Things That Are Kept By The Power Of God

I Peter 1:5-9

This is a continuation of our commentary on I Peter 1:1-5 under the title of “Our Inheritance.” There we learned that all born again believers have an inheritance reserved in heaven for them. Peter says it will be revealed “in the last time.” It is uncertain what is meant by the last time. When believers die and go to heaven it is certain that they will be introduced to splendor they have never known on earth. That however is not the full revelation of our inheritance.

Bible prophecy speaks of things God has planned for the distant future. At the time of the rapture the dead will be raised. We read about that in I Thessalonians 4:16-17. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” That will be the end of the church age

No doubt at the rapture we will be given our glorified bodies that we read about in            I Corinthians chapter 15. In Revelation chapter 21 we read about a new heaven and a new earth. That won’t become a reality until after the thousand year reign of Christ. We are also told about the celestial city, called the “New Jerusalem.” It is a glorious city where the saints will dwell.

It is not just our inheritance that is kept by the power of God. Verse five says that we too are kept by his power.   That gives us assurance that we will be united with our inheritance. That is called “eternal security.” It is a doctrine that is debated by theologians, but Romans 8:30 says, “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” That gives us faith and assurance that we shall all someday enter into our inheritance.

Verse 6 says that we greatly rejoice in the expectation of what God has reserved for us. Meanwhile, in this life, we are called upon to endure “heaviness through manifold temptations.” The word “heaviness” speaks of things that are hard to bear. The word “temptations” could better be translated “trials.” Jesus told us in John 16:33 that we should expect to have tribulation. “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.” Peter also warned us, in I Peter 4:12-13, about trials. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

Our faith in the promises of glory to come sustains us in times of tribulation. Peter says, in verse 7, that our faith is more precious than gold. It is thrilling to read of saints in the past, who endured   persecution, but their faith wasn’t shaken. There are believers who are doing the same today. The book “Foxe’s Book Of Martyrs” tells about numerous saints of God who endured persecution in the time of the inquisition.

Our great expectation, verse 8, is the appearing of Jesus Christ. Now we look forward to his appearing in the rapture that we read about in I Thessalonians 4:16-17. We don’t see him now, but by faith we “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

We have much reason for loving Christ in spite of the fact that we haven’t seen him. To know him is to love him. The better we know him, the more we love him. When he was here on earth great multitudes were attracted to him. The fact that great multitudes followed him was what got him in trouble. The religious leaders hated him because he revealed their hypocrisy. The political leaders feared him because some talked of making him king.

We also love Christ because he loved us first. I John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” He loved us and died to save us even when we were his enemies. Romans 5:10 says, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” We didn’t yet have an earthly existence. Ephesians 1:4 tells us that. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” We owe much to the love of Christ. All we are and will be in the future we owe to him. I’m speaking, of course, of those of us who have placed our faith in the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. If you haven’t done that, then you aren’t included.

Christ gives us reason for living. It is a joy that is better experienced than expressed. We find it hard to put into words the joy we experience because of our relationship with Christ. Part of that joy comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven and that we have a glorious future waiting for is in heaven. It is being kept for us by the power of God.

Verse 9 says the time will come when we will receive all we anticipate by faith. It will be the full measure of all that is included in the word “salvation.” Those of us who are saved go on realizing more and more of what is included in our salvation. There are great things included in it that we will never know until we get to heaven. We go on, expecting by faith, the things God has prepared for those who have trusted in him.

Peter speaks of the “end of our faith.” In one sense, that means the reason for our faith. Will there be a time when we will no longer need faith? Sometime, in the far distant future, we will have all that God has planned for us. Perhaps then we will have no more need of faith. We have assurance that all this will come to pass because it will be done by the power of God. If it depended on us, we would have no assurance.

Questions and comments can be sent to us at the following address: rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

 

 

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I Peter 1:15-17

April 1, 2015

I Peter 1:17-25

A commentary is an accumulation of thoughts and conclusions drawn from a text of Scripture.

  1. 17

If we pray to God, then we should pass our sojourn here in fear.  We can’t expect to receive what we ask of the Father if we aren’t pleasing him.  Fear, as it is used here in the Bible, often means reverence.  A sojourn is a temporary residence.  It is like a motel where we stay while we are in a certain town.  Our time here on earth is just a sojourn in comparison to our eternity in heaven.

God judges without respect of persons.  He is just.  He knows us perfectly; even better than we know ourselves.  We can’t hide anything from him.  The clause, “Who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work” is inserted here to describe God the Father.

  1. 18

Verses 18-21 gives us the reason for why we should pass our sojourn here in fear.    We should have gratitude to God for what he has done for us.  He redeemed us at a great price.  The word “redeemed” means to pay a ransom.  It is to buy back.

Gold and silver are perishable in that they won’t be with us forever.  We can’t take them to heaven with us. Gold and silver are normally used in the redemption of captives. Our salvation came at a price that couldn’t be paid with gold and silver.  Nothing less than the blood of God’s own Son was able to purchase our redemption.

The word “conversation,” when it is used in the Bible, nearly always speaks of our manner of life.  It was a manner of life that was passed on to us by tradition from our parents.  It is a vain manner of living.  We won’t get any eternal rewards for living that way.

  1. 19

Christ was the perfect Lamb of God.  He is introduced to us in John 1:29 He was the only one good enough to make a sacrifice that would atone for our sins

  1. 20

Christ’s death was no accident.  It was planned before the foundation of the world.  That goes far beyond what we can comprehend.

  1. 21

The resurrection of Christ confirms for us that his sacrifice was accepted by God the Father. There was no miracle in Christ’s death, but his resurrection was by divine intervention. The resurrection of Christ is mentioned several times in the book of Acts.  It gave the early disciples confirmation that their faith was not in vain.

  1. 22

Our soul is contaminated.  It is purified to the extent that we obey the truth.  A purified soul manifests itself by unfeigned love for the brethren.  Love out of a pure heart means that it is done without expecting anything in return.  We nearly always receive something in return, but it shouldn’t be expected.

  1. 23

We are born again by the Word of God.  Anything we could contribute to our salvation would be corruptible seed.  Christ is the perfect son of God.  He is incorruptible seed.    To be born again by the Word of God means that it comes to pass because we have accepted the message contained in the Word of God.  We are born again by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

  1. 24

Our hope is not in the flesh.  As we get older the flesh gets weaker and more fragile.  It withers away.

  1. 25

Our hope is in the promises found in the Word of God.  It abides forever. Matthew 24:35 tells us that God’s words shall not pass away.  We are without hope if we don’t have faith in God’s Word.  Believers don’t die without hope.  Our fear of the unknown may make death repugnant even to us.  Even believers may fear death, but they have the assurance that there is something far better that lies ahead.

In conclusion

God rescued us from:

  1. Judgment with all that is included in it. We don’t have a clear knowledge of what is included in judgment. If we did:
  1. Unbelievers wouldn’t be so hesitant about accepting God’s offer of salvation
  2. Believers would have more gratitude for what God has done for them.
  1.   A vain conversation (manner of living). Vain means empty. It has no future.

God has redeemed us and given us:

  1. Heaven with all its glory. Again, we don’t know much of what is included in it. We have faith in God that it will far exceed the best this world has to offer.
  2. A reason for living. It is to glorify God for all he has done for us.

A final thought

Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required. (Luke 12:48)  If we don’t show much gratitude to God for what he has done for us, we can’t expect to receive much reward in heaven.  We shall be saved “yet so as by fire.” (I Corinthians 3:15)

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I Peter 1:10-12

March 22, 2015

                                                                                       I Peter 1:10-12

The Prophets searched diligently. They wanted to know more about the coming of the Messiah. They were told that he would suffer, but that glory was to follow. No doubt, they prayed that God would reveal more to them, but that wasn’t his will. They searched to find what God had told other prophets. Commentaries tell us that the word “search” is the word miners used in speaking of searching for gems or minerals. It was something of sufficient interest to them that they were willing to invest time and effort in it.

We are privileged to live on the other side of Christ’s first coming. We know what he suffered and what is offered to us because of it. He died to redeem us from condemnation and make possible for us a glorious future. Hebrews 2:3 calls it a “great salvation.” Truly it is. We don’t know yet what all is included in it. Now we are enjoying the consolation of knowing that our sins have been forgiven and that life has purpose and meaning. After death we have the promise of a new body that will far exceed the limits of our earthly body. We read about that in I Corinthians chapter 15. Jesus said in John 14:1-3 that he was going to prepare a place for us. He was the architect and creator of this marvelous universe, so we have no doubt that what he is preparing for us will be splendid.

The gospel was something that occupied the minds of holy men of the past. Even the angels were desirous of knowing what was included in it. It is a theme of such importance that men on earth today will be held accountable if they don’t bother to look into it. Hebrews 2:3-4 asks the question, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;   God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”

It is a salvation that was made possible by the sacrifice of God’s own Son on the cross of Calvary. All the material things we enjoyed were created by God in only six days. It took Jesus 33 years to make possible our salvation. First he came to earth and was born as a baby. We can’t imagine the sacrifice that the divine Son of God made to humble himself to that extent. Then he lived out his life as one of us. He finished it by dying the cruel death of crucifixion, being rejected and ridiculed by men.

The prophets must have realized that they were dealing with something that wasn’t for them. It was written for people who would live sometime in the future. To be sure, they too will benefit from the sacrifice of Christ, but it was a prophecy for another people and another time. The preaching of the gospel is New Testament terminology. We don’t read of that in the Old Testament.

 

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                                  Commentary on I peter 1:13-16

Before reading this article please open your Bible to I Peter chapter one.

Loins girded up

Oriental men most often wore a robe. It served its purpose well, but when they wanted to run or do some work it was a hindrance. To solve that problem they always carried a belt in a pocket of the robe. It was to gird up the robe so it wouldn’t hinder them. Just as the robe could be girded up, our minds also need to be girded up at times. Sometimes we are what we call “scatter brained.” We let our mind wander in uncontrolled thoughts. Peter is asking his readers to get their thoughts together and give some serious consideration to what he wants to tell them. There are things in life to which we need to give serious consideration.

Be sober

The literal sense in which we use these words is to be free from the effects of alcoholic beverages. We can’t talk seriously with some people until they are sober. It appears as though Peter had something else in mind when he used this expression in this verse. Some people almost never talk about spiritual things without a chuckle. They don’t take them very seriously. With these words, Peter is also preparing his readers to give serious consideration to what he wants to tell them.

Hope to the end

Peter wants to tell us about the manifestation of the grace of God that will accompany the revelation of Jesus Christ. The end, no doubt, is the end of our earthly life. It is a time when we shall see Christ and know him in a way we can’t know him in this life. The grace of God speaks of God’s unmerited favor. It is what God has done for us that he was under no obligation to do. We, in no way, merit what God has done for us. At the time in the future that Peter is talking about, we will have a fuller manifestation of all that God has done for us. Before Jesus left this earth he said in John 14:2 “I go to prepare a place for you.” Even in our wildest imagination we can’t comprehend what that place will be like. What more is included in the grace of God? We will have to wait and see.

As obedient children

Parents want their children to be obedient. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be obedient also. Obedient children take heed to, and do what their parents expect of them.

We are not to fashion ourselves according to the former lusts of our ignorance. In another portion of the Bible we see that God’s people should be different. Romans 12:2 says, “Be not conformed to this world.” In Titus 2:14 and I Peter 2:9 we learn that God’s people are to be “a peculiar people.” We don’t need to put on an excessive outward display to be different. Just being God’s obedient children will make us peculiar people. The people of the world should be able to see a dramatic difference in those who are the children of God. God’s people are different from the people of this world because they take their cues from God’s Word and march to the beat of a different drum.

Before becoming a part of God’s family we were ignorant of many things. We felt no guilt about the way we lived because we were “conformed to this world.” The Apostle Paul says in II Corinthians 5:17 that should change when we become a child of God. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

There are things that should be made new for the child of God. He should have a new purpose for living. He now lives to bring glory to God. (Ephesians 1:12) He will have new goals in life. (II Timothy 2:4, Philippians 3:14) There should be evidence of a change of attitude. (Colossians 3:1-20

Be ye holy

Peter tells us that since our God is holy, we too should be holy. Most commentaries say that the word “conversation” should be translated “behavior.” By our behavior we should manifest that we are a child of God. We should be like God. We will never be perfect, but we should pattern our life after what we know about God by reading the Bible.

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The Value Of Bodily Exercise

December 17, 2014

The Value Of Bodily Exercise

The Bible has something to say about bodily exercise.  It is found in I Timothy 4:8.  “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”  The Apostle Paul isn’t saying that bodily exercise doesn’t do us any good.  He is making a comparison between bodily exercise and godliness.

Paul wrote this epistle to young Timothy. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity”            (I Timothy 4:12).  Most young people give importance to bodily exercise.  They have more than one reason for thinking it is important.  In high school they participate in athletics.  That requires a strong body.  They are motivated to exert themselves on behalf of their team.  They want the praise that comes from being a winner.  They also want to have an attractive physical body.  It makes them more attractive to the opposite sex.

People spend money on exercise equipment; tread mills, bench presses, etc.  They may not get used much, but those who buy them at least have good intentions.  Doctors tell us that exercise is good for all of us.  Couch potatoes put their health at risk

We know that the Apostle Paul saw the importance of bodily exercise because of what he wrote in I Corinthians 9:26-27.  “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:    But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” In Romans 12:1 Paul exhorts us to present our body to God.  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”  Gods want us to be able to use our bodies to serve him.   The stronger our body is, the better we can serve God with it.

Yes, bodily exercise is of value, but Paul wants us to know that godliness is of much greater value.  It is profitable.  He says that again in I Timothy 6:6.  “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” He isn’t thinking of economic value.  To do God’s will makes us recipients of the blessing of God.  Psalm 40:4 says, “Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.”  Those words “blessed is the man” occur many times in the Bible.  Women are included in that too.  It comes by taking heed to God’s word and doing what he tells us to do.

The word “godliness” means reverence and respect for God.  It is to take God and his will into consideration in our daily activities.  Godliness also includes respect for and appreciation for that which is spiritual.  If we are negligent in our spiritual responsibilities we are not being godly.  Spending time daily in prayer and reading the Bible should be a habit with us.  Psalm 5:3 says, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” It should also include active participation in a local church where the Bible is taught and practiced, because that is something God has provided for us.  Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

In today’s society godly people are often called fanatics.  Don’t let that discourage you.  What God says should carry more weight than what your critics say.  Paul says godliness is profitable, both for the life that now is and of that which is to come

There is a limit to that which we can gain from bodily exercise.  There is no limit to the gain of godliness.   We seldom find those who are excessively occupied in godliness.  People in this world who have no respect for God tend to think that anything we do for God is in vain.  Godly people don’t let them set standards for them.

Keep walking, running, or whatever you do for the good of your body.  Don’t neglect godliness.  The day will come when we will leave this body behind, but what we have gained by godliness will be with us forever.  Spiritual, godly people know what is of value.  The more godly you are, the more discerning you will be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Inheritance

November 11, 2014

Our Inheritance

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,   Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,    To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you”  (I Peter 1:1-5).

This is the first article in a commentary on I Peter written by Russell George

Fortunate are those who anticipate receiving an inheritance.  It gives them something to look forward to.  Some might say, “The most fortunate are those who have already received their inheritance.” That’s true if it was a good inheritance and they don’t spend it foolishly.

God has promised an inheritance to his children.  In some aspects, it is similar to an earthly inheritance.  In other aspects, it is quite different.

There is always an element of mystery in an inheritance.  Perhaps the mystery is just in the question, “Have I been included?” We know that we have been included in the inheritance that God has promised us because he has told us that we are included.  The other mystery in the inheritance is that we don’t know what is included.  In an earthly inheritance it may be more or less than we expected.  We aren’t told much about what is included in our spiritual inheritance.  It is another of the glorious mysteries God has waiting for those who are his.  Since my heavenly Father is rich, I have reason to believe that my inheritance will be glorious.

One good thing about my spiritual inheritance is that it is indestructible.  Peter used three words to assure us that our inheritance will endure.  First he says it is incorruptible.  It is hard to think of any material possessions that are incorruptible.  It is interesting to observe cars parked in a supermarket parking lot.  Some are new and in almost perfect condition.  Others are showing their age.  Some show evidence of having suffered from a “fender bender.” Some have cracks in the windshield.  Some are showing the effects of rust.  The things of this world are temporary.

Peter says also that our inheritance is undefiled.  Going back to the cars in the parking lot, the new ones came from the factory with the appearance of perfection.  Really they aren’t.  Even new cars have factory defects.  Peter says that won’t be true of our inheritance.  What comes from God is perfect and it will remain that way.

Peter says also that our inheritance will not fade away.  It refers to something that will not lose its value.  In I Peter 5:4 Peter says that we shall “receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” It is the same Greek word that is found in 1:4.  Crowns don’t fade away like a cloud in the sky.  It is their value that fades away.  When an athlete receives a crown he is cheered and applauded.  It is his glory day.  From that day on, however, the glory fades away.  He still has the crown, but the glory of it starts fading away the day after he receives it.  Peter says that our inheritance will not lose its value like the athlete’s crown.  Our inheritance will be with us throughout all eternity and will never lose its value

The only way these values can be true of our inheritance is due to the fact that it is reserved in heaven for us.  Our soul goes on living forever, and believers will be forever surrounded by that which shall forever more endure.

Our hope of being included in this inheritance is based on two things that Peter mentions in these verses.  First is the blood of Jesus, mentioned in verse two.  We become a child of God by appropriating to ourselves the merits of the shed blood of Christ.  It is only by the righteousness of Christ that we can be admitted to heaven.  Romans 5:8-9 says,  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.   Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”  In I Peter 1:23 Peter makes it clear that he is addressing these words to those who have been born again.  “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

Yes, it’s true that we are “elect according the foreknowledge of God,” as it says in verse two, but that doesn’t leave us without any responsibility.  If a man or woman dies without having accepted the salvation of God, it’s an indication that he or she wasn’t among the elect of God.

The second thing that gives us hope is the resurrection of Christ.  The fact that he rose gives us assurance that we too shall rise.  By the resurrection of Christ from the dead, God assured us that Christ’s sacrifice was accepted.  Christ said he would rise from the dead, and he did.  No one else has ever done that.  It is exciting to read I Corinthians chapter 15 and contemplate all that is included in the resurrection body.

In verse three Peter says we have a lively hope.  That means a living hope.  It is only by the mercy of God.  That means it is by the unmerited favor of God that we have this hope.  Do you have it?  Ephesians 2:12 tells us that there are those who are without hope.  “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Heaven, with all its splendor, is a prepared place for a prepared people.  It isn’t for everyone, but it’s for you if you have trusted in Christ as your Savior.

If you have questions or comments you can send them to us at the following address:  rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

 

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Things To Put Away

November 21, 2012

Things To Put Away

            In Ephesians 4:31-32 the Apostle Paul makes mention of some things we need to put away.  “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:   And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  To keep our house organized there are often things we need to put away.  It’s good to have our life organized.  To do that there are also things we need to put away.

In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul gives a more extended list of things that need to be put away.  There he calls them “the works of the flesh.”  Satan is subtle and often finds ways of inserting these things into our life without us realizing it.  They may start as an attitude.  They are things that can ruin our testim0ny and disqualify us from being used of God.  For that reason they are things that should be put away once and for ever

This is in the form of a command.  It’s something God tells us to do.  When God gives us a command it’s not just a suggestion.  We should take it as though he is saying “Do It.”  It takes a deliberate act to root these things out of our life.  It’s like pulling weeds out of our garden.  Note also that the inserted the little word “all.”  None of them deserve to have a part in our life.

The first thing he mentions is bitterness.  Bitterness does damage to our lives and hurts our relationship with others.  Hebrews 12:15 makes mention of a “root of bitterness.”  There it says it can trouble us.  It says it springs up.  It may be that we are not aware of having it.  Even if we are aware of it, we are inclined to think, “I have reason for thinking this way about him or her.”  Roots go down deep and spread out.  They tend to permeate our life.

Bitterness often manifests itself by a critical spirit.  We are blinded to the good in others, but we are quick to see their faults.  Young people sometimes have bitterness towards their parents because they won’t let them do something.  If others in the family take the side of their parents, they are bitter towards them also.

Bitterness is something that can do damage in a church.  A bitter spirit can be passed on to others.  If you are bitter, keep it to yourself, or better yet, put it away.  Without a doubt, we are better off without bitterness.

We also need to put away wrath and anger.  These are two words with a similar meaning so we will deal with both at the same time.  Wrath is the stronger of the two words.  It is violent or unrestrained anger.  It is said of some that they have a short fuse.  In other words, it doesn’t take much to make them angry.  When we know that someone is that way we feel uneasy being around them.

When we are angry we often do foolish things.  We hurt others by what we say and do.  There is a satisfaction that comes when we take our anger out on someone.  It’s never a prudent way to solve a problem.

According to Ephesians 4:26, there may be a time for being angry, but it must be controlled.  “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Anger may stem from injustice that is done.  We are motivated to fight against it.  In every case we need to know how to react and keep our spirit under control.  It’s possible to be angry and keep it within.  That may be better than letting it out, but it can be detrimental if we let it go on festering within.  If the anger is toward a person or persons it’s best to forgive and forget, and leave vengeance with God.

In II Samuel chapters 15 and 16 we read of severe trials that King David was going through.  His son had stolen the kingdom from him and he was forced to flee.  When he was leavingJerusalema man by the name of Shimei came out and cursed him.  He called him “a bloody man of Belial.”  David showed a noble spirit in II Samuel 16:10 when he said, “What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah?  So let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, curse David.”

The word “malice” means depravity or malignity.  It’s a word that covers wickedness in general.

In the Bible, when God tells us to put off something, he almost immediately tells us to put on something.  That’s the case here too.  In verse 32 he says “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  The things we are to put away should never characterize the child of God, but those mentioned in verse 32 should always be found in our life.  If we are kind to one another, we will also be tenderhearted and forgiving.

It takes effort on our part to put away the things mentioned in verse 31 and to add those mentioned in verse 32.  Don’t be lazy and indifferent.  With God’s help you can do what needs to be done.  “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

 

Our e-mail address is rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

 

 

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Sorrow That Leads to Repentance

“Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing   For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.    For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (II Corinthians 7:9-11).

The Apostle Paul was advised of a case of immorality in the Corinthian church.  It’s a heartbreak to church leaders to hear such news.  In his first letter to the church he rebuked them for not disciplining the man who was guilty of having sexual relations with his step mother.  In I Corinthians 5:1 he wrote “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.”  He must have had reference to what he wrote in that letter when he wrote in his second letter “For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season” ( II Corinthians 7:8).  In II Corinthians 2:4 he said that he wrote to them “with many tears.”  It’s never a pleasant task to correct someone living in sin.  It’s even worse when it’s a whole church that is guilty.

The Apostle was rather direct in what he said to them.  In I Corinthians 5:2 he said “And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.”  In verse 6 he went on to say “Your glorying is not good.”  From what he wrote in II Corinthians chapter 7 it   appears as though at first his letter was well received.  From II Corinthians 7:8, at least we know that his first letter made them sorry.  Not only that; from II Corinthians 2:1-11 we know that the man was disciplined, and he recognized his fault and repented.  Paul encouraged them to forgive and console him.  This is always the desired result when a church finds it necessary to discipline one of its members.  Unfortunately, it isn’t always the result.

Paul took advantage of the occasion to write something about the good that results from repentance.  Genuine repentance always begins with dismay and shame.  It means we have to accept the fact that we have done something we shouldn’t have done.  Perhaps we have been covering up our sin, but we come to the realization that others are aware of it.  If we truly repent, it means that we agree with what others and God think about our sin.  We have a change of attitude regarding our sin.  Repentance always includes a change of mind.  That’s why II Corinthians 2:7 says the man needed to be comforted.

The case in first and second Corinthians has to do with a believer.  The same feelings should be felt by an unbeliever before his salvation.  He is ashamed before God that he has rejected for so long God’s offer of forgiveness.  If he comes to God in repentance, it’s more certain that his salvation was genuine.  This is the “repentance to salvation” that he mentions in II Corinthians 7:10.

In II Corinthians 7:10 Paul mentions two types of sorrow.  First there is “godly sorrow.”  God can, and often does, produce sorrow in order that he can do what he wants to in our life.  When this happens it always has a good result, even though it is preceded by sorrow.  A child cries because of the pain he suffers for having touched a hot surface, but he learns not to do it again.  In like manner, a sinner suffers because of wrong he has done, but it should teach him that sin doesn’t pay.

There is also the “sorrow of the world that worketh death.”  Most often the sorrow of the world leads only to remorse and despair, and not to a happier and more fruitful life.  It leads to death where, in contrast, godly sorrow leads to life and salvation.  The death isn’t always physical death.  In some cases it’s the loss of pleasure and advantage that the sinner expected to gain by his sin.  Instead of repenting, an unbeliever may curse God and be even more bitter.

In II Corinthians 7:11 Paul mentions some of the good results of repentance.  Although it began with sorrow, it had a happy end.  “What carefulness it wrought in you” means it made them diligent in doing their duty in protecting the purity of the church and in restoring the sinner.  “What clearing of yourselves” speaks of delivering them from the guilt of neglecting to deal with an ugly situation that was corrupting the testimony of the church.  “Indignation” speaks of the repulsion they now had for the sin that they had been overlooking, or perhaps condoning.  They were brought to the realization that they should have a fear of God’s judgment for not having the proper attitude toward this sin.  They were brought to a “vehemenent desire” to do what was right.  They showed “zeal” whereas before they were casual and indifferent.  They had zeal to restore the testimony of the church and rescue a wayward believer.  The Greek word “revenge” could also be translated “vindication.”  That means to make something right that was wrong.  They now stood approved whereas before they were disapproved and condemned.

Repentance brings a clearing and cleansing of ourselves before God and before others. It’s a good feeling, but to get there we have to experience the sorrow that goes with repentance. If you need to repent of something, I trust this article will give you the initiative to do it.  You won’t regret it.

 

Our e-mail address is rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

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The Enlightened Ones

June 26, 2012

The Enlightened Ones

            Who are the enlightened ones of Hebrews 6:4?  “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,   If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” This is a question that has occupied the minds of many great theologians.  I don’t propose to include myself among them.  After studying the conclusions of a number of them, I want to set forth what seems to be the most logical answer to the question of who are the enlightened ones.

To be enlightened is to be made aware of something.  It means that light has been shed on a matter that illuminates it and gives us a clearer understanding of it.  All of us need to be enlightened.  The same Greek word is found also in Hebrews 10:32  “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.”   It is also used in Ephesians 1:18.  “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”   It is God’s will that we have a clear concept of His eternal truth.

In Hebrews 6:4 the enlightened ones failed to act upon the revealed truth.  They came to a turning point and turned back.  The question has always been asked, “Were they saved?”  The most logical answer to the question is, “No, they weren’t saved.”   That leaves us with the task of giving a logical explanation of what is meant by the description that is given of them.

We need to keep in mind that the book of Hebrews was written for Jewish Christians.  The introduction to the book of Hebrews in the Scofield Bible says “It was written with a twofold intent; (1) to confirm Jewish Christians by showing that Judaism had come to an end through the fulfillment by Christ of the whole purpose of the law; and (2) the hortatory passages show that the writer had in view the danger ever present of Jewish professed believers of either lapsing back into Judaism, or of pausing short of true faith in Jesus Christ.”  The key word is “better.”  It is a contrast between the good things of Judaism and the better things of Christ.

It is possible to taste of something without making it your regular diet.  In other words, they were not nourished by it.  First of all, it says they have “tasted of the heavenly gift.”  The heavenly gift is that which God offers to give to people if they will accept it.  It may refer to Jesus forgiveness of sins or perhaps to the ministry of the Holy Spirit that is next mentioned.  They have come close enough to experience something of its benefits to them if they would accept it.  It also says they had tasted the “good word of God.”  Most commentators say this refers to the Messiah who fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament.  They have seen clear evidence of the fact that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah.

It also says they “were made partakers of the Holy Ghost.”  The word “partakers” used here is not the same Greek word that we find in Colossians 1:12 and II Peter 1:4.  The Greek word simply means “companions of.”   It refers to the external rather than the internal.  It doesn’t say their bodies were indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Neither does it say they were “born of the Spirit”(John 3:6).  Perhaps some of them had seen the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of the Apostles.

The words “fall away” mean to turn back.  At the time these words were written there were Jews who had come to the point here described of them and had turned back without having accepted the gift of salvation.  If such strong evidence as this was not sufficient to convince them, then there was no hope for them.

Arthur W. Pink, in his commentary on these verses, quotes Dr. John Owen.  He says “It is not for us either to look or hope, or pray for, or endeavor the restoration of such persons unto repentance.  God gives a law unto us in these things, not unto himself.  It may be possible with God, for aught we know, if there be not a contradiction in it unto any of the holy properties of his nature, only he will not have us to expect any such thing from him, nor that he appointed any means for us to endeavor it.  What he shall do we aught trustfully accept; but our own duty towards such persons is absolutely at an end.”

Perhaps there are people in our day who have reached a turning point similar to the one these Jews had reached when these words were written.  There comes a time when believers feel justified in giving up on some unbelievers.  God gives them peace about ceasing to pray for and witness to them.  The only thing to do is to pray that God will bring them to a place of brokenness, humility and repentance.

 

Our E-mail address is rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

 

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Blessed Are They That Mourn

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Mathew 5:4).

Perhaps those of this world, on hearing these words would say, “What stupidity!”  Weeping is something most people seek to avoid.  The world’s philosophy is “Forget about your problems; rejoice.”  We naturally try to console people when they mourn.  Entertainment is a big industry.  How then shall we understand the words of Mathew 5:4?

The counterpart of Mathew 5:4 is found in Luke 6:25 that says “Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.” It is a condemnation of the indifference of the world to that which is important.

Mathew 5:4 must be applied in a spiritual context.  The Lord Jesus isn’t saying that the blessed are those who mourn in a natural context.  To be sure, it doesn’t refer to the heartbreak that results from the loss of a loved one.  Neither does it refer to those who are suffering economic hardship.  The beatitudes must be interpreted in a spiritual context.

Many times it’s even hard for believers to understand spiritual truths.  We need spiritual maturity to understand spiritual truths.  We cannot fully understand the significance of Mathew 5:4 until we comprehend the seriousness of sin.  Sin is no longer repugnant to most people.  They accept it as the normal thing.  They are not grieved because of their sin and  don’t realize that they are grieving the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 4:30 says “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”  They accept their low level of spiritual maturity as normal.  He who really loves God and desires to please him can’t help but be continually grieved by that which isn’t pleasing to God.  This is what should cause mourning on the part of the believer.

We also fail to comprehend the nature of true Christian joy.  Philippians 4:4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”  We think that joy is what we have when everything is going well for us. “God is so good to me.  I can’t help but rejoice.” Of course we should rejoice in this, but our joy should also come from our daily walk with God.  If we have fellowship with God, we will rejoice in that which pleases him.  He wants to see souls saved and Christians entering into a closer relationship with him.  Seeing Christians yielding to temptation and churches closing their doors should be reason for mourning.

To understand what Jesus meant by mourning in this context it helps us to study the New Testament.  We can learn something by observing Jesus while he was on the earth.  God wants us to be like him. “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof”  (Romans 13:14).  It might be a surprise to know that we don’t find anywhere in the New Testament that Jesus laughed. We shouldn’t build an argument from silence.  Most likely he laughed on occasion, but I’m sure he didn’t go laughing his way through life.  Isaiah 53:3 gives us a prophecy about Jesus earthly life.  It says “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” That prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus.  We read that he wept, but not that he laughed.

We do well also to imitate the Apostle Paul.  “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  (Romans 7:24).  We aught to be grieved because we are so weak, so inclined to sin, and that we contribute so little to the Lord’s work.

The believer is also grieved because of the sad state of our society.  People all around us are suffering because of sin.  Apart from that, there is violence, wars and misery.  Nehemiah asked the king “And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchers, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?  (Nehemiah 2:3)

We can describe the man who mourns this way:

He is sad, but not miserable.

He is serious but not to the point that he is unapproachable.

He takes life seriously, but not to the point that he never laughs or isn’t happy.

He is a combination of seriousness and happiness

His knowledge of the truths of God don’t permit him to go laughing through life,

but they also give him joy and hope.

He is genuine.

He doesn’t live with a sad face, but he doesn’t laugh at that which should be   serious.

He is blessed because he has the right attitude towards the things of God.

Where is the blessing then for the man who mourns?  It comes from God.  All his needs are supplied.  “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:19).  God enables him to rejoice through his tears.

 

Our E-mail address is rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

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