Friday, 19 January 2018

Walk by Faith

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Although today’s verse appears in parentheses in the King James Bible, it is a most important concept in Scripture and is the summary of an extensive passage that precedes it. Beginning with 2 Corinthians 4:8, Paul continually contrasts the seen and the unseen, finishing up with the admonition to “walk by faith.”
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Though we have trials on the outside, through faith we have inward triumph.
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus . . . that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:10-11). Even though “death worketh in us,” that same persecution results in “life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:12). Through faith we know “that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:14).
“Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).
“If our earthly house [i.e., body] of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1) “that mortality might be swallowed up of life” (2 Corinthians 5:4). The death and decay of this life will ultimately be eradicated. We know this to be fact, for He “hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 5:5) as a guarantee of our resurrection, if indeed we have been born again by faith, the same faith by which we walk.
“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Teaching Stones

“Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.” (Habakkuk 2:19)
How foolish are those who worship idols—objects of wood and stone with no life in them, not even when they are adorned in silver and gold. Can inanimate objects come to life and even become teachers? A child knows better.
But not college professors! All over the land, these proud purveyors of “science falsely so called” are indoctrinating young minds with the absurd belief that inorganic substances can somehow first become simple living substances and then eventually organize themselves all the way up to being people. They would not, of course, suggest that sticks and stones could suddenly become human (neither did the ancient idolaters, for that matter). They just believe that time—lots of it—can magically develop people out of much simpler substances than even these ancient philosophers ever imagined. “In the beginning, hydrogen” is their arrogant notion.
But God will not be mocked in this way forever. Life can only come from life—ultimately from the living God! The wooden idol of the pagan is every bit as scientific as the evolutionary models of the modern intellectual; neither one can create life. “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: . . . They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them” (Psalm 115:4-5,8).
Only God can create life, and He can even cause stones to teach. “Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: . . . Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?” (Job 12:8-9).

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Mighty Hand of God

“That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.” (Joshua 4:24)
The testimony of Joshua to the children of Israel as they entered the promised land reminded them of the tremendous strength in the mighty hand of God whom they were to fear and trust forever. This is only one of about 20 references in the Scriptures to God’s mighty hand. Moses had often recalled how “the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:8).
The first reference to God’s mighty hand is in Jacob’s dying prophecy concerning Joseph. “His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob” (Genesis 49:24)
Like those of Joseph, our hands also can be strong when they are placed in the mighty hands of God. Some may note that this is only a figure of speech, for God is Spirit and has no physical hands. Yes, but “he that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?” (Psalm 94:9). God indeed is God of the mighty hand!
The final reference to God’s mighty hand and the only specific reference in the New Testament is in the apostle Peter’s exhortation to humility. “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6). Our human might is only a vapor, but “in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:4).
Jesus said concerning His followers, “They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Honest Use of Scripture

“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” (Mark 7:13)
Jesus uttered these sharp words of rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees, who had encumbered the plain teachings of Scripture with numerous “interpretations” that enabled them to ignore whatever teachings they found inconvenient. The Lord Jesus Himself always took the Scriptures literally and as of divine authority, and so should we.
Furthermore, He taught that every word was true and authoritative: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). He also said that “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
Skeptics may pose certain difficulties in the Bible, evolutionists may ridicule its account of creation, and sinners in general may try to wriggle away from its moral constraints, but the Scripture cannot be broken! Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). He Himself is the living Word of God, and we dare not tamper with the written Word inspired by the Holy Spirit. Christ, of course, could and did in some cases extend and apply the Old Testament Scriptures, because He Himself was their Author, but He never questioned their factuality or literal accuracy, and neither should we.
Nevertheless, many modern “Christian” intellectuals and cultists are following in the example of the Pharisees rather than that of Christ, “wresting” the Scriptures for their gain but “unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). God has spoken plainly in His Word. It is our responsibility to believe and do what He says.

Monday, 15 January 2018

What Jesus Said about Hell

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29)
People do not like to think about hell—especially those who are headed there! But that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
We need to know that the Lord Jesus Himself often warned about the reality of hell. Today’s verse is in His Sermon on the Mount, a message often quoted because of its wonderful promises. Hell is also mentioned in the same sermon in Matthew 5:22 and Matthew 5:30. Jesus also stressed in that sermon that “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13). He later warned that we should “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
The religious leaders of the day were not exempt. To them, speaking of their religious hypocrisy, He said, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).
Hell is also a place of fire or possibly of some fearful environment that could only be described adequately under the metaphor of fire. “Depart from me,” He will say to the lost souls at His coming judgment, “into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Hell is called a “lake of fire” by Christ in John’s vision of Him on His great white throne, where He will have to say, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, . . . and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
Hell will indeed be very real—eternally real! Since Christ is both our Creator and our Savior, who died for our sins and defeated death by His resurrection, it is foolish for anyone to reject His revelation about hell. 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Heavenly Calling

“As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” (1 Corinthians 15:48)
In a wonderful sense, Christians are just passing through this world on their way to the permanent home awaiting them in heaven. “For our conversation [or ‘our citizenship’] is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Christ has prepared a “place” for us there (John 14:2), and it is there that we have “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).
In view of such a glorious future, we ought to live not as those who are “earthy” but, as our verse says, as “they also that are heavenly.” We have, indeed, been made “partakers of the heavenly calling,” and so should always, in all we do, “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1), for He represents us even now in the heavenly places. He has gone “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24), and we have, in effect, already been made to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).
We may not appear to be very heavenly now, in these poor bodies made of Earth’s dust, but “as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:49). As Paul vividly expresses it, the Lord Jesus Christ “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). “The dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
Christians, indeed, constitute a heavenly people with a heavenly calling, even while still on Earth. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

If So Be

“If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Peter 2:3)
The little phrase “if so be” (Greek ei per) is used four times in the New Testament, each time setting forth a vital spiritual result established on the basis of a vital spiritual premise. The premise in today’s verse is that a new Christian has truly experienced the saving grace of Christ. The result will be that these “newborn babes” will truly “desire the sincere milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2). The “word” (Greek logikos) is always both pure and reasonable.
Then, “ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you” (Romans 8:9). When a person truly receives Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells his body, and the result is that he will henceforth live in the guidance of the Spirit instead of the flesh.
But this life in the Spirit will necessarily entail suffering for the sake of Christ, and this is the premise that assures our future inheritance and glorification. The indwelling Spirit bears witness that we are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).
Finally, our future resurrection is assured by the certainty of the bodily resurrection of Christ. “We have testified of God,” Paul says, “that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not” (1 Corinthians 15:15). Christ’s resurrection is proved as well as any historical fact has ever been proved, so the dead surely rise also.
These “if so be’s” of Scripture, although seemingly expressed in the form of conditions, actually speak great assurances. The true Christian life is one of thirst for the logical words of God, guidance by the indwelling Spirit of God, certainty of future resurrection, and anticipation of a glorious inheritance in Christ.