Friday, 17 November 2017

Son of God

“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:3-4)
It is noteworthy that the identification of Jesus Christ as the Son of God is directly associated with His resurrection from the dead. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26), and since only God Himself can conquer death, Christ’s bodily resurrection is the conclusive affirmation of His unique deity: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Many others have claimed divine sonship, but all are dead—only Christ validated that claim by defeating death. “God . . . hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Acts 13:33). “Death is swallowed up in victory . . . . through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54,57).
Jesus is explicitly called “the Son of God” about 44 times in the New Testament, only half as often as He is called “Son of man.” Nevertheless, this great truth is clearly taught in numerous other ways than by the use of the title itself. It is so important that there is no salvation for the one who denies it. Jesus said plainly, “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” (John 3:18).
Because He lives, we who believe on His name will also live forever! “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? . . . He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:5, 12-13).

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Asking and Receiving

“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:8)
The tremendous resource of prayer is far too often neglected by far too many Christians. If nothing is standing between us and the Lord to keep us from asking effectively (sin, unbelief, selfish motives, etc.), then God has promised to act when we ask by giving us our request or something better. Note just a few of the many promises to those who ask:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God . . . and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
“Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
“How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).
“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22).
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
“If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).
Obviously, there are conditions. These marvelous promises assume that those who ask are abiding in His commandments, truly desiring His will, having His priorities, thinking His thoughts, and are asking in faith and in His name. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Grace of Being Content

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Timothy 6:8)
The last of God’s Ten Commandments—and probably the most difficult to obey—deals with the sin of covetousness. “Thou shalt not covet . . . any thing that is thy neighbour’s” (Exodus 20:17). “Take heed, and beware of covetousness,” warned the Lord Jesus, “for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). This warning introduced His parable of the rich man whom God called a fool. “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
And how does one become rich toward God? “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. . . . Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. . . . seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:20,25,33).
We Christians—especially in an affluent society such as ours—all too easily fall into the trap of being possessed by our possessions and may even think these possessions are somehow God’s reward for our “godliness.” But Paul says those who suppose “that gain is godliness” are “destitute of the truth.” We need to remember that in God’s sight “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:5-6). And with Paul, we should strive to be able to say sincerely that “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
God has promised to supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19) if we are faithful stewards of what He has entrusted to us. Therefore, God’s Word commands: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Definition of Faith

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
The marvelous “faith chapter,” Hebrews 11, is an amazing chapter. Here, faith is defined not as some intangible wishfulness but as “substance” and “evidence.” Let us look closely.
First of all, faith must have a legitimate object, nothing less than the mighty Creator by whom “the worlds were framed” (Hebrews 11:3) out of nothing but His omnipotent Word.
Beyond this, faith is further defined not by what it is but by what it does! The man of faith comes to God by “a more excellent sacrifice,” like that of Abel (Hebrews 11:4), typifying the sacrifice of Christ. Faith will, like Enoch, live to please God (Hebrews 11:5), and will, like Noah, prepare an Ark (i.e., do whatever necessary out of obedience to God) “to the saving of his house” (Hebrews 11:7).
True faith will, like Abraham, go out as God leads, “not knowing whither he went,” even “dwelling in tabernacles” (literally “tents”) (Hebrews 11:8-9) if need be, as he looks for that city with sure “foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Such faith will even, like Abraham, offer up to God the greatest love and joy of his life, knowing that God will keep His Word (Hebrews 11:17-19).
Like Moses, the man of genuine faith will choose rather “to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25). Faith is even willing to be “stoned . . . sawn asunder . . . slain with the sword,” if need be, for the promises of God (Hebrews 11:37, 39).
We are saved by grace through faith, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9), but since we are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10), our faith should motivate us to action. “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). 

Monday, 13 November 2017

Old Testament Love

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)
Many people have mistakenly rejected or neglected the Old Testament on the basis that it speaks about a vindictive God of judgment in contrast to the New Testament God of love manifest in Jesus Christ. This perspective, however, is completely wrong.
One day a lawyer asked Jesus, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).
Both of these commandments were recorded, of course, in the Old Testament. The first one in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is perhaps the most revered of all passages to the Jews: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” The second great commandment is the one in our text for the day. This law is buried deep in the Pentateuch, in the unlikely heart of the book of Leviticus. In the New Testament it is even called “the royal law” (James 2:8).
Thus, the great underlying theme of the Old Testament is love—love for God and love for others—and this truth is stressed by Christ Himself in the New Testament. Even greater is God’s eternal love that was ours from before the world and that will never end. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Voice of the Lord

“The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.” (Psalm 29:4)
This solemn phrase, “the voice of the LORD,” occurs seven times in Psalm 29, centered especially on the awful judgment of the great Flood in the days of Noah. “The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters” (Psalm 29:3). It occurs many other times in the Old Testament as well, with a wide variety of applications and circumstances.
The very first time it occurs, however (and this is also the first occurrence of “voice” in the Bible, indicating thereby that it is God’s voice—not man’s—that we must hear if we seek guidance for life), is in the Garden of Eden immediately after man brought sin into the world. “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden. . . . And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:8-9). Mankind is lost and separated from God, but God calls unto each of us as He did to Adam, and we desperately need to hear His voice if our lives are to be fulfilled and spiritually fruitful.
In contrast to this scene of alienation, the final occurrence of a “voice” in the Bible is a beautiful scene of reconciliation when God again speaks to lost mankind, this time in glorious restoration of that broken fellowship. “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).
To hear His voice then, however, we must first hear His voice now, through His Word. Jesus said, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life. . . . the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:24-25). 

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Created to Rule the Day

“And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” (Genesis 1:16)
It seems that throughout history, mankind has ignored or distorted the purpose for which God created the sun. Many cultures have even worshiped the sun, teaching that the sun was the source of all being, even human life. Temples were built in its honor, human sacrifices were made to appease it, whole civilizations were dedicated to its worship.
The nation Israel, which had lived among sun-worshiping Egyptians for centuries, was warned not to “lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and . . . [see] the sun, and . . . be driven to worship” (Deuteronomy 4:19) under penalty of death, “for the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24).
One of mankind’s primary purposes is to worship God, but the sun was created by God for man’s benefit. He is a God of grace and desires to “freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32).
The purpose of the sun is no mystery. Its Creator says that along with the moon and stars it is “to divide the day from the night . . . and . . . be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years . . . to give light upon the earth” (Genesis 1:14-15).
There will come a time, however, when the sun will no longer be needed by God’s people, for in our eternal home “there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light” (Revelation 22:5). “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23). Best of all, we shall be with Him.