayers and alms came up for a memorial before God.
F. In verse 15, God said he had already cleansed Cornelius and the Gentiles with him.
G. In verse 22, Cornelius is called a just man. Now all the above was said of Cornelius prior to his ever hearing the gospel. By the evidences we are forced to conclude that Cornelius was born again without the use of human instrumentality, but by the sovereign work of a sovereign God.

Again our text says, "so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Our grand conclusion must be that every one that is born of the Spirit is born of the Spirit in the same way that David, John, the thief on the cross, Saul of Tarsus, and Cornelius were. That is by the grace of God without human instrumentality. Praise be to God for what he has done for us.m

Primitive Baptist