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

Archive for July, 2018

Everyone Can Know The Truth

Jesus stated, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn 8:32). Think about what that statement says. First, we can know the truth. Some people think that truth is relative. They believe that truth changes based on time, circumstances, and personal feeling and interpretation. They see truth as fluid, always adjusting, changing. What is true today may not be true tomorrow, and then it may be true again next week. Jesus statement is unequivocal for we can know the truth! We can’t know what continually changes but the truth never changes. Therefore, we can definitely know it.

Secondly, it is the truth that will make us free. How odd that so many people see it exactly the opposite. The seemingly believe that the truth makes them captive. To put their understanding of truth under an investigation is taken as a threat to them personally. Often, they react to the prospect by simply shutting down the process. They will not allow examination of what they believe to be the truth. They are afraid of their version of the truth to be examined, but the truth itself welcomes examination (Jn 3:20, 21 f; 5:39).

Learning the truth should set one’s mind free, it should be liberating. Going through the process of gaining knowledge of truth is exactly what education is all about. Study is aimed at searching for truth. Knowing truth equips a person to successfully deal with whatever situation might confront him.

Certainly, some points of truth can be inconvenient, even painful. But even in those cases, the truth is still the truth. Running from it, pretending it doesn’t exist, refusing to believe it does not change the fact that it is the truth. Denying the reality of truth in a given situation ultimately makes it harder to deal with that situation. A person who is injured by a fall, examined with an MRI, and subsequently diagnosed with a broken leg can refuse to believe that his leg is broken. He can even refuse to see a doctor for fear of what the truth may be. That will not change the fact, however, that his leg is broken. Denying the truth, refusing to believe it will only make his life more difficult and painful.

Many people refuse to face the truth that their spiritual lives are a mess. Their defense mechanism is to simply not think about it. But not thinking about their spiritual state, refusing to deal with it realistically will not help them. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23).

The only thing that will help you get your life in order is to get into God’s word, search out the truth, and properly apply it to your life (Acts 17:11). I am not asking you to take my word for the truth, but I am asking you to accept God’s Word for truth (Jn 17:17).

Unrequited Love

In Hosea 1:1-3; 3:1-5 contains one of the most most difficult commands God ever gave to a man. It was given to Hosea, one of prophets to the ten tribes of Israel. He was commanded to take as his wife one of the women of the land who was known to be unchaste and immoral. Accordingly, he selected a woman whose name was Gomer whose character was such that she would likely prove unfaithful. Gomer did not love God and took her pleasure wherever she could find it. From this union were born three children. However, her heart had become contaminated with the immoral lifestyle which was poisoning the social life of the entire nation. In all probability, Hosea’s quite religious home, his simple occupations, and his devout Sabbath-keeping grew distasteful to her. She felt her life was intolerably dull. After the birth of her third child she was directly tempted, committed adultery, left Hosea and returned to her old way of life. Every indication is that Hosea loved this woman and loved the three children she bore him. Hosea’s love for his wife had been very deep and tender, and he felt he loved her still, even after she had forsaken him. There is little doubt he missed her greatly and his home was never the same. He did not divorce her but she eventually left of her own free will.

This story does reminds us of one of the great tragedies of human life, the tragedy of unrequited love, the misfortune of unreturned love. Hose loved his wife, but he was not loved in return. It is heartbreaking to love someone and not to be loved in return.

In the process of time, things went from bad to worse for Gomer. She eventually had become the slave of one of her lovers. About this time God gave Hosea another commandment almost as difficult as the one to marry Gomer. God said to Hosea, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.” I think Hosea knew exactly who this adulterous woman was he was commanded to love again. It was his wife who had left him for another man.

She was the only woman he had ever loved. Moreover, she was on the auction at the very time Hosea received this command. He found her on the auction block and bought her for himself. The price to buy her in money only one-half of the ordinary price of a female slave. The rest of the payment was made in barley–the usual coarse food of the class of people to which she now belonged. I believe God asked him to do this thing because God knew Hosea still loved her. He took her to his home as her guardian. He could not restore her to his table as a dutiful wife. He protected her from her sins, and it is our hope that she was brought repentance and a reconciliation took place. She was informed, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute, or be intimate with any man–so too will I be toward you” (Hosea 3:4).

God’s command to marry an immoral woman, and His command to love her again after Gomer left him raises a disturbing question. Why did God put Hosea through such a terrible ordeal? He did this because the marriage of Hosea is not the chief subject of this story. God did this to show to Israel and the world His inexhaustible love. This apparently was the only way God could convince Israel and the world how much they had mistreated Him, and how much He loved the nation. To do this He compared His relationship to Israel as a husband-wife relationship. The true meaning of the story is that Israel was as unfaithful to God as Gomer was to Hosea. God has received much unjust criticism about His dealings with the nation of Israel both by Israel and the world in general. One of the greatest truths in the Bible is revealed in this story. As shocking as it sounds, that truth is that God has had two marriages, and both wives have been as unfaithful to Him as Gomer was to Hosea. As beautiful as the story is, the great love of Hosea for his unfaithful wife is not what this story is all about. This story is about God’s inexhaustible love for His two wives who deserted Him for other lovers and the grief He suffered from unreturned love. There is a lot of parable in this love story. Hosea represents God and Gomer represents one of His two wives. By history and implication, we learn that God actually had two wives and both were unfaithful to Him. Their unreturned love, their unrequited love grieved God far more than Gomer grieved Hosea. The New Testament tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit, and God has been grieved by His unfaithful wives. They both committed spiritual adultery. Who are these two wives and when did God get married?

His first wife was the nation of Israel, and He describes that relationship like that which exists between a husband wife. In accordance with this figurative representation, God wooed and married a poor slave girl He delivered from the land of Egypt. God entered into a marriage relationship with her at Mount Sinai when He spoke the ten commandments. Israel signed the marriage certificate when they were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and the Red Sea. They signed the marriage certificate when they said at Mt. Sinai, “We will do all that you command. We will have no other God but You.” For a short time she was like a faithful wife in the land of Canaan, but with the passing of years, the nation deserted God for calf worship, the worship of Baal and other false gods. Sexual immorality was allowed in those religions. In disobeying the ten commandments they committed spiritual adultery. By the time of Hosea, Israel had deserted God for hundreds of years and served other gods. In Hosea 2:1-5 God said to Hosea, “Say to my people. Bring charges against your mother(Israel), for she is not My wife, nor am I her husband. Let her put away her adulteries”. God divorced Israel for idolatry, spiritual adultery.

But God never ceased to love her just like Hosea never ceased to love Gomer. In spite of her unfaithfulness, God said to Israel in Jeremiah 3:14, “Return O backsliding children, for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” Israel was His first wife, and God treated Israel just like Hosea treated Gomer. He took her back, put her under strict discipline, made her live a clean life in order to bring her to repentance and be an obedient wife. He did this when after 70 years of punishment in Babylonia, He allowed them to return home to Israel. But one thing we know. God took Israel back and won her love again. He treated Israel just as Hosea treated Gomer. God put Israel under strict discipline by 70 years of captivity in a foreign country. God told Hosea to tell of these days in Hosea 2:13-16, “I will allure her into the wilderness and speak comfort to her…And it shall be in that day, says the Lord that you will call Me, My husband.” In Hosea 2:19, God said to Israel, “I will betroth you to Me forever…. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.” This all happened when they returned to the land of Canaan after 70 years in the land of Babylonia. God’s first wife was unfaithful time and time again, and the history of Israel verifies the fact. God’s first marriage lasted 1500 years and ended for good in the first century A.D.

But what about God’s second marriage? God’s second marriage is revealed by history and by implication from the first marriage. His second marriage was with the Christian nation of the world, composed of Jews and Gentiles from all nations who have been redeemed and reconciled to God by the blood of Christ. God met another beautiful Hebrew girl in Jerusalem fifty days after His Divine Son died for the sins of all Jews and Gentiles at Calvary. God entered into a marriage relationship first with 3,000 Israelite Christians in the city of Jerusalem about 33 A.D. when He made with Israel the New Covenant predicted in Jeremiah 31:31-33. A remnant of obedient Jews signed the marriage certificate when 3,000 Jews obeyed this command of the Apostle Peter: “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The Christian nation of Israel united with Gentile Christians became the second wife of God. It is true that only a remnant of Israel became a part of God’s second wife, but the Hebrew scriptures reveal that throughout the 1500 years of God’s first marriage only a remnant of Israel was faithful at any time. For rejecting God’s second marriage, God allowed the nation of Israel to be taken into Roman captivity and allowed the Romans to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. God’s new wife, the Church of Christ, went on to conquer the Roman world in the first century and made Jehovah and Israel the glory of the world. God’s relationship to Christian Jews and Gentiles in the New Testament church is also compared to a husband-wife relationship. Christians signed the marriage certificate when they were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist told people in his time, “I am not the bridegroom; I am the friend of the bridegroom.” He was teaching that Jesus of Nazareth is the bridegroom, and the church is His wife. The final meeting of Christ with His bride at the end of the world is described in this beautiful language of marriage in Revelation 19:9, “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

God’s second wife, the church, was faithful to God, her husband, for about three or four hundred years, as was Israel His first wife. Then most in the church deserted for a corrupted form of Christianity. They disobeyed God’s laws and worshiped with idols and statues, changed the divinely appointed system of worship, baptized babies and other such like things. “In vain they worshiped God, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:9). The desertion and unfaithfulness of God’s second wife was far more serious and lasted much longer than the unfaithfulness of Israel. About 500 A.D. a great body of Christians deserted God for other lovers and continued to do so throughout 1,000 years of the Dark Ages. This group of unfaithful Christians are referred to as a Harlot, as was Gomer, in Revelation 17:1-6, and it is said of her that she committed fornication with the kings of the earth and the inhabitants of the earth. That woman is the church. This was spiritual or religious adultery. All who profess to be Christians would be wise to study and learn for certain who that woman is that is called by God a harlot and accused her of adultery. The partial unfaithfulness of the Church, the bride of Christ, has caused all of this division, strife, and disharmony that exists in Christendom today. All the churches in Christendom today number in the hundreds and all profess to be the bride of Christ. What do you think? Do you consider all the hundreds of different churches in Christendom, with their diverse doctrines and diverse forms of worship to be the faithful bride of Christ and God? I just can’t see present-day Christendom as a picture of the faithful bride of Christ. Many people do, and those who think so do not believe that the church, the bride of Christ, has ever deserted God and became an unfaithful wife.

About 1500 A.D. there was a movement in Christendom, among those who professed to be Christians, a movement to return to God and faithfulness to Christ the bridegroom. It was this movement that resulted in great numbers of professed Christians to return to God and become more faithful as a part of the bride of Christ. God never ceased loving those Christians who became unfaithful during the Dark Ages. He calls them to repentance, and His love is ready at all times to receive back those who may have become unfaithful. The promise of Jesus is, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev 2:10) All who profess to be Christians must decide for themselves whether or not they have become unfaithful to Christ, the Bridegroom.

My Strength Is Made Perfect In Weakness

God does not try the wicked, but he does try the righteous. The psalmist David wrote, “The Lord tries the righteous: but the wicked and him that loves violence his soul hates” (Ps 11:5). And again he wrote, “Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins” (Ps 7:9). God tried every prophet, every apostle, and even his only begotten Son.

In Matthew chapter 4 we find where Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the Devil. “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Then the devil takes him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And says unto him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me. Then said Jesus unto him, Get you hence, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve. Then the devil leaves him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him” (Matt 4:1-11).

It is noteworthy that Jesus had no weakness of the spirit. “For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:” (1 Pet 2:21-22). Jesus had no weaknesses of the spirit but he did have the same common weaknesses of the flesh. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). Therefore, Jesus was not tried in his strength but in his weakness.

Notice Jesus fasted 40 days and nights making his body weak. He was hungry in the wilderness and thus was tempted to produce bread miraculously to prove he was the Son of God. Jesus could have used his own power to overcome his hunger, but he did not. He responded with the scripture, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deut 8:3).

Jesus was then tempted again. He once sat on the right-hand throne of God and now was made in the weakness of flesh. This had to be demeaning to the creator of heaven and earth to be made lower than the angels (Heb 2:7,9). Therefore, the devil set him on the pinnacle of the temple daring him to jump off and let the angels catch him in order to prove his deity. Jesus responded with scripture, “It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God” (Deut 6:16).

Lastly, Jesus was tempted with all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. This temptation dealt with the patience of Jesus and his ultimate fear of an impending crucifixion. Yet, Jesus once again answered the devil with scripture by saying, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Deut 6:13,14). Jesus faced his fear of the cruel death set before him in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26), and when he arose from the dead he was given all the power in heaven and in earth (Matt 28:18).

The apostle Paul had his thorn in the flesh and was buffeted by the messenger of Satan lest he would be exalted above measure. Jesus responded to his request for removing his weakness of the flesh by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (“2 Cor 12:9). Thus Paul embraced his weaknesses by writing, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9-10).

James writing to the Jews said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (Jam 1:2-4). And again he wrote, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (Jam 1:12). Peter added to this subject by writing, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:7).

All faithful Christians will be weakened in the flesh and will suffer persecution, suffering for the cause of Christ (2 Tim 3:12 f; 1 Pet 4:16). Remember the words of Jesus, “for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. Instead of running from our trials we need to face them head-on. We need to face the trickery of the devil by putting on the whole armor of God (Eph 6:11-18). We need to be set for the defense of the gospel (Philip 1:15-18). We need to study God’s Word both day and night (2 Tim 2:15 f; Ps 1:1,2). If we place our defense in God’s Word, even as Jesus overcame temptations by the scripture, even so shall we overcome. God’s Word is just that powerful (Heb 4:12). And if we overcome, we too shall receive our crown of life (Jam 1:12 f; Rev 2:10).

 

 

Remain Faithful Unto Death

To the church in Smyrna, the Lord wrote: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life” (Rev 2:10). The saints in Smyrna were going to suffer persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord admonished them to be faithful “unto death,” that is, they were to remain faithful even if it meant dying for the cause of Christ. Such faithfulness is what the Lord requires of all His saints today.

The Lord has never promised that following him will always be easy. Paul and Barnabas taught the first century Christians “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). There is nothing in the Scriptures which indicates it will be otherwise for faithful Christians of any age. Satan, our evil and powerful adversary, will tempt us and try to cause us to fall (1 Peter 5:8).

A CHRISTIAN CAN FALL

The false doctrine of “Once saved, always saved” is widely believed by many among denominations. The Bible does not teach such a doctrine! In fact, the Bible abounds with warnings that the child of God can be tempted, sin, fall away, and be lost eternally. Adam and Eve fell from their standing with God when they sinned. They forfeited their right to eat of the tree of life (Gen 3). David, the “man after God’s own heart,” sinned when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah. Had he not repented, he would have been eternally lost (2 Sam 12 and 13). Solomon fell from his good standing with God when he wasted astray by his foreign wives and served idols (1 Chron 28:9 f; 1 Kin 11:1-13). Judas, an apostle of Jesus Christ, fell from his privileged position when he betrayed the Savior for a few paltry pieces of silver (Lk 22:1-6 f; Acts 1:15-18). Ananias and Sapphira, members of the church of Christ in Jerusalem, fell when they lied to the Holy Spirit and perished in their sin (Acts 5:1-11). Simon the Sorcerer sinned when he sought to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit with money. He was “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” He was told to “repent and pray” in order to be forgiven and restored to God’s grace (Acts 8:12-24). Paul spoke of Hymenaeus and Alexander who had made shipwreck of the faith (1 Tim 1:19, 20). It, therefore, behooves the child of God to heed the warning which Paul penned to the Corinthian Christians: “Wherefore, let him that thinks he stands to take heed lest he falls” (1 Cor 10:12).

A CHILD OF GOD NEED NOT FALL

Even though a child of God is subject to sin and can thereby fall from grace and be lost, he need not fall. God has made abundant provision to help his children overcome sin and remain faithful. First, he has given us his assurance that we will not be tempted above our ability to overcome it: “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to men: 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).

Second, if saints succumb to sin as they sometimes will, they have access to the blood of Christ which will keep on cleansing their sins. This cleansing is not automatic but is conditional. The Apostle John said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9). This confession implies repentance on our part (Acts 8:22).

Third, Christians have a “great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” He is “not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Because of this, saints have the privilege of coming “boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:14-16).

WHAT CAN WE DO?

What can we do to remain faithful? If one desires to go to heaven above all else, he will be able to go. God wants all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4). He has given his Son as a sacrifice to make it possible. Nothing can sever the child of God from God’s love (Rom 8:31-39). But there is an initiative which must be taken upon the part of Christians.

Christians must “take time to be holy. If we are too busy to serve God, we are too busy to be saved.” Christians must not become so caught up in the affairs of this world that they have no time for spiritual matters. Time needs to be spent with God daily in the reading and studying of his Holy Word. If Christians will “search the Scriptures daily,” they will not be led astray by false teachers (Acts 17:11). If Christians will “meditate on God’s Word day and night,” they will not be led in the way of the ungodly, the sinners, or the scornful (Psa 1). If saints will “hide God’s word in their hearts” they will not sin (Psa 119:11 f; Matt 4:1-11). A daily period of uninterrupted Bible study is a must if one is to remain faithful to the Lord.

Prayer will also keep one close to the Lord. It is not without significance that all the great men of God whose records are inscribed in sacred Scripture were men of prayer. Elijah, David, and the Apostle Paul head the list of these prayerful persons (Jam 5:17; 18 ff; Daniel 6:10,11; 2 Thess 1:3,3:1). Our Lord himself left us an example of an earnest petition to the Throne of the universe (Mk 1:35 ff; Lk 6: 12,13, Jn 17:1-18:2, Lk 22:39-46).

Regular attendance at all assemblies of the saints is essential if Christians are to remain true to the Lord. The Divine admonition “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together” was written to Hebrew Christians who were in danger of apostasy (Heb 10:25).

Finally, if Bible reading, prayerful, worshipping children of God give themselves to “good works” they can be secure in their salvation. Idle hands are indeed “the devil’s workshop” but if one is busy with the Master’s business, he is not likely to go astray (Tit 2:14 f; Ephesians 10).

Christians have Christ, the hope of glory, living in them (Col 1:27). They have a living hope of an inheritance in heaven (1 Pet 1:3-5). ) To live the Christian life is the greatest blessing one can have in this life, for Christians “the best is yet to come.” Don’t throw it all away by foolishly forsaking the faith? Endure the cross and reap the rewards of eternal life!

When Good Is Not Good Enough

No one is “good” in an absolute sense (Rom 3:23). However, the Bible does speak of “good” people. Paul wrote, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die” (Rom 5:7). You may recall that Joseph of Arimathea was described as a “good” man in Luke 23:50 and Barnabas was called a “good” man in Acts 11:24. Furthermore, older women are to teach younger women to be “good” (Tit 2:5).

Many people think that all good people go to heaven regardless of a person’s religious convictions. So long as they have some sense of decency and morality about them, most think good people will be saved. However, the Scriptures come to another conclusion.

If being good is good enough, then we don’t need God’s grace, Christ’s sacrifice, the church’s existence, or the gospel’s power. If good is good enough, those things are unnecessary. Now let us look at some biblical examples of when good was not good enough in order to be saved.

Cornelius Was A Devout Man

He was described by the Holy Spirit as “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:2). Even his men spoke highly of him. They said that Cornelius was “an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation” (v. 22). Here was a man who was pious, charitable, prayerful, and highly regarded. Yet he still needed to be saved (Acts 11:14).

Eunuch Had Great Integrity

He was described as “a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure” (Acts 8:27). That implies the eunuch was a man of great integrity, for the queen would never appoint an untrustworthy person to such an important position. If he had a shady reputation or was sneaky and sly, the eunuch would never have been made treasurer. Moreover, he had “come to Jerusalem to worship” and was on his way home “reading the prophet Isaiah” (vv. 27-28). Hence, he was a very religious person who traveled a great distance to serve God and was still reading his Bible. The eunuch was also a humble person, for no prideful person would ask a stranger to help him understand the Scriptures. Yet he still needed to be saved (vv. 35-39).

Rich Young Man Kept The Law

He was a zealous keeper of the Law who was interested in eternal life. When Jesus said, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 19:18-19), the rich young man replied, “All these I have kept” (v. 20). Obviously, he was a good person. Yet he went away sorrowful when Jesus pointed out his weakness (v. 22).

There are other examples we could consider. For instance, Jesus said that some at Judgment will stand before Him having done many good things. Yet they will be lost (Matt. 7:21-23). Furthermore, the Jews on Pentecost were described as “devout men” (Acts 2:5). That means they were decent, pious people. However, they still needed to be saved (v. 40).

Goodness is absolutely necessary. The imperativeness of being good should never be diminished or underestimated. One simply cannot be a good Christian without being a good person (3 Jn 11).

Conclusion: The world is full of good people. They can be found in every denomination and every world religion. They can even be found among those who have no religious affiliation at all. However, the Scriptures are clear that being good is not good enough. One must obey the gospel and faithfully serve God until death in order to have eternal life (Rom 10:10 ff; Mk 16:16; Rev 2:10).

Gluttony Is More Than Overeating

Most people define gluttony as becoming fat because of “eating too much”. While there is some correct logic involved in that summation, gluttony goes far beyond simply eating too much. Webster’s dictionary defines gluttony as: excess in eating or drinking: greedy or excessive indulgence.

Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). We are charged with using our human bodies as a living sacrifice for God’s work. It is only reasonable that we should if by any reasonable means possible, keep our bodies in the kind of condition that would allow us to do that work effectively. Sometimes it is not easy, for the same apostle also wrote: “I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected” (1 Cor. 9:27). It was a fight for him to make his body do what he knew it must do.

If one were to abuse their body by overindulging in food on a consistent basis, then yes, it would be difficult to say that such would not be sinning. If a person were to continue to do so and that came to be their accepted practice, they would be “sinning”.

We must remember that not all overweight people are gluttonous, and not all gluttonous people are overweight. Some people seem to be able to look at a cookie and gain ten pounds, even if they regularly exercise at high cardio levels. Yet some can empty a full cookie jar and lose weight while never raising their heart rate above what it took to get to the cookie and remove the lid! Different people have different metabolisms and we must be careful not to make uninformed judgments.

However, gluttony is not limited to the overindulgence of food or drink. Let’s not stop with just food when we talk about gluttony. We can be gluttonous in pretty much anything. Drinking (even non-alcoholic beverages), shopping, watching or playing sports, watching television, surfing the internet, and yes, even bodily exercise, can be used in a gluttonous manner. It all goes back to the heart, the spiritual one that is. Consistent overindulgence in anything that can hurt our bodies, or that causes undue stress in others, is sinful.

The Magnitude of God’s Mercy

 

How long will God be merciful? How long will His mercy last? The depth of God’s love is expressed in the statement “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8, 16). Is it even possible to understand God’s capacity to love? If we really pay attention to His Word, God could show us a great deal on what it means to love.

God is not just merciful, God is “the Father of mercies…” (2 Cor. 1:3). God loved us so much that he sacrificed His only begotten Son (Jn 3:16). Christ loved us so much that He was willing to lay down his life (Jn 15:13,14). The Psalmist states, “His mercy is everlasting,” (Ps. 100:5). We should be extremely thankful that God’s mercy is not limited to the degree to which human beings commonly limit their mercy. If God extended mercy to us with the limits that most of us extend mercy to others, virtually none of us would have any hope whatsoever.

Think about God’s willingness to be merciful. We all sin (Rom. 3:23). The consequence of our sin is spiritual death (Rom. 6:23). Yet God is continually ready to forgive us, as long as we are willing to repent (Prov. 28:13). He did not place a limit on how many sins He would forgive before we used up all of His mercy. We must be willing to extend that much mercy to those who trespass against us if we want God to forgive us (Matt 6:14,15).

Though God’s mercy is everlasting, the time that we have to fall upon His mercy is limited by our time on this earth. Even if we live to be 120, our time in this world is short (Jam 4:14). The scriptures seem clear that our time to repent and take advantage of God’s mercy ends when our days on this earth end. Therefore, God’s mercy is time-limited, and our clock could stop ticking without warning.

The time for humanity as a whole clearly seems to come to an end when Christ returns on the final judgment (2 Thess. 1:7-9). It is not God’s will that any should die unforgiven in a state of spiritual condemnation. But He has warned us that there will come a day on which He will bring life on this earth to an end (2 Pet. 3:9-10).

If we face the moment of our death unprepared, unrepentant, the fault lays at our door. If we face our Lord before His judgment seat (2 Cor. 5:10) unprepared, we can only blame ourselves. God’s love is such that He is ready to forgive us anytime we are ready to properly seek His forgiveness. At baptism, the blood that Christ shed on the cross will cleanse us of the guilt of all of our sins (Acts 22:16). If we have slipped back into sin after having been cleansed in the waters of baptism, we can repent and seek God’s forgiveness in prayer (Acts 8:22).

Unquestionably, God’s mercy is limitless, as long as we are ready to take advantage of it. However, we must act before it is everlasting too late. God is ready to forgive, He wants to forgive, but we must properly seek His forgiveness. If we will do so, God in His mercy will forgive us and reserve a home in Heaven for us. “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your heart…” (Heb 3:7,8). “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). Until the time of your calling, “His hand is stretched out still” (Isa 5:25 cf; 9:12,17,21; 10:4).

God’s mercy extends from the cradle to the grave, after this, the judgment (Heb 9:27). Then everyone will be judged according to their deeds by God’s Word__NO EXCEPTIONS! (2 cor 5:10 ff; Jn 12:48; Rom 2:16).

No One Is Above The Law of Christ

No one is above the law of Christ. If anyone obeys not the gospel of Christ, they will go to hell (Mk 16:16). If anyone who has obeyed the gospel and continues not in the doctrine of Christ, they will go to hell (2 Jn 9). God is not a respecter of person (Acts 10:34 ff; Rom 2:11; Col 3:25). It doesn’t matter if you are an elder of the church, a deacon, a preacher, or a teacher, if you disobey God and repent not of your sins, you will go to hell.

In fact, those who preach, teach or lead has a higher responsibility and will be held to a higher standard than those who don’t take on such roles. Listen to the words of James on this matter: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (Jam 3:1). “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jam 4:17). Those who know the Word of God have no excuse for not obeying it. They can’t complain that they didn’t know better. They can’t plead ignorance of the law (Acts 17:30). When they disobey the Word they are in essence rebelling against God’s authority.

The apostle Paul commanded that a preacher practice what they preach. “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?” (Rom 2:21-23). It is imperative that we as preachers and teachers do not cause the wicked to blaspheme the Word because of our inability to keep the law. Therefore, if you are going to preach the Word, keep the Word (Lk 11:28).

There are some who point fingers and judge the weaknesses of others in order to take the light off of their misdeeds. The is a diversion tactic of wicked men who refuse to repent of their own sins while commanding others to do so. Notice the words of Paul on this subject:

“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but 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; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God” (Rom 2:1-11).

Paul is not saying that Christians are not to judge the misdeeds of the wicked, but rather is saying if Christians are going to judge another, be sure you are not guilty of the same. Why? Because as Jesus put it, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matt 7:1,2). And if you are going to judge another, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (Jn 7:24).

Reasons For Scriptural Divorce

How many Christian men stand guilty of divorcing their wife, and then when they meet someone new they wish to marry they seek to claim unfaithfulness from their former wife? How many are seeking for the “only exception” God gave man for divorce and remarriage (fornication), not at the time of the divorce, but at the time of remarriage? More than you’d like to think!

Many are in difficult marriages and all they can think about is a legal and justified means of escape. The quicker they can end their marriage the better. So, they get the divorce, using the easiest provable grounds they can find that the government will accept (irreconcilable differences).

Had the man’s wife committed fornication? At the time it didn’t matter to them, because they are going to get the divorce anyway. Perhaps at the time, they had no intention to remarry? Nevertheless, time and events changes all things. Satan will enter in and show them the woman of their dreams, and suddenly, they are in need of a scriptural reason the church and faithful brethren will accept. They either fabricate or exaggerate their former wife’s conduct to suggest that they were unfaithful in order to gain the approval of the church.

However, the Scripture still reads, “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except for fornication causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 5:32). “And I say to you whoever divorces his wife, except for fornication, and marries another commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9). Now admit it, this is as plain as it gets. Fornication must be the primary REASON for the divorce – not an afterthought to justify another marriage! The Lord knows the real facts and He won’t be mocked (Gal 6:7). We can fool fellow brethren but we can’t fool God.

What makes this all even more complicated is that God in the old testament only allowed men the right to divorce their wives and not the other way around (Deut 24:1-4) There is not one account in the new testament that would suggest that this ever changed. To prove this wrong, just find one verse in the new testament that says Christ or his apostles said a woman could divorce and remarry if their husband was unfaithful to them. It’s not written, not even once. Yet twice Paul said that any woman who divorced their husband and remarried was called an adulteress. Paul wrote “The woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man” (Rom 7:2,3). And again he said to the Corinthians, “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Cor 7:39). If the law of marriage and remarriage was ever changed, it was never written in the New Testament.

Therefore, it is conclusive that the only exception for a woman to be remarried to another man is for her husband to be dead. This does not mean a man she has divorced and later he dies, but a man she was currently married to and has died. Then, and only then can she be married to a Christian man who legally in the eyes of God can be married to another (1 Cor 7:40). Just as in the old law, God’s law of divorce and remarriage was gendered based. God hates divorce and never once suggested he endorses it or makes it even more available than before (Mal 2:16) Yeah rather, Christ restricted marriage even further, for the old law said a man could divorce his wife for any reason. Under the law of Christ, he can only divorce his wife if she has committed fornication. If he breaks this law he has caused his wife’s adultery if she remarries. No such restriction was placed on a woman for divorcing her husband, but she is not at liberty to remarry ever again but could be restored back to her husband (1 Cor 7:10,11).

Brethren, I plead with you by God’s Holy Word which changes not, do not play with your soul by violating God’s law of divorce and remarriage. Don’t try and justify an adulterous marriage after the fact, but rather put away your sins and return back to your first love, God! Abide by what God said, and don’t attempt to make the Bible say more than it has already said. Believe me, your soul depends upon it!

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Are You A Forgetful Hearer of God’s Word?

I have always been a little absent-minded. I would like to blame it on old age, but even as a young student in primary and secondary school, I would forget the simplest of things. Today I was reminded of such things when I forgot my umbrella at the city park. When I got home and remembered, I immediately went back to where I recall seeing it last and there it was. Then I thought, what about all those who keep forgetting to obey the gospel. Many know right from wrong but they delay their obedience and forget to obey God. The gospel is simple, but it is important that we obey it immediately and not forget it.

The Bible warned us against the danger of being forgetful. The Bible warns us against being a “forgetful hearer” of the Word of God, in James 1:21-25:

“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

Many of us have sat through many Bible classes and have heard many imperative sermons. But how many of us actually remember what we have heard or studied? If we wish to remember God’s Word, we need to do the following:

We need to change our mindset such that we are prepared to put aside from our mind all immoral and evil thoughts. In other words, a mind that is filled with “carnal”, “worldly” or “evil” thoughts cannot possibly retain the Word of God. According to Rom 1:28, a “debased mind is one that will not like to retain God in their knowledge”. No wonder some have sat through numerous Bible classes and still do not have any knowledge of God’s Word. Then one day, when they are challenged by someone concerning their faith, they are neither ready nor able to give an adequate answer (1 Pet 3:15) and they soon fall away!

We need to “receive the Word of God” with “meekness”. There must be the “humility of mind” to receive God’s instructions – just a like a newborn babe receives his milk (1 Pet 2:2). If we have a proud or haughty mind, then we will not have God’s Word dwelling in our minds. If we reject the importance of God’s Word and just consider it as fables then we will not progress in our understanding of God’s word.

We need to “implant” the Word of God in our minds. The scripture needs to stay inside our minds. The seed, which is the Word of God (Lk 8:11) must be buried deep within our hearts and minds so that it may influence all of our thoughts, intents and actions (2 Tim 2:15). Superficial remembrance or consideration of God’s Word will not ensure that we remember His Word.

We need to realize the significance and importance of receiving God’s Word. “It is able to save our souls.” The Word of God is not for academic enlightenment or debate. It is not for arguing who is right or who is wrong or to show how clever one is. It is meant to save lives! Unless we acknowledge its significance, the Word of God will not remain in our hearts and minds. No number of lessons or sermons will result in us remembering His Word.

Finally, one must resolve to do what is taught in God’s Word. It is in the continual doing of God’s Word that we will remember and not forget His Word. It is in the doing that we receive the blessings of God. It is not in the mere hearing of God’s Word. Of course, it is hoped that one would have “faith” based upon the hearing of God’s Word (Rom 10:17). But if one does not seek to do what God’s Word says, then where is one’s faith? One must “walk” by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).

We all need to change our mindset by putting aside all filthiness and evil thoughts, and replacing them with a mind that is set on the things above (Col 3:1-2 f; Rom 8:5-7). Resolve to not think evil thoughts. Resolve to fill our minds with God’s wisdom. As the Psalmist said in Psa 119:18: “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.”

Moses reminded the children of Israel in Deut 4:6-11: “Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ “For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?”

Being guided by God’s wisdom and understanding, and being able to call on our God for grace to help in time of need through our prayers, we are truly a blessed people of God. We ought not to be a people of “forgetful hearers” but “doers of the Word”.

 

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