Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Read the New Testament in 67 Days!

There are many Christians who read the Scriptures sporadically in time and place. In other words, they read the Scriptures “now and then” and “here and there.” They gravitate to their favorite chapters. If asked the last time they had read the New Testament through, they would not be sure they had ever read it through. Consequently there is an appalling ignorance of the God’s Word in the body of Christ, and a consequent lack of obedience. Listening to the best Bible teachers in the world will not make up for the personal ignorance of the individual.

There are several reasons why there is an unwillingness to read through the New Testament or the Bible: 1) “It is difficult to understand the “thees and thous.” 2) “I ran into the “begats.” 3) “When I don’t understand a verse, I stay with it, trying to understand it; so then I don’t progress.” 4) “It’s dull reading.” 5) “It’s too long; it would take forever.”

Here are a few suggestions to overcome these complaints.

First, obtain a Bible. Here are Bibles that are available, with reading levels by school grade.

Formal-equivalent translations of the Bible: The translators attempt a word-for-word translation and try to preserve word order and sentence structure.

King James Version/12th
New American Standard/11th
New American Bible/10th
Revised Standard Version/11th
New King James Version/9th

The Revised Standard, New American Standard and New King James are all revisions of the King James. The New King James used the same Greek text as the King James. The New American Bible is a Roman Catholic Bible; it is a revision of the Rheims-Douay Version which was translated from the Latin.

Paraphrase versions of the Bible: These are restatements of the message spoken in a style that is “easy listening” and using words that are contemporary.

Living Bible/8th
Message/8th

The Living Bible was written by Kenneth Taylor and was originally used for reading to his own children. The Message is also a paraphrase by an individual and contains very contemporary language.

Dynamic-equivalent versions of the Bible: The translators attempt to produce a translation which is closest in meaning and style: a thought-for-thought translation.

New International Version/7th
Today’s English Version/5th

The New International Version was a translation commissioned by the International Bible Society using many scholars from several English-speaking countries. It was the first translation of the Bible to outsell the King James Version. Today’s English Version was translated for people whose second language is English.

(The following translations have adopted gender-neutral nouns and pronouns, which is not honest translation and we do not recommend them: New Revised Standard/10th, New Living Translation/6th, New Century Version/3rd and Contemporary English Version/5th.)

Second, the genealogies in the New Testament take up less than two chapters total in Matthew and Luke. If they are a problem to you, skip them. Then go back over then separately; it will take only five minutes. They are important or they would not be there. However, they are not intended to stop you from reading the rest of the New Testament.

Third, when you read, do not stop for hard-to-understand passages; keep reading. They will make more sense because you kept reading. They will make even more sense the second time through.

Fourth, if you think the Bible is dull reading, start with exciting parts like Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.

Fifth, if you are a slow reader (150 words a minute), the whole Bible would take only 80 hours of reading. The reason it takes so long is the days, weeks, or months you do not read from it at all.

Sixth, a schedule may help some of you. If you read four chapters each day, only Matthew and Acts would take a week to read. All of the rest (25 books) would take less than a week, and of those, 17 have from one to six chapters each, so you would finish reading each in a maximum of one and a half days.

The object is to know God and obey Him more and more. The object is not to finish so you can say, “I finished.” You cannot say that you know what God wants from you without knowing all His revelation and knowing His revelation well.

Reading Schedule:

1 – Matthew 1-4
2 – Matthew 5-8
3 – Matthew 9-12
4 – Matthew 13-16
5 – Matthew 17-20
6 – Matthew 21-24
7 – Matthew 25-28
8 – Mark 1-4
9 – Mark 5-8
10 – Mark 9-12
11 – Mark 13-16
12 – Luke 1-4
13 – Luke 5-8
14 – Luke 9-12
15 – Luke 13-16
16 – Luke 17-20
17 – Luke 21-24
18 – John 1-4
19 – John 5-8
20 – John 9-12
21 – John 13-16
22 – John 17-21
23 – Acts 1-4
24 – Acts 5-8
25 – Acts 9-12
26 – Acts 13-16
27 – Acts 17-20
28 – Acts 21-24
29 – Acts 25-28
30 – Romans 1-4
31 – Romans 5-8
32 – Romans 9-12
33 – Romans 13-16
34 – 1 Corinthians 1-4
35 – 1 Corinthians 5-8
36 – 1 Corinthians 9-12
37 – 1 Corinthians 13-16
38 – 2 Corinthians 1-4
39 – 2 Corinthians 5-8
40 – 2 Corinthians 9-13
41 – Galatians 1-3
42 – Galatians 4-6
43 – Ephesians 1-3
44 – Ephesians 4-6
45 – Philippians 1-4
46 – Colossians 1-4
47 – 1 Thessalonians 1-5
48 – 2 Thessalonians 1-3
49 – 1 Timothy 1-3
50 – 1 Timothy 4-6
51 – 2 Timothy 1-3
52 – Titus 1-3 and Philemon
53 – Hebrews 1-4
54 – Hebrews 5-8
55 – Hebrews 9-13
56 – James 1-5
57 – 1 Peter 1-5
58 – 2 Peter 1-3
59 – 1 John 1-5
60 – 2 John
61 – 3 John
62 – Jude
63 – Revelation 1-4
64 – Revelation 5-8
65 – Revelation 9-12
66 – Revelation 13-16
67 – Revelation 17-20




Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Crucifying the Flesh

Occasionally I come across a person who thinks he has to crucify the sin nature (flesh), or I hear of preachers who preach it. The problem with the teaching is that it cannot be done. It cannot be done because it has already been done.

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)

That is past tense.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

That is past tense.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)

We cannot put to death something that is already dead.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rejoice!

“But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.'” (Luke 2:10)

This was not a decision of man. This was God's decision and provision.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

This was not a decision of man. This was God's decision and provision.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

“Be joyful always.” (I Thessalonians 5:16)

Joy is in the Lord. This is not optional for the Christian. It is an imperative for the Christian.

Here are some of the causes for joy:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)


“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2)

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” (I Peter 1:8)

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:17)

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

“However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)


Joy is not a small part of Heaven nor a small part of the Christian life. If you are not there, find out why and confess the sin.





Monday, January 27, 2014

Gifts

The following list, mostly, is self evident. People are born with certain natural gifts, talents, or shortcomings.

1. Athletic ability
2. Musical ability
3. Drawing ability
4. Physical characteristics – height, weight, beauty, racial, homely etc.
5. Perfectionism
6. Non perfectionism
7. Genius
8. Not so smart

None of these are virtues or sins. They just are. They are good because they were created by God. However, they are not spiritual gifts or fruit. They can be used to be virtuous or sinful. Here are very common sins among the naturally gifted. Pride and criticism are two. Assuming their gifts have a spiritual and moral quality, they can look at someone who sings off key or is not neat and think that the non neat one or the singer is in sin. The one who is critical is the one who is in sin. Criticalness is clearly sin. Singing flat and not being neat is not sin.

The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) is given to every Christian. The gifts of the Spirit are given to Christians for the rest of the Christians. The natural gifts are also given to separate people.

Suppose everyone in the world had exactly the same gifts. Everyone could run 1600 meters in exactly the same time to a hundredth of a second. A dead heat with millions of runners. Everyone had the gifts of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, Michelangelo, Einstein, Edison, Dickens, and Shakespeare. Or, if not in genius, then everyone could be exactly the same in dumbness.

We would not like it. God, in His goodness, made us different. Thank God! The perfectionist is not more good than his roommate who is not a perfectionist. In fact he is probably less Godly because he is hypercritical of someone to whom God has not given the gift that God has given him. The non-gifted person might have sins like envy or low self-esteem. He should thank God that God made him the way he is.

To say, “I was born a perfectionist. I cannot help being critical.” You were born again to not be critical. You were born again to be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:40).

The unbeliever has the same natural gifts as you have. The fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit take precedence over all natural gifts.

If a person is lazy he is in sin (I Thessalonians 5:14). If a person is timid or weak he is not in sin (I Thessalonians 5:14).

We are to be patient with everyone. That means we have the fruit of the Spirit for someone who does not come up to our standards.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Gift of God

What is the cause of faith? First, grace and faith have very different definitions. Grace is a characteristic of God. Faith, or lack of, is a characteristic of man. Saving faith is a response to the grace of God. The verb that goes with the noun faith is to believe, or the participle, believing.

A few weeks ago I was at the Big Haus for supper. Another guest said that a friend of his asked him what the “gift” was in Ephesians 2:8. He then asked Evan and me the same question.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The predicate nominative is “It is the gift of God.” The noun that immediately precedes “it” is “faith.” I answered “faith” and Evan answered “salvation.” There was no argument, just different answers.

In the middle of the night I found myself meditating on those two verses. If “faith” was the answer then “not of yourselves” and “not of works” are also refereeing to “faith” not “salvation.” The first seven verses are referring to salvation not to “faith” at all.

Here are two parallel passages.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)


Grace is a gift, salvation is a gift. Faith is receiving that which was given. If Saving Faith is not a gift, then what is its cause? We see the answer in several places.

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31)


The answer to the question is “salvation,” not faith.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Most Glorious Thing

In thinking about the Gospel there is one point that far exceeds the other truths in the Gospel. It is who Jesus is. Notice this emphasis in the following salvation texts.

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.” (John 3:18)

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36)

“The woman said, 'I know that Messiah' (called Christ) 'is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.' Then Jesus declared, 'I who speak to you am he.'” (John 4:24-26)

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)

“Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'” (John 6:35)

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.'” (John 6:51)

“Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.'” (John 6:68-69)

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12)

“'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'” (John 8:58)

“Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' 'Who is he, sir?' the man asked. 'Tell me so that I may believe in him.' Jesus said, 'You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.'” (John 9:35-37)

“Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?' 'Yes, Lord,' she told him, 'I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.'” (John 11:25-27)

“Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6)

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)


In these verses there is no emphasis on the death and resurrection of Jesus. The emphasis is in believing in Jesus, the Son of God. When we know who He is then His death and resurrection become far more astounding. We see it in Romans 10:9-10:

“That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)



In the Lord Jesus Christ,

Jim Wilson






Friday, January 17, 2014

Correcting

Today I received a letter from a prisoner in Oregon. He had been into drugs, alcohol, selling drugs, and carrying a weapon. He had been unfaithful; his ex-wife had been unfaithful too.

His concern was not his sins against God but his concern was his wife cheating on him. This thinking seems to be normal. We are not concerned about our own or other sins against God but their sins against us. There is no solution for this thinking. It is sin in itself.

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

Theses are conditions in this statement:

1. We are to restore the brother to God
2. We are to do it only if we are spiritual and do it gently.
3. We are to be careful that we do not sin.

There have been times in my life where I knew of someone who needed correction. I realized that I was not qualified to do it because I was neither spiritual nor gentle.


In the Lord Jesus Christ,

Jim Wilson

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Missing Part of the Gospel

A few posts ago I announced the Saturday subject for an Evangelism Class as “The Missing Part of the Gospel.” I was asked by one of you what that was. I replied, “The missing part was actually loving the person the gospel was being presented to.” That was true, but the most important thing is the “glory of Christ.”

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (II Corinthians 4:4)

We can present all of the truth in the Gospel message without anyone seeing the Glory of Christ. It is the Glory that the god of this age blinds the minds to so that they many not see.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

“All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” (Acts 6:15)

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” (Acts 7:55-56)

It was the glory they saw that caused Stephen’s death and the persecution that followed.

“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” (Acts 9:3)

It was the glory of Christ that brought Saul of Tarsus to Christ.

Remember the School of Practical Christianity starts Saturday, January 11. Let me know if you would like to attend.

In the Lord Jesus Christ,

Jim Wilson

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Scriptural Background on Grace

I got a response to my previous post on "Trying" with a basic question asking for more scriptural background on grace.

Most of the texts on grace are on salvation. Here are some of those besides the best known ones. First, there are words that modify grace, not the definition or quality of grace, but the quantity of grace.

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:2-8)

“But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (Romans 5:15)

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17)

“The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (Romans 5:20)

Here are a few verses where grace shows up outside of justification:

Philippians 1:2
II Corinthians 12:9
Colossians 4:6
Titus 2:12
Romans 6:14
Acts 20:32
II Corinthians 9:8
Hebrews 4:16
James 4:6
2 Peter 3:18
John 1:14-17

These texts tell us that grace is imparted in salutations, it gives power in weakness, it seasons our conversation, it teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passion, we live under grace, grace builds us up, grace helps us abound in every good work, we are to approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace in time of need, grace is given to the humble, and we grow in grace.

I am not saying grace is obedience. I am saying that grace is available to help us obey. The other alternative is to obey without grace, which would be willpower obedience. Colossians 2:6 tells us to walk as we received. We can see it in Colossians 1:29 “His energy” is grace.

School of Practical Christianity Update

Instead of my writing on the School of Practical Christianity in the Day & Night group on Facebook, we will record each session. They will be available free. If you miss sessions, they will be recorded for you.

All subjects will be basic, but basics you may not have heard before. Last week's were

1. Where we are in Jesus Christ: Aspects of salvation you may not know.
2. Walking in the Light: How to maintain the joy which you had when you received Christ and have it daily for the rest of your life.

This coming Saturday's 2-hour session will cover

1. Obedience by Being
2. Obedience by Doing

Sessions are held at my house 114 South Howard St. Saturday 2-4 p.m. I look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fits of Rage

The second common sin is Anger.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)

If you already have fits of rage and anger, you must confess it. But this verse is not telling us to confess our sins after we are bitter, or after we have fits of rage and anger. We are to get rid of it. They are not to happen in the first place. If they do happen, confess them. This is telling us that they are not to happen.

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Colossians 3:8)


“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)


This is a work of the flesh. There are several self-justifications for these outbursts.

1. “I was born this way.” Of course, you were born in sin like everyone else. But you were born again. You now have a new nature.
2. “I cannot help it. It just happens.” If you are a Christian, that is a false statement. All Christians can help it. You really mean “I can but I won’t.”
3. “I am patient with these irritations for weeks or months or years, then something small causes me to lose it.” You have deceived yourself again. You were not patient every time. You were impatient and called it patience. Therefore you did not confess it. The impatience kept building up, simmering in your pressure cooker. It was built up impatience; it was accumulated, unconfessed, unforgiven sin.

At the first feeling of impatience confess it as sin. You may be qualified academically, writing and teaching, but you are not qualified to be an elder, “not quick-tempered” (Titus 1:7).

You may love the Word, love the gospel, and are unashamed of Jesus Christ, but you do not love people in such a way that the people know you love them. But you say “That is not my personality.” The love of God transcends personality. The Fruit of the Spirit may not describe you except for “goodness and faithfulness.” That is not enough of the Fruit.

In the Lord Jesus Christ,

Jim Wilson


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

You're Trying

In the last few days I have been in touch with several missionaries. In addition I know several other Christians with the same problems.

First: All of these people are students of the Bible.
Second: They are unashamed of Jesus Christ
Third: They want to Obey God

The problem is that they are “tryers,” they “try.” When a person tries, whom does he trust? Himself! That’s a dumb person to trust. As long as he is trying to live the Christian life he is going to fall. It is not a question as to whether he is going to fall; it is only a question of when.

The Christian life is one of “trusting,” not “trying.” Remove the word “try” from your vocabulary. It is a dirty word.

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” (Colossians 2:6)

How did you receive Christ Jesus the LORD? By trying? No! It was by grace through faith. How do you walk? The same way you received. By grace through faith! Forgiveness is by grace. Obedience is by grace and faith.

These people have been diligent “tryers” all of their lives. They have put their all into it. They think it is a virtue. They are not walking in love, joy, and peace unless they do it by effort.

“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?” (Galatians 3:1-5)

All of this effort for Jesus is sin. You have been working for him. He has not been working through you. You may say that He has worked through you. OK, but it has not been because of your trying.

In the Lord Jesus Christ,

Jim Wilson

Monday, January 06, 2014

The School of Practical Christianity Starts Up Again!

This is a preface to our short (six week) School of Practical Christianity. It is not like the previous ones which were 15 hours a week for a semester. This will be two hours a week for six weeks.

I hope to put something of each class on Day & Night on facebook for those who cannot make it to the class. I do not intend on interpreting any verse of Scripture. I intend to bring Scripture to your attention. If you catch me violating this, call me out.

If everything is self evident you may not need the class. If you do not understand anything I am saying you may love to take it twice, or get in touch with me with questions.

The class starts this Saturday, Jan 11th 2:00pm, at my place. I hope to see you there!

Jim Wilson
114 S. Howard St.
Jimwilson27@frontier.com