Friday, 22 June 2018

In a Moment

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

This is one of the greatest promises in the Bible, assuring us that “we” (i.e., all believers, whether dead or living when Christ returns) shall suddenly be changed, with our dead or dying bodies instantly transformed into incorruptible, immortal bodies, which can never die again.

This great change, when it finally occurs, will take place “in a moment.” The Greek here is en atomo, “in an atom of time.” This word, implying the smallest entity conceivable by the Greeks, is used only this one time in the New Testament. It is further described by “the twinkling of an eye,” where “twinkling” is the Greek rhipe, also used only this once. Evidently there is nothing else in this present world comparable in rapidity to this miraculous change that will be called forth when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

The great shout (probably uttered by Christ Himself as at the tomb of Lazarus) will instantly create new bodies for both dead and living believers. “The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Our new bodies will be like Christ’s resurrection body. He “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:21).

Christ is able thus to create new bodies for us in a moment, just as when He created all things in the beginning: “He spake, and it was done” (Psalm 33:9).

Thursday, 21 June 2018

He That Is Spiritual

“But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” (1 Corinthians 2:15)

The word rendered “spiritual” is the Greek word pneumatikos, from which theologians have coined the term “pneumatology,” the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Thus, a “spiritual” person is one who is not only born again spiritually through faith in Christ and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, but also tries diligently to follow the leading of the indwelling Spirit and to understand and obey the precepts of the Bible inspired by Him.

A spiritual person will have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16), able to judge all things by spiritual standards and biblical revelation. He or she will “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” knowing that “to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:4,6). As such, spiritual believers prayerfully make decisions seeking God’s will; they are “led by the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:14). And since they “walk in the Spirit,” they “shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

They will often and repeatedly be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) for Christian service. Furthermore, they will manifest “the fruit of the Spirit” in their lives and personalities—that is, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Yet, while “he that is spiritual” is thereby able to discern and evaluate all things by such divine standards, he will find himself often misunderstood by unsaved relatives and acquaintances, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: . . . because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Nevertheless, “he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:8).
 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Things We Ought to Do

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23)

This sharp rebuke by Jesus to the legalists of His day should also be taken seriously by us today. Although we are saved by grace alone, there are many things we ought to do, not as a matter of credit toward salvation, but as gratitude for our salvation. Surely judgment, mercy, and faithfulness are high on such a list.

Other “oughts” of the born-again Christian life would include the following incomplete listing:

1. Prayer: “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).

2. Obedience to God as Priority: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

3. Working and Sharing: “So labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

4. Gracious in Speech: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).

5. Walking with God: “As ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1).

6. Heeding God’s Word: “We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:1).

7. Sanctified Behavior: “What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11).

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

What to Put On

“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

People give much attention to what material clothes they should put on, but the New Testament tells us what spiritual clothes to put on. First, we are to be “endued with” power from on high. This Greek word (enduo) is normally rendered “put on.” That is, we are to put on power, and this is imparted only by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), according to Christ’s departing promise.

“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. . . . put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:12,14). “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

Along with this, we are to “put off concerning the former conversation the old man,” and then to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22,24). Then we must “put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

These items of spiritual clothing—the power of the Holy Spirit, the light of God’s presence, the new man in Christ, the resurrection life of the indwelling Christ, His imputed righteousness and holiness and all our spiritual armor—provide the foundation clothing for beautiful spiritual jewels and accessories. “Ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: . . . Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; . . . And above all these things put on charity [love]” (Colossians 3:9-10,12,14).

Monday, 18 June 2018

Coming Like the Flood

“So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19)

The great enemy of our souls “the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Yet he can also be “transformed into an angel of light,” and so can “his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). He and his ministers are perhaps most dangerous when most deceptive, quoting Scripture and spiritual sentiments in a superficial show of piety, yet distorting the “Scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16), and we must use the sword of the Spirit against them.

Then there are those times when, angered that their deceptions (sometimes even their own self-deceptions) are not persuading the true people of God to compromise their stand for God’s truth and His great salvation, they resort to great pressure and overt opposition—even persecution—seeking to silence their testimony. The enemy comes in like a great flood, and the waves seem about to engulf us, and we cry with the psalmist: “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul” (Psalm 124:2-4).

But God is on our side, as long as we are on His side and hold fast to His clearly revealed Word. Before the demonic flood can overwhelm us, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up His standard (or, more literally, “put him to flight”), and God will prevail once again, for “the foundation of God standeth sure” (2 Timothy 2:19), and “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Honoring Our Fathers

“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20:12)

This familiar command was the fifth in God’s list of Ten Commandments, the law of God, and it has never been abrogated. It was quoted by Christ as His own command, when He said: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. . . . Honour thy father and thy mother” (Matthew 19:17-19). The apostle Paul also cited it as of special significance: “Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise” (Ephesians 6:2).

This all indicates that God considers the honoring of parents by their children to be of great significance. Since the father has been charged with the primary spiritual responsibility for his family, it is of supreme importance that fathers lead their children properly and the children follow that lead with all due respect and diligence. God blessed Abraham as “the father of us all” (Romans 4:16) because He could say concerning Abraham: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment” (Genesis 18:19).

It is not easy being such a father, but it is vital if our children are to come also to honor their heavenly Father. “For what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? . . . Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:7-9).

“And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). If we fathers diligently follow God’s Word in leading our children, then they will honor their fathers, not only while they are children, but all their lives.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The Proof of Obedience

“And hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:3)

Jesus once said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Poignant question. A familiar complaint of those who despise Christian teaching is that “Christians” don’t act like Christians! It is a sad commentary on the condition of the Lord’s family when the ungodly are more aware of the expected behavior of God’s people than the Christians are.

Of course, the issue is not unique to the New Testament times. Israel’s historical saga is replete with seasons of rebellion and repentance—so much so that the psalmist prayed: “That the generation to come . . . . might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God” (Psalm 78:6-8).

The emphasis by John in his first epistle, however, is not on the reasons for willful disobedience, but on the results of willing obedience.
  • Walking in the “light” ensures fellowship (1 John 1:7).
  • Constant and willing obedience produces an effective prayer life (1 John 3:22).
  • A lifestyle of obedience brings an awareness of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling (1 John 3:24).
  • Loving God produces obedience, which in turn brings joy in that obedience (1 John 5:3).
Our deeds show whom we serve (1 John 3:7). Our righteous deeds prove whom we serve (Matthew 7:16-20). HMM III