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

Archive for April, 2018

Don’t Be Ashamed Of The Gospel Of Christ

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom 1:16)

Romans chapter one is all about the gospel’s power to save, and the foolishness of those who reject its teaching. The Gentiles replaced the truth about God and His Will with paganism. Their religion became a creation of their own mind and allowed them to do and live as they pleased. They “worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator.” (Romans 1:25) Clearly, this corrupted their religious practice and moral character (Rom. 1:26-32).

Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” The apostle Paul took on a personal affirmation that he was not ashamed of the gospel he preached. It wasn’t a collective view he held but a personal one. Even so, Paul instructs all Christians to be followers of him even as he also followed Christ (1 Cor 11:1). We are going to face judgment individually, based on our actions and how we handle The Word (2 Tim. 2:15).

In the isolation of Christian communities and Christian friends, you might think that no one would ever feel ashamed of the gospel, but that is not the case in this vast world. Many religions no longer hold up God’s message about homosexuality, a woman’s role in the assembly and home, or matters of divorce and remarriage. Some Christians feel uncomfortable when challenged about their faith and doctrine. We don’t want to tell people they can’t reach heaven in denominations. There was no ambiguity in Paul’s teaching because he understood the gospel’s value and place in salvation, and neither should there be in ours.

Some may be afraid of what others will think if they stand firm in their convictions. Faith is all we have when it comes to religion. People who differ with us speak their mind, and those in error stand firm. If the misguided are fearless enough to speak up, why would we not do the same for truth? (2 Thess. 2:15)

Refusing to tell others what they must and must not do displays a weak and unconvinced faith. (Acts 4:19-20) Clearly, no one can force their beliefs on another, but that doesn’t mean you should keep silent or waver. God will judge those who do wrong, and He will judge us wrong if we don’t warn them who do wrong (Ezek 33:7-9).

I believe it is wrong to use instruments of music in worship and I tell others the same. There’s no doubt in my mind that homosexuality is an abomination before God, and I want others to know the spiritual danger associated with the act. How can anyone leave the impression that it doesn’t matter if they’re firmly convicted?

The gospel was clearly defined in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 which says, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures“.

There is a right and there is a wrong when it comes to the salvation of your soul. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:4-5). Remember, the body is the church which Jesus is the head thereof (Eph 1:22,23 f; Col 1:18). Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, “….on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it“. Jesus was called the “Rock” (1 Cor 10:1-4), the chief cornerstone (1 Pet 2:6-8 f; Isa 28:16). No one was ever added to the Lord’s church except they had first obeyed the gospel of Christ (Acts 2:37-47). Jesus commanded his apostles to: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15,16). Therefore, according to New Testament scripture, anyone who gained entry into the Lord’s church must have been a confessed believer (Rom 10:9,10) who had repented and was baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

Every true Christian knows the gospel of Christ. Don’t be ashamed to preach it, teach it, and reach out to anyone who will receive it.

The Book Of Life

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Throw the book at him”, in reference for a criminal prosecutor to introduce into evidence everything a defendant may have done illegally? Believe it or not, come the day of judgment, God is going to throw the book at us, that is, the Book of life. Contained therein is everything a person has done in their life, whether good or bad.

In Paul’s writing to the Corinth church he penned, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (2 Cor 5:10-11). Each one of us will have to stand before God and give an account of ourselves. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me,’Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt 7:21-23)!

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:11-15).

John was privileged to see and record for our generation the final judgment of God. Judgment comes to the small and great alike as they stand before God. Please note in verse fifteen that John records that “.. whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” This reflects obvious importance on our names being written in the book of life. Let’s notice some other passages that reference this book of life.

“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Mal 3:16-17). Those who feared the Lord, in contrast to those rebuked by Malachi for their profane service and worship, had their names written in a book of remembrance and God says “And they shall be mine”.

The apostles return rejoicing that the demons had been subjected to them. “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through your name.” (Lk 10:17). Jesus responds in verse 20, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Jesus emphasizes the significance again of one’s name being written in the book of life.

Paul writes to the church at Philippi and commends his fellow-laborers whose names were in the book of life. “And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the book of life” (Philip 4:3).

“He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Rev 3:5). After John reproves the church at Sardis as a dead church, he commends those who had maintained their purity and faithfulness and assures them that their names would not be removed from the book of life.

John writes in Revelation 21:27 of those who would and would not enter into the joys of heaven. “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever works abomination, or makes a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

Last but not least, the apostle John in Revelation 22:18,19 gave all of us a stiff warning about adding to and taking from the Word of God. “ For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book”. This is a theme throughout the entire Bible that God doesn’t want anyone to alter HIS WORD (Deut 4:2 cf; 12:32; 28:14 ff; Prov 30:5; Eccl; 3:14; 1 Cor 4:6; Gal 1:6-9; Gal 3:15; 1 Pet 4:11). God doesn’t want us to alter His Word, but He does want us to obey the gospel of Christ and to continue in his doctrine (Mk 16:16 f; 2 Jn 9). Anyone who doesn’t obey the gospel shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of His power (2 Thess 1:7-9).

Let us serve God faithfully and keep our garments white as snow; that our names will continually be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

How Christians Defeat Temptation

There is absolutely no temptation that man faces that is beyond his ability to resist. “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13). Man is not born evil and is not predetermined by God to practice sin. When any man is tested by life’s situation, he has two choices: he can yield to the lust of the flesh or he can resist it.

Temptation is no different today than it was during the life of Jesus. Adam and Eve faced the desires of the flesh, the appeals to the eyes, and the lust for glory and honor (1 Jn 2:15-16). So it was with Jesus and so it is with us. These tests are part of the world of evil, and their influence has not changed since the beginning of time.

Adam and Eve knew the fruit was good for food and Jesus knew the stone turned to bread would satisfy His hunger. The first man and woman saw the fruit was pleasant to look upon and our Lord saw the vast kingdoms of men as a domain over which He could rule. (Gen 3:1-6 f; Matt 4:1-11). Why did Adam and Eve yield to temptation while Jesus resisted it?

Jesus Knew Who He Was

Jesus resisted temptation to change a stone to bread and eat because He knew who He was. Jesus understood that He was not just a breathing, thinking, mass of flesh. He understood that within His body was a spirit that was eternal. He possessed a spirit that could not survive on bread. When appeals of the flesh violate God’s will, they defile the spirit of man and are destructive to his whole being. Jesus knew that and resisted the fleshly appeal of Satan with words that every man must live by: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4).

Jesus Trusted God

Jesus resisted temptation because He trusted God. When God assured Him of protection and care, Jesus did not have to put God to the test to see if He really meant what He said. “You shall not tempt the Lord your God” is a truth Jesus believed deeply and practiced. So it must be with all men. When mankind trusts God that sin is detrimental, destructive, and debilitating spiritually, he will no longer need to experiment to see if it is so. Those who believe God knows that anger, revenge, lack of forgiveness, drunkenness, sexual immorality, lying, cheating, dishonesty, and all that God has forbidden is eternally destructive (1 Cor 6:9,10 f; Gal 5:19-21). Believers trust God and need not put Him to the test to see if it is so (Matt 4:5-7).

Jesus Served God

Finally, Jesus resisted temptation because He knew whom He must serve. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” is Jesus’ response to Satan’s third temptation. Jesus knew why He had come to earth and was fully aware of His purpose and goal. He was determined to honor God and serve Him and Him only. Only those who understand that they are God’s creation and are created for His purpose can resist the desires of the flesh that interfere with that goal. They see the bigger, eternal picture and its enduring quality, and opt to look beyond the near-sighted vision of earthly, temporal pleasures, and pursuits (Matt 4:8-11).

Faithful Christians learn to run from fornication (1 Cor 6:18). They learn to suffer perseuction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy temporary satisfaction with the people of the world (Heb 11:25). They learn the scriptures and put on the whole armor of God in order to fight worldly peasures (2 Tim 2:15 f; Eph 6:11-18) .

Resisting temptation is not a grit-your-teeth, clinch-your-fist, gut-wrenching decision man makes each day in his fight against the appeals of Satan. It is the fruit of the Spirit in a man’s heart who knows he is more than a body, who believes God’s wisdom can be trusted, and who sees the eternal purpose of his few years here on earth. They heed the warning of the wise preacher who said,  “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl 12:13,14)

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JUDAS ISCARIOT: A Man Jesus Called A Friend

 “And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come? Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him” (Matt 26:47-50).

Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, has always intrigued Bible students. Why did Judas choose to follow Jesus? Why did Jesus choose Judas to be one of His apostles? Was Judas foreordained to betray Jesus and had no choice in the matter? At what point did Judas turn from the Lord? Did Judas really repent when he returned the blood money? Could Judas have been forgiven if he had truly repented? What does the Bible tell us about the man Judas?

Judas was a Jew from Kerioth (Iscariot) which means he was the only apostle who was not a Galilean (Josh 15:20-25). His father’s name was Simon (Jn 12:4). He was chosen, along with eleven other disciples, to be an apostle (Lk 6:12-16). He is named last in the lists of apostles and the phrase “who also betrayed Him” follows his name (Matt. 10:4 ff; Mk 3:19; Lk 6:16).

WHY DID JUDAS CHOOSE TO FOLLOW JESUS?

We can only surmise because the Bible does not tell us why Judas followed our Lord and Savior. Perhaps Judas was looking for a Messiah who would lead the Jews in a revolt to overthrow Roman rule? Perhaps Judas was impressed by the miracles he saw Jesus work? Perhaps he really and truly believed in Jesus at the first? Jesus’ treatment of Judas indicates that Judas was once a faithful and accepted apostle. He was sent out to preach “the kingdom is at hand” along with the other apostles (Matt. 10:5). He was given the same power to work miracles as the other apostles (Matt. 10:8). Judas’ example shows that even an apostle could fall from grace (1 Cor. 10:12 f; Gal. 5:4).

WHY DID JESUS CHOOSE JUDAS TO BE AN APOSTLE?

Did not Jesus know that Judas would betray Him? There were some things Jesus did not know when He was in the flesh (Mk 13:32). Jesus did know the nature of men (Jn 2:24, 25). He could also read men’s thoughts (Jn 3:3,4 f; Mk 2:8). Judas must have been a good man when Jesus first chose him.

DID JUDAS HAVE A CHOICE IN THE
MATTER OF BETRAYING JESUS?

Judas’ treachery was prophesied in the Scriptures, but he was not mentioned by name in the prophecies (Jn 17:12). The Psalmist David foretold Jesus’ betrayal by a friend: “Even My own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate My bread, has lifted up his heel against Me” (Ps. 41:9 f; Jn 13:21-30). Zechariah foretold Jesus would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12,13 f; Matt. 27:3-10).

The prophets simply foretold what God knew would happen. God did not will it to happen, but He worked through Judas. Judas had free will and ultimately it was His choice. God can know what will happen in the future if He chooses. However, He does not force men to do His will. He knows what men are, who will likely serve Him, and who will serve Satan. Judas was the kind of individual who gives in to Satan. He could have resisted the Devil at any point if he had wished to do so (Jam 4:7).

AT WHAT POINT DID JUDAS TURN FROM THE LORD?

The first time a flaw is seen in Judas was in Bethany (Jn 12:1-8). Jesus and His apostles were guests in a home where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were also present. Mary took a pound of a very costly oil and anointed Jesus’ feet.
Judas demanded: “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He was the treasurer of the apostles, but he was also a thief and stole from the money box. Would he have been chosen treasurer if it was known he was already a thief? People who have a weakness should not be put in a position of temptation if their weakness is known.

After this, Judas made his bargain with the priests to betray Jesus. At the Last Supper, the Devil “had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him” (Jn 13:2). He had already arranged with the priests to betray Jesus (Matt. 26:14-17). When Jesus gave Judas the sop at the Last Supper, “Satan entered him,” and he did not resist him (Jam 4:7).

DID JUDAS REALLY REPENT?

When he saw Jesus was going to be crucified, he tried to return the price paid for the betrayal (Matt. 27:3-10). He “was remorseful”. True repentance is not simply being sorry for sin. Repentance is a change of attitude toward sin which results in a change of life: “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).

Contrast the difference between Peter and Judas. Judas regretted his sin and hanged himself. Peter wept bitterly for denying His Lord but served Him for the rest of His life. Peter repented, but Judas did not!

Conclusion: Jesus called Judas “Friend” even when He betrayed Him with a kiss. Judas could have been forgiven even then if he had repented. We too can be forgiven if we truly repent and obey (Acts 2:38 cf; 8:22).

The Cross Is About The King of Kings

“Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends, and you are my friends if you do whatsoever I have commanded you” (Jn 15:13,14).

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8).

“So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them” (Jn 19:16-18).

The cross is about the love of Christ for all those who choose to obey him. The cross is about the obedient love Christ had for his heavenly father. The Cross is about The King of Kings!

A King Who Loves

Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written” (Jn 19:19-22).

He loved all humanity in this sacrifice, and he still demonstrated love for His family that was nearby. “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” ( Jn 19:25-27).

He was the King of the World, and yet he is the king who loves you. He loved you enough to die for you. Have you made Jesus your Savior by obeying the gospel?

A King Who Finishes

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn 19:28-30).

“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood, you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…” (Rev 5:9)

Jesus came into the world by the will of His heavenly Father (Jn 3:16). Jesus came into this world to die for the sins of the world (1 Tim 1:15). Jesus came prepared to die that you and I might have eternal life (Jn 10:10 f; Rom 6:23). Mission accomplished!

A King Who Saves

“A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth” (Jn 19:29).

 John tells us it was on a hyssop reed that they put the sponge containing the sour wine. Hyssop grows about two feet long and is more like grass. Some believe it is a mistake for a very similar word that means a lance or a spear. But John wrote the word for hyssop.

Just before the children of Israel left slavery in Egypt there was one final plague – the Lord would pass through the land and the firstborn sons of Egypt would die. God instructed the Israelites:

“Take a bunch of hyssops and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.  For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever” (Ex 12:22-24).

It was the blood of the Passover Lamb which saved the House of Israel. This is John’s way of saying that Jesus was the great Passover Lamb of God whose death was to save the whole world from sin.

The scripture keeps calling us back to the blood of Christ:

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7).

“Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4).

“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

We have a King who loved us enough go to the cross for us, finished his course by his death, burial, and resurrection, and saved us by the power of his own blood. If we are willing to obedient to him, even as he obeyed his Father, we shall be saved. Jesus commanded his apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15-17).

Faith That Saves is the Faith That Obeys

In order for one to become a Christian, one must believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16). Jesus declared to the Jews, “I said therefore unto you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins” (Jn 8:24).

Sin is the transgression of the law (1 Jn 3:4 ff; Jam. 4:17; Rom. 1:16). Sin is the only thing that can separate man from God. As the prophet Isaiah wrote: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2). Furthermore, all have sinned against God and, thus, are separated from Him and in need of a Savior (Rom. 3:23 cf; 6:23 f; Mat. 18:11).

To be able to believe in something or someone requires substantiated evidence or credible witnesses. As the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, “Prove all things; hold firm that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). Paul wrote, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). To believe is taking God at His Word. Jesus said of Himself to His apostles, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by me. If you had known me, you should have known my Father also: and from henceforth you know him, and have seen him” (Jn 14:6, 7). The apostle John wrote, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name (Jn 20:30, 31). Thus, the fundamental purpose of the first four books of the New Testament is to prove that Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, the only Savior of the world.

It is impossible to prove that Jesus is the Christ by science or by any other means other than the Holy Bible. Peter preached, “You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know” (Acts 2:22). The apostle also appealed to evidence implying Christ’s Deity when he gave adequate evidence that Christ was raised from the dead to die no more (Acts 2:29-32). Please understand that what may be known by implication is just as knowable as that which is explicitly said. Thus, if our knowledge of Christ is wrong, our faith in Christ based on said erroneous knowledge is also wrong. But one’s faith in Christ comes by the Word of God—the knowledge revealed in the Bible that proves Jesus Christ to have been Deity in the flesh on earth (Jn 1:1, 2, 14). This is the faith that must be formed in one concerning God and His Christ, for it is essential to one’s salvation.

Is one saved by faith only? Absolutely Not! James wrote, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jam. 2:17). Indeed, James also penned, “Faith without works is dead” (2:20). Faith absent of works is a dead faith, saves no one, and is only on the devil level of faith (Jam 2:19). Again James wrote, “You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jam. 2:24).

The works of which James writes are not works of merit, works of men, or works of the Law of Moses. By them, no one can be saved (Eph. 2:9 f; Gal. 2:16). The works of which James writes are works of obedience to the gospel and doctrine of Christ. (Mk 16:16).  Jesus stated that faith is a work of God “Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (Jn 6:29). Baptism and repentance are also referred to as works of God (Heb 6:1,2). James uses Abraham as an example of faithful obedience to God’s will in writing, “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works, faith was made perfect” (Jam. 2:22)? Thus, the faith that saves is the faith that obeys (Heb. 5:9 f; Rom. 6:17, 18).

Yes, faith in Christ is essential to salvation, but faith alone will save no one, even as baptism without faith saves no one.  Salvation requires both faith and baptism (Mk 16:15,16).

What Kind of Fool Are We?

Everybody is a fool for something or someone in their lifetime. It all comes down to what or whom shall we be a fool. The prophets of old and Jesus and His apostles were a fool for God.

In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus showed that it is wrong for anyone to call another a fool out of personal maliciousness. Yet, there are some things which in the sight of God are foolhardy, and those who do them are therefore identified by God himself as being fools. Rather it is designed to show men what is foolish and thus to show them how to avoid playing the fool before God. Notice some people the Bible says are fools.

The Atheists

 “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God” (Ps 14: 1). This man is a fool because he denies the very power of his own existence and the source of every morally and spiritually decent thing known to man. He looks at himself, a living, rational, moral being, and assumes that he came from non-living, non-intelligent, amoral matter. Is it any wonder that such go astray and altogether become filthy? (Ps 14:3)

Mockers

“Fools make a mock at sin . . . .” (Prov14:9). This man is a fool because he unhesitatingly flies in the face of the authority of God before whose Christ he must one day stand in judgment. So doing he afflicts himself with misery, shame, and worst of all, eternal damnation (Matt 25:41-46).

The Rich

Of the man who spends his life laying up treasure for himself and who therefore forgets to be rich toward God, God says, “Thou fool . . . .” (Lk 12:13-21). He is a fool because he is ungrateful enough to forget that the source of his gain is the very God he ignores. Were it not for God’s bountiful hand none of us would have anything to enjoy (Jam 1: 17). This man forgets that “. . . the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever” (1 Jn 2:17).

Fool For God

But the man who serves God is also “become a fool . . . .” (1 Cor. 3:18). That is, this man is a fool in the eyes of the world because he submits to the preaching of the Cross (1 Cor. 1: 18). However, in the sight of God, he is a humble and profitable servant made worthy of eternal life by the blood of the Lamb.

I ask then, what kind of a fool are you? Of course one may reply that he does not intend to be any kind of a fool. Remember, however, that whether you like it or not, you are going to be thought a fool by someone; either by the world for serving God, or by God for serving the world. Actually, then, it is really a matter of making up your mind as to whose favor you want, the world’s or God’s.

In view of the facts as to who God is, and what he is, and what he is able to do for man, surely no one but an absolute fool would have any difficulty making up his mind on this question.

Walking In The Light Of God’s Word

Matthew 5:13-16 presents a bold assessment of who Christians are. You are the light of the world. Light does not become darkness, but rather overcomes and dispels it. The character of light that is most helpful, and is the true backdrop of Jesus’ words, is found in the words of scripture.

Images of Light in Scripture

“Light” has a rich heritage in the scriptures (253 times in the Bible) especially as it stands in contrast to darkness. What does light represent in the Bible?

Light represents God’s presence and activity: “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen 1:3-5).

Before God worked, there was “darkness on the face of the deep (Gen. 1:2). Light was created on the first day, as a prerequisite to all other aspects of creation (even man). Without light, life is not possible. Without God, there is only darkness.

Where God is, There is Light

“Walking in the light of His countenance” (Ps. 89). A place where there is help & blessings.  – “He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power” (1 Tim 6:15-16).

Light Represents Good–Darkness Represents Evil

Isaiah warned about those who would call good, evil, or light, darkness (Isa. 5:20). Paul wrote in Rom 13:12 – “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light”. “Light” and “darkness” frequently are used in Scripture as symbols of good and evil.

Light Represents God’s Word

As He revealed His will to a world of darkness, so He brought light. “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). As with the physical world, light dispels darkness whenever it is present and makes it possible for us to see. The ability to see gives us the opportunity to understand reality and react properly to it. If you can see you can make wise decisions and move from one place to another. John calls on us to “walk in the light”; Paul commands us to “Walk as children of light…finding out what is acceptable to the Lord, having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:8-10)

Light Represents God Himself

In identical language to Matt. 5:14, Jesus said in John 8:12 – “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” If we follow Jesus we will be walking in light, not darkness.

If you have only one flashlight, who do you give it to? The one who knows the way! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). I can stay in the light by following him. Jesus is the one with the light. I can follow Him and know I am okay. “To whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). “For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light, we see light” (Ps 36:9).

Light in a Dark World

In contrast to the beauty of God’s light, there is the presupposition in scripture of a dark world. “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know what makes them stumble” (Prov 4:18-19).

It seems best to understand darkness, not as an opposing power to light, but rather the absence of light; and thus the absence of God. If God is removed, there is nothing left but darkness. Jesus described hell itself as “outer darkness” because God is not present.

In Eph. 4 the apostle urged Christians to not walk as they used to walk before they were converted. He said their “Understanding was darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that was in them, because of the blindness of their hearts”. (Eph. 4:18) This world is a dark place without God’s presence.

To Reject God’s words is to remain in darkness. God is the only source of true light. Paul described his own society as ones who knew God but did not glorify Him as God. He said they were “futile in their thoughts, and their hearts were darkened” as they “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator.” (Rom 1:21-25)

Jesus told his disciples in John 12:35-36 – “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Jesus was responding to their question of disbelief concerning His identity – “Who is the Son of Man”? He was pointing out to them that they had a limited opportunity to respond to the revelation of God. If they refused to “see the light” now darkness would overtake them.

Jesus describes the rejection of the light of God’s words as a voluntary blindness. There are people who cannot see and it is not their fault, but there are also people who are spiritually blind who choose to remain that way.

The Rejection of Christ by Israel is described in this way: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…” “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (Jn 1:4,5; 9-12)

People reject God’s truth because they desire to practice evil, and the light exposes the nature of their deeds. “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)

Jesus confronted the Pharisees of His day for replacing the commandments of God with their own traditions. “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: These people draw near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:7-9). He then went on to characterize them as blind guides leading the blind (v. 14) and both fall into the ditch. There is no light in the doctrines of men.

Paul described these same Jewish rejecters of the words of Jesus years later in Rom 10:2-4 “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.”

To refuse to open your eyes to the light of God’s truth causes a blindness. After Jesus proclaimed Himself as the Light of the world in John 8:12, He healed a man who was born blind (Jn 9). The Pharisees refused to acknowledge Jesus’ miracle or the truth it proclaimed. They refused to see the light and were, therefore, the truly blind ones.
After the healed blind man confessed his belief in Jesus, the Lord said, “For judgment, I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains. (Jn 9:39-41)

Conclusion: How can we make sure that we are not blind to the light of God’s will? How can we help others avoid this as well?  “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. (2 Cor 4:1-6) There is a blindness and veiling that comes with rejection.

To confront this blindness Paul kept preaching Christ, that others might see the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus. We must keep looking toward Christ and His Word that we also stay in the light of God and not stray into darkness.

Do This In Remembrance Of Me

God in all of his wisdom knew men forget. In fact, the older we get the more often we forget. When God sent His son to die the terrible death on the cross for us, He wanted to make sure we would never forget this great sacrifice. Christ shed his blood on the cross so we can have forgiveness of our sins. In 1 Peter 1:18-19 we find “For as much as you know that they were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, But with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

Christ Instituted the Lord’s Supper

In Matthew 26: 26-29 we see that Christ instituted the Lord’s supper while he was with his disciples. “And as they were eating Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them saying ‘take eat this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, ‘Drink from it all of you. For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’”

Remembering His Suffering

We know Christ desired to be remembered, for Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which he was betrayed took bread. And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘take eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me’ In the same manner he also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do, as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.’”

How Often Are We Commanded To Remember?

We must be regular in our observance of His supper. There are religious groups that observe the Lord’s Supper once a year, and others quarterly. Some people say the Lord’s Supper becomes too common and means little to us if we observe it every Sunday. I believe this memorial feast does not become tiresome or lose its importance if it means anything to us at all. Things that we treasure and love become more precious with us and more enduring with the passing of time. We find written in Acts 20:7 that the early disciples (Christians-Acts 11:26) came together on the first day of the week (Sunday) to break bread. It is very imperative to partake of this memorial on the first day of each and every week.

Observed Reverently

We read in 1 Corinthians 11:28-29, “But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself not discerning the Lord’s body.”

Observed with Gratitude

How do we thank someone who was scorned, beaten, humiliated, and nailed to a cross to die so we can have our sins forgiven? If we live our lives in service to Christ, we should become a living sacrifice in our worship to him. Every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we remember all the suffering he did for us. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me”. In other words, let us never forget the great sacrifice Christ did for us__NEVER!

Are You Prepared To Meet God?

In spite of all that God had done to turn Israel around, she would not turn. She refused to heed the warnings of the prophets, so God sought to wake her from her spiritual slumber through war and natural calamities.

“But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities and lack of bread in all your places, yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD. “Furthermore, I withheld the rain from you while there were still three months until harvest. Then I would send rain on one city and on another city I would not send rain; one part would be rained on, while the part not rained on would dry up. So two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water, but would not be satisfied; yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD. “I smote you with scorching wind and mildew; and the caterpillar was devouring Your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees; yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.  “I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt; I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses, and I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils; yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.  “I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD” (Amos 4:6-11).

Each of these warnings had the capability of destroying Israel. Each at one time or the other brought the nation to the brink of devastation. Yet, in every instance, even while they were in the fire, God reached His hand into the blaze to snatch them out. Yet, Israel did not, and would not return to God. Israel believed that they stood by their own power and by their own strength, and not by the hand of God.

“Yes, God had sent them,” declared the prophets. But was this His whole arsenal? On the contrary, they were only His warning shots. Because they refused to pay attention to these warnings Israel (and later Judah) would be meeting God in judgment.

 “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12).

What a horrible thought: To be forced to stand before the judgment seat of God after having lived a life in total rebellion to His ways. It’s like having the FBI at your door in the middle of the night prepared to knock it down. All of your personal documents and recordings are suddenly in the hands of the law to determine if you will go to jail for the rest of your life.

Though these words were spoken to the people of God under the Old Testament, it would do each of us well to consider this as our warning too, because individually each one of us will eventually be called to the bar of God to meet Him in judgment. This being the case, lets carefully consider the prophet’s admonition as though it were directed to us personally – “prepare to meet your God.

Do we think often and do we think seriously about God – about His nature, His holiness and His demands? The one that we must all eventually stand before in judgment is unlike any other. Amos brought this out to Israel in words that immediately follow the admonition to “prepare to meet your God.

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the LORD God of hosts is His name” (Amos 4:13) .

The judge of the world is the creator of all things, and though He also has revealed His own thoughts to man (through the prophets), He can also reveal to us what we are thinking; and I believe that this is what the prophet means when he says that God “declares to man what are his thoughts.” God knows what we have thought in the past and He knows what we are thinking now. This has also been revealed by the New Testament prophet in Hebrews 4:12-13

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do”.

We can appeal the judgments of man up to the Supreme court, but with God, there is no appealing his judgment. For all practical purposes, God is like our supreme court__His judgment is final! The judgment of God will be without question, for unlike any other who may pass judgment upon us, He knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Does such knowledge have any effect upon you? It ought to!

“All souls are Mine,” says the Lord (Ezek 18:4), thus He “your” God (and mine) whether we acknowledge Him or not. We belong to Him and for our own sake must understand that we are never away from His presence. The Psalmist understood this and so must we.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell , behold, You are there” (Ps 139:7-8).

That fact that we would deny Him does not change the fact that He is still watching and noting our deeds for judgment. “‘Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him?’ declares the LORD” (Jer 23:24).

For too many of us, death will be our first introduction to God. This is not because God did not make Himself known to us, but because they ignored Him in life. Though God requested an audience with them in life, they refused. Even so, God will have His audience with us.

The unprepared will meet with God just as certainly as the prepared will. The scriptures teach that an interview with God is inevitable. If we have done right during our life, we have nothing to fear, but if we have done evil, we have the God to fear. “It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10).

God does not want you to come ignorant and unprepared. He sent His prophets, and later His Son and the apostles, telling men to prepare.

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31) .

The need to prepare to meet God is clearly recognized by all who understand what will happen when we meet.

“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds” (Rev 20:12).

So we must warn these people! We must tell them about Jesus, we must tell them about what he has done for them and what they must do in response to his word – believe that he is the Christ, the Son of God and confess such before men (Rom 10:9,10), repent of their sins and be baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:36-38). Without these things, they will be unprepared for their meeting with God.

Each of us must prepare to meet God in judgment. Those who are not prepared “will go away into eternal punishment” (Matt 25:41), “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess 1:9). Israel and Judah were both admonished to make preparations to meet God in the judgment, but neither one did. Today, you too have been admonished. What your answer is will determine where you will spend your eternity__heaven or hell.

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