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It's been a while since I've written just to the Preachers who visit our Bible Study Web-site.

So here go some recent thoughts ...

 

 

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

SATURDAY, JUNE 17, 2006:

The role of the deacon, what is it?

How many times has THAT question been asked through the ages?

Initially in Scripture I suspect the first account we have of deacons occurs in Acts 6. A problem had risen in the Church. It concerned the widow ladies and the proper distribution of food and assistance to them. The Apostles, being charged with weightier matters, needed some help!

Thus a group of godly Spirit-filled men were chosen and appointed (not elected) to "serve" tables! That verb, "diakoneo," gives us our English word "deacon." It means "to be an attendant, to be a domestic worker, to be a servant!"

In our old-fashioned fundamental Bible-believing Churches the deacons have historically filled this Bible paradigm. Helpers at Church! Servants to the Man of God! Not bosses! Not controllers! Not those who hire or fire the Preacher!

Now some religious traditions have elevated the deacons to the level of oversight. That is not their job! To "oversee," which is "episkopeo" in Greek, is the job of the Pastor. This term is usually translated as "bishop" in the King James Bible. Yes, the Pastor is to watch and guard the flock!

Of course, Christ Jesus is the Head of the Church.

The Pastor is just the under-shepherd. That uses Peter's wording from 1st Peter 5:2 where he tells the Pastors to "... feed the flock of God which is among them, taking the oversight thereof ...." You can see here both the shepherd idea (under-shepherd we say to give Jesus the preeminence) and the overseer idea (leadership) concerning God's little flock!

Now let me mention another verse or two.

"Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." Paul here in Hebrews 13:7 is talking about the Pastor of the Church.

Also he writes in Hebrews 13:17, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." Pretty clear, isn't it? No deacons mentioned, just those who "watch" for our souls! They also "rule" God's people. The Greek "watch" is "to stay awake, to be alert!" And "rule" is a verb that means "to lead, to go before or to have authority!"

For this Preacher, based on the Word of God ... Church authority goes like this: Jesus is the Head! The Pastor is the earthly leader, the under-shepherd!  The deacons, many of whom are godly and precious men, serve under the Pastor's direction. Then, so dear to the Lord's Heart, comes the flock of God's people ... being served and loved, nudged and nourished toward maturity ... by the Power of the Holy Spirit of God!

Too many Church situations develop into "power struggles" between deacons and preachers and others ... when we ought to follow the plain teaching of God's Word on the matter.

Here's a final salute to you dear and faithful men of God: "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." 1st Timothy 5:17

Men of God, I honour you today!

Keep preaching the Word!

                                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 23, 2006:

I finished it this week.

The Book, written by three Preachers, said something like this. "We have spent our ministries trying NOT to be called fundamentalists."

These men were for years what we would have called "modernists" or "liberals," but they now call themselves "progressives!"

Let me make an announcement this Sunday morning in late April.

I have not spent my ministry trying NOT to be called a fundamentalist.

I am a Bible believing fundamentalist!

Unashamedly so I am!

That word, fundamentalist, is derived from a Latin term "fundamentum" which just means the "foundation" of a structure!

To believe the fundamentals of Scripture means that you believe it from the bottom up! All of it!

You accept that the Bible is the very rock bottom, the very core, the very essence of one's faith!

Fundamentalists also, this term being first used in American history around 1920 or so, believe that the Bible is without error!

God breathed!

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, word for word!

We also believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus, His Blood Atonement on Calvary, Salvation by faith alone, Christ's literal bodily Resurrection from the grave, His glorious ascension to Heaven ... and His coming again some day!

Add a dash of the Old Testament?

Gladly!

We believe in the creation of man by the direct miraculous act of God! The historicity of Noah and his flood, Abraham and his family, Jacob and his sons, Moses and his writings, Joshua and his battles, David and his sins, Solomon and his wisdom, the Kings of Israel and Judah and their mistakes, the Prophets of God and their sermons, Isaiah (only one) and his prophecies, Nehemiah and his walls and Malachi with his questions!

All of them, men of fact!

We just believe God's Word!

And, yes, we will argue and defend and stand for that precious Book, the Word of God!

Fundamentalist I am.

Ashamed of it ... I am not!

How about you?

                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

SATURDAY, APRIL 8, 2006:

Preachers, I learned the history of a great word yesterday!

I enjoy hearing about new words, adding them to my limited vocabulary.

I think that's a good idea for those of us who have been called of God to preach.

"Abundance" is the word.

It most basic meaning is "overflow!"

In Latin fluere means "to flow" and "ad" means to or toward.

Fuse those two syllables and you have abundance, once it's anglicized or brought into English.

The next time you men use that word, think of a word picture.  A large river somewhere overflowing with life-giving water, fertilizing crops and spreading rich soil as it goes!

Abundance!

Come to think of it ... it's a Bible word too!

"Plug" your word picture in here, with each Scriptural use.

Paul had been given an abundance of revelations ... from Jesus! "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure." 2nd Corinthians 12:7

Paul wants us as Christians to rejoice in abundance! "That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again." Philippians 1:26

And, of course, we have been given an exceedingly abundant amount of Grace! "And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." 1st Timothy 1:14

Then there is abundant mercy too! "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ...." 1st Peter 1:3

But my favorite just may be abundant life (John 10:10) or abundant love (2nd Corinthians 4:2) or God's abundant works on our behalf!

For example: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

I strongly suspect that some of you Preachers can take those "abundant" verses ... or some others like them ... and alliterate them, making a lovely outline!

If so, and you preach them some day, I pray that the overflowing goodness of God will flood the whole service!

Amen!

                                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2005:

The little Book of Micah contains a verse about the Eternal Sonship of Christ Jesus our Lord.

"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."   Micah 5:2

Literally 500 years before Jesus was born, humanity was told the very city from which our Lord would come!

Bethlehem!

"Bethlehem" means house of bread!

And "Ephratah" is thought to mean "fruitful!"

Both terms beautifully describe Jesus, God's Son.

He IS the Bread of Life!  He said:  "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."  John 6:51

And He is fruitful!  "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand."  (Isaiah 53:10)  What seed or fruit He has borne because of Calvary!

Bethlehem is so little among the villages and cities of Israel that she often went unnoticed.

But, because of Him, all that will change!

"O little town of Bethlehem," we now sing! 

Then, see this.

Micah did not write that in Bethlehem Jesus would simply be "born!"

No!

Out of that little hamlet will HE "come forth!"

Infants are not generally said to "come forth!"

They are born ... or delivered!

The verb here is suggestive of existence prior to birth!

And the expression "to be ruler, "mashal" in Hebrew, means "one who governs" or "one who reigns" or "one with dominion!"

And even "goings forth"  is startling as a grammatical entity!   It's "motzsah" in Hebrew and is only found twice in Scripture.  Here it just means "the place or places where one goes"  But in its other location, 2nd Kings 10:27, it has quite a different connotation.  "And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day."  A "draught house" is an outside bathroom!  An "out-house" the old timers used to say.

The implication here may be that when Jesus left heaven and come to earth, to this sin cursed world, it was like He had left a spotless and pure Heaven to come to a filthy vile "out-house" of a planet ... to die for sin!

Think of the "stench" of sin in the nostrils of the Lord God Almighty!

Talk about the Love of God!

And the word "old" is "qedem" and suggests "east" or "eastern" in direction!  That area from which the sun rises!  It was one of the Hebrew ways to express that which was ancient or everlasting!  That which is before!  Once in the King James Bible "qedem" is translated "eternal!"  Here's that one time:  "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them."  Deuteronomy 33:27

Wow!

Then ... Micah 5:2 hits the target!  It absolutely declares the eternal Sonship of Jesus the Son of God!

"... Whose goings forth have been ... from everlasting!"

Here's the whole verse again.  Just to be sure I have not missed something.  "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."  Micah 5:2

From "everlasting" expresses the sense of the Hebrew noun "yom" (pronounced "yome") which means "day" or "continually" or "always!"

Jesus the Christ is Son of God ... always ... continually ... eternally!

That's proof enough for me!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

thursday, october 20, 2005:

Men of God often are expected to speak words of comfort in times of sorrow.

Especially at funerals.

In a Christian service surely the most used Bible Texts are those about Heaven.

And of course that is fitting and proper.

However Paul took a slightly different approach one day.

I think he was answering a question from the Thessalonian Believers.

They were wondering what would happen to their dead brethren ... when Jesus comes to "rapture" His Church.

Those whose bodies rested in graves all over the countryside.

Paul answers that immediately!

"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep." 1st Thessalonians 4:15

See that verb "prevent?"

It (in Greek = "phthano") means to come before!  To precede!  To go ahead of someone!

When Jesus comes to get us, as His Bride ... the Church, He will not get just the living Christians!  No!

Those who are "asleep" in Jesus, whose dead bodies have laid in their graves for years, will be involved in the Rapture too!

Now know this please.  Their souls and spirits have already gone to be with Jesus. That Trip was made the instant they died!  "Absent from the body ... present with the Lord" says Paul in 2nd Corinthians 5:8.

Remember when that saved man Lazarus died in Luke 16, immediately the angels carried him to Heaven, Abraham's Bosom! 

Saints go to be with Jesus when they die.

It's just their bodies that remain behind!

But at the Rapture ... even those shall be "changed" in a moment!

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, iIn a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."  1st Corinthians 15:51-54

Their "vile" bodies will be raised and transformed!  The Lord Jesus is coming ... "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."  Philippians 3:21

Grieving folks, take comfort!

That loved one you just buried will not be forgotten on Rapture Day!

Even the living saints will not get one inch off the ground until ... the dead in Christ rise first!

Then ... we all (the Blood-washed Believers) are going to meet the Lord in the air!

So "comfort one another with these words!"

Hey Preachers, I think we've just found another "Funeral" Text!

Tell them about what's going to happen down at the cemetery when Jesus comes again!

What a delightful place to be ... when Jesus comes to get us!

The local graveyard!

The living will not "prevent" the dead that Day!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2005:

The "optimism" of Jesus!

I first heard that expression a number of years ago.

An old Preacher, now many years with the Lord, had preached a sermon on that subject, "The Optimism Of Our Lord!

Now, generally speaking, truly optimistic folks do not get discouraged as easily as their pessimistic brethren.

But it can happen!

Paul the Apostle, in his last few days of life, continued to be cheerful and bright and joyously optimistic!

Listen to him.  He is in jail.  He has been tried and unjustly found guilty.  He faces execution any day.  He knows that the "time of his departure is at hand."

YET he refuses to be discouraged!

He, realizing there is no way out of the problem at hand, still says:  "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."  2nd Timothy 4:18

Did you read that?

At any moment the heavy footsteps of a Roman soldier might be heard ... and the "clanging" sound of an unsheathed sword too!

Yet Paul still looks on the "bright" side of life ... and death!

Yes, Nero the "unrighteous" judge, has condemned Paul to the chopping block.

(However the Lord, THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE, has ready a Crown of Righteousness for his faithful Preacher!   See 2nd Timothy 4:8.)

Nero means to hurt Paul!

To kill him!

To do him "evil" and harm!

Yet Paul still adamantly says:  "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Nero means it for evil ... God means it for good!

Remember Genesis 50:20?  Where Joseph said to his brothers just about the same thing?  "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good!"

And the verb for "deliver" is "ruomai" and means "to rescue!"

About the time that sharpened sword struck Paul's neck ... the angel of the Lord picked him up and swooped him to Glory!  Rescued him from this old hateful world and carried him to Heaven!

Now that's a "rescue!"

No more pain ... or crying or sorrow or loneliness or death!

And the verb "preserved" is a translation of "sozo" in Greek.  It means "to save!"  It's the same word used when a sinner gets born-again, saved by the Grace of God!

Paul knew that either way, by the Rapture (which he taught so clearly) or the grave (which he called a defeated foe) ... he was a SAVED man!

And all the way there. all the way to the third Heaven ... Paul would be saying ... "Glory for ever and ever" to the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!" 

That's how our verse ends!

Again ... "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

If that's not looking on the optimistic side ... I'll never know what is!

And if the Holy Spirit can help Paul do that ... in his hour of death ... surely I can follow the very Same Holy Spirit ... out of the depths of discouragement to the mountains of gratefulness and praise!

Hey, Preacher, don't quit!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2005:

It was just a fleeting thought.

I think I saw the words on a book list somewhere.

Surely many Preachers have already worked on this.

There are, in the Book of Revelation, 4 women described!

Let me mention them.

Each, by herself, is a sermon.

There is Jezebel in Revelation 2:20.  "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols."

Here is a bossy woman!  And she still has relatives in the church!

There is the Virgin Mary in Revelation 12:4 and 13.  "And the dragon (devil) stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child." 

Here is a beautiful woman who gave birth to the physical life of our Saviour Jesus Christ!

Thirdly there is a harlot mentioned in Revelation 17:3-5.  "So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:  and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."

Here is a blasphemous woman, a type of the apostate one-world church of future days!

Lastly there is a Bride in Revelation 21:2!  "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

John here uses the City as a picture of her people!  (When I say San Francisco is a wicked city, I do not mean the bricks in some hotel are necessarily wicked.  I mean the people there are often sinful and rebellious toward God.)

Here, in New Jerusalem, is a blessed woman, about to spend eternity with her Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Gentlemen, these thoughts might point you toward some truths that will prove helpful one Lord's Day or one Wednesday Evening ... as the Lord leads.

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2005:

These are Greek words, but easy to learn.   They are spelled "su de" and pronounced "soo" and "deh." 

They are translated in our King James Bibles as "But thou...!"

Timothy, young preacher, others may act this way, BUT THOU ... must be different!"

I've found this expression five times in the Pastoral Epistles!

In 1st Timothy 6:10-11 watch the capitalized words!  "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."

Here's the "su de" of a godly practice ... a godly lifestyle!

Then 2 Timothy 3:8-11 adds:  "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.  But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me."

This is the "su de" of a godly presence.  Timothy had been around Paul and learned so much from him!  What a blessing!

Then ... "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."  2 Timothy 3:13-15

See this "su de" of a godly perseverance!  Timothy, do not quit!  Keep on being faithful!

Fourthly, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."   2 Timothy 4:3-5

Here's the "su de" of godly pressure!  Timothy, be alert and endure whatever comes your way!  Here's Paul's Macedonian experience:  "For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears."   2 Corinthians 7:5

And finally, the "su de" of godly preaching!  Listen:  "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine ...."  (Titus 1:16-2:1)   Preach the Word, Timothy!  It's the only Thing that will rebuke ungodly living!

You see, dear Men of God, some things others may do ... but not us!

WE are to be different.

There is the world and all its so-called "charms" ... BUT THOU Preacher ... must be remain separate!

Lord, help us to live for Thee!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

Saturday, September 3, 2005:

Did you ever think about this?

When you stand Sunday behind that Pulpit and open the Word of God, you are speaking to people who have spent most of the days of the past week fighting the devil!  Or being harassed by the Devil!

They have heard profanity regularly on their jobs!

They have seen sights that are at best immodest and border on being immoral!

They have likely been within earshot of dirty jokes or belittling remarks!

They have battled physical pains or at least physical problems!

They have probably had doubts haunt them!

They may yet have a prayer or two that's still unanswered.

They wonder why all the suffering exists in this old world!

They perhaps have even shot a few cutting argumentative words toward their mates on the way to the service ... and maybe had some shot right back too!

They may not have read their Bibles like they should have either ... or prayed!

In short, they often come "limping in" ready to hear _____________?

What?

A tongue lashing?

A hate-filled monologue?

Some irrelevant lecture on the split in the southern and northern kingdoms of Israel?

Some sermon on 27 reasons we don't associate with those who do associate with those other Christians down the road?

No!

No!

No!

They come to be FED!

They come to be ENCOURAGED!

They come to be LOVED!

They come to be HELPED!

They just might be coming to hear that Someone Big still has them in His Plans and that, whatever else goes wrong, He will make all things work together for their good and His glory by and by!

They might need some reassurance and edification and exhortation ... all perfectly proper functions of the Word of God!

I am not saying that we should not preach Bible separation or doctrine or prophecy or history. 

But I am saying that there are times when God's people need to be cuddled and nourished and spiritually helped!

And, Brethren, we don't have long to do that! 

In fact, not enough time on Sunday Morning and again Sunday Night and, with the most faithful, maybe Wednesday Nights too.

Let's love them and uplift them ... before they go back out into that cold cruel world of darkness and opposition!

And by "that cruel world" I mean the places they WORK ... so we can preach without encumbrance! 

Every time we Men of God stand behind that sacred Desk we ought to remember Isaiah's admonition: "Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you."  Isaiah 35:3-4

I say, "Amen!"

                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

 

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