Speaking where the bible speaks, and silent where the bible is silent.

TRUTH IS ABSOLUTE

In John 18:37,38 we find Pilate asking Jesus, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say {rightly} that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him {at all}.” Pilate asked a question of Christ that many are asking today – “WHAT IS TRUTH?”

Unfortunately, many have settled for a poor substitute for truth! Some contend that truth is relative- that is, the truth is whatever you believe it to be. It is interesting to note that those who will advocate this in religious matters will not accept it when it comes to business! Since the Bible presents truth as absolute, we must find out what it is and how it relates to us today.

What Is Truth?

We find that Jesus prayed to the Father in the Garden, as recorded in John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” Thus, according to Jesus, God’s Word is truth! However, Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus then is the very embodiment of truth. Paul observed in Ephesians 4:21 that “…the truth is in Jesus.” Since Jesus appointed His apostles as the ones to reveal all truth (Jn 16:13), we must conclude that the BIBLE contains the truth, which is, in fact, the Word of God. (Jn 16:14,15) Thus we conclude that the Bible is our source of truth today, and as such, it is authoritative in all matters today.

Truth Makes You Free

Jesus said in John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” This makes truth extremely important to all responsible human beings. Being made free by knowing the truth, does not mean being free to do as you please. However, it does mean freedom from the bondage of sin. Consider Romans 6:16-18 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? But God be thanked that {though} you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Those who live in sin are slaves of sin! But those who obey from the heart the gospel of Jesus Christ, are set free from sin. Notice here the condition upon which they became free from sin obey from the heart. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). In regard to the freedom we enjoy from sin in Christ, Paul says in Galatians 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not {use} liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Those who have realized freedom from the bondage of sin in Christ, realize that, as Paul said in Romans Chapter 6, they have become servants of righteousness, and they have an obligation to serve one another as Children of God!

Truth Also Divides

While the truth will make one free, by its very nature, it will divide! Jesus knew that it would, and He said in Matthew 10:34-39 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. “For I have come to `set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law.’ “And `a man’s foes will be those of his {own household}.’ “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Whenever truth is taught, men are always divided.

Some will believe, and others will not believe. So it is today, that we see those who will not stand for the truth of God’s Word are naturally divided from those who will stand. And we dare not compromise truth on any point in an effort to stop division! The division which exists in the religious world today, yes even that which exists between us and erring brethren, is the reason Jesus entered into the word. “I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Jesus Christ) Whenever we choose to compromise the truth for the sake of unity, we become divided from Christ.

Truth Guides the Christian

A guide is one who directs others, and this is precisely what the truth, which is revealed in the pages of God’s Word, does for man today! The Bible serves as a book of directions or instruction for the Christian on how to live in this life, and prepare for the life which is to come! Jeremiah expressed the thoughts of all who respect the Bible as God’s Word when he wrote in Jeremiah 10:23 “O Lord, I know the way of man {is} not in himself; {it is} not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” Without God’s truth revealed in the pages of the Bible, man would be lost at sea without a compass or a sail. David said in Psalm 119:105, “Your word {is} a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” In 2 Timothy 3:14-17 Paul expressed these thoughts to Timothy: “But {as for} you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned {them}, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture {is} given by inspiration of God, and {is} profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Also in 1 Timothy 3:14,15 Paul told Timothy: “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, {I write} so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” The church is the pillar; (a post or column supporting the weight of a building.) and ground; a support, bulwark or stay} of the truth – and Paul said that the things he wrote would teach them how to conduct themselves in the church. So we can see that the truth supplies everything we need to guide us in every aspect of our lives.

We Will be Judged by The Truth

Most importantly, with regard to truth, is that it will be the standard for judgment in the last day. Jesus said in John 12:48 “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” By necessary inference, this would include all that Christ caused to be revealed through the apostles and prophets of the first century. The standard by which we can tell whether one is or is not a Christian is the Word of God! And whenever someone does not measure up, we cannot simply say that truth to them is something different from what we read in the Bible. Truth is absolute and truth is universal. The day of judgment is coming for us all. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27). We cannot expect to pull the wool over God’s eyes about the kind of lives we have lived. “For the word of God {is} living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12). God has appointed Jesus as the judge in that day. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30,31). And when that time comes, we will all give an account of ourselves, and how we have lived with respect to the standard of judgment- which is the truth. “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12).

Are you living today as truth directs? Or are you living in obedience to your own stubborn will, trying to convince yourself that truth is whatever you believe it to be? Are you prepared to try to convince God that your standard of truth was more important than His? If not, why not obey the truth today? There is no such thing as an alternative truth. Consider well these words from Romans 2:8,9 “…to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek.”

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The Deadly Sin of Greed

Greed is so common in our culture that I don’t even know if much of anyone even counts it as a sin anymore. Most think greed as a good thing, but they couldn’t be far from the truth.

The dictionary defines greed as “an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.” And, as that definition suggests, you can be greedy for a lot of different things. You can be greedy for power, greedy for fame, greedy for food. Greed is an intense love of and desire for wealth or any possession that money can buy.

Though our society may not consider greed to be a sin anymore, the Bible has a lot to say about our attitude toward money. In fact, there are more references to money in the Bible than there are to sex, which may be an indication of both the frequency and the seriousness of this sin.

Examples of greed in the Bible would have to include King Ahab who wanted his neighbor Naboth’s vineyard and ended up killing him to get it. There is Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Paul said that the love of money is “a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10). So how is a love of money the root of evil? Is it because money is so attractive that we will commit many sins in order to acquire it? Or is it because money gives us the power to satisfy any sinful desire we may have?

Perhaps the most famous statement in the Bible regarding money is Jesus’s warning, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt 19:24).

But, that makes us wonder, why can’t we be both be rich in material wealth and rich in love for God? After all, Abraham, the great man of faith, was a wealthy man. Job was a wealthy man. David was a wealthy man. Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy man.

Mankind is quick to rationalize all the wealth we’ve accumulated. We would agree that greed is a sin, but not for us. We tend to shrug off greed by comparing ourselves with those who are richer than we are and thinking that greed is their problem. “When I’m a multimillionaire, then I’ll worry about greed!”

However, Paul wrote the book of Colossians to average Christians in an average small-town church. And he told them that they must put to death their sinful nature with regard to “greed, which is idolatry” (Col 3:5). If greed was a problem for them in that culture, then surely those of us who live in this prosperous nation, need to be very careful about greed.

Greed is not an easy subject to understand. How do you identify greed? It’s obviously a heart issue, but the condition of the heart will always manifest itself by what we do, and greed will always demonstrate itself through our actions. So, are we being greedy by living in nice, spacious homes furnished with all the conveniences of modern life, when there are millions of people around the world living in shacks with no indoor plumbing? Are we being greedy if we have nice cars in our driveways or a wallet full of credit cards?

Exactly how do we identify greed? Because let’s be honest — most of us can easily identify greed in just about anyone who has more than we do, but how do we identify it in our own lives?

Greed vs Generosity

Perhaps the best way to identify greed is by comparing it with its opposite. The opposite of greed is generosity. A greedy person isn’t generous, and a generous person isn’t greedy. John said in 1 John 3:17, “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” The question we need to be asking ourselves is this — are we eager to use what we have to help others or do we have a strong tendency to hold tight what we have?

You may have noticed that the more money and stuff we possess, the more money, time, and energy we need to protect and take care of it all. You would think that having more stuff would give us a greater sense of security, but it really does just the opposite — wealth actually increases our worry, our insecurity, and our desire for more.

Generosity makes it easy to loosen our grip on our stuff and allows us to give it away. I think of the Macedonians that Paul referred to in 2 Corinthians 8:2-4. He said “Their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints…”

Paul said, “I didn’t want to take their money. I thought it was too much. But they begged me to take it and to use it to help Christians who are in need.” A mark of generosity is the way it becomes a natural part of who we are, so that giving isn’t some burden that we have to do, but rather it’s a joy, it’s something that we get to do. In fact, one of the tests of generosity is whether giving things away is easy and enjoyable.

Generosity’s measure is not how much we give away, in terms of the flat amount, but rather the way that we give it. The way we give reveals something about our heart.

In Luke 21, Jesus told about the widow who gave her last two copper coins out of devotion to the Lord, and Jesus commended her (Lk 21:1-4). Her coins couldn’t buy even a loaf of bread, but there was a willingness to give.

Matthew tells us about the expensive gift of a newly cut tomb for Jesus’s body, given by a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea (Matt. 27:57-60). The mark of his generosity was not the size of the gift, but his readiness to give what he had to God.

We’re still left wondering, how generous does a person need to be to avoid being greedy? Because let’s be honest – most us could give away pick-up loads full of clothes or other household goods and hardly even notice a difference in our lives.

Paul said in Ephesians 4:28, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” Paul said that’s why we work. That’s why we make money. So that we’ll have something to give to anyone who is in need. Most work so that they can have more things, more pleasure, or more comfort in life.

Why is Generosity Difficult?

So, what is it that makes it so hard for us to give things away? What is it that drives our acquisition and possession of material goods?

First, because we’ve earned it! It’s hard to give away something that we have earned ourselves. It’s much easier to be generous with other people’s money, but what we earn and what we buy and possess feels like a part of us. Greed is not just about having more; it’s holding on to this idea that this is mine. Everything in my house is mine. Everything in my bank account is mine. I earned it. I brought home the paycheck. It’s mine. And it’s hard to be generous with something that I worked so hard to obtain.

Secondly, it’s hard to give away things once you have experienced extreme poverty in your life. People who have gone through poverty work hard and save their money like a bee does honey. It becomes very difficult to let go of what is keeping the wolf from the door. Thus, being greedy becomes a defense mechanism against returning to poverty. What we forget is that we are not trusting God for anything in our life when we do such things.

Part of being generous is adequately trusting God for the future. We see this in Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6. “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” (1 Tim 6:17-18). Paul says, Trust in God, not your money. And one of the ways that we demonstrate this trust in God is by being generous, by letting go of our money and sharing with others.

Greed and Trust

The opposite of greed is trust in God. In Proverbs 28:25, we read, “A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.” Notice the parallel here. On the one hand, you have a person who is greedy. On the other hand, you have someone who trusts in God. Which means that greed and trust are opposites.

For all of us, it comes down to the question, “Who (or what) do we really trust?” Do we trust that God will take care of us, or do we feel the need to accumulate enough money to take care of ourselves? I find it ironic that all of our money has the words “In God We Trust” printed on them, but for most people, their trust is in the money itself.

Material wealth can give us the illusion of self-sufficiency—and therefore serves as a powerful incentive to deny our need for God. Perhaps greed is the root of all kinds of evil because greed itself is rooted in pride. Having the means to provide for ourselves is much easier than trusting God to provide for us. Greed is the desire to be able to provide fully for ourselves, and therefore not to have to depend on God.

How Much is “Too Much”?

How much is “enough”? How much is “too much”? How much do we truly need for ourselves and how much should we be giving away? James Twitchell once defined a luxury as “something we absolutely do not need.” But we have such a warped view of what we think we need.

You might think that all of the early Christian fathers thought that Christians should get rid of everything and live on the bare essentials, but that’s not true at all. Their point was not that we should live on crusts of bread with bare walls and threadbare clothes. Rather, their point was that our lives should be lived in such a way that we are free from being enslaved to our stuff. Our possessions are meant to serve our needs, rather than our possessions being the center of our lives.

The truth is, money and possessions are not themselves evil. Solomon wrote that “money answers all things” (Eccl 10:19). In fact, money is rather useful when used wisely. Even luxury has its place in our lives. Jesus fasted on numerous occasions, but there were also times when he feasted. Avoiding greed doesn’t mean that we have to live on the bare necessities. However, the problem is, whenever our lives we are filled with greed, we don’t know what “enough” means anymore.

Escaping the Grip of Greed

The first thing we have to change is our attitude toward money and possessions. Yes, there were rich men of old but it was God who made them rich. When we are given something, it is more easily to be generous with it. If I give you 100 dollars to give away, it is not hard for you to give it to someone you think may need it. It was God who made some of you healthy enough to work hard and earn a good paycheck. It was Jesus who told the young rich ruler, “If you will be perfect, go and sell that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matt 19:21).

If we truly want to escape greed, we will remember that we cannot take our possession with us once we die. We came into this world with nothing and we shall return back to God with nothing. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. (Job 1:21). Don’t work hard to harbor your money in a bank or to buy luxury items for yourself and for your family. Work hard so that you might be able to give to those who have nothing. The scriptures remind us, “I have shown you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev 21:8).

What is it that we teach our children? What do we tell them about lying, cheating, and stealing? Most of us would be confident that they understand these things are wrong but are you certain?

Lying

Sinful conduct does not produce goodness. A lie does not improve the situation. Sins have a way of not staying hidden (Num 32:23). What is the purpose of lying? Most people who lie have a specific purpose in mind. Usually, it is to evade the truth which is not favorable to their misdeeds. Therefore, they lie to evade punishment.

However, is the temporary comfort worth going against God? Liars don’t go to heaven (Rev 21:7-8). God cannot lie, and neither should we (Tit 1:2 f; Heb 6:18). Our goal should be the pleasing of God (Gal 1:10).

Satan is the father of lies (Jn 8:44). It is Satan who makes it appear that the solution to the problem is to lie (Jam 1:13-16). God doesn’t tempt. He provides a way to escape temptation (1 Cor 10:13). If we are faced with the prospect of “having” to break God’s law, then we must conclude that Satan has us deceived and we are overlooking the escape route.

Cheating

Most people who lie have cheated in some form or fashion and they use lies to cover-up their crime. For example, the United States was attacked by Russia in the past 2016 election according to every Cybersecurity agency, the FBI, the CIA, the president, and both houses of Congress. They all agree that Russian President Vladimir Puttin was the one who ordered the attack. Though these attacks were done in secret, they were brought to light by cyber forensic experts.

President Putin will never admit that he ordered an attack on the United States. He will lie in every possible way to evade justice. This is the same man who cheats his way into political office by imprisoning his opposition and stuffs the ballot box in his favor. He calls the media who attack him, “Fake News”. He is a ruthless dictator who defames anyone who attempts to challenge any of his lies. Is it any wonder that Mr. Putin is an atheist? Is it any wonder he is causing the same chaos that Satan himself brought upon the earth? Of course, he does such evil things out of jealousy, because Russia is a third world country who just happen to possess nuclear capability. They are not a free market society and they are envious of the freedoms and prosperity of the United States. Thus, they want to bring down America to their level.

Hopefully, no American in the past election conspired with Putin and his army of cyber hackers. I say that, knowing that some Americans have already been charged and found guilty of crimes involving election meddling. We can rest assured no one guilty will readily admit to wrongdoing. Jesus said of such, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (Jn 3:19-21). Even so, as the scripture says, “Be sure your sins will find you out” (Nu 32:23).

When we say someone cheated, we are saying that justice is not being carried out. The playing field is not level. Some players are given an advantage over others. God told merchants in Israel to deal honestly (Lev 19:36) God did not set what He thought was a fair price for products. He allowed merchants to set any price they desired. But He did demand that the transaction be fair. Fair elections would demand that both contenders present their political views and the people would vote. Every legal vote would be counted and the winner would be declared. It is cheating to stuff the ballot box, or to allow one man in Russia to do your voting for you.

Justice requires equality in requirements. Hiring relatives are called nepotism or cronyism because it appears candidates for a job are not measured equally. This is one reason that in the matter of salvation God emphasizes His fairness (Col 3:23-25 f; Rom 2:11).

Justice in our dealings with our fellow men doesn’t mean we won’t make judgments, but that we will strive to eliminate bias in our judgment  (Jam 2:9). The rich and powerful do not get better treatment than the poor (Lev 19:15). When leaders in the Church sinned, even an apostle of Christ (Peter), Paul didn’t let who the people involved were dissuade him from doing what was right (Gal 2:4-7,11). Thus, in this example, no cheating – no injustice – was being committed.

Stealing

Riches do not profit against the day of God’s wrath. Only the righteousness of God saves. (Prov 11:4). What is gained if our soul is lost? (Matt 16:26). Nothing!

Every man expects to work and to get an honest pay. If a man robs a bank to keep from working, society demands this man be arrested and punished accordingly. Paul stated if a man would not work, neither let him eat (1 Thess 3:10). Even so, if a man was hungry and he steals, he should not be despised (Prov 6:30-31). I think most would agree that it is more egregious to steal out of greed as opposed to need, though both demands some form of punishment.

Stealing an election doesn’t appear to be evil to those who benefit from the side who did the stealing. It is like the story of Robin Hood who stole and gave the money to the poor. Somehow the poor glorified the thief because it was in their benefit. Yet, people forget the loss of the ones who had their money or possessions stolen. It can be devastating.

I have had things stolen from me in my past and it is something one never forgets. I had a ten thousand dollar, full scholarship to the University of my choice stolen from me when I was only 18 years old (this was the mid-70s). Thirty-five years later I had significant inheritance stolen from me. I am sure the ones who benefited believed that such thievery was somehow glorious, maybe even justified. I can testify that both had a significant effect on my life.

Even so, anyone who has something stolen from them has this one promise from God, “As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, so is he who gets riches, but not by right; It will leave him in the midst of his days, and at his end he will be a fool” (Jer 17:11). Eventually, I realized people can steal my awards, my money, and my possessions but they cannot steal my laid up treasures in heaven. Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matt 6:19-21).

It is good for each of us to examine our lives to see if we are the Lord’s (Gal 6:3-5), We need to examine if we lie, cheat, or steal to gain an advantage over others. If we do, we need to change our ways and remember these words from the scripture, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mk 8:34-37).

Remember Lot’s Wife

The book of Genesis (19:1-29), tells the story of a righteous man named Lot, who was living in Sodom with his wife and family. The city was exceedingly sinful and plagued with homosexuality and greed.

Visiting angels had persuaded Lot to take his family and flee Sodom, as God was about to destroy it with fire and brimstone. While they were fleeing, his wife looked back and instantly became a pillar of salt. Great speculation and much supposition have been attributed to the mental state of Lot’s wife as to why she looked back. Some say she still had family remaining there. Some say she had close friends left to perish. Others say all of her earthly possessions which were destroyed weighed heavily on her mind. Whatever the reason we do not know, but one thing we do know is that she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.

This should be a great lesson and warning to all Christians. The word of God tells us of the dangers of drawing back. The Hebrews writer says (10:38-39), “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” Also 2 Peter 2:20-22 states, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to know the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog has turned to its own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

Jesus, while speaking to certain men about the true cost of discipleship said in Luke 9:62, “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Lot’s wife was escaping from a city that was being destroyed because of corruption and worldly pleasures, to a place of safety. On her way, she decided to look back and she too was destroyed. As Christians who have obeyed the gospel of our Lord and Saviour and were added to His church (Acts 2:47), we are to give up earthly treasures so that we could gain that crown of eternal life. Paul, speaking to the Philippians said, “Brethren, I count myself not to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward unto those things which are ahead. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ (Philip 3:13-14).

At the end of all things, we are left with this warning from Jesus Christ, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Lk 17:32). Let us not look back to the pleasures of sin which only last a short time (Heb 11:25,26). Let us remain on that narrow path which leads to life eternal (Matt 7:13,14).

In biblical language, to walk with God means to have an intimate relationship with God, which is sometimes called fellowship. We see God’s desire to walk with us in the very beginning:

“They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Gen 3:8).

One of the most defining verses in the bible was spoken by the prophet Amos who said, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Notice some of God’s greatest servants who walked (agreed) with God.

“Enoch walked with God and he was not, for God took him” (Gen.5:24).

“…Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (Gen.6:9).

“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, `I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless” (Gen.17:1).

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic.6:8).

“True instruction was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity” (Mal.2:6 ).

There are different ways people try to accomplish their daily walk with God in facing temptation, sin, and God’s works for us that day.

SELF-EFFORT CHRISTIAN

This type of Christian realizes something true, that is, that God has given to each Christian abilities and strengths. They go about living their life relying totally on their own strength to get by, to overcome temptation, to live daily pleasing to God. They realize that “no temptation has overtaken you, except that which is common to man” (1 Cor.10:13). They also realize that means there is no sin we HAVE to commit. They are right in all these areas. but this type of Christian is “on their own.”

“But Peter answered and said to Him, `Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.’ Jesus said to him, `Truly I say to you that this very night, before a cock crows, you shall deny Me three times.’ Peter said to Him, `Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.’ All the disciples said the same thing too” (Mt.26:33-35).

The apostles were ordinary men before they met Jesus. They were fishermen, tax collectors, common ordinary men. They had not spent their life in rabbinical schools. I am not saying they were not religious men before they met Jesus. I am simply saying they were not members of any formal religious sect. To put into terms of today, they were not preachers or elders. They were the people in the pew. Then all of a sudden, at the words, “come follow Me,” they left everything to be Jesus’ follower. But during their three years with Jesus, they did more than just follow Him around. They relied upon Him for food and strength, both physical and spiritual. Now Jesus says He will be gone. When He is, they are too. They were on their own (so they believed) and they were afraid. If they had relied upon the strength from the Father, they could have stood. There is no indication they did. The fact that all of them denied Him indicates they tried to stand alone and failed.

“LET GO, AND LET GOD” CHRISTIAN

This is the other extreme. It is reactionary. “Having experienced the futility of the self-effort way, (they) go to the other extreme, deciding to do nothing at all. They just turn it all over to the Lord.”. This type of “walk with God” is one that refuses to make any decisions whatsoever, or even try and work toward a goal. “If God wants me to do that, then He will see to it that I do.” It is good to place trust in the fact that God does work in our everyday life. It is wrong to suppose that God will direct our lives against our will.

This type of experience is truly a self-delusion. The person is thinking, “I am totally reliant upon God.” He will supply all my needs. He will direct me as His soldier.” Two problems:

  1. God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into the nest (Mt.6:26).
  2. We are not remote control robots. God has given us a free will. He leads us, commands us, etc. He does not, however, make us work, nor work for us.

 “LORD, HELP ME” CHRISTIAN

“The chief characteristic of this way is a partial dependence on the Lord: the unconscious but nevertheless real attitude that I can of my own self-live the Christian life up to a point but that I need the Lord’s help after that point.” This is the attitude that prays, “Lord, help me remember nothing is going to happen that you and I cannot get through together.”

The problem with this approach is not that man has no goodness in him at all. Man has the ability to do the work of God. If he didn’t, why then did God command man to do it?

The problem with this approach is that some Christians seem only to rely upon the Lord when they are in a crisis. I call this the “fire escape faith.” You only exercise your faith in God, by relying upon His strength, in an emergency. A perfect example of this was Peter walking on the water. When he lost faith he called for the Lord to save him. Jesus told him,  “O you of little faith, why did you doubt” (Matt 14:29-31).

“ABIDING IN CHRIST” CHRISTIAN

This approach realizes the “self-effort approach” and the “Let go and let God” approach are both futile. He also realizes he needs God’s help not just in the times of crises, but rather even in the tedious acts of daily living. Instead of asking God to “help me,” his prayer is, “God live through me.”

This approach differs greatly from the “let go and let God” approach in its recognition that as renewed humans beings we are called to use all of our faculties, our minds, our affection, and our wills in order to live out the Christian life. Even so, we do this in total dependence on the Holy Spirit working in our minds, our affection, and our wills, empowering us with the power of the risen Christ. This is not some overpowering method of irresistible,  or miraculous special grace of God that restores my free will, but rather in a total submission to God.

Compare and Contrast

How do we react to a large log that has fallen in our path to walk? How do we react to a problem in our life which is very difficult to handle all by ourselves?

a. The “Self-effort” Christian: This person tries to lift the log all by himself and fails, and then blames himself for being too weak or the log too heavy. Eventually, he gives up trying thinking this is not God’s will else God would have given him the strength to do so.

b. The “Let go and let God” Christian: This person sees the log and says to God, “Okay., I’m waiting, because if you truly want me to go that way you will remove the log for me.” Eventually, he too will give up because God does not intervene to do his work for him.

c. The “Lord help me” Christian: This person sees the log, and after noticing it is too big tells God, “if you get on one side and lift, I think I can lift the other.” Eventually, he too will fail because he didn’t ask God to help him move the log but wanted to assist God in moving the log. God verily did his part but this kind of Christian wasn’t able to do his part.

d. The “Abiding in Christ” Christian: “Lord, You must enable me to lift this log if I am to do it. To all appearance, it will appear as if I am lifting this log, and I truly am, but I am doing so only because You have given me the strength to do it.” A perfect example of this would be David when he faced Goliath. David verily killed the giant in the appearance of man, but it was God working through David which truly killed the giant. “David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” (1 Sam 17:37).

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine , you are branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit for apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn.15:4-5).

“And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Col.1:28-29).

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Cor.15:10).

“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generation forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph.3:20-21).

“Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it….” (Ps.127:1).

Everyone who preaches the gospel of Christ should have Paul’s great admonition embedded in his heart and soul, “Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).

Timothy is charted to “Preach the Word.” The urgency of preaching and the manner in which it is to be preached are also stressed. At times the tendency may be to “let up” at certain seasons and under unfavorable circumstances. A great tragedy in the church today is “seasonal members,” and one thing that has contributed to that is “seasonal preaching.” It may seem futile to preach the Word, but preach it we must. It may not seem to do any good, but we must persevere. Preaching “in and out of season” demands certain things.

It Demands Readiness

Paul told Titus to “be ready to every good work” (3:1). He himself was “ready to preach the gospel to you that are in Rome also” (Rom. 1:15). In the process of his preaching, he was even “ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). Peter says we are to “be ready to give an answer …” (1 Pet. 3:15). We are persuaded that the spirit of readiness is lacking in many who have the ability to preach the Word. We need to learn this lesson and learn it well. We are laboring for the Lord in the matter of preaching and teaching, and should always be ready to do it, and not only when it may please us.

What is it to preach “in season?” Simply that it should be done at all times of opportunity. Teachers of the Word sometimes let these slip from them. Note the apostles – they used their opportunities (Acts 13:42-46 f; 2 Cor. 2:12). It is to preach when times are convenient. A good example of this was on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). It is shameful that some only want to preach the Word when it is convenient for them to do so. To preach “in season” is to preach when it is easy, and that is a pleasure but such occasions are rare. Preaching in season simply means to preach when your audience agrees with biblical doctrine. Sadly, this very rarely exists upon the earth anymore. Preaching out of season is to preach when it is not popular to do so. It means preaching when your audience no longer wants to abide by what the bible actually says. It is to preach when people want to follow the doctrines and commandments of men. It is to preach when people want to do as they please. The apostles “hazarded their lives” for the sake of Christ (Acts 15:26). Preach when times are difficult, for the Lord never promised that it would be easy.

It Demands Constancy

We ought to never quit. It is not very commendable to quit in the middle of a worthwhile project! In fact, Jesus said such a one was not fit for the kingdom of heaven (Lk. 9:62). The importance of constancy in preaching is that this may be the only time to do it (2 Cor. 6:1-2). Tomorrow, the preacher or the hearer or both may be gone. Procrastination has stolen many souls. The sad statement, “the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jer. 8:20) will be on the lips of many people because that which could have saved them was delayed. Notice Paul’s attitude toward constancy. It is expressed in many ways to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20. He was with them at “all seasons” (v. 18). He “kept back nothing that was profitable” for them (v. 20). He “taught publicly and from house to house” (v. 20), “both to Jews and Greeks” (v. 21). He “shunned not to declare all the counsel of God” (v. 27). He “ceased not to warn everyone day and night with tears” (v. 31). Shall we do any less?

It Demands the Proper Way of Preaching

First, Paul said preaching the Word demands that we “reprove,” a word that can mean “to convict.” It means to “prove or find guilty – to convince of one’s wrong doing or error” (Webster). Hence, our preaching must include an exposing of error – a false religious system, or in the lives of people. Failure to reprove is failure to preach properly. Then preaching is to include “rebuking,” a word that means “to censure severely.” The preacher who won’t do this when needed is not doing his job, and the hearer who doesn’t like rebuke in preaching does not appreciate strong preaching. We note also that to preach is to “exhort.” This implies encouragement; urging. Exhortation must also be included in “preaching the word.” The welfare of the hearer is always to be considered. Preaching is not to be done with a spirit of vindictiveness or to gain a personal victory, nor is the pulpit to be used as a “club” to pound the hobby of some preacher into the heads of his hearers. Patience is to be exercised. Preach with “longsuffering,” Paul said. Preaching must be done using “doctrine,” or the scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16). Even though preaching must contain reproof, rebuke and exhortation, it must also be done with “longsuffering and doctrine.”

Paul goes on to say why preaching is necessasry. Some would “…turn away their ears from the truth, and shall turn unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:4). Just because men do this, we are not relieved of the responsibility of preaching “in season, out of season.” The preached Word is all that will save men. Let us be concerned with the urgency of “preaching the Word” whether our audience desires to hear the Word or whether they do not.

Our number one priority in this life should be how to get to Heaven. Nothing else compares to getting it right the first time, the only time we will be afforded the opportunity. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Our soul is the most precious thing we have and the only thing we have in this life that will be present in the life to come. There is nothing that can equal its value. We read in Matthew 16:26, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Have you exchanged your soul for the cares of this present world? John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 Jn 2:15-17).

It is easy in today’s materialistic society to get caught up in the pursuit of materialism if we are not careful. Our Lord says in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” Our bank account needs to be in heaven.

Every day we need to tell ourselves that the main thing in this life is to go to Heaven. We read in Colossians 3:2, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” We should think about going to Heaven every single moment of every single day. It should affect every decision we make, whether great or small.

Heaven is a prepared place (Jn 14:2-3) for a prepared people. It will be such a wonderful place, which is beyond our wildest dreams. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” There is no way that Heaven can be described so we as mortal human beings can understand how wonderful it will be.

A person will not accidentally go to Heaven. It will take careful planning our whole life through. It will take the plan of salvation (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ__1 Cor 15:1-4) the gospel of our salvation (Eph 1:13). Going to Heaven is a lifelong race as we read in Hebrews 12:1, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  Going to Heaven requires endurance, patience, and persistence.  Salvation is a race we must finish faithfully if we expect to receive a crown of life (Rev 2:10).

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