(13 references in the Bible)
Gen 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Gen 14:19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
Gen 14:20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
I suppose, when it comes to discussing the tithe, that we must start at the beginning. In Gen 14, we see two things that should be of interest to us:
1. That Melchizedek initiated the “bread and wine” of communion in honor of Abraham.
2. That Abraham gave a tithe of all that he had taken, lest some claim to have favored Abraham, and made him rich through the tithe.
The “tithe” in Gen. 14 was given in response to the communion of victory that Melchizedek initiated. It was also in response to the blessing that Melchizedek bestowed upon him. The picture here is that the Lord blesses us, and we give to him that which we know He has given to us! It seems, to the human mind, a bit redundant to give from what He gives us, but the beauty of the whole scene is the communion that we have with Christ. The Lord shows, in many ways, that a little bit can do a lot when it is given with a pure heart. So, here one might see the establishment of the tithe, and the “why” behind it. Everything the Lord does has reason, and that includes the tithe.
Sometimes the reason is for teaching; sometimes it is for celebration (as here); and sometimes it for reasons perhaps unknown to us, but not without merit. The tithe was for Israel, God’s chosen people. It was an important part of their worship, showing that God is greater than man, and is worthy of all our attentions. This is the first reference to the tithe in the Bible. It foreshadowed things to come in the structure of the church.
The next reference is in Leviticus 27:30:
Lev 27:30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD.
Here we find that God has sanctified the tithe, and “It is holy”. Abraham seems to have impressed God greatly with the tithe, and the Lord adapted it into His law; it remains a tribute to the righteousness of God, and the subjection of man to His will. Verse 32 carries it a little further:
Lev 27:32 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
The tithe covered everything that is important to man, the fruit of the land, and the wealth of the livestock. It becomes a sacrifice.
Mans sustenance, all that he has, (Gen. 14:20) was what the Lord has allowed him, and the tithe the Lord kept for Himself. Some refute the tithe because our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He has no need of a tithe, but in so doing, they question the veracity of the Lord, and His Word, and dishonor Him by holding back that which is holy unto Him. Though they tithed of crops and livestock, our culture today tithes of monetary gain, as well as the proper stewardship of all we have.
In Numbers 18:26 we have another reference to the tithe:
“Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.”
First, we have here an explanation of what the tithe was for. God had given it to the Levites instead of an inheritance in Israel. He demanded a tithe from the people, and passed it on to the Levites, much of what we do today in the church. Remember the Old Testament was a shadow of things to come, it was a picture of God dealing with His people, and today, if we are born from above, we are His people. In Numbers 18:23, we have the duty of the Levites, and the expression that they shall have no inheritance among the children of Israel. Several verses in that text reiterate the purpose of the tithe.
Here is a reference that deserves consideration in Deut. 12:11 :
Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:
Doesn’t this sound as if it could also refer to the church? Is not the church a “place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there”? He is providing a place for us today also called “the church“ and is specific in what we are to bring there. Now that is not “smoking gun” proof, I realize, but let us continue our study:
“And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.”
An interesting verse indeed; here, the Lord is again very specific as to what the tithe is, and more so He offers the real and best reason behind the tithe--“That thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always” (Note the word “always”) The tithe is to glorify the Lord always.
“Always” means forever, every generation, till the end of time; it was given to the Jew, because the Gentiles were heathen and had no part in the things of God, but it was for all of God’s children everywhere, and in every age. If this were not true, we make God a liar in saying that it is “forever”, do we not? We must all ask ourselves why we don’t want to tithe, or rather why we don’t believe the tithe is God’s forever. Giving back 10% is not easy for any of us, but the investment is well worth the sacrifice. In the text of Deut. 14, we see more about the blessing of the tithe (v. 29), and verse 28 speaks of a special tithe of the land to be brought every third year. If the tithe is too much to be easily transported, the Levites were to exchange it for money, but money was only conditional concerning the tithe. Most of the “average” people were poor, and lived off the land and the livestock that the Lord had supplied them, so money was not as prominent in their societies as it is in our culture today, but a tithe is still a tithe.
In 2 Chronicles 31:5 we read as follows:
“And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.”
The command here spoken of referred to the portion of the tithe that was to be given to the priests and Levites. The abundance of the peoples first-fruits was given insomuch as they had far more than was needed. God had blessed them abundantly, and they in turn were to be a blessing to the priests and Levites so that they might be encouraged in the law of the Lord. “Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD” (v. 4). So, the tithe was also given for encouraging the full time workers of the Lord.
Nehemiah dealt with the tithe also:
Neh 10:35 And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD:
Neh 10:36 Also the firstborn of our sons, and of our cattle, as it is written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, unto the priests that minister in the house of our God:
Neh 10:37 And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.
Neh 10:38 And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.
The Levites were not exempt from tithing, they were to tithe from the tithe they received from the people of God. The church follows this same pattern today, that the tithe would not be ignored, but remain in perpetuity as the Lord commanded Israel. The dispensationalists of today have a prOBlem with this, and separate the nation of Israel from the children of God today, but we are all spiritual Jews in the eyes of the Lord (read Galatians 3). The Levites did not tithe to themselves, but to the Lord that His work might continue without interruption.
New Testament Tithing
As already mentioned several times, the tithe was perpetual, an everlasting honor, if you will, to the Lord as well as a token of thanksgiving and an encouragement to those who live off the tithes and offerings of the congregations. They continue to supply the needs that otherwise would overwhelm the church, and the gates of hell then could prevail against it. Thirteen times in the Old Testament we have seen the tithe mentioned, and only two mentions in the Gospels, but they are not without significance until you throw out the instruction and principle of the Old Testament, which is what the dispensationalist seems to want to do.
In Matt. 23:23 we have one of two references to tithing in the New Testament.
Here and Luke 11:42 say virtually the same thing:
Mat 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
Luk 11:42 “But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
The last line says it all, “…And not left the other undone.” Our Lord is admonishing them to keep on tithing of the things mentioned, and not to leave them undone. The Pharisee’s still paid tithes, and they were not rebuked for doing so, the fact is, they were encouraged to keep doing it! I know that to some, the New Testament grace has not yet been ushered in, but again, the dispensationalist must interpret this in a way to make it fit because many do not want to tithe!
The lack of any mention other than this is not a valid argument. Since the church is different than the tabernacle, and functions differently in some areas, the lack of the word “tithe” becomes questionable to many. In 1 Cor. 8 we find some interesting evidences of giving by percentage.
2Co 8:13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
2Co 8:14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
So that one brother is not overburdened, the Lord does not ask them to give excessively, but equally. The only way they can give equally is to give a percentage. Ten percent is ten percent for everyone, and is no more of a burden for a rich man than for a poorer man. Verse 15, the next verse, shows us that the Old testament principles are applicable in the New Testament too. Here is what v. 15 says:
2Co 8:15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
You may recall that this statement was made concerning the Israelites and the gathering of manna, as the Lord provided. (Exodus 16, read entire text) Note that the last verse qualifies the matter with “an omer is the tenth part of an ephah” (That which they used to dole it out). The tenth part, this is the meaning of “tithe” it means “tenth”. They measured out a tenth of an ephah for each man, and double on the day before the Sabbath. If any of us would have applied this verse the way that Paul did, we would hear from a dozen people that we took it out of context! Again, let me say, the Old testament supports the New.
Though the eighth chapter of 2 Corinthians is speaking of charitable giving and not tithing specifically, we can glean some information from these instances. They gave out of love; love should be the reason we give also. They gave in faith; faith must apply to tithing as well. If we cannot trust God to keep His promises to us, we are of all men most miserable. We should see the need of the church, and understand that it takes money to make things happen as they should, and out of love for the work, we ought to tithe. I believe that those who do not tithe are too self-centered to exercise faith in giving, and do not fully trust their Lord as they might think they do.
Most of us know that you will not find a “chapter and verse” for New Testament tithing, but there are very strong implications, for instance:
Paul said he could take pay as a full time worker, but chose not to (1 Cor. 9:6). How could he have been paid if the church did not tithe?
1Co 9:9 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?
I find it strange that Paul would apply this Old testament verse to New Testament support, don’t you?
We finish this passage with the following:
1Co 9:10 Or saith he it altogether 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 his hope.
1Co 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
1Co 9:12 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.
1Co 9:13 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 altar?
1Co 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
1Co 9:15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.
If the church was not expected to tithe, Paul’s words would be meaningless. This idea of giving according to your own whim would not work because most of us do not easily part with our “hard earned” money. Most non-tithers do not give enough to support the ministry in any fashion. His heart is not on tithing:
Psa. 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
The non-tither is doing things his way, and not God’s way:
Pro 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Though the verses immediately above have little, or nothing to do with tithing, they do show human nature, which often dictates what we want, and not necessarily what we should do. I think you get my point.
Take a look at this verse:
2Co 8:12 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.
Our giving is not according to whether we have the money or not, but to equal giving, which, as stated before, demands a percentage giving. Ten percent it what the Lord has commanded in the past, and it is carried over into the church age, or present. (reference given earlier)
The command and promise of Luke 6:38 still applies today:
Luk 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
What would a discourse on tithing be without quoting that time-tested verse, MalachI 3:10?
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
The promise is for tithers, and is just as valid as any promise that the Lord gives unto man. Many refute this verse, and say it does not apply to the church, but as we have seen, the church is the “storehouse” where the tithe is brought and distributed from, it is the direct image of things to come. Prove God, and see if it isn’t so. He has opened the windows of heaven, and poured out many blessings in my life, and I am convinced that He will do the same in yours.
The New Testament reference in 2 Corinthians 9, though it has more to do with charitable giving, proves the accuracy of this verse.
2Co 9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
2Co 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
2Co 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
Some take issue with the phrase “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart. So let him give”, they allow this to be the standard for giving of tithes, and any other means of giving. Don’t we know that the “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9) and none can really know how much? The purpose if their heart in this verse means having the right attitude for giving, as the last part of the verse clarifies. We are to give out of a good motive, a motive of love, and not necessarily out of command or any other rule or emotion. It does not mean let him give whatever he wants to give for that week or month, else he would always find excuse not to tithe. We need to quit looking for “loopholes” in the law, and in the commands of God; a loophole is merely unbelief in disguise, and affords many excuses to go contrary to the Lord’s will and the Word of God. Finally, cultures change; methods change, but Principle does not change, it stands firm, as the rock of Gibraltar, because it is founded on The Rock, Christ. Though our culture is different, and our tithe different, the principle remains the same; ten percent (at least) belongs to God, and we ought to be glad that we have it to give.
About this sermon
Sermons for growth and edification
Entries in this blog
The invincible church
“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.” (Mt. 18:16)
Did Christ die for the church, or for the work of the church? We must ponder that question in our hearts, each one of us. He came and ministered unto men as an example of our work as a Christian, but did he die for the work? Those who are “church builders” would be interested to know. We see an invincible church, and not an invisible church.
In Matt. 16:18, He told Peter “…Upon this Rock I will build my church…” and for ages, good men have asked “What Rock is Jesus speaking of?” My friends, we have all heard different ideas as to what this means, but letting the Bible explain itself is always the interpretation. In the verses previous to this, we see the answer as to what is “The rock?”
It begins in verse 13, where Jesus questions the disciples as to who he is. Peter responds with a wonderful answer, and a great truth for each of us to remember:
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. “ (Mt. 16: 16) My friends, this is the rock that Christ built his church on, that Christ is the Son of the Living God. It is built on principle, and not on persons. The fact that Christ is the Son of God, yea, God Himself, is our Rock; it is as solid as you can get. The winds of time, trials, or tempests will not prevail against it, because it is built on a rock. That, my friends, is what the church is built on.
There are 79 references to the church in the New testament, and all but a few were written to a local church; this includes the seven churches of Asia, in the Book of Revelation. A few of those seventy-nine churches were spoken of before the day of Pentecost, including the common passage we use for church discipline in Mt. 18 17. What did Christ mean when He said to take it before the church?
The church was not established at Pentecost.
The Inception of the Church
The dispensationalist says that when Christ said “Upon this rock will I build my church”, that He meant He would build it (future tenses) at Pentecost. They focus on the words “will I” being a future act, which it was, partially. The church was not yet established, but at Calvary He also said “It is finished”, meaning that work which he set out to do, which could include the building of His church. To claim Pentecost as the inception of the church is a haphazard guess at most; we do not know for sure when the church actually was finished, although we do know from Scripture, that it began with Christ.
As I have already stated, Mt. 16:18 was a future event at the time Jesus spoke it. He could not have built His church before the redemption of man at Calvary lest it be built of unbelievers! “Pentecost” means “fifty”, or, some say “fifty days” which we believe took place fifty days after Christ’s resurrection. If the church did not come into being until Pentecost where was the body of Christ for those fifty days? Where was the “bride” of Christ? There would have to be a gap of fifty days in the building of the church to make that possible. No, the church was “born” at Calvary, when Christ said “It is finished” so was the foundation of the church.
What gives the dispensationalist the right to predict when the church began at Pentecost just because it was a future event? They apply it to Pentecost, with no scriptural support, except that there was “added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2: 47); you cannot add to something until it already exists! The church needed to precede Pentecost before it could be “added to”. It does not take much thinking to realize that the church had to come into being sometime between Mt. 16:18 and Acts 2; the greatest event in history took place between these times--Calvary. I believe that the church was finished at Calvary, and in full swing going into the Book of Acts. In Acts, men added to the church, but the church itself was already established on Christ and Calvary. The work of men was not finished as of yet, but it was “in the making” in the Book of Acts. This is where the controversy lies, I believe, in the establishment of the church according to mans view of it. Mans work in, and on the church is never done until we all get to glory, but the foundation has been laid, and the true church has been built, on the precept that “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Two verse later, Jesus told Him that He would build His church on this--the rock of truth, and the fact that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the living God.
A universal, invisible church has no shepherd.
A church must have a leader. Someone must step up and take the reins, and God has seen to it that it will be so. He provided men for the task; men of His choosing, pastors, evangelists, teachers, etc. (Eph. 4:11) for the edifying of the church. Without a shepherd we are as sheep having no shepherd. Isa. 53:6 comes to mind: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Without a shepherd, we have chaos, and anarchy; we will have “turned every one to his own way”, and found the way of destruction. Where is the leader of the “invisible” church? Who can lead them as one body? (See Acts 28:28)
A church must have unity
How can a universal, invisible church be one unit? They do not have fellowship with one another; they have no inkling of the existence of the other, no personal communication or communion; they cannot be “one body in Christ”. the arm may be in one place, and the leg in another; the nose may be sniffing out souls, but the feet are not led to go to them. Even though one may sow and another may water, they are not unified in the effort, they are as one person doing whatever suits them.
An invisible church has no authority:
Again, who is the leader of the invisible church? Name him if you can. God has established authority, and set guidelines for us to follow within the confines of His will, but the universal church has no one to unify them, none to exercise authority over them. You are prOBably thinking, “they answer only to God“, but I again remind you that each man will do “that which is right in his own sight“, and there will be chaos. There are some though who supposed themselves to be members of this “mystery” church, and we can read about them in Matthew 7; 22: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” Jesus attests that He "never knew them".
The epistles were written to local churches--real churches that were active in their community. Theses “local” churches, are local to their own vicinity; they are not a universal nor invisible church of all believers everywhere, because all believers everywhere are already the true church! The Body of Christ is wide spread, but not everyone who claims to be “of the body” can rightly say they are of “the church”. If all we did was ask the Lord to save us, then we could have an invisible universal church, but we must ask, believing. Truly the Bible says that “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13), but isn’t that preceded by vs. 9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.? Are there not many who, perhaps, had fooled themselves into thinking they were saved? Of course there are! (Mt. 7:22). These examples in Matthew have even prophesied in Christ’s name; they have cast out devils, which seems to be a privilege of the elect of God, and done “many wonderful works”, but they did not have the heart for Christ. Though they shined as premier Christians among the brethren for their works, they were lost, and Christ had to tell them to depart from Him, attesting that He never knew them. They were not of the church. They no doubt could have furnished witnesses to great deeds they did; no doubt they had a time that they verbally called upon the name of the Lord, but they had an evil heart of unbelief which no man could see. They were not a part of the church; the universal church could claim them, because it has no shepherd; it could claim them because it has no authority; it could claim them because they had met the qualifications of the “church”, but they were lost, they were not of the true church.
The Unified Church
What is the church?
The “Body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:27)
The “Bride of Christ”
The “House of God”. (1 Tim. 3:15)
The “General assembly” (Heb. 12:23)
One body (Rom. 12:5) (1 Cor. 12:20)
Who makes up the church?
Believers. All believers, everywhere. (1 Cor. 12:13, 14)
Jewish believers in Christ (Eph. 2:16)
Facts to consider:
79 mentions of “church” in the New testament;
Nearly the entire New testament speaks of local churches;
Almost all the Epistles were written to local assemblies.
Church is “in God” and “In Christ“ (1 Thess. 1:1 and 2Thess. 1:1)
“Church” means “called out assembly”; (assembly can also be translated as “church”)
The church is the “Pillar and ground of the Truth” (1 Tim. 3:15)
Churches sometimes met in houses; (Philemon 1:2)
--Out in the open; (Acts 7:38)
--In regular buildings. (Rev. Chapters 2,3)
Church established before Pentecost. (Mt. 16: 18)
The church had to exist before Pentecost, else there was no church between the crucifixion and the introduction of the Holy Spirit.
Twice Christ mentions the church during His earthly ministry, (Mt. 16:18 and 18:17) and goes as far as establishing the order for discipline in the New Testament church. (Spoken in present tense).
Every church was a “local assembly”.
“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth”…1 Cor. 1:2~ 2 Cor 1:1
“Unto the churches of Galatia”…Gal. 1:2, and etc.
Seven churches of revelation, etc.
Every church has a shepherd: (Eph. 4:11)
They are as sheep which have no shepherd, scattered and confused.
They have no leadership, no authority.
There must be authority in the church, for it is God-ordained.
Every church has ordinances:
Who does the Baptizing in the “invisible” church?
Who takes the communion supper, and who passes it out?
The Beauty and the Beast
I’m sure all of us have heard the story of the “Beauty and the beast”, but I’d like to tell you about the Biblical version of it. It begins first with:
The beast of oppression
The oppression of sin; we are slaves to evil, the captors of sin. There is little deliverance if any, from our captor, the devil. If we are delivered in one area, we are enslaved in another, there is no escape among men. Turning over a new leaf will not deliver us; Doing good deeds will not deliver us; nothing in this life will deliver us, except Jesus. We are captivated by the oppression of sin.
Rom 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
We are oppressed by habits; a bad habit is hard to break. Man is drawn to sin, it is his innate nature to sin. (Rom. 5:12) We can sometimes change the habit; we can even change the environment, but we cannot change the heart. Only our Lord Jesus Christ can do that. We are captive to the beast of oppression.
The beast of tribulations
Trials and tribulations plague us, and we are at the mercy of “chance”. For the most part, we have no chance against the winds of trials that come our way; we are often overwhelmed by temptations and trials, and tribulation. Again, there is no relief--no “rest for the weary“, no hope among men. The weather defeats us; time is often against us; the flesh is always warring against our spirit.
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.”
Act 14:22 “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
Tribulation comes in the form of trials; our patience is tried, our faith is tried and our love is often tried by man and by God, but thank God that He sent His Son that we might be victorious over sin and death--and along with that, many trials leave us, and we are made free. Tribulation will come--if you love the Lord, and serve Him, tribulation will come upon you; it is inevitable; it is necessary that it come to you, but the Lord will lighten the burden of trials and afflictions, and give us the victory in Christ over all these malady’s. Jesus is the cure for what ails us! He will carry our burdens through the storm.
The beast of hunger
Hunger is never satisfied here on earth. As soon as we are filled, we begin to hunger again. We hunger for many things; riches, glory, food, and every lust that man can perceive; again I say, hunger is never quenched in this life. We are slaves to our lusts; we seek only to gratify the flesh; we glut ourselves with food and luxuries.
Mat 25:35 “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Mat 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” Hunger is a devastating enemy, able to slowly melt us down, and grind at our spirit; hunger fulfilled is temporary, for tomorrow we hunger again. This beast has defeated many a good man, and it could easily get us too, except that Jesus won’t allow it.
The beast of disease and pestilence
Even the air we breathe can be a detriment to us. Germs are everywhere, and disease runs rampant in the streets. The water we drink must be purified for fear of disease, and the body itself is easily susceptible to every illness known to man. It is almost as if the beasts are all about us, and on every side, yet there is hope. We need not fret, Jesus is our stay.
Psa. 91: 3 “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”
Psa 91:7 “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.”
The Beastliness of Man
The “Maniac of Gadara” (Mk. 5:1-20) was such a man. He was a beast at his best, but the love of the Lord tamed the beast, and this “wild man” became a gentle-man. He was at his worst when Jesus made him better. Every man has a little of the beast in Him, but our Lord makes the difference, and tames the wild, wondering soul. Jesus found us at our worst, and yet He nurtured us and guided us, and led us unto Himself; in Him we have hope at last!
Sin is a beast--a dreadful, deadly beast. It’ll leave you in a mangled heap of despair, and laugh at your final demise. It is a mocker; a deceitful enemy, which poses as a true friend. None that love the beast will find true beauty.
There are many “beasts” existent today among men, but ahh, there is also beauty.
The Beauty of Salvation
“In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people,” (Isa. 28:5). I know that this may not be referring to salvation, but it clearly tells us that The Lord Himself is a crown of beauty to His people, whether Jew or Christian. There is no greater gift given to man than the salvation of his soul.
Jer 8:20 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” But…“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13)
The Beauty of Comfort And Joy
True joy comes from knowing Christ as our Savior; true peace comes from knowing our sins are gone, and we are no longer condemned. We can take comfort in these things, they are beauty to the wretched soul, and honor to the depraved. This is “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isa. 61:3) Great gifts from a greater God. Let the scriptures speak!
1Pe 1:8 “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:”
The Beauty of Holiness
“O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.” (Psa. 96:9)
Holiness is beauty in the eyes of the Lord. Beauty, as we know it, is flesh and worldly, but a sweet spirit is most precious; holiness and purity are the real beauty of men, and pleasing unto God. Holiness is beautified in man; it is his delight. A holy life is well-pleasing unto God and man, and will lead us in the paths of righteousness. Holiness protects us from the beast of sin.
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Heb. 12:14)
The Beauty of His Sanctuary
“Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.” (Psa. 96: 6) The sanctuary of God, the church, is a beauty and strength for God’s children. Christ died for the church, and made her His bride, what a beautiful reunion we will have with Him in glory some day soon. Then the beast will be defeated completely, and the Beauty shall reign forevermore.
There is also sanctuary in His presence. The eternal presence of God is a strong sanctuary for man, the answer to all that ails him. He is a tower of strength for all that call on Him.
The Beauty of the Lord
Jesus is the beauty of our souls. It is He that turns the beast into the beauty; only Jesus can do so. In all Hs splendor and grace, we see a heart of beauty, a life of beautiful things, and it is given for, and to, us. Our God, Jesus, is altogether lovely; He is the bright and morning Star; the lily of the valley; the rose of Sharon, and the balm of Gilead. He is our Savior, and His grace is our beauty too. We are adorned with the beauty of His love, and His grace is sufficient for all men. He makes the ugly beautiful, and the despondent cheerful; this is an inner beauty, the beauty of the soul.
His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem. (Song of Solomon 5:16)
“Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers: And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.” (Deut. 7:12-15)
The Lord promised Israel that He would bless them, if they would keep His commandments. This promise is valid for us too; He greatly blesses the OBedient children. The Bible, in fact, tells us over and over again that we “shall not want” (Psa.23:1), and if we can believe God’s Word, we should not have need for anything. Proverbs has many, but to begin let’s look at the 3rd chapter:
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. (Vs. 7-10)
But not only does he promise these necessities, but also the Lord promises that all good shall come to us. In Psalm 84:11, He gives the stipulation plainly:
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
Some may wonder what God means by “good”, for those who want New Testament verses, we have Romans 8:28 where the promise is more general:
“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.”
God wants us to prosper, else He never would have promised to prosper us. Another wonderful, and well-known verse is Philippians 4: 19, where it is again more inclusive without the stipulation which is always implied nonetheless:
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
The word “all” means “all”. Why are we in need for anything then? God’s Word is true, and to deny that we should have need of nothing, is to deny the Truth of His Word. Incidentally, there are more verses, that support this, but how many is sufficient when it is right from the mouth of the Author? If you are struggling, seek the Lord in prayer, and don’t quit until you are satisfied with your answer. Look within yourself and ask “Am I honest in all aspects of business?” Or ask if there is any evil way in you that you are not aware of. Do you pay your debts? Would you make them a priority until you did? Often we have enough for that which we desire greatly, whether it is a vacation, a new car, or some material thing that we “just have to have”, but if we are putting the Lord first, we will see to our business, and He will intercede for us. Are you thankful for all things that He gives you? A complaining spirit does not go far with the Lord. We need to learn to be satisfied, lest by pride, we desire more than our peers. Is your mind set on the things of God, or are you burdened down by worldly things? Philippians 4:8 teaches us what we ought to dwell on;
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
We have here six definite things to occupy our minds with the right kind of thinking. Remember, the Lord blesses the righteous, and gives grace to the humble of spirit.
Praise is mentioned in the above verse, do we really take time to praise our Lord? He is more than worthy of our praise, and it is only by grace that He accepts our praise from these evil lips. Those that have learned to be thankful also know how to praise Him. Now back to Deuteronomy, but this time in chapter six we have much the same theme:
“That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and OBserve to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” (Deut. 6:2-9)
As I have stated earlier, These commands and promises were to the Jews, God’s chosen people, but they are just as valid for us today. Though we need not keep the law, per se, we are to OBey the same “rules” if you will, and receive the same blessing and curses. Can anyone deny that we are also to OBey? The entire chapter is not necessarily ours to claim, but the Lord will give us the same victories if we trust Christ and enter into His family.
“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;” (Deut. 7:9)
The Lord keeps His covenant (promises), and His mercies are “new every morning” unto us too!
“It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3: 22,23)
We do not function off yesterdays blessings, because His mercies ARE new EVERY morning.
Prosperity is not merely “having” things”, but it has to do with “doing” also. It does include “having” though, as seen in Proverbs three:
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
“It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” (Prov. 3:7-10)
The verses are self explanatory.
Look also at Joshua 1:
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest OBserve to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest OBserve to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Josh. 1:5-8)
And again in Psalms 1:1-3:
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
The Bible is full of such promises, but all have conditions; If we meet the condition, we OBtain the promise.
Do you see the inference on OBedience in nearly all these verses?
Look now at a few other verses.
Consider 2 Chronicles 26:5 “And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.”
Psa. 84:11 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
Consider also, MT. 6: 25-34, where our Lord in v. 33 says “All” these things shall be added unto us. “Shall” is definite, it is not “may” or “could “ be added, but it “will” be.
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
God blessed and “prospered” Joseph in Egypt (Gen. 39:2,3)
“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.”
He “prospered” Uzziah in 2 Chron. 26:5:
“And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.”
God prospered Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:6,7:
For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.
And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not. (See also 31:21)
Daniel prospered in Babylon:
“So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (Dan. 6:28)
I believe the point is made.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
Are you a giver or a taker?
2 Cor. 9:6)
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”
(Some will argue the context of this verse, but it says what it says, regardless of where in scripture we put it.) Many look so deeply at the context, they miss the content of the scripture.
God is faithful to keep His promise:
“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;” (Deut. 7: 9)
The following is a small list of verses to consider in this matter:
Psa 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
Psa 34:9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
Psa 36:7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
Psa 36:8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
*Psa 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
Psa 92:12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
*Psa 112:3 Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
Psa 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
Pro 10:3 The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.
Pro 10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.
*Pro 11:28 He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.
How many will it take to convince us? The Lord is faithful to keep His promises, we need but to trust in Him.
Rom 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Being “Fully persuaded” may be the key to OBtaining the promises, as well as walking closely to the Lord, as most of the above verses imply.
For a Christian to suffer need is a bad testimony to our Lord. There is no reason why we should not be successful, at least not from the Lord’s point of view.
* Key verses.
Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Psa 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Psa 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
These verses describe the key to success. In these few verses one can find the answer to prosperity, and will be able to prosper in his way. Four things can ensure us of a prosperous lifestyle:
1. Walking not in the counsel of the ungodly. If we seek ungodly counsel, we receive ungodly advice. Too many Christians go to their friends, or the worldly system for counsel, and many times it is they that need counseling themselves! Too many go to court and ask an ungodly judge to arbitrate their cause, and they receive ungodly counsel based on worldly standards and doctrines. Be careful whom you seek for “wisdom” in certain matters, a man that is wise in this world may not be right in the eyes of God.
2. Standing not in the way of sinners. Do not become caught up in another mans schemes. Our friends are only concerned with their own well being when it comes right down to it, and if unsaved, they will go to great lengths to get what they want. The world is full of “schemers” against the law, government, and authorities in general to “prosper” themselves. Some men will kill merely for the feeling of dominance; many will steal to satisfy their unholy lusts, and if we align ourselves with them, we become partakers of their evil deeds. Even our “Christian” friends sometimes look for loopholes in the law, or in the rules of some establishment for their own gain. They may even look for loopholes in Gods laws. We would be wise to avoid them, as well as safer.
3. Sitting not in the seat of the scornful. They that scorn the holy things of God are worthy of His judgments. Many Christians will befriend them to try and help them, but beware! Scorning is dangerously contagious! Complaining can be a type of scorning, it is not trusting in the Lord or believing in His promises; it is evil, as if to say that what the Lord has done for you is not enough. That is bad enough, but pouring contempt on someone, or something is judgmental and hateful. That too is evil.
4. Delighting in the Lord. We must consider Him precious and His will a great desire for us. As a father loves his child, so does our Lord love us with an even greater love. If we truly love the Lord, the “meditate” in the Lord day and night will come easy. We must always keep our thoughts and hearts upon Him, and upon pleasing Him. There are ways that we can do this every day without being over taxed: We can read His Word, studying it also; we can sing praises to His
“And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son.” (Gen. 27:26)
A kiss is usually an outward expression of love. There are many “kisses” in the Bible (in 19 verses) that speak of the character of man. I offer a few of them in this document.
1. The kiss of affection:
In the verse I selected, the first “kiss” in the Bible, JacOB greets his beloved son with a kiss. He seems to know there is something amiss, but blesses JacOB anyway, instead of Esau. Though deceptive on JacOB’s part, the kiss was an expression of affection by Isaac.
A kiss can speak of many diabolical deceptions, and it can be a gesture of endearment, and love, it can go both ways.
2. The kiss of deception:
In 2 Samuel 20:9 we read; “And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.”
This is a very diabolical and subtle kiss, with evil intent.
To kiss in this manner, or to feign to do so, speaks of trust and companionship to the one, but evil is the motive of the other. This kiss betrays trust and catches the unwary victim by subtlety.
3. The kiss of allegiance and loyalty:
Though used metaphorically, we have another type of kiss which speaks;
“Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18)
This is where Elijah sought refuge in the Lord because of Jezebel. Though he seemed despondent, the Lord assured him that He had seven thousand faithful followers in Jerusalem, that had “kissed” the Lord, and not Baal.
4. The kiss of faith:
This is also a kiss of loyalty and love. Again we see the word “kiss” used metaphorically, as an act of endearment, but aimed in the right direction. The verse I refer to is Psa. 2:12:
“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.”
To “kiss the Son (note the capital “S”) is to draw close to Jesus; it is to hold Him in our heart, and admire Him greatly in our thoughts, and it speaks of intimacy with our Lord, without which we have nothing.
5. The kiss of reward and appreciation:
“Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.” (Prov. 24:26)
Again we see the metaphor for kiss. The word “kiss” seems to speak many different “languages“, and apply many different ways. Men respect an honest man whether they admit it or not. They may never let him know it, but they respect his honesty and openness, it is natural to do so. Most likely, the man that gives a right answer will be upright in his affairs, he will be honest in business.
6. The kiss of betrayal:
“Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.” (Mt. 26:48)
The kisses of a false friend hurt deeply when he is discovered; they pierce us to the heart, and cause much consternation in our life, yet they are more common, I think, than we realize. Jesus asked Judas a convicting question: “But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” (Lk. 22:48). One wonders how low we can go when betrayal is our goal? Perhaps it was more than the money, the thirty pieces of silver, which amounted to quite a sum for them, perhaps it was a deep-seated evil a love for the world--Satan’s world, hidden deep within his heart. Betrayal on any level is evil; whether in marriage, in business, or in societal matters, their always seems to be an ulterior motive.
7. The kiss of salutation:
Five verses, the last five in the Bible that contain the word “kiss” speak of greeting “one another with a holy kiss” (Rom. 16:16); or 1 Cor. 16:20~2 Cor. 13:12~1 Thess. 5:26, each of these say essentially the same thing but the last mention of “kiss” changes just a bit:
“Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Pet. 5:14)
A “kiss of charity“, of brotherly love; of giving to the need of a brother. Charity means the same thing it means today, loving enough to see to the needs of others. This too is a wonderful and kindly and God-like kiss.
Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Psa 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Psa 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
This is the key to success. In these few verses one can find the answer to prosperity, and can prosper in his way. Four things can solidify our promise of prosperity and success:
1. Walking not in the counsel of the ungodly. If we seek ungodly counsel, we receive ungodly advice. Too many Christians go to their friends for counsel, and many times the friend is in need of counsel as much as they are! Too many go to court, and ask an arbitrator to intercede on their behalf, and They receive counsel based on worldly standards and doctrines. Be careful whom you seek for counsel, a man that is wise in this world may not be right in the eyes of God.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (James 3:17)
2. Standing not in the way of sinners. Do not get caught up in another mans schemes. Many times our friends are concerned with their own well being, and will do most anything to get what they want. This world is full of unsaved men and women who plot and scheme against the law, the government, and authorities in general to “prosper” themselves. Many men will kill for the sheer feeling of dominance, and steal to satisfy their own lusts, and if we align ourselves for them, we become partakers of their evil deeds. Even our “Christian” friends sometimes look for “loopholes” in the law or with the standards that the Lord has set for us, we would be wise, and safer to avoid them, to an extent.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (2 Cor. 6:17)
3. Sitting not in the seat of the scornful. Those that scorn the Holy things of God are worthy of His judgment. Many Christians befriend them to try and help them, but beware! Scorning can be contagious! Complaining is not trusting in the Lord,; it is evil, and is like saying that what the Lord has done for you is not enough. Complaining is bad enough, but scorning is pouring contempt on someone, and is judgmental, and wishing evil on another human being. Many scorn the Lord and openly curse His name, as if they were superior, and He was subject to their abuse.
Scorn can be directed at anyone, or any thing, any time. We need to train our tongues and be sure that we speak only good. A very prideful man usually will be a scorner. He will always be challenging authority, and seeking superiority for himself over any and all that he meets. Usually the scornful man can be easily recognized by the sneer on his face, and the words he uses carelessly.
He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. (Mt. 9:24)
I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn. (JOB 12:4)
Now look at the first chapter of Joshua:
Jos. 1:7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest OBserve to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
Jos 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest OBserve to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
We see, in essence, the same admonitions here; the promise of success to Joshua came through OBedience to the Lord. Here Joshua was to “OBserve to do according to all the law…” OBedience! He was not to falter from it, and only then would God prosper his way.
A further command was to always keep the Word of the Lord in his heart, and on his lips; he was to “meditate” on it day and night, everywhere he went, and all the time, so that he would be more able to keep the ordinances and commands therein. Here, after the admonition to keep on doing what the Lord would have him to do, is the two-fold promise of success and prosperity. Though these were Old Testament promises, they are still in effect for today!
What do you suppose would happen if you were to meditate in God’s Word, day and night? What about speaking in His behalf, and singing praises to him, and praying, and all the things that we can glorify Him in orally and verbally?
The New Testament also encourages us to keep our minds on Christ, and “meditate on these things”:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Phil. 4:8)
Wouldn’t it make a great difference in our thought life? We are to seek the Lord all day, every day, as seen in Col. 3:1,2:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
The Lord gives us three more reasons why we should seek those things which are above:
1. Because we are dead to this world.
2. Because we are hid in Christ.
3. Because Christ is our life, and is coming back, and shall appear with Him. (vs. 3,4)
The way to set our “affection on things above” is outlined for us in 1 John 2:15-17:
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
We either love God and hate the world, or we hate God and love the world, there is no half-way. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments. (Jn. 14:15)
Finally, let me interject one more thing here; we not only can have great success, and prosperity in the Lord, but perfect peace, if our minds are stayed on Him:
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isa. 26:3
It appears that the Lord would have us to keep our minds on heavenly things, and not the things of this world. The following is a list of ways to do just that in these hectic days:
1. We can pray as we are exercising, or jogging, etc. or any time actually.
2. We can memorize scripture in our leisure time, and hide it in our hearts.
3. We can meditate upon our bed, or as we walk through our day, or drive, any time, anywhere, we can spend some time in meditation.
4. We can have a song of praise in our heart and on our lips any tome also. As a wife does the housework, she might sing praise to our Lord. Good Christian music can be played in our cars as we go about our day, and in the home as we do the menial chores of a household.
5. We can spend some time telling someone of the wonderful love of Jesus. Set a time for soul winning, and you are more likely to go.
6. We can testify to someone, either in church or on the street and excitedly tell them what Jesus has done for us. A testimony ought to be detailed, but short, and always giving glory to the Lord. Fellowship is a sweet blessing that the Lord allows us as fellow soldiers in Christ.
7. Finally, we can spend time in Bible study/reading.
These things are suggestions on how to keep our minds on the things of God all the day long without wondering how we can do it in today’s world. Remember to thank the Lord and praise Him always, and see if He does not give you great success.
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (2 Tim. 2:3,4)
Spreading the Seed
Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you. (Hag. 2:9)
Though the immediate text speaks of the blessing of God, and the lack of it, one cannot ignore the question he asks “Is the seed yet in the barn?” I wonder if the Gospel seed is lying dormant in your barn?
Friends, we need to get the seed out of the barn; we need to spread the Word and allow the seed to grow into a great tree of faith in the lives of others; we need to be OBedient to that heavenly calling. As each of us read these words, our thoughts are “I am ok, I am doing enough”, but are we really doing enough? Is the seed yet in the barn? Seed left in the barn will rot; it is of no use at all until it is planted in the soil, and watered.
The apostle Paul did not do enough; King David did not do enough; Moses did not do enough, nor does anyone else, except our Lord. Only He can truly say, “It is finished”. Men have traversed the oceans, and climbed to the highest heights that this earth affords, only to realize that they had not done enough; they were not satisfied and had not fulfilled their tasks. It is never enough. The message for us today is “Go, go, go!”. Let us look closely at the command:
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mk. 16:15).
“GO” is the command to all of us, with no exceptions. Those who are not physically able to “go” can go by proxy and in fact “send” others, thereby going through them, and with them.
“GO YE” the little word “ye” is a plural word, and means “You all”, or “all of you”. Again the command is all-inclusive; it is personalized and generalized; for everyone individually, as well as collectively.
1. Where are we commanded to go? “Into all the world”. “All” is another small world that says a lot. We are to leave out not one, but to reach every corner of the world. Friends, this is a big world; we cannot, as individuals, reach every corner of the world; it is, for the most part, impossible if not merely impracticable. This command therefore, speaks of missions also, where we can, by proxy, all reach the entire world. Let us not be negligent in “going”.
The command “Go ye” entails “all of you”; “Ye” is a plural term, and speaks of every Christian, and every church. We are all told to “go”, and collectively, we can reach every corner of the world.
2. What are we expected to do? Preach the Gospel. When we preach we see a threefold outline in one word:
3. “Each” person with the Gospel of Christ. We have been fully equipped to do so; “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” ( 2 Tim. 3:17). The Word of God has equipped us for the task at hand. This means that we are without excuse--we all have the ability to reach others with the Gospel message, and are fully equipped to do so. If you don’t know how to lead someone to the Lord, that is your fault, not the Lord’s; if you are afraid to go, that too is your fault, and the entire blame rests on you. Some have said “I don’t know what to say” or, like Moses, “I am not eloquent” (in a sense), but that too is only fear, we are still commanded to go. We are to “preach the Gospel”. By this command, even ladies are able to “preach” when they give the Gospel to lost souls, lest any say they are excluded from the command.
3. Whom are we to reach? “Every creature”. Not only is none excluded from the command, but none from the hearing of the message; we are to exclude no one, and to be OBlivious to race, creed, or orientation; we are not to be “respecters of persons”.
Now, OBviously this “creature” is man, and not beast, as they have no sense of spiritual things; but many times we become judges, and determine some men to be “beasts” and therefore exempt from the hearing of the Gospel. We begin to “choose” who we will “preach” to, and leave some to fall by the wayside.
I ask you, my friends, “Is the seed yet in the barn”? Is it hidden deep inside of you so that it is of no practical use for anyone else? Is it too small a seed that you feel it will not bear fruit? Whatever the case, we are to “go”; one preacher put it this way: “If you take the “go” out of Gospel, all you have left is a spel (spell). Perhaps you have taken the “go” out of Gospel; if so, break that spell that fear and the devil has upon you. “Go“, for the sake of Calvary; “Go” for the sake of others; “Go” for your own sakes, that the Word of God may dwell richly in you, and be fruitful, and the kingdom of God will be multiplied, and you will be blessed beyond measure until your “cup runneth over” with blessings.
4. How long are we to “go”? Isaiah asked this same question when speaking to the Lord: “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.” (Isa. 6:11,12) Just previous to this, the Lord commanded Isaiah to go and preach to the people: “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” (Isa. 6:9,10) Today we are to go until there is no more going, and speak until we can no longer speak the name of Jesus unto men; we are to go even if they will not hear us. Though Isaiah’s message was a different message to a chosen people, we too are to until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and until the houses of men be utterly desolate, and men flee from our presence, and there be a great forsaking in the land. Our call is not much different than Isaiah’s call--go, and preach until there is no one else to preach to.
Is the seed still in the barn? It is time for the planting for soon it will be harvest time. Oh that we would not say with the prophet “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jeremiah 8:20)
How tragic that we hear little preaching about the precious blood of Christ nowadays. This doctrine seems to have been shoved aside by the church for...who knows what?
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
As we can easily see, our redemption is OBtained through the blood of Christ. We make much of the death of Christ, and the resurrection, but it seems little is said these days about the blood. So, let us look at some scripture that depicts the true value of the blood to us, and begin here:
There is nothing more valuable than our redemption. Were it not for the blood, but merely the death of Christ, we would all still be lost in our sin, and spend an eternity in hell. Some proclaim that the death alone was enough, but without the shedding of blood is no remission. Look with me at Hebrew 9:22; “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” I suppose that some have made much of the word “almost”, but what concern is that to us? Whatever isn’t purged need not worry us, it is something that doesn’t need purging. The fact remains that the last part of the verse clarifies our standing--And without shedding of blood is no remission” So, the blood redeems.
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:13)
The blood will draw us toward our God! We live afar off, away from Him and His grace, but it is the blood that brings us near Him. How wonderful to be near the Almighty. We can walk with Him, and bask in His glory because of the precious blood of Christ. The blood is a uniting blood; once applied, it gives us peace in Christ; it unites us with Him, as one body.
“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” (Col. 1:20)
The blood is a reconciling blood, Eph. 2:14, “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;”
Thus we are reconciled to Him who we were once at enmity against; this too is through the blood of Christ. What value! What joy we receive in Him because of the blood.
“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?” (Heb. 9:14)
By the blood of Christ, our conscience is clear--we have no more sorrow for sins past. We have no worry over our dead works, but have been re-born to present good works unto the Lord. (Eph. 2:10). Our conscience’s are clean because of the blood of Christ; it purges us through and through.
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” (Heb 10:19)
His blood emboldens us! By the blood of Christ, we have access to the Father, and are allowed to approach the throne of grace without fear “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may OBtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:16) It is important to us that we OBtain an interview with the Father, and it is made available to us through the blood.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
Finally, the blood cleanses us from ALL sin, past, present, and future. Such power in this blood! What a precious commodity it is for us. To think, we now go through life without sin! Glory Be! As far as God is concerned, our sin is gone, and we are sinless before Him because of Christ’s blood, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9) but wait! Christ will sit on the Bema seat and we will be judged for our works, even those which promoted sin.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Lev. 17:11)
All of these blessings are wrapped in one word “At-one-ment” wherein we become one with Christ.
Some say that there was not much blood shed at Calvary, but what they fail to see is that it is not the quantity, but the quality of the blood that counts! One drop of pure, untainted blood from the veins of our Savior is sufficient to wipe away all sin--forever! What glorious power there is in the blood of Christ!
All blood, whether oriental, Caucasian, Arabian, or Latino, looks the same, and all is the life of the flesh, (Lev. 17:11, 14). So it is with the blood of Christ, it is the same for all men, and provides eternal life for all flesh.
The 91st psalm
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (v.1)
Many verses are addressed to a certain person or group, here we see that the ninety-first psalm is for all that are in Christ, God’s people. We all assume that we dwell under the shadow of the Almighty, and in the secret place of God (salvation). Thus, this Psalm, as most other Old Testament passages, cannot be cast aside under a new dispensation. If our Lord chooses to bless Israel for the sake of Abraham and Moses, how much surer a blessing is bestowed on us who have become one with Christ, His beloved Son. Grace aside, the latter is more blessed than the former because of Jesus, whom Israel hardly knew.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (v.2)
Verse two further supports the “who” this verse is written to and for. Those that have trusted in the Lord, and made Him their (only) refuge, have the greatest of blessings, indeed. The psalmist was sure of His position with the Lord, and if we are also sure of ours, we can surely accept that today we are also blessed far more than we often imagine.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. (v.3)
Not “maybe” He shall deliver us, but “surely” He shall! He guides us so that the hunter of souls cannot trap us, and the fearsome storms of life which are often in his command cannot harm us. Be assured, my friend< we are safe in the hands of Jesus.
“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (v.4)
The Lord will, and has, embraced us as His beloved children. He protects us from dangers without, which we shall yet see, but also comforts us by drawing us close to Him, whether Jew or not. We can trust in Him to be true to His character and to see that we are safe and secure.
Furthermore, it is His Truth that preserves us, as our shield and buckler. He is our protector because of Christ, but through His Truth.
Our Lord often uses analogical comparisons to teach us of His love for us. Here He likens a Himself to a hen protecting her brood; when danger approaches they will scurry to their mothers side and she will cover them with her wings while staving off the predator. The chicks are secure in the bosom of the mother.
“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;” (v.5)
The Lord knows the danger of fear, and often, throughout Scripture, deals with it. JOB feared losing his family or natural disasters, but it came about as he feared it would:
JOB 3:25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
Fear is a tool of the devil. Keep in mind that in Revelation 21:8 we see a list of those who will occupy hell, and the list is topped off with the “fearful”:
Rev 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 which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Our Lord wants us to trust Him in every area of our lives. We are a fearful people, we fear the sickness finding us; we fear death; loss; financial failure; we fear nearly every aspect of our lives, personal and public, when what we need to do is trust the Lord. We must realize that the stray bullet (arrow) cannot find its mark in us unless the Lord allows it, and if He allows it, it is the best thing for us or our families.
“Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” (v.6)
Disease runs rampant in our country in spite of the medical advances we have gained. Are we too careful to go outside for fear that we may catch a germ that travels in the wind? Are we so unfriendly that we fail to greet people, especially acquaintances, for fear that we might catch something. Our Lord would have us comfort the sick, and visit them, but many are afraid to visit hospitals and nursing homes for that same reason. Shame on us! We need not be fearful of things we cannot control; we need not fear the unseen and the unknown, or nurture the thought of possibility. We need to trust God in these matters, as in all matters.
“A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. “ (v. 7)
What a promise to the redeemed. One thinks of war times, and their comrades falling before the enemy, but nothing can happen to themselves that God is not in control of (Rom. 8:28), and that does not, in some way, produce good. It would behoove us to keep this in mind, and stay as close to the Lord as possible.
Many of God’s promises are conditional, but the conditions are not unreasonable, nor unreachable, the men of God from past ages have proven this. When we “dwell in the secret place” and “under the shadow of the Almighty” there are great blessings in store for us, and much comfort comes our way. We are God’s people and we bear His name before all.
“Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;” (vs. 8, 9)
It is not because we are so good, but because we have believed in the sacrificial Lamb, and accepted Him as our Savior; that is the reason we are so blessed. He, indeed, ought to be our refuge. In the old days they built towers or strongholds as a refuge against the enemy, and they ran there when danger approached, but if we already dwell there, all the time, we have no need to flee for safety; we rest in the loving arms of our Champion and Redeemer. We shall see the destruction of the wicked from the arms of grace, and know that the Lord shall mete out judgment unto all the unbelievers who have rejected Him.
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. V. 10)
Again a precious, but often ignored promise to the redeemed of the Lord. No evil shall befall us! No plague shall grip us! Why do we fear so? I suppose fear is natural for man, but with all these promises going for us, it seems silly to fear anything. God’s angels will see to it that the promise is fulfilled in each of us.
“For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”
The Lord has taken special care for us by assigning angels to watch over us, and protect us in His stead. They will “Keep” us in all our ways, wherever we go, and in whatever we do especially for the glory of God. As a result of their guidance and mediation, we shall have victory and success.
“Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.” (v. 13)
Then in verse 14, our Lord assures us that because we have served and believed Him, all these things shall come to pass.
“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” (vs. 15,16)
The Lord promises, finally, to hear our pleas. He will help us when we need help, because He loves us immensely. Not only that, but because we have honored Him, He will honor us! What a blessing! What a blessed promise. He will reward us with the greatest of gifts--long life along with His salvation. I believe this life speaks of everlasting life, and what could be longer or greater than that? Grab on to the promises and never let them go, the Lord gave them to us for such purposes.
A Tree of Life
“In the midst of the garden” (Gen 2:9).
It is the center of paradise.
The central tree of beauty in a garden of peace.
The fruit of the tree (Gen 3:22)
They had to eat of it. (implies that they had to eat of it daily, not merely one time to have eternal life. They would live forever as long as they ate of it.)
NOTE: Man was free to eat of this tree before he disOBeyed; it seems that he may have eaten of it already, yet the eternal life was not eternal, it had to be replenished from the fruit of the tree.
God put guards around the tree (Gen. 3:24) to keep man from eating of it, and having eternal life.(as long as he ate of it; prOBably every month.). Eternal life was taken from man at this time.
The “tree of life” is not mentioned again until we get to Proverbs, but for now we must interject Rev. 22: 2:
“In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
This takes place in Heaven. Note that it bear twelve types of fruit (perhaps symbolic of the apostles or the tribes of Israel) It seemed to bear a different fruit every month, as opposed to twelve types of fruit hanging from the same tree all at once.
“Twelve manner of fruits”, in today’s reckoning is most likely related to the fruit of the Spirit, of which there are nine elements (Gal 5: 22-23). Note here that the “fruit” is singular (one fruit) and that it has nine elements to it. These elements make up the “fruit“.
Now, if we will continue to Proverbs, we shall see a few examples of the tyoe of fruit that the tree bore.
Pro 3:18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
“She” is wisdom. Wisdom is a “tree of life” to them that lay hold on her. So, wisdom is a fruit of the tree of life;
Pro 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
Righteousness is another “fruit” that is gleaned from the tree of life.
Pro 13:12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
Hope’s seeing is also a “tree of life” or a fruit thereof.
Pro 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
So is a “wholesome tongue” a tree of life. The fruit is bearing seed!
A wholesome tongue is one that speaks no guile;
“Wholesome“ 1. That which promotes morality; is morally beneficial.
2. Sensible; based on honesty and common sense.
The “Tree of life” is given to “overcomers”; (Rev. 2:7)
These are they that have “overcome the world” in Christ. It is a promised blessing or “right” to those that have accepted Christ. (Rev. 22:14) They have “kept His commandments” by the grace of God in Christ Jesus.
Incidentally the “tree of life” is mentioned twelve times in scripture, only three of which are New testament passages. That leaves nine in the Old Testament, which is also the number of elements in the “fruit of the Spirit” (again see Gal. 5:22, 23) Coincidence? Furthermore, three is the number of God, who is three God’s in one; three verses in Revelation speak of the “Tree of life”
It appears that this same tree that was in the center of Eden, is now in Heaven. The Bible implies one tree, though it seems to occupy both sides of the street that came out from the throne of God. (Rev. 22: 2) The fruit of it was for the healing of the nations, and those that had access to it had eternal life. What a blessed treat for the child of God!
Jesus hung on Calvary
There He died upon a tree;
He lived the life of liberty,
And died alone to make men free.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
(a Practical look)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: (v. 1)
We often forget that the title of the Book teaches us that it is a revealing of Christ. We like to focus on the prophetic aspect of this great Book, but too often we shove Christ in the background as the Laodicean church did (Rev. 3:20), and focus on the incidental instead of the preeminent. Every Book; every verse; every thought in the Word of God centers around Christ, we simply do not have the spiritual discernment to see it: He is, indeed, the central figure of the Bible. This is His revealing of Himself to us, and has little to actually do with the individual, actually, although the church age can be more practically applied to us today as individuals that some of the other views offered unto us. As you read, dear reader, keep Christ in the forefront of your thoughts, and lift Him in praise for the wonder of wonders that He has revealed to His people. It is not about us, but about Christ. He saw fit to reveal Himself to us, His chosen people, and we would do well to heed it. These things “must shortly come to pass”, which implies that the church age is affected by the revelation as well as the rest of the Book.
He first saw fit to reveal it to John, (v.1) His beloved servant, and then onto us also, as the redeemed of God through Him. He signified it by His angel (v. 1) as a testimony to the truth and actuality of the matter, unto John, who bore record of the Word, and had the testimony of Christ (v. 2), as we also have. Revelation is the revealed mystery of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not merely a revelation that he has given us. He wants us to know Him intimately, personally, and so He reveals Himself personally also.
Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. (v. 2)
Friends, we all have that same testimony if we belong to the Lord. Our testimony ought always be to Christ and the atoning blood of His sacrifice, made for all men everywhere. John was an eye-witness of those things so that we have it straight “from the horses mouth” and we can be assured that it is not merely hearsay. The testimony is not merely words, but lives also; when we have borne the testimony of Christ, we have carried it in our being and on our bodies as well. There is a lot more to bearing the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ than many of us think there is.
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. (v.3)
The Lord has a special blessing for all who read and testify of the truth of revelation and keep the words of the prophesy that He has afforded us. Why is this? Because the time is at hand; it is time for Him to reveal Himself to us, and for us to be a testimony for Him. The end is near, my friends, and we ought to be about our Father’s business, which is reaching the lost for Christ. Soul winning is the very heart of God, and therefore there is laid up in store a blessing for those who go, and bear the name and testimony of Christ upon their lips, as well as their lives.
The address is to “the church”, or the churches of Asia. It is a revelation that God gave to the Son to show unto us, His servants (v. 1) and entrusted to John while exiled on the island of Patmos. John spent a lot of time alone with the Lord, and this Book will reveal what he had learned about Christ, that He cometh soon. Though it names some of them specifically, it is to the church of God in Christ Jesus. These seven churches then represent all churches, and the prOBlems they deal with are prOBlems that all churches have. We see from the narrative that not all churches are true, God-centered churches, but all are the “candlestick” of the Lord; churches are not all are headed in the right direction. It is to those that “bear record” of the Word of God, and the testimony of His Son (v.2) that receive the rewards mentioned.
Every church seems to need a shepherd, and often as goes the shepherd, so goes the church. Dr. Lee ROBison says often “Everything rises and falls on leadership”, and that is a profoundly true statement when speaking of a church. The Twenty-third Psalm makes it clear that the shepherd leads the sheep, and where He goes, they soon follow.
Theses churches are “local” churches, i.e. local to their own vicinity; they are not a universal nor invisible church of all believers everywhere, because all believers everywhere are already in the true church! The Body of Christ is wide spread, but not everyone who claims to be “of the body” can rightly say they are of “the church”. If all we did was ask the Lord to save us, then we could have an invisible universal church, but we must ask, believing. Truly the Bible says that “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13), but isn’t that preceded by vs. 9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.? Are there not many who, perhaps, had fooled themselves into thinking they were saved? Of course there are! (Mt. 7:22). These examples in Matthew have even prophesied in Christ’s name; they have cast out devils, which seems to be a privilege of the elect of God, and done “many wonderful works”, but they did not have the heart for Christ. Though they shined as premier Christians among the brethren for their works, they were lost, and Christ had to tell them to depart from Him, attesting that He never knew them. They were not of the true church. They no doubt could have furnished witnesses to great deeds they did; no doubt they had a time that they verbally called upon the name of the Lord, but they had an evil heart of unbelief which no man could see. They were not a part of the church; the universal church could claim them, because it has no shepherd; it could claim them because it has no authority; it could claim them because they had met the qualifications of their “church”, but they were lost, they were not of the true church.
Nearly every epistle was written to a local church with real pastors and one which functioned independently of others. Local churches, spread all over the face of the earth form “the church” or “the Body of Christ”, and, in that sense, they are a universal church, but only in the sense of various local assemblies gathered for one cause in the name of one Savior and forming a mass body. As for an “invisible” church, who is it’s shepherd? Who and where is its authority? What kind of unity can it have as a “body”? these are just a few questions that one would have to face when promoting a universal, invisible church. There is laid up a special blessing to those that hear, and heed the prophesies in this Book; This is who the revelation is introduced to, the true church of the Living God (vs. 1-4).
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; (v. 4)
It is a revelation of Jesus Himself, and from the seven spirits that minister before His throne. We have the preliminary salutation from God the Father (v. 4, the Eternal One) “From Him which is (present tense), and which was (The Crucified One), and which is to come” (The glorified One) from the Son,
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” (v.5) and from the seven spirits before God’s throne (v.4). All of Heaven greets the saints. It is a revelation of Christ Himself, and that which he (John) is passing on as a true eye-witness of what must shortly come to pass.
The transition from the greeting to the glory of Christ begins in v. 5 where we discover Who Christ is, and get a peek at His glory which was climaxed at Calvary. We see also what all this has done for us in v. 6 and the praise we have for Him who died for us. Because His Father is the Eternal One, He also shall live forever, and pass that great privilege down unto us, His beloved children. We have been made priests and kings under Him and by His authority, and have great reason to praise His lovely name. For those that wonder at His glory, He is the Great One, the King of kings, and the Lord of Lords, made so by the Almighty God who endowed Him with great power and authority. Though He died and returned to Heaven, He is coming again for His beloved, and will come with great pomp and great power for us, the redeemed of the Lord. Doubters shall stand in awe of Him; they that crucified Him shall fall on their knees before Him, and worship Him; and some shall wail because of Him, because they will stubbornly refuse to worship Him and their evil hearts will not bend to Him, and every eye shall behold Him in His glory (vs. 5-7).
Now Jesus speaks Himself; He reminds us that He is the beginning of everything, and the end of everything, and that he is the Almighty, just as the Father is Almighty. He and the Father are one. This is known first as the deity of Christ, or that Christ is in fact God incarnate, and not merely the Son of God, though He is that too. He is more than a Son, He is a manifestation of God in the flesh, the First and the last, the Eternal one, and He now wishes to reveal Himself to us in that fashion. Jesus said it all right here in verse eight, He is everything, and all things, to us, and we need to trust Him by faith, and we will see Him as He is, the Lord of heaven and earth. One must believe this by faith, for “a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Mt. 16:4)
Not only did Jesus claim to be Lord, but John also sees Him as the great One, the God of gods. Exiled to the island of Patmos for the testimony of Christ, John will also testify as to who Jesus is. It is very important for us to understand just who the Lord is, and to see Him as He is. Many men will paint pictures in our minds if what Christ looks like, and what He has done, and they will add their own touch to the description so that we, if we are not aware of the True One, will have a distorted picture of Jesus--a man made idea of who and what He is. John is to testify to us, and set the record straight so that there is no doubt as to who Jesus is, and so our allegiance to Him is not tainted by mans intervention or inventions. He was exiled because of the Word of God, and the testimony he had of Him, and now he is to testify to the brethren also. An eye-witness tells exactly what he has seen, and signifies it as absolute truth, and John, an eye-witness in the spirit, does exactly that, as he was a sworn witness in a courtroom and on the witness stand for Christ. Not only was he an eye-witness of these things, but he also
heard them with his own ears, which adds validity and strength to the entire narrative.
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (v.9)
“A companion in tribulation’, as such, John had suffered in the flesh as we all do. He was not claiming any superiority over us, but was our equal, our “brother” in Christ.
“In the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ”--by faith he has entered the kingdom, by love he exercises patience in the work. John is with us in the faith and love of Christ--he is “one of us.” He was in Patmos for the preaching of the Gospel, or, because of the preaching of the Gospel. He was put out of sight because he not only foretold the Word of God, but the testimony of Christ was upon him, and in him. Here is where we trult begin our narrative:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, (v. 10)
“The Lord’s day” that great day of His final victory over sin and Satan, and yet, that day that our Lord was resurrected, His moment of glory. This has become to be known as “The Lord’s Day” to the saints of God, replacing the Old Testament Sabbath Day. The resurrection speaks of life everlasting and it is the exemplar and outstanding fact of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. John calls it the Lord’s Day, can we do less? Many have invented all sorts of theories of what this means, but, let us not lose the focus of the Book, and go off “chasing rabbits”.
John was “in the Spirit” on the Lord’s day, how was he “In the Spirit“? In a trance like or dream like condition, as if in Heaven itself, in the throne room of God; he heard, as it were, a great voice “As of a trumpet”; the loud, booming voice of God, one that, no doubt, resounded through heaven. It was an audible voice: A voice that one could understand, and it said:
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. (v. 11)
These are, and were, seven literal churches; the Alpha (The Beginning) and the Omega (The end) or the First and that last, which is God the Father. It is He Who speaks here. God has a message for the seven churches, and commences to tell John:
And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; (v.12) The message is interrupted by John himself, as he tells what he saw in Heaven: “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:” (Vs. 13-17)
We have here a description of the Savior glorified, we see in v. 17 that John fell down before Him; any other time this happened, if it was not the Father, (or Christ, Him being one in the same) they were told not to bow, for we consider bowing a form of worship. The Father did not rebuke Him (as the being in Rev. 19:10 did; read that verse) but touched him in a comforting way, so as to remove all fear from him. We may, at a later time, come back to this description of Christ in His glory.
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (v. 18)
This is/was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who lives, died, and is alive forevermore. God the Father never died, so it cannot be Him in John’s narrative. To Jesus was given the keys of hell and death in the Gospel--those who oppose have a hellish future, while those who accept Him and His sacrifice, have a happy home in Heaven; both live forever, but the one to eternal damnation, and the other to eternal life and glory in Christ.
Now, The Lord continues with the message to the churches, and John’s narrative: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (vs. 19, 20)
Most of the time, the Bible translates itself. The very best of translations come when this happens, regardless of man’s ideas or preferences. This is an introduction, of sorts, to the churches of God. Remember, it is He which walks among the churches (golden candlesticks, v.12) holding in His right hand the stars of the seven churches, being the angels of those churches, v. 20); thus it is Christ Himself that speaks.
These meaages to the churches can be read in four different ways:
1. As messages to local churches at the time that John wrote;
2. As a history of the church from beginning to end;
3. As messages to the church during the “church age”;
4. As personal messages to each believer in the church.
The same kinds of errors can be found throughout the Bible, whether considered “church age” or not.
These are four views concerning the church, as to which one best suits our purpose is yet to be seen. The personal application, therefore, must not be overlooked; the “church” as we know it, is made up of individual believers and the devotion and commitment of each member will most often govern the direction and the design of the local church. Whether you view it as allegorical; historical; futuristic; or dispensational, the practical application still remains. For this reason we will focus mostly on the personal applications, and mention the others more briefly later on, Lord willing.
The Book of Revelation appears to be heretofore unrevealed to “the Church”, which implies that that is was/is yet futuristic. Definitely, from the fourth chapter of Revelation, we have events that take place in heaven, and earth is no longer seen as “present”. If one begins here (chapter four), then the churches are futuristic at the time of John’s writings, for this is a part of the revelation of Jesus Christ to us; If one considers the voice in chapter four (“Come up hither…”), verse one as the rapture of the church, as so many do, then the “Revelation” (or new revealing) would not consider the seven churches of Asia as local churches, already well established and instructed in righteousness. For now, we should direct our attention to these seven earthly churches, and the personal application of each. The study of the seven churches may be beneficial to our cause:
Let’s look at the most practical applications of the seven churches, and what they can mean to us today:
Rev 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
Rev 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
Rev 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Rev 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Rev 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
The word “Ephesus” means “desirable”, according to Hitchcock’s definitions. Even so, we get a commendation from the Lord for those who faithfully serve Him, but be sure that you do not lose your “first love”. This church seems to be heading in the right direction, but for a few prOBlems: Doesn’t that describe our lives at least somewhat?
The narrative begins with a commendation of Christ, a proper narration indeed (Rev. 2:2-6). Their deeds are specifically known by the “All Seeing Eye“, and recorded in heaven and earth as a testimony for them; they have “tried the spirits“ and found them to be false prophets. Christ, Whose eyes pierce as fire, and search the deep things of God, sees all, knows all, and commends as well as condemn those who earn such. Perhaps their greatest asset was that they hated what God hated (Nicolaitan’s). The “deeds’ of the Nicolaitans (v.6) is mentioned here, while later we see the “doctrine” mentioned. It is always wise to hate what God hates, and to love what He loves. They managed, however, to lose their first love, that of serving Christ first. How easy it is for us to become caught up in the process, and forget the people of God. To many, the work overtakes them, and like a vast machine they become “mechanical” in their service, performing duties, but forgetting to love (v. 4).
Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
A warning, as are many throughout scripture, “He that hath an ear, let him hear”. A man has ears, but does not always heed (hear) the Word of God; instead, he turns a deaf ear unto the Word, and defies the God of the Word. But there is…
A promise of great mercy to those who overcome. The Christian life is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. It is not enough that we engage in this warfare, but we must pursue it to the end, we must never yield to our spiritual enemies, but fight the good fight, till we gain the victory, as all persevering Christians shall do; and the warfare and victory shall have a glorious triumph and reward. That which is here promised to the victors is that they shall eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God. They shall have that perfection of holiness, and that confirmation therein, which Adam would have had if he had gone well through the course of his trial: he would then have eaten of the tree of life which was in the midst of paradise, and this would have been the sacrament of confirmation to him in his holy and happy state; so all who persevere in their Christian trial and warfare shall derive from Christ, as the tree of life, perfection and confirmation in holiness and happiness in the paradise of God; not in the earthly paradise, but the heavenly, Rev_22:1, Rev_22:2. Twelve verses contain the phrase “tree of life” with at least four speak of this tree being in Eden, the paradise of God; four in proverbs which refer to different blessing, and a few in Revelation where we see the final two mention as a fruit for those who dwell in the heavenly kingdom, and for healing of the nations.
The order for the first few verses of chapter two are:
V. 1 Salutations; (Christ, the center of the Revelation)
Vs. 2, 3 Commendation;
V.4 the complaint; (“Somewhat against thee”)
V.5 The warning; (“Remember”)
V. 6 The Praise;
V. 7 The promise (The tree of life).
Rev 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
Rev 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
Rev 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Rev 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Smyrna means “Myrrh”, a city of ancient times. It was also brought to Christ as a gift from the wise men, depicting that it was an expensive balm (Mt. 2:11) and was to be sold as an offering (John 19:39). This portrayed Christ as a priest according to Nicodemus, a highly respecter leader in Israel. It was first mentioned in Gen. 37:25, and was used in Exodus as an Holy anointing oil (Ex. 30:23) and is mentioned throughout the Bible for different uses. The key factor is its worth. This church has the praise of the Almighty.
Our Lord makes sure that He identifies Himself as getting it “straight from the horses mouth”. He reminds us that it is from the First and the Last that these words flow, and that their works are known and seen by Him. The “first and the last” remind us that there is no other, never has been, nor ever will be; one God, and only one. Though they are poor, they are rich because of the riches in Christ Jesus, but there are some fakes among them too. Isn’t that much like today’s Christian, as well as today‘s church? We are so sincere in certain areas that we would swear by no other, but in other areas we are lacking. The Lord knows us through and through--He knows our fears, our joys; our trials and our victories, and the hidden secrets of our hearts. Satan will seek to destroy us, from within as well as without the church In spite of this, He admonishes us to “Fear not” the trials and tribulations that have yet to beset us. If we will be faithful unto death, we have reserved for us a martyr’s crown, and the praise of man and God will be ours. Death will prove us faithful. This “crown of life” then, is for those that have ventured their lives for the faith, and stood until the end; they have overcome the world, and shall not taste of the second death.
Rev 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
Rev 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Rev 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
Rev 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Rev 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Again, Hitchcock gives the meaning as a high place; or loftiness. He renders it “height” or “elevation”. Pergamos was perhaps the wickedest of all the seven churches, in that Satan’s seat was there. A city called Pergamos was built as a treasure city for royalty, it was well fortified for that reason. They also held the doctrines that destroyed man, and apparently were haughty, as Satan was when he was cast out of heaven.
The Lord begins with a strong statement if identity (v. 12), leaving no doubt that this prophetic prediction is from Him, and that man is merely the instrument for fulfilling God’s will. He which has the “two edged sword” will cut both ways, forward and backward, and His judgment is swift and sure. The swords swath is mighty, and sure, and strikes only those that the Lord aims it at. He wants us to know that our evil ways are not hidden from His searching eye (v.13) and that Satan dwells in the midst of His people, ready to devour whom he can. Pergamos was thought to be the most wicked of the seven churches, in that satan’s seat was there, and several doctrines that opposed the doctrine of the Lord. Some hold fast His name, but they are servants of Satan on the inside; theses have a show of will worship, but not to the natural eye. They have not denied the faith, but have compromised with the devils crowd. They too have their martyrs, (Antipas) most likely burned at the stake and tortured by the malefactors of the church.
Though they have, like any church has, the good and the evil, they hold to a certain doctrine which God hates, i. e. the doctrine of Balaam (v.14). Balaam taught Israel a “loophole” in the law, and thereby sought to get around the direct will of the Lord. Israel began to eat that which was forbidden, directly opposing the Lord and His law; they ignored the clear commands of God, and made provision for the flesh. These are they which represent each individual Christian when we rebel against the Word of God. We often cause our brothers to stumble at the Word by confusing him with the lies of Satan, which we already have believed to be true ourselves. They also learned to love that which God hates, thereby calling good evil, and evil, good.
The word “Nicolaitans” (v. 15) is hard to trace. There are a few suppositions as to its meaning, but they are merely conjecture, dreamed up in the mind of man. Dr. Schofield has it as meaning the leadership ruling over the laity, as a sort of tyranny or dictatorship, but, again the meaning is OBscure. Whatever this doctrine is, the point is that God hates it, and we should hate what He hates. When something is abomination to God, in the Old testament, it is still an abomination in the New testament--He does not change what He hates when He changes dispensations, it is an abomination throughout the Bible. It is best not to suppose a certain class of people or tenets from this one word, but to focus on doing right, and making sure that we love that which God loves, and hate that which He hates.
We are admonished to repent, else pay the price (2:16). Repentance acquires the forgiveness of God, He Loves a contrite heart. Repentance can earn us a place with our Lord; For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones (Isa. 57:15).
These things are written for “He that hath an ear”, or he that will hear it, and is willing to heed it. It is the Spirit that gives us this ability and privilege, to hear the Word of the Lord (v. 17). There is a promise for the “happy hearers” of the Lord’s counsel that they would eat of hidden manna, and given a white stone and special decree from God Himself, and a changed name that is secret too, and between us and the Lord. A “new name” is a new beginning, “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The meaning of the “white stone” is somewhat OBscure, but prOBably speaks of a good testimony--as solid as a rock, and as pure as the driven snow. This is in line with the rewards that God gives to the faithful, and it is in line with scriptural blessings.
Rev 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
Rev 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
Rev 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
Rev 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
Rev 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
Rev 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
Rev 2:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
Rev 2:25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
Rev 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Rev 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
Rev 2:28 And I will give him the morning star.
Rev 2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The name Thyatira becomes interesting in the sense of personal applications. It means “a perfume:“ and/or a “sacrifice of labor.” It is rather ironic that the Thyatirans had such a worthy name and fell so far short of the Lord’s expectations. Again we have an authoritive introduction of the One who sees all and knows all, and is all (v.18). The piercing eyes of Christ can see through the walls of resistance that we put up, and the brass feet speak of a redeeming power; (Satan under His feet, yet for us, as fellow laborer’s of the devil, there is redemption in submission.) This is merely Bible typology, and can fall under the heading of mans speculation of course. The sweet-smelling name of Thyatira is also a sweet name for the children of God, as in the Book of love, (Song of Solomon); though the sweetness may not be expressed in exactly the same way, it speaks of intimacy and a holy love relationship. Our entire life is, or should be, a “labor of love” for the Lord which, no doubt, makes it a sweet smelling perfume to Hid nostrils.
The Lord begins His dialogue with praise, and affirms that their work is good, and their work is growing. He Recognizes mans labors, and rewards accordingly (v.19). No matter how much good we do, we cannot attain to the expectations of the Lord, we all come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Here, in Thyatira, the Lord rebukes that ant-Christ spirit which is allowed. They were condoning the false teachings of jezebel, and were causing the young Christians to turn from God to idols (2:20, 21). The Lord has been patient with us in this matter, and given us due warning, and “space to repent” but we all seem to put something before the Lord in our lives. To what do I refer? To trusting in our own efforts to deliver us from the fowler--many will sleep with a gun under their pillow, trusting in it, instead of in the Lord. Oh, we claim to trust the Lord, but will not abandon the gun either; we look to the government for our sustenance instead of to the Lord; don’t we know that He wants our trust, and yet we give it away to others. Is this not putting something before the Lord? Is this not an idol? We trust our money more than our God, and a myriad of other things all the while giving “lip service” to the Lord. I believe that in Thyatira, their prOBlem was pushing God into the background of their lives, and doing wickedly as a result of it.
The judgment is proclaimed; God is angry at His children (vs. 22, 23). The judgment is only for those who are caught up in the doctrine of Jezebel, and it is to prove to God’s people that He is the Supreme One; He which searches the heart and reins (v.23). Those of you who allow women to teach or preach, beware! God is still in command! In every one of us there is a fleshy strain and a holy strain, and we are in a constant warfare against the flesh; the side that wins the battle is the side that we give more abundant labor to, or that which we feed the most. As in the body, so in the church, there is a constant warfare between right and wrong. Those who do right receive a righteous man’s reward, and those who do wrong, condemnation. Verses 24-29 are speaking to that remnant which chooses to do right, and serve the Lord. The Thyatira church merely has to keep doing what the Lord commends them for doing already, much like others, they are to “hold fast” until Christ comes (v.25). Thos that do remain faithful will have dominion over nations and peoples,, as to whom this refers, there is much speculation, but it seems to me that it refers to the millennial reign of Christ, when we reign with Him. Verse 27 makes it clear that we will reign as Christ did, and will, as given Him from the Father. Then, at last, he shall receive the Morning Star, which is Jesus in His fullness and glory. He shall receive an extra blessing from the Lord for the faithful service to his Master (v.28). Let those that hear be blessed.
Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Rev 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Rev 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Rev 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Rev 3:6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
“Sardis” means “Prince of Joy”, and that is exactly what we mean to the Lord. We are made princes by His grace, and receive great joy in Him. The Lord, each time He addresses a church, establishes His authority; here he reminds them that he is the One that has the seven spirits, and the seven stars; he is the Supreme One who upholds all things (v.1). Thus being so, it is no surprise that he knows us through and through, as He declares unto the church of Sardis, “I know thy works…” They were alive, yet dead. They had a reputation for being lively in the Lord’s work, but were as rotted sepulchers, full of dead mans bones. The lord warned them to strengthen that which is left of their faith, for it too is ready to die (v.2), for they were lacking a few things yet in their walk with the Lord. Please note that every church has prOBlems; there is no perfect church. This being so, it is clear that the churches of revelation represent individuals, and actual local churches, and not certain stages or ages of progression. They all have warnings; they have commendations; they have promises, the same as we do from the Lord. It is important to understand this so that we do not misplace the scriptures and redirect them to areas where they best suit our doctrines, and serve our personal beliefs.
Verse three admonishes us to repent, lest we reap the wrath of God, and are chastised by His mighty hand. Unexpected, and sudden judgment will prevail upon those who continue in their sin, and yet there is always a remnant (v.4) In every church there is always a remnant, just as there is an evil remnant also. Verse five gives a promise for those that overcome. We are “overcomers” in Christ, but there is also a duty on our part to do right, and to overcome temptation and the world’s influences upon us. In so doing, we receive the promise.
Notice again the admonition to be hearers of the Word: they that have an ear… those that will hear, it is not every one that will accept the Word of God, and he knows that better than anyone else, but those that do, He will give His special blessings to (v. 6).
Rev 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
Rev 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Rev 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Rev 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Rev 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Rev 3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Philadelphia, the church of brotherly love, aptly named. The Lord again, as usual, establishes his authority in the opening verse, but He has no direct words of reproof for this church. When we have exercised brotherly love, we have well nigh reached our height, and found that true plateau for the Christian life. The Lord’s great power and authority are again seen in verse 6 and 7; His foreknowledge and omniscience is seen in v. 8, as well as the infirmity of man. The Lord commends the people for their faithfulness in not denying his name. The Christian life can be a struggle unless we allow the Lord to have first place in our lives, and guide us into all truth; it is only by His grace that endure at all, and thanks be to God, we do.
Even a church like the Philadelphian church has its “synagogue of Satan” (v. 9), or the faction that serve self rather than the Lord. Perhaps a clique, or a group that seeks preeminence, and position rather than humbly submitting to the Lord. I am not sure of the meaning here, but to me this seems logical and feasible. Those, however, that have “kept the word” of Christ’s patience (v.10), will be kept from that hour of temptation that will tempt and try all the world, and they that are in it. When judgment comes, the faithful are delivered. The Lord will come unexpectedly to some, and His coming will be swift and sure (v.11), and we are admonished to remain faithful, and thereby be ready for His coming.
There is a promise, as usual, to those who remain faithful, that they shall be as pillars in the temple, straight and tall in the presence of the Lord. He will also receive a new name, a special name, given him by the Lord Himself; it is a “pet name” of sorts, and very personal and precious (v. 12). The Lord closes His letter to this church in the most usual way, “to them that have an ear”, or to them that will receive it. These must all be received by faith, as we live and die in faith, and our breath becomes a breath of faith from deep within our souls.
Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Rev 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Rev 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Laodicea means “Justice of the people”, which was a hint of what the Lord has in mind for this people and this church--justice. Supposed by some, to be the most evil of the seven, it is still numbered among the seven golden candlesticks, and remains a church of God. The Lord has no good commendations to the Laodiciean church, but is outspoken in His displeasure with them. He opens confirming that He is the “Amen” the one and only true God, and that His Word is faithful and true (v.14). The first reproof against them is that they were lukewarm, neither zealous for, nor against the Lord, but just drifting along in His grace. The Lord will vomit them out of his mouth as if they were putrid and very distasteful in his eyes, (vs.15, 16).
Often the works, and many carnal Christians deem themselves right in their eyes. The riches of this world are worth little, and yet some will go to lengths to OBtain them. It is amazing what some “Christians” will justify in their own sight for personal gain. I have gotten so that I would rather do business with an unbeliever than a Christian man, at least you know what to expect from the unbeliever! (v. 17)these five conditions depict he state of the natural man, wretched miserable, poor, blind, and naked before a Holy God. Their real poverty and depravity is revealed. Though man is wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked, Christ has a cure; We are welcome to buy of Him the great riches He has in store for us (v. 18). Though His salvation is free, there is a price for His blessings, that being service and sacrifice. The true servant of Christ will have no prOBlem with the payment, he will gladly give of himself to the service and praise of God, and he knows how to repent (verse 19.). The chastisement of the Lord is proof that he is indeed a child of the Most High God, and will bring swift repentance when he finds himself in error. Repentance is the one thing that the believer has in common with the unbeliever.
There are times when I literally kick the Lord out of my thoughts; there are times when I fail to invite Him into my projects, and I “wing it” without Him. The church today finds themselves in much the same predicament, Jesus seems to be outside, knocking on the door to get in (3:20). We all, as a church, and as a saint have times that we “forget” our God and go on in our power ; He, of course, is not glorified in this. We like to use this verse as soul winners to the lost, admonishing them to open the door of their hearts and receive the Blessed Savior, but the message is of a higher plain for us. When we allow the Lord to be our constant companion, we qualify ourselves as “overcomers” and become recipients of the following promise; we form a partnership with Christ, and will sit with Him in heavenly places. Oh that we might long to walk in fellowship with Him, and drink of the living waters of His grace.
This far into the study of Revelation, I have met myself; I have been revealed, and sat in the churches, and been found wanting. I have left my first love, and embraced the doctrine of the *Nicolaitans; I have sat in the synagogue of Satan, and flirted with lady Jezebel; I have repented in one, and fallen in another, and yet the Lord has remained faithful in securing me. The pattern has been:
Blessed be the name of the Lord. This pattern is seen throughout these chapters on the church.
*Nicolaitans, according to Oliver B. Greene, were those that ruled over the laity, as pastors or other appointed positions in the church. The Roman Catholic church may have it’s priestly foundations here, in the doctrines, and deeds of the Nicolaitans. This should be taken as one man’s opinion, however, and not “written in stone”.
The seven churches in revelation 2 and 3 represent BOTH the history of the church, (Past, present, and future) and the individual believer in the church. Note that the letters were addressed to churches, but also to a congregation of men and women within the church. These were not the only churches in existence at the time (Greene) but the Lord singled them out for teaching His people of the errors that a church and a believer can fall into.
The seven churches and their judgments and blessing, etc., pertain to the individual as well as the church itself. This is evident as we read through the text, what practicality could there be in it if this were not so? If it isn’t for us today, then we must cast it aside; if it is not for each of us, is of little value to us.
For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Psa. 119:89
God’s Word is settled in heaven--this means to most of us that it is good for all generations. It is man that divides the scriptures into categories, and makes it apply to another people besides us. Man says “That refers to Israel, during the millennium” but excuses the fact that it pertains to us in this age also. Heaven is eternal; God is eternal; therefore God’s Word is eternal, and applies to us today. Every jot; every tittle applies to today’s man, otherwise the Word of God is changeable, and we know that it is not any more than God is changeable. The dispensationalist is wrong in his “rightly dividing” the Word, he divides it wrongfully.
1. One major flaw concerning dispensationalism is that it is wholly composed of conjecture. There is no proof that allows us to build such a huge doctrine from no scriptural base at all! If it were any other doctrine, we would reject it immediately as having no scriptural basis. Though many good men have adopted the theory, it still suffers from genuine validity. I can think of no other doctrine that is so widely accepted with so little fact! Keep in mind though, that I am not so resolute in my belief that I cannot be convinced--it merely takes evidence that is factual and Biblically convincing to change my thinking.
This brings us to a question that one might ask concerning the doctrine:
Who determined where one dispensation ends, and the other begins? I realize that some say they overlap, but who decided this? They have put pieces together, they say, as a puzzle, and come up with an entire doctrine. It does fit in the way they present it, but does that determine fact? Perhaps men have “rejoiced in the works of their own hands”! (Acts 7:41)
2. Another fault one finds with dispensationalism is that it separates scripture instead of fusing it together. What I mean is that they determine what pertains to the end times concerning prophesy, and how it affects the Jew, and not necessarily the Gentile. I wonder, why do we then read it? Why has the Lord given us that which was for another people, and not for us? It is as if we are reading other people’s mail! Has He not broken down the middle wall of partition between the Jew and the Greek, and made all “one body” in Christ? Friends, His Word is one also. There is not a Gospel to the Jew and one to the Gentile.
The Bible does use the word “dispensation”, but it does not directly infer a time or date to it; it is, in fact, a means of God’s dealing with His people. There is no need to chart it, or to categorize it, but realize that God deals differently with different people. The Book of Ephesians excepted, and that we cannot be sure of. (Eph. 1:10). The word is used only four times in the Bible, and each speaks of a special work which of course may also last for a certain time. The prOBlem is, we look at the time periods, and do not focus on the work! The “dispensation of grace” which we hear so much about (Eph. 3:2), is an act of grace, apart from the law, and not necessarily a time period in history. Grace was present through out all ages, and the Lord was working His grace even in the Old Testament. By the way, it is the same with “law”. We are always under the law, whether it be mans law or God’s law; you never get away from “law”, not in the O.T. or the New. All the dispensations are principles and all still exist today in some form.
Neither can we refer to “the age of grace” since it was alive and well even in the beginning of time. To link it with the church, specifically, is an error on our part. We can all recall that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”, (Gen. 6:8) and we find grace weave itself through and through the Old Testament..
3. A third major prOBlem we see with the doctrine concerns the promises of God. I realize that God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, so to speak, but aren’t we “spiritual Abrahams” according to Galatians 3? The promises of God are unto all His children, and not a select few. We, as Christians, can also have our seed number as the sands of the seas, and the stars in heaven by soul winning and producing much offspring. One preacher used to say “A dog produces pups; a cat kittens; a Christian, other Christians.” Look at what the Bible says:
2Co 1:18 But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.
2Co 1:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.
2Co 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. All the promises, to the glory of God by us!
There were certain covenants made by God with men, but they also have their portion in us, the Gentiles. The point is, we all have the same promises with perhaps a different application. The dispensationalists do not teach this. There are thirteen times that the Bible speaks of “promises”, but I will not take the time to expound on each of them. You can, if you have a mind to, look them up for yourself, and see what the Word says about it. I would do an injustice however, to my thesis if I did not mention at least a few. These thirteen mentions of “promises” begin in Romans, and end in 2 Peter. Let us look at a few:
Rom 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
The promises were “confirmed” unto us through Christ.
Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Not only to Abraham, but to his seed, and to Christ. All that are in Him receive the promises.
Gal 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
The law is not against the promises if God, it is for us through Christ (on our side!).
Many of your dispensationalists will tell of a “window in prophesy”, but where does that thought originate? Why a window? They say that the Lord did not reveal unto them the church age because it did not pertain to them, but if that is true why should He reveal to us all this prophesy that belongs to Israel? The prophesy does not pertain to us either according to them! It seems many look at it with tunnel vision in the sense that they are already convinced before they search it out! They see no other way. It has been explained that they saw the mountain tops, but failed to see the valleys in between! All this is conjecture at best. They will take a Book, and chop it up into sections--some for Israel only, and some for the church. They “see through a glass darkly…” and their vision is fogged by the vain philosophies of men, and after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. It is always dangerous to build doctrine from the ground up--it must be built from heaven, downward. You will find no other doctrine that is built with such weak material as mans ideas and conjectures, and as popular as it is, this is somewhat baffling. Any heresy is harmful to the body of Christ no matter how insignificant it may seem to be; any untruth is unhealthy to the body of Christ. It is unbelievable that so many preachers and otherwise godly men adopt this heresy, even to the extent that they promote it as scripturally and ethically correct. To teach it in any fashion other than theory, is to make it equal with scripture, and becomes dangerous to the body, yet many do. I have known (and do still know) a man that spent several years teaching dispensationalist through the Bible, and to what end? Who has been edified? Who has moved mountains because their faith has been strengthened? Or who has been encouraged in the Lord because of it? It is, to say the least, a waste of time.
Dispensation: Webster’s Dictionary
1. Distribution; the act of dealing out to different persons or places; as the dispensation of water indifferently to all parts of the earth.
2. The dealing of God to his creatures; the distribution of good and evil, natural or moral, in the divine government.
3. The granting of a license, or the license itself, to do what is forbidden by laws or canons, or to omit something which is commanded; that is, the dispensing with a law or canon, or the exemption of a particular person from the OBligation to comply with its injunctions. The pope has power to dispense with the canons of the church, but has no right to grant dispensations to the injury of a third person.
4. That which is dispensed or bestowed; a system of principles and rites enjoined; as the Mosaic dispensation; the gospel dispensation; including, the former the Levitical law and rites; the latter the scheme of redemption by Christ.
King James Bible Dictionary:
An arrangement of things; a scheme.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary:
(Gr. oikonomia, “management,” “economy”).
(1.) The method or scheme according to which God carries out his purposes towards men is called a dispensation. There are usually reckoned three dispensations, the Patriarchal, the Mosaic or Jewish, and the Christian. (See COVENANT, ADMINISTRATION OF). These were so many stages in God's unfolding of his purpose of grace toward men. The word is not found with this meaning in Scripture.
(2.) A commission to preach the gospel (1Co_9:17; Eph_1:10; Eph_3:2; Col_1:25).
Dispensations of Providence are providential events which affect men either in the way of mercy or of judgment. (emphasis is mine)
I would not say that dispensationalism is a dangerous doctrine, but for the error it contains. Any untruth is error, and any error is harmful to the body in some way, and the “body” is those that are in Christ. We do not have to have this dispensational doctrine to better understand the Word of God, as some say. The Holy Spirit will reveal it to us. If we must seek out mans schemes to better understand “the whole picture” then we are not allowing the Spirit to work in us.
Stick with the pure, unadulterated Word of God which is able to save our souls and grant us access to eternal life.
Abraham's Offering Up His Son Isaac
By George Whitfield (HTML version ©2010 Baptist-City.com) Used with permission.
Genesis 22:12 — “And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy Son, thine only Son from me.”
The great Apostle Paul, in one of his epistles, informs us, that “whatsoever was written aforetime was written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the holy scripture might have hope.” And as without faith it is impossible to please God, or be accepted in Jesus, the Son of his love; we may be assured, that whatever instances of a more than common faith are recorded in the book of God, they were more immediately designed by the Holy Spirit for our learning and imitation, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
For this reason, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, in the 11th chapter, mentions such a nOBle catalogue of Old Testament saints and martyrs, “who subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions, etc. and are gone before us to inherit the promises.” A sufficient confutation, I think, of their error, who lightly esteem the Old Testament saints, and would not have them mentioned to Christians, as persons whose faith and patience we are called upon more immediately to follow. If this was true, the apostle would never have produced such a cloud of witnesses out of the Old Testament, to excite the Christians of the first, and consequently purest age of the church, to continue steadfast and unmoveable in the profession of their faith.
Amidst this catalogue of saints, methinks the patriarch Abraham shines the brightest, and differs from the others, as one star differeth from another star in glory; for he shone with such distinguished luster, that he was called the “friend of God,” the “father of the faithful;” and those who believe on Christ, are said to be “sons and daughters of, and to be blessed with, faithful Abraham.” Many trials of his faith did God send this great and good man, after he had commanded him to get out from his country, and from his kindred, unto a land which he should show him; but the last was the most sever of all, I mean, that of offering up his only son. This, by the divine assistance, I propose to make the subject of your present meditation, and, by way of conclusion, to draw some practical inferences, as God shall enable me, from this instructive story.
The sacred penman begins the narrative thus; verse 1. “And it came to pass, after these things, God did tempt Abraham.” After these things, that it, after he had underwent many severe trials before, after he was old, full of days, and might flatter himself perhaps that the troubles and toils of life were now finished; “after these things, God did tempt Abraham.” Christians, you know not what trials you may meet with before you die: notwithstanding you may have suffered, and been tried much already, yet, it may be, a greater measure is still behind, which you are to fill up. “Be not high-minded, but fear.”
Our last trials, in all prOBability, will be the greatest: and we can never say our warfare is accomplished, or our trials finished, till we bow down our heads, and give up the ghost. “And it came to pass, after these things, that God did tempt Abraham.” “God did tempt Abraham.” But can the scripture contradict itself? Does not the apostle James tell us, “that God tempts no man;” and God does tempt no man to evil, or on purpose to draw him into sin; for, when a man is thus tempted, he is drawn away of his own heart's lust, and enticed. But in another sense, God may be said to tempt, I mean, to try his servants; and in this sense we are to understand that passage of Matthew, where we are told, that, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit (the good Spirit) into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil.” And our Lord, in that excellent form of prayer which he has been pleased to give us, does not require us to pray that we may not absolutely be led into temptation, but delivered from the evil of it; whence we may plainly infer, that God sees it fit sometimes to lead us into temptation, that is, to bring us into such circumstances as will try our faith and other Christian graces. In this sense we are to understand the expression before us; “God did tempt or try Abraham.” 1 Full Text: Genesis 22:1–12.
How God was pleased to reveal his will at this time to his faithful servant, whether by the Sheckinah, or divine appearance, or by a small still voice, as he spoke to Elijah, or by a whisper, like that of the Spirit to Philip, when he commanded him to join himself to the eunuch's chariot, we are not told, nor is it material to inquire. It is enough that we are informed, God said unto him, Abraham; and that Abraham knew it was the voice of God: for he said, “Behold, here I am.” O what a holy familiarity (if I may so speak) is there between God and those holy souls that are united to him by faith in Christ Jesus! God says, Abraham; and Abraham said (it should seem without the least surprise) Behold, here I am. Being reconciled to God by the death and OBedience of Christ, which he rejoiced in, and saw by faith afar off; he did not, like guilty Adam, seed the trees of the garden to hide himself from, but takes pleasure in conversing with God, and talketh with him, as a man talketh with his friend.
O that Christ-less sinners knew what it is to have fellowship with the Father and the Son! They would envy the happiness of saints, and count it all joy to be termed enthusiasts and fools for Christ's sake. But what does God say to Abraham? Verse 2. “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I shall tell thee of.” Every word deserves our particular OBservation.
Whatever he was to do, he must do it now, immediately, without conferring with flesh and blood. But what must he do? “Take now thy son.” Had God said, take now a firstling, or choicest lamb or beast of thy flock, and offer it up for a burnt-offering, it would not have appeared so ghastly; but for God to say, “take now thy son, and offer him up for a burnt-offering,” one would imagine, was enough to stagger the strongest faith. But this is not all: it must not only be a son, but “thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest.” If it must be a son, and not a beast, that must be offered, why will not Ishmael do, the son of the bond-woman? No, it must be his only son, the heir of all, his Isaac, by interpretation laughter, the son of his old age, in whom his soul delighted, “whom thou lovest,” says God, in whose life his own was wrapped up: and this son, this only son, this Isaac, the son of his love, must be taken now, even now, without delay, and be offered up by his own father, for a burnt offering, upon one of the mountains of the which God would tell him.
Well might the apostle, speaking of this man of God, say, that “against hope he believed in hope, and, being strong in faith, gave glory to God.” For, had he not been blessed with faith which man never before had, he must have refused to comply with this severe command. For now many arguments might nature suggest, to prove that such a command could never come from God, or to excuse himself from OBeying it? “What! (might the good man have said) butcher my own child! It is contrary to the very law of nature: much more to butcher my dear son Isaac, in whose seed God himself has assured me of a numerous posterity. But supposing I could give up my own affections, and be willing to part with him, though I love him so dearly, yet, if I murder him, what will become of God's promise? Besides, I am now like a city built upon a hill; I shine as a light in the world, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation: How then shall I cause God's name to be blasphemed, how shall I become a by-word among the heathen, if they hear that I have committed a crime which they abhor! But, above all, what will Sarah my wife say? How can I ever return to her again, after I have imbrued (to wet or stain) my hands in my dear child's blood? O that God would pardon me in this thing, or take my life in the place of my son's!”
Thus, I say, Abraham might have argued, and that too seemingly with great reason, against complying with the divine command. But as before by faith he considered not the deadness of Sarah's womb, when she was past age, but believed on him, who said, “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed;” so now, being convinced that the same God spoke to and commanded him to offer up that son, and knowing that God was able to raise him from the dead, without delay he OBeys the heavenly call. O that unbelievers would learn of faithful Abraham, and believe whatever is revealed from God, though they cannot fully comprehend it! Abraham knew God commanded him to offer up his son, and therefore believed, notwithstanding carnal reasoning might suggest may OBjections.
We have sufficient testimony, that God has spoken to us by his son; why should we not also believe, though many things in the New Testament are above our reason? For, where reason ends, faith begins. And, however infidels may stile themselves reasoners, of all men they are the most unreasonable: For, is it not contrary to all reason, to measure an infinite by a finite understanding, or think to find out the mysteries of godliness to perfection?
But to return to the patriarch Abraham: We OBserved before what plausible OBjections he might have made; but he answered not a single word: no, without replying against his Maker, we are told, verse 3, that “Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt- offering, and rose up and went unto the place of which God had told him.” From this verse we may gather, that God spoke to Abraham in a dream, or vision of the night: For it is said, he rose up early. Perhaps it was near the fourth watch of the night, just before break of day, when God said, Take now thy son; and Abraham rises up early to do so; as I doubt not but he used to ruse early to offer up his morning-sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It is often remarked of people in the Old Testament, that they rose early in the morning; and particularly of our Lord in the New, that he rose a great while before day to pray. The morning befriends devotion; and, if people cannot use so much self-denial as to rise early to pray, I know not how they will be able to die at a stake (if called to it) for Jesus Christ.
The humility as well as the piety of the patriarch is OBservable: he saddled his own ass (great men should be humble) and to show the sincerity, though he took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, yet he keeps his design as a secret from them all: nay, he does not so much as tell Sarah his wife; for he knew not but she might be a snare unto him in this affair; and, as Rebekah afterwards, on another occasion, advised JacOB to flee, so Sarah also might persuade Isaac to hide himself; or the young men, had they known of it, might have forced him away, as in after-ages the soldiers rescued Jonathan out of the hands of Saul. But Abraham fought no such evasion, and therefore, like an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile, he himself resolutely “clave the wood for the burnt-offering, rose up and went unto the place of which God had told him.”
In the second verse God commanded him to offer up his son upon one of the mountains which he would tell him of. He commanded him to offer his son up, but would not then directly tell him the place where: this was to keep him dependent and watching unto prayer: for there is nothing like being kept waiting upon God; and, if we do, assuredly God will reveal himself unto us yet further in his own time. Let us practice what we know, follow providence so far as we can see already; and what we know not, what we see not as yet, let us only be found in the way of duty, and the Lord will reveal even that unto us.
Abraham knew not directly where he was to offer up his son; but he rises up and sets forward, and behold now God shows him: “And he went to the place of which God had told him.” Let us go and do likewise. Verse 4. “Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.” So that the place, of which God had told him, was no less than three days journey distant from the place where God first appeared to him, and commanded him to take his son. Was not this to try his faith, and to let him see that what he did, was not merely from a sudden pang of devotion, but a matter of choice of deliberation? But who can tell what the aged patriarch felt during these three days? Strong as he was in faith, I am persuaded his bowels often yearned over his dear son Isaac. Methinks I see the good old man walking with his dear child in his hand, and now and then looking upon him, loving him, and then turning aside to weep. And perhaps, sometimes he stays a little behind to pour out his heart before God, for he had no mortal to tell his case to.
Then, methinks, I see him join his son and servants again, and talking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, as they walked by the way. At length, “on the third day, he lifts up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.” And, to show that he was yet sincerely resolved to do whatsoever the Lord requested of him, he even how will not discover his design to his servants, but “said, verse 5. To his young men,” (as we should say to our worldly thoughts, when about to tread the courts of the Lord's house) “Abide you here with the ass; and I and the lad will go up yonder and worship, and come again to you.” This was a sufficient reason for their staying behind; and, it being their master's custom to go frequently to worship, they could have no suspicion of what he was going about. And by Abraham's saying, that he and the lad would come again, I am apt to think he believed God would raise him from the dead, if so be he permitted him to offer his child up for a burnt-offering.
However that be, he is yet resolved to OBey God to the uttermost; and therefore, Verse 6. “Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and they went both of them together.” Little did Isaac think that he was to be offered on that very wood which he was carrying upon his shoulders; and therefore Isaac innocently, and with a holy freedom (for good men should not keep their children at too great a distance) “spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father; and he (with equal affection and holy condescension) said, Here am I, my son.” And to show how careful Abraham had been (as all Christian parents ought to do) to instruct his Isaac how to sacrifice to God, like a youth trained up in the way wherein he should go; Isaac said, “Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” How beautiful is early piety! How amiable, to hear young people ask questions about sacrificing to God in an acceptable way!
Isaac knew very well that a lamb was wanting, and that a lamb was necessary for a proper sacrifice: “Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” Young men and maidens, learn of him. Hitherto, it is plain, Isaac knew nothing of his father's design: but I believe, by what his father said in answer to his question, that now was the time Abraham revealed it unto him. Verse 8. “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a Lamb for a burnt-offering.” Some think, that Abraham by faith saw the Lord Jesus afar off, and here spoke prophetically of that Lamb of God already slain in decree, and hereafter to be actually offered up for sinners. This was a lamb of God's providing indeed (we dared not have thought of it) to satisfy his own justice, and to render him just in justifying the ungodly.
What is all our fire and wood, the best preparations and performances we can make or present, unless God had provided himself this Lamb for a burnt-offering? He could not away with them. The words will well hear this interpretation. But, whatever Abraham might intend, I cannot but think he here made an application, and acquainted his son, of God's dealing with his soul; and at length, with tears in his eyes, and the utmost affection in his heart, cried out, “Thou art to be the lamb, my Son;” God has commanded me to provide thee for a burnt-offering, and to offer thee upon the mountain which we are now ascending. And, as it appears from a subsequent verse, Isaac, convinced that it was the divine will, made no resistance at all; For it is said, “They went both of them together;” and again, when we are told, that Abraham bound Isaac, we do not hear of his complaining, or endeavoring to escape, which he might have done, being (as some think) near thirty years of age, and, it is plain, capable of carrying wood enough for a burnt-offering. But he was partaker of the like precious faith with his aged father, and therefore is as willing to be offered, as Abraham is to offer him: And “so they went both of them together.” Ver. 9.
At length “they came to the place of which God had told Abraham. He built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.” And here let us pause a while, and by faith take a view of the place where the father has laid him. I doubt not but that blessed angels hovered round the altar, and sang. “Glory be to God in the highest,” for giving such faith to man. Come, all ye tender hearted parents, who know what it is to look over a dying child: fancy that you saw the altar erected before you, and the wood laid in order, and the beloved Isaac bound upon it: fancy that you saw the aged parent standing by weeping. (For, why may we not suppose that Abraham wept, since Jesus himself wept at the grave of Lazarus?) O what pious, endearing expressions passed now alternately between the father and the son! Joseph records a pathetic speech made by each, whether genuine I now not: but methinks I see the tears trickle down the Patriarch Abraham's cheeks; and out of the abundance of the heart, he cries, Adieu, adieu, my son; the Lord gave thee to me, and the Lord calls thee away; blessed be the name of the Lord: adieu, my Isaac, my only son, whom I love as my own soul; adieu, adieu.
I see Isaac at the same time meekly resigning himself into his heavenly Father's hands, and praying to the most High to strengthen his earthly parent to strike the stroke. But why do I attempt to describe what either son or father felt? It is impossible: we may indeed form some faint idea of, but shall never full comprehend it, till we come and sit down with them in the kingdom of heaven, and hear them tell the pleasing story over again. Hasten, O Lord, that blessed time! O let thy kingdom come!
And now, the fatal blow is going to be given. “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.” But do you not think he intended to turn away his head, when he gave the blow? Nay, why may we not suppose he sometimes drew his hand in, after it was stretched out, willing to take another last farewell of his beloved Isaac, and desirous to defer it a little, though resolved at last to strike home? Be that is it will, his arm is now stretched out, the knife is in his hand, and he is about to put it to his dear son's throat. But sing, O heavens! and rejoice, O earth! Man's extremity is God's opportunity: for behold, just as the knife, in all prOBability, was near his throat, ver. 11, “the angel of the Lord, (or rather the Lord of angels, Jesus Christ, the angel of the everlasting covenant) called unto him, (prOBably in a very audible manner) from heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham. (The word is doubled, to engage his attention; and perhaps the suddenness of the call made him draw back his hand, just as he was going to strike his son.) And Abraham said, Here am I.” “And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now know I that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”
Here then it was that Abraham received his son Isaac from the dead in a figure. He was in effect offered upon the altar, and God looked upon him as offered and given unto him. Now it was that Abraham's faith, being tried, was found more precious than gold purified seven times in the fire. Now as a reward of grace, though not of debt, for this signal act of OBedience, by an oath, God gives and confirms the promise, “that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed,” ver. 17, 18.
With what comfort may we suppose the good old man and his son went down from the mount, and returned unto the young men! With what joy may we imagine he went home, and related all that had passed to Sarah! And above all, with what triumph is he now exulting in the paradise of God, and adoring rich, free, distinguishing, electing, everlasting love, which alone made him to differ from the rest of mankind, and rendered him worthy of that title which he will have so long as the sun and the moon endure, “The Father of the faithful!” But let us now draw our eyes from the creature, and do what Abraham, if he was present, would direct to; I mean, fix them on the Creator, God blessed for evermore. I see your hearts affected, I see your eyes weep. (And indeed, who can refrain weeping at the relation of such a story?) But, behold, I show you a mystery, hid under the sacrifice of Abraham's only son, which, unless your hearts are hardened, must cause you to weep tears of love, and that plentifully too. I would willingly hope you even prevent me here, and are ready to say, “It is the love of God, in giving Jesus Christ to die for our sins.” Yes; that is it. And yet perhaps you find your hearts, at the mentioning of this, not so much affected.
Let this convince you, that we are all fallen creatures, and that we do not love God or Christ as we ought to do: for, if you admire Abraham offering up his Isaac, how much more ought you to extol, magnify and adore the love of God, who so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son Christ Jesus our Lord, “that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life?” May we not well cry out, Now know we, O Lord, that thou hast loved us, since thou hast not withheld thy Son, thine only Son from us! Abraham was God's creature (and God was Abraham's friend) and therefore under the highest OBligation to surrender up his Isaac. But O stupendous love! Whilst we were his enemies, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that he might become a curse for us. O the freeness, as well as the infinity, of the love of God our Father! It is unsearchable: I am lost in contemplating it; it is past finding out.
Think, O believers, think of the love of God, in giving Jesus Christ to be a propitiation for our sins. And when you hear how Abraham built an altar, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood; think how your heavenly Father bound Jesus Christ his only Son, and offered him upon the altar of his justice, and laid upon him the iniquities of us all. When you read of Abraham's stretching forth his hand to slay his son, Think, O think, how God actually suffered his Son to be slain, that we might live for evermore. Do you read of Isaac carrying the wood upon his shoulders, upon which he was to be offered? Let this lead you to mount Calvary (this very mount of Moriah where Isaac was offered, as some think) and take a view of the antitype Jesus Christ, the Son of God, bearing and ready to sink under the weight of that cross, on which he was to hang for us.
Do you admire Isaac so freely consenting to die, though a creature, and therefore OBliged to go when God called? O do not forget to admire infinitely more the dear Lord Jesus, that promised seed, who willingly said, “Lo, I come,” though under no OBligation so to do, “to do thy will,” to OBey and die for men, “O God!” Did you weep just now, when I bid you fancy you saw the altar, and the wood laid in order, and Isaac laid bound on the altar? Look by faith, behold the blessed Jesus, our all-glorious Emmanuel, not bound, but nailed on a accursed tree: see how he hangs crowned with thorns, and had in derision of all that are round about him: see how the thorns pierce him, and how the blood in purple streams trickle down his sacred temples! Hark how the God of nature groans! See how he bows his head, and at length humanity gives up the ghost!
Isaac is saved, but Jesus, the God of Isaac, dies; A ram is offered up in Isaac's room, but Jesus has no substitute; Jesus must bleed, Jesus must die; God the Father provided this Lamb for himself from all eternity. He must be offered in time, or man must be damned for evermore. And now, where are your tears? Shall I say, refrain your voice from weeping? No; rather let me exhort you to look to him whom you have pierced, and mourn, as a woman mourneth for her first-born: for we have been the betrayers, we have been the murderers of this Lord of glory; and shall we not bewail those sins, which brought the blessed Jesus to the accursed tree? Having so much done, so much suffered for us, so much forgiven, shall we not love much! O! let us love Him with all our hearts, and minds, and strength, and glorify him in our souls and bodies, for they are his.
Which leads me to a second inference I shall draw from the foregoing discourse. From hence we may learn the nature of true, justifying faith. Whoever understands and preaches the truth, as it is in Jesus, must acknowledge, that salvation is God's free gift, and that we are saved, not by any or all the works of righteousness which we have done or can do: no; we can neither wholly nor in part justify ourselves in the light of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our righteousness; and if we are accepted with God, it must be only in and through the personal righteousness, the active and passive OBedience, of Jesus Christ his beloved Son. This righteousness must be imputed, or counted over to us, and applied by faith to our hearts, or else we can in no wise be justified in God's sight: and that very moment a sinner is enabled to lay hold on Christ's righteousness by faith, he is freely justified from all his sins, and shall never enter into condemnation, notwithstanding he was a fire-brand of hell before.
Thus is was that Abraham was justified before he did any good work: he was enabled to believe on the Lord Christ; it was accounted to him for righteousness; that is, Christ's righteousness was made over to him, and so accounted his. This, this is the gospel; this is the only was of finding acceptance with God: good works have nothing to do with our justification in his sight. We are justified by faith alone, as saith the article of our church; agreeable to which the apostle Paul says, “By grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”
Notwithstanding, good works have their proper place: they justify our faith, though not our persons; they follow it, and evidence our justification in the sight of men. Hence it is that the apostle James asks, was not Abraham justified by works? (alluding no doubt to the story on which we have been discoursing) that is, did he not prove he was in a justified state, because his faith was productive of good works? This declarative justification in the sight of men, is what is directly to be understood in the words of the text; “Now know I, says God, that thou fearest me, since thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Not but that God knew it before; but this is spoken in condescension to our weak capacities, and plainly shows, that his offering up his son was accepted with God, as an evidence of the sincerity of his faith, and for this, was left on record to future ages. Hence then you may learn, whether you are blessed with, and are sons and daughters of, faithful Abraham.
You say you believe; you talk of free grace and free justification: you do well; the devils also believe and tremble. But has the faith, which you pretend to, influenced your hearts, renewed your souls, and, like Abraham's, worked by love? Are you affections, like his, set on things above? Are you heavenly-minded, and like him, do you confess yourselves strangers and pilgrims on the earth? In short, has your faith enabled you to overcome the world, and strengthened you to give up your Isaacs, your laughter, your most beloved lusts, friends, pleasures, and profits for God? If so, take the comfort of it; for justly may you say, “We know assuredly, that we do fear and love God, or rather are loved of him.” But if you are only talking believers, have only a faith of the head, and never felt the power of it in your hearts, however you may bolster yourselves up, and say, “We have Abraham for our father, or Christ is our Savior,” unless you get a faith of the heart, a faith working by love, you shall never sit with Abraham, Isaac, JacOB, or Jesus Christ, in the kingdom of heaven.
But I must draw one more inference, and with that I shall conclude. Learn, O saints! From what has been said, to sit loose to all your worldly comforts; and stand ready prepared to part with everything, when God shall require it at your hand. Some of you perhaps may have friends, who are to you as your own souls; and others may have children, in whose lives your own lives are bound up: all I believe have their Isaacs, their particular delights of some kind or other.
Labor, for Christ's sake, labor, ye sons and daughters of Abraham, to resign them daily in affection to God, that, when he shall require you really to sacrifice them, you may not confer with flesh and blood, any more than the blessed patriarch now before us. And as for you that have been in any measure tried like unto him, let his example encourage and comfort you. Remember, Abraham your father was tried so before you: think, O think of the happiness he now enjoys, and how he is incessantly thanking God for tempting and trying him when here below.
Look up often by the eye of faith, and see him sitting with his dearly beloved Issac in the world of spirits. Remember, it will be but a little while, and you shall sit with them also, and tell one another what God has done for your souls. There I hope to sit with you, and hear this story of his offering up his Son from his own mouth, and to praise the Lamb that sitteth upon the throne, for what he hath done for all or souls, for ever and ever.
We Need Men
(chapel message and boys camp)
Boys, we need men today. This country is in a drought for real men. We have too many sweet smelling, long haired, earring clad, aqua-net pretty boys trying to be men nowadays. We need real men! Men work; men spit; men stink of sweat, and are not afraid to talk up; be a man! We don’t stand in front of a mirror all day primping, and spraying our hair with hair spray! (They don’t make a man’s hair spray, it is all the same inside the can!) We need some men to be men!
How many of you have been in a fight this year? How many have ever been in a fight at all? If you didn’t it’s because momma is afraid her little boy will get hurt! Have any of you had a “shiner” to show off? Men fight. They may be loving and kind at home, and ought to be, but they should not be afraid to fight either. Momma needs to cut those apron strings and let you out of the bag! You don’t see any real men any more, not unless they are over forty! Maybe that’s why we have so many queers making eyes at our boys, because they (our boys) have not yet learned to be men. How are they going to learn dad, unless you teach them? You are going to have to man-up first! Men punch queers right in the nose! (Oh, excuse me, that is not “politically correct”). the Bible says “Quit you like men” that doesn’t mean to stop, and run, it means to finish the jOB; to complete it until the end. Here is one Dictionary meaning of the term quit:
Here is one Dictionary meaning of the term quit:
“To carry through; to do or perform something to the end, so that nothing remains; to discharge or perform completely.” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of American English).
Another thing it can mean is to quit acting, quit looking, quit walking and talking , and quit fighting LIKE WOMEN! The world needs some men who are determined to be men, and not namby-pamby, good for nothing, wimpy, cry-baby boys who have not yet left their mommy’s side. We don’t need any more “he-she’s” where you can’t tell the difference between men and women; we don’t need any long haired, tattooed, wide-eyed boys who call themselves men because their daddy told them they were! You ought to stand so that no one doubts that you are a man; we need to get back to being men. Reclaim the title, young men; don’t let women’s lib push you around; don’t let Uncle Sam tell you that we are all equal and all of the same mold. Stand up, and be a man! Don’t be a half-and-half, a wishy-washy womanish sissy, be a man! We need bonafide, purified, justified, qualified men, that’s what America needs.
If you want to be a real man, stand up! Right there where you are, come on, stand up. If you are in the category I just mentioned, you need to stand up, let others know that you mean business. Stand up, and start being a man! Start with Jesus, He was a man like no other; He was a man’s man. It takes a man to stand for Jesus; it takes guts! Are you man enough? Will you stand up for Jesus? Will you be a witness for Him? Don’t be afraid, women are afraid; children are afraid; be brave; be bold; take a stand for Jesus. Now, go out and do that outside of these doors. Be a man out in the world--that is the true test of a man; can you take it? Are you too chicken to tell someone about Jesus? A chicken stays home and lays eggs; a chicken cackles a lot, but doesn’t do anything; is that you? You young people have an inroad with other youths that we adults don’t have--use it! Kids your age will listen to you more easily than they will me; go and tell them before it’s too late. Stand up and be a man.
A Real Man
Don’t fall for the fakery of the world; they’ll tell you a man is the guy that gets into the most trouble; they say a man is into drugs, not afraid to drink liquor, or to chase women--young men, THAT IS NOT what a man is. A man is Christ-like; a man will be ridiculed nowadays just for acting like a man! Are you up to it? Can you take a little heckling? A man has to take a lot to be a real man. It doesn’t come by osmosis; it isn’t easy to be different, but a real man will be different because the world has not seen many of them these days. Do you want to be a man, or a grown-up wimp? Just being of the male gender does not make you a man!
The church needs real men; our society needs real men to lead the way; our schools need real men because their daddy’s aren’t man enough to teach them! A high position does not make a man, a man; a cigarette dangling out of the mouth of a youth does not make a man a man; Tattoos don’t make a man, neither does getting “high”, a man is made out of grit! He is made from adversity; he has character---the character to do what’s right!
Four Calls To Soulwinning
(One of my all-time favorites.)
by Dr. Jack Hyles
First Electronic Printing March, 1998 by FFEP
“But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20) “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” (Acts 16:9) “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,” (Hebrews 12:1) “Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” (Luke 16:27-28)
Thirty-eight years ago last August 30th, a nervous, frightened 33-year-old Texas boy became pastor of a downtown First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. There is no way for me to describe how formal it was. No piano was allowed to be played on Sunday morning. No congregational song leader was allowed to stand up and wave his hands and no gospel songs were allowed on Sunday morning. You could sing “Jesus Saves” or “Rescue The Perishing” on Sunday night, but not on Sunday morning. The former pastor preached in striped pants and a scissor-tail coat. I do not know of an Episcopalian church any more formal than First Baptist Church was.
When the pulpit a committee interviewed me, they asked what I thought about the Sunday morning service. I said, “I think it stinks.” They said, “What kind of a Sunday morning service would you have if you became our pastor?” I said, “It would be more like a Billy Sunday Revival Campaign.” The wealthiest man in Hammond was on the board of trustees. Several months after I became pastor, he came to me. “Reverend, I want to talk to you. We like you fine. We think you’re a good guy. But the truth is, we have a prOBlem with your preaching. Ever since you’ve been here, the pressure’s been on. Every Sunday morning and Sunday night, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday it’s soulwinning. The pressure’s on all the time. Before you came, we use to have a revival meeting every 6 months or so and bring a fellow in to have an evangelistic crusade. But since you’ve been here it’s been that way all the time. Every Sunday is just like one of those revival meetings.” He said, “Look at me, I’m a nervous wreck. I shake when I come to church anymore. You’ve ruined our worship service.” (If I could, I’d ruin every formal worship service in America next Sunday morning.) “I’m not the only person who’s nervous—this church is full of nervous people. It’s soulwinning on Sunday. It’s soulwinning on Monday. It’s soulwinning on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Then we start all over again on Sunday. Last Sunday morning we sang 52 stanzas of ‘Just As I Am’. No wonder we’re nervous! Something’s got to change!” I said, “Come back on Sunday night and I’ll give you my answer.” That Sunday night I preached the message I am preaching to you tonight. I’m telling you exactly what I told my people 38 years ago. I said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, a man came to me last week and told me that you’re nervous. He said that you were concerned because we’re having soulwinning on Sunday, and soulwinning on Monday, and soulwinning on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I’d like to tell you tonight why it’s that way, and why it’s going to be that way as long as I am the pastor of this church, whether that is one more week or 50 more years.”
A CALL FROM WITHIN
In the first place, there’s a call from within. There is something inside of me that says I have to go soulwinning. “I cannot but speak the things I have seen and heard.” I have no choice. It’s burning inside of me - a call from within that compels me to stress soulwinning in everything that we do. This call from within came to me many years ago. When I was a boy, I was the most timid boy in the church. When I was 17 years old, I weighed 92 pounds. I now weigh...I finally got your attention, didn’t I? I now weigh MORE than 92 pounds! (Once my doctor put me on a diet, and I gained 15 pounds on 1,000 calories a day. I wonder if it could be that 7,000 calories at night that caused the prOBlem?)
On my 17th birthday I weighed 92 pounds and I was the most timid fellow in the church. They called me little Jackie-boy Hyles. I failed public speaking in high school. I could not make the ball team. I was too little to get a date. I didn’t get to be in the senior play. I was an introvert. Most of the people in my church had never heard me say a single word.
One Sunday after the morning service, one of the deacons, Jesse COBb, said, “Hey, Jackie-boy. Would you like to go soulwinning with me this afternoon?” I said, “Uh, J-J-Jesse, y-y-you know I c-c-couldn’t go soulwinning.” He said, “Jack, you won’t have to say anything, I just need a partner to give me some moral support. My partner is on vacation, and I just need someone to go with me. you won’t have to say a word.”
The first door we knocked on was the home of a high school football player named Kenneth Florence. Jesse COBb was 5’4” tall, and I was shorter yet. He must have weighed 120, and I weighed 92 pounds. The two of us put together might have weighed as much as Kenneth did.
When Kenneth came to the door, Jesse looked up and said, “Kenneth Florence, my name is Jesse COBb and this is Jack Hyles.” Jesse said, “Kenneth, Jack here wants to say a few words to you.” No, Jack didn’t either! Kenneth looked at me and said, “Yes, what is it, Jack?” I said, “Uh ... Uh... ahem... K-K-Kenneth, would you l-l-like to come to ch-ch-church tonight?” I do not remember what happened. Jesse told me later that Kenneth said, “Yes, I would,” and I said, “You would?” Jesse told me that I said, “I’ll come by and get you tonight at 7 o’clock.” And Kenneth said, “That will be fine.” That night at 7 o’clock I borrowed Jesse COBb’s car and went over to get Kenneth Florence. For the first time in my life, knew I had to win a soul. I had never won a soul in my life. The sweat was rolling down my face, and I was trembling. When the invitation began, I put my arm across Kenneth’s big broad shoulders and said, “K-K-Kenneth, w-w-would you like to get s-s-saved?” And he said, “Yes, I would.” I said, “ I don’t know how to tell you, but follow me.” We walked down the aisle, and my pastor met us at the end of the aisle. I said, “B-B-Brother Sizemore, this is K-K-Kenneth Florence. He wants to get saved.” I had done my part, so I started back to my seat. Brother Sizemore said, “Hold it, Jack!” I turned around. He said, “Kenneth, Jack wants to kneel here and show you how to get saved.” No I didn’t! He was a bigger liar than Jesse COBb! I knelt at the front row. I said, “Kenneth, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve never done this before. But I want to see you saved.” I began to weep. Kenneth said, “Jack, I know how to be saved. I’ve heard it many times. Every Sunday afternoon for months, somebody from the church has come by. But you’re the first one that I ever thought really cared. I know how to do it.” I said, “Well... do it!”
Kenneth bowed his head and said something like the old prayer you’ve heard thousands of times, “Oh God, be merciful to me, a sinner. I now receive Jesus as my Saviour and trust Him to take me to Heaven when I die.” And while Kenneth Florence was getting saved, the fireworks of Heaven turned loose in my soul! I mean the sparklers sparkled, and the firecrackers banged, and the Roman candles soared through the sky. I jumped up and said, “Brother Sizemore, would it be okay with you if I just did this all the time from now on?” We started a revival that night. In the next 7 days, little introverted Jackie-boy Hyles that nOBody took seriously brought 37 people down the aisle professing faith in Jesus Christ. God set something ablaze in my soul, and that something is still burning tonight. When you tell me not to build a soulwinning church, you may as well tell a bird not to fly or a fish not to swim. It’s a call from within.
“Why can’t you be like other preachers?’ he wanted to know. “Why can’t you be normal like everyone else? Why the constant pressure about soulwinning?” Not one time in the Bible does it say, “The Son of man is come to exegete the scriptures.” Not one time does it say, “The Son of man is come to lead the deeper life program.” My Bible says the reason that Jesus left Heaven, and the fellowship with the Father, and the glory and majesty that were rightfully His for 33 homesick years - the reason why He lived with no place to lay His head while foxes had holes and birds had nests - the reason He was rejected by His own city, hated by His own race, expelled from His own synagogue - the reason that He went to Calvary was TO SEEK AND TO SAVE THAT WHICH WAS LOST. Why do we work day and night to build soulwinning churches getting the message of the Gospel to America? I’ll tell you why. Because of the burning call from within.
A CALL FROM WITHOUT
“Preacher, we’re nervous. Why does it have to be soulwinning all the time?” I told my people that night, “Not only is there a call from within, but there is a call from without.” Come over and help us.” There’s more to it than personal preference. There’s a world going to hell! There’s a call from without. I believe that men without God are lost. I believe that when those lost men die in their sins, they go to hell. I believe that men who go to hell burn forever and ever. If that be true, would you tell me what else counts in this world? That call from without began many years ago. I was called to pastor a little country church. I could win souls to Christ, but I could not preach them down the aisle. For more than a year, nOBody walked the aisle professing faith is Christ. I begged and pleaded for God’s power. I didn’t know what the answer was. But on May 13, 1950 I knelt on the grave of my alcoholic father who died, and as far as I know, went to hell, and I said, “Dear God, I’m not getting off my face until something happens to me.”
The next Sunday night I went back to my little church to preach. A lad came to receive Christ as Saviour. And then there came another ...and another. I’d never seen anybody walk the aisle under my preaching before. When they came in we voted them in on the spot. Up north today, you have to have credit references and blood tests and everything else to get in a lot of Baptist churches. I’d say, “So and so is coming, professing his faith in Christ. What is your pleasure?” I had a deacon that sat over here every Sunday right next to a window, and he would spit out that window and say, “I make a motion that he be received for baptism, and after baptism into the full fellowship of the church.” I had a man over here next to that wall who would say, “I second the move.” The same two men said it all the time. I said, “All in favor, say aye.” They all did. Then we ‘extended the right hand of fellowship’. We sang, “Shall We Gather At The River’ and everyone went around row by row to shake hands with the new converts. Then I dismissed the service.
That night 3 people got saved, and boy I was happy. Back in east Texas where I pastored, there weren’t many cars. Most everybody came by tractor or horseback or wagon, and one Model A Ford. Everyone was getting on their wagons and tractors to go home, and I was praising the Lord. I was having a spell. I wish some of you folks would get religion again. You’ve gotten too used to it. I was having an old-fashioned spell - clapping my hands and praising God when all of a sudden --- WHAM! A big old 235 pound fellow hit me from the rear. I turned around and there was O. C. Pruett, a trainman, with tears in his eyes. He said, “Reverend, my daughter Barbara is leaning up against the wall back there crying her eyes out. I think she wants to get saved.” I went back and said, “Barbara, do you want to get saved?” She said, “Of course, I do! NOBody wants to go to hell.” I won Barbara to Jesus.
I went out on the front porch of the church and said, “Hey, come on back in.” Folks left their wagons and tractors and came back in. I said, “Folks, Barbara Pruett just got saved. What’s your pleasure?’ The same man said, “I make a motion that she be received for baptism, and after baptism into the full fellowship to the church.” Over here he said, ‘I second the move.’ Everybody in favor, say aye.” “Aye.” We sang “Shall We Gather At The River” and came around row by row to shake her hand. Glory to God, hallelujah! I dismissed the service again at about 10 o’clock.
I was having another spell when the same guy hit me from behind. WHAM! He said, “Reverend, my married daughter Dorothy is there on the back row. Look at her crying her eyes out. Would you go talk to her?” I went back and said, “Dorothy, do you want to be saved?” She said, “My sister’s going to heaven and I’m going to hell. Don’t you think I want to go to Heaven with her?” I told her how to be saved and she got saved. I went out on the front porch and said, “Hey, come on back in.”
When they came in, I said, “Folks, Dorothy Hall just got saved. What’s your pleasure. This man over here spit out the window and said, “I make a motion that she be received for baptism and after baptism be received into the full fellowship of the church.” This one said, “I second the move.” I said, “All in favor, say aye.” “Aye.” We opened our song books to “Shall We Gather At The River” and came row by row again to shake Dorothy’s hand. I dismissed the service for the third time about 10:30 and went out on the front porch and continued my spell. I know you won’t believe this, but it really happened. WHAM! It was the same man. “Reverend, her husband Sam is over there and he just threw down his cigarette. Do you reckon that means anything?” I went down and said, “Sam, I understand you just threw down your cigarette?” He said, “Reverend, you preached about hell tonight. I looked at the fire on that cigarette, and it dawned on me --- that’s where I’m going when I die.” I said, “Do you want to get saved?” He said, ‘Sure I want to get saved. My wife’s going to Heaven and I want to go to Heaven with her.” On the front porch of that little country church I won Sam to Jesus Christ and said, “Hey, come on back in. Sam Hall just trusted Christ as his Saviour.” We went through the same thing again.
Six people got saved that night. I’d been preaching for over a year and hadn’t seen anybody get saved. We had over 1,000 walk the aisle for salvation last Sunday at First Baptist Church, but that didn’t make me any happier than those six people that Sunday night after God filled me with his Spirit for the first time.
Now I know you won’t believe me—I wouldn’t believe you if you told this story either. But as I stood in the same spot having a spell, WHAM! ...you guessed it. The same fellow. He said, “Reverend...I think I’ll get saved myself before I go home.” I won O. C. Pruett to Jesus and all the people came back in and voted him into the church and sang and gave him the right hand of fellowship/ That night Mrs. Hyles and I went to our little parsonage next door. I wish you could have seen it. The foundation under the back bedroom was so shaky that two people couldn’t walk around in there at the same time. There was a rat at the back porch when we came, that was still there when we left. he thought he was one of the family. We gave him rat poison and he gained weight on it. We put a rat trap out there and he thought it was a toy. We went to our little country parsonage that night at 11:15 and took out a great big Bible. We were just a couple of kids—I was only 22 or 23 at the time. We put our hands on that Bible and looked up and said, “Oh, God! This is what we’ve been wanting. We’re not going to settle for anything less.”
May I take a moment and praise His name? Since that Sunday night almost 48 years ago, there has not been a single somebody saved. I’m talking about little country churches and small town churches and big city churches. We baptized that night, and there’s not been one single Sunday since then that somebody hasn’t been baptized. All of our children have grown up and not a single child has ever gone to church without seeing somebody baptized before Sunday night was over. You say, “Preacher, why don’t you calm down?” I don’t intend to calm down. I believe there’s a hell! Now if there’s no hell, let’s all go ‘deeper life’. If there’s no hell, we can all join John MacArthur. If there’s no hell, let’s all go exegete. But if there is a hell, let’s go soulwinning. Let’s build soulwinning churches. The call from without.
A CALL FROM ABOVE
“Pastor, may I talk to you please. We like you fine,” said the wealthy man, “but we’re nervous. I represent the nervous people of this church. We like your preaching, if it is a bit loud and long. We use to have revival meetings now and then. But since you’ve been here, it’s like that every Sunday morning. Soulwinning, soulwinning, soulwinning. Why can’t you be like other preachers are?”
That night I told them that there is a call from above. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses... My mama is watching. Dr. John Rice looks down from Heaven, and I can tell you that he’s mighty pleased. He gave his life for soulwinning, to fight formalism and the deeper life movement and the hyper-Calvinism movement and the Charismatic hodgepodge. He gave his life for what’s going on right here. Tonight they’re watching. Dr. John, Brother Lester Roloff, Dr. Bill Rice, Dr. Ford Porter, Dr. BOB Jones, SR...There’s a call from above.
Years ago I was pastoring in Garland, Texas. I was 26 or 27 years of age. The church had grown rapidly and was running about 1,500 in Sunday School. One Sunday morning I was out front shaking hands with everybody that came in. An old man came through the door. He was close to 90, I think. His hair was as white as freshly fallen snow. His shoulders drooped. If he stood up straight, he couldn’t have been more than 5’4” tall.
I said, “How do you do, sir. My name is Jack Hyles.” In a squeaky voice he said, “My name is James W. Moore.” I said, “Brother Moore, we’re glad to have you. Where are you from?” He said, “I just moved to the area. I’ve been a preacher up in Iowa for over 50 years. I had a heart attack and the doctor says I won’t live long. I came to Texas because it’s warmer and I have some family here. I’d like to join your church. I won’t cause you no trouble. I’ll be for you. I hear you preach it like it is.”
I bought a platform rocker and put it by the altar next to the wall for Brother Moore. He’d rock while I preached and clap his hands. “Amen! Glory to God! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!” When I’d preach on dancing or movies or something, he’d shout, “Pull over and park there for a while.” Apart from my pastor J. C. Sizemore and my best friend, Dr. John R. Rice, I’ve never loved a preacher like I loved James W. Moore.
Every Monday morning he’d come by my office at 9 o’clock. He’d walk in my office and pace the floor. He’d say, “Brother Jack, I just came to tell you about a stupid mistake I made when I was a kid preacher...” It was always the same mistake I had made the day before. I’d hug him and thank him for telling me what he had learned. He’d teach me the Bible and talk to me every Monday morning from 9 to 10 o’clock. What a dear, sweet man of God. One Sunday his chair was empty. For several weeks he was gone. I went to his house and no one answered. I thought maybe he had moved back to Iowa. Late one Sunday night the phone rang. The lady said, “This is the nurse at Spiegel Memorial Hospital. I hate to bother you this late at night, but there’s an old man that was brought in with a heart attack. He has no identification, and nOBody knows who he is. He’s about to die. But he keeps saying, ‘Call Brother Jack.’ We knew that you like to be called Brother Jack, so we thought you may know the old man.” I said, “Is he about 5’4”? Is his hair real white?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Yes, I know him.” I went to the hospital. I hadn’t seen many folks die, so I was all prepared for a solemn ceremony. But Brother Moore wasn’t dying right. He said, “Come on in, Brother Jack. I’m just about to take a trip I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. In just a few minutes I’m going to see Elijah and Moses and Abraham and Paul and John the Baptist and all those fellows. Anything you want me to tell them for you?” Then he said, “Brother Jack, I want you to have a Bible conference. I’m going to Heaven now, but I want to plan it for you.” He chose the speakers. I had the conference after he had gone to Heaven just like he asked.
Then this is what he did. He took the oxygen mask off his face and laid it beside him. He reached his hands out and put them around mine, and said, “Brother Jack, KEEP...PREACHING...IT...!” I heard the rustling of wings as the angles came and took his dear old spirit to the presence of the Saviour. I said, “Oh God, help me to keep preaching it.”
Many times in the past several years I’ve heard that old man say, “Keep preaching it! Keep preaching it!” Don’t you hear tonight the call from above? Even the blessed Saviour says, “Go! Go! Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel...”
A CALL FROM BENEATH
“Reverend, we’re glad you’re our pastor and we like you fine, but you’re different. Why can’t you be like everybody else?” I told my people that Sunday night, pretty much what I’ve told you tonight. There’s a call from within - something on the inside that says, “I’ve got to do it.” There’s a call from without - a lost world crying, “Come over and help us.” There’s a call from above - heavenly witnesses cheering us on. And there’s a call from beneath. “Send Lazarus, have him tell my 5 brothers not to come here.” They’re more concerned about soulwinning in hell tonight than you are in your church. “Send Lazarus. I’ve got 5 brothers and I don’t want them to burn in hell.” There’s a call from beneath.
On Saturday, December 31, 1949, I got burdened for my father. My father was an alcoholic - a part-time bartender. I was pastoring a little country church in east Texas. Up to that time I had won souls to Christ, but I had never had anyone walk the aisle under my preaching. On New Year’s Eve I got in the car and drove 150 miles to Dallas to a tavern right across the street from the seminary. My daddy worked there part-time and drank there rest of the time for 8 years and not once did one single professor, staff member, administrator or student ever walk across the street to witness to the drunkard that tended the bar. That’s not New Testament Christianity. I didn’t care how much Greek and Hebrew you memorize.
I walked in the Hunt Saloon on Saturday morning, New Year’s Eve. My daddy was sitting at the bar, drunk. I walked up and put my arm around him and said, “Daddy, I’m going to take you with me to east Texas. I’m going to have a Watch Night service tonight, and tomorrow is Sunday, New Year’s Day. I want you to go with me.” He cursed at me and said, “I’m not going to no church tomorrow.” I said, “Yes, you are.” He said, “No, I’m not.” I laid my Bible down and said, “Daddy, you are either going to have to come with me or whip me. I’m going to fight you if I have to in order to get you in that car.” He came with me and I sOBered him up.
That night my daddy went to church and we had a light kind of a service, a lot of fun. The next morning was the first time he had ever heard me preach. Tears streamed down his cheeks. The invitation came and my big one-legged deacon put his arm around my daddy, and said, “Mr. Hyles, won’t you come to Christ.” He did not walk the aisle. That afternoon I took a walk with my daddy out across the pasture and said, “Daddy, I want to see you saved more that I want anything in the whole world. Daddy, I want you to go to Heaven with Mama and me.” He had left us many years before when I was a little boy. My daddy said something I never thought I’d ever hear him say. “Son, I’m going to get saved. I can’t today, but I’m going back to straighten up some things at home, and I’ll come back in the spring, and maybe get a little fruit stand or something, and I’m going to get saved. You’re going to baptize me this spring, and I’ll be a deacon in your church one of these days, you wait and see if I’m not.”
I took him back the next morning. The last words he said to me were, “Son, I’m going to let you baptize me in the spring.” That was good enough for me. But the spring never came. On May 12th I got a call that my daddy had dropped dead with a heat attack, and I was a powerless preacher.
Several years passed. One Sunday night, I was still in my office at about 11 o’clock. I heard a knock at my door and there stood my sister weeping. She said, “Jack, would you tell me how to be save.” I brought here into my office and led her to Christ. She’s now a lovely Christian and a wonderful soulwinner. After she got saved, I said, “Earlyne, why did you come tonight.” a She said, “Jack, tonight you preached on Luke 16. You told about the rich man in hell who lift up his eyes and said, “Send Lazarus to tell my five e brothers not to come here.” She said, “Jack, when you told that story, I thought of a dream I had shortly after daddy died. I dreamed that a man in a white rOBe, maybe an angel, took me in a big building. He showed me walls lined with caskets. In every casket was a copse. He took me to the first casket and I looked into the face of that corpse and he had a smile on his face. He took me all around that room and every casket had a corpse, and every corpse had a smile on his face, until I got to the last one. The angel said, ‘You can’t see that one.” She said, “I must see it,” and in her dream she broke away from that angel.
My sister told me, “Jack, daddy was in that casket. I went up and looked at him and his face was writhing in pain. He cried out in agony, “Sister... sister...sister...” All those years I wondered what daddy was trying to tell me, and tonight when you preached that sermon, I know what it was daddy was trying to tell me. He was saying, “Sister... don’t come here.” Don’t you tell me not to build a soulwinning church. Don’t you tell me not to live for soulwinning. I’ve got a daddy who, as far as I know, is in hell. There’s a call from beneath. Why don’t you let God change you tonight? Where is that Curtis Hutson who was in Atlanta in 1961 whose life was changed? Where is that Wally Beebe who was in a meeting like this up in Danville, Illinois and his life was transformed as a kid preacher?
“Pastor, I come representing some nervous people. We like you fine. But pastor, why are you like you are? Why is the pressure on all the time? We use toe have revival meeting twice a year, and see people get saved, sometimes 50 or 60 a year. But ever since you’ve been here it’s soulwinning Monday, soulwinning Tuesday, soulwinning Wednesday, soulwinning Thursday, soulwinning Friday, soulwinning Saturday... Why can’t you be like everybody else/ I’ll tell you why. There’s a call from within. “K-K-Kenneth, w-w-wouldn’t you like to b-b-be s-s-saved?” There’s a call from without. “Reverend, I think I’ll just get saved myself before I go home.” There’s a call from above. “Brother Jack, KEEP...PREACHING...IT!” There’s a call from beneath. “Sister...sister...sister!” FOUR CALLS TO SOULWINNING!
Making a Difference
(A chapel message-preached at the Landmark Baptist Temple Oct. 30, 1989))
“And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Jude 1:22,23
I stand before you today a broken man, ruined by the foolishness of life. Ruined by bad choices; by self gratification; ruined, and never more restored to innocence. I’ve wasted many years, ignored many joys, and shattered many glorious dreams because of my own foolish living. I wish I could go back in time and change some things, I could have made a difference, but I didn’t. I missed the opportunities that came my way, to influence the lives for good. I’ve seen men die alone, not being able to help them; They died without hope because I waited too long to get saved myself, when I could have made a difference. If, while in the Army in my late teens, if I’d have known Christ as my Savior, I could have made a difference. I must now live with the fact that I put it off too long. Missed opportunities may never come around again to be reconciled; They can affect any part of our lives, but when they are gone, they are gone. Seldom do we get a second chance to make it right.
I’ve had friends that died from and over-dose of drugs; I’ve seen men dead in the streets of Saigon, dieing in despair with no one to comfort them; They died alone and no one seemed to care. I could have told them that Christ cares--He cares for every life that was wasted in that war. Jesus wept at the death of each of them; He may have pleaded with them to be saved at some time; He may have sent missionaries to give them the Gospel, but I may have made a difference in their lives myself. I was too busy “partying”; too busy “enjoying life”, or so I thought. Because of my foolishness, “hell has enlarged herself”--hell has taken its multitudes. What might have been? What difference might I have made? Which one may have been a soul-winning preacher and led thousands to the Lord? I may never know now; I killed them all; I am partly responsible because I waited too long--I may have made a difference. If I would have accepted Christ at your age, who knows how I could have helped? Many young men may have returned home to loving arms; many may have returned to families and friends had I gotten saved early in life; I may have made the difference in their lives, but I didn’t, I only cared about me! Some may have died anyway, but they could have died knowing that they would live again--eternally, and clung to the hope that they would someday see their loved ones again in heaven. If only I would have listened--you never really know how many lives you touch, or how many wayward hearts you influence. Each one of you have someone that looks up to you, whether you know it or not; it may a brother or sister; it may a friend or cousin, whoever it is, they look to you for an example--don’t let them down like I did, you owe it to them, as well as to the Lord.
Vietnam-- In Vietnam, I lived foolishly, for myself, and not for the Lord. I called it “survival”, but what it really was, was foolishness, and sin. If I would have only talked to them, some soldiers may have come home; some Vietnamese might have been saved, and their entire lives become meaningful--if I would have witnessed to them. I did not care! I did not have a heart for them, because I was not yet saved. Suicide, drugs, all sorts of sin and debauchery prevailed, and I was right in the middle of it all! I shudder to think of it now, and of how I may have made a difference in the life of someone--even if it were one man, heaven would rejoice with him. Don’t “miss the boat” young people, look at the person next to you, what if their life was in your hands? What if what you did, or did not do, became a matter of life and death for them? What would you do?
Failed to Act.
I failed to report an incident while on guard duty one night. I had seen a group of VC (Viet Cong) heading into a clump of bushes; they were running toward the bushes where there was, no doubt, a tunnel that would lead them away from the town they had just left. They ran, single file, into the bushes, but didn’t come out the other side! I knew there had to be a tunnel there, but I failed to act. Actually, I did call it in later, but it was too late by then, they were long gone! That very night, an outpost up the line was overrun, and many men killed. It was partly my fault because I did not do what I should have done--it may have made a difference to them! You’re young, but you don’t have to be foolish; you can begin now to make a difference in the lives of others, or perhaps in your own life, with Jesus. You are going to make mistakes, but don’t make the kind that I did; make a decision for Jesus now, and accept Him as your Savior. That person sitting beside you may be waiting for you to move, to do something, to make a difference in their life. Many lives may hang on the decision you make today, right here, right now, be sure that you choose wisely. Don’t take it lightly folks, life and death may be in your hands; someone may need you to show them what’s right, and to lead the way. Compassion could have saved someone that I saw die; it could have been that they were looking to me for guidance, but I failed them; I have to live with that, but you don’t have to! You have a choice. Some choices stay with you the rest of your life.
Compassion doesn’t come with age; it doesn’t just overwhelm us somewhere in life; we have to work at it. We have to exercise it. We must know first what true compassion is--it is making a difference for good; making a difference for others by introducing them to Jesus. There is no greater love than that. Only Jesus can pull them “out if the fire”, because only He knows what real compassion is. He gave His life out of compassion for us, won’t you give a bit of your life to others? You are in the prime of life. You are full of vigor and strength; why not use it for the glory of God, and make a difference in someone’s life. It will definitely make a difference in yours!
Don’t let this your story be;
Don’t end up a wretch like me;
Begin to build, begin to care,
Save a life from great despair.
Sin in 3-D
1. Deemed delightful, but desperately dismal.
A. Full of Delusion;
B. Dupes us;
C. Disappoints us;
D. Defeats us;
E. Deprives us
(of the blessings of God; of family, friends and fellowships; of self respect, of life itself, etc.)
1. Destroys dignity
2. Darkens, defiles.
A. Causes Divisions
B. Destroys Decency
C. Debases Goodness
D. Despises Dominions
E. Leaves Destitute
3. “Despoils” us:
A. Discord among the brethren
B. Dethrones us
C. Discourages us
D. Disrupts our life
E. Leaves us Destitute
1. Demands Retribution
B. Destroys souls
C. Defies life
D. Deadens us
E. Dooms us
2. Sins Destructiveness:
Sin dupes the dopes that delight in it;
It derides us into despair;
pierces like a dagger.
It makes us disagreeable, downcast, detestable, and down right despicable.
Sin definitely defiles de flesh!
(3-D stands out when viewed through special glasses. The Word of God is our looking glass for sin.)
Memory Verse; James 1:15
Mt 13 The Sower
“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (20,21)
We have the parable of the sower in this passage. Here, the peculiar phrase “Yet he hath not root in himself” seems to throw the focus of the passage in a different direction. Note that this guy received the Word with joy, but it did not produce fruit in him. One wonders why. We can glean a few things from these few verses that will help us to see why this might be. First, in v. 19, we see that this guy did not understand the Word as he received it; he had the seed in his heart, but not in his head. The sowing is not enough in the heart, but one needs it in the head too. Then, in v. 21, we see the guy that has it in his head, but not in his heart; exactly the opposite of the man in v. 19. In verse 22, we see the guy that neither has it in his head, (understanding) nor in his heart (Believing), but is a carnal, lost man, and in v.23, the man that has it in his head and in his heart.
This “ground” is the heart of man that is either so hard and brittle that nothing good can grow from it, or so soft that nothing will take root in it either. Just as some types of trees grow better in sand, and some in clay, few grow in the hard, brittle dirt, a dry seabed, or a barren wasteland. The soil must be worked in all cases, and made conducive to the tree. This is why some seeds of faith take root, and others wither away, the condition of the soil. Both often have water (the Word) and sun (the Son, which “lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”), but the soil has not been prepared. It is barren ground. Yes, the water of the Word is the same for both; the sun (Son) is shining on them both, but the one takes hold of the words of life, while the other wilts and dies for lack of root. He that hath not “root in himself” is that one of which we speak negatively, the dying one. He has the seed, he has the will to receive it, but it has not rooted itself in him, he has not allowed it to, he is hard hearted. He does not have it within himself, but endures for awhile in his own power. Oh, I am afraid we see many of this type in the church today, as well as the others. Take heed to the Word, and allow the Seed to root itself in you, and grow in the garden of faith that you might be fruitful and productive in the Lord and unto others. Remember, the Bible commands us to be kind, and tenderhearted…which is to tenderize our soil for the growth of the seed.
“A sower went forth to sow…” He did his jOB--he merely strewed the seed in all directions.
He did not look for the most fertile soil;
He did not consider the stony ground;
He did not examine the seed before he spread it,
He merely sowed.
The sower did not worry about some of the seed falling by the wayside;
He did not spend time chasing the fowl away that came to devour the seed.
He merely sowed the seed.
He allowed the Lord to determine the effect.
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa. 55:11)
In each illustration, the seed had an effect. (vs. 4-8)
God’s Word will produce!
If man’s heart (soil) has been prepared, it produces good;
If his heart has been hardened, it produces unbelief, and he does evil;
But the planted seed will produce some sort of result; it will not return void.
What is sin?
James 4:17 “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Sin is clearly defined in the Bible. Here we have the first of seven definitions of sin, most of which are OBvious by the fact that the Bible outright says, “this is sin”.
Called “sins of omission” because we fail to do what we know we should.
Romans 14:23 “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
“Whatsoever” is not done in faith, is sin. We do many things and forget our Lord in them, do we then do them in faith? To fail to exercise faith is sin.
The text speaks of offending a weaker brother, but the principle is the same. If we have any doubt at all, it is better not to do it.
1 John 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
Any transgression of the law of God is sin. This is self explanatory for the most part “Trans” means “across,” for stepping across certain boundaries.
1 John 5:17 “All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.”
This clarifies the previous verse, that “sin is the transgression of the law”. Anything, however that is inherently wrong, and perhaps left to speculation in the law, is sin too.
“All unrighteousness” need not be defined if one is honest.
Proverbs 21:4 “An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.”
Here we see three things that are said by God, to be sin. A haughty spirit, Pompous self righteousness, and the scheming of the wicked are sin. These are entailed in the other verses to some extent, but God wishes to make it very clear, so that there is no doubt as to what sin is, and then who has sinned. When we define sin precisely, we see that we all have fallen short of God’s standard.
Proverbs 24:9 “The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.”
Just in case we think that it is all done with our hands, we need to learn that thoughts can be sinful too.
James 2:9 “But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”
This entails prejudices and partiality. Let us never think ourselves better than any, rich, poor or otherwise; this includes racial prejudice.
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezek. 18:20
The reproaches of sin
On the cross, Christ cried out “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It was sin that caused God to turn His back on our Savior, and sin will cause Him to turn His back on us too! The amazing thing is that He promised in Heb. 13:5 that “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,” which tells me that the only thing that causes God to forsake us doesn’t exist! Sin still repulses the Father, and He must turn Himself from it, but He has promised His blood bought children that he would never (ever) leave us, not even for a time! What a gloriously wonderful God we serve!
Rom 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We can never be worse than “yet sinners”; if the Lord saved us while we were at our worst, how can we doubt him later on if we backslide? You cannot escape the love of God, no matter what you do, where you go, or how much you try. (Rom 8: 35-39)
James 1:15 “Sin”
All men are born into it, but enter the gate through many different paths. Many have wandered in the “wilderness of sin,” never finding the path out of it, and being totally consumed therein. These need to look to Christ; we need to show Him to them, that they may be led in the “paths of righteousness.” It begins with being enticed (“drawn away”) by lusts of the world; that is followed by opportunity (lust conceived); this ultimately leads to death. We see; we are tempted; we take/make the opportunity; we sin.
Jude 1:1 A very important verse here, we see that we are "preserved in Jesus Christ and called." Not only that, but we are "sanctified by God" the Father, for His use toward His honor and glory.
The preservation of the saints is seen here, and, along with them, the preservation of the Truth of God, in His Word. Some skeptics deny the preserved Word of God today (KJB), and misunderstand, or outright reject the preservation of His Word. I believe He directly preserves His Word according to promise, but also it is preserved through His people, as the scribes handed it down word for word, in the Old Testament.
A "double preservation" if you will.
sanctified by God;
Preserved in Christ;
and called (most likely by the Holy Spirit)
Sanctified in mercy;(vs. 1,2)
preserved in peace;
and called through love.
Jude 1:2 What a wonderful greeting. Mercy, peace and love, the "big three" of Bible virtues and graces.
Another great trilogy:
Mercy (as being sanctified by God);
Peace (as being preserved in Christ);
and love (by which the Holy Spirit calls us)
Jude 1:3 The "common salvation"? It is common, as it is for the common people as well as aristocrats! Salvation is for everyone. We too are exhorted to "contend for the faith" earnestly, and not haphazardly. We must stand alone, and oppose evil at any cost, and in any form.
"Once delivered" this salvation is never to be given again, as Christ died once for all; it is never to be undone, or re-done; It never needs repeating.
Once received, always present.
Jude 1:4 These men were "ordained to this condemnation" as examples of what the ungodly can expect. These "crept in unawares" and deceived many, turning the grace of God into something evil, in many lusts and personal gain. They use God's people for their profit, and many do today too, for this reason we are told to "earnestly contend for the faith," as seen in the previous verse. We are to seek these out, and expose them, and oppose them and their teachings. These are why we are admonished to "contend for the faith."
Jude 1:5 They "once knew this" or learned it already.
Jude 1:6 Who are these "fallen angels"? First let us see that they "left their first estate" which was Heaven, (hence "fallen"), and their "own habitation" as intruders into another realm. I believe these are angels which served Lucifer when he fell from his first estate because of the pride of his beauty and majesty; when he fell, they went with him. They say that angels have no will to choose, but if this is the case, "they" may be wrong! It is possible though, that they were assigned to Lucifer, and had to go where he went, although he would be accountable for that more than they would. It would seem unjust to judge them for doing that which they were made to do. Some say that these are now lesser devils, or "demons" as we call them, though the Bible does not use this word.
Much is supposed from this passage that is not necessarily backed by the Bible: Many liken it to "The sons of God" in Gen_6:2-4, but if this were so, who released them from their chains of darkness to roam the earth so many years ago? No, I already explained who those "sons of God" were in the comments on Gen. 6. (also JOB 1 and 2)
We need to be careful of "filling in the gaps" that we think are there in scripture, and take it for what it says.
Jude 1:7 Some dispute the meaning of "fornication" but it is clear here that it has to do with all sorts of illicit sexual sins, and is all inclusive of the lust of them.
Whereas, "strange flesh," as we know, speaks of homosexuality.
Sodom was made an example of, a warning to others who may follow in their steps, that their doom is sealed, and their destiny is hell fire.
Jude 1:8 Sin in 3-D Defile the flesh;
Despise dominions; and speak evil of Dignities. Compare to v.11, and the three examples of such. One can see the things mentioned in v.11 easily here.
Defile (flesh); The way of Cain, v.11:
Despise (dominion); The error of Balaam:
Dignities (evil spoken of); the gainsaying of Core. (11)
Jude 1:9 Though we are exhorted to "contend" for the faith, we are to do it through Christ, and not ourselves. It is not our warfare, but His; He is the Champion of our soul's. If the arch angel Michael was afraid to rebuke the evil one, we should be so much more afraid to try it on our own, in our own power. Satan has deceived, and conquered every man that ever lived, save Christ, so what chance have we of opposing him?
Jude 1:10 Many do speak evil of things which they know not, when they accuse preachers of only wanting money; or when they criticize the Christian for tithing; or perhaps when they think us foolish for attending services, etc., but that's not all, the things they do know are the things they corrupt themselves in! Even the inner witness of greater things are denied by their hardened hearts, and the natural witness of nature, as well as the "light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (Jn. 1:9) from within them.
Jude1:11 We have here three examples of the attitude of sin.
All three are taken from Old Testament examples, and each teach us an important truth.
Proof that the Old Testament is a sort of allegory for the New, and that we are to glean practical lessons from it.
The way of Cain represents coming to God in our own way, and by our own means;
The error of Balaam represents seeking after the things of this world, and allowing gain to persuade us away from Truth; Or, as many say, the "mixing" of Holy with unholy, with light and darkness; the lack of separation.
And the gainsaying of Korah represents the opposition of proper authority, or opposing the proper "channels" in the "chain of command" if you will. Rebellion.
Note the progression here: they have gone; ran; and they perished.
Jude 1:12 These are a great burden, a bane and not a blessing. Three useless and vain illustrations are used to describe these false believers: Spots (blemishes) in your love feasts of charity, representing themselves as one of you; Clouds without rain, do nothing but float along the horizon; trees whose fruit is withered, and they are themselves already dead; dead in the sense of providing their fruit, and dead in the true sense, plucked up by the roots.
The wicked are:
Spots in our love feasts; (blemishes)
clouds without water;(empty, useless)
and trees with withered fruit; (Just there, but not useful or productive.)
Raging waves (13); (Terrible noise makers; crashing to shore, then dissipating.)
Wandering stars, (13). (Shooting stars have no place to rest)
Jude 1:13 Here Jude continues to describe these impostor's, with two more illustrations; as unstable as the waves, and as restless as the stars.
Jude 1:14 A prophesy is attributed to Enoch, who "walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (Gen5:24)
As far as we know, this is the only prophesy quoted from this great man, and it must have been handed down through history by the scribes, as we find no book of Enoch in the Bible today.
Jude 1:15 The Lord cometh "to execute judgment" on the ungodly. Note how many times the "ungodly" are mentioned here. This seems to be the rest of the quote from Enoch.
Jude 1:16 Here we define these "ungodly" ones' and the "fruit" of their thinking. The ungodly dwell daily in these things, not just think on them for a time. Their entire lives are consumed in wickedness.
Jude 1:17 It never hurts to "jog our memories."
Jude 1:18 We are warned of false believers, wolves in sheep's clothing, who "walk after their own lusts" and not after God.
Jude 1:19 The easiest way to spot a backslidden Christian is to OBserve him shying away from the fellowship of the brethren!
These verses, I believe, speaks of "impostors" and not true Christians, who "having not the Spirit," will be capable of, and prone to much self seeking, and other sin.
Jude1:20 "But ye" Jude is making a distinction here between us and them; between the good and evil;
See the contrast, the fruits of the Christian vs. the fruits of the impostors.
Jude 1:21 Though we are actually kept by the power of God, we are also to "keep" ourselves. A little self-discipline is needed to keep ourselves "in the love of God" or in the special place of His blessing. We are to keep ourselves pure, and in fellowship with Him.
This is not speaking of salvation, but of position; we can remain close to The Lord, or we can stray away. The "love" mentioned here is that special love that a father has for his son, especially when the son pleases the father. Let's face it, it is easier for us to "love" the child who is doing right, than the one who is rebellious and self centered. The love is no different, but it is manifest differently.
Jude 1:22 Often we use this verse for soul winning; it is very appropriate for that, but, keeping in the text and "flow" of the epistle, we must acknowledge a truer meaning, and a primary application. (along with v. 23)
I believe Jude is simply telling us to deal with these false brothers, but do it with compassion, because compassion makes a difference!
Jude 1:23 This verse seems to refer to the lost, who we literally "pull out of the fire" by sharing the gospel with them.
We must, though, consider ourselves, and remember to hate sin, lest we become consumed in their lusts, and overwhelmed in their schemes.
Many have illustrated that the healthy do not make the sick better simply by being around them, but, the sick can be contagious to the healthy! On the same token, a rotten apple does not make good apples better, instead one apple spreads its rottenness to others. I know we are not apples in a barrel, but evil is much the same because of our flesh and carnal nature.
Hating even the garment stained by sin, will keep us further from the act of sin itself. We need not flirt with sin, but stay as far away from it as we can.
Jude 1:24 Now we see the fact that we are kept by God, because He is "able" and also willing to keep us "faultless" before the Father.
Jude 1:25 Ending the epistle in praise to the Lord is a wonderful way to close. We ought to have words of praise for Him all the day long, and each night before the close of the day, we ought to thank him, and praise him.
And finally, to the glory of God:
“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.” Gen. 13:10
Lot “lifted up his eyes” to the delights of this world. He eventually succumbed to them, and ended up in Sodom. This world has much to offer the natural man, but it has little appeal to the spiritual man inside us; the spirit-filled man can say with the psalmist “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”.
Be careful to guard your eyes; as the children’s song goes, “Be careful little eyes what you see”… it is nearly impossible not to see things today that offend our eyes, we can hardly say “I will set no evil thing before my eyes” and be honest about it, but we can be sure to turn our eyes away from evil once we see it! Often our eyes seduce us into sin, as Achan’s did when he “saw” the forbidden spoil of Jericho, and coveted, and took it. Coveting often begins with the eyes.
What are YOUR eyes upon?
“And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” Gen. 22: 13
On the other hand, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw redemption. We all know the story, how Abraham went up on mount Mariah to offer Isaac, his son as a burnt offering to the Lord. He was willing to do whatever the Lord asked him to do, even if it cost him the life of his only legitimate son, the son of promise. Abraham saw God’s mercy that day, and the Lord was satisfied with his faithfulness. We see in this narrative, a wonderful picture of Calvary, and the Lamb that God has provided for us. We merely need to “lift up our eyes” to see the mercies of God.
What a contrast to the seeing of Lot, as he looked to the fruitfulness of this world! Lift up your eyes unto the Lord, and see his wonderful grace and know that He is indeed a merciful and loving God.
What are YOUR eyes upon?
“And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?” Judges 19: 17
Lift up your eyes to the needy. There are many “wayfaring men” on our streets today; homeless; destitute ; forlorn and confused men that need a helping hand. You can be a comfort to them; I can be a comfort to them too, because the Lord Jesus Christ is a comfort to me! Let’s remember others in our daily walk.
Much is said in the Bible about helping the poor, but little is done in today’s churches to heed that calling. (add scriptures about giving to the poor)
“ And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone.” 2 Sam 18:24
The watchman saw a man “running alone”. We need to be alert to the needs of others and realize that many are “running alone” in this world. Loneliness is a terrible thing; it is depressing; it is destructive to our nature, we were created with companionship, but thank God, we have a friend in Jesus! Men do not have to face this world’s woes alone. Though this man was a messenger, bearing tidings for the king, let us remember that many have no direction; they have no message, no hope of finding their way--they are running alone, with a message of futility and frustration; they need Jesus. Be a friend to the friendless, and a help to the helpless.
“And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:” Dan. 4:34
We will not accomplish all that we need to for the Lord until we “lift up our eyes unto heaven”; only then will we have the wisdom to do right, and the power to make a difference. Keep your eyes upward, and let your thoughts follow them unto heavenly realms.
What are YOUR eyes upon?
“And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” Mt. 17:8
Finally, this is where our eyes ought to be. Jesus was transfigured before the disciples, and when they wanted to build tabernacles for Moses and Elijah, they disappeared, and only Jesus remained. The message is clear, “Keep your eyes upon Jesus” and Him only; only He is worthy of our attention, our praise. If we will do this, we will easily accomplish the other tasks set before us, for the glory of God. Look to Jesus for all your need, He is the Comforter, the Provider, the Friend that we all need and that we can share with others. Remember Peter took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink in the waters of despair. (Mt. 14:29,30)
We need to see Jesus in all we do. If we keep our eyes on Him, we will see clearly the OBstacles in our way; we will live a fruitful life. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, the rest will fall in place.
What are YOUR eyes upon?
“Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”
Divine love is rendered conspicuous when it shines in the midst of judgments. Fair is that lone star which smiles through the rifts of the thunder clouds; bright is the oasis which blooms in the wilderness of sand; so fair and so bright is love in the midst of wrath. When the Israelites provoked the Most High by their continued idolatry, he punished them by withholding both dew and rain, so that their land was visited by a sore famine; but while he did this, he took care that his own chosen ones should be secure. If all other brooks are dry, yet shall there be one reserved for Elijah; and when that fails, God shall still preserve for him a place of sustenance; nay, not only so, the Lord had not simply one “Elijah,” but he had a remnant according to the election of grace, who were hidden by fifties in a cave, and though the whole land was subject to famine, yet these fifties in the cave were fed, and fed from Ahab’s table too by His faithful, God-fearing steward, OBadiah. Let us from this draw the inference, that come what may, God’s people are safe. Let convulsions shake the solid earth, let the skies themselves be rent in twain, yet amid the wreck of worlds the believer shall be as secure as in the calmest hour of rest. If God cannot save his people under heaven, he will save them in heaven. If the world becomes too hot to hold them, then heaven shall be the place of their reception and their safety. Be ye then confident, when ye hear of wars, and rumours of wars. Let no agitation distress you, but be quiet from fear of evil. Whatsoever cometh upon the earth, you, beneath the broad wings of Jehovah, shall be secure. Stay yourself upon his promise; rest in his faithfulness, and bid defiance to the blackest future, for there is nothing in it direful for you. Your sole concern should be to show forth to the world the blessedness of hearkening to the voice of wisdom.
Soul winning messages
The Maniac of Gadara
We see here several wonderful things about soul winning.
First, Jesus came seeking;
It seems, when we read the text, that Jesus had no other reason for sailing to Gadara than to seek out this “maniacal” man. Jesus sought no other man there, but many came to Him as a result of His miracle.
Even this wild man knew where to find peace and healing.
He was intrigued by death (a sure sign of devil possession)
He was suicidal and masochistic (v. 5)
He was despondent (v. 5)
Jesus sought one “among the dead”; (v. 2,3)
He came to seek the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel.
Secondly, Jesus recognized his need; (v. 8)
He did something about it.
Jesus dealt kindly with him. (vs. 10, 13)
We owe every man a certain amount of kindness.
Recognize that the evil only do what they are compelled to do; they do what is natural for them.
Others will OBserve us;
They that fed the swine were amazed. (v. 14)
They told others about Jesus, causing them to come to Jesus too.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Mt. 5:16...but don’t stop there!
Third OBservation, There will be a change; (v. 15)
He was “sitting”:
Salvation settles us down;
frees us from life’s frustrations and anxieties;
He was clothed:
Public nudity is demonic;
It promotes promiscuity;
It advertises for immorality.
He was “in his right mind:”
Peace comes with knowing Christ as savior;
Our thinking changes, we become aware of Truth;
We become aware of spiritual things…awakened.
We assume the ability to reason and exercise compassion.
We find the state we were meant to be in.
Fourth OBservation: Salvation sets priorities; (v. 19)
Here is the real gist of the message--
The wild man wanted to follow Jesus;
He wanted to become a disciple, and learn from Jesus;
He asked to follow but,
Jesus told him to go tell others!
Is soul winning paramount to discipling?
He did what Jesus bade him to do;
And “all men marveled” at it. (v. 20)
Soul winning, according to our Lord, is more important than “sitting at the feet of Jesus”, which is what we would all prefer!
Go and tell others what Jesus did for you!
We do not have to be “Bible scholars” to do His will!
We do not have to be Bible scholars to witness for Christ.
With the mission accomplished, Jesus left as they bade Him to do. (v 20 and v. 17)
He did not leave until the work was done.
He embarked the ship, but waited to sail until he had instructed the cured man.
Jesus remained in control; they asked Him to leave, and He did, but only when He was ready; He put souls first.
Soul winning is important to Jesus, is it important to you?
There is something special that happens when we spend time with Jesus.
A psalm of praise
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (v. 1)
The twenty-third Psalm is actually a psalm of praise. One cannot help but rejoice in the Lord’s blessings as he reads this psalm. It begins with praise for the Lord and His provision, and reflects this theme all the way through the psalm. It is prOBably the most popular and oft-quoted psalm in the entire Book of Psalms. The implication of verse one is that “because the Lord is my shepherd…” because He is, and because He loves, “I shall not (have) want”. All my needs are met in Him. I shall not want for peace and tranquility; I shall not want for restoration and further leading; I will fear no evil, nor death; I will not lack for comfort. I will be at peace with my enemies, and even sit at meat with them; I shall know a special and unique anointing by God alone; my cup will overflow with good things that will sustain me, and I will enjoy much more than what is needed. I can be assured that goodness and mercy will be with me all the days of my life, never one time forsaking me, and I can rest in the this promise; and, last, but not least by far, I will have an eternal home in Heaven with the One whom I greatly adore, and Who also adores me, and I will dwell in His house forever and ever. Do you see what I mean? This psalm is filled with praise for what the Lord has done. What greater promise need we than the 23rd Psalm? There is only one condition here, and that is that the Lord must be your shepherd, yea, the shepherd of your soul. This is not for everyone; neither is it for just anyone, but for the chosen one, the child of God.
As David sat on a hillside tending the flock, I can see him penning these words. He was basking in the grace and comfort of faith in the Lord; perhaps he was meditating on what the Lord means to him, and how good He has been in his life. He had put himself in the place of the sheep, and was praising God from their point of view. There must have been a vast, green meadow for his sheep, as well as a river or stream trickling gently down the hillside; PrOBably he had just recently retrieved a sheep that had strayed away, and restored him to the flock; he may have led the sheep back carefully to the fold. Perhaps there was a potential danger there too, a wolf lurking about, on the outer fringes of the hills, and other beasts that roamed the hills, and fed on sheep, and the sheep would gather close to the shepherd. They know the shepherd cares, and that he will protect them, even if he has to live among them until the danger is gone. What a blessing for the sheep! What a loving Shepherd.
A Psalm of guidance
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” (v. 2)
When the Lord is our Shepherd, he sees to it that we are taken care of properly. We are His property, and He will take special care of His own. He gives us a peace that “passeth all understanding” (Phil. 4: 7); a peace in which we can rest beside still waters and dwell in green pastures. He removes fear of hunger; of danger; and settles our hearts on the fact that He will provide. Even more amazing is that He will lead us to the green pastures and still waters, so that we need not search for them ourselves. What a loving God we serve. All we have to do is follow. He supplies our every need, and we can bask in the tranquility of His loving grace. It is enough that He provides us with this comforting peace, but He goes beyond that, and leads us to it. I cannot fathom this kind of love and care. When He leads me to the green pastures, He maketh me to lie down and rest, as if I am completely and fully in His power, as well I hope to be; and when He discovers His still waters unto me, I rejoice greatly, and relax in Him, knowing that He is there, and I have no fear of wanting. In so doing, “He restoreth my soul” unto Him, and I am refreshed and made whole again; and I find Him leading in the great and lovely paths of righteousness, which lead to His Heavenly Kingdom (v. 3). These paths are narrow and hard to follow without His gracious leading, in fact, they are impossible to follow; But He leadeth; what a wonderful blessing bestowed upon us, to have the God of all Creation, of the Universe and beyond, to lead each of us, lovingly and gently along.
Are you aware of God’s leading, my friend? Has he led you into those blessed paths of righteousness? Have you walked with God? If so, you know the sweetness of His presence and the joy of hearing His voice; you have experienced the wonderment of His love and basked in the peace He freely gives, but if not, you miss out on too much in this life. The question I put to you now is “Are you walking with God”? Has your soul been restored unto Him? Oh, I hope so, I hope so for your sake, as well as for Christ’s sake, lest Calvary be wasted on you! Yes, if one would be so foolish as to turn His back on Calvary, then the cross was wasted in his life. Don’t let the great sacrifice of Christ be meaningless in your life, accept Christ as your savior today and let Him lead you into paths of righteousness.
A Psalm of Life
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (v. 4)
Because the Lord is my Shepherd, and cares so deeply for me, I have no fear of death. Death is a valley for most people, a deep dark valley; a valley of despair and fear, but, praise God, it is not so for us! Death is only a shadow now, it has lost its gruesome death-hold on us, and is a mere shadow of what it was. Now, I can truly ask, with the apostle Paul, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15: 55). Christ has literally wretched the victory from the hands of Satan, and passed that same victory unto us, and we live forevermore! I cannot walk this valley without Christ, for as soon as I enter its threshold, I am dead, having died in my sins; but with Jesus, oh, he is with me, I can do all things through Him, which strengthen me, even walk in this loathsome valley of death. There is comfort in His presence. There is peace, joy, love grace, and LIFE in Him, and we can endure this valley because He goes with us through it, and removes the “sting” of death.
Yea, even if death comes and nips at my heels as I walk, I have nothing to fear; If he breathes his fiery breath of death into my face, I can smile and continue on; even if he chides me and heckles me as I go, and taunts me until I want to scream… “thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” and I will prevail. Friends, I am on the winning side, but only because of Jesus. Take comfort in Him. Jesus is there for you. Most of us think we can take anything short of death if we have to, but with Jesus, we can even stand in the face of death. Against all odds, Jesus prevails. We would do well to hide ourselves in Him, thereby sharing His victory over death and hell. Be aware of the presence of Christ; it is a great comfort to know that he is there; whatever the trial, whatever the affliction, Christ is there with you; He will carry you through. When life is drudgery, and depression has you down, look up! Look up to Jesus, He is always there. He will never let you down when you fully trust in Him; he can’t; it is not in Him to do so, He honors faith. We walk through many valleys every day, but Jesus leads us out and there is a mountaintop ahead. Keep walking. Keep believing. Keep trusting in Christ, keep climbing that mountain of grace, and soar the lofty heights of eternity.
A Psalm of Reconciliation
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” (v. 5)
Our God will bring reconciliation to our lives. First, we are reconciled to Him, then with one another. There is growth when we walk with the Lord. Preparing a table speaks of communion with one another, sitting down together in a time of feasting. It speaks of finding acceptance with our enemies, and when we have exalted Him, he also exalts us.
Case in point: Daniel. He found great favor with the prince of the eunuchs: “Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” Dan. 1: 9; consider also Joseph who God promoted to second man in Egypt (Gen. 39); God will give us the favor of men; even in Luke we see that Christ grew in favor with God and man (Luke 2: 52). In the paths of righteousness, we will find a table spread before us, and eat with our enemies. This is necessary because God has anointed our heads with oil, the oil of His Spirit. Once he has anointed His beloved, they are blessed indeed. Three big blessings are seen in this verse as a result of making the Lord our shepherd: He will make us to be at peace with our enemies; he will anoint us with a special anointing; and He will cause our cup to run over with blessings. The cup is also a symbol of communion, but more specifically, communion with our God. Our cup shall run over with the anointing oil of God; we shall be blessed beyond measure, we shall have a close communion with the Lord.
This is for the saved man, he who walks with God daily and communes with Him regularly. This is the man that prays without ceasing, and that makes his body a “living sacrifice”…he is the one who makes the Lord his Shepherd, and sees the promises and blessings of God poured upon him. This is the sheep that abides in His Word, and is a disciple indeed, because he abides in Him, and the Shepherd knows him by name. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow him, as two friends that are always there to lend a hand, never leaving him alone, and he shall dwell in the house of the Lord…forever
A Psalm of Rejoicing
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (v.6)
This lovely psalm brings great joy and comfort to me every time I read it.
I find it disheartening though, that it is so often used only in funeral services today. It is a psalm for life, not for death! It offers comfort in the storm, and peace for the troubled soul, and yes, it is comforting when one has lost a loved one, but we need to realize that it is not solely a funeral dirge, it is a refreshment for our souls.
To me, the most comforting part, perhaps, is the last verse; there are two angels that follow us everywhere we go in life, they are Goodness, and Mercy. Goodness is there to bless us in all our endeavors for the Lord; Mercy is there when judgment comes, in any form, and he intercedes on our behalf. Thank God for these two “angels.” We could not make it through one day without the goodness of God, and definitely would not last long without mercy. We need them both, and God knows we do, and He provides that need. “Surely” they shall be with us, as surely as God’s Word. Which is the most value to us? It is hard to say. We need them both. As you walk through life, and go about your day, be aware that these two gentlemen follow you, and they are there for you, every moment, every day, and in all your ways. They do not lead, but follow, to help us out of the mischief we find, though we are often led into it of our own volition.
The Lord is so gracious in providing these for us. He is, of course, the Shepherd of the psalm, but He has appointed helpers, not for Him, but for us, to help us along the way. Every time we read, or hear this psalm, let us render our thanksgiving to the Lord of the psalm, and praise Him for His great provision on our behalf, and when trouble comes our way, remember these two blessed friends, they will see us through.
There are 27 pronouns in this short passage, and 17 of them refer to the “sheep” while only 10 refer to the Shepherd. One can easily see that the Lord loves His Sheep, and that we are foremost in His thoughts and heart.
“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.” (Jn 3: 16)
John 3:16 is prOBably the most quoted and most familiar verse in the entire Bible to children and adults alike, and yet do many ever take time to meditate on what it is saying? Do we attempt to analyze the verse and break it down to squeeze all the blessed fruit out of it? PrOBably the key word in this verse is “believeth”, at least that is the one word that allows us to find the gift of true life that is provided by Christ. Contrary to the prevailing opinions, “believeth” is the key word and the entrance into the realm of the Holy for us. You see, the verse has little to offer without the belief. God gave His Son to the entire world, even those who don’t seek Him, and who seem to care less of His comforting grace; He has provided the same love for them as He has for us. He is there for them too, but the difference is, they will not believe. I do not say they cannot believe, but that they “will not”. You see, belief is a definite act of the will. You choose to believe or disbelieve. We first must make up our minds to believe God, then we begin to put our belief into action. So, believing is a decision; a wise one, but still a decision.
Belief is a miracle worker. It moves mountains because it has the strength of faith behind it. Belief then is the determining factor as to whether we are saved or not. It is by grace that we are saved, but through the conduit of faith we receive the gift of salvation. You see, it is there already, just waiting for us to tap into it, and make a pipeline that leads directly to our hearts for it to travel through. It is there in Jesus. He is Salvation; He is faith; He is belief; he is everything we need; He is the One and only, everlasting life. The question for all mankind today and always is, “Will you believe?” Will you take Christ at his word, and accept Him as your sacrifice for sin? That is a decision we all must make, and it is the most crucial decision we will ever have to make. It is not a matter of life and death, but of eternity, and eternal life and death. It is a decision that follows us throughout our lives, and beckons us daily until we face it; it will not leave us alone until we decide to do the wise thing; the right thing.
Even after we are saved, and walking in the grace of His love, we can still be guilty of unbelief. We can never move mountains until we believe; we can be a child of God, but weak in faith, and for the same reason—we refuse to believe. Faith is not out of reach for us; it is not some high mountain that we are unable to scale; its there before us, ours for the taking. We have the Word of God to back it up; the words of God for support of it, and yet ye will not believe. Oh ye of little faith, will ye not make that decision today? Will you believe God and His Word? If so, there is nothing that you cannot accomplish for Him; no task is too large, and no chore too small for His glory. Take Him at His Word, and try Him, and see if it is not so.