The Golden Rule

July 6, 2016

The Golden Rule

What we often call “the golden rule” is found in Matthew 7:12. It says Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

Bible knowledge is highly beneficial to us because it gives us discernment and enables us to make wise decisions. Every day we make decisions. We need direction in making decisions. Sometimes we have to make decisions on the spur of the moment, but most often we have time to give some thought to it. Bible knowledge gives us direction in making those decisions. If rightly understood, it will never give us bad advice.

The golden rule demands that we take into consideration how our actions will affect others. It is possible to make decisions without giving any thought to that question. Our first thought is, what’s best for me? What is best for you may be to the detriment of someone else. Ask yourself therefore, would I be happy if someone hurt me the way I have been hurt?

We are not alone in this world. Unless you are a recluse, you live in relationship with others. The golden rule guides us in that relationship. We stand to gain by abiding by the golden rule, even though at times it seems as though we are losing. We would all live better if everyone lived by the golden rule. What others do affects us, and what we do affects others.

Living by the golden rule isn’t always to our advantage. Sometimes it demands that we do something that is more to the advantage of others than it is to us. As an illustration, let’s suppose that you are walking in a busy shopping mall. Ahead of you is a couple who are having a heated argument, perhaps about how they are going to spend their money. Suddenly, without realizing it, they drop a $100 bill on the floor. You pick it up and ask yourself, “What should I do with it?” You may know that the right thing to do would be to stop them and give it back to them. As you were walking, your mind was occupied with bills you need to pay and how to find enough money to pay them. After all, these people are strangers. You may never see them again. They didn’t realize they lost the money. They are well dressed and it it appears as though you need the money more than they do. What does the golden rule tell you that you should do? It tells you to put yourself in the shoes of that couple that lost the $100 bill.

Many of our problems stem from personal relationships. Married couples need to deal with the marriage relationship. It won’t be a healthy, happy relationship unless you give constant consideration to your marriage partner’s needs. If both live to make their partner happy they can’t help but have a happy relationship.

If we are kind to others, they are more apt to be kind to us. We can’t expect, much less obligate, others to live by the golden rule. However, we can encourage them to do so by commending them when we see them sacrifice for the good of some one else.

The Bible says that we are to love others. I Corinthians chapter 13 tells us how to put that into practice. Love is the motivation and the lubrication that makes it easy to have compassion on others when we see that they have a need, and we realize that we can do something to help them. The golden rule comes across as a command. It says “do.” If we have love, it will remove the compulsion from the golden rule and motivate us to do what we should because we want to.

I Corinthians 13:5 says, love “seeketh not its own.” Love enables us to do things for others without any expectation of getting something in return. We just do it because, in our heart, we know that that’s what we would want others to do for us. Many times we have occasion to help the handicapped. Perhaps to say “thanks” is all they can do in return for it. We do so with the anticipation that if some day we are handicapped, God will send some good Samaritan to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.

Matthew 7:12, where we find the golden rule, is one of the verses in the Bible that we should memorize. If we do, it will guide us many times in situations of life when we have opportunity to do something for the good of others. Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

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March 23, 2016


“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 7:1).

God expects born again believers to be making an effort to improve themselves. It is true that we will never be perfect in this life, but there is always room for improvement.  In theological terms, this is called sanctification.

The word “holiness,” found in our text, means something sacred. It is something separated or set apart for a special purpose.  The Apostle Paul is still developing the theme found in the last verses of chapter six.  He tells God’s people to separate themselves from that which is unclean.  If we do that, at the same time, we are perfecting holiness.

Sanctification is accomplished by obedience to God’s word. In the Bible we find sanctification in three stages.  At the moment of salvation the believer is sanctified.  We find that stage in I Corinthians 6:11.  “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”  It is an act of God whereby we are set apart to be a child of God.

Then there is progressive sanctification. The word isn’t used in II Corinthians 3:18, but  there we see the process.  “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  It could be translated “are being changed.” That thought is also in mind in our text that speaks of perfecting holiness.

Then our sanctification will be complete after we leave this life and are clothed with our new body. I Thessalonians 5:23 speaks of that blessed hope. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There are some in the charismatic movement that teach that we can be completely sanctified in this life.  To do so, they have to overlook some things in their life or call them something other than sin.  Romans 3:10 contradicts what they teach.  “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” We have the righteousness of Christ, but in and of ourselves, we are not perfect.

I Peter 3:15 tells us that we should “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”  That means to give God a special place in our hearts.  It is to give him the respect that he deserves.  In II Corinthians 6:18 God offers to be a father unto us.

The Apostle Paul tells us that we need to clean up our life. By doing that we perfect holiness in our life.  God wants, and deserves to have, a people who will bring honor and glory to his name.  Paul exhorts us to cleanse ourselves “from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit.” Some of the works of the flesh are listed for us in Galatians 5:19-21.  “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,   Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,   Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The filthiness of the spirit is that mentioned in II Corinthians 6:16. It has to do with identification with and participation in false religions.  “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” In verse 17 he tells us that we should come out of them.  Don’t leave people in doubt about where you stand.

I Peter 5:15-16 tells us that we should be holy. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;    Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”  One of the best ways to perfect holiness is to pray often or daily, and with sincerity, the prayer of David in Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:    And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

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The Mysteries of God

February 26, 2016

                                     The Mysteries of God

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.   For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.    Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.    And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:    For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.    But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear” (Matthew 13:10-16).

Christian churches aren’t secret societies that give out secrets to the members as they advance from one level to another.  There are things, however, that we understand better as we grow in knowledge of the Bible.  It is God’s will that we grow in wisdom and knowledge.  Colossians 2:2-3 says, “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;   In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “The term mystery comprehends not only a previously hidden truth, presently divulged, but one that contains a supernatural element which still remains in spite of the revelation.” It is something that no one understands in all its ramifications.

In Matthew 13:15 Jesus said that people’s hearts are waxed gross and their ears are dull of hearing.  That explains why many can’t understand divine truth.  Some say that when they read the Bible they don’t understand it.  The Bible is best understood by those with a tender heart and a willingness to accept it as divine truth. If you read the Bible with a critical eye, seeking to find fault with it, you are sure to find things you don’t agree with.  The problem is that you aren’t reading it with the right spirit.  In John 7:17 Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

God has wonderful and precious things for those who are his.  Those with a hard heart, however, can’t understand it, much less accept it.  There are those who want to believe that God’s salvation is only available through their church, or by human merit.  If you believe that way, you will have a hard time understanding the Bible because it doesn’t teach that.

The parables of Jesus were almost always understood by his disciples because they were willing to accept what he taught as divine truth.  You too can understand them if you are willing to put faith in what he says.  If not, they will be as a mystery to you.

Certain things in the Bible are said to be mysteries.  Some of them are the following;

  1. The kingdom of heaven ( Mark 4:11)
  2. The translation of the living saints (I Corinthians 15:51-53)
  3. The church as the body of Christ (Ephesians 3:1-11)
  4. The church as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:28-32)
  5. The mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:26-27)

Do you have a tender heart? Are you willing to accept the Bible as divine truth?  If so, the truths of the Bible will open up to you so you can understand them if you study them.  It will also be a great help if you attend a good church where the Bible is taught and preached.   Revelation 1:3 says, “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.”

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Sin Is Selfishness

October 28, 2015

                                              Sin Is Selfishness

We do well to ask ourselves, what is sin?  The more we analyze the question, the more we come to the conclusion that sin is selfishness.  It is obvious that selfishness is sin, but we can also say that sin is selfishness.  The command of Jesus is that we should love God.   In Mark 12 30 he said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Selfishness is self-love.  The more I love myself, the less love I have for God.  When I knowingly do something that I know isn’t the will of God, I selfishly choose my own will.  To sin is to do my will instead of God’s.  It is to say, “In this matter at least, I’m going to do what is most pleasing to me.” Isn’t that selfishness?

The Bible says in Exodus 20:5 “I the Lord thy God, am a jealous God.” Don’t take that in the wrong way. Some might think that God is being selfish.  He is the Supreme Being and deserves the best.  At the same time, he loves us.  He proved that by being willing to send his only Son to this world to suffer and die for us.  What he asks of us is for our good.  He wants to make us happy.  Luke 6:38 tells us that we can’t out give God.  “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.” If we love God the way we should we will have no problem in giving God what he asks of us.

Sometimes God asks us to make a sacrifice.  It isn’t always easy.  There are times when we need to deny ourselves of our fleshly appetites.  Colossians 3:5 says we need to put them to death.  “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” There are other fleshly desires that aren’t sinful, such as hunger, but we need to put limits on them.

Some people reject Christianity because they say it is too judgmental.  They don’t want to be restricted.  They think that if they become a Christian they won’t be able to do what they want to do.  They want to make their own decisions about what is right or wrong.  Most laws aren’t made just to put limitations on us.  They are to protect and promote the peace and well-being of others.  We all share in that.  To disobey the law is selfish.  It is to think about what is to our advantage.  Other laws, and especially God given laws, are for our own well-being.  If God says “Don’t do it,” you can be sure that there is a reason for it.  There is something of selfishness in every sin we knowingly commit.  To tell a lie, for example, is to deliver ourselves from embarrassment or guilt.

Satan was the first sinner.  He sinned even before the creation of man.  Isaiah 14:12-14 shows that he had selfish motives for doing it.  “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!   For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:    I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

Satan came and tempted Adam and Eve.  Selfishness was what motivated them to sin.  They had God’s permission to eat of all the trees in the Garden of Eden except one.  Eve said to herself, “That not right.  I’ll taste of that one too.” Maybe she couldn’t see why there would be anything wrong with eating of that tree.  Satan convinced her that God was unjust in prohibiting her from eating of the tree.  Just because we don’t see why there should be anything wrong with doing something doesn’t justify us in doing it if God has said “Don’t do it.”

The truth is that every time we sin we are guilty of being selfish.  Jesus showed us the way to victor over sin when he was agonizing in the garden of Gethsemane.  In Matthew 26:39 we read that he said to God the Father, “Not as I will but as thou wilt.” Our selfish, stubborn will needs to be surrendered to God’s will.  James 4:7 tells us that’s what we need to do.  “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

The first step in surrendering to God is taken when we come to him in humble repentance for the many sins we have committed.  Then we ask him to forgive us and make us one of his children.  I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” John 1:12 says that we become a child of God when we believe on Jesus.  “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

After we become a child of God the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. This we learn from Romans 8:11-13.  “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.   Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.   Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” By the power of the Holy Spirit we can submit our selfish will to God.  It is not a once and for all act.  We will need to do it again and again.  Every time we are faced with a temptation we can resist by saying “no” to the flesh. As we walk in the Spirit we are being transformed.  II Corinthians 3:17-18 says, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.   But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” If we take into consideration the verb tense in the Greek, this verse is saying that “we are being changed.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are you being changed? It is a satisfaction to know that we are gaining victory over our selfish nature.  Don’t let your old selfish nature continue to control you.  Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

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Satan’s Devices

June 16, 2015

                                          Satan’s Devices

We have a terrible enemy.  II Corinthians 2:11 says, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” Satan is subtle.  Many of his devices are hidden.  Our text says we are not ignorant of his devices, but unfortunately, many times we are.  We would like to think that we are smarter than Satan and that he can’t get an advantage over us.  He is an intelligent being and is capable of deceiving us and taking advantage of our weaknesses.

The name Satan means “adversary.”  He works to defeat us, especially when we try to do that which is pleasing to God.  In Matthew 6:24 Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” If we aren’t serving God, it is possible that we are unwittingly serving Satan.  We don’t think we are, but if Satan can intervene between us and God he has gained a victory.  He just wants to keep us from doing the will of God.  Even though we aren’t deliberately or knowingly serving Satan, in reality we are.

To win over Satan, we need to take the initiative.  We need to stand up to him and show that, with God’s help, we can be victorious.  James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  I Peter 5:8-9 also says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:   Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

One day the prophet Elijah stood before 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the groves.  All around him were gathered the people of Israel.  Elijah set out to prove that God was more powerful than the god or gods of the850 false prophets that stood before him.  They were all servants of Satan.  God gave him the victory and fire fell and consumed his offering in spite of the fact that numerous pails of water had been poured on it.

Joshua did something similar.  In Joshua 24:15 we read that he said, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  We need to purpose in our hearts to serve God.  In his day Satan often worked through pagan gods.  In our day he uses other devices.

Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters,” but many keep trying to do it.  They aren’t conscious of what they are doing.  Satan prefers that it be that way.  If they realized they were serving Satan they might resist.  Even many believers are what James calls “double minded.” James 1:8 says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Some think they are saved when they really aren’t.  Others are saved, but they aren’t willing to surrender to the will of God. The Apostle Paul was speaking to believers in Romans 12:1 when he said, “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.”  It isn’t that they purpose to give a part of their lives to Satan.  They just keep back part of their lives for themselves.    In that area  Satan can often do his deceptive work.

The following are some areas of our lives that we often hesitate to yield to God:

Our pride

We often hesitate if God asks us to do something that would require that we humble ourselves.  There is no way that we can serve God with pride, but Satan can readily use it to motivate us to do his bidding.  It is very likely that we will get some criticism if we do God’s will.  Some relatives may criticize us for spending too much time in church.  If we teach a Sunday school class, we will inevitably make some mistakes.  Some may graciously try to help us by pointing out something we could do better.  Instead of accepting it, we may take it as a criticism.

Our thought life

II Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”  Many try to interpret the Bible in the light of what they have been taught or what their church teaches, but we must accept what it says.  Many are unwilling to give up their opinion and accept what the Bible says.

A fleshly lifestyle

We all have a life style.  It is the way we live.  There are things in our life style that are individual choices, but there are often things that are on the border of sin or that cross over into that which is sinful.  Those are things Satan uses to tarnish our testimony.  If God says that something is wrong, there is no reason for trying to justify it.  If we are willing to put away doubtful things God will give us the power to do it.  Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.   Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Satan works hard to keep people from putting their faith in Christ for salvation.  If he doesn’t succeed in that, his next effort is to keep them as babes in Christ.  He is freer to work in the life of an immature believer.  For that reason, we need to grow in grace and knowledge.  II Peter 3:17-18 says, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”    Growth in grace comes by reading the Bible and faithful church attendance.

Satan wants to use us to do his will.  Few there are who consciously serve Satan, but many unwittingly are doing so.  It is much better to be used of God than to be used of Satan.  Be not ignorant of his devices.

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The New Covenant

April 17, 2015

The New Covenant

      We read about the new covenant in II Corinthians 3:6-11.  This is what it says.  “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.   But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:   How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?    For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.    For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.    For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.”  A word of explanation; the word “testament,” in verse six, means covenant.

J Dwight Pentecost, in his book “Things To Come,” explains what a covenant is. He says.  “If one consults a concordance it will be seen that the word covenant is one which occurs with frequency in both the Old and New Testaments.  It is used of relationships between God and man, man and man, and nation and nation.  It is used in things temporal and eternal.” [1]

We find seven covenants in the Old Testament.  They are the Adamic, the Edenic, the Noahic, the Abrahamic, the Palestinian, the Davidic, and the Mosaic.   These all deal with God’s relationship with Israel.  In this article we are only going to touch on the new covenant.

The new covenant is also mentioned frequently in the Old Testament.  It also has to do with Israel, but it extends on into God’s relationship with the Gentiles.  In Jeremiah we read about the new covenant in chapter 31:31-34.  There we read, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:   Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:    But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.    And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

The new covenant is future.  In the Old Testament prophecies about it we see that it is future.  In Jeremiah 31:31 God says “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.” Hosea 2:18 says, “And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.  Isaiah 55:3 also says that.  “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.”  Therefore we know that it was future.

The following are some of the promises given in the new covenant:

  1. It is unconditional. God says what he will do. It doesn’t depend on what men do. Again Jeremiah 31:31 says the same .
  2. It is perpetual. Nothing is said about when it will end. Isaiah 55:3
  3. God promises to put his laws in the hearts of men. No longer will God’s people need to appeal to people to accept and obey the law of God.
  4. The New Covenant promises the restoration of God’s favor and blessing to Israel
  5. Forgiveness of sins is promised. That depends on the blood of Christ. Romans 11:26-27 promises this.
  6. There is the promise that everyone will know the Lord. Jeremiah 31:34 tells us that. That can’t be said in our day. There was no time in the past when that was true.Fortunately, those of us in the church age are benefiting, in some measure, from the new covenant. Christ shed his blood to make the remission of sins possible for Israel. That benefit is extended to us also. What we read in the Bible about the millennium, the 1000 year reign of Christ, gives us reason to think that the fulfilment of the New Covenant will take place at that time.

In the promises for the last days we read that it will be a time of:

  1. Peace, Isaiah 2:4
  2. Joy, Jeremiah 31:13
  3. Holiness, Isaiah 4:2-4
  4. Glory, Isaiah 35:1-2
  5. Justice, Jeremiah 23:5

The glorious truth of the new covenant is that it will reveal for 1000 years the peace and prosperity that mankind could have enjoyed from the beginning, if they would have accepted and obeyed God’s laws.  In fulfilment of the new covenant, God will do as it says in Jeremiah 31:33-34.  Now God’s laws are revealed to us in nature and in the written word of God.  Men must accept and obey them.  In this promised future time God will put his laws in the inward parts of men and write them in their hearts.  We saw that the new covenant is unconditional.  That means it won’t depend on what men do.

God and his word will be vindicated by means of the new covenant.  God gets the last word.  This, which we might call a utopia, will last for 1000 years.  We can’t live under those conditions now because God hasn’t written his laws in the hearts of all those around us.  However, we can benefit personally by obeying the moral precepts of God’s word.  It will enrich your life.


[1] J. Dwight Pentecost, “Things To Come” pp 66-67

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Peace Like A River

December 23, 2014

Peace Like a River

Isaiah 48:18 speaks of peace like a river.  “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” Peace is something we all want to enjoy.  If we want it, we need to know how to have it, and what our responsibility is in making it possible.

There are three aspects of peace that we want to consider in this article.  The first, and the one of immeasurable value, is peace with God.  People without God are in a hostile relationship with God.  They may not realize it, but to refuse to submit to his authority is to oppose him.  All men need to be reconciled to God.  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.” God wants to use his people as his ambassadors.  They go out and seek to persuade people to be reconciled to God.  II Corinthians 5:20 says, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

Peace with God comes to us when we come to him as guilty sinners who stand condemned before God.  The proper response to that is to ask God to forgive us by the merits of Christ’s righteousness which he purchased for us when he died on the cross.  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.”  Peace with God gives us a feeling of relief.

The second aspect of peace is called the peace of God.  Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  The measure of the peace of God we have depends on the closeness of our relationship with him.  James 4:8-10 tells us that God will draw nigh to us if we draw nigh to him.  “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.    Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.    Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”  These verses tell us what we need to do to draw nigh to him.  We can’t expect God to draw nigh to us unless we are willing to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.  Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”   If we feel closeness to God, we will trust his promises to care for us.   We can then claim the promises of God like the one found in Psalm 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.”  John 16:33 tells us “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.”  Even in the midst of tribulation we can have peace.  We have the promise of Romans 8:28.  “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.”

Jesus came into this world to give us both peace with God and the peace of God.  John 14:27 says “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

When people talk about peace most often they are thinking of peace in the world.  They may only be talking about peace in a small part of the world and not the whole world.  Peace in the world is something that is highly to be desired. It is difficult to live in peace when there is hostility around us.  It is in vain for us to think we can bring about peace in the world, but there may be something we can do to contribute to peace in our part of the world.  Psalm 34:14 says, “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”  Sin militates against peace.  Isaiah 48:22 says, “There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.”  The wicked will not have peace.  Their actions mitigate against the peace of those around them.

We are plagued by professional and political agitators. They travel around the country stirring up hostility.  Wherever there are disagreements they appear and take one side or the other of the controversy.  They are troublemakers and not peacemakers.  There are often hostilities between race and ethnic groups.  Sometimes it’s between labor and management.  At other times it is a conflict between ideologies.

As Christians, our weapons are not to be carnal.  II Corinthians 10:3-4 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.)”  Our weapons should be those listed in Ephesians 6:13-17.  “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.    Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;    And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;    Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.    And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Unfortunately, there are times when Christians must resort to carnal weapons in self- defense.  If our enemy threatens to annihilate us we must either flee or go to war.  Some Christians claim to be pacifists and refuse to go to war, but Romans chapter 13 tells us that we must be subject to our rulers in time of war.

Romans 12:18 says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, with some it’s impossible to be at peace.  In that case, it is best to stay away from them.  We shouldn’t let them rob us of our peace with God and with others.  Peace is a precious commodity.  Psalm 34:14 tells us to “Seek peace and pursue it.” The quality of life we enjoy depends on the measure of peace we have.  You can have it if you do what God tells you to do.

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The Poor in Spirit

October 14, 2014

The Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

The Beatitudes are part of what is called “the Sermon on the Mount.” Jesus preached this sermon to his disciples.  Those who faithfully followed Jesus teaching were called his disciples.  The word “disciple” means a follower.       We too should be his disciples and be willing to learn from him.  The more we learn from him the better we can serve him.  We never learn all he has to teach us.

The beatitudes have to do with attitudes.  It is extremely important that we have the proper attitude.  Having a bad attitude can result in much anxiety and suffering. A bad attitude causes those around us to suffer too.  No one enjoys suffering.  Some may avoid contact with us if we have a bad attitude.  A careful study of the beatitudes will help us see when and where we have a problem with our attitude.

To be blessed is to be highly favored.  Jesus tells us that the poor in spirit are fortunate.  God does not command us to be poor in spirit.  It results from being saved and surrendered to the will of God.  It is a work of God, but he can’t do it unless we are yielded to him.

We need to make clear that being poor in spirit has nothing to do with being poor materially.  Being poor doesn’t make us more spiritual.  There is no merit in being poor.  Some have used this verse to teach asceticism.  They take a vow of poverty.  If Jesus had stopped with saying “blessed are the poor” they might have some justification in teaching that.

Jesus said “blessed are the poor in spirit.” He didn’t say “blessed are those who are poor spiritually.” Everyone without Christ as his Savior is poor spiritually, but he isn’t blessed.  To the contrary, he is cursed.

Being poor in spirit has to do with our attitude towards ourselves.  There is a great difference between being a disciple of Christ and being an unbeliever.   The kingdom of heaven is promised to those who are poor in spirit.  Those without the knowledge of God are said to be in darkness.  Colossians 1:13 says, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.”

We do well to have the attitude of the Apostle Paul who said in Romans 7:18-22. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.    Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.    I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.    For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.”  I have value because God has chosen me, saved me, made great changes in my life, and given me a glorious future.

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The Give and Take of Mercy

October 10, 2014

The Give and Take of Mercy

               Our attitude is more important than our actions.  The quantity and quality of our actions is determined by our attitude.  The beatitudes can be considered as a lesson in attitudes.  A careful consideration and application of the beatitudes will help us greatly in having the right attitude.

Men need to have the right relationship with God instead of mere religion. Much of religion is exterior.  It is like a coat of paint to cover all the bad on the inside.  Many times people do things to make them look good.  Business people sometimes attend church because it gives them prestige.  It is possible to be religious and wicked, both at the same time.  Religion doesn’t change the way you are; it just changes your appearance.  Many times people do acts of mercy with the wrong motive.  They want to be seen and praised.  It makes them look good.  As we shall see from this article, that isn’t the blessing we should expect to receive for being merciful.

Matthew 5:7 gives a promise to the merciful.  “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” One cannot be truly merciful without having a heartfelt desire to help others.  To be merciful demands that we give up something of ourselves.  We can’t be merciful and selfish, both at the same time.

There are innumerable ways of showing mercy.  The merciful take into consideration the wellbeing of others around them.  They realize that their actions may have a good or bad impact on others.  He wipes mud off his shoes before he enters the house.  He expresses gratitude for what others do for him. The merciful not only come to the aid of those who are suffering, they also take precautions to prevent suffering on the part of others.  For example, they think of the wellbeing of their neighbors.  They don’t let their dog bark or their rooster crow early in the morning when others are still sleeping.  They don’t play loud music and obligate their neighbors to listen to it.  They offer to clear an elderly widow’s driveway after a snow storm.

There are innumerable ways to make people suffer.  Most people, without realizing it, do more damage with their tongue than they do with their hands.  Some contaminate the environment with a dirty mouth.  Some hurt others by criticism or insinuations.  We hurt others also with our hands.  Children must be taught to respect that which belongs to others. We should be careful about what we do with that which belongs to others. Merciful people buy auto insurance, not just to protect themselves, but to be able to pay damage they may do to others.  The merciful feel shame and remorse if others suffer because of things they have done.  Living by what is called “the golden rule” helps us to be merciful.  Jesus gave it to us in Matthew 7:12.  “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

In the Bible we find some excellent examples of what it is to be merciful.  In II Samuel chapter 9 we read of how David wanted to show mercy to someone in the family of Saul.  He had suffered much from Saul, yet he wanted to show mercy to the family.  He was now the king, and it was in his power to show mercy.  Saul’s son, Jonathan, was a good friend of David.  David was told that Jonathan had a son whose name was Mephibosheth.  He was crippled.  David sent some of servants to find Mephibosheth and bring him to the palace.  When he stood before the king, he invited him to eat at his table as one of his servants.  From what it says in verse 13 we know that it wasn’t just an invitation for one meal.  “So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet.”

In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It is the story of a man who was willing to invest some of his time and money in a man who fell among thieves.  Others saw the poor man lying there along the road, but they weren’t willing to do anything for him.  The Good Samaritan was under no obligation to help him, but he had mercy on him.  Mercy is what we do for others, even though we are under no obligation to do it.

The greatest example of mercy in the Bible is what Jesus did for us guilty sinners.  Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” We are the recipients of his mercy if we accept his sacrifice for us.  Suppose that poor wounded man had refused to accept the Good Samaritan’s offer of mercy.  Would he have been wise?  He was incapable of helping himself.  It is even more foolish for sinful men to refuse God’s offer of mercy to them. We are condemned according to John 3:18.  “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  There is nothing we ourselves can do to remove the condemnation from us.  We need God’s mercy.  We must accept it.

Each of the beatitudes concludes with the promise of a blessing.  This one ends with the promise of mercy in exchange for mercy we have shown.  Proverbs 27:1 says, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” We never know when we may stand in need of mercy.  If we have shown mercy, we can expect to receive it.  It is God who dispenses to each his due.  He keeps record of the times we have been merciful.

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The Blessings of Hunger and Thirst

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

We need to keep in mind that the beatitudes speak of characteristics that should be found in Christians.  They may be found in some unbelievers, but we have every right to expect that they will manifest themselves in those who profess to be in the family of God.

In this article the words “justice” and “righteousness” are used interchangeably.  They basically mean the same thing.

When a teen ager says to his father, “But dad, that isn’t fair,” a wise father will say, “You’re right, it isn’t, but we will have to accept it anyhow.” There are many things in life that are unjust.  Wars, for example, are caused by unrighteousness.  Young men are drafted into the Army.  It may be that they don’t want to go, but they have no choice.  They may even be killed in the war.  In a war, innocent civilians are often killed.  That certainly isn’t just.

Criminal acts are unrighteous.  They show a lack of respect for the rights of others.  The criminal says, “I’ll get what I want, even if I have to kill someone to get it.” We also suffer because of corruption.  Many people get rich by taking advantage of others.  Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Before we go to vote we should be informed about which candidates give indication that they hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Righteousness solves a lot of problems.  If we want others to treat us right we need to treat them right.  In Matthew 7:12 Jesus said, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  We can’t honestly say that we hunger and thirst for righteousness unless we are willing to be righteous in all our dealings with others.

Hunger and thirst are needs that must be met.  What do we hunger and thirst for?  We need to have control over our appetites.  When it comes to food and drink, some try to satisfy their desires with that which isn’t good for them.  If we aren’t careful, the same can happen with our spiritual appetites.    Some hunger for the praise of men; others for material things.  Some live to be entertained.

To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to desire to be free from the power of sin.  Some say, “If it wasn’t for temptations it wouldn’t be so hard to have victory over sin.” That is true, but the dead are the only ones who aren’t tempted.  As long as we are in this body we will have to struggle with temptation.  Jesus said in Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

The best solution to victory over temptation is to yield to the will of God.  If we do, we will want what God wants.  The more we love God, the more we want to please him.  God is righteous.  Sometimes we may not think so.  Sometimes he sends things our way that make us think he is unjust.  It isn’t wise to argue with God.  What he sends our way is always for our good, even though we may not understand the reason for it at the time.  Romans 8:28 says, “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.”

If you run with the wrong crowd you will find it difficult to hunger and thirst for righteousness.  You will hunger and thirst for what they run after.  You need to choose friends who will set a good example and encourage you to do right.  If you are at an arts and crafts show you may not think about being hungry while you enjoy looking at all there is to see.  If you happen to go by a stand where they are cooking hamburgers or hot dogs, you suddenly sense a hunger when you smell that good food.  That’s why it’s easier to maintain a hunger and thirst for righteousness if you stay in the proper environment.

It is normal to have hunger and thirst.  If we don’t have it, it’s an indication that we are sick.  It’s an awful feeling when people are hungry or thirsty and have no means of meeting their need.  The promise of Matthew 5:6 is that we shall be filled if we hunger and thirst for righteousness.  God knows what is good for us and he delights in giving it to us if we really want it.  Even if we hunger and thirst for something good, like righteousness, we may not always get all we want when we want it.  Psalm 37:3 says, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”

A healthy hunger and thirst for righteousness is an ongoing thing.  After we eat a good meal and drink a big glass of water, we aren’t hungry and thirsty any more.  Before very long, however, hunger and thirst are back knocking on our door.  It should be the same way with hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Righteousness isn’t something we consume, like food.  We should have an ongoing hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Included in the Greek word “filled,” in Matthew 5:6, is the idea of satisfaction.  Many of the things this world gives don’t satisfy very long.  In one way, we never get enough of what God has to offer us.  Righteousness should be something we want in all our relationships.

My friend, are you blessed with a hunger and thirst for righteousness?  If not, you need to look for the reason for it.  Could it be that you are running with the wrong crowd?  Could it be that you have wandered away from God?  Could it be that you aren’t a child of God because you have never received Christ as your Savior?  John 1:12 says “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

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