“The LORD was with Joseph”
Genesis 39:1-6, “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, brought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down hither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptians house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not aught he had, save the the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.”
Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” Joseph had faith and loved God. Joseph was a “good man” and righteous in his heart and in his relationship with God. God allowed the evil actions of his brothers in order to test Joseph and to prepare him for the responsibility to rule Egypt. Therefore, the steps of the good (in the sight of God) man, in any generation, in any country, in either the Old or New Testament dispensation, are ordered by the LORD.
Psalm 17:3, “Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.” When Joseph was a slave, God tested Joseph to see if Joseph loved, and trusted in God, with his heart. Joseph, like Job, had integrity... Joseph was determined not to transgress God and His ways. Like Job, Joseph was upright, feared God, and hated evil. Job 1:1, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”
One of the highest respected men in the Chinese church in China, Wang Ming-Tao says, “Those whom God uses, who can be used by God, must be of noble morality and conduct, and a good reputation among men. God is a holy and righteous God, He will only use those men who are also holy and righteous men.” 王明道說「神所要使用，能使用的，也是高尚的德行和好名聲的人。神是聖潔公義的神，他所要使用的人也是聖潔的人。」1 Free translation by the author.
If we are to walk with God then we must be in agreement with God and His ways. The ways of the world are not in agreement with God and we must be separate with the ways of the world. 2 Corinthians 6:14 & 15, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness: and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”
The false gods, idols, and beliefs of the false religions of this world, have no place in the life of the individual who wants to walk with God. 2 Corinthians 6:16 & 17, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” The world is an harsh environment for every saint. Like Joseph, we need to keep ourselves separate from the evil things of this world and walk with God.
Joseph is an example to the Christian who desires to serve the Lord in a harsh environment. Joseph felt that he was serving God whether in his father's house, among his deceitful brothers, in the hands of an Egyptian master and under the authority of the king of Egypt. The Lord Jesus said, Luke 19:17, “And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.”
Every Christian can examine the example of Joseph and Job and serve the Lord Jesus as a servant in any occupation and the Lord can be with you.
The LORD was with Joseph
Joseph had a good relationship with God. Every day, Joseph walked with God. Even in the times of his distress Joseph walked with God. Like Job, Joseph separated himself from the sinful habits and ways of this world and walked with God. Joseph is an good example to the Christian. If we want to have a good relationship with God, and have God with us, we need to hate evil and not transgress the ways of God.
As the LORD was with Joseph, the apostle Peter states, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Acts 10:38 Joseph was an example of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God prospered Joseph and his work
Joseph walked with God. Because Joseph walked in the ways of the Lord, separated himself from the evil ways of this world, God blessed him, his work and his relationship with other people.
God wants to prosper the Christian. 3 John 2 and 3, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest proper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.” Please notice, we need to walk in truth. We need to walk in truth in our talk, our character, and in the doctrines of the scriptures.
God is willing to help us spiritually, mentally, in our family life and in our work. God wants every Christian to be stable. Colossians 2: 6 & 7, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Joseph was separated from the evil things in this world, walked with God, and was established in his conduct, and in the truth.
And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand
Joseph was completely trustworthy with the physical possessions of his master. Joseph did not steal, did not pilfer, did not miss-use, and did not cause any harm to the physical goods in the house of his master, or under this direct control. Joseph was faithful in all that was under his authority. Joseph is an excellent example for the saint who works for other people in any occupation. Every Christian in any endeavor of work; whether in a factory, a business, a store, an office, a government bureau, the military, and in other occupation, should be the most trustworthy individual the boss has.
Joseph was a goodly person and well favoured.
Remember Psalm 37:23? “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” We need to learn how to be good in our conduct. In the eyes of the world, in the eyes of his Egyptian master, Joseph had a strong testimony.
The character of Joseph was like the character of the Lord Jesus. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Luke 2:52
Lastly, Paul the apostle stated that the man who is the bishop, or elder, or pastor, of the church, should be of likewise character and conduct. “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the the snare of the devil.” 1 Timothy 3:7
1Wang Ming Tao, Treasuries of Wang Ming Tao, Volume II The Hard Road, (Touliu, Taiwan: Conservative Baptist Press, 1996), Page 314. 王明道，王明道文庫，第二冊，小徑（臺灣台中：浸宣出版社，1996），314頁。
Every year my wife and I are in a Campmeeting in West Memphis, AR. She teaches the ladies and girls 2-3 mornings of that meeting. This is ONE of the lessons she has for this year. I know it's long but think it can be a blessing.
We’re Going to Do the Best We Can with What We’ve Got
I sat across the table from my mother, many ….MANY… years ago, as a young bride, and poured out my complaints about how difficult it was to fix up and decorate the tiny apartment where I had recently moved. She sat there, with her blue eyes sparkling in amusement, and took in every word. Finally, she started smiling….and the smile turned into laughter. I was insulted. I don’t like being laughed at when I whine, I want sympathy. (My mother was never very good in the sympathy department.) When I got past the peak of my indignation, she began to explain to me the reason for her amusement. “I was remembering a funny experience from my own life,” she said. “I was a young military bride; it was right after the end of WWII. We reached our new duty station, and I was so excited to be starting my new life with my new husband! But we had a huge problem. Housing was very hard to find. All the men coming back from the war and families relocating made housing around the military bases scarce. Finally, we took the only thing that was available. A man had renovated a poultry house and made it into apartments. The ceiling was so low, that your dad had to stoop over to walk around the room. The floors were concrete and the walls were so thin you could just about sneeze through them. But you know what? It is amazing how cute you can make a chicken coop with a little love and ingenuity.”
Her lesson rang loud and clear. You take what you have, and you do the best you can with it. Whining doesn’t change what we have. The only thing it does is add a sour note of impossibility to our circumstances that doesn’t necessarily have to be there. That was the beginning lesson…a lesson I have had to learn over and over again throughout my Christian life. It is amazing how many ways God has taught me this same lesson. It has stood me through every trial and hardship in my life and I feel like the Lord would have me share what I have learned with you.
This devotional is probably going to be more personal than any I’ve ever given. I don’t usually like to talk about myself, and I really struggled with this lesson because it is so personal. I never want anyone to get the idea that I am talking about myself to lift myself up in any way. But I learned a valuable lesson from Sister Tanya Blankenship. If you don’t know who she is, she is the wife of Steven Blankenship, who is a minister to juvenile delinquents. He preaches in juvenile prisons across the country and operates the Marvelous Grace Girls Academy for troubled teenage girls in Pace, Florida. Sis Tanya was referring to Alisha, and not myself with what she said, but the Lord really spoke to my heart through it. I don’t remember the exact words she used, but it was something to this effect: “God allows us to go through some things in our life, and gives us the strength for the battle, and the grace to forgive, to grow and to be stronger. But those lessons are only of real benefit when we use them to help others who are needing growth, help and healing.” God allows us to go through some things, sometimes, so that others may learn.
2Co 1:3-4 - Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
I’m going to be sharing a lot of small stories from my life, not so that you might look at me – but at the God that I serve. Everything that the Lord has seen me through, He can also see you through, and much more. There is no way that I could cover it all. I probably could double the stories I will tell here, but I think these are the ones God would have me use.
The little lesson that my mother taught me finally became a theme in my life, and my children, and a lot of my students over the years, have heard it so many times that they could quote it to you in their sleep. I summed it up this way: “We are going to do the best we can, with what we’ve got.”
The dear lady from our church meant well. She really did. She insisted that she go with me to see the remains of my home. She told me that even though I told her I was fine, it would all hit me when I saw it, and I would need her emotional support. I thought maybe she might be right. I was a new bride. All my wedding gifts and the sweet, newly purchased things for our home were gone. We’d only been married 5 months when the explosion of a gas tanker next to our house took it all. I walked toward the burned-out rubble, and I honestly, for a moment, felt guilty that I was disappointing the dear, helpful lady, but I wasn’t devastated. I wasn’t particularly happy to see the blackened mess with the 3 huge holes burned all the way through the exterior wall – but God’s peace had flooded my heart, and I walked up to it without a tear, and began to search through the ashes for anything that might still be usable….
How do you react when God takes something away? Now some people might tell you, oh, honey, God never takes things away. Ohhhh…yes’m He does! Sometimes He takes things away because they are a hindrance in your life. Sometimes He takes them away because He intends to give you something better. Sometimes He takes them away because you need to grow in faith and grace. But He does, sometimes, take things away that we have pretty much set our hearts upon. What do you do? You do the best you can with what you’ve got. You take the situation in hand, for what it is with all the good and bad that it contains, and you deal with it. Do you get mad at God, because you had your little basket all fixed up the way you wanted it, and He messed it up?
1Co 6:19-20 - What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
Rom 12:1-2 - 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. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
When the Lord Jesus Christ saved our unworthy souls, He purchased us unto Himself. Lock, stock and barrel. We belong to Him. He has the right to do with us as He pleases. Now, our modern, independent American mindset doesn’t like that idea very much. We might repeat it like a parrot in rhetoric, but when it comes down to where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, we don’t like the idea of turning our whole lives over to God. We seem to get the idea that He’s going to mistreat us. He won’t. He loves you more than you can possibly imagine, and He only plans for your good. You can trust Him. You can trust Him with your possessions, with your future, with your marriage, with your children, with your church, with your finances. You can trust Him. Never, ever will you be more fulfilled and content than when you turn yourself over, completely, to the Lord as a living sacrifice. Notice in the Scripture that this is something that we must do..it is not something that God will make us do. The sacrifice here is like all sacrifices - willingly offered. He said, “I beseech you” (I’m asking you, earnestly, almost begging you, because this is for your good – for the best that God has to offer you.) “present yourselves” (you give the sacrifice, willingly, without being compelled. It is a conscious choice that you make to give yourself over to God with all that you have and all that you are.)
2Sa_22:31 - As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
Psa_9:10 - And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
When you give yourself to God, the peace that floods your soul in times of troubles and heartaches is not describable to anyone. It is a special touch that comes from the Holy Spirit of God. I have tried, many times, to describe it this way: “There is a place in the lowest of valleys, where the hand of God is more real, and the touch of God more sweet than at any other time and place…but you must walk through the valley to feel that touch – it doesn’t come on the mountain top.” We can choose to walk through the valley, kicking and struggling the whole way – fighting against the path that God has chosen for our lives. Or we can bow our heads, reach for His hand and allow the comfort that He gives to flood our souls. The choice is ours, and it is a choice between struggle and surrender. You will still go through the heartaches and troubles. But it is your choice as to whether you go through them with the peace of God or without it.
As I headed down the road, in my old clunker car, it decided, once again, that it was tired and needed a rest. I managed to get it to the side of the road. I sighed as I looked at my children. All 5 of them. My oldest daughter – then about 9 years old – looked at me with a worried expression and said, “Mama, what are we going to do?” My response was immediately, “We’re going to do the best we can with what we’ve got.” She looked confused for a moment and said, “Mama, what have we got?” I said, “Feet. Let’s walk.”
How do you treat life’s irritating moments? Do you blow up in anger at things that can’t be avoided? Or worse yet, do you take those things, those little irritations, out on your husband and children, or even your brothers and sisters in Christ? We have such a tendency to be creatures of the moment, don’t we? We make snap judgments. We let our tempers flare and our bad attitudes show. Even the smallest of life’s irritations have the possibility of teaching our children, and those around us the grace of God. Or the opposite, if we allow our flesh to control us.
Php 2:14-15 - Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
If I had fumed and fussed and cried and belly-ached at that car, it still wouldn’t have gone down the road. I would have still been in the same situation, except that now I would have displayed a lack of trust in the Lord and a poor testimony in front of my children. They, more than likely, would have started crying as well, and then I would have reaped the due reward of inflicting my bad attitude on them, as they returned in kind. If we would learn to take life’s small irritations as an opportunity to shine as lights in the world, how different would our attitude be toward those unexpected moments? Let’s strive to learn to laugh, and say, “Well, praise the Lord! What’s the best way to handle this one?”
Gal 5:16 - This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
It’s so easy, isn’t it, to let the flesh control our response to the situations that arise in our lives? If instead we will do the best we can with what we’ve got, it will mean using every situation as an opportunity to be a good testimony for the Lord. Sometimes that means controlling our anger when it wants to flare. Sometimes that means consciously putting down our fears. Sometimes it means shutting our mouths when we want so badly to put in our two cents worth. (Hang on to your two cents, sometimes we can’t afford what it purchases.)
How do we walk in the Spirit? #1 It is IMPOSSIBLE to walk in the Spirit if you do not have a regular time of personal devotion. Pray. Read and study your Bible. Meditate on and memorize the Word of God. There is no getting around the truth that if you do not walk close to God in your personal life, your public life will be a mess. #2 Pay attention in church. So many people sit in church and have no idea what the preaching was about, because their minds are a million miles away. Go to church with a bucket instead of a pitchfork. My pastor of many years used to say that some people come to church with a bucket and some come with a pitchfork. Those with a bucket are hungry for the word of God and want what God has for them in the service. Those with a pitchfork are grabbing the preaching and pitching it over their shoulder because they figure that it’s not for them, it’s for the guy sitting behind them. #3 Use every opportunity that you have in your life to be a witness for the Lord. Lost people are all around us. Our testimony – at all times – is vitally important. Saved people need to grow in grace and knowledge. When you have that knowledge, it is given to you to share, not to sit on. When we walk in the flesh, even in the minor situations of our life, we are not walking in the Spirit. And when we walk in the flesh, we have no idea how much damage we might do.
We walked into the little country church, happy for the opportunity to minister, and heard, to our delight, that they planned a dinner on the grounds for the anniversary Sunday where my husband had been invited to preach. We had been struggling financially for quite a while, and the prospect of a church dinner sounded wonderful after months of beans and cornbread. As the guest preacher’s family, we were ushered to the head of the line. My little daughter looked up at me with a happy smile as she surveyed the table in front of her, and said, “Look, Mama! Meat!!”
What do you do in life’s embarrassing moments? Do you lash out at the one who embarrassed you? Do you get angry and let your temper, and your tongue take over? Or do you do the best you can with what you’ve got?
Nothing riles up our tempers faster than being embarrassed, does it? That’s pride. Pride makes fools out of us very quickly. Not only that, God hates pride. It is never the best way to handle a situation to bow up in pride.
Pro_13:10 - Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
Let your pride flare, and you will almost always find yourself in an argument of some sort. And you will almost always be in the wrong.
Pro_29:23 - A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
Let your pride flare and you will almost always find yourself landing flat of your back, wondering how you got there.
Pro_16:5 - Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.
An abomination! A promise of punishment! We should be frightened of pride! If you ever want to look like a complete fool, let your heart swell up with pride. What are we really? Nothing but what the Lord has done. If we have any abilities, if we have any worth – it is because of what the Lord has given and what He has blessed us to be able to do. Give all the glory and praise to God for who He is, and what He has done in your life. Then when those embarrassing moments catch us off guard, we won’t be so quick to respond in pride. When someone ridicules you, or accuses you falsely – that hurts, doesn’t it? When someone seriously tries to do you harm for their own gain, it’s sometimes devastating. When you try to minister to people and they turn on you, not at all understanding that you are striving for their good to the best of your ability – how do we respond? Pride has no place in those situations, but a lot of times, that is our reaction. I could give you story after story of those situations in my life….but, why be depressing?! What do we do when it happens? It will! People will be people, and as people we don’t always act right, do we? Yet, we expect other people to always treat US with love and kindness, because after all – we are…us! That’s pride. During a particularly trying situation in my life, where I felt like I was always coming out at the bottom, looking like a stray dog, God gave me this quote by C.H. Spurgeon. When I first saw it, it was like a pressure valve suddenly released, I laughed and laughed. Then I wrote it in the front of my Bible. I refer to it often.
“If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him, for you are worse than he thinks you to be.” That kind of kicks pride in the head, doesn’t it? Doing the best you can with what you have means leaving pride behind and approaching each embarrassing or demeaning situation with the idea that God always treats us better than we deserve.
Psa 118:6 - The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
I stood at the side of the little steel crib, looking at my beautiful blonde-haired baby boy, only 5 months old, gasping for every breath under the oxygen tent, the heart monitor going crazy every time they tried to give him medication for his breathing. The love, and peace of God flooded every part of my being. I felt so blessed. I had so much more than the poor little mom on the other side of the room. My Lord to comfort and guide, and the constant love and support of my husband. That poor lady didn’t understand. She approached me and asked, “How long have you been married?” 10 years, I replied. “That’s crazy, she said, you and your husband seem like newlyweds.” “We really need each other right now,” I said. “Yeah, I could use some support, too.” Was her reply. Her husband was very seldom in the room. When he was, they fought constantly. They blamed each other for everything they could think of, and it usually ended with him storming out of the room to “get a cigarette,” from which he didn’t come back.
How do you react when life doesn’t go your way? Do you lash out at those that are closest to you, and look for someone or something to blame? Or do you turn to the One who can give peace and comfort? Doing the best you can with what you’ve got sometimes means approaching the hardest times of life with the best attitude that you can muster. Sometimes life really hurts. Sometimes the hurt is nearly unbearable. Resorting to blaming others when you are hurting is not doing the best you can with what you’ve got. The blame game won’t make you feel better. In fact, it will only make you feel worse. Turn instead to the Lord and allow Him to pour the balm of Gilead into your soul. You will find that you really can do the BEST you can with what you’ve got.
Col_3:15 - And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Again, ladies, the peace of God is your choice. You make the decision as to whether you will let God minister to your soul, or whether you will arm yourself with the flesh – and your mouth – and try to go it alone. Someone always gets hurt when we do that. I have seen families split up and spend the rest of their lives hating each other because of something that was said or done during a crisis in their lives. Why? No one accepted God’s peace, and instead they lashed out at one another in their hurt or sorrow, not considering the hurt and sorrow of the ones around them. I have stood beside those little steel cribs in hospital rooms more times than I can count. I have nearly lost all 5 of my children at various times of their lives. My Daniel more than a few times. The love and peace of God has been my sustaining power. I don’t know how other people go through such things without God to grant them peace. I wouldn’t even want to try.
Luk_6:31 - And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
We recognize this as what the world calls, “the golden rule.” Much quoted, almost never practiced. But if we would! If we would consider before we speak or act, “Is this the way I would want them to treat me, if I were them, and they were me?” Then we would begin to do the best we can with what we’ve got. And everyone’s life, our own especially, would be better for it. Because, ladies, although you cannot control how other people act, if you will control how you REact to their behavior, you will find that you will have a lot more peace in every situation.
There just wasn’t enough money. We weren’t going to make it. It was fine when we had purchased our little dream. We had a beautiful place out in the country with our very own mobile home….well, at least we were paying for it. Lots of space for the kids to run, not too many neighbors, a place for a garden. We had plans to build a deck….Then the kids started to get sick. Really sick. The list of specialists kept growing. Hospitalization after hospitalization after E.R. visit after E.R. visit. It was okay, we were holding our heads above water, until my husband was layed off from his job. Oh, he found work right away, but the insurance was gone. The new insurance company refused to cover the kids. Pre-existing conditions. (We had no idea, back then, that such a thing as Medicaid even existed.) The medical bills mounted up..and up…and up. We finally conceded defeat. We turned our little dream back over to the mortgage company and packed up what we could in our car. We lived in a garage apartment attached to my mother’s home for 6 months…until our 5th little one was born.
What happens when your dream crumbles? What do you do when finances are hard…not a little bit hard, but really hard?
There are more divorces because of financial difficulty than any other reason. Families split up. Attitudes flare up. The blame game begins. “If he would work harder.” “If she would slow down on all the spending.” “If he wouldn’t buy unnecessary junk.” “If she would get out and get a job.”
Marriage is a team effort, ladies. It takes a lot of work on both parts to make the everyday, in and out, of a marriage work. You can’t work against one another and expect your marriage to last. You need to do the best you can with what you’ve got. Now, I’m not saying that when a marriage is bad, that it is automatically the woman’s fault. No, not at all. But I am saying that no amount of nagging on your part is going to change your husband. You need to do the best you can with what you’ve got. I don’t envy you that task if your husband is lost, but there is a biblical method for you to follow. Not an easy road, by any means, but it is the road that God says you are to follow in the hopes that your husband will be saved. (Remember that he has a free will – you can’t force him to turn to the Lord any more than anyone could have forced you to be saved.) That plan is mapped out in 1 Peter 3:1-5 There’s a lot in that verse. If we were to stop and cover it, it would take a whole lesson to give it the time it deserves. But if you have questions about it, I’d be happy to sit down with you and go through it together.
For those of us whose husband is saved, we have the open opportunity for the most blessed relationship in the world. Our marriages are a picture of Christ and the church! What are we doing with the opportunity? Are we doing the best we can with what we’ve got? Do we seek to make our marriage a testimony to the world of the grace and power of God? Or do we deal with our marriage selfishly, as though the sole purpose that our husband has on earth is to meet our needs and satisfy our whims? Do we whine, coax, threaten or manipulate when things don’t go our way? Do we consider our marriage a team unit? Or an opportunity to be queen supreme?
1Pe_3:8 - Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
This passage of Scripture is referring to the marriage relationship…look it up and check the context. There’s a lot to work on in our lives just following this one simple verse in our marriage relationships. Have compassion on your husband. Love your husband, not just as a marriage partner, but as a brother in Christ. Be pitiful to your husband (understand his shortcomings, don’t blame, seek to be there when he needs you – when he’s weak, lift him up, don’t tear him down.) Be courteous (He’s not an old shoe. He’s to be reverenced and honored by you more than any man on earth.)
No amount of dreaming and wishing on your part is going to fix your finances when they’re hard. No amount of pride and temper is going to fix rebellion in your children or pressure from extended family. Doing the best you can with what you’ve got in your marriage is understanding that you are a family unit, a team - not adversaries. Work together at making it work. Put God first. Always first. If God is first in your marriage then no matter how hard the rest of life becomes, you will make it.
Pro_14:1 - Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
First, she had COPD. We sat and talked it over. It was incurable, but possible to live with. Then they found the cancer. What had been a shadow on the first scan showed up the size of a walnut on the second, the size of an orange on the third – within a year. When they could get her stabilized, they would consider surgery. They never got her stabilized. 6 months after they found the cancer, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. She gave up. 3 days after that diagnosis she died. My mother was as dear to me, her only daughter, as a mother can be to a child. She’s been gone now for 13 years, and I still miss her every day. You will ask me, was she saved? My answer will be – I don’t know. All I can do is hope so. I witnessed to her, left her tracts to read, I prayed and prayed. I know that she had, some “experience” in the hospital just before her death, that she tried to explain to me, but didn’t know the terminology to describe.
What happens when grief knocks at your door? I grieved for my mom. I remember going to the doctor, just a couple of days after the funeral. I walked down the hospital halls, where I had almost lived in the months prior to her death. All the memories were already flooding over my very unstable emotions. And then my doctor – who was also her doctor – greeted me with, “I’m so sorry about your mom.” I broke down and cried, right in the doctor’s office. And then I was angry with myself for crying and cried because I was crying. He sat there sympathetically and wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant. On the way home, I kept staring at the prescription and praying. “Lord, am I depressed?” “Do I need that?” “Is this even right for me to take?” I stopped at the pharmacy and filled the prescription and then I stared at the bottle. “Isn’t grief a part of life?” “Didn’t you promise that if I turn my grief over to you, you would be my comfort?” The determination struck my heart to give it to God, and the peace of God began to creep into my soul. The pills went down the drain, and I began to heal…little by little, the way real healing happens. That lesson was well learned. It has taken me through many, many periods of grief that have followed.
Joh_14:27 - Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Php_4:7 - And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The peace of God will keep your heart. It will keep your mind. But there is a condition to that peace. It is in the verses before
Php 4:4-6 - Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
To do the best you can when life hands you grief, first you must rejoice in the Lord – alway. Not when you feel like it or when things are going good, but alway. To do that we have to stop and consider the Lord in every situation of our lives. He’s good all the time, even when our circumstances are bad. Then we must let our moderation be outwardly seen by everyone around us. What is moderation? It is not running to excess in anything. It is having control over our tempers, our emotions, our desires and our passions – in other words, not being controlled by the flesh. Then, lastly, we need to pray about everything. Not just the big things, but the little things as well. When we do these things we have the promise that follows – that God will keep our hearts and minds. Doing the best you can with what you’ve got in the matter of grief, means that instead of being ruled by the grief, we allow the peace of God to rule in our hearts.
One month after my mother died, my husband headed out from where we had taken shelter at the church, with 2 of the boys, to see what kind of damage there might have been. When he returned I turned a questioning look his way, really expecting an “all is well.” It had always been well in the previous hurricanes. He shook his head. “We’ve been here before. I think this left more useable stuff than the fire, though.”
Weeks later, still without power, tired from the work of tossing out destroyed furniture and carpeting and scraping sodden sheet-rock out of the shell of our home, our family sat on the steps in the evening, ate another MRE and sang together, rejoicing in the goodness of God. Why? We were safe. We were together. We had our love, our family, our God.
I remember laying in the bed that the red cross had purchased for us, (We had forsaken the crowded, damp little fema camper and moved back into our roof-less house, it was more comfortable.) I watched the blue tarp over my head pop up and down in the wind and felt such an incredible sense of peace and well-being. Then I laughed at myself for feeling so comfortable..
A member of the church came by during the next tropical storm. We greeted him at the door with a smile, chided him a little for running around in storms, and invited him in. He sat in the livingroom with us and watched the tarp blow up and down and looked around at the bare plywood floor and the wall studs and rafters that made up what was left of our home, and said, “This is nice, do you always decorate in 3rd world?”
My husband owned an electrical business. He worked from before sun-up to after sun-down five days a week, after the storm, trying to rebuild electrical services for people. While he worked, he listened. “I’m so devastated!” “I just can’t understand why this has happened to me!” “I don’t know how I’m ever going to make it through this!” “This is horrible!” He would always ask them, “Is your family ok?” “Oh, yes, they’re fine, but we lost….” And they would go into a list of cars, boats, house, furniture, etc.” One lady became infuriated with him because he wasn’t sympathetic enough to suit her and snarled, “Well, easy enough for you to have no worries, when you haven’t lost everything!” … and he smiled, and spent his Saturdays trying to rebuild our own home … What made the difference? We’re going to do the best we can with what we’ve got.
What do you do when you lose your material possessions? Understand that we had worked for and loved and purchased that little home with all the intention in the world of staying in it for the rest of our lives. (We had actually built the deck on this one!) We were content. We had our home, our church, our ministry, our business venture. Everything was fine. We didn’t necessarily need for God to come in and upset our apple-cart! Within a year’s time, the only thing we had left of that list was the shell of our destroyed home and the business. We could have gotten angry with him. And what good would that have done? I have never understood why people get angry with God when things happen in their lives. “Why me?” “Why is God doing this to me?” And then they walk away from the Lord, like they expected life to be a bed of roses because they honored God with the privilege of saving their souls. Like God owes them something. My question is, “Why not you?” What makes you so special that you should be exempt from hard times?
Joh_16:33 - These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
He didn’t say, in the world you will have it easy-peasy and life will be just great. He said you will have tribulation. That’s when you look to Him for comfort and guidance, it’s not when you decide to blame him and throw a temper tantrum like an undisciplined child. How are we supposed to respond to the troubles in our lives? How do we do the best we can, when what we’ve got is tribulation?
Rom 5:3-5 - And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Realize 3 things about tribulation. #1 – it’s working in your life to make you a stronger Christian. #2 – It’s building patience and experience so that you might be a help, encouragement and an example to others, #3 – it’s an opportunity to see God work, bless and give you the peace that only He can give. Tribulation is not a curse. It’s a blessed working of God in your life that will make you stronger, give you assurance of the love of God, and make you able to be a blessing to others around you.
Daddy was alone. Mama had been his caretaker, ever since he had the stroke, 17 years before. She was gone now, and I spent my time divided between caring for him and my own home. Oh, he had my brother – but my brother was an addict, and very unreliable. Now I had a huge difficulty. God had called my husband away…1,500 miles away to be exact. I was ready, willing, and eager to go…but what about Daddy? I sat beside him, and begged him to come with me. “NO! Kansas is cold.” He would not be convinced. I began to pray, “Lord, I’m willing to go, and I will go, as you have called. Please, Lord, take care of my Daddy.” And God answered my prayer in the person of a family friend who willingly took him in. That answer to prayer opened the door to my daddy’s salvation at 82 years of age.
What do you do when duties conflict? You do the best you can with what you’ve got. I had a responsibility to my daddy. The command to honor our parents doesn’t end when we are grown. But my greater responsibility lay in obeying the call of God that had been placed on my husband’s heart. As I obeyed the Lord, He took care of the rest.
Sometimes doing the best you can with what you’ve got means making hard, really hard decisions. Sometimes those decisions will tear your heart out. But choosing to follow and honor God with your life is always the right decision. The Word of God has to be our constant guide. DO NOT follow your heart. That’s the worst advice you can ever give a person. Your heart will deceive you. It will convince you that wrong is right and right is wrong.
Jer_17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Pro_28:26 - He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
We can’t trust that heart. What do we trust instead? When life gives you difficult, heart wrenching decisions, what do you do with it? Trust the Word of God. If you trust your emotions, you will almost always fall prey to the devil. He loves it when we become hyper-emotional. We’ve played right into his hands when we do. Let the word of God be your guide, always, and you will find that it’s much easier to do the best you can with what you’ve got, when life’s decisions are hard to make.
As I said, there’s more…..but this is enough. Ladies, do the best you can….by the power of God, by the grace of God with the help of God, the peace of God and the word of God, do the best you can with what you’ve got.
Analyzing the Chinese word Righteousness
The Chinese written language is very unique. The Chinese words are called, “Characters,” and use a visual, or pictograph, series of lines, called, “strokes,” that represent a word, or a thought, or an action.
In written Chinese, we have an example of the righteousness of God through His Son, the Lord Jesus, in the word, “righteousness.” In Chinese, the word righteousness is written as, 「義」 The Chinese word righteousness is composed of two major words; the word Lamb「羊」 on the top and the word Me 「我」or Us 「我們」on the bottom. The word Me 「我」or Us 「我們」is composed of two words: the hand 「手」 and a spear「戈」
Righteousness is very important. God is holy and will not allow sin into heaven. A person needs to be reconciled to God, or to become righteous, in the sight of God, in order to escape the punishment of hell and enter into everlasting life in heaven. Before a person is a Christian in the sight of God he is unrighteous. The Apostle Paul said, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:10 Therefore, in order for a person to have eternal life in heaven, in the presence of God, he must be righteous. He must have his sins forgiven.
We will analyze the Chinese word for righteousness and look at an example of how we can become righteous by God’s principles. In order to understand righteousness in the sight of God, we must turn to the word of God; the Bible. The Bible is God’s word and we can trust it.
First 「羊」 A Lamb
A sinless sacrifice must be made to forgive sins. And, it must be according to what God says. The Bible says that the blood of animals cannot take away the sins of mankind. Hebrews 10:4 says, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.” The animal sacrifices of the world cannot take away a persons sins. This includes the Muslims in the Middle East, and the sacrifices of the Buddhist, Confucianists and Taoists of the East. Hebrews 10:4, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” The sacrificial lambs that God required by the Jews under the Law of Moses in the Old Testament did not take away sins; they were an object lesson of the sacrificial sacrifice for sins by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. They were a guide, or a teacher, for the sacrifice of Christ. Galatians 3:24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
The Lord Jesus was sinless and perfect. In contrasting the sacrifices of the Jews under the Levitical law, the Old Testament, and the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus as our priest and sacrifice for sins, the author of the book of Hebrews makes this statement. “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. … For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,and made higher than the heavens. Who needed not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for his he did once, when he offered up himself.” Hebrews 7:22, 26 & 27
The Lord Jesus was sinless and totally righteous. A Chinese proverb says,「義刑於色」Translated, that means, “Righteousness manifested in one's appearance.”
Wang Ming-Tao says, “Yes, our Lord is completely holy. You can not find anything that He did without any blemish or unrighteousness. When He was on the earth no matter if it was a disciple, or if it was an enemy, including anybody else that had anything to do with Him, they all gave a clear testimony that He did not have even a little bit of sin or unrighteousness. 王明道：「是、我們的主就是那樣完全聖潔。你不能在他的身上找出一點污穢不義來。他在世上行走的時候、無論是他的門徒、他的仇敵、以及與他毫無關係的人、都證明他沒有少許的罪惡不義。」i A free translation by the author.
The Lord Jesus was like a lamb sacrificed for us. John the Baptist said, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29 The Lord Jesus died on the cross, like a harmless lamb, and shed His blood as a sacrifice.
As with the Jews in the Old Testament the eternal salvation of the soul is by the imputation of righteousness the moment a person, by faith, trusts in God. When a person realizes that he has sinned against God, and deserves to spend eternity in hell, and believes by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as his payment for sins, than God imputes, or gives, His righteousness to that individual. “For what saith the scriptures? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” Romans 4:3
Second 「我」 Me, 「我們」or Us
Why did Jesus become a sacrifice? In order to redeem us. So we can obtain eternal salvation. To reconcile us to God. Before a person is saved he is a sinner and His relationship with God is severed . The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is the only way we can be reconciled with God. The Lord Jesus was sinless. He became sin for us while on the cross in order for us to become righteous.2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Third 「手」The Hand
God made us. He made our hands. We can use our hands for good or for evil. God gave us the ability, the will, to either serve Him or the Devil. The decision is ours. Matthew 27:1&2, “When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontus Pilate the governor.”
Because of our sins, the hand of man apprehended the Lord Jesus Christ. The hand of man hit Jesus. The hand of man took a whip and whipped Jesus. The hand of man took a nail in one hand and a hammer in the other hand and nailed Jesus on the cross. The hand of man caused the blood of Jesus to be shed. The Lord Jesus allowed men to crucify Him so His blood could be shed for our sins.
The apostle Peter testified, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Acts 2:23 We can either use our hands for good or for wickedness.
Fourth「戈」 A Spear
The hand of man took a spear and pierced the side of Jesus and more blood flowed from the body of Jesus. John 19:34 says, “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” Jesus died for us! The Lord Jesus became a sacrificial lamb to die for the penalty of our sins on the cross of Calvary.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” We need to have a repentant heart and believe on the Lord Jesus as our Saviour!
The Lord Jesus was righteous in every aspect. When a person repents and trust in Jesus as their Saviour then God imputes the righteousness of Jesus to that person. The Lord Jesus becomes our righteousness. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”
Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary we can have forgiveness of our sins, escape the punishment of hell, and obtain eternal life in heaven. The Lord Jesus left the glory of heaven, became a man, to die on the cross as a sacrificial lamb, to shed His blood, so we could be saved and the righteousness of God imputed to us. So we can be reconciled with God.
i Wang Ming Tao, Treasuries of Wang Ming Tao, Volume II The Hard Road, (Touliu, Taiwan: Conservative Baptist Press, 1996), Page 93. 王明道，王明道文庫，第二冊，小徑（臺灣斗六：浸宣出版社，1996），93頁。
Genesis 37:15-36, “The Work of the Flesh and the Spirit in the Life of Joseph and his Brethren.”
In the life of the brothers of Joseph we can see the works of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
In the life of Joseph we can see the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22 and 23
We are further admonished by Paul the apostle to walk in the Spirit. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 As we notice the fruits of the Spirit in the life of Joseph, we can notice the fruits of the Spirit in the life of the Lord Jesus.
We are further admonished by Paul the apostle to consider, and follow, the examples, akin to the precepts given in the Old Testament, of the men like Joseph, Abraham, Jacob, David and the other men and women in the Old Testament as they walked in Spirit. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”1 Corinthians 10:11 The precepts, and examples, of the Old Testament saints were written for the admonition of the saints in the church in the New Testament. As we develop the story of Joseph, and see the fruits of the Spirit in his life, we will notice the attitude, the character, the will, the heart, of Joseph is of a good nature. Our walk with the Lord will develop our attitude, our character; our very being.
The Willingness of Joseph
Genesis 37:13, “And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.” we can see the good attitude of Joseph, “Here am I.” Joseph was willing to do all that his father Jacob told him to do. This was the attitude of the Lord Jesus. John 14:31, “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.” This is also a good attitude, or characteristic, for every Christian.
God, in either Testament, wants us to be saved, and serve Him, with a willing heart. Leviticus 1:3, “If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.” The Apostle Paul stated, “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” 2 Corinthians 8:12The concept, the belief, the doctrine that man does not have a free will, or the concept, the belief, the doctrine, of irresistible grace,is foreign to the word of God and repugnant.
Even though his father, and his brothers, did not understand the two dreams, Joseph was not discouraged nor did he have a bitter attitude. Joseph determined to love God, to do the will of God, and have a cheerful attitude. Joseph did not let the world, the pressure of the world, and the attitude of the world, hurt his relationship with God.
Joseph did his Father’s will
Genesis 37:15-17, “And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, what seekest thou? And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed the flocks. And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren and found them in Dothan.” Joseph did his fathers will and was going to help his brothers. Even though his brothers hated him, Joseph did not hate his brothers but wanted to help them in feeding the flock.
As Joseph wandered about trying to find the brethren he did not get discouraged. Joseph continued to seek out his brethren after an initial failure. This willingness, spirit, this attitude, this characteristic, is seen in the life of Christ.“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he [Jesus] should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51We need to take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus despite the hard road in this life. “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” mark 8:34 As the Lord Jesus had steadfastness in His life, so should we have steadfastness in our life.
The brothers conspire against Joseph
Genesis 37;18, “And when they say him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.” Joseph did nothing wrong or evil. The brothers hated Joseph for no good reason. The brothers are conspiring to reward evil for good. Proverbs 17:13, “Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.” Is not rewarding evil for good one of the works of the flesh? “… and such like.” Galatians 5:21
The rewarding evil for good is what the Jews did to the Lord Jesus. The Jews did not like Jesus, did not believe in Jesus, and rejected His doctrines. But, in spite of the evil of other people, the Lord Jesus did good works; He did not do any evil. Matthew 27:22-24, “Pilate saith unto them, what shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified, When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.”
Joseph is sold to the Ishmeelites
Genesis 37:28, “Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” The greed in the hearts of the brothers of Joseph led them to sell Joseph for sold for twenty pieces of silver. 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith,and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” The number of saints, and ministers, who have walked in the flesh, and loved mammon more than the Lord Jesus, will only be known until the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Lord Jesus was also sold out to the enemy by one of His brethren: Judas Iscariot betrayed, and sold Him, for 30 pieces of silver. Matthew 26:14-16, “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.” The history of the church is filled with saints, and ministers, who walked in the flesh and sold out the Lord, His doctrines, His walk, His precepts, and His church, for the coins of this life.
The brothers of Joseph deceive their father
Genesis 37:28, “And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their Father; and said, This have we found: know not whether it be thy son's coat or no.” One sin leads to another. First, the brothers hated Joseph for bringing their evil report to their father, then they envied Joseph, and then hated Joseph even more for his two dreams, then they wanted to kill him, then they sold Joseph, and now they deceive their father. Sin is now the master of the brothers. Romans 6:16, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; (whether of sin unto death,) or of obedience unto righteousness?)
Joseph in Egypt
Genesis 37:36, “And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard.” The Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar. It was Potiphar’s responsibility to protect the king of Egypt.
In the Bible, Egypt is a type of the world. The Lord Jesus left the glories of heaven to come into the world as a man. Philippians 2:5-8, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
We need to have the attitude of Joseph. Joseph was very humble and willing to do the will of Israel, his father. Joseph said, “Here am I.” The Lord Jesus had a willing heart to do the will of God. Mark 14:36, “And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”
Genesis 37:5-11, “Joseph and his Jewish Dreams”
Joseph had faith and loved the Lord God. In the Old Testament, before the Bible was written, God spoke to men in dreams. God had given Joseph dreams. As we read the story of Joseph, we can see that Joseph was like the Lord Jesus. Joseph was a type of Christ. Joseph walked with God and had the characteristics of the Lord Jesus.
Also, Joseph is a good example for the Christian. God gave the examples of the Old Testament men and women for us. 1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” The wise Christian will look at the examples of the saints of the Old Testament and use these examples to learn how to walk in the Spirit (not in the Flesh), and please the Lord Jesus. Romans 15;4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” The stories of the Old Testament saints can give the Christian hope and comfort our hearts.
Joseph walked in the Holy Spirit and had the fruits of the Spirit.Galatians 5:22 and 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Joseph and his brothers
Genesis 37:1-4, “And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.”
Joseph was hated by his eleven brothers for two reasons:
Joseph told his father, Jacob, or Israel, the evil things that his brothers did. Amos 5;10, “They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.”
Most people do not like it when you rebuke them. When the pastor rebukes a sin, and people do not want to repent, then some people get mad, criticize the pastor, the church. A wise person will repent when you rebuke him. Like Joseph, and the Lord Jesus, it is the responsibility of the man of God to rebuke people’s sins. 2 Timothy 4:1 and 2, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” A faithful pastor will rebuke the sins of the people. A false pastor will not rebuke the sins of the people.
Proverbs 28:23, “He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” A faithful pastor will find good results but a false pastor will flatter people.
Proverbs 13:1 says, “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” A wise Christian will hear the rebuke of the faithful pastor. A scorner will not listen to the rebuke of the pastor.
Jacob, or Israel, his father loved him more than the other 11 brothers because Joseph was the son of his old age.
The eleven brothers of Joseph were all walking in the flesh and had the fruits of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The Dream of the Sheaves that did Obeisance
Genesis 37:5-8, “And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.”
Both dreams came from God and God will fulfill both dreams in the life of Joseph and in the life of Christ. In the first dream, the brothers were binding sheaves in the field and Joseph’s sheaf stood upright and the sheaves of the brothers stood up and did obeisance. The brothers hated this dream and the interpretation. The brothers of Joseph rejected the words of Joseph.
The brothers did not like the dreams that God gave Joseph. They did not want Joseph to reign over them. The brothers did not want to make obeisance to Joseph. Therefore, the brothers hated the words of Joseph and questioned the dreams of Joseph. When a person does not agree with the pastor who faithfully preaches the scriptures, they will question the scriptures and the pastor.
Joseph’s brothers are like the nation of Israel. When the Lord Jesus came and dwelt among the nation of Israel, His brethren, the Jews rejected Him. John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”And, in the church Age, most of the Jews hate Jesus and his words.
When the Lord Jesus came the first time, the Jews also did not want Jesus to be their king. John 19:14 & 15, “And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he [Pilate] saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”
This dream was fulfilled in the life of Joseph. Genesis 42:6, “And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.”
And, this dream will be also fulfilled in the life of Christ when the 12 tribes of Israel recognize the Lord Jesus as Saviour and serve the Lord Jesus as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. tells us that 12,000 Jews from each tribe of Israel become the servants of the Lord Jesus in the 7 Year Tribulation Period.
Joseph is like the Christian who walks in the Spirit. The Christian who walks in the spirit will be persecuted, talked against, scorned, maligned, and despised by those who walk in the flesh. & Galatians 4:28 & 29, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.”
The Dream of the Sun and the Moon
Genesis 37: 9 & 10, “And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren,and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?”
This dream is almost the same; but slightly different. In the first dream, only the other brothers did obeisance and in the second dream the Sun and the Moon, and eleven stars made obeisance. The sun represents Jacob, the Moon represents Rachel, and the eleven stars represent the eleven brothers. Rachel is already dead (Genesis 35:16-20). As with Job, and the other saints in the Old Testament, Jacob believed that one day that God would raise the saints from the dead.
So, this represents all of the children of Israel, Jacob, and Rachel. This dream was fulfilled in Joseph's lifetime, among his own family (minus Rachel). The second time the brothers of Joseph came to Egypt they bowed before him the second time and said that their father (Jacob), was his servant. Genesis 43:28, “And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.”
The second dream, along with the first dream, represents the whole nation of Israel bowing down to the Lord Jesus. Genesis 37:9 & 10 is the interpretation of . Revelation 12:1-17. Revelation 12:1, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”
The fulfillment of the second dream is when the nation of Israel gets saved and bows down to the Lord Jesus. Romans 11:26, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”
Jacob observed Joseph’s sayings
Genesis 37:11, “And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” Jacob did not question the dreams of Joseph. Jacob did not fully understand them; but, he did not question them. Jacob observed them.
Joseph’s brothers did not care for the words of Joseph. The brothers walked in the flesh. Envy is a one of the fruits of the flesh as listed in Galatians 5:19-21The father, Jacob, loved the Lord. So, he observed these sayings. We need to observe the saying’s in the scriptures. Psalm 107:43, “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.”
A wise Christian will walk in the Spirit and will observe the life of Joseph.
It's in the Bible!
by Ronald W Robey
Whenever I mention the fact that I don't tithe, someone is sure to reply, "It's in the Bible!"
And truthfully, tithing is indeed commanded in the Bible. I do not dispute that fact at all.
However, we cannot focus on the fact that the command to tithe is in the Bible and ignore the commanded ELEMENTS of the tithe; the commanded GIVERS of the tithe; the commanded LOCATION of the tithe; the commanded RECIPIENTS of the tithe; the commanded YEAR of the tithe.
A diligent study of the Bible will reveal to the reader many precious and wonderful truths that are ignored in so many mainstream religious institutions around the world today.
There is no instruction in the entire Bible where God said that one's monetary income is to be tithed to either Tabernacle, Temple, Synagogue or Church. Even in the last place in the Bible where tithing is mentioned, (Hebrews 7:5-9) the author says that the tithes still belongs to the sons of Levi, and that the tithes are still "according to the Law.
Since the author of Hebrews reveals that tithes are still "according to the Law, it is needful to go to the Books of the Law in order to learn what they say concerning God's holy tithe. The Law states that God's holy tithe is
a) agricultural (Lev. 27:30-33
b) only required of the children of Israel (Lev. 27:34; Psa. 147:19-20)
c) only to be observed by those living in the land of Canaan (Deut. 12:1,10-11)
d) to be given to Levites, widows, orphans and foreigners; (Deut. 26:12) and even to be eaten by the one bringing the tithe. (Deuteronomy 14:22-26)
e) to be given every third year (Deuteronomy 26:12)
God NEVER amended the tithe command to say that a tenth of one's money is now required as tithe. He NEVER amended the tithe command to say tithes are to be given around the world. He NEVER amended the tithe to say that it is to be observed every week of the year and every year of your Christian life
For that matter, God NEVER said that Christian's are required to tithe at all..
Pastor's have handled the word of God deceitfully in order to teach a tithe command that is totally foreign to the word of God, i.e.; a tithe of man's monetary income,... a tithe of unrighteous mammon.
Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Attempting to obey the command to tithe, without obeying the other instructions connected to that command merits a curse, not favor.
Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Salvation in the OT – Paul’s explanation.
To begin with, Hebrews is the perfect place to find out about salvation in the Old Testament, for this letter is all about how the New is better than the Old.
In fact, it is widely recognised that the key word of this letter is the word “Better”.
This word is found 13 times – only Ecclesiastes and Proverbs have more instances of this word.
Ecclesiastes is a comparison between the ways of the world and the ways of the Lord – so we would expect to see “better” in any list of comparisons.
Proverbs is about living for the Lord, and the wisdom of God’s ways compared to the worlds ways – so again comparison would expect to see the word “Better”.
So likewise, Hebrews also is a comparison – of the Old worship compared to the New worship, so the word “better” should be expected.
There is much in Hebrews to examine in this matter.
15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
The Promised land is a picture of salvation, and they could not enter into the land because of unbelief – but it is actually more than that – it speaks of them not entering into His rest.
Now, in case you would think that I am overstepping this point, see the next chapter.
1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Paul says that the Gospel was preached unto “us”, as well as unto them:”
It doesn’t say that it was “a Gospel” but “the gospel” – this indicates it was the same thing preached unto them as unto us – and their problem was not that they didn’t sacrifice, but they didn’t believe in faith.
And there is more along these lines:
5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
Entering into His rest comes after the preaching, but some entered not into His rest because of unbelief. This could all be applied to simply entering into the Land, if it were not for the fact that Paul equates the gospel preached to them with the gospel preached “to us” (that is Paul and those of his time.)
7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
The key point in this section is that it is Jesus that would have given THEM rest – and that “rest” remains – the implication is that it is the same rest that is being spoken of.
And an important note to this is vs 10 – “he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works”.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
It appears as though Paul is equating the “rest” of the OT saints with the “rest” of salvation.
The statement is made in:
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
If perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, then there was no need of the Saviour – It is stated quite plainly here that perfection was NOT POSSIBLE by the Law.
With this statement, we must come to one of two conclusions – either there was no way for them to be saved, or they were saved by a way other than the Law.
Further on in this chapter we have a comparison made:
13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. 17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. 20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: 21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) 22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
Jesus was not from the priestly tribe and is therefore not qualified in that way to be a priest. But He is after the order of Melchisidech – and the important part of that is “a priest for ever”.
His priesthood did not start at the cross – He was already and always a Priest.
In vs 19 Paul uses the past tense to show that “the Law MADE nothing perfect” – it never did, even when they were under the Law – “…but the bringing in of a better hope did;….”
And in vs 24,25 Paul makes the point that this man has an unchangeable priesthood, and He is able to save “…seeing He ever liveth…”
If it is unchanging, then it is unchanging from the start, and He is a priest after the order of Melchisedeck for ever.
His priesthood is for ever and is unchanging.
This indicates that His ministry has always been effective, and always will be.
4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. 6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
Paul uses the word “Pattern” here, to show that the things of the priests were a pattern, or example, or illustration, of the true sacrifice. They were not the effective sacrifice, but a picture of it.
If the picture were faultless (or effective) there would be no reason for the fact.
In other words, if the yearly sacrifice was enough, there would be no need for the perfect sacrifice.
The Picture showed the truth that was still to come.
Chapter 9 discusses that picture.
1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. 2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. 3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; 4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. 6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. 7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
Paul makes the point that the “way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest” – this is a significant statement because the word manifest means “shown or displayed” – “to be made apparent”.
This word is used of something that is in existence, but is not seen.
It is not used of something that does not exist yet – the way was there, it was just not clearly seen.
9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
“Purifying of the flesh” indicates the outside – the works.
“Conscience” indicates the inside – the spirit.
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
Paul talks of the “first Testament” transgressions being dealt with by the death of the Christ.
This is those under the Law were purged by the death of Christ, not by keeping the Law – which we know its true today without argument. This is not specifically dealing with Pre-Christ issues though, but generally.
16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. 18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
After discussing the things that Moses did – blood purges sin etc – in the following verses Paul again talks about them being a “pattern”, and how the perfect sacrifice was needed.
23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Vs 25, 26 is interesting in that it says that Christ was offered once, and that was enough.
If He had to be offered every year, as with the “pattern sacrifices”, then it would have had to have been “from the foundation of the world” – but now once in the end is enough.
This is an indicator of a concept of “backward salvation” if you will – Paul is indicating that this once was enough for all time, even before the event – if it had to be an annual thing then it would have to be from the beginning of time for there were those who would have “missed out” if it was only effective from the day of the sacrifice.
If the perfect sacrifice was only effective for 12 months at a time, then it would have to have been done at the very beginning and every year since.
But this one time sacrifice is enough and is effective for ever.
1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
A restating of these things – picture, example, if it were perfect, then once would be enough, the picture didn’t have the power to save anyone.
9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
Take away the first – the picture of sacrifice, and replace it with the second – the perfect sacrifice.
“….we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” – this “once for all” is an all encompassing phrase – it means “one time for every one”, and there is no limitation stated or implied that it is “once for everyone from now”.
Add to this the statement in vs 12 “…one sacrifice for sins for ever…” – the words “for ever” again don’t imply from now until for ever, but just forever.
His Sacrifice was for sins for ever, not just sins from “now on”.
20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
Even in this, the “new and living way” is not a brand new invention, but because it is consecrated to us “through the veil” it indicates that it is now seen by all – the veil of the Temple kept people out of direct contact, but when Christ died as the perfect Sacrifice, the veil was torn in two and people could see directly to God.
The way was always there, but now it was “seen”, which ties in with ch9:8 where the way into the Holiest was now made manifest – the Holiest is the portion of the Temple concealed by the veil.
The “Hall of Faith”.
11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. 4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
The very first example of faith mentioned is that of Abel – his sacrifice was acceptable, and offered “by Faith”. His sacrifice was of a lamb – this pictured the coming Sacrifice of Christ, whilst the sacrifice of Cain did not. Cain’s sacrifice pictured man’s own work, whilst Abel’s sacrifice had the blood.
How did Abel know to make such a sacrifice? We are not told, but we are told that to cover Adam and Eve’s sin, the Lord made them coats of skins:
21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
We have the example straight up of a death required to cover sin, and the assumption is that Adam and Eve taught their children this example.
They also had the promise of:
14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
This is a promise of Messiah, and event that He would die on the cross and be raised again – a bruised heel is rarely fatal – it is an inconvenience; it is painful; but it is rarely fatal.
A “bruised head” however is a different matter. Even today a “bruised head” can be fatal, and before modern medicine it almost always was.
This is a prophecy that a man would be injured but would then have ultimate victory over Satan – this is what we see in Christ – He was wounded, but not to finality – He rose from the dead. And when He did, he put an end to the efforts of Satan – Satan will never be like the Most High.
And this was known by Adam and Eve, and associated with the covering for their sin which required the death of animals – you don’t get skins off of an animal without killing the animal.
And Able offered a better sacrifice by Faith – by faith in God, evidenced by Able following the example given to Adam and Eve, in knowledge of the promise of victory through a son.
It is somewhat flimsy to the argument of faith in Christ, but there can be no doubt that Adam and Eve were waiting for one to have victory over Satan, and the sacrifice of an animal was associated with it.
Enoch pleased God and it is impossible to please God without faith – so Enoch had Faith in God – but it is not explained precisely what that faith was about.
In each of these faith is evident in the works they performed -they trusted God when God told them to do something.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
Abraham had faith which was displayed in many ways, but in this particular one there is an indicator of something – that death and resurrection was possible.
And it says that Abraham “also received him in a figure”.
Received who “in a figure”?
It is unclear, but it can not be talking of Isaac, because it did not in fact happen.
The indication is that Abraham received God “in a figure” – He looked at the picture of Isaac dying on the altar, and was convinced that God could raise Isaac from the dead, and then realised that it was a picture – that God would die and be raised up again. (But this is not 100% clear in this).
24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
It is interesting here that Paul says that Moses was “Esteeming the reproach of Christ” – not of God, but specifically “of Christ” – Now we know that Moses did not know the name of Jesus, but he knew about Christ, and that Christ was God.
The Jews all knew about Messiah, and they all knew about the sacrifices – but not many put two and two together I guess – just as not many understand the truth of Christ today.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
These all “received not the promise” – that means they were expecting a promise – but which promise?
They had faith, but “received not the promise”.
It does not state it plainly.
But there are indicators – and one of them is in the next section:
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses? Which witnesses – these men and women just mentioned in chapter 11 – and what was common about them – they all had faith.
The implication of this verse is that we should run the race in the same way that those gathered at the finish line did – they have already run their race,. And we should keep going till we finish as well.
And what race are we to run?
Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.
What is implied here is that their faith (chapter 11) is the same faith as our faith, and our faith is looking to Jesus, therefore their faith was looking to Jesus.
They didn’t know His name, but they knew about Him.
He was promised, and it was the fulfilment of this promise that they were trusting in.
There is no doubt that men have always been sinners – at least since Adam sinned – and there can be no doubt that there is none righteous, no not one.
What is less often acknowledged is that a man can only be righteous if God makes Him so.
And God did that in the OT as well as in the NT.
6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
God imputed righteousness to men WITHOUT works, even in the OT.
There are some references in Hebrews that we have looked at that show that the OT sacrifices themselves didn’t save anyone – they have not the power to take away sins – it was faith in what the sacrifices pictured that counted.
But what exactly did the OT saints have faith in?
This is less obvious, in that it was not “made manifest” or shown clearly in OT times. Yet some understood it – that is clear from the words of Hebrews 11 amongst other passages.
But look at:
26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
This last phrase is an interesting phrase in light of what we read about those who “received not the promise” in Hebrews 11.
It says “they that have not seen” – and it uses not the future tense, but a tense that allows both past and current. “Have not” actually sits in the past tense but also applies to those who “have not yet” seen – so it could include those alive then who have not, as well as those of the past who “have not” seen – although it would be more definite if it said “did not”.
But it indicates that there were some who “have not seen, and yet have believed”.
There were those in the past who believed in Christ, even though they did not see Christ themselves – this brings my mind to those who were waiting for the promised Messiah, but did not “receive the promise”.
They were trusting in Him, but did not see the realisation of that promise – yet they are counted as having faith.
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
This is that manifesting of the way into the holiest – the showing of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah.
And it is significant the way John refers to Him: “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.”
The people of the nation would have understood the reference.
It was apparently approaching the time of the yearly sacrifice, and the people knew that a spotless lamb was to be sacrificed for the sin of the nation.
We know that those sacrifices were pictures, illustration, shadows, of the truth.
When John called out “behold the lamb of God”, the people would have known what John meant – that this guy – whoever He was – was the sacrifice for sin.
They may not have understood it immediately, but people began to follow Him – they knew that He was the promised Messiah.
People were looking for the Messiah to come.
They knew about Him.
They knew about the sacrifices as well.
Over time and through poor teaching they had lost the meaning of these things, but it was known.
They knew about Messiah, and they knew about the sacrifices, and the OT does link Messiah to the sacrifices – so the knowledge was available.
They did not know His name, but they knew for instance that he would be called Emmanuel.
They did not call upon the name of Jesus, but they did call upon the Messiah, the promised Lamb of God.
And there is this:
1 Cor 15:3-4
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
These things were all done “According to the Scriptures”, therefore the knowledge of what had to happen was there.
If it was all according to the Scriptures, then it is entirely possible that an OT person could be saved by trusting in the Messiah to come.
After all, it was all written there.
And of course, Paul confirmed that fact when he wrote to Timothy:
2 Tim 3:15
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Note that When Timothy was a child the only Scriptures would have been the OT, yet Paul says that was sufficient.
(I went to correct a typo and all my references disappeared - I have replaced them, so I hope they show up now!)
As Solomon's wisdom is being displayed he tells the servants to bring a sword and divide the living baby and to give each woman half. As we consider this spiritually we know that Gods church is his living baby. it needs to be fed, guided, nourished, corrected,,chastened, and cared for in many other ways. To many times its is divided ( split ) for the sake of the baby that is dead. to many times Gods people give new meaning to raising the dead. a dead baby can not be helped, you cant change it, you cant correct it , it will not eat. you cant gain anything from a dead baby but a stink! however time and time again we find ourselves splitting Gods church over a dead baby! if we could only learn to let dead babys die, and put our attention on Gods living baby, how much better would our churches be in worship and service.
Our Lord led this blind man out of town, put spit on his eyes and asked him if he saw ought. the blind man said "I see men as trees walking". now I have read many sermons and commentaries on this subject and it seems they all have one thing in agreement , that for many different reasons given our Lord was unable to accomplish the task when he first attempted it. some say because of their unbelief,others because of the area he was in......etc.If you all would bear with me a little in my folly, I heard that somewhere,lol may I suggest the one thing to consider that I found in kmow writings, and that is the possibility that our Lord gave him to much power and allowed him to see like God sees ! for the Lord indeed sees men as trees all through the word of God.God said "all my trees are full of sap" he spoke of the trees of Lebanon...he said in Eccl. if a tree falls to the north or the south ,in the place where the tree falls , there it is......
consider when our Lord touched his eyes again it was not to add more spit, rather to remove some!
and would our lives not be much better off in compassion and help to one another if we could all stop once in a while and see as God sees?
1 Kings 4:29-34, “And God gave Solomon wisdom.”
1 Kings 4:29-34, “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.”
Wisdom and understanding is very important. We need wisdom is our lives. We need wisdom to learn how to raise our family, working on our job, dealing with our neighbors, and those in the church congregation. As God gave King Solomon wisdom; so can the Lord give us wisdom. “If any of you ask wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5
James does add one thought concerning asking God wisdom that we need to consider in our hearts. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” James 1:6 & 7
“And God gave Solomon wisdom”
Why did God give King Solomon wisdom? In 1 Kings 3:5-15 God appeared to King Solomon in a dream and said, “… Ask what I shall give thee.” 1 Kings 3:5
I am going to ask the reader of this devotion to read, and consider, every word that occurs in the dream of King Solomon. God is looking at the heart of King Solomon and Solomon is speaking from his heart.
In his heart, King Solomon knew that God wanted His people to walk in righteous and in truth. “..according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness...” 1 Kings 3:6
King Solomon was very humble and of a sincere heart. At this time, Solomon was 20 years old. In 1 Kings 3:7 Solomon said that he was a servant of God and was like a little child. “… and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.”1 Kings 3:7 Most people are very proud and will not follow the ways of God. Most people are unwilling to be a servant of God. Even though Solomon was king he felt that God was his king. King Solomon willingly called himself a servant. Solomon believed that he was a servant of God in order to do the will of God.
1 peter 5:5-7, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” King Solomon humbled himself.
God made us. He is the King in Heaven. God is not our servant. We are His servants. God resists a proud person. One of the reasons why God does not answer a Christian’s prayer is because they are not humble nor sincere. If we want God to give us wisdom, we need to walk in unrighteousness, truth, be humble, and sincere .
1 Kings 3:9 “Discernment”
! Kings 3:9, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” God gave King Solomon wisdom because he asked for wisdom in order to discern between good and evil and to judge the nation of Israel. Solomon did not ask wisdom for his own fleshly desires or experience. He asked God for wisdom to lead the nation of Israel according to the will of God.
King Solomon was unselfish. He did not ask for wisdom to help his own desires. He did not ask for money. He did not ask for health. King Solomon loved God and loved the nation of Israel. King Solomon wanted wisdom to help him to discern between good and evil. Long before God gave Solomon wisdom, Job wrote the definition of wisdom; “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:28
Most people are selfish and they do not care to help others. A Chinese proverb says, “To care nothing outside one’s window – one does not care what is going on beyond one’s own surroundings.” 俗語說「兩耳不聞窗外事」
It is the will of God for Christians to discern between good and evil. The Lord Jesus wants all Christians to discern between good and evil. The Lord Jesus wants us to discern between evil and good, right and wrong, and good and bad doctrine. Ephesians 4;14 , “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” A Christian who is not concerned about good doctrine, or is unwilling to forsake bad doctrine, is like a child who is unconcerned about the parents guidance, is deceived, and is like the waves of he sea driven hither and yonder by every wind of the heretics of this world. A lost person, or an immature Christian, cannot discern between good and evil. But a mature Christian can discern between good and evil: or judgment. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
God blessed King Solomon
“And Solomon's wisdom excelled of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.” 1 Kings 4:30The East country would include Iran, India, China and Japan. “And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.” 1 Kings 4:34 Even today, in the Western world, when a person thinks of wisdom, he thinks of King Solomon and the book of Proverbs.
King Solomon was humble, righteous, and sincere in the sight of God. He asked for wisdom to judge the nation of Israel and to learn how to discern between right and wrong. We need to have the same attitude. God can give us wisdom if it is His will. says, Proverbs 2:6, “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
We will be looking at this text today. I would like to first however, do some equipping for all of us. To some this may be review and to some this is completely new. Before we get started in the first verses of scripture, I would like to look at the nuts and bolts of how we are going to understand our Bible. Further to that I think we should look at why it’s the Bible we study. How do we know its trust worthy? And then finally how do we understand it. This is to empower you all with the ability to know how to always be able to hold yourself and others accountable to the teaching they try and give you. There cannot be growth by hindering anyone from proper spiritual growth and understanding of the Bible. This is not to say that you all are interpreting scripture wrong. I have no way to know that or not, that’s why it may be review in spots for some. New information perhaps for the younger people and all around strengthening to your walk in faith.
Let us pray and Begin.
First: Why the Bible and not a different religious text?
My first stop in helping to answer this question was to turn to a big brain. Ravi Zacharias for those who don't know is a very intelligent apologist. He writes the following.
Ravi Zacharias wrote on a blog the following:
“With the numerous religions in the world, how can Christians claim exclusivity? I am often asked this question in different settings. But I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that the Christian faith is the only one that seems to have this question posed. The truth is that every major religion in the world claims exclusivity, and every major religion in the world has a point of exclusion.
Hinduism, for example, is often represented as being the most tolerant and accepting of other faiths. That is just not true. All Hindus believe in two fundamental, uncompromising doctrines—the Law of Karma, and the belief in reincarnation. These will not be surrendered. In fact, Buddhism was born out of the rejection of two other very dogmatic claims of Hinduism. Buddha rejected the authority of the vedas and the caste [sic: Ritual purities] system of Hinduism. The issue here is not who was right or wrong. The truth is that they were systemically different—both claiming rightness.
Islam, as you know, is very clearly an exclusive claim to God. A Muslim will never tell you that it doesn’t matter what you believe or that all religions are true.
But before we get upset with such claims, let us remember that it is the very nature of truth that presents us with this reality. Truth by definition is exclusive. Everything cannot be true. If everything is true, then nothing is false. And if nothing is false then it would also be true to say everything is false. We cannot have it both ways. One should not be surprised at the claims of exclusivity. The reality is that even those who deny truth’s exclusivity, in effect, exclude those who do not deny it. The truth quickly emerges. The law of non-contradiction does apply to reality: Two contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense. Thus, to deny the law of non-contradiction is to affirm it at the same time. You may as well talk about a one-ended stick as talk about truth being all-inclusive.
Christ is either the immeasurable God or one dreadfully lost. Apply the tests of truth to the person and the message of Jesus Christ. You see not only his exclusivity, but also his uniqueness.”(http://rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/point-of-exclusion/)
So where does that leave us? We must not be surprised at truth claims but we must test them before we believe them. If the test demonstrates truth then we are morally compelled to believe it. And this is precisely the point from which many are trying to run. As G.K. Chesterton said, the problem with Christianity is not that it has been tried and found wanting, but that it has been found difficult and left untried.
There is a method of testing a worldview that is attributed to Dr. Zacharias, (that I can’t seem to find a source for) called the 3-4-5 method
1) A worldview must pass 3 tests:
- Logically consistent: It cant contradict itself
- Empirically adequate: It has to match what we see in reality
- Existentially relevant – Its teaching must speak directly to how we live our lives.
2) A worldview must answer four questions:
Origin – Where did I come from?
Meaning – What am I worth?
Morality – Why is it wrong to do things/ or is it wrong to do certain things?
Destiny – Where am I going when I die. If anywhere.
3) Five academic disciplines used to study the worldview
- Theology: Study of God
- Metaphysics: the study of what is real
– Just a note: Can you believe we have to talk about this now? We have masses of children who cant decide if we are really here or not.
- Epistemology: The study of how we can know things
- Ethics: The study of moral right and wrong.
- Anthropology: The study of what and who humans are.
The beauty of boiling every worldview and faith to these points is there is no need then to read every piece of literature of a certain faith. Once a worldview breaks a rule it is falsified.
For example: Islam denies the death of Jesus on the cross. Islam cannot comprehend a prophet, being killed. Therefore Jesus in the Qur'an was caught up before death and perhaps switched with someone else. All the other historical evidence shows Jesus died. Greek history, Jewish history. Therefore something is fundamentally flawed.
Now that would be a Philosophically motivated answer to the question of why Christianity. If your interested in those types of discussions, Ravi Zacharias' ministry has a ton of info and I highly encourage you to check them out.
Perhaps you feel like the late Adrian rogers and that “Philosophy is the study of things we already know… using words we can't understand.”
How about this then perhaps?
Fulfilled Prophecy as a proof of authenticity of the Bible.:
Looking just at Jesus, He fulfilled 333 prophecies from the Old Testament. Here are a few.
His Virgin Birth. (Isa 7:14; Mt 1:23)
His Bethlehem Birth. (Micah 5:2-3; Mt 2:5-6)
His flight to Egypt. (Hos 11:1; Mt 2:15)
His Childhood in Nazareth (Isa 11:1; Mt 2:23)
His Healing ministry (Isa 53:4; Mt 8:16-17)
His betrayal money by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (psalm 41:9, 55:12-14; Zech 11:12-13; mt 26:14-16, 21-25)
The betrayal money used to purchase a potters field. (Jer 18-14; 19:1-3; Zech 11:12-13; mt 27:9-10)
His scourging and being spat upon. (Isa 50:6; Mt 26:67; 27:26)
His crucifixion between thieves. (Isa 53:12; Mt 27:38; Mk 15:27-28; Lk 22:37)
The piercing of His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Zech 12:10; mk 15:25)
The ridicule and mocking as He hung on the cross (psalm 22:7-8; Lk 23:34; Jm 19:23-24)
His resurrection (Psalm 16:10; Mt 28:2-7)
His ascension. (psalm 24:7-10; Mk 16:19; Lk 24:51)
If one prophecy was fulfilled that would be neat. However that’s only 13, of some 300+ prophecies. Just for Jesus alone. Bearing in mind the following.
The Bible is technically 66 books not 1
Written over a period of approx 2000 years
by ~40 different authors
over 3 continents
from three different languages.
Keeping all consistency and free of error. Some STILL critique the Bible and say it was fabricated for gain.
1) looking at the above how on earth would that even be possible.
2) For what gain? The Bible is a book stained in martyrdom for the cause of Christ. No story of a man using God for gain ended well for that man.
So those would be two different ways to come to the conclusion that the Bible is the true text holding Gods word. There are certainly more ways to delve into this topic, for time I will stop there. Resources if your still interested, would be places such as Gotquestions.org, carm.org, RZIM.org, answersingenesis has been delving into these things, same with places like the ICR, and creation.com lots and lots and lots.
So we know the Bible is our source for truth, how do we know we can trust what we have.
Inspiration: Crash course in Bibliology.
First thing to note: Inspiration means to be “God Breathed” therefore came straight from the mouth of God.
A few false views (there are tons):
Natural inspiration theory.
This view says that the bible was simply written by “inspired men” just as anyone is inspired when they write a novel or a story
Partial Inspiration theory.
As the name suggests this gives the idea that portions and parts are inspired, however others are not. The decision of what is inspired work and what is only mans words are left up to each individual interpreter.
Mechanical dictation theory.
This view is that God mechanically moved the hands of the writers. No personality or person(s) distinct vocabulary or influences are shown in the text.
A Biblical view of inspiration:
Verbal plenary inspiration.
That is each and every word in the Bible is the words of God. Written by men while fully keeping their own writing style, vocabulary and influences intact.
What about preservation: Here at Bethel we have made a distinction as “The King James type”. From a leadership point of view we have taken that position and while not everyone who comes through these doors as a whole may agree with the view. That is where we currently stand. So what does that actually mean? We would say that the copies from originals to English we believe to be preserved. I would personally urge you that if you hold to this view strongly like even I do myself, let us not beat people with our convictions.
More information on VPP -> From the dean burgeon society:
What does VPP mean? “Verbal” means “every word to the jot and tittle” (Ps 12:6-7, Matt 5:18). “Plenary” means “the Scripture as a whole with all the words intact” (Matt 24:35, 1 Pet 1:25). So VPP means the whole of Scripture with all its words even to the jot and tittle is perfectly preserved by God without any loss of the original words, prophecies, promises, commandments, doctrines, and truths, not only in the words of salvation, but also the words of history, geography and science. Every book, every chapter, every verse, every word, every syllable, every letter is infallibly preserved by the Lord Himself to the last iota.
VPP extends past just the originals, the question is can God keep His word intact from one language to the other. Dean burgeon society like we here at bethel feel God has done just that into the English language with the KJV. There are still numerous projects to take the proper source texts and get them into other foreign languages and we should be praying for those and supporting if we can.
Now that we know why the Bible, how it got inspired, and that we have what was written from time past in our hands today. How do we understand it.
Instead of going through every different way some people come to interpreting the Bible, lets first look at how not to do it.
Things not to do:
1-Don't make a point at the expense of a text; This is known as the deductive method, or Eisegesis we do not approach a text with our conclusion set. Emotions have a sneaky way to getting into our conclusions before we have even read the text.
2-Think not of “what does the passage mean to me”, but rather what does the passage mean. What was the author getting across, and to what people? and knowing that! What is the implication of this truth?
2a-Generally; there are not multiple literal meanings to the text.
While some few passages are indeed both prophetical and historical, we must use the principles outlined in a few moments to be sure that is what’s happening. Otherwise as a general rule plain meanings in scripture are singular in interpretation.
3- Don't spiritualize or allegorize a text.
Eg: Davids slingshot that flung the stone that killed Goliath: The sling shot is the church and the rock are missionaries we send out to slay the false faiths in remote areas where we send them.
The following is not the plain sense of the text and therefore makes no sense to claim. It sounds nice to the ears, and could make any man behind the pen feel like he's unlocked some sort of new meaning. I would submit there are no new meanings, scripture is clear, literal and singular in meaning.
Through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in illumination (Think of a light bulb turning on; That is a supernatural assistance in guiding our knowledge and wisdom of a text, it is the spirit opening our eyes to see what God is saying) we attempt understand the word through:
Historical grammatical interpretation: Exegesis (to draw out)
-Literal principle: Interpret the scripture according to normal language.
-Historical context: How the people think, the politics, what was going on in that time. What was the city like, what where the social pressures, customs. Etc.
-Grammatical principle: look at the language, the syntax, the way things are arranged.
-Synthesis: Scripture interprets scripture.
-Practical principle: What are the implications of this.
We are attempting to reconstruct the setting so we can understand ancient documents. We want to drop ourselves into that time and period while knowing the customs and beliefs at the time. Then see where else in scripture we see similar things and draw out the truth from the text. Then not ask “what does it mean to me” as that could lead to all sorts of weird theology. Rather ask what are the implications of this? What do I know now that I can apply practically to my life.
I hope that helps equip you a bit more, to hold yourself, me, any teacher accountable. Its never wrong to ask “Where do they get that idea from?” and go looking.
Ok Part 2!
Genesis “Book of beginnings”:
Now before we start lets ask this important question is Genesis Historical or allegory? (Biblical support for historical). It is my opinion that without taking hermeneutic jumps you must land on a literal historical view.
1) Other authors taught a literal creation event:
90 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
From one verse we can't delve to deeply into the structure of how Genesis is written, however we will see that the language it self is not written using allegorical words that imply personal interpretation. Genesis is written as a historical document. (a quick example would be the use of the word day yom followed by a number is always indicative of a 24hr period of time, which is what we find in genesis)
In a brief sentence I would like to echo a sentence I learned in FBI. “Genesis is the story of the beginning of the Redemption of man through the promised seed of Abraham.
Note this point: “THROUGH THE PROMISED SEED OF ABRAHAM”. We will get to this later in Genesis but it is extremely important we always remember this point. The Jewish people have been and still are apart of Gods plan. This will help you understand scripture from end to end.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”
First what do we learn immediately?
1) God lays out clearly summarizes what He did, and leaves no doubt of His creative work, and His alone.
In the beginning God
a) This disproves atheism.
1) because everything must have a beginning, and everything with a beginning must have a cause. A watch needs a watch maker and the universe begs for a creator. We need an un-caused first cause for the universe. This is and must be God.
B) disproves evolutionary thought: God created everything, there is no mention of a half baked creation and a period of waiting. Furthermore the Bible goes on to call everything very good at the end of creation week, billions of years of cancers and death and disease would not be a perfect creation by any means.
c) Disproves pantheism. (Pantheism identifies God with the universe. The Universe is God. This is where ideas like karma come from) we see Biblically God must be and is apart from His creation. Also God created Ex Nihilo That is “out of nothing”, not a “reconstruction of the pre existing universe)
d) Disproves polytheism. (ie many Gods)
The Bible here speaks of one God. Now just some… information on this word God I found extremely fascinating and hopefully I dont lose you but rather peak your interest a bit.
So lets pause for a second on this. We're going to get technical, so bear with me for a moment as I attempt to unpack a thought here.
It should be noted the ENGLISH word here “God” is the Hebrew word Elohim → Elohim is the PLURAL of the Hebrew word “Eloah”, the (-ohim) in Elohim makes it masculine plural. However, looking at the next word bara or “Created” is a singular verb. It is implied that the verbs / context surrounding the word Elohim define the singular use/definition of Elohim (at this time in scripture). Its not lost on theologians that this “plural” version of the word God, with the singular verb. Seems to be a blinding light towards the idea of the trinity. I will in a moment read from Adam clarkes commentary (but it should be noted now once and for all. I use a lot … A LOT of commentary’s when I teach, I do not agree with any single one of them 100%… Which kind of worries me, however feel free to check them out yourself but in all things practice solid disernment, there is only one and only one perfect Book, just know that while I use a variety of resources and I encourage everyone to do the same, I am not fully endorsing anyone. ever). Continuing on:
The original word אלהים Elohim, God, is certainly the plural form of אל El, or אלה Eloah, and has long been supposed, by the most eminently learned and pious men, to imply a plurality of Persons in the Divine nature. As this plurality appears in so many parts of the sacred writings to be confined to three Persons, hence the doctrine of the Trinity, which has formed a part of the creed of all those who have been deemed sound in the faith, from the earliest ages of Christianity. Nor are the Christians singular in receiving this doctrine, and in deriving it from the first words of Divine revelation. An eminent Jewish rabbi, Simeon ben Joachi, in his comment on the sixth section of Leviticus, has these remarkable words: “Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim; there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet notwithstanding they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other.”... He must be strangely prejudiced indeed who cannot see that the doctrine of a Trinity, and of a Trinity in unity, is expressed in the above words. The verb ברא bara, he created, being joined in the singular number with this plural noun, has been considered as pointing out, and not obscurely, the unity of the Divine Persons in this work of creation. In the ever-blessed Trinity, from the infinite and indivisible unity of the persons, there can be but one will, one purpose, and one infinite and uncontrollable energy.
I was going to quote from Keil & Delitzsch. However, while I love their commentary, it takes me about 30 reads to understand what they are getting at, So for your own clarity, they may be a resource for you to check out as well if you ever get to interesting spots in terms of language or culture in the OT. You can come back and tell me how many reads it took you! Ha!
Also let us think about the scripture “in the beginning”
If this is the beginning, this is the beginning of everything, The beginning of Time. The beginning of space. The beginning matter. (Think of energy as a form of matter)
None of these can exist without the others. Can you have, matter and time with no space? Where would you put matter? Can you have space and time with no matter (energy)? What would you put into space? How about, Space and matter with no time? Of course not. When would you put anything? All three must co instantly come into being. Not gradually but instantaneous. This can only be plausible with someone/thing outside these rules creating time, space, matter and the laws that govern how they behave. This can only and therefore demands that uncaused fist cause beginning we discussed before. Beyond our level of understanding. He is God.
In the beginning...“God”
Who is God? - uncaused first cause.
From this passage alone we can draw some simple charactistics about God thus far. As we progress through scripture we will pull out more and more and more etc. At this time, just a few things to note already.
Omnipresent → He is everywhere.
Omnipotent → He is unlimited in power, and able to do anything within His nature.
Omniscient → He is all knowing.
“Created the heaven and the earth”
Created once again:
This word Created Bara, in the Hebrew, is creating Ex Nihilo out of nothing. Not a reconstruction of something already existing.
Notice the separation between Heaven and Earth. Some say that it could be the solar systems in creation perhaps everything but the lights listed in Genesis 1:14. I personally would reserve the celestial bodies as a whole for those following verses. Perhaps we see the creation of vastness of space...and in this (to us) seemingly endless space.
then we read:
and the Earth.
In the midst of all the grandeur of special creation. God creates Earth. The immediate question(s) of what is His plan? Why would He create earth? What was God doing before creation? And many more come into play and later on we can hopefully address those.
I didn’t know where to tag this in for fun so right here works, does anyone else find it neat we live in a Universe? (Uni → single, Verse → spoken sentence) “And God said…” I heard that when I was 16 and came to know God as creator and moments later Lord. It has always stuck with me I’m sure many have heard it, but I still enjoy repeating it.
What we do know and can say for sure real fast, God created earth. God created us, and we fell into sin. God in His foreknowledge saw our fall and had a solution. He would redeem His people by becoming a man, Gods Son, fully divine and fully man. Pay for the sins of those who trespassed Him. So that whosoever believes in Him/Jesus. Shall not perish in the sin they have laid on their own heads, But receive the everlasting life God graciously bestowed on those who love him.
And it all started with Creation.
SPIRITUAL GROWTH, AS TAUGHT BY SCRIPTURE AND THE SCIENCE OF BOTANY
By Jim Foley
Text: “…Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow” Matthew 6:28.
INTRO: In this scripture Jesus gives us an object lesson as to what constitutes spiritual growth, and how it happens. Jesus made the lilies and He made me, and now he describes to me how both biological and spiritual growth takes place. People often create for themselves a great deal of anxiety because they assume there must be some formula they must rigorously conform to in order to make themselves grow spiritually. Spiritual growth is not a secret formula process we must discover for ourselves.
Jesus points to the lilies of the field as an illustration of how natural and spontaneous both natural and spiritual growth is. When Jesus points us to the lilies of the field it is not simply an appeal for us to see and enjoy nature and admire its beauty. Everything in nature, as well as in scripture, is given to teach us a spiritual truth. Natural life and spiritual life are governed, as is everything God has made, by natural law.
Now let’s take a close look at the lilies of the field, and let them teach us about growth, both natural and spiritual. The point we must consider is not just that they are there for us to admire, but rather to consider “how they grow,” as Jesus puts it in our text. Many Christians live with anxiety because they are trying to make themselves grow spiritually. The lilies grow without anxiety. Without taking conscious care or effort the lilies grow naturally into full beauty. There is no conscious toiling to weave the tissues of their leaves. Their complex tissues have spun themselves naturally and automatically.
Jesus follows up by implying that we care-worn and anxious people need not fret about causing ourselves to grow. He implores us to “take no thought” about what we will eat or drink, or how we should be clothed. We mortals create ghosts in our minds and then worry about them. We allow ourselves to be controlled by circumstances rather than allowing God to perfectly order our life.
All men and women who have just a little faith have learned the secret of a composed life in many respects, but when it comes to spiritual growth we do not seem to make the connection. Early on in our Christian lives we settle down at times in calm trust in God, trusting Him to provide the necessities of our bodies. Then by and by we begin to become anxious about spiritual growth, especially when someone tells us we must follow this or that formula if we are to grow spiritually. But how do the lilies grow? They grow by grace, and take no thought, because the growth comes naturally. How does a child of God grow spiritually? He also grows by grace. Yet as we are told by others how to do this, we start fretting about it, and the anxiety comes back. We then have transferred our anxiety from our bodies to our souls. Then our efforts at Christian growth seem only a succession of failures.
Why does this happen? It happens because we forget the lesson of the lilies of the field. Strenuous efforts to grow spiritually are right in earnestness, but are wholly wrong in principle. In both the natural and spiritual realm there is but one principle for growth. That principle is the same for plant and animal, and for body and soul. If we would know that principle, look again and “consider the lilies, how they grow.” There are two characteristics of all growth. They are:
First let us consider the spontaneous nature of spiritual growth. There are three categories by which we may seek for evidence of the spontaneous nature of both bodily and spiritual growth. The first category is Science. We need not be a rocket scientist to understand that the lilies grow of themselves. It is one of the most natural things in the world. They grow automatically and spontaneously, and that without trying, without fretting about it, or without having to think about it.
Take for example a new born baby boy. He begins growing shortly after birth without being aware of it, and is so uncontaminated by the advice of others that it is all automatic. As he grows he eats because he is hungry, and the growth goes on without giving it a thought. He does not fret about the condition of growth, but has a habit of eating and so the result is that growth goes on automatically and naturally. The boy’s parents have no need to tell the boy to grow, for it is a law of nature that he will grow without having to give thought to any process.
Well-meaning people may tell us that the formula for spiritual growth is more prayer, more self-denial, more good works, etc. These are all well and good, but are not the cause of spiritual growth, but the results of it, just as many of our activities in life increase as we grow into a greater and grater capacity for various and greater ventures. The scientific fact is that the soul grows as the lily grows, without trying and fretting and thinking about it.
Another thing that teaches us that growth, both bodily and spiritually, is spontaneous and automatic is experience. Getting back to the example of the boy in the above illustration that grows without taking thought, experience teaches us that he cannot make himself grow no matter how hard he tries. Doesn’t scripture also tell us this fact? No person can add to his stature by taking thought. “And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?” Mat 6:27
The Christian’s life unfolds itself like the lily of the field, from a divine germ planted centrally in his nature, and it grows as naturally as a flower from its seed. Though this flower can be imitated, one can always tell the artificial flower from the real one. This is the distinction between the natural growth of the Christian principles in the life of the Christian, and the moral copy of it. The first is natural and the second is mechanical. There are many artificial Christians marching about in society like little tin soldiers, but little tin soldiers only mimic the real thing.
In the natural world in which we live there are crystals that GROW and organisms that GROW, but there is a real and fundamental distinction between them. The distinction is that the crystal is DEAD, while the organism is ALIVE. The crystal increases, but the organism grows. The organism is from within, while the crystal simply adds new particles from the outside. This is the difference between the true Christian and the mere moralist. The moralist’s works are all an external put-on. The moralist’s so-called meritorious works are all external while the true Christian’s meritorious works are from an internal divine growth. It is the distinction between the true Christian and the hypocrite. Now the crystal may be ever so beautiful, but it lacks the vital principle of a living germ of divine life within.
Another fact that we need consider is that salvation in the first instant is never connected directly with morality. This principle is totally foreign to the thinking of the merely religious pretender since he thinks of his put-on show of morality as earning him salvation. It is true that salvation does demand morality, but the problem is that it demands so much morality that the moralist can never reach up to that level. True salvation results in the perfection of the inner man, i.e., a Christ-like mind. Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: There must first be a spiritual awakening that can only be accomplished by God, then comes the natural, internal morality. The moralist, with his external morality, may go a long distance towards perfection, at least in the eyes of his neighbors, but he can never reach true moral perfection, and so he is lost, for God demands perfection in the inner man. Only true spiritual life in the inner man can be perfect, and that life in the inner man of all true Christians is "Christ in you, the hope of glory. And that divine life, i.e., “Christ in you,” is the germ that sparks spiritual growth in the inner man that produces true good works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10. Divine life always produces good works and so spiritual growth results because God has ordained it, and those ordained good works will flow out of, and give true evidence of, that natural automatic and spontaneous spiritual growth. Life develops according to its type and so out of the Christian’s inner man will flow “rivers of living water,” and “springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. It will be the most natural thing in the world.
Growth is synonymous with a living, automatic process. The Christian is a new creature in Christ Jesus, and he adds cubits to his stature just as the old man (flesh) does, naturally. To use another scriptural metaphor he abides in the vine (Jesus), and because he abides in the vine, and not because he is toiling, but rather because he is growing, he brings forth fruit. Fruit is always because of growth and not growth because of the fruit. The fruits of the Christian’s character are not manufactured things, but living things that have grown from the secret germ. In short they are the fruits of the living Spirit.
Now let’s consider the second great characteristic of growth: mysteriousness. The lily Jesus spoke of grew mysteriously. It pushed up its weight of stem and leaf in the teeth of gravity. How the flower does that, we know not, but observation tells us it does. Along the edges of asphalt paving one often sees plants break the pavement to reach up their leafy heads towards heaven. What mysterious force causes that? It is God who causes it to grow. God has put within the lily the nature to grow. Likewise when the soul rises slowly above the world and pushes up its virtues into the very teeth of sin and depravity, and displays the very image of Christ, it is then as natural for the lily to grow mysteriously from the seed to the flower.
New Christians are often misled into believing the secret of spiritual growth is a strong will, a high ideal, a strong resolve to live virtuously, and the influence of Christian fellowship. We allow that the growth of a lily is a miracle, but then assert that a Christian must resort to self-imposed formulas to grow spiritually. We say the lily may grow naturally and spontaneously, but the Christian must fret and toil to grow spiritually.
A man or woman may, by hard work and self-denial attain to a very high character, but this is not spiritual growth. If such efforts at self-improvement cause spiritual growth then spiritual growth is not mysterious. Jesus Himself spoke of the mysteriousness of spiritual birth and growth when He said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8. The fact that it is mysterious implies you cannot account for it on philosophical grounds such as a favorable Christian environment, charitable works, or efforts at self-improvement. The result of such thinking produces only artificial flowers. You can easily discern where that kind of religion comes from and where it goes. A lot of what passes for Christianity is formed by external influences, social opinions, and the voices of the world, which may be observed and explained. But the genuine thing comes only by the unseen power imparted by the mysterious thing we call the new birth.
True Christians stand out from among the crowd, just as a real lily stands out from all the artificial ones, because of that unseen power that produces spiritual life in them, a life totally different from that lifeless counterfeit of the self-made that call themselves Christians.
As long as anyone tries to manufacture his or her own spirituality, they can never be free from the pressure cooker of trying to measure up. They do not understand that the energies that produce spiritual growth, which results in spiritual improvement, are already there. That energy is the energy of the Omnipotent God Who fills their souls. If they are saved, growth moves them upward just as the lily grows upwards naturally by reason of the energy to grow that is inherent in their cells.
When I was born of the Spirit of God I was hungry for the bread from heaven. That is also the natural result of being born again. It was a pleasure to “taste and see that the Lord was good.” I had “tasted the good word of God” and it made me want more. When one is born of the Spirit of God, growth is automatic. One need not even be thinking of that or even be aware of it. The only thing that can prevent growth in a Christian is not feeding on the word of God. But when one is born of the Spirit of God one has a craving for the bread from heaven, and so eating and growing will go on.
When one is born again growing begins and continues. At first he is satisfied with the “sincere milk of the word.” I Peter 2:2. And as he grows spiritually he automatically develops a taste for the strong meat of the word. “Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age.” And so his spiritual growth continues until he becomes a mature Christian. The lily of the field grows spontaneously and mysteriously because that is naturally inherent in its nature. I believe the Lord was pointing out to us that those born of the Spirit of God will just as spontaneously and mysteriously do the same.
Are you growing, or still working at it?
1 Kings 15:11-15, “Right in the Sight of the Lord”
11 "And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.
12 And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.
13 And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.
14 But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.
15 And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the LORD, silver, and gold, and vessels."
The heart of King Asa was perfect in the sight of the LORD. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 All of the issues of life; eternal salvation from hell, service to the Lord, and our relationship with others, are determined with the attitude of our hearts. Like Asa, we need to have a perfect heart in the sight of the Lord.
God established King Asa
For 41 years, King Asa reigned in Jerusalem. King Asa did the will of God as recorded in the scripture. God blessed him and established him. God is also willing to establish us in our homes, our jobs, in our spiritual life is we do His will.
Colossians 2:6 & 7, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Salvation is by faith in the Lord Jesus as ones personal Saviour. As we obtained salvation by faith, after we get saved, we need to walk with Jesus by faith. The Lord Jesus is the root of the tree. A person cannot see the root of the tree. The root establishes the tree. The Apostle Paul is teaching that as we take deep root in the Lord Jesus, the Lord builds us up and establishes us in the faith. As we discover these wonderful truths, as Paul said, we need to have a thankful heart.
God uses the scriptures to establish us and to teach us His will. This includes correct doctrine, holiness and righteousness in our lives. We need to listen to and study the scriptures in order to be established.
King Asa Followed God
Asa trusted in and loved God. As King, Asa determined to fear God and do what is right in the sight of God and not man, or society. Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” When we put our trust in God, and do those things that are right in His sight, than we are safe. We have a safe home in eternity and God will protect us on the earth. The fear of man brings a snare. When a person fears man, or society, he caught in the snare of the devil. False religion is the snare of the devil.
When we fear God and trust in Jesus as our Savior then God will bless us. Deuteronomy 12:28, “Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou dost that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.”
1 John 3:22, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” When we obey the Lord Jesus then the Lord Jesus will answer our prayers.
One of the reasons why the Lord Jesus does not answer our prayers is because we miss-use His name, we say, ‘Lord Jesus,’ but, we do not do what is pleasing in His sight. We need to do what is pleasing in His sight, not ours. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4: 4
King Asa knew the history of King David and did as King David did. King David is a good example for all of us.
King Asa removed the Sodomites and the idols
King Asa was a very moral person and righteous in his authority. The physical act of sodomy is vile, unnatural, destroys society and the family. King Asa obeyed the commandment of God in removing the Sodomites and the idols from the land of Israel. “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.” Deuteronomy 23:17
Exodus 20:3 & 4 “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
In the New Testament, we read that an idolater will not enter into heaven. Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
King Asa removed the evil things in the kingdom of Israel. We need to get remove evil things, thoughts, beliefs, personal agendas, and desires, from our lives.
God blessed King Asa with wealth. King Asa brought the dedicated things into the House of the Lord. Three items are mentioned: Silver, gold, and vessels. King Asa knew his wealth came from the blessings of God.
In our age, the visible house of the Lord is the local church. We need to dedicate our lives to the Lord Jesus and to the furtherance of the gospel. 1 Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” Every Christian needs to learn how to behave themselves in the church. The church is not an entertainment center, or a social club.
When a person loves the Lord Jesus, he will love the church. If a person loves the Lord Jesus, he will learn how to behave in the church. In a local New Testament, Bible believing, independent, fundamental, Baptist church you will find the doctrinal truth of the scriptures and practical behaviour that pleases the Lord.
The Removal of the Queen
The Queen of Jerusalem, Maachah, was King Asa’s mother. King Asa’s own mother was involved with idolatry. Because King Asa wanted to do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, instead of doing that which is right in the sight of man, King Asa removed his own mother from being Queen.
So often, in churches, in politics, in the affairs of this world, people who know to do right do not do right because they fear man and want to please a person, or an organization, or a denomination, or the lay people of the church. This was the attitude of King Saul. “And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” 1 Samuel 15:24 “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25
The Chief Shepherd of the local, New Testament Church, is the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 5:4, “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” The pastor of every church has only one person he must be accountable too; the Lord Jesus. The pastor obeys the Lord Jesus through the scriptures.
Like King Asa, good pastors will remove any false teacher, false bibles, or individuals following the gods of this world (music, methods, a denominational hierarchy, or anything contrary to scripture), from any church office. The Apostle Paul gave us an example in 1 Timothy 1:19 & 20, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they learn not to blaspheme.” The blasphemy of Hymenaeus and Alexander was a departure of the faith; they were heretics.
King Asa was a good king. He loved the Lord in heaven as David loved God. King Asa removed evil from the Israel as David removed evil. King Asa had a perfect heart with God. We need to have a perfect heart with God.
When did the church begin?
I think we would all agree that the English word “church” originates from the Greek word, “Ecclesia”. Without going into great detail I believe that we can also agree that this Greek word basically means “assembly.”
Ok, if we agree so far then we can move on to what assembly we are referring to when discussing the word, “Church.” I think it logical to begin with the promise of the church.
We find the promise here: Mat. 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
In this promise Jesus defines what church he is talking about; He said it would be his church and that he would build it. If we take Jesus at his word we can eliminate any other church, or assembly, if you will. We can also affirm that his church did not exist before this because the words “I will build” are in the future tense.
We find the first members of his church mentioned here” 1Cor. 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
We find that he chose these apostles here: Luke 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.
Since the office of apostle is then a “church office,” we can safely say that when he chose the twelve this is the beginning of “his church.” There are many scriptures that show that his church was in existence during his personal ministry on earth. They do not show the time of the actual beginning, but they affirm that it existed at that time. There is no scripture that comes right out and says; “The church began at this time.”
There are many that think that the church began on the day of Pentecost. But a serious study will show that the church existed before Pentecost. I’ll just mention a few here. Jesus is with his disciples here as they partake of The Lord’s Supper: Mat. 26:29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.
30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
He sang this hymn with them in the midst of the church: Heb 2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.
The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance.
Just the fact that they partook of The Lord’s Supper presupposes that there is a church in existence at this time.
The authority of disciples in church capacity was placed in the church during Christ's earthly ministry. Mat 18:15. Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
They had the church commission to preach the Gospel before Pentecost Mrk. 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Anyway, this part about the church before Pentecost is just a freebee. It doesn’t really speak to the issue of when the church was begun, but rather, when it wasn’t.
“Four Principles concerning the New Testament Church.”
King Solomon, and the nation of Israel, was seven years in building the Temple. Wow! Seven years is a long time. It takes a long time to get a large job accomplished. Sometimes when a person starts a work, and it takes a long time, they get discouraged and give up.
King Solomon did not get discouraged and he did not give up. He finished the task that God told him to do. The task of building the Temple was a very important task. King Solomon is a good example to persevere in a task. It is hard for a person to persevere in a large task.
The Apostle Paul stated that the stories in the Old Testament were examples to the saint in the New Testament. “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”1 Corinthians 10:6 Furthermore, Paul stated, “For whatsoever things were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4
As we ponder on the faith, and principles, that guided the Old Testament saints, as our examples, we can learn, obtain patience, comfort, and have hope. Our pondering of the saints of old will also help us as we work for the Lord, see souls saved, enjoy working for the Lord in Church, and enjoy the fellowship of the saints in church.
How did King Solomon persevere for seven years building the Temple? and, how may we learn from his experience? I would suggest that the reader, in connection with this devotion, read
1 Chronicles 29
Four Principles for building the Temple that
King Solomon learned from his father.
The Temple was the Lord’s house to do the work of the Lord. King Solomon learned four principles from King David his father concerning building the Temple. The fathers should teach the sons the things of God. Fathers should teach these principles not only by words, but also by heart-felt action.
First Principle in Building a Church
Building a Church is a Great Work
Concerning the building of the Temple, King David said that the work of the Lord was great. “Furthermore David the king said unto all the congregation, Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God.” 1 Chronicles 29:1
King David said that the Temple was the Temple of God and not for man. And, King David said that building the Temple of God was a great work.
The attitude of David is an example for the saints in the New Testament Church Age. The building of the local, New Testament, church is a great work and it is the Lords House. Matthew 16:18, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
The Lord Jesus started to build His church through soul winning efforts. “And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.” Mark 1:17 In order to become a part of the church of the Lord Jesus, a New Testament church, you need to become saved.
The primary reason why we have churches that do not believe sound doctrine, full of hypocrisy, full of charismatic foolishness, full of evil practices, is due to the lost nature of the “members.”
1 Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
In a true New Testament, independent, Bible believing, Baptist church, you will find the truth of the scriptures. A true saint seeking to learn correct behavior, righteousness, holiness, and doctrinal truth, will leave an unsound church and find a sound one. The untoward behavior as found in a lot of churches in age of Laodicea is not of the Lord.
A Polite Reminder
Before I continue this devotion, may I remind the reader that in the New Testament Church Age there are no denominations, no bishops controlling local churches as we see in the Catholic Church and the Presbyterian Church and other denominations.
A saint in seeking to learn correct behavior, sound doctrine, will not learn these matters in a man-made religious denomination, backslidden saints with a heart problem, nor by an, “internet theologian.” Man-made denominations, internet theologians, out of church saints, Theological Seminaries, will not teach the saint sound doctrine and correct behavior in the New Testament Church.
The New Testament churches, local assemblies, followed the baptism of John the Baptist, (Baptist is a title not John’s last name), the authority of the Apostles, and after the Apostles died, the absolute authority of the written scriptures. The Lord Jesus did not organize any denomination, Seminary, nor internet ministry.
Second Principle in building a church
The Church is for the Lord Jesus
We need to be like King David. Building a church is for the cause of the Lord Jesus and His work. It is not a social work. It is not an entertainment center. It is a place for the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a place where the Bible is taught.
Because it was a great work King David prepared the materials with all of his might. 1 Chronicles 29:2 says, “Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance.”
We need to serve the Lord with all of our might. Furthermore, we are we need to start today. John 9:4, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”
Third Principle in Building a Church
We Need to Love the Work
King David said, “Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house.” 1 Chronicles 29:3
King David loved the Temple and he loved the Lord. King David loved the house of God and gave his own financial resources (carnal things), for the Temple of God. Psalm 26:8 , “LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.” Psalm 18:1, “I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.”
When Solomon was a child, he saw that his father, King David truly loved God with his heart and loved the Temple of the Lord and gave of his gold (carnal goods), for the building of the Temple of God.
In our hearts, we need to love the Lord Jesus and the church. Ephesians 5:23-25 , “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
Colossians 3:2, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
As with King David, those saints who love the church, who love the salvation of souls, who love the preaching of the scriptures will give of their carnal goods, willingly and lovingly, for the furtherance of the local church. “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” 2 Corinthians 8:12
The Old Testament saints are an example in the area of giving to the house of God in the New Testament. “Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? for it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it together for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of this hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the alter? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar.” 1 Corinthians 9:8-14
The Lord Jesus ordained that in the New Testament local (physical), church, that the ministers of the gospel, and the church itself, to be taken care of the saints of the assembly through their offerings as the Old Testament saints took care of the Temple; as the law “saith.”
The obedience of this ordinance by the Lord Jesus does not put the New Testament saint under the law, but, the Lord Jesus, through the Apostle Paul, commands us to follow the example of the law. As Paul states, the law of Moses concerning giving was given for “for our sakes.”
King Solomon made the decision to love the Lord. 1 Kings 3:3a, “And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father.”
Song of Solomon 8:7, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.”
Sometimes we let the problems of this life quench our service for the Lord Jesus. King Solomon was able to persevere because he loved the Lord and loved the work of the Lord.
Our children notice whether we love the Lord and the church. To love the Lord Jesus and to love the church is a good principle in our lives. Can we not say that to love the Lord and to love the church is the greatest principle?
Fourth Principle in Building a Church
We need to be willing to build the church.
In 1 Chronicles 29:5 King David asked who was willing to consecrate his service to prepare to build the Temple. “The gold for things of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and for all manner of work to be made by the hand of artificers. And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the LORD?” 1 Chronicles 29:5
I have already quoted 2 Corinthians 8:12 in connection with the giving of our carnal goods (or finances), to the church, but, it bears repeating as a willing heart and mind is essential in all of the work involving the Lord Jesus. “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” 2 Corinthians 8:12
In verse 6, the people willingly offered to consecrate themselves to prepare the materials for the Temple. “Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king’s work, offered willingly.” 1 Chronicles 29:6
When Solomon was growing up he saw the willingness of the his father, King David, and the willingness of the people, to serve build the Temple. Our children look at us and see if we willingly serve the Lord. We are an example to our children. And the Old Testament saints are an example to the saints in the New Testament.
King Solomon was willing to build the Temple. In fact, King Solomon was determined to build the Temple. 2 Chronicles 2:1, “And Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the LORD, and an house for his kingdom.” King Solomon willingly made this decision because of his love to God and to the Temple of God.
King David and the people rejoiced in preparing to build the Temple.
In and 17 King David and the people with great joy prepare to build the Temple. When King Solomon was a child, he rejoiced that he could help prepare to build the Temple. In fact, King Solomon, the wisest man in the world, when the Temple was built, said, all the saints ought to rejoice.
2 Chronicles 6:41, “Now therefore arise, O LORD God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness.”
We need to consecrate, to love the Lord Jesus, and willingly serve the Lord Jesus in building His church. As we build the church, through soul winning efforts and the teaching and preaching of the scriptures, we need to have a joyful heart.
WHAT DID JESUS SAY ABOUT:
Righteousness and Justification
Jesus had some very specific things to say about righteousness and justification. His teaching has, for the most part, been perverted and twisted until it means something quite different from what the early church understood it to mean. The nature of this perversion is so degenerate that it has changed the meaning of these words so that they mean exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught. The result is that most of the religious world believes a lie and perpetuates this lie simply because it has been repeated as truth for so many years. These same people castigate those who would hold to the purity of God’s word; relegating them to the ranks of some obscure sect or calling them religious fanatics.
We can be thankful that God’s word does not change, the religious world has had to invent new versions of the Bible to prove their blasphemous lies, because the Bible does not support their teaching, in fact, it condemns it.
In order to have a proper study on this subject, it must be determined what the word “righteousness” means with regard to the righteousness that Jesus spoke of for the remission of sin. Three references will serve to define the word: Rom.5:21. Phil.3:9. Tit.3:5.
Jesus pointed to John the Baptist as he that came in the way of righteousness, some accepted that way and others did not, thus representing the two different sides of this argument. Mat.21:28-32.
Now if John came in the way of righteousness, then we must ask, what was John’s message? Mat.3:1-2.
Salvation presupposes the idea that I am unable to help myself, this is called depravity. Jer.17:9. If I think that because my sin is gone, then I am righteous, what about tomorrow? If I sin tomorrow do I lose my righteousness? This is where the idea comes from that you can lose your salvation. Rom.10:3.
Where then does this righteousness come from? Does it come about because of the good things that I do? This is the adult version of--- “If you be a good little boy you will go to heaven.” It is also the mistake of the Pharisees who looked within themselves for their righteousness and despised those who did not act righteous as they did.
Rom.5:21 Puts righteousness in the proper perspective.
Rom.4:21-25. Shows that the righteousness that the Christian has is not his own, it is the righteousness of Christ, and I, by repentance and faith become adopted into the family of God with all of the benefits of being a son.
1Cor.1:30. There will come a day when the Christian will not have sin to deal with, but until that day I have the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is this that makes me acceptable to God the Father, the scripture calls being acceptable, “justification”.
Let’s look at what Jesus said about those who trust in their own righteousness, as compared with those who realize that they have no righteousness. Lk.18:9-14.
Why is it so important to have the proper righteousness and justification? The answer is simplicity itself: If, in the judgment day, I have only the righteousness that I have got by my good deeds it will not be accepted by God! Why? Because I have not accepted the righteousness that he provided, this is the same as saying that Christ’s death is not the only way to get to heaven. I have no need of Christ’s blood, I can do it myself. Gal.2:16.
Heb.10:29. In that day there will come a separation, the angels will sever the just from the wicked and man will have no say in the matter. Mat.13:47-49. This is why it is so important to get it right the first time, now you have a choice, there are no second chances in the grave, and we are not reincarnated until we get it right as some teach. Ecc.9:10
Psa.31:17 Psa.6:5. In short Jesus said that only the just or righteous will enter the kingdom of heaven. See how Jesus puts it in Mat.25:31-34.
Mat.5:6. shows that becoming righteous by the grace of God is no accident. The words, “hungering and thirsting”, as it pertains to righteousness, comes only as one desires it. There must be an active choice on your part, salvation is no accident, and those who receive God’s salvation have made the choice to do so. It is also not just a determination on your part to become religious, the Pharisees were religious and Jesus condemned their religion.
Salvation comes about as you determine that you are a sinner and it is not physically possible for you change this situation. It is seeing the need of having your sin forgiven and blotted out. The scripture says that the wages of sin is death, Jesus came and died to pay the price of my sin, and his blood is the cleansing agent that will make me look as white as snow when I stand before God in the judgment day. In that day I will stand, having his righteousness to wear as a robe, and his justification which makes my sin as if it never was in the eyes of God.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 is one of the the most familiar verses in the Bible and one of the verses people most like to "claim." It also seems to be one of the most misunderstood and misapplied. All too often, the misunderstanding arises when someone refuses to simply allow the scripture to say what it says. The most obvious misunderstanding is the fact that the verse does not apply to everyone -- it applies to "them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." This is not a promise that a lost world is in any position to claim, as they do not fit that description. Rather, this promise is one given to true believers who know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.
Sadly, even among Christians, there often seems to be major misunderstandings in relation to this verse. Some mistakenly take it to mean that nothing bad can come their way, and they then find themselves completely bewildered when something comes along that rocks their world. In a case like that, it is the first half of the verse that has been misinterpreted and misapplied. There are most certainly bad things that come into the lives of believers. Death is not good. Sickness is not good. Pain is not good. When God created the universe and found His creation to be "very good," those things were not a part of it. They were brought about because of the sin of mankind. The wonderful truth of the matter is, however, that an almighty, sovereign God can take bad things that were not a part of His original creation and use them to work for our good. If you will allow me, I would like to give you a personal account in which I found that to be true.
I will not go into the specific details of my experience because there were other people involved and I do not wish to say anything that would violate their privacy. Suffice it to say, I faced one of those situations that I spoke of earlier that rocked my world. I thank God that I was grounded in His word, because if I had not been, the situation that I lived through could have easily washed me out and severely damaged my faith. It was something that forced me to rely on God far more than I ever had before. It was also something that pushed me to action in something that I had said for years that I wanted to do "one day."
I stated in my introductory post that I have recently published a book. While I did not explicitly state this, if you read between the lines, you might have also deduced that I have a soft spot for kids. Children's ministry is, in fact, one of my greatest passions. I have taught kids' classes at my church since I was 19. I've been one of the sponsors that took my church's elementary school aged kids to camp four times. Vacation Bible School week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I could continue, but you get the point: I love kids. That thing that I said for so long that I wanted to do but never completed was writing a children's novel.
Ultimately, I truly believe that God held me back from doing in until the time was right. There were a few abortive attempts, but none of them ever went very far, and I never came anywhere near writing a full book. Then, my foundations were shaken. At that time, I decided to try once again to write a book, this time, in large part to keep my sanity. However, I did not want to write just any book. I wanted to write something that would be a help to young people who read it. I wanted it to be an entertaining story, but a story that would teach Biblical values. I wanted it to feature characters that were not ashamed of their Christianity. I wanted it to be something that might be edifying to its readers. Lo, and behold, this time it happened.
I would be lying if I said that there are no longer times that I struggle with what happened in my life two years ago. It was something that completely reordered large parts of my life, and in some very negative ways. I very much wish that what happened would not have happened. If I told you what it was, you would no doubt say the same thing. Even so, I would not undo what it changed in me. As I said, it helped me to learn to trust in the Lord much more than I ever had. It is my natural tendency to worry, but my experiences in these last two years has greatly cut that down. It also strengthened the passion that I already had for young people, and gave me an even greater desire to minister to them. When I think about my own troubles and how difficult they were for me as an adult, if makes me think about how much tougher they are for a child, thus increasing my level of compassion. Since then, I've found that new opportunities to do that, such as the book, have presented themselves, and I see other possibilities on the horizon, no doubt because God has used the trials of my life to give me a fuller understanding of the needs that exist. It is truly amazing to see how He moves.
All things are not good, but we serve a God that is more than capable of using even the bad for our good. He can use those things to strengthen us personally and to make us a better witness to others. Nothing catches Him by surprise, and nothing can thwart His will. I have learned not to say that something can never happen to me. I have been affected by things that I would never have believed could happen. But more than that, I have found that my God can use them all to shape me into someone whom He can more easily use. Yes, for the believer, all things work together for good.
The Wonders of God’s Grace
by Ronald W Robey
Luke 5:37 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.
Luke 5:38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.
Luke 5:39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
In the above passage, Jesus was demonstrating the fact that Law and Grace CANNOT mix. The Old wine representing Law, the New representing Grace. The Old man, upon trusting Christ Jesus, becomes a New man. Grace (New Wine) is bestowed to the New man (New wineskins)
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Many refuse the New Wine, saying, "The Old is better". Yet Christ came to make all things New and in His death on the cross, has done away with the Old.
Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Ephesians 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Genesis 3:16 (KJV) Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Genesis 3:17 (KJV) And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Genesis 3:18 (KJV) Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
Genesis 3:19 (KJV) In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
In Genesis 3:16, we see the God of all creation, who is clearly angry because of man disobeying Him, pronouncing judgment upon the first married couple who ever walked upon this Earth, and He put a curse upon the Earth as well. One man’s disobedience affected not just that one man, but the entire world and all of mankind who would be born upon the face of the Earth
Romans 5:12 (KJV) Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
God had promised earlier in the creation story, death as the sentence to be carried out should the man and woman partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And just as God promised, the man and woman died that day as a result of disobedience. The immediate death was not physical, but rather it was spiritual.
In 1 Timothy 2:14, we read: And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
Eve, being deceived, was in the transgression. At that moment that she partook of that fruit that God had forbidden, God could have struck her dead. He could have removed her life force from the face of the Earth and created another help meet for man. But, because of His infinite mercy, His unfailing love, and the Wonder of God's Grace, He did not.
God allowed the woman to live. He allowed her to give the fruit to her husband. Her husband ate of the fruit, and died spiritually with her. His love for his wife was so strong that he partook of the forbidden fruit, in spite of the fact that he knew he was being disobedient to God.
No doubt, there must have been a change in Eve’s countenance after partaking of that forbidden fruit… a change that caused her husband Adam to know that his wife was, though standing before him with life-giving blood flowing through her veins, now spiritually dead.
Jesus, toward the close of His speaking to the multitudes in what would later be known as “The Sermon on the Mount”, warned of false prophets, stating, “Ye shall know them by their fruits”. Adam must have witnessed something in Eve’s actions or expressions that instant that made him to know that his wife, the woman that God had told him to procreate with, had indeed spiritually died after eating of that forbidden fruit. For the Bible tells us that the man was not deceived, but the woman was deceived. Adam partook of that fruit with full understanding and full knowledge that he too, would die spiritually.
And so He ate, and subsequently hid from God. As God walked in the Garden in the cool of the day, the man and his wife hid in the flora, ashamed because their eyes had been opened to knowledge of good and evil. They realized their nakedness and were afraid of being seen by God.
God called out to Adam, and Adam answered. In His calling out to Adam, God was revealing the Wonder of His Grace. God, being omniscient, already knew Adam had partaken of the tree that God had forbidden him to eat from. But God, in His infinite mercy and great love with which He loved Adam revealed His Grace by calling the man and his wife out of the bushes and unto Himself. What a perfect picture of the Wonder of God’s Grace so early in the first book of our sacred book, God’s Word.
God, in His infinite mercy, manifested the Wonders of His grace. Instead of destroying man for his act of disobedience, God extended that grace toward man and allowed him to live in a world that was once perfect, but now was cursed with thorns and thistles. Man, through his one act of disobedience had lost the authority to tend the Garden in Eden where the Tree of Life was planted. Man lost the ability to eat of that Tree of Life and live forever. Man lost his privilege to care for and dress the Garden that God had placed him in. But the Wonder of God’s Grace allowed him to continue to live outside the Garden in the now cursed world.
The woman, as our text above shows, did not go unpunished. God said that because of her rebellion she would have great sorrow in childbirth. We are not told whether the man and his wife had any children while he was filling the position of Caretaker of the Garden. However Genesis 1:28 reveals that God did tell them to “go forth and multiply”. God had given them His blessing to have children, thereby showing the Wonder of His Grace even before the fall.
The curse God gave to woman was that where there may not have been great pain in giving birth, she now would be tasked to endure much pain… “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception” Sorrow where joy may have once been. Sorrow, not just because of the stress on her body during childbirth, but also because of knowing the life every child born to her would ultimately have to face because of her being deceived and giving in to the lust of the eyes.
Oh, how it must have torn at her heart to know what she had lost and what her children could have had if she had only been wise to the serpent's words when he beguiled her. And how she must have remembered God’s Words each time she brought forth children and experienced that “great pain” that God said she would experience through childbirth.!
But Oh, the wonders of God’s grace that the woman was given the chance to live a long life, if only outside of the Garden that she once walked with her husband and the Lord God in the cool of the day.
We read in the third chapter of Genesis how that after God sentenced mankind through judgment, God clothed man with coats of skin. We are not told what skin was used to cover the man and his wife. We do know that it was a type and shadow of a future sacrifice and covering that would be offered for all mankind through the death, burial and resurrection of God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ.
By one man’s disobedience sin entered into the world. And that man’s disobedience brought sin and death upon all men. We are told that because of that one’ man’s disobedience, the world quickly became full of wickedness. The Bible tells us that “man’s heart was only evil continuously.” God set His heart against man and against the Earth that He had created. He decided that the world was useless to Him and that He would destroy it completely.
No doubt, just as He spoke and the worlds were framed, He could have just as easily spoken and made them vanish in an instant of time. But because one man caught God’s attention, the Wonder of God’s Grace was shown to that man and his family.
The Wonder of God’s Grace allowed righteous Noah and his family to enter the ark and stay safe while the rest of the world, mankind, flora and fauna as well, perished in the great worldwide flood.
We are reminded of the Israelites, slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, who witnessed the Wonder of God’s Grace as God poured out plague upon plague upon Egypt. The plagues affected the Egyptians, but the Israelites were not affected. Prior to the last Biblical plague upon Egypt, the death of the firstborn of every Egyptian household and of every firstborn animal in the Egyptian flocks and herds, lambs were slain by Israelite households and the blood from those lambs put upon the doorway of the Israelite home, a type and shadow of the blood sacrifice that Jesus Christ the Righteous gave on Golgotha, the place of the skull, for all mankind.
It was that final plague that caused Pharaoh to release the Israelites and allow them to journey away from Egypt to go worship the LORD their God.
As they were journeying toward the Red Sea, the Wonder of God’s Grace is seen once again as God guided them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night until they reached the Red Sea.
We all know the story… Pharaoh had a change of heart once again and gathered an army to chase after the Israelites. The Wonder of God’s Grace made a way where there was no way. He parted the waters and they walked across on dry land! The Egyptians pursued them. God caused the waters to fall upon the Egyptian army and they were drowned. The Wonder of God’s Grace had protected the Israelites and destroyed their enemies.
We read of the wilderness wanderings, how that men began to murmur and complain, God provided manna from Heaven, birds brought them food as well. And twice they were given water from a rock. And yet, they did not see the Wonder of God’s Grace even though He had clearly bestowed it.
It is no surprise that Jesus later said, “No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.”
The Israelites murmured and complained, they voiced how they wished Moses had left them alone under the hands and rule of the Egyptians. The Wonder of God’s Grace had provided for them constantly, and yet, they were not focused on God. Had they focused on Him, they would not have complained as they did and would have recognized the Wonder of God's Grace.
Moses went up on the Mount to speak with God and God gave him commandments for the Israelites to observe and follow. There were 613 commandments in all that God told Moses the children of Israel were to observe.
It must be noted that God gave these commandments to Israel alone. He did not give them to Gentile nations.
God’s Word tells us in Exodus 12:49, “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
God was very careful to construct His words as He spoke them to Moses. Notice He said “and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you,” and not “and to you who live among the strangers” This reveals to us that the Mosaic Law was restricted to those living in the Promised Land.
We find further confirmation of this decree in the writings of King David,. In Psalm 147, we read:
Psalms 147:19 He sheweth His Word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel.
Psalms 147:20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for His judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.
God’s Law given to Israel, which was in effect from 1450 BC to 70 AD, all 613 statutes, torts and ordinances contained in that Law, was never given to Gentiles.
We have examined only a handful of the accounts of the Wonder of God’s Grace being shown in the Old Testament. There are many, many more. It was the wonder of God’s Grace that was bestowed upon the widow of Zarephath who shared her last meal with the Prophet and we are told that God multiplied what she had. We see the Wonder of God’s Grace in the story of the Hebrew children Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego as they declared to the king “we will not bow to your image, nor worship it”. The Wonder of God’s Grace was seen in a den of lions when the man of God, Daniel, was cast in for praying to Almighty God, disobeying the kings command.
Oh, that we will have that same boldness in the face of tribulation and persecution, that we might witness the Wonder of God’s Grace as the men of God in the Book of Daniel did!
Let us move forward to the year 4 BC. The year that an angel appeared to a young virgin named Mary. We are told how that God sent His Son into the world, made of a woman, to save His people from their sin.
Oh, the Wonder of God’s Grace extended in the giving of His only begotten Son to a sin-sick world! God’s chosen people Israel were still under the Law handed down to Moses from Heaven above. They were bound to the sacrifices, the offerings, ...all ordinances, statutes and torts written in that Law.
They could not deviate from the guidelines that God had established. In Deuteronomy 12:8, we read:
Deuteronomy 12:8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.
Man could not just do whatever he chose to do. God did not give those 613 Laws to man so man could simply ignore them and do his own thing. He had to follow the Law precisely in the way that God had prescribed. Where God did allow substitutions, God revealed what those substitutions were to be. Things were to be done God's way, not man's.
But after nearly 1,440 years of the the Wonder of God's Grace being displayed in the dispensation of the Law, in an even greater demonstration of the Wonder of God’s Grace, God sent His Son, whose life, death, burial and resurrection would be the catalyst for a New Covenant with Israel. And not with Israel only, but with every nation upon the face of God’s Earth.
Throughout His life on this Earth, Jesus Christ was manifesting the Wonder of God’s Grace everywhere He went. At twelve years old, the child Jesus amazed Rabbi’s in the Temple, answering questions concerning the Holy Scriptures. At twenty-nine He performed the first miracle man had ever seen Him do at a wedding feast in Cana. The wonder of God’s Grace is seen in His raising Lazarus from the dead, His healing blinded eyes, His casting out devils, in multiplying a few loaves and fishes for hungry crowds of thousands who had come to hear Him speak, and in the countless other miracles He performed while walking this Earth as the Son of man.
The Wonder of God’s Grace is seen in His restoring a servant’s ear after Peter had cut it off with a sword in the Garden of Gethsemane.
And then, we come to Golgotha, that horrible hill on which the Saviour was hung. As He was dying, He revealed once again the Wonder of God’s Grace when He said, “It is Finished!”
It is true, as He said in Matthew’s Gospel, that He did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it. And fulfill it He did. He did what no other man was able to do, He kept every aspect of the Law that applied to Him as an Israelite, born of the lineage of David.
But, we are told in Ephesians 2:14-15 that Christ, in His death, burial and resurrection, abolished the ordinances written in the Law.
Ephesians 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Abolished! Cancelled out. Completely! Man, who has trusted and is now married to Jesus Christ, no longer has to be governed by the Mosaic Law.
Romans 7:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
Romans 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
Romans 7:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
Romans 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
In Romans 7:1-4, the Apostle Paul likened a person who submits to the Law, while married to the One who has risen from the dead, to an adulterer married to a spouse, but living in the home of another.
My Brethren, The Wonder of God’s Grace has called us out of the bondage of the Mosaic Law. We have been freed from not only the law of sin and death, but we are told that we have been brought into a New Covenant. The old is ready to vanish away, as the author of the Book of Hebrews said nearly 2,000 years ago.
Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
Hebrews 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
Where Grace abounds, there is liberty. There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus; who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The Word of God has indeed freed us from the Law, never to be entangled again with its yoke of bondage. We needn’t wear that yoke, Christ wore it for us. We needn’t submit to the ordinances, Christ took them out of the way, nailing them to His cross. As the Apostle Paul wrote in the third chapter of Galatians, it is foolish for one who has begun in the Spirit to subject himself to the Law. How are we to expect Grace and Mercy from the Father, when we turn our backs on the price his Son paid for our freedom and choose to walk in ordinances that God’s Word said belonged to national Israel alone?
So many today are being told that they are lost and in need of a Saviour. This is true. So many are told that eternal life is a gift from God to man, and that the only things man has to do to receive this wonderful gift is to believe on Jesus Christ. This also is true.
The problem arises when we get the new Convert into the Church, the Convert quickly finds that, according to the pastor, there is a price to pay. The new Convert is told to keep certain of the ordinances that were given to national Israel. That God requires these ordinances to be observed by the Church members today. My Brethren, nothing could be farther from the Truth.
My Brethren, cast out the bondwoman and her son. Break away those chains that cause you to be unfaithful to the Lord. It is only when you walk away from the Law, that you will truly know the fullness of the Wonder of God’s Grace.
What is the Wonder of God’s Grace? It is all that I have mentioned previously, and more. It is the recognition of where God found us, what God offered us, what He has given those of us who have accepted that offer, and what He has prepared for us… despite the fact that we are a fallen race, despite the fact that we fail from time to time, despite all of our shortcomings.
The Wonder of God's Grace assure us that we are accepted in the Beloved.
As we come to the close of the short message, My prayer is that it has spoken to our hearts and challenged us to be more diligent in our studies of God’s Holy Word.
For those who may be unsure of your eternal state after this short existence on Earth, do not hesitate to make that decision today. Our Lord’s return is more nigh us that it has ever been. If you should die without Christ, you will miss the Wonder of God’s Grace, If you should die without the Lord, your only hope is to face Him in His wrath. .
God bless all who work for His eternal Kingdom!
Just something going through my head this morning:
CHRISTIANS AND THE LAW
In this electronic age of communication, with the internet, hence the world at our fingertips, it gives one a view into the minds and lives, often more than we might prefer, of many others who, before this, we might now little to nothing about.
One thing that always amazes me, is the great lack of biblical understanding of so many who claim the name of Christ-and today, again in this age of information, there is no lack of information about Him, though there is also a lot of garbage to wade through, as well, which is why a good, Bible-believing church is still such a requirement.
But as I look at the many ideas out there, the one that never ceases to amaze, is how many believers so desperately cling to the laws of Sinai, ostensibly born-again believers in Jesus Christ, who believe that it is the duty of all believers to maintain the Mosaic laws and commandments given upon Sinai to the children of Israel, and what it tells me, is that there is little actual training and studying going on by these people, and their teachers of the entire word of God, or they would know that this just isn’t so.
Understand of course, this is not me, not my opinion-the Bible is the word of God, and our ONLY authority in all areas of life, worship and obedience, but one must KNOW the Bible, one must STUDY the Bible, to know HOW to follow it. So, in this vein, I wish to broach this subject on Christians and the Law.
To go over the law as a whole would be treading ground most of us already know well, but in brief, after Moses had led the children of Israel out of the land of Goshen in Egypt, the Lord having punished Egypt with ten plagues and passed judgement upon all the gods of Egypt, they found themselves at Mt. Sinai, and here the Lord gave them His laws, consisting of ten commandments, graven upon stones, and many other ordinances, concerning all aspects of life, to include the treatment of such illnesses as leprosy, punishments for sin, sacrifices, offerings, relationships between spouses, neighbors and the nations, care of the poor and the priests and Levites, and so on. All aspects of life were covered under the law.
In Exodus 24, we read of the official covenant being made between God and Israel, concerning the keeping of the law: “And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.” (Ex 24:3-8)
Now, here is where we begin to understand what, if any, relationship the believer has with the Law of Moses:
1-The Blood Covenant.
A blood covenant is an agreement made between two parties, rather like a contract, except instead of the parties involved signing on the dotted line, there is blood shed to seal the agreement. In the case of Israel, the blood of clean animals was used, rather than the participants cutting themselves, or drinking any blood. In such a covenant, the parties who will be involved are agreed upon by both parties, and often a blood covenant would remain in effect as long as one party was still alive, and would apply to the family of the both parties, as long as at least one participant lived. For instance, when David and Jonathan, the son of King Saul, made a covenant between them, after Jonathan died and David was king, David sought for any children of Jonathan, to show him kindness for the sake of the covenant they made, and when he found Mephibosheth, he brought him to his house and fed him from his own food from that time on. This is the strength of the covenant.
So, the covenant made at Sinai, the parties involved were YHWH God, as seen when the blood was sprinkled on the altar, and the children of Israel, as seen when they agreed to obey all the Lord told them, and they were sprinkled by the blood of the covenant. This means the parties that were responsible to keep the covenant, as long as one party remained, were Israel and their PHYSICAL descendants, and God, and of course, since God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting, it would be in force forever. OR, until one part broke the covenant, and then the other would be free. So from the beginning, the only parties who were ever under the law were Israel and their descendants, and the Lord God. The only exceptions to this were servants of those of Israel, and those strangers (Gentiles) who sojourned within their walls-they were expected to keep the law as well, while they were in the borders of Israel. (Ex 20:10, which actually only applies to the Sabbath). So clearly, only those who were a part of the initial covenant are answerable to that covenant. Gentiles, believers or otherwise, are not, and never were.
2-The Covenant Broken
When the covenant was made in Ex 24, as we read above, both parties made certain promises as part of the covenant: Israel promised to be in obedience to all the Lord commanded them, and the Lord promised something as well: “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off. Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil. I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.” (Ex 23: 20-31)
Here is the Lord’s part of the covenant: IF the children of Israel keep their covenant in obedience, then the Lord will do all these things-they will be established in the land, all their enemies run out before them, they will have peace and safety and health and good flocks and crops. But here’s the rub-Israel has to obey the covenant as well, lest the covenant be broken and the Lord is not held to keep His part, and of course it isn’t all that long after they arrive in Canaan that they continually break the covenant and fall into gross disobedience: they refuse to fight against all the inhabitants of the land, as they are commanded, so the Lord allows some to remain as a snare to them. After they settle into the land, they quickly fall away and begin to serve the gods of those other people in Canaan, and to intermarry with them. So Israel quickly breaks the covenant, meaning the Lord is not held to fulfil all He has promised, and as a result the history of Israel is rarely a happy and comfortable one. The Lord allows them to be in bondage to their enemies time and again, though He rescues them when they cry out to Him, and he gives the judges to rescue them-but once that judge is dead, they fall away again. Lather, rinse, repeat. So the covenant has been broken and it only holds at all because the Lord, in His mercy, maintains it, though by choice, not compulsion.
3-The Broken Covenant Replaced
When Jesus came to earth as a man, and lived the law perfectly, and taught the Jews the true law, of the Spirit, not the letter, He was accused of trying to destroy the law. He responded, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Some have looked at this and said, ‘See, the law will remain as long as heaven and earth remain.’ But is this what Jesus said? Read it again-“I am not come to destroy, but to FULFIL. Jesus’ job was to fulfil the law-to destroy it would mean to end the law before its time and in an improper manner; but to FULFIL it would mean to end it in the manner it was meant to be ended, the proper, planned end. In reality, the Jews had all but destroyed the law in their disobedience, hundreds of years earlier, and it only remained because the Lord kept it intact-however, because it was a broken law, it needed to be replaced with a new covenant-the only proper manner to replace this covenant was through a new covenant. And this was why Jesus had come-to fulfil the old covenant by replacing it with a new one, thus fulfilling the old. And what He said in the above statement was, even if it took til the end of all things for a new covenant to be made and to fulfil the old, the old would remain in force until the new took its place. The old HAD to be fulfilled, not destroyed, though both effectively would end it-one properly, one improperly. So Jesus DID come to end the law, but through fulfillment, not through destruction.
When Jesus hung upon the cross on Golgotha, as He died, He cried out, “It is finished!”, and gave up the ghost. When this happened, a telling event took place: the veil of the temple, which separated the holy place from the holiest place, the Holy of Holies, where dwelt the Ark of the Covenant, (though missing at that time) was rent in two, from top to bottom. The veil symbolized the separation between God and His creation because of sin-when Jesus died, He paid the ultimate price for the sin of the world, and this ended that separation. The law was in place because of the separation between God and man, because man could not attain to the righteousness of God, and had to keep the laws and sacrifices, but could never cross that veil, even through the law, save for the High Priest only, one time each year to make atonement for Israel. Once Jesus Christ paid the price for sin, the way was opened, and His blood became the blood of the new covenant. The old had passed, a covenant made with the blood of bulls and goats, and the new began, made by the perfect blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Rom 10:4).
4-We Can’t Keep the Law If We Tried
A funny thing about the law: there are certain requirements to keeping it-like, ALL the law must be kept, or else one is guilty of the WHOLE law, IF one wishes to try to keep it. (Gal 3:10). So, keeping only a part of the law is actually breaking the entire law. And an aspect of the law, a necessary part of the law, was the Temple, or before that, the tabernacle. Sacrifices and offerings were made, by command, at the temple, which was built where the Lord commanded it to be. Sacrifices and offerings were not acceptable anywhere else. (Deut 12:13, 14) Each first-born male was redeemed at the temple for money, and the firstborn of each clean animal was taken to the temple as an offering of the Lord, as were the firstfruits of one’s crops. This was law. Whenever a woman gave birth, she was to go to the temple or tabernacle and give an offering (Lev 12:6). The priesthood of Aaron and the Levites was a part of the law. Simply-without a temple, without the priests and Levites, the law cannot be kept. In 70AD, Titus and the army of Rome came to Jerusalem and razed it and destroyed the temple-since that time, the Law actually has not been able to be kept by anyone, neither Jew nor Christian, because the temple is integral to the keeping of the law! This is why, at Sinai, the Lord God made sure they had the Tabernacle, and it was always the center of the tribes when they camped, and at the head of the tribes as they travelled in the wilderness-so for almost 2,000 years no one can keep the laws of Sinai if they tried.
In vain, Christians today try to keep the law. They declare that we must maintain the dietary laws, keep the Sabbath, and various other aspects, thinking it is a right thing to do, but they are deluded because, even as it was written in Gal 3:10, so it is now-if we want to keep the law, we MUST keep the WHOLE law, every bit, or else we are guilty of the whole law, even if we offend in but one part-and without the temple, we are automatically guilty of the law. And there is a reason for that: because Christ as fulfilled the law and has made a new covenant that superseded the old, which had been broken many times by Israel. It was a yoke the Jews could not bear! THIS is the whole reason Jesus came! To release us from the law which only brought death, because no man, until Jesus, could keep it perfectly. The law was made as a covenant relationship between YHWH and Israel, His nation. It was not made with the Gentiles, believers or otherwise, and to try to keep it is futile in many ways.
Today, Christians seek to keep aspects of the law, yet they seem to forget aspects of it. Let’s look at the dietary laws: Clean: Cattle, goats, sheep, deer, antelope, elk, those which are cloven-hooved AND chew cud. No rabbit, no pork. Fish: only those with scales. No shark, ray, eel, squid, octopus, shellfish, crabs, shrimp, lobster, clams, mussels, oysters, catfish. Birds: No eagles, ossifrage, osprey, vulture, kite, raven, owl, night hawk, cuckow, hawk, cormorant, swan, pelican, gier eagle, stork, heron, lapwing, and bat. (Would you know an ossifrage or a lapwing if it was served to you?) And fowl that creep, going on all four. Which are those? Creeping things: locust, beetle, grasshopper, weasel, mouse, tortoise, ferret, chameleon, lizard, snail and mole. Snakes? No problem! They’re clean! So be sure to keep all these.
And don’t forget, it is wrong to sow a field with diverse seeds, or to wear anything with mixed fabrics, (Lev 19:19). Men are not to cut the corners of their beards. Your garments must have a fringe with a ribband of blue, as a continual reminder of the law, (Num 15:38). Building a new house? Better build a battlement on the roof so no one falls off! (Deu 22:8). I could go on, but these are ALL parts of the LAW and to disdain to keep any of these is to break the law, and thus, to be guilty of the whole law.
Christians, study the Word-see the covenants, discern the truth and let Jesus Christ set you free from the bondage of the law-this is why Jesus came to earth! This is why He died on the cross and resurrected! There is no salvation in the law, only death, only bondage. Leave it behind and follow the commandments of the New Covenant, which are plenty.
Matthew 14:22-33 “Peace in the Midst of the Storm.”
“And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”
The account of the Lord Jesus walking on the water is a wonderful story that shows us His lordship over His creation and loving care for His saints.
Before we begin this devotion, let me bring a reminder that the disciples in the ship were Jews and were familiar with the account of how the LORD God takes care of the saints; even on the dangers in the sea. “They that do down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.” Psalm 107:23 and 24 God, in either Testament, God is Lord over all of the creation.
The Bible is a wonderful book. The Bible is God’s Word and it gives us an understanding of God and His will for our lives. It also gives us peace in our hearts as we go through the storms of life and the hope of eternal life in heaven.
“... tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.”
In this world, all of us go through storms of life. We have physical, mental, and spiritual problems. We have fears in our hearts, doubts, wants, needs, and stress, in our family and work. Everybody has storms in their lives. The Lord Jesus wants us to have peace in the midst of our storms: whether those storms are physical, mental, spiritual, societal, governmental, family, or work related.
What a wonderful story! This story tells of the power and majesty of the Lord Jesus. Jesus is truly Lord.
“... walking on the water.”
During the time of their deepest anxiety of life, the disciples saw the Lord Jesus walking on the water. Also, there was a very big storm on the water at the same time.
How was it possible for Jesus to walk on the water? Can you walk on the water? Do you know of anybody else that can walk on the water in front of other people? Did Confucius walk on the water? Did Buddha walk on the water?
Job knew, as the Jews knew, and as those who know their Bible know, only God in heaven, the LORD, can walk on the water. Job 9:8 says, “Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.”
Jesus could walk on the water because He is Lord. Colossians 1: 15-17 says, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Because Jesus created all things, He is Lord and has the power to walk on the water!
God, who lives in heaven, is invisible to all of us. The Lord Jesus is His only son. Jesus is the image of God. The Lord Jesus created this world and all that is in it. He created all of the things that you see and all of the spiritual things that you cannot see. The Lord Jesus created: the oceans, land, mountains, islands, our body, the thrones, or the governments, of this world, the angels, the Devil, or Satan, heaven and hell. All of the creation of the Lord is used for His purposes.
“Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”
The Lord Jesus can give us peace in our heart in the midst of the storms of life.
The disciples were on the boat and the storm was raging. They thought that maybe they would die. Some of the disciples were fishermen. The disciples knew the dangers of the sea. Also, they never had seen a person walking on the water.
The disciples had never seen a person walk on the water, so they thought that a ghost was coming to them. At the beginning, they did not understand what was happening. They were very scared. Then they cried out with fear. Like the disciples, so often in our lives we are fearful of the dangers in our paths and do not have a full understanding of the spiritual happenings around us.
The Lord Jesus said, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” The Lord Jesus does not want the Christian to have fear in their hearts.
The Lord Jesus also said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave unto you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The Lord Jesus gives the Christian peace in our hearts. The Christian has peace in their hearts that only Jesus can give. Jesus gives the Christian peace in the midst of the storms of live. When a Christian dies, he knows that he will ascend into heaven and live with Jesus.
When Jesus spoke these words the apostle Peter realized that it was the Lord walking on the water. Peter had faith in the Lord. So, Peter asked the Lord if he could come on the water and walk to Him. Jesus said one word, “Come.” We need to come to Jesus in the storms of life!
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Peter is a good example. In verse 29 we see how Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus. How did Peter walk on the water? Because of his faith the Apostle Peter was able to walk on the water. Faith is an amazing thing. We all need to have faith.
“Lord, save me.”
But, now we see that Peter took his eyes, his thoughts, off of the Lord Jesus, and looked at the wind and waves. Then he became afraid. Then he started to sink .That caused Peter to cry out, “Lord, save me.”
“Lord, save me.” All of us need to pay careful heed to these words of Peter. If you are not a Christian then you need to cry out to Jesus and say, “Lord, save me I do not want to go to hell. I do not want to go to hell forever. Lord save me! I am a sinner and deserve to die and go to hell. But, Lord, in your mercy save my soul.”
If you are a Christian, and you have taken your eyes and thoughts off of the Lord Jesus and onto the world and all of its problems then you need to turn your eyes on Jesus and say, “Lord save me.”
In the hymn book there is a song called, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.” The stanza says, “Turn your eyes on Jesus, look full into His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Jesus is Lord and He is truly wonderful. We need to take our eyes, our thoughts, our actions, off of the things of this life and trust in the Lord Jesus for all of our needs and give Him our fears.
“O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
In verse 31 we read these wonderful words, “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Faith pleases God but doubting does not. When we doubt, and criticize the Bible, and the things of God, then we displease God. The Bible, and all of the doctrines, stories, miracles, prophesies written therein, are to be believed and not doubted.
With very little argument, the greatest defender of the faith in the Chinese world was Wang Ming-Dao, July 25, 1900-July 28, 1991. Wang Ming-Dao is one of the best examples of the work of the scriptures in the heart of a Chinese convert. After salvation, as he was teaching in a Presbyterian mission school, because of his biblical stand to be immersed, he was dismissed in 1920.
Later on, in the beginning days of the Charismatic Movement in China, he openly taught against the Charismatic movement and denominational hierarchies. Wang Ming-Dao became known for his indigenous church work. From 1955-1980 he was imprisoned, twice, by the Communist government. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Ming-Dao
Through all of his intense verbal, spiritual, cultural, family relations, religious, denominational jealousy, and governmental persecution, Wang Ming-Dao maintained a rock-solid faith in Christ, doctrinal integrity, and inward peace through his personal storms in life.
Wang Ming-Dao said, 王明道「魔鬼敗壞信徒的計策很多，但最毒的莫過於使他們對神的話發生疑惑，因為這是根本的方法。」“Satan has many scheme’s to destroy the believer, but the greatest poisonous, and the original, method is nothing more than to cause them to doubt the word of God.” The English translation is a free translation from the author.
The Lord Jesus saw that, without divine intervention, Peter would quickly drown and lose his life. But, until Peter called out for the Lord to save him Jesus did nothing. But, when Peter called out to Him then Jesus saved him. When we call upon the Lord to save us He will do so. “I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.” Psalm 18:3
Many a person, in time of extreme distress, potential loss of life, war, accidents, and other physical dangers or spiritual dangers, have called upon the Lord for not only the eternal salvation of their soul, but for physical deliverance.
“Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”
The Lord Jesus took Peter’s hand then both Jesus and Peter walked back to the boat walking on the water. Peter embraced Jesus! When they got back to the boat the wind ceased. When Jesus and Peter arrived back to the boat the other disciples realized the wonderful thing that Jesus did. Then the disciples worshipped Jesus. They said, “Of a truth thou art the Son of God.” As Job realized that only the Lord in heaven could walk on the waves of sea, so must we. The confession that Jesus was the Son of God was a confession that Jesus was the Lord from heaven and equal in attributes, character, power, and authority. Both the Father and the Son are eternal and worthy of worship.
Psalm 2:7 and 12, “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. ... Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
In conclusion, we need to be like Peter and the rest of the men in the boat. We need to worship the Lord Jesus. Why not be saved today? Call upon Him in prayer and say, “Lord save me.”
 Wang Ming Tao, Treasuries of Wang Ming Tao, Volume II The Hard Road, (Touliu, Taiwan: Conservative Baptist Press, 1996), Page 256.
Before I dive into the doctrine of repentance let me just say that I am very aware of the importance of judging myself before judging anyone else and I try to walk in the light. In case you are wondering “who are you to reprove others?” I am only a sinner saved by God’s amazing grace. In fact, I am less than nothing apart from the Lord. BUT, Like Jeremiah, God’s Word burns in me and I cannot keep quiet.
If there is a doctrine that is seriously lacking in today’s churches it is repentance. It typically won’t build a big church so it is no wonder the majority of pastors today don’t preach it in an illustrated plain manner. I believe another reason why some earnest Gospel preachers are almost afraid of, and generally ignore, the terms “repent” and “repentance” in their evangelizing is that they fear that their hearers might misunderstand these terms and think of them as implying something meritorious on the part of the sinner. But nothing could be further from the mark. There is no saving merit in owning my true condition. There is no healing in acknowledging the nature of my illness. And repentance, as I will clearly show, is just this very thing.
And it is not enough to just tell your people to repent (though that is a lot more than a lot of people today). Lost people (which fill many churches today and I am not talking about the visitors) need some detailed illustrations about what real repentance is along with some hellfire preaching. I am afraid that most people could not give a Biblical definition of repentance.
Dear reader, my goal here is to bring some clarity on what real repentance is and that you will start to preach and teach repentance boldly and in a way so that your hearer truly understands that “except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3.
The problem today is the easy believism… 123 repeat after me sinners prayer type of evangelism, then giving them assurance they are saved without ever seeing their changed life. Giving people assurance of salvation without seeing the evidence of salvation is of the Devil as far as I am concerned. Preaching repentance and telling those who are lost to turn from their sin in a plain manner will drop your “saved” numbers dramatically. But who cares about an inflated report anyways! I want someone that I can disciple and you cannot truly disciple a professor who does not have a change in attitude toward God and their sin. I understand that there will always be some false converts, it is inevitable, but my based on my experience and diligent research on the topic, not preaching repentance is the reason for the majority of false converts. Like myself in the past, the majority want God to give them salvation but they keep doing their own thing. That is not Biblical salvation. If what you believe doesn’t change the way you live, I wouldn’t give ten cents for your faith. In plainer words, the Lord Jesus Christ did not die on the cross so that you can live any ole way you want. Dear reader, you don’t believe that (or you’re fooling yourself) and I don’t believe that because scripture says the opposite. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
So then why is the preaching of repentance so neglected? I think it is because there are a bunch of cowardly compromisers behind the pulpit who fear the people more than they fear Almighty God and who care more about their individual bottom line than about the truth. For example, Dr. Robert Morris at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX has a three part series called “The Blessed Life.” I was forced to watch it on two occasions while at the Faith Based Dorm at Hutchins State Jail. Not ONE time does Morris ever mention the word repentance. Not once did he ever tell his people in order to live a blessed life they would need to continue to confess and forsake sin! See 1 John 1:9 and Proverbs 28:13. He did say that if you tithe you will get material gain and if you don’t that God would curse you and you would have demons unleashed on you. Don’t get me wrong, I believe we are commanded to tithe and I myself do. BUT, we tithe not because we think it is a way to gain wealth in this world. It is simply because we are commanded to do so and it puts God first in your life. But this is a whole other topic for another time.
Some preachers rarely rebuke sin and preach repentance because they just don’t want to “beat anybody up.” I find that to be quite a revealing thing that literally flies in the face of hundreds of verses in the Bible… Was the Lord Jesus Christ “beating people up” when he told the Pharisees “except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish?” Was the Apostle Paul being too rough on the crowd when he said “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”? Acts 17:30
Fact is rebuking sin and urging people to turn from their sin is not beating them up but is the most loving and compassionate thing you can do. This self esteem mad generation we live in today confuses Biblical correction with persecution. Scripture commands us to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” 2 Tim 4:2
Then there is this business of giving people assurance of salvation without seeing the evidence of true repentance. We cannot give people assurance period. You can’t see that person’s heart only God can. We can have a pretty good idea later on based on their fruit and testimony (changed life) and we will do well to pray that God will give us discernment so that we can have a good idea whether someone is still lost or not and how God wants us to deal with that person etc. They can have assurance through the scriptures and the Holy Spirit alone. Before I was saved out of a drug addiction and wretched lifestyle in 2013, I thought I was saved (or hoped I was) simply because I “believed.” I used to hang onto John 3:16 because after all, it said whosoever believeth shall not perish. How convenient, I could just believe and keep on living any ole way I want. There is a verse that plainly describes that person and its Titus 1:16 “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”
Repentance and Faith
Author and Missionary David Cloud says:
“Some men point to John 3:16 and Acts 16:31, claiming that it is not necessary to preach repentance since we don’t see it in these passages.
‘It seems to me, though, that this is a strange way to use the Bible, since it is so obvious from other passages that repentance is necessary. Jesus said it is necessary (Luke 13:1-5); Paul said it is necessary (Acts 17:30, etc.); Peter said it is necessary (2 Pet. 3:9). If preaching repentance is not necessary and we only need to preach faith, why did Christ Himself preach repentance?
‘I would say to the issue of why verses such as John 3:16 and Acts 16:31 don’t mention repentance is that proper saving faith includes repentance and proper repentance includes faith. I say this because repentance and faith are sometimes spoken of in Scripture as both being necessary for salvation (i.e., Acts 20:21; Heb. 6:1), while at other times only one or the other is said to be necessary.
‘Salvation is referred to as coming to repentance with no mention of faith in Matthew 9:13; 11:20-21; 21:32; Mark 1:4; 2:17; 6:12; Luke 15:7; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 26:20; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:25; and 2 Peter 3:9.
‘Then in other passages, such as John 3:16 and Acts 16:31, salvation is referred to as believing and repentance is not mentioned.
‘By comparing Scripture with Scripture (rather than isolating Scripture, which is the method used by false teachers), I conclude that saving faith includes repentance.”
Examples of Repentance in the Bible
“And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham” (Lk. 19:8,9). Zacchaeus repented and it resulted in a hatred of evil and a love of righteousness. Also we see here that he who truly repents will surely seek to make right any wrong he has done to his fellows, though he knows that he never can make up for the wrong done to God.
“And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Lk. 15:17-20) Here we see the Prodigal Son confessing his sin towards God and making a 180 u-turn forsaking his sin.
“For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9). Notice they turned to God from idols not from idols to God. There is a difference. In plainer words, you cannot straddle the fence. Turning to God is a 180 and the old life of sin is now behind you, the cross before you.
“So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.” The word repentance isn’t in the Jonah passage, but they did turn, and that is what repentance is. In Matthew 12:31 Jesus confirmed that they indeed repented. It was obvious that the people of Nineveh had repented based on their actions.
“Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.” (Ezekiel 14:6) No thinking person would come to the conclusion that God would be pleased with the people just changing their minds without changing their actions!
What Repentance is Not
Repentance is not a work, works are the fruit of repentance. Repentance is not reformation either. There have been several people by their own free will that quit drinking, stop using drugs, stop stealing etc. but never got saved. They never confessed their sin to Almighty God and trusted in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Reformation is merely an outward change. Repentance is a work of God in the soul.
The Apostle Paul explains exactly what true repentance is in 2 Corinthians 7:10. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
Dear reader listen to me carefully, it is very important that you get this. The difference between sorrow of the world and Godly sorrow is this… WORLDLY SORROW ENDS AS SOON AS THE AFFLICTION IS REMOVED. AS SOON AS THE AFFLICTION IS OVER, AS SOON AS YOUR MARRIAGE IS HEALED, AS SOON AS YOUR BODY IS HEALED, AS SOON AS YOUR PROBLEMS ARE GONE, AS SOON AS YOU GET OUT OF PRISON/JAIL AND YOU DRIFT RIGHT BACK INTO THE WORLD THAT YOU CAME OUT OF. THAT’S WORLDLY SORROW THAT LEADS TO DEATH.
Godly sorrow of repentance to salvation grows and develops into conviction and perseverance and a relationship with the Lord and joy and fruitfulness in your life to where a change takes place, a real change that lasts past an altar prayer or a day or two in church or some revival meeting that you went to and felt good for a little while. If you have real godly sorrow it will work the effect where God becomes God in your life. Your attitude towards sin has changed. Once you get right with God you begin to see yourself as you really are. The Holy Spirit begins to open you up like a tin of beans. Once you right with God you’ll be shocked at the stuff you will be confessing and repenting of. Once you ever really get serious with God, stuff is going start coming out of your heart that you didn’t even know was in there because we have a way of covering stuff over, everybody’s got tunnel vision when it comes to their own sinfulness. You can see anothers sin real good but you have a difficult time seeing your own.
What Great Preachers of the Past and Present Have to Say About Repentance
“Biblical repentance as preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the apostles, is A CHANGE OF MIND TOWARD GOD AND SIN THAT RESULTS IN A CHANGE OF LIFE. IT IS A SPIRIT-WROUGHT CHANGE OF MIND THAT LEADS TO A CHANGE OF LIFE. It is not a change of life. That would be a works salvation. It is a radical, Spirit-wrought change of mind toward sin and God, such a dramatic change of mind that it changes one’s actions.” (David Cloud “Biblical Repentance” wayoflife.org)
“But God’s holy eye discerns the sinfulness of every heart and calls upon all to take sides with Him against themselves. Until this is done, saving faith is an impossibility. This is not to limit grace. It is to make way for it. And be it remembered, repentance is not a state automatically produced. It is the inwrought work of the Holy Spirit effected by faithful preaching of the Word. But how seldom today do we hear the cry, “Except ye repent.”” (Harry Ironside page 17 “Repent Ye”)
“…repentance … is a turning from sin, a loathing of it; and if thou hast that, thou hast sure repentance; but not else. Repentance is also a sense of shame for having lived in it, and a longing to avoid it. It is a change of the mind with regard to sin–a turning of the man right round. That is what it is; and it is wrought in us by the grace of God. Let none therefore mistake what true repentance is” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Mistaken Notions about Repentance,” Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, April 20, 1879).
“What then is repentance? So far as possible I desire to avoid the use of all abstruse or pedantic terms, for I am writing not simply for scholars, but for those Lincoln had in mind when he said, “God must have thought a lot of the common people, for He made so many of them.” Therefore I wish, so far as possible, to avoid citing Greek or Hebrew words. But here it seems almost necessary to say that it is the Greek word metanoia, which is translated “repentance” in our English Bibles, and literally means a change of mind. This is not simply the acceptance of new ideas in place of old notions. But it actually implies a complete reversal of one’s inward attitude. How luminously clear this makes the whole question before us! To repent is to change one’s attitude toward self, toward sin, toward God, toward Christ. And this is what God commands. John came preaching to publicans and sinners, hopelessly vile and depraved, “Change your attitude, for the kingdom is at hand.” To haughty scribes and legalistic Pharisees came the same command, “Change your attitude,” and thus they would be ready to receive Him who came in grace to save. To sinners everywhere the Saviour cried, “Except ye change your attitude, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Harry Ironside “Repent Ye”)
“Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin. Repentance is a forsaking of sin. Real repentance is putting your trust in Jesus Christ so you will not live like that anymore. Repentance is permanent. It is a lifelong and an eternity-long experience. You will never love the devil again once you repent. You will never flirt with the devil as the habit of your life again once you get saved. You will never be happy living in sin; it will never satisfy; and the husks of the world will never fill your longing and hungering in your soul. Repentance is something a lot bigger than a lot of people think. It is absolutely essential if you go to heaven” (Lester Roloff, Repent or Perish, 1950s).
“Saving faith includes repentance. Repentance is not doing anything. It is not a deed, act, work, or rite. Rather, it is a change of the direction of one’s heart. It basically means an attitude of the heart in turning from sin and self and turning to God. That’s what Paul was referring to in Acts 20:21 when he referred to ‘repentance toward God and faith in [toward] our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Saving faith is the human heart turning to God and then trusting in Jesus Christ. … Even as there is the part of trusting Christ, there is also the part of turning to Him. That may seem inconsequential, but I believe that here is a spiritual reason that some go through the motions of believing in Christ but are not really born again. They seemingly want the fire escape but there is no interest in turning to God. There is no interest in repentance. They have the attitude, ‘God, gimme salvation, but I’m gonna keep on doing my own thing.’ … However, if there is no real turning to God from the heart, they have missed the prerequisite for actually trusting Christ” (Sorenson, Training Your Children to Turn out Right, 1995).
“The hand that clutches the assassin’s knife must open ‘ere it can grasp the gift its intended victim proffers; and opening that hand, though a single act, has a double aspect and purpose. Accepting the gift implies a turning from the crime the heart was bent on, and it was the gift itself that worked the change. Faith is the open hand, relatively to the gift; repentance is the same hand, relatively, not only to the gift but more especially to the dagger that is flung from it” (James Stewart, Evangelism, pp. 48,49).
Not once do we find in scripture someone repeating a sinners prayer. I am not saying there isn’t a time for that if one is under deep conviction of sin. Salvation is a personal thing and I treat everyone individually. For example when my brother got saved I spent the first two days talking about repentance, the overcomer, and hell. He came under deep conviction and I told him that he needed to call out to God in prayer confessing himself a sinner and to ask God through Jesus Christ to change him and to trust the finished work of the cross for forgiveness of sins. He did and was radically changed.
Salvation is a supernatural miracle and there will be a testimony and you will change and other people will notice. If you don’t then you have never repented. This is NOT lordship salvation either. God will do the changing but the sinner must surrender and be willing to allow that to happen.
In short, it’s turn or burn. To preach repentance in a bold and illustrated way won’t likely build a big church but “except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3
The Light of the World
A. Our text begins at the very beginning of time as mankind knows it. Since God has no beginning and no end, this reference supports the fact that God is from eternity past. Because we are creatures of time, we cannot possibly comprehend the infinite nature of God.
I would like to speak to you today regarding the contrast between a Holy, Just and Righteous God and mankind in his natural state, meaning without God.
There are very few churches today that preach about the total depravity of man. This doctrine is very offensive to most, simply because it teaches that mankind, outside of Christ, does not have any good. He is incapable of generating any righteousness at all.
Isa 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Definition of depravity: A state of corruption due to original sin that infects every part of man’s nature. Depravity makes the natural man unable to know or obey God.
This then is what the bible has to say about the natural man, or those who have not been born again: 1Co 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
1. Our scripture speaks of Jesus as the personification of light and life. Thinking in these terms, anything outside of Jesus is then darkness and death.
John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
We have the light of the world in yet another form, a form other than the person of Jesus. The bible we hold in our hands is the written Word of God. The Scripture speaks of His Word as light also. Ps. 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
To the saved His word guides us through this life. It lights our way so that we know good from evil. It convicts us of our sin, but it also points out His will for our life. This light reveals the otherwise unfathomable love that he has for you and me.
B. In the scriptures we see a sharp contrast between God and man. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” By contrast, man is in darkness and this darkness is so black that man does not even know he is in darkness.
Scripture speaks of this condition in: John 1:5 “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
Illustration: The man huddled on the cabin floor was slowly freezing to death. It was high in the Rockies in southwestern Alberta, and outside a blizzard raged. John Elliott had logged miles that day through the deep snows of the mountain passes. As he checked for avalanches and as dusk and exhaustion overcame him he had decided to "hole-up." He made it wearily to his cabin, but somewhat dazed with cold and fatigue, he did not light a fire or remove his wet clothing. As the blizzard blasted through the cracks in the old cabin walls, the sleeping forest ranger sank into oblivion, paralyzed by the pleasure of the storm's icy caress. Suddenly, however, his dog sprang into action, and with unrelenting whines, finally managed to rouse his near-comatose friend. The dog was John's constant companion, a St. Bernard, one of a long line of dogs famous for their heroics in times of crisis. "If that dog hadn't been with me, I'd be dead today," John Elliott says. "When you're freezing to death you actually feel warm all over, and don't wake up because it feels too good."
This moving story illustrates the spiritual condition of many people today. They are cold spiritually, and sadly are oblivious of their true condition. Thank God for all the ways in which He arouses such sleepers. He sends His messengers to nudge them awake. Sometimes the methods used to awaken them are drastic, but always for their good. Let’s not imagine that because He shakes us, He therefore hates us. He awakens us from lethargy because He loves us, and wants to save us from an eternal death.
How about you friend, are you asleep today in the icy grip of sin’s darkness? How long has God been trying to wake you? When you come to church do you not feel the gentle nudging of God’s love? We can thank God that He does not leave us in a perpetual condition of darkness. His great love for lost and dying mankind compels Him to try to wake us from our sleep.
John 12:46. “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”
1. In speaking of this particular darkness and light, we are not referring to something that can be seen with the eye. Instead we point to a very real spiritual darkness and light.
Although the title of this message is “The Light of the World” it is needful to also speak of the darkness that envelopes the people around us. This darkness is spiritual, as we have already pointed out. But what needs to be shown is that this darkness can take many forms, even the form of light…."WHAT? How can this be? It sounds like you’re talking in circles. How can darkness be light, this must be a contradiction." No friends, it is no contradiction for the Bible speaks of this subject in this manner: 2Cor. 11:14 and no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
So then, in speaking of spiritual darkness it is needful that we point out that one of the most important things that keep people in darkness is not only Satan, but also his ministers. For lack of better words we will call them and it, false religion. Today people by the thousands will sit in so called churches and be fed the poison that assures that they will remain in darkness. They can’t see the poison, nor can they taste it. It is very much like the cold that encompassed that ranger, after a sufficient time of exposure to it, it becomes pleasurable, it actually feels good. And so, Satan has his churches and his ministers, but his followers think all is well; after all, they go to church every Sunday. They listen to a sermon, never once thinking that it contains the very poison that will ensure that their minds are blinded to the real light.
The Apostle Paul said this: 2Cor. 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
In this world of political correctness we are told that we should not talk in a negative way about other churches. Paul addressed this in this manner: 2Cor.11:12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
Do we bow to the god of political correctness, or do we call false religion what it is? If your neighbor’s house was on fire with his family inside would you wake him to warn him or would you sit back and watch, safe and secure in your house? Spiritually speaking there are hundreds in your town today whose spiritual house is on fire, unless someone wakes them to warn of imminent danger they will surely die.
Ok this last part was important simply because it shows that spiritual darkness can appear as light in some cases.
But what about other examples of things that can hold people prisoner in the darkness that envelopes this world we live in? Many of these things come in the form of diversions. It doesn’t take much looking to see how the things of this world work against God and against spiritual light breaking through the darkness that seems to hold people in an iron grip. I’ll list just a few for your consideration.
Sex is probably at the top of the list. It sells everything from food to housing. Never in the history of this nation has sex held such a captive audience. Books, TV, movies, computers, store advertising, or any advertising, how we look, how we dress; sex is “in our face” every waking moment. What better tool for Satan to use than one that can become all encompassing, diverting millions from every thought of God and narrowly focusing the mind on a life of fleshly pleasure?
And speaking of pleasure or in some cases fun, we can see without too much effort, a world obsessed with pleasure. There was a time in this country that people worked for a paycheck to be able to feed their family, put a roof over their head, save for a rainy day and generally assure that their family would be taken care of.
When we compare this long gone time to the day we live in we can see something quite different. We have become a nation of pleasure seekers. Sure we work, but there is no work ethic. Today’s worker is only interested in two things; how much can I make and how much time off will I have to play? In and of themselves these two things are not bad, but when these become the whole direction of our work experience they set the scene for “pleasure first” and everything else second. We have a whole generation of people where both husband and wife work, sometimes two jobs, and still they will spend above their means and even indebt themselves for years to come for pleasure and toys.
Even more insidious is that they teach their children the same lifestyle. Look around you; it is hard to find a kid that doesn’t have a cell phone that will do everything for him except tuck him into bed. And think about all the other electronic devises to keep his young mind occupied. I can’t even list them all. Video games, smart phones, tablets and computers take the place of family interaction and family relationships.
This is not meant to be a rant against having possessions; it is meant to simply show that there are things in our world that work toward keeping people in darkness regarding spiritual things and especially the things of God. There are thousands, if not millions today for whom the thought of God or their own spiritual condition never even enters their mind. This is where the work of Satan comes in. He has many tools at his disposal; I have just listed a few. He keeps people in darkness in regard to the things of God. The light of Jesus has gone throughout the world through His Gospel, but for many millions it has no effect; why is this? 2Cor 4:3 but if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Now that we have looked at how darkness and the forces of evil try to block out the light, we need to look at the light itself. For it is only in the light of Jesus Christ that this world has any hope.
John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
This scripture and especially the word “condemnation” speak directly to the subject at hand. It addresses both the fact that God sent Jesus to be the spiritual light that dispels this world’s spiritual darkness and the fact that this world is in darkness due to the depravity of the human race.
This word, “condemnation”, is a judicial word that shows that something has already happened that has resulted in my being condemned. Because Adam was the first man, when he sinned he passed his sinful nature on to all who followed. Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: God must judge sin. As the righteous judge He must pronounce a righteous sentence on those who have sinned. The scripture tells us that the wages of sin is death, and so, all are condemned to death simply because all have sinned.
But thank God, there is a remedy, for God is not willing that any should perish. 2Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Rom 5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
If you have not taken advantage of God’s Grace and the free pardon of sin that He has offered you, would you consider accepting the forgiveness He holds out to you this hour? This very day the light of God’s love has shined in the darkness that encompasses your soul.
Knowing all of this, can you go on in the way you have all of your life? Can you continue to ignore the light that has been revealed and continue in the darkness of unrepented of sin? God sent His own Son that you might have the light of life. Listen to that still, small voice inside you; for that voice is the none other than God’s Holy Spirit showing you the truth of His love.
“The Kindness of God”
2 Samuel 9:1-13 David & Mephibosheth
The theme of this story is the kindness of God. In David’s life, we can see the kindness of God. Because David and God had an intimate relationship, David developed a kind heart.
Before David became the King of Israel King Saul tried to kill David and prevent David from becoming King over Israel. King Saul was David’s enemy. For seven years, David fled from King Saul.
Except during times of religious expediency, King Saul did not obey God. He rebelled against God, listened to the people, and had a stubborn heart.
God rejected King Saul and anointed David to be king over Israel. 1 Samuel 15:10 & 11 and 23 says, “Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried all night.” and, Samuel told King Saul, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king."
King Saul is like many people. Most people, yea, even a lot of religious people, reject the will of God because they are rebellion against the Bible, stubborn, and will only listen to the world.
David, before he became King, had a close relationship with King Saul’s son, Jonathan. Jonathan was an individual who had a love for God, for the will of God, and for the man of God.
Verse 1-3, “And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he. And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.”
King David loved God and God gave David peace and love in his heart. King David did not have hate nor have bitterness in his heart towards the house of Saul. King David put into practice the love and kindness of God. “Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old.” Psalm 25:6
King David is a good example for us how we should love our enemies and exhibit the love and kindness of God. In this passage twice, King David said that he wanted to show the kindness of God towards the house of Saul. Jonathan was King Saul’s son and a friend of David. Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son and King Saul’s grandson.
Mephibosheth was lame. He could not walk nor could he earn money. He was very poor. Mephibosheth was the grandson of Saul. Mephibosheth represents the Christian. Before we are saved, we are a child of the Devil and unworthy to enter into the presence of God and into heaven. And, only the love and mercy of God makes us worthy enough to enter heaven.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved.) Ephesians 2:4 and 5
Love Produces Kindness
Verse 5 & 6, “Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar. Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!”
Please note that even though David was the King he sought Mephibosheth. King David is a type of God. God loves us and He is seeking us. 1 John 4:9 & 10 says, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
God loves us!
The Lord Jesus, the Son of God, said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10 God is seeking the salvation of man in order for man to escape the torment of hell and enter the joy of heaven.
Jesus loves us!
Verse 7 & 8, “And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. And he bowed himself, and said, What is they servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?”
The first words out of the mouth of King David was “Fear not.” King David relieved the heart of Mephibosheth. Is that not like the kindness of God? “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10
Mephibosheth realized that he was not worthy to receive this honor and was humble. In this passage, Mephibosheth twice said that he is David’s servant and did not deserve his mercy.
Before we are saved, we are unworthy to enter into the presence of the King of Heaven. We deserve to go to hell. Like Mephibosheth, we need to have a grateful heart to the king of heaven and be God’s servant and follow Jesus.
Verse 13, “So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet.”
King David gave commandments that his servants were to provide the physical necessities for Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth could not take care of himself so David took care of his needs.
The Lord Jesus is our king and one day we will sit at His table in heaven and eat. The Lord Jesus, as an added blessing to the salvation of our soul, will give us a new, glorified body, and will take care of the needs of our new body for eternity. Revelation 19:9, “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”
The story of King David and Mephibosheth is a wonderful story of the loving kindness and mercy of God. It shows us how God gave David love for his enemies’ grandchild. It shows us the humility of Mephibosheth and love and kindness of God in a practical manner. It shows us how God will take care of our spiritual, physical, and eternal needs.
Like King David, when we have a close relationship with God we can have the love and kindness of God in our hearts.
God loves us! He is Merciful and Gracious! Before we loved God He loved us! Because God loves us He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, to die on the cross and become the propitiation for our sins. This story shows us how God is seeking man for the eternal salvation of our soul so we can escape the torment of hell and enter into the joy of heaven.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16