Tag Archives: salvation

Don’t Give Up on Saul | Bible Gleanings – June 11-12, 2022

You could tell from the evil glint in his eyes that violence entertained him. A mob of murderers once smashed a man to death with boulders, and he stood beside them with a villainous grin on his face. Like a member of the Gestapo, he violently dragged innocent people from their homes. He furiously detained and imprisoned individuals who were not guilty of any crime. And worst of all, he saw himself as a hero instead of a monster. 

He intended to continue his rampage of carnage, but he was arrested on the road to a city called Damascus. One credible source described it like this: “Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:3-6).

The man was Saul of Tarsus, and Jesus of Nazareth captured and converted him. In one moment, the eyes that once burned with lust for bloodshed were filled with tears of repentance. Saul’s hardened heart was shattered by conviction and mended by grace. The Spirit of God dragged him away from sin toward salvation. After one meeting with Jesus, Saul became a preacher instead of a persecutor, an apostle instead of an adversary, and a servant of Christ instead of a slanderer of the church. 

God loved Saul, and He loves all the Sauls of the world. And He can save them, too. Saul’s salvation shows that the Lord’s grace is sufficient for even the evilest evildoer. As Saul himself testified, “But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:13b-15).

There is mercy for Saul, so don’t give up. Keep praying for the Saul(s) in your life. Keep preaching the gospel to them. Grace is still enough, the gospel is still effective, and God can still transform a Saul into a Paul. As John Piper encouraged, “Look on your adversaries with the eyes of faith—that someday, by the power of God they could experience a turn-around as amazing and unexpected as Saul’s.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

He Raises the Lame | Bible Gleanings – May 7-8, 2022

His dreadful condition made every passerby cover their eyes and whimper, “Lord, have mercy.” He was curled in a ball as he lay crippled on a dusty mat. He could not walk, limp, or even crawl. He was born lame—paralysis had arrested his body in the womb. And were it not for the sluggish rising of his chest and the stare of his sunken eyes, you would have assumed he was dead.

The man was the lame beggar whose story is told in the third chapter of Acts (3:1-10). His tragic story is really every sinner’s story. You are this man, too. He is a mirror image staring back at you. He is a visual of the pitiful spiritual condition in which we find ourselves before experiencing the lame-raising power of Jesus Christ.

You and I are born into the world afflicted with spiritual paralysis. We are incapable of running toward God, walking on the narrow way that leads to life, or even limping on the path of the godly (Romans 3:10-18). Sin has broken our spine and confined us to a mat of helplessness. And we are too weak and decrepit to lift ourselves on crutches of righteous works or religion. We need only to look in faith to the lame-raiser, the paralytic-healer—the Lord Jesus Christ—whose grace and power are sufficient to make us walk with God.

The saving power of Christ makes us leap from our crippled state with holy joy (Acts 3:8). Jesus raises us at our conversion so that we may walk the road of righteousness (Psalm 1:6). His all-sufficient grace sets us on our feet so we can run the heavenbound race with endurance (Heb. 12:1). His mercy pulls us up from the bed of sin so that we may stand in grace (Rom. 5:2). He strengthens our legs and limbs so that we may climb over walls of temptation and tribulation (Psalm 18:29).

There’s an old saying that reeks of hell’s smoke which says, “God helps those who help themselves.” But nothing could be further from the truth, for God helps those who cannot help themselves. Jesus raises spiritual paralytics who cannot raise themselves. And Jesus asks all those cursed by the crippling effects of sin: “Do you wish to get well?” (John 5:6). All who answer in the affirmative will receive the gospel cure from the Great Physician Himself, and they will discover that He raises the lame.

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Front Page News | Bible Gleanings – April 30-May 1, 2022

The chilling news froze me in my tracks. The blackness of gloom enveloped my heart when I read the big black headline on the front page of The New York Times: “The Toll: America Approaches Half a Million COVID Deaths.” The death toll has soared to nearly a million since then, but I remember burning with zeal to do everything I could to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. I am not sure whether mask-wearing and social distancing made a difference—only the Lord knows. But I wanted to do everything in my power to slow the death count when the reality of death was in my face. 

The last time a gust of grief struck me like that was when I read Jesus’ words in Matthew 7, where He warned, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (vv. 13-14). According to Jesus, hordes and heaps of lost souls are driving down the wide open highway to hell, while only a fragment of humanity trudges on the hard road to heaven. Millions are afflicted by the crippling disease of sin, and they will discover too late that they were sick (Matt. 7:21-23). The “second death” toll is infinitely high, and it rises every day (Rev. 21:8). And the sharp twinge of heartbreak ought to pierce the heart of every believer when confronted with this sobering reality (cf. Romans 9:1-3).

Only 31% of the world’s population profess to be Christian, which means that the remaining 69% are hellbound (and that is if all 31% are true believers). According to the World Population Review, 166,279 people die daily. That means that at least 144,733 souls enter the gates of hell every day, and one million do every week. Jesus was right when He said that “many” would hear these terrifying words: “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).

The good news is that there is plenty of room in heaven, and its door is open to all who would enter by faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord promised, “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2a). Therefore, those heavenbound ought to take the life-saving gospel with unquenchable zeal to those who have never heard. The miserable reality of hell for the lost and the marvelous reassurance of heaven for the saved ought to be on the front page of every Christian’s mind. As John Wesley stated, “I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between two boundless oceans.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Christ Alone | Bible Gleanings – March 26-27, 2022

We can only be saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9). And here are seven reasons why:

(1) The chasm between man and God is too wide to be crossed by good works: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). The cross of Calvary is the only bridge across the canyon of separation: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18a).

(2) The distance between sinful man and holy God is too long to be climbed by the ladder of law-keeping (Psalm 113:5-6). Only the God-man who can bring man to God: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

(3) The stain on man’s heart is too black to be scrubbed by self-righteousness: “Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD” (Jer. 2:22). The blood of Christ is the only fountain that washes off sin’s stain (1 John 1:7).

(4) The contamination of iniquity is too unremitting to be washed off by the waters of baptism: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23). Sinners need a grace-bought spiritual bath administered by God’s Spirit, “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5b).

(5) The weight of sin is too heavy to be outweighed by righteous deeds: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me” (Psalm 38:4). The nail-scarred hands are the only hands that can cast your sins into the sea depths: “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

(6) The shackles of sin-bondage are too strong to be broken by “trying harder.” Only the Lord Jesus can “open the eyes that are blind, [and] bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:1).

(7) The gargantuan debt of sin is too great to be paid off by an offering: “For our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens” (Ezra 9:6). Only the offering of Christ Himself is sufficient to pay your sin debt: “[He canceled] the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14).

Friend, Christ alone saves—we come to Him empty-handed.

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Heart Transplant | Bible Gleanings – March 19-20, 2022

I am a walking miracle. I should not be alive today. Most people with my condition never pull through. Fortunately, I am one of the few people jerked away from death’s door thanks to a heart transplant that occurred at just the right time.

Impairments and limitations have plagued my life since the day I was born—all because of a bad heart. I couldn’t see or think clearly. My steps were always crooked. My diseased heart wrecked everything about me—and a new heart was what I needed above all.

The life-saving procedure happened in August of 2009, when I was just fifteen years-old. But it wasn’t in an operating room, and the operation was not performed by a surgeon. It was behind the shabby shed in my parents’ backyard, and the Savior of sinners executed the procedure. After hearing the gospel preached, I suddenly realized that my desperately wicked heart required conversion only Jesus Christ could provide. Kneeling in the dirt and in my soul, I turned to Christ in repentance and faith. “I have been wrong about everything,” I prayed. “Lord, forgive me. Please forgive me. I give my life to You.” And God’s promise came to pass: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

Every sinner needs a spiritual heart transplant. The Lord must take His scalpel of grace to remove your old heart and implant a new one that loves Him (Jeremiah 24:7). Why? Because the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. It is utterly infected by evil: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The heart is responsible for all of your spiritual health problems. As Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).

This soul-saving spiritual surgery is what God performs for every sinner saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Every Christian has a heart transplant story. Every believer in Christ is a walking miracle. Every follower of Jesus sings the words of Myron LeFevre’s hymn in their heart:

“Without Him, I could be dying,

Without Him, I’d be enslaved;

Without Him, life would be hopeless,

But with Jesus, thank God, I’m saved.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

An Unexpected Obstacle That Hinders Evangelism and Fellowship

“Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” — Acts 11:1-3

The Jerusalem church received an incredible report: the Gentiles embraced the gospel with open arms. The gospel ship landed on the Gentile shores of pigs and pagans. The sweet sound of salvation in Jesus’ name echoed from Jerusalem to Caesarea (Acts 4:12; 10:1). The promises Jesus made about His gospel reaching the nations were being fulfilled (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

The only right response is, “To God be the glory, great things He hath done!” But strikingly, that is not the way the church in Jerusalem responded. Instead, they scorned Peter, saying, “What have you done?”

They were appalled that Peter made friends with the Gentiles, glossing over the awesome reality that the Gentiles became friends of God. They criticized Peter for socializing with Gentiles, slighting the fact that Peter evangelized the Gentiles. They reprimanded him for welcoming Gentiles with a hand of fellowship, disregarding that God had welcomed Gentiles into His kingdom by His righteous right hand.

Genuine believers like Andrew, James, and John criticized Peter for doing good—taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. Of course, they were stirred up by the devout Jews of the “circumcision party,” but isn’t this bizarre? How could true believers be so frustrated by a trivial issue such as eating with Gentiles? And why were they hesitant to welcome the Gentile believers into the church?

On the one hand, you have to cut them a break. They did not yet understand what God was doing by expanding His kingdom beyond Jerusalem. We have the books of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and Hebrews to explain the union of Jew and Gentile into one body; they did not. Additionally, the Lord had only spoken to Peter in a vision about including Gentiles in His saving plan (Acts 10:9-16).

On the other hand, this was a grave error. Because of their fixation on circumcision and the Law of Moses, they instinctually required Gentiles to do more than embrace Christ as Savior and Lord—they also had to embrace Judaism. Thankfully, they later understood their error and addressed the issue as a congregation (Acts 11:18; 15:1-35). But at this point, their high regard for circumcision and law-keeping was a barrier to unity and a roadblock to evangelization. Their imposition of criteria and conditions that had no saving value were a clenched fist to communion and a locked door to fellowship.

We should be careful in pointing fingers at these Jewish Christians for their subtle favoritism, however, because the Lord points His finger at us for precisely the same sin. Sometimes, we tend to focus on trivial issues that have no saving value. Whether we realize it or not, we sometimes erect artificial barriers that disrupt unity and discourage evangelism. This is what we refer to as legalism, when we knowingly or unknowingly bind others to observe man-made rules.

This may sound shocking, but sometimes what hinders evangelism of unbelievers and fellowship with fellow believers is not cultural differences, geographical distance, or even Satan—it is us. And believe me, I want to shout, “Say it ain’t so!” But if believers were totally immune to such partiality, Paul would have saved his ink in Romans 14 where he wrote, “Don’t quarrel over opinions” (v. 1), “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (v. 10), and “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother” (v. 13).

Every true believer should be enthusiastically offered the hand of fellowship, regardless of whether they vote differently, look differently, or hold contrary opinions. External and superficial matters like these do not matter to the Lord who sees the heart—what matters is that one’s heart has been changed by the Lord.

Furthermore, the gospel message should be fervently carried to every unbeliever, regardless of whether they are alcoholics, addicted to drugs, immersed in false religion, stubborn to the things of God, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, black or white, or pro- or anti-vaccine.

All those guilty of such partiality will give an account to the Lord for standing in the way of the saving gospel and sanctifying fellowship. Such a discriminatory spirit is anti-gospel, satanic, and should be immediately repented of when found in the heart. Don’t let inconsequential things get in the way of fellowship or evangelism. Every believer should be embraced. Every unbeliever should be evangelized.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

A Free Offer | Bible Gleanings – Feb 12-13, 2022

In addition to receiving monthly bills in the mail, I also get a half-pound bundle of useless vouchers and coupons I never redeem. Limited-time cable and internet bargains, special fast-food discounts, and a membership form for AARP are all included in the colorful paper clump. The real prize lies buried within: a slew of slips emblazoned with the words, “FREE OFFER INSIDE.” And the offers are absolutely irresistible: a $100,000 life insurance policy for only $3 a month, a $200 gift card for a cable service that goes out when a raindrop hits the roof, and a free tank of gas when you purchase a truck with the low price tag of $50,000! 

However, if you read the fine print, you’ll find that the “free” offers aren’t actually free. There are always caveats and strings attached. And besides, none of the offers truly deliver on their claims. Fortunately, there is one free offer that is truly free. It always delivers on its promises, and it is clear of any belying fine print. It is not found in the mailboxes of every street, but it is offered to the heart of every sinner. And I found it, not when I opened a discount mailer, but when I opened my Bible, which says:

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

God’s offer of everlasting life is free for all. You cannot buy it with an offering and you cannot earn it through good works (cf. Acts 8:20). Jesus purchased it in full by His atoning death, so you don’t have to (Eph. 1:7). That is why Paul declared, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Furthermore, there is no small print excluding anyone from the offer of forgiveness and eternal life. Salvation is for every tongue, class, and culture. God doesn’t pass you by because of how you look or where you come from. Every person of every race stands condemned before the bench of His righteousness, and every person is invited and commanded to be made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 3:22-23; 10:12-13).

Friend, this is an offer you can’t refuse. Reach out your hands and accept it by repenting of your sins and trusting wholly in Christ for your salvation (Acts 17:30; Gal. 2:16). And do so now while the offer still stands: “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

The Holy Spirit Doesn’t Need Your Help

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” — Acts‬ ‭10:44‬ ‭KJV‬‬

One of the most essential and encouraging truths in all Scripture about preaching the gospel is that the Spirit of God works mightily while we preach.

The Spirit of God punches His timecard when you proclaim the full gospel to the lost. The Spirit engages in CPR, reviving a heart once dead when you engage in evangelism (Eph. 2:1). He shines gospel light in darkened hearts when the blazing gospel torch is carried to those in darkness (2 Cor. 4:6). The Spirit opens blinded eyes when you call the unregenerate to look away from themselves to Christ (2 Cor. 4:4).

The very first thing He does is convict, according to Jesus. He said, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). The Spirit puts a person’s conscience on trial when the gospel is published. And He says to them, “You are in serious trouble with God, and you are in serious need of salvation. Wake up! God is holy and you are not. You need Jesus!”

Furthermore, the Spirit converts a sinner’s soul. Paul said:

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4-6).

He regenerates the unregenerate soul. He creates new life within a person devoid of spiritual life.

The Spirit does it all, and oftentimes in the very moment we present the gospel.

This does not mean that every person who hears the gospel will be saved. Sometimes your gospel preaching falls on deaf ears. Unsaved sinners still resist grace (cf. Acts 7:51).

What it does mean is that Spirit can penetrate the hardest heart, loosen the stiffest neck, and overcome anyone’s resistance to His call when He wills (John 6:37-40; Acts 16:4; Romans 8:29-30).

What it does mean is that you can faithfully present the gospel and walk away with a full heart, knowing that the Spirit leads a person to Christ.

What it does mean is that you don’t have to worry about whether your presentation of the gospel was eloquent or sophisticated enough to convince someone to believe.

What it means is that you don’t have to use gimmicks, tactics, bouncy-houses, potlucks, or concerts to win a person to Christ.

And it means that no amount of therapy, theories, or prescriptions make a person a better candidate for salvation.

The Spirit of God alone convicts and converts lost souls—and He doesn’t need any help. Just preach the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Sermon: Whosoever Meaneth Me, Part 2 (Acts 10:1-43) | Jan 30, 2022

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Sermon: Interrupted by Grace, Part 2 (Acts 9:1-19a) | November 14, 2021

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).