June 1 “And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a -prosperous man.” (Gen. 39:2) I have heard that one of the earliest versions of the English Bible translated this verse, “And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a luckye fellow.” Perhaps “luckye” at that time had a different meaning. At any rate we are glad that later translators removed Joseph from the realm of luck. For the child of God there is no luck. His life is controlled, guarded, planned by a loving heavenly F...
“And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a -prosperous man.” (Gen. 39:2)
I have heard that one of the earliest versions of the English Bible translated this verse, “And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a luckye fellow.” Perhaps “luckye” at that time had a different meaning. At any rate we are glad that later translators removed Joseph from the realm of luck.
For the child of God there is no luck. His life is controlled, guarded, planned by a loving heavenly Father. Nothing happens to him by chance.
That being so, it is inconsistent for a Christian to wish “Good luck” to someone else. Nor should he say “I lucked out.” Such expressions are a practical denial of the truth of divine providence.
The unbelieving world associates various things with good luck-a rabbit’s foot, a wishbone, a four-leaf clover, a horseshoe (always with ends pointing upward so the luck won’t spill out!). Men cross their fingers and knock on wood, as if those actions could affect events favorably or avert misfortune.
The same people associate other things with bad luck-a black cat, Friday the 13th, walking under a ladder, the number 13 on a room or on the floor of a building. It is sad to think of people living in bondage to such superstitions, a bondage that is both needless and fruitless.
In Isaiah 65:11 (NASB), God threatened punishment for those in Judah who, it seems, were worshiping the god of chance.
But you who forsake the Lord,
Who forget My holy mountain,
Who set a table for Fortune,
And who fill cups with mixed wine for Destiny.
We cannot be positive as to the particular sin involved but it sounds suspiciously as if the people were bringing offerings to idols that were associated with luck and chance. God hated it and still does.
What confidence it gives us to know that we are not the helpless pawns of blind chance, or of the rolling of cosmic dice, or of Lady Luck. Everything in life is planned, is meaningful and is purposeful. For us it is our Father, not fate; Christ, not chance; love, not luck.
“It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4b)
It is not uncommon for God’s people to suffer from nervous depression, just as Elijah did. Moses and Jonah also wished they could die (Ex. 32:32; Jonah 4:3). The Lord has never promised believers exemption from this type of trouble. Neither does the presence of this affliction necessarily indicate a lack of faith or spirituality. It could happen to any one of us.
When it does strike, it is something like this. You feel that God has forsaken you, even though you know very well that He never forsakes His own. You go to the Word of God for comfort, and invariably you turn to a passage on the unpardonable sin or the hopeless condition of an apostate. You experience the frustration of having an affliction that cannot be removed by surgery and cannot be cured by medicines. Your friends suggest that you should “snap out of it,” but they never tell you how. You pray and long for some quick remedy, but find that while nervous prostration comes in pounds, it leaves in ounces. All you can think about is yourself and your own misery. In your despondency, you wish you could die by some dramatic act of God.
Depression like this can have several different causes. There may be a physical problem; anemia, for instance, can cause your mind to play tricks on you. There may be a spiritual cause; sin unconfessed or unforgiven can do it. There may be an emotional basis; the unfaithfulness of a spouse can bring it on. Overwork or extreme mental stress can lead to nervous exhaustion. Or it may be caused by a medication to which a certain individual may react unfavorably.
What can be done? First, go to God in prayer, asking Him to work out His wonderful purposes. Confess and forsake all known sin. Forgive anyone who may have wronged you. Then have a thorough medical checkup to rule out any physical ailment as a possible reason. Take drastic action to eliminate causes of overwork, worry, stress and anything else that might be bothering you. Regular rest, good food and physical work out of doors all provide good therapy.
From then on, you must learn how to pace yourself, daring to say “no” to claims on you that might push you over the brink again.
“And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.” (Acts 24:16)
In a society like ours,, and with a corrupt old nature like ours, we are constantly faced with problems of ethics that test the sincerity of our commitment to Christian principles.
The student, for instance, is tempted to cheat on his exams. If all diplomas earned dishonestly were returned, the schools and colleges would scarcely contain them.
The taxpayer is forever tempted to understate his income, overstate his expenses or withhold some pertinent information altogether.
The name of the game in business, politics and law is payola. Bribes are used to pervert justice. Gifts change hands to get orders. Kickbacks keep business coming. Payoffs appease local inspectors who often make extreme and sometimes ridiculous demands.
Almost every profession has its own pressures to be dishonest. The Christian doctor is called on to sign his name to insurance claims that are patently false. The lawyer must decide whether to defend a criminal whom he knows to be guilty, or to handle a divorce case where both parties are Christians. The used car dealer fights a battle within whether to adjust the odometer to show a lower mileage. The laborer faces the decision, in joining a union, of committing himself to violence in the event of a strike. Should a Christian flight attendant serve liquor (or, choosing that job, does she have any choice)? Should a Christian athlete play on the Lord’s Day? Should a Christian grocer sell cigarettes, which are known to produce cancer?
Is it worse for a Christian architect to design a nightclub or a modernistic, liberal church building? Should a Christian organization accept gifts from a brewery? Or from a Christian who is living in sin? Should a buyer accept a crate of oranges or a box of jams and jellies from one of his suppliers at Christmas time?
The best deciding rule is the one in our text—“to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.”
“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psa. 145:3)
The thought of God is undoubtedly the greatest thought that can occupy the human mind. Great thoughts of God ennoble all of life. Small thoughts of God destroy those who hold them.
God is very great. After a magnificent description of the power and majesty of God, Job said, “Lo, these are but the outskirts of his ways: and how small a whisper do we hear of him! but the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14 RV). We see only the fringes, and hear only a whisper!
The Psalmist reminds us that the glance of God produces an earthquake and His touch precipitates volcanic eruptions (Psa. 104:32).
The Lord has to humble Himself to behold things in heaven (Psa. 113:6). He is so great that He calls the stars by name (Psa. 147:4).
When Isaiah tells us that the train of God’s glory fills the Temple (Isa. 6:1), he leaves us to imagine how great the full display of His glory must be. Later he pictures God as measuring the oceans in the hollow of His hand and measuring the skies by the width of His spread hand (Isa. 40:12). To Him the nations are a drop in a bucket or the dust on the scales (40:15). All the forests of Lebanon and all its animals would not be sufficient to make a suitable burnt offering to Him (40:16).
The prophet Nahum says, “The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3).
In the midst of another breathtaking description of the glory of God, Habakkuk says, “and there was the hiding of his power” (Hab. 3:4). All of which says that human language breaks down in any attempt to picture the greatness of God.
As we contemplate some of the attributes of God in the next few days, they should lead us to:
· Wonder—because He is wonderful.
· Worship—because of Who He is and all He has done for us.
· Trust—because He is worthy of our full, undivided confidence.
· Serve—because it is one of life’s greatest privileges to serve such a Master.
· Imitate—because His will is that we should be more and more like Him.
(However, there are some attributes of God, such as His wrath, that we should not imitate, and others, such as His infinity, that we cannot imitate.)
“God…knoweth all things.” (1 John 3:20)
The omniscience of God means that He has perfect knowledge of everything. He has never learned and can never learn.
One of the great passages on the subject is Psalm 139:1-6, where David wrote: “O Lord, thou has searched me and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising; thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”
In Psalm 147:4, we learn that God counts the number of the stars and calls them all by name. The wonder of this increases when Sir James Jeans tells us that “the total number of stars in the universe is probably something like the total number of grains of sand on all the sea shores of the world.”
Our Lord reminded His disciples that not a sparrow falls to the ground unnoticed by our Father. And in the same passage He said that the very hairs of our head are all numbered (Matt. 10:29, 30).
It is clear then that “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13), causing us to join with Paul in saying “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33).
The omniscience of God is filled with practical meaning for every one of us. There is warning. God sees everything we do. We can’t keep anything secret from Him.
There is comfort. He knows what we are going through. As Job said, “He knoweth the way that I take” (Job 23:10). He counts our tossings and numbers our tears in His bottle (Psa. 56:8 RSV).
There is encouragement. He knew all about us and yet He saved us anyway. He knows what we feel in worship and prayer but cannot express.
There is wonder. Although God is omniscient, yet He can forget the sins He has forgiven. As David Seamands said, “I don’t know how divine omniscience can forget but it does.”
“Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” (Jer. 23:24b)
When we speak of God’s omnipresence, we mean that He is present in all places at one and the same time. A Puritan named John Arrowsmith told of a heathen philosopher who once asked, “Where is God?” The Christian answered, “Let me first ask you, ‘Where is He not?’”
An atheist wrote on a wall, “God is nowhere.” A child came along and changed the spacing to read, “God is now here.”
We are indebted to David for a classic passage on the omnipresence of God. He wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” (Psa. 139:7-10).
When we speak of omnipresence, we must be careful not to confuse it with pantheism. The latter says that all is God. In some of its forms, men worship trees or rivers or the forces of nature. The true God controls the universe and fills the universe, but He Himself is separate from the universe and is greater than it.
What practical influence should the truth of God’s omnipresence have in the life of His people?
There is the solemn reminder, of course, that we cannot hide from God. He is inescapable.
There is unspeakable comfort in knowing that God is always with His people. He never leaves us. We are never alone.
Then there is challenge! Because He is always with us, we should walk in holiness and in separation from the world.
He has promised His presence in a special way when two or three are gathered together in His Name: He is in the midst. This should inspire deep reverence and solemnity in the gatherings of the Saints.
“The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” (Rev. 19:6)
The omnipotence of God means that He can do anything that is not inconsistent with His other attributes. Hear the uniform testimony of Scripture! “I am the Almighty God” (Gen. 17:1). “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14). “I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted” (Job 42:2 NASB). “There is nothing too hard for Thee” Qer. 32:17). “With God all things are possible” (Mt. 19:26). “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
But it is understood that God cannot do anything that is inconsistent with His own character. For instance, it is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18). He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13). He cannot sin because He is absolutely holy. He cannot fail because He is absolutely dependable.
The omnipotence of God is seen in His creation and sustaining of the universe, in His providence, in the salvation of sinners, and in the judgment of the impenitent. The greatest display of His power in the Old Testament was the Exodus; in the New Testament, the resurrection of Christ.
If God is omnipotent, then no man can fight successfully against Him. “There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord” (Prov. 21:30).
If God is omnipotent, then the believer is on the winning side. One with God is a majority. “If God be for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31).
If God is omnipotent, then in prayer we can deal in the realm of the impossible. As the chorus says, we can laugh at impossibilities and cry, “It shall be done.”
If God is omnipotent, then we have the unutterable comfort that:
The Savior can solve every problem,
The tangles of life can undo.
There is nothing too hard for Jesus,
There is nothing that He cannot do.
“When my weakness leans on His might, all seems light.”
“To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever.” (Rom. 16:27)
The wisdom of God is a thread that runs all through the Bible. For example! “With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding…With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his” (Job 12:13,16). “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches” (Psa. 104:24). “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens” (Prov. 3:19). “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his” (Dan. 2:20). “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21).”Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom…”(1 Cor. 1:30).
The wisdom of God refers to His perfect insight, His unerring discernment and His infallible decisions. Someone has defined it as His ability to produce the best possible results by the best possible means. It is more than knowledge. It is the ability to use that knowledge properly.
All the works of God express His wisdom. The marvelous design of the human body, for instance, bears eloquent tribute to it.
And God’s wisdom is seen in the plan of salvation. The Gospel tells us how sin’s penalty is paid, God’s justice is vindicated, His mercy is dispensed righteously, and the believer in Christ is better off than he ever could have been if Adam had not fallen.
Now that we are saved, the wisdom of God speaks tender comfort to our souls. We know that our God is too wise to make a mistake. Though there are things in life that are hard to understand, we know that He cannot err.
We can have utmost confidence in His guidance. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows pathways of blessing of which we are completely unaware. His way is perfect.
Finally, He wants us to grow in wisdom. We should be wise unto that which is good (Rom. 16:19). We should walk circumspectly, as wise men, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15,16). We should be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (Mt. 10:16).
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev. 4:8)
When we speak of the holiness of God, we mean that He is spiritually and morally perfect in His thoughts, deeds, motives and in every other way. He is absolutely free from sin and defilement. He cannot be anything but pure.
The Scriptural testimony to His holiness is abundant. Here are a few examples. “I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). “There is none holy as the Lord” (1 Sam. 2:2). “O Lord my God, mine Holy One… Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on iniquity” (Hab. 1:12,13). “God can not be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (Jas. 1:13). “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b). “Thou only art holy” (Rev. 15:4).
Even the stars are not pure in His sight (Job 25:5). The priesthood and the sacrificial system of the Old Testament taught, among other things, the holiness of God. They taught that sin had brought distance between God and man, that there must be a go-between to bridge the gap, and that a holy God can be approached only on the basis of the blood of a sacrificial victim.
The holiness of God was also demonstrated in a unique way at the Cross. When He looked down and saw His Son bearing our sins, God forsook His Well-beloved for those three terrible hours of darkness.
The application of all this to us is clear. The will of God is that we should be holy “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Th. 4:3). “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Pet. 1:15).
Thoughts of the holiness of God should also produce in us a profound sense of reverence and awe. As He said to Moses, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Ex. 3:5).
T. Binney marveled at the holiness required to stand in the presence of God.
Eternal light! Eternal light!
How pure the soul must be
When, placed within Thy searching sight,
It shrinks not, but with calm delight
Can live, and look on Thee.
Our hearts overflow with worship when we realize that we have that necessary purity imputed to us through faith in the Lord Jesus.
“I am the Lord; I change not.” (Mal. 3:6)
The attribute of God which describes Him as changeless is called His immutability. He does not change in His essential being. He does not change in His attributes. He does not change in the principles by which He operates.
The psalmist contrasted the changing destiny of the heavens and earth with God’s changelessness: “They shall be changed, but thou art the same” (Psa. 102:26, 27). James describes the Lord as “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17).
There are other Scriptures that remind us that God does not repent. “God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent” (Num. 23:19). “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent” (1 Sam. 15:29).
But what, then, do we do with verses that say that God does repent? “It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth” (Gen. 6:6). “The Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel” (1 Sam. 15:35b). See also Exodus 32:14 and Jonah 3:10.
There is no contradiction. God always acts on these two principles: He always rewards obedience and always punishes disobedience. When man shifts from obedience to disobedience, God must still be true to His own character by shifting from the first principle to the second. This seems like repentance to us, and it is so described in what we might call the language of human appearance. But it does not indicate regret or changeableness.
God is always the same. In fact, that is one of His names. “…thou, the Same, thou alone art the God of all the kingdoms of the earth” (Isa. 37:16, Darby). That name is also found in 2 Sam. 7:28 Margin, Psa. 102:27 and Isa. 41:4 Margin, all in Darby’s translation.
The immutability of God has been a comfort to His saints in all ages, and a theme of their song. We celebrate it in the immortal lines of Henry F. Lyte:
Change and decay in all around I see—
O thou who changest not, abide with me!
It is also a quality for us to imitate. We should be stable, constant and stedfast. If we are vacillating, fickle and mercurial, we misrepresent our Father to the world.
“Be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
Love is that quality in God which causes Him to lavish unbounded affection on others. His love is manifest in giving good and perfect gifts to the beloved.
We can give only a few of the myriad of verses that speak of that love! “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3). “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us…” (Eph. 2:4). And, of course, the best known of all, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whososoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
When John says “God is love” (1 John 4:8), he is not defining God, but insisting that love is a key element in the divine nature. We do not worship love, but the God of love.
His love had no beginning and can have no end. It is limitless in its dimensions. It is absolutely pure, without taint of selfishness or any other sin. It is sacrificial, never minding the cost. It seeks only the welfare of others, and nothing in return. It goes out to the unlovely as well as to the lovely, to enemies as well as to friends. It is not drawn out by any virtues in its objects, but only by the goodness of the Giver.
The practical implications of this sublime truth are obvious. “Therefore be imitators of God,” said Paul, “as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us” (Eph. 5:1,2a, NASB). Our love should ascend to the Lord, should flow out to our brethren, and should extend to the unsaved world.
Contemplation of His love should also inspire deepest worship. As we fall at His feet, we must say repeatedly:
How Thou canst love me as Thou dost
And be the God Thou art
Is darkness to my intellect
But sunshine to my heart.
“The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus…” (1 Pet. 5:10)
The grace of God is His favor and acceptance to those who do not deserve it; who, in fact, deserve the very opposite; but who trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Four of the better known verses on grace are these! “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9).
Some extol God’s grace as the chief of all His virtues. Samuel Davies, for instance, wrote:
Great God of wonders! all Thy ways
Display Thine attributes divine;
But the bright glories of Thy grace
Above Thine other wonders shine:
Who is a pard’ning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
But who can say that one of God’s attributes is greater than another?
God has always been a God of grace-in the Old Testament as well as in the New. But that aspect of His character was revealed in a new and arresting way with the coming of Christ.
Once we come to understand something of the grace of God, we become worshipers forever. We ask ourselves, “Why should He have chosen me? Why should the Lord Jesus have shed His life’s blood for one so unworthy? Why should God not only save me from hell, but bless me with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies now, and destine me to spend eternity with Him in heaven?” No wonder we sing of the amazing grace that saved such wretches!
Then, too, God wants His grace to be reproduced in our own lives and to flow through us to others. He wants us to be gracious in our dealings with others. Our speech should be always with grace, seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6). We should impoverish ourselves that others might be enriched (2 Cor. 8:9). We should grant favor and acceptance to the unworthy and the unlovely.
“God…is rich in mercy.” (Eph. 2:4)
The mercy of God is His pity, lovingkindness and compassion on those who are guilty, failing, distressed or needy. The Scriptures emphasize that God is rich in mercy (Eph. 2:4) and plenteous in mercy (Psa. 86:5). His mercy is abundant (1 Pet. 1:3); it is great unto the heavens (Psa. 57:10). “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (Psa. 103:11). God is spoken of as “the Father of mercies” (2 Cor. 1:3), One who is “very pitiful and of tender mercy” (Jas. 5:11). He is impartial in bestowing mercy: “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt. 5:45). Men are not saved by works of righteousness (Tit. 3:5) but by His sovereign mercy (Ex. 33:19; Rom. 9:15). His mercy endures forever to those who fear Him (Psa. 136:1; Lu. 1:50), but for the impenitent it is for this life only.
There is a difference between grace and mercy. Grace means that God showers me with blessings which I do not deserve. Mercy means that He does not give me the punishment that I do deserve.
Every doctrine of the Scripture has duty attached. The mercies of God require, first of all, that we should present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God (Rom. 12:1). It is the most reasonable, rational, sane, sensible thing we can do.
Then, too, God would have us to be merciful to one another. A special reward is promised to the merciful: “they shall obtain mercy” (Mt. 5:7). The Lord would rather have mercy than sacrifice (Mt. 9:13), that is, great acts of sacrifice are unacceptable if they are divorced from personal godliness.
The good Samaritan is the one who shows mercy to his neighbor. We show mercy when we feed the hungry, clothe the poor, nurse the sick, visit the widows and orphans, and weep with those who weep.
We are merciful when we refuse the opportunity to take vengeance on someone who has wronged us, or when we show compassion on those who have failed.
Remembering what we are, we should pray for mercy for ourselves (Heb. 4:16) and for others (Gal. 6:16; 1 Tim. 1:2).
Finally the mercies of God should tune our hearts to sing His praise.
When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view I’m lost,
In wonder, love, and praise.
“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” (Rom. 1:18)
The wrath of God is His fierce anger and retributive punishment directed against unrepentant sinners in time and in eternity. A. W. Pink has pointed out that it is as much a divine perfection as is His faithfulness, power and mercy. We need make no apology for it.
In pondering the wrath of God, there are a few facts we should keep in mind.
There is no conflict between God’s love and His wrath. True love punishes sin, rebellion and disobedience.
If men refuse God’s love, what is left but His wrath? There are only two eternal abodes, heaven and hell. If men refuse heaven, they thereby choose hell.
God did not create hell for men, but for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41). The Lord does not desire the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11). But there is no alternative for the Christ-rejecter.
Judgment is spoken of as God’s strange work (Isa. 28:21). The suggestion is that He prefers to show mercy (Jas. 2:13b).
There is no vindictiveness or spite in God’s wrath. It is righteous wrath, without any stain of sin.
The wrath of God is an attribute we are not called to imitate. It is peculiarly His in the sense that He alone can exercise it with absolute justice. Thus Paul writes to the Romans, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom. 12:19 NASB).
The Christian is called on to display righteous anger, but it must be righteous. It must not overflow into sinful wrath (Eph. 4:26). And it should be exercised only when God’s honor is at stake, never in self-defense or self-justification.
If we really believe in the wrath of God, it should move us out to share the Gospel with those who are still on the broad road that leads to destruction. And when we preach the wrath of God, it should be with tears of compassion.
“His compassions fail not, they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22, 23)
God is faithful and true. He cannot lie or deceive. He cannot go back on His word. He is absolutely trustworthy. No promise of His can ever fail.
“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”(Num. 23:19). “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God” (Deut. 7:9). “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations” (Psa. 119:90).
God’s faithfulness is seen in His calling us into the fellowship of His Son (1 Cor. 1:9). It is seen in not allowing us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13). It is seen in the way He establishes us and keeps us from evil (2 Th. 3:3). Even if some do not believe, yet He remains faithful: He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13).
The Lord Jesus is truth incarnate (John 14:6). The Word of God is sanctifying truth (John 17:17). “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).
The knowledge that God is faithful and true floods our souls with confidence. We know that His Word cannot fail, that He will do as He has promised (Heb. 10:23). We know, for instance, that we are eternally secure, because He said that no sheep of His will ever perish (John 10:28). We know that we will never want because He has promised to supply all our needs (Phil. 4:19).
God wants His people to be faithful and true. He wants us to be true to our word. He wants us to be dependable in keeping appointments. We should not be given to lies, exaggeration or half-truths. We should be faithful in keeping our promises. Christians, above all people, should be faithful to their marriage vows. They should be faithful in discharging their commitments in the assembly, in business and in the home.
How we should praise and thank the Lord for His faithfulness. He is the God who cannot fail.
He cannot fail—for He is God
He cannot fail—He gave His Word.
He cannot fail—He’ll see you through.
He cannot fail—He’ll answer you.
C. E. Mason, Jr.
“Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” (Psa. 115:3)
God is sovereign. That means that He is the supreme Ruler of the universe, and that He can do as He pleases. But having said that, we must quickly add that what God pleases is always right. His way is perfect.
Isaiah quotes the Lord as saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my Pleasure” (Isa. 46:10). When Nebuchadnezzar was restored to his right mind, he said, “He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35). The Apostle Paul insists that man has no right to question God’s actions: “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Rom. 9:20). And in another place he speaks of God as the One “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11).
Spurgeon said, “We proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter.”
To put it very simply, the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is a doctrine that allows God to be God.
It is a truth that fills me with reverence and awe. I cannot comprehend all its ramifications, but I can worship and adore.
It is a truth that moves me to submit myself to Him. He is the Potter; I am the clay. He has rights to me by creation and redemption. Under no circumstances should I talk back to Him or question His decisions.
It is a truth that is full of comfort. Since He is the supreme Ruler, I know that He is working out His purposes and that they will reach their desired end.
Though there are things in life I can’t understand, I can be sure that the dark threads are as necessary for His weaving as the threads of gold and silver.
“Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?.” (Job 11:7)
There are other attributes of God that must be mentioned, even if only briefly. Contemplation of these divine perfections lifts the soul from earth to heaven, from the petty to the sublime.
· God is righteous, that is, He is just, equitable and fair in all His dealings. He is “a just God and a Saviour’’ (Isa. 45:21).
· God is incomprehensible (Job 11:7,8). He is too great to be understood by the human mind. As Stephen Charnock said, “It is visible that God is. It is invisible what He is.” And Richard Baxter said, “You may know God, but not comprehend Him.”
· God is eternal—without beginning or end (Psa. 90:1-4). Eternity is His lifetime.
· God is good (Nahum 1:7). He is “good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psa. 145:9).
· God is infinite (1 Kings 8:27). He has no limits or boundaries. “His greatness is beyond calculation, measurement or human imagination.”
· God is self-existent (Ex. 3:14). He did not receive His existence from any outside source. He is the Fountain of His own life as well as of all other life.
· God is self-sufficient, that is, He has within the Trinity all that He could ever need.
· God is transcendent. He is far above the universe and time, and is separate from the material creation.
A final attribute of God is His foreknowledge. Christians are divided on whether God’s foreknowledge determines who will be saved, or whether it is merely a prior knowledge of who will trust the Savior. Judging from Romans 8:29, I believe that God sovereignly selected certain individuals and decreed that all whom He thus foreknew would eventually be glorified.
And so we come to the end of our consideration of the attributes of God. But it is a subject that in another sense has no end. God is so great, so majestic, so awesome that we only see through a glass darkly. Because He is infinite, He never can be fully known by finite minds. Throughout eternity we will dwell on the wonders of His Person and will still have to say, “The half has not been told.”
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (Jas. 1:27)
When James wrote these words, he didn’t mean to suggest that if a believer did these things, he did all that was required of him. Rather he was saying that two outstanding examples of ideal religion are to visit orphans and widows and to keep oneself pure.
We might have thought that he would have zeroed in on expository preaching, or missionary work, or personal soul winning. But no! He thinks first of visiting those in need.
The Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesian elders how he had visited “from house to house” (Acts 20:20). J. N. Darby considered visiting “the most important part of the work.” He wrote, “The clock strikes the hours and the passers-by hear it, but the works inside make the clock go, and keep the striking and the hands right. I think that visiting should be your substantive work, and take all else as it comes. I dread much public testimony: and especially so, if there be no private work” (from a letter to G. V. Wigram, Aug. 2, 1839).
An elderly widow, living alone, reached the stage where she depended on help from neighbors and friends. With time on her hands, she kept a diary of anything and everything that happened during the day-especially of contacts with the outside world. One day neighbors realized that they hadn’t seen any signs of life around her house for several days. The police were called to enter the house, and they found that she had been dead for several days. For three days prior to her death, the only entry in her diary was “No one came,” “No one came,” “No one came.”
In the busyness of our everyday lives, it is all too easy to forget the lonely, the needy, the infirm. We give priority to other matters, and often to those forms of service that are more public and glamorous. But if we want our religion to be pure and undefiled, we will not neglect the orphans and widows, the aged and shut-ins. The Lord has a special concern for those who need help, and a special reward for those who step forward to fill the need.
“…as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” (Deut. 33:25)
God promises to give His people strength according to their needs at any particular time. He does not promise it in advance of the need, but when the crisis comes, the grace is there to meet it.
Perhaps you are called to go through a patch of sickness and suffering. If you knew in advance how great the testing would be, you would say, “I know I could never bear it.” But all the divine support comes with the testing, to your amazement and everyone else’s.
We live in fear of the time when our loved ones will be called away by death. We are sure our little world will fall apart and that we ourselves will be utterly unable to cope. But it isn’t that way at all. We are conscious of the Lord’s presence and power in a way we never knew before.
Many of us have close scrapes with death in accidents and situations of extreme peril. We find our hearts flooded with peace when ordinarily we would be in panic. We know it is the Lord, coming alongside to help.
As we read the stories of those who have heroically laid down their lives for the sake of Christ, we realize afresh that God gives “martyr grace for martyr days.” Their cool courage was beyond human bravery. Their bold witness was obviously empowered from on high.
Now it should be obvious that worrying in advance of the need produces nothing but ulcers. The fact is that God doesn’t give the grace and strength until they are needed. As D. W. Whittle said,
I have nothing to do with tomorrow,
The Savior will make that His care;
Its grace and its strength I can’t borrow,
Then why should I borrow its care?
Annie Johnson Flint’s memorable lines are ever apropos.
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater;
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” (Prov. 31:10
What are some of the things that a Christian husband desires in his wife? The following is a suggested list. Hopefully no one will be so immature as to expect all this in any one woman.
First of all, she should be a godly woman-one who is not only born again but spiritually minded as well. This woman puts Christ first in her life. She is a woman of prayer and active in the service of the Lord. A woman of Christian character and integrity whom he can respect spiritually; and who respects him in return.
She is a woman who takes her God-given place of subjection and who actively assists her husband to take his proper place as head…She is faithful to her marriage vows— She is a good wife and mother of her children— She is personally neat and attractive, one who does not go to extremes in dress, one who is feminine and ladylike but not prissy.
This ideal wife is a good homemaker, who keeps the place neat and clean and who manages its affairs efficiently. She serves good meals on a regular schedule and loves to show hospitality to others… It goes without saying that she should share the same goals and interests as her husband.
When differences arise, she is willing to bring her problems to the surface rather than clam up, pout or sulk. She is willing to negotiate differences and is able to apologize and confess if necessary.
She is not a gossip nor a busybody, meddling in other people’s affairs. She has a meek and a quiet spirit and is not contentious or a nagger.
This wife cooperates in living within the family income. She is not obsessed with a desire for fancy things, and does not strive to keep up with the Joneses.
She is willing to accept adversity, if necessary.
She renders her husband his conjugal rights joyfully, not passively nor disinterestedly.
She has a good temperament, is a good sport, is not a social climber, and is entirely trustworthy.
Husbands should be grateful when they find a majority of these traits in their wives, and wives can use these as a checklist to help them climb higher.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Eph. 5:25)
What does a Christian wife desire in her husband? Her first concern should be with his spiritual life, not with his physical appearance.
He should be a man of God, one who seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. His objective is to serve the Lord and to be active in the local fellowship. In the home he should maintain a family altar, and be an example of the believer.
This man takes his proper place as head of the house, but he is not a tyrant.
He loves his wife and thereby wins her subjection rather than demanding it. He is respectful to her, treating her like a lady at all times. He is faithful, understanding, longsuffering, kind, thoughtful, considerate and joyful.
The ideal husband is a good provider, one who is diligent in business. But money is not his first priority. He is not covetous or greedy.
He is one who loves his children, trains them, spends time with them, plans social activities for them, is a good example for them and gives each one individual attention.
He is a lover of hospitality. His home is open to the Lord’s servants, to all Christians and to the unsaved as well.
He keeps lines of communication open with his wife and family. He understands and accepts their limitations and can laugh goodnaturedly at their blunders. He shares with them on a social and intellectual basis. When he does or says something wrong, he is quick to admit his mistake and apologize. He is always open to suggestions from the family. It is highly desirable that he be able to keep on top when his wife is down.
Other desirable traits are that he be clean and well-groomed, unselfish, honest, gentle, dependable, loyal, generous and appreciative. He should have a good sense of humor and be neither grouchy nor complaining.
Few if any men embody all these virtues and it is unrealistic to expect them all. A wife should be grateful for those which she does find and lovingly help her husband to develop others.
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Th. 5:21)
Sometimes it seems that Christians are especially prone to accept passing fads and winds of doctrine. John Blanchard wrote of two tour-bus drivers who were comparing notes. When one mentioned that he had a bus full of Christians, the other said, “Really? What do they believe?” To which the first replied, “Anything I tell them!”
One minute it may be a food fad. Certain foods are denounced as poison and others are credited with almost magical properties. Or it may be a medicinal fad, claiming spectacular results for some strange weed or extract.
Christians can be gullible when it comes to financial appeals. In this country, at least, they respond readily to publicity involving orphans or anti-Communist crusades without investigating the integrity of the sponsoring agency.
Impostors have a heyday among believers. No matter how ridiculous their sob story, they are able to rake in the money.
Perhaps the problem is that we fail to distinguish between faith and gullibility. Faith believes the surest thing in the universe, that is, the Word of God. Gullibility accepts things as fact without evidence and sometimes in the face of evidence to the contrary.
God never intended His people to abandon their powers of discernment or their critical faculty. Interspersed in the Bible are such exhortations as the following:
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Th. 5:21),
“…take forth the precious from the vile” (Jer. 15:19),
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” (Phil. 1:9 NASB),
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1 NASB)
The danger is especially great, of course, in connection with doctrinal fads and novelties. But in many other areas as well it is possible for Christians to get sidetracked or duped with schemes or crazes that they pursue with exaggerated zeal.
“…those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” (1 Th. 4:14 NASB)
How are we to react when one of our loved ones dies in the Lord? Some Christians fall apart emotionally. Others, while sorrowful, are able to bear up heroically. It depends on how deep our roots are in God and how fully we appropriate the great truths of our faith.
First of all, we should view the death from the Savior’s standpoint. It is an answer to His prayer in John 17:24, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory…” When our loved ones go to be with Him, He sees of the travail of His soul and is satisfied (Isa. 53:11). “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psa. 116:15).
Then we should appreciate what it means to the one who has died. He has been ushered in to see the King in His beauty. He is forever free from sin, sickness, suffering and sorrow. He has been taken away from the evil to come (Isa. 57:1). “Nothing compares with the homegoing of a saint of God…to go home, to leave these old clods of clay, to be loosed from the bondage of the material-welcomed by the innumerable company of angels.” Bishop Ryle wrote, “The very moment that believers die, they are in paradise. Their battle is fought. Their strife is over. They have passed through that gloomy valley we must one day tread. They have gone over that dark river we must one day cross. They have drunk that last bitter cup which sin has mingled for man. They have reached that place where sorrow and sighing are no more. Surely we should not wish them back again! We should not weep for them but for ourselves.” Faith appropriates this truth and is enabled to stand firm like a tree planted by rivers of water.
For us the death of a loved one always involves sadness. But we sorrow not as others who have no hope (1 Th. 4:13). We know that our loved one is with Christ, which is far better. We know that the separation is only for a little while. Then we will be reunited on the hillsides of Immanuel’s land, and will know each other under better circumstances than we have ever known down here. We look forward to the Lord’s coming when the dead in Christ shall rise first, we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Th. 4:16, 17). This hope makes all the difference.
And so the consolations of God are not too small for us (Job 15:11). Our sorrow is mingled with joy, and our sense of loss is more than compensated by the promise of eternal blessing.
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14)
The death of children is always an especially severe trial of the faith of God’s people, and it is important to have some solid moorings to hold us at such a time.
The general belief among Christians is that children who die before they reach the age of accountability are safe through the blood of Jesus. The reasoning goes something like this: the child himself has never had the capacity to either accept or reject the Savior, so God reckons to him all the value of the work of Christ on the Cross. He is saved through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, even though he himself has never fully understood the saving value of that work.
As far as the age of accountability is concerned, no one but God knows what that is. It is clearly different in each case since one child may mature earlier than another.
While there is no Scripture that says specifically that children who die before the age of accountability go to heaven, there are two lines of Scripture that support this view. The first is our verse for today: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). Speaking of children, Jesus said, “…of such is the kingdom of God.” He didn’t say that they had to become adults to enter the kingdom of God, but that they themselves are characteristic of those who are in the kingdom of God. This is a very strong argument for the salvation of little children.
Another line of proof is as follows. When Jesus was speaking of adults, He said, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lu. 19:10). But when he was speaking of children, He omitted any mention of seeking. He simply said, “The Son of man is come to save that which was lost” (Matt. 18:11). The implication here is that children have not wandered away as adults have, and that the Savior sovereignly gathers them into His fold at the time of their death. Although they have never known about the work of Christ, God knows about it and reckons all the saving value of that work to their account.
We should not question the providence of God when He takes children away from us. As Jim Elliot wrote, “I must not think it strange if God takes in youth those whom I would have kept on earth till they were older. God is peopling eternity, and I must not restrict Him to old men and women.”
“O my son Absalom! my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Sam. 18:33)
Whether Absalom was a saved man or not, his father’s wail mirrors the grief of many believers who mourn the death of an unsaved relative for whom they may have prayed for many years. Is there any balm in Gilead for such an occasion? What is the Scriptural attitude to take?
Well, first of all, we cannot always be sure whether the person actually did die without Christ. We have heard of the testimony of one man who was thrown by a horse and who trusted Christ “Between the stirrup and the ground, he mercy sought and mercy found.” Another man slipped off a gangplank and was converted before he hit the water. If either had died in these mishaps, no one would have known that he died in faith.
We believe that it is possible for a person to be saved in a coma. Medical authorities tell us that a person in a coma can often hear and understand what is being said in the room, even if he himself cannot speak. If he can hear and understand, why can he not receive Jesus Christ by a definite act of faith?
But let us suppose the worst. Let us suppose that the person actually did die unsaved. What should be our attitude then? We should very clearly take sides with God against our own flesh and blood. It is not God’s fault if anyone dies in his sins. At stupendous cost, God has provided a way by which people can be saved from their sins. His salvation is a free gift, quite apart from debt or merit. If men refuse the gift of eternal life, what more can God do? He certainly cannot populate heaven with people who don’t want to be there, for then it would not be heaven.
So if some of our loved ones do go into eternity without hope, all we can do is share the grief and heartbreak of the Son of God, who, weeping over Jerusalem, said, “I would but ye would not.”
We know that the Judge of all the earth will do right (Gen. 18:25), so we vindicate Him in the punishment of the lost as much as in the salvation of repentant sinners.
“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place…they departed into a desert place…the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them…Jesus…was moved with compassion.” (Mark 6:31-34)
It is easy for us to be annoyed by interruptions. I blush to think how often I have chafed at unexpected demands that prevented me from accomplishing some self-appointed task. Perhaps I was writing, and the words were flowing easily. Then the phone rang or someone was at the door in need of counsel. It was an unwelcome intrusion.
The Lord Jesus was never upset by interruptions. He accepted them all as part of His Father’s plan for that day. This gave tremendous poise and serenity to His life.
Actually, the extent to which we are interrupted is often an index of our usefulness. A writer in the Anglican Digest said, “When you are exasperated by interruptions, try to remember that their very frequency may indicate the valuableness of your life. Only the people who are full of help and strength are burdened by other people’s need. The interruptions which we chafe at are the credentials of our indispensability. The greatest condemnation that anyone could incur—and it is a danger to guard against—is to be too independent, so unhelpful, that nobody ever interrupts us and we are left uncomfortably alone.
We all smile nervously when we read the experience of a busy housewife. One day when she had planned an unusually full schedule, she looked up from her work to see her husband come home earlier than usual. “What are you doing here?” she asked with thinly-veiled annoyance. “I live here,” he replied with a pained smile. She wrote later, “Since that day I’ve made it a point to lay aside my work when my husband comes home. I give him a loving welcome and let him know he’s really tops.”
Every morning we should turn the day over to the Lord, asking Him to arrange every detail. Then if someone interrupts us, it is because He has sent that person. We should find out the reason and minister to it. That could be the most important thing we do all day, even if it came disguised as an interruption.
“Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing…” (1 Tim. 2:15)
From some of the restrictions Paul places on woman’s ministry in the church, it might seem that she is reduced to a nonentity. For instance, she is not permitted to teach or to usurp authority over the man, but must be in silence (v. 12). Some might conclude that she is relegated to an inferior place in the Christian faith.
But verse 15 clears up any such misconception. “She shall be saved in childbearing…” Clearly this is not referring to the salvation of her soul, but rather to the salvation of her position in the church. To her is given the tremendously important privilege of raising sons and daughters for God.
William Ross Wallace said, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” Behind almost every great leader is a great mother.
It is doubtful that Susannah Wesley ever ministered from a pulpit, but her ministry in the home has had a worldwide outreach through two of her sons, John and Charles.
In our society it is fashionable for many women to desert the home in order to carve out more glamorous careers in the business or professional world. To them housework is drab and raising a family is a dispensable chore.
At a Christian women’s luncheon, the conversation had drifted to the subject of careers. Each one was rhapsodizing about her position and her salary. There is no question that there was a spirit of rivalry! Finally one turned to a housewife who had three stalwart sons and asked, “And what is your career, Charlotte?” Charlotte replied humbly, “I raise men for God.”
Pharaoh’s daughter said to the mother of Moses,” Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages” (Ex. 2:9). Perhaps one of the greatest surprises at the Judgment Seat of Christ will be the high wages the Lord pays to those women who have devoted themselves to raising boys and girls for Him and for eternity.
Yes, “she shall be saved in childbearing…” Woman’s place in the church is not one of public ministry, but perhaps the ministry of godly childbearing is of far greater importance in the eyes of God.
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mk. 16:16)
If this were the only verse in the Bible on the subject, we might justifiably conclude that salvation is by faith plus baptism. But when there are 150 verses in the New Testament that condition salvation on faith alone, we must conclude that those 150 verses cannot be contradicted by one or two like this one.
However, although baptism is not essential for salvation, it is essential for obedience. God’s will is that all who have trusted His Son as Lord and Savior should publicly identify themselves with Him in the waters of believer’s baptism.
The New Testament does not contemplate any such anomaly as an unbaptized believer. It assumes that when a person is saved, he will be baptized. In the book of Acts, the disciples practiced what we might call “instant baptism.” They didn’t wait for a formal service in a church setting, but baptized immediately on the basis of a person’s profession of faith.
The sequence of belief and baptism is so close that the Bible speaks of them in the same breath— “He that believeth and is baptized…”
In our desire to avoid the unscriptural teaching of baptismal regeneration, we often allow the pendulum to swing too far in the opposite direction. People are apt to go off with the false idea that it doesn’t really matter whether they are baptized. But it does matter.
We hear some saying glibly, “I can go to heaven without being baptized.” I always answer them, “Yes, that is true. You can go to heaven without being baptized, but if you do, you’ll be unbaptized for all eternity.” There will be no opportunity for baptism in heaven. It is one of those acts in which we can obey the Lord now or never.
All who have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior should lose no time in being baptized. In this way they publicly identify themselves with Him in His death and resurrection and they publicly commit themselves to walk with Him in newness of life.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)
Here is an insight that has revolutionized and transformed many a life.
The duplication of “verily” or “truly” at the outset alerts us to expect something momentous. We will not be disappointed.
“I say unto you.” The “I” is the Lord Jesus; we know that from verse 19. What we must also know is that when He says something, it is absolutely and invariably true. He cannot lie. He cannot deceive. He cannot be deceived. Nothing can be more sure and dependable than what He says.
To whom is He speaking? “I say unto you.” The Eternal Son of God is speaking to you and to me. We never had anyone so illustrious speak to us before and never will. We ought to listen!
“He that heareth my word.” The “He” means “anyone.” It has the same force as “whoever.” To hear His word means not just to hear it with the ears, but to hear and believe, to hear and receive, to hear and obey.
“…and believeth on him that sent me.” We know that it was God the Father who sent Him. But the important question is, “Why did He send Him?” I must believe that the Father sent His Son to die as my Substitute, to pay the penalty I deserved, to shed His blood for the remission of my sins.
And now comes the threefold promise. First, “hath everlasting life.” As soon as a person believes, he possesses eternal life. It’s just as plain as that. Second, he “shall not come into condemnation.” This means he will never be consigned to hell because of his sins, because Christ has paid the debt, and God will not demand payment twice. Third, he “is passed from death unto life.” He passes from a condition in which he is spiritually dead as far as his relation to God is concerned, and is born again into a new life that will never end.
If you have truly heard His Word and if you have believed on the Father who sent Him, then the Lord Jesus Christ assures you that you are saved.
No wonder it is called “Good News”.
“And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” (Exodus 17:11)
Israel was in conflict with the forces of Amalek. Moses was on top of the hill,, overlooking the battle field. The position of Moses’ hand spelled the difference between victory and defeat. The uplifted hand turned Amalek back. The lowered hand turned Israel back.
As long as Moses’ hand was raised, he pictured the Lord Jesus as our Intercessor, “for us His hands uplifting in sympathy and love.” It is through His intercession that we are saved to the uttermost. But from then on, the type breaks down, because our Intercessor’s hand is never lowered. No fatigue causes Him to need outside help. He always lives to make intercession for us.
There is a second way in which we may apply this incident, namely, to ourselves as prayer warriors. The uplifted hand pictures our faithful intercession for those believers who are engaged in the spiritual conflict on the mission fields of the world. When we neglect the ministry of prayer, the enemy prevails.
A missionary and his party on safari had to spend the night in an area infested by brigands. They committed themselves to the Lord’s care, then retired. Months later when a brigand chief was brought to a mission hospital, he recognized the missionary. “We intended to rob you that night out in the open country,” he said, but we were afraid of your twenty-seven soldiers.”
Later, when the missionary related this in a news letter to his home church, one of the members said, “We had a prayer meeting that same night and there were twenty-seven of us present.”
When our God beholds us there,
Pleading in the place of prayer,
Then the tide of battle turns,
Then the flame of conquest burns,
Then the flag of truth prevails,
Foes slink back and Satan quails!
Then the faltering wail of fear
Turns to victory’s ringing cheer!
Bring us, Lord, O bring us there,
Where we learn prevailing prayer.
Then we can see another insight in this incident. The Lord swore that He will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. Amalek is a picture of the flesh. The Christian must wage ceaseless warfare against the flesh. Prayer is one of his principal weapons. The faithfulness of his prayer life often spells the difference between victory and defeat.