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One Bible = One Belief: The Dilemma of Biblical Authenticity


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The authenticity of The Bible has come under increasing criticism in the last 150 years from a plurality of sources. However, that is largely to be expected. As the Bible itself explains, it is impossible for the unsaved person who (by definition) is uninhabited by the Spirit of God to understand the things of God:

“Now we have received… the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God… But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:12, 14

Therefore, criticism from such sources is hardly offensive.

What is more disturbing, however, is the number of people who identify themselves as Believers/Christians yet similarly cast doubt on the Bible as representing the pure and unadulterated, complete and unabridged truth of God. Can the Bible, for a Believer, be anything less than completely authentic?

The Basics of Biblical Authenticity

To explore the notion of the authenticity of Scripture, let us consider what The Bible is and what The Bible says about itself.

SOURCE of Scripture

First, let us examine its source

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16a

If ALL scripture is God-inspired then which parts did a perfect God get wrong? Clearly, if God is perfect then the Scripture He authored must be perfect too. Nevertheless, some will say, “Man has corrupted the Scripture.” Certainly, mankind has tried to corrupt the scripture and has had some illusory success. However, if the Scripture points the way to God, we must believe that God Himself will preserve it; that, despite mankind’s greatest effort, the omnipotent God will uphold His Holy Word. For we know that:

“…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” ~ Romans 10:17

If God does not safeguard His Word, what hope can we have of coming to Him in faith to receive salvation? What would be the point of Jesus’ redemptive death on the cross? Moreover, what is the identity of the God whom we would seek? Surely, we would not be able to find Him through a flawed imperfect scripture. Even more appalling, each person would have to define God for himself because there is no reliable standard. Is my ‘god’ better than yours?

PURPOSE of Scripture

Second, let us examine how The Bible defines its purpose:

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Doctrine is fundamental truths about God, reproof is the act of verifying our actions against God’s truth, correction is the act of replacing the false in our heart with God’s truth and righteousness is the condition of living/walking in God’s truth. In other words, ALL Scripture tells us the truth; it shows us the difference between the truth and the false; it enables us to replace the false in our lives/thinking with the truth; and it teaches us to walk/live in the truth. In short, ALL Scripture is all about the truth ALL-ways and therefore must its self be true.

Now the determined naysayer may question the legitimacy of the Scripture claiming its own validity. Such antagonists demand independent verification. However, this is logically futile since an independent document would have to be of the same or higher qualitative standing as the Scripture. One cannot test the accuracy of a computer with an abacus; one cannot calibrate a micrometer with a yardstick.

Consequently, if there exists a document of comparative standing to the Bible then it must be the Bible. To wit, if there is a device exactly (no more and no less) as accurate as a micrometer then it is the equivalent to a micrometer.

Likewise, if there is a document superior in every way to the Bible, then it would be superfluous to validate the Bible; it would simply render the Bible obsolete. We don’t do our calculations on an abacus and then check the results with a computer. We simply use the computer to do our calculations.

Accordingly, before questioning whether ALL Scripture is true ALL-ways one must answer the question:

“Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” ~ James 3:11

With the only reasonable answer being “No”, one must conclude the Scripture to be ALL true or ALL false.

VALUE of Scripture

Third, let us examine what Scripture says about its value/status.

“The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. …I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.” (Psalm 119:72, 127b)

“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” ~ Psalm 138:2

God holds His Word in a much higher status than His Name! There are various names for God in Scripture (Elohim, Jehovah, etc.). But it is Scripture itself that explains the meaning of those names. In other words, Scripture gives us both the richest and the most accurate description of God. Names do give identity, but to really understand someone we have to know more than just their name. It is not sufficient just to call on His Name; we must also get to know His character. And that character is uniquely defined in His Word.

The Crisis of Biblical Authenticity

If the Scripture is authentic, indispensable and invaluable, why does it come under unrelenting attack? To answer this question, let us explore three crises that face us when we confront the implications of the authenticity of Scripture: Conformation, Consequences, and Comprehension.

The Crisis of CONFORMATION

One problem with an authentic Scripture is that it demands our conformation. Scripture defines good and evil and demands that we choose the former and reject the latter. On issues/subjects that matter, Scripture delineates a single path for us to follow. However, because of a desire to have things our way, we are tempted to ignore inconvenient parts of Scripture. To justify this, of course, requires that we deny and decry the validity of the parts we don’t like. So we try to make Scripture conform to our lives, instead of conforming our lives to Scripture. This has been true since the time of the prophets: e.g., (Jeremiah 7:1-34) the Israelites ignored the Scriptures that warned them of impending punishment for their rejection of God, and only focused on the parts that told them of God’s abiding love/protection (because of the presence of His temple).

Consider the following conversation Jesus had with His disciples:

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
And they said, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.”
He saith unto them, “But whom say ye that I am?
And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.~ Matthew 16:13-17

“For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.” (Psalm 33:4)

People had various ideas about Jesus’ identity and His ministry. Some thought (ostensibly due to mistaken identity) Jesus was John the Baptist: here to teach them about true righteousness. Some thought he was Elias (Elijah) whose return had been prophesied (Malachi 4:5): here to work great miracles. Yet others thought he was Jeremias (Jeremiah): here to prophecy of things to come. Jesus’ did teach, prophesy and work miracles. But He was far more than a teacher, prophet, or a miracle worker. He was The Christ: The Messiah! He came to bring salvation through His death and fellowship (with God) though His resurrection.

If the people could hold on to their preferred definitions of Jesus, then they could ignore His true purpose and the life changing challenge that He presented. If Jesus was just a teacher, then scholarly communication was all that was required. If Jesus was just miracle worker, then they just needed to bring him their sick/problems. If Jesus was just a prophet, they only needed to heed his warnings of impending doom. But, if Jesus was Messiah they had to yield to Him every facet of their very lives. Their concepts, their values, their goals, their aspirations would no longer be their own to shape; they would now have to conform to Him.

Regardless of our noble thoughts/definitions of Jesus only one definition of His identity is true: Messiah. All other definitions are, at best, only partial truths and therefore, by definition, false. Moreover, the true identity of Jesus was/is not obtained from human deliberation; it was/is given by divine revelation (vs. 17). Therefore, it does not matter who we think Jesus is. What matters is who God says Jesus is in His divinely inspired authentic Word.

In short, Jesus does not conform to our notions/ideas. Rather, we must conform our notions/ideas to who Jesus really is. Moreover, by extension, we don’t define who God is and what a ‘reasonable’ God does. Instead, we learn from God’s Word who He is and how He reigns over the universe in justice and righteousness. We must conform our philosophy to God’s directives, as they are described in His Word.

Crucially, this is the basis on which the Kingdom of God is built and the source of power for all believer’s:

And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.~ Matthew 16:17-19

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” (Psalm 18:2)

The kingdom of heaven is founded on the revealed truth of God accepted through the faith of an individual: that forms the basis of the church (Ephesians 2:8-9) and it empowers the church to perform the work of God here on earth (Ephesians 2:10).

If we don’t accept God’s revealed truth by faith, if we hang on to our own notions/ideas of who God/Jesus is, then the church falls apart for lack of a foundation and the remnants of the church as we (not God) choose to define it is powerless, ineffectual in changing the fabric and outcome of the society it inhabits.

The crisis of conformation is that we must either conform our ideas to the Scripture or conform the Scripture to our ideas. If we accept the divinely inspired truth in God’s authentic Word, it means that our lives have to change. But, if we can define which parts of Scripture are true and which parts are tainted by historical bias, then we can have the scripture that suits us.

Therefore, when Scripture says, e.g., homosexuality is wrong (Genesis 19:1-25, Romans 1:16-32); we say that was just historical context. We pretend that God is ONLY love (two references in scripture) and choose to rationalize and/or dispensationalize all Biblical evidence that God is JUST; that God is HOLY; that God is set apart from sin (as He defines it) and will punish the guilty.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4

The Crisis of CONSEQUENCES

Another problem with having an authentic Scripture is that it outlines consequences. Authentic Scripture defines absolute truths AND absolute consequences to ignoring those truths.

“…Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” (Daniel 5:27)

“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth… And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD… For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed… If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good… Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.” ~ Joshua 24: 14-23

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” ~ Revelation 21:7-8

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” ~ Revelation 22:14-15

God defines righteousness and salvation and describes their consequences. Similarly, God defines unrighteousness and sinfulness and describes their consequences. The crisis of consequences is that they (the consequences) cannot be ignored if Scripture is authentic. If Scripture is true, then there is a price to pay for ignoring its teachings. Therefore, the only way to continue on our own autonomous path through life is by presuming that Scripture has somehow misstated the consequences. “How can a loving God send someone to hell?” Because God doesn’t just love, God also judges.

Because the consequences in an authentic Scripture are inconvenient and unpleasant, it is preferable for many to ignore its authenticity instead.

The Crisis of COMPREHENSION

Yet another problem with a divinely-inspired, authentic Scripture is that it is difficult to fully understand.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:9

There are many difficult concepts that believers have wrestled mightily with almost from Jesus’ resurrection. For example: Predestination vs. free will; eternal security vs. temporal insecurity of salvation; the gifts of the Spirit; the Rapture; the millennial rule of Jesus Christ; the identity of the two witnesses in the Book of Revelation, etc. The crisis of comprehension is whether to accept by faith what is difficult to understand or to discard those things that elude our understanding. Shall we choose faith in God or strength of (human) logic?

It is hard to understand why God permits such dreadful suffering in this world, especially when that suffering is “close to home”. Does that mean the Scripture is false when it tells us that God loves us? We should never forget that God calls us to faith in Him, not to logic. He tells us to trust in Him, not in our understanding.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-7

Newton’s laws of motion are not wrong because we don’t understand them. And they don’t suddenly become true when we do understand them. Likewise, the truth of Scripture does not depend on our ability to comprehend it; it depends solely on the Omniscience of God.

Salvation and Biblical Authenticity

The purpose of Scripture is first to bring us to faith in God, which then enables us to receive salvation through the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). The second purpose of Scripture is to enable us to know God, which empowers us to serve Him by accomplishing the work He preordained for us to do (Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 3:8-11). Central to both these functions, is the identity of God. All of Scripture works in harmony to present the true and complete identity of God. If we selectively remove certain parts of Scripture (because we deem them to be irrelevant or in some way inaccurate), then we distort the identity of God. Consequently, one must ask: “Which God do you have faith in?” A god that conforms to our desired image is not god at all. Such a god is merely the figment of our Sophistri-cation.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5)

Moreover, salvation requires faith in the true God: the God described by the Authentic Scripture: The Bible. If we do not believe in the God of the Scripture, then we are not saved by the God of the Scripture. Every god defines his/her/its own terms of salvation.

The God of the pure unabridged Scriptures defines His terms too. If we do not like His salvation plan, we are free to construct our own god from the parts of the scripture we find convenient to our lifestyle and philosophy. But, make no mistake, that god is NOT the God of the Bible.

And the Heaven described by the Bible is reserved for those who believe in the God of the Bible. But, the Hell described in the Bible is available for those who reject the God of the Bible: whether they believe in it or not.

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" ~Romans 3:23

Sin Doesn’t Come in Sizes

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Recently someone asked (paraphrase): “I’ve been praying to God for help to overcome my addiction. Why hasn’t He helped me to do it?”

This question is not uncommon and reveals some problems with the way that we think about sin and how God works in our lives to enable us to overcome the power of sin. To better understand this, it is useful to first define what an addiction is.  An addiction is any action/practice or sequence of actions/practices that is repeated enough that a permanent (but not necessarily irreversible) change in the brain architecture of the addicted occurs in order to perpetuate the action/practice.  Addictions can range from thumb-sucking to drug-abuse, from workaholic-ism to pornography.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” ~Romans 3:23

Generally, addictions are only overcome when a new agent hierarchically replaces the importance of the addiction in the mind of the addict: when a competing structure develops.  Even when this happens, the neuron-network associated with the addiction does not disappear immediately:  it takes time for the brain to gradually reorganizes its structure.   Hence, the likelihood of relapse is an ever-present danger for many.  The key to overcoming addictions and potential relapses is the strength and constancy of the new agent neural-network.

As long as the neuronal pathways of the new agent fire more strongly and consistently than that of the addiction, then the addict is in a good position to overcome his/her addiction.     For example, kids usually stop sucking their thumbs when social pressures related to the habit and to the resulting orthodontic damage supersede any comfort they got from it.   Likewise, some drug abusers are “scared straight” by the fear of dying from the drug use.  Fear of death overrides the neural-network of the addiction, thereby allowing them to quit.

It is true that more people are addicted to various actions than they might realize.  This unawareness arises because people mostly only consider socially unacceptable habits as addictions.  More important, however, is to realize that ALL addictions are sins, because they are, by definition, the antithesis of self-control and the Christian is commanded to bring his/her entire body under the control of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

The essential difference between addictions and “regular” sins, is that addictions are sins that have become “hardwired” in the brain with an associated reward (usually dopamine) to reinforce the behavior. But, as will be argued below, the cure for addictions and non-addiction sins is the same:  Love for God must grow in us (in our minds) until it is preeminent.  That love for God will then overwhelm the addiction network as well as all other desires to sin.

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” ~James 1:14-15

That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days… ~Deuteronomy 30:20a

Finally, we must avoid conflating salvation with the absence of addiction.  Only God determines who is saved (addiction or not). Moreover, the Scripture makes it clear that sinlessness is neither a prerequisite for salvation nor sanctification.  That means some Believers might be in bondage to unsavory addictions.  However, while we should always clearly and unequivocally declare addictions (unsavory or not) as sin.  We cannot refute the work of God in the addicted. Some of us have further to go than others.  And, the person addicted to food should never look down on the person addicted to drugs.  Indeed, both are listed together as heading for the same end:

For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. ~Proverbs 23:21

Let us, therefore, examine the Proper Perspective for sin, the Prescribed Procedure to overcome sin and God’s Precious Promise to never give up on us.

THE PROPER PERSPECTIVE

First, the question (above) suggests that the addiction is a bigger sin than the other sins that we (including the questioner also) all struggle with. Certainly, if God took addictions from all of our lives it is unlikely that any of us (including the questioner) would be perfect. More pointedly, eliminating addictions of any sort, does not guarantee that we will draw closer to God’s and walk in obedience.

The problem here is the perception that some sins, such as addictions, are worse than others. This notion implies that if I get rid of some “bad”, really “ugly” sins then I will be a better person; even though the “not-so-bad”, “not-so-ugly” sins remain. But, that is not God’s calculus. Romans 14:23b tells us that sin is anything that is not done in a faith response to God.

…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. ~Romans 14:23b

And, Romans 6:23a tells us that all sin has the same punishment.

For the wages of sin is death… ~Romans 6:23a

So, we must deduce that ALL sins are equally offensive to God.

Therefore, God’s ultimate purpose is not to excise the “uglier” sins (such as addictions) while the “not-so-ugly” sins remain. His purpose is to enable us to overcome ALL sin. And to accomplish this, Romans 12:1-2 tells us that we should offer ourselves to God and allow Him to transform us, by the renewing of our minds. Only then will we know His will and have the power to walk in it: the power to overcome ALL sin!

“All unrighteousness is sin…” 1 John 5:17a

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. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. ~Romans 12:1-2

Accordingly, God focuses on the state of our ‘minds’, i.e., our mindset, rather than any specific sin. God intends to change our entire attitude to sin, so that we will choose His way instead of going our own way.

God sent The Holy Spirit to indwell our lives in order to change the way we think about life: to replace our values with God’s values. Therefore, we must constantly ask ourselves: “Am I beginning to look at life through God’s eyes?”; “Do I delight in the things that please God?”

If I overcome an addiction but my mindset is unchanged then I have not benefitted, because sins (even if they don’t look as “ugly” as an addiction) are still rampant in my life.  On the other hand, as God transforms our minds, all the sin-strongholds in our lives are likewise weakened.

To be clear, God is NOT ‘comfortable’ with an addiction or any other sin: God hates sin! And that’s why His purpose is to overcome ALL sin, in your life and in my life.

THE PRESCRIBED PROCEDURE

Overcoming sin, even addictions, does not occur magically. Moreover, God never forces us to obey Him; He gave us free will. However, God will always lead us to a point where we choose to change.

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. ~Psalm 51:1-4

However, we Christians often want God to override our wills. We want God to take away enough of our freedom of choice so that decisions are “easier” to make. We want, somehow, not to have to make the decision not to sin: we want God to make that decision for us, to have Him force His will on us.

“…my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.” ~Psalm 69:13

In other words, we want God to treat the symptoms instead of the disease. The disease is a heart (mind) that is not completely yielded to God. And sins, all types of sins, are the symptoms. As a good doctor would, God intends to treat the disease so that the symptoms will end. God will not remove our sins and leave behind un-yielded hearts. Indeed, it’s our heart that He is after.

Thus, we should stop our preoccupation with ‘ugly’ sins (like certain addictions) and instead seek to draw ever closer to God to enable our ‘mental’ transformation to accelerate. To that end God has given us these keys for success:

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. ~Psalm 119:11

By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. ~Proverbs 16:6

First, it is the word of God (the truth of God) in our hearts that washes sin out of our lives. As we study, memorize and meditate on His word, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, it renews our mind. As we orient our lives according to the Scripture, as we base our lives on His commands, we are able to overcome sin, because we are walking in daily fellowship with our God.

Second, we must accept His mercy. Accepting God’s mercy is not being presumptuous. Presumptuousness arises when we demand/expect God to sanction our plans; when we tell God what to do. To accept God’s mercy is to acknowledge our inadequacy. It is to realize that our transformation, from a self-focused mindset to a God-focused mindset, is slow and sometimes painful BECAUSE of our weakness.

It is the combination of God’s mercy, as He patiently works with us, and His Word, as it transforms our mindset, which ultimately breaks the power of sin over our lives.
Therefore, we do not draw back or hide from God when we fall into any sin; neither the ‘ugly’ ones, nor the not so ‘ugly’ ones. God instructs us to confess our sins, not hide from Him (like Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:8). He then MERCIFULLY promises to forgive us (1 John 1:9) and continue the transformation process in us (Philippians 1:6).

“…This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 3:13-14

We must never allow the devil to separate us from God. The closer we draw to our Father, the faster our transformation and the sooner our victory over all forms of sin, even the uglier-looking ones!!! We should take courage, continue to walk with God and continue to allow Him to change us. We must journey deep into God’s word and fellowship with Him, even when we are discouraged.

THE PRECIOUS PROMISE

Finally, let us always remember

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. ~Philippians 1:6

If God has started the transformation process in us, He won’t stop working (even if He has to use trials to get it done).

God won’t quit on you… so don’t quit on yourself!!!

.

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Reflections-in-the-WORD would like to thank INSPIKS for inspiration and for insightful comments on this topic.

What Christ Is To Us

A poem of an unknown Author

The Truth for every heart;
The Balm for every smart;
The Sharer of each load;
Companion on the road.

The Door into the fold;
The Anchor that will hold;
The Shepherd of the sheep;
The Guardian of my sleep.

The Friend with Whom I talk;
The Way by which I walk;
The Light to show the way;
The Strength for every day.

The Source of my delight;
The Song to cheer the night;
The Thought that fills my mind;
The Best of All to find—is Jesus!

Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

You’re Always There for Me

A Poem by Joanna Fuchs

When the world comes crashing in
And chaos rules my mind,
I turn my heart to you, Lord,
And pure, sweet peace I find.

You lift me out of trouble
You comfort me in pain;
You nourish, heal and cleanse me,
Like cool, refreshing rain.

In times of joy and bliss,
When things are going right,
You lift me even higher,
And fill me with delight.

You listen to my prayers;
You hear my every plea;
I’m safe because I know
You’re always there for me.

By Joanna Fuchs

Photo by Mohammed Hijas on Unsplash

Yours

A poem by Rob Dilworth © 2019

Please take my heart as anger pours
From all the wounds this life ignores
And heal the hurt for I am yours.

Much like the chill of winter’s cold,
My mind is numb from bitter’s hold,
So may I now your love behold.

My story vengeance yearns to tell.
Instead, let waves of mercy swell
And peace to fill my tattered sail.

Don’t let me dwell on settled scores
As I recall the painful wars
For through surrender I am yours.

So take the sum of all the wrongs,
Replace them with your mercy songs
For in my heart your love belongs.

Regardless if we’ve lost or won
We all will stand before your Son
And answer for the deeds we’ve done.

We pray that as our Lord explores
Our dreadful sins, your mercy pours
And covers us for we are yours.

by Rob Dilworth © 2019

Jehovah’s Judgments | 3. Worldliness

“Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, He hath bid His guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” ~ Zephaniah 1:7-8

Zephaniah 1:4-13 describes six (6) reasons for God’s judgment of Judah when He sent them off to Babylon in captivity.  In previous articles, we examined the first two categories of Judah’s rebellion: idolatry and pride. Now let us turn to the third category: worldliness.

First, notice that there is a shift in emphasis from the earlier verses (Zephaniah 1:4-6). In the preceding verses, the issues were devotional: they covered the relationship between God and man: the place God had (or didn’t have) in the lives of the people. However, from vs. 7 onwards, the focus shifts to how people live and how people treat each other.

Our text tells us that the ones to be punished are the wealthy and powerful of Judah: “the princes, and the king’s children”. However, God’s judgment was not due to their wealth. Rather, they were being judged for what they did with the wealth God had entrusted to them.

Our text gives one telling example of how the upper-crust of Judah spent their wealth, as it describes them as being “clothed with strange apparel”. Here, strange means the clothes (apparel) were foreign, not from Judah/Israel. And, in that period of history, foreign clothes (and goods) were expensive and thus a way to display one’s wealth. Common people could not afford such extravagances.

Why is that a problem?

First, the affluent elite of Judah failed to acknowledge that it was God that had allowed them to have wealth and privilege. And, therefore, they were obligated to use those resources to do His work according to His will. In other words, they were to be stewards of God’s assets.

In the economic circumstances of Zephaniah’s time, there were many poor who needed help. Hence, there were many better ways for the elites to spend money than on expensive foreign clothes. Again, the clothing in itself was not the issue. Rather, the problem was their disregard for those in need and their (tacit) denial of their obligation to God as stewards of His blessings.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” ~ Romans 12:2

If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.

11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 11

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

James 2:15-17

The sin of Judah’s elite is often repeated by the elite of today. But that is to be expected. Except when it happens in the Church. Because we know better. Or, at least, we should know better. Unlike the world, the children of God should be fully aware of our calling as stewards and our obligation to help the poor. We must know, we must acknowledge, that to ignore the needs of the poor is sin.

The second problem was that, in their choice of clothing, Judah’s elite were imitating the idolatrous cultures of the neighboring ungodly kingdoms. Why should God’s people use God’s blessings to imitate the lifestyles of those who hate God?

Why should Hollywood, Paris, or Milan determine how we dress or what we wear?

Why should the world define our values?

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
But ye have not so learned Christ

Ephesians 4:17-20

Sadly, our churches, for the most part, have acquiesced to the immoral, strange, fashions of our society. We have exchanged chastity for conformity, purity for prurience, wholesomeness for worldliness.

Don’t worry about whether this viewpoint is old-fashioned. Only ask whether it is the truth.

Scripture makes it clear that worldliness, in all its forms, is incompatible with God.

“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.”

Matthew 6:24

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

James 4:4

To embrace worldliness is to relinquish godliness.

Judah was judged because, in pursuit of worldly ways, they chose to ignore the poor and needy and they chose to imitate the godless. Let us be sure not to make the same mistakes. For we will surely reap the same consequences.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

1 John 2:15-17

cross sunset sunrise river mountain

His Eyes

a poem by louis gander © 2019

The multitude
was not subdued
with Jesus on display.
So I pushed near,
to better hear
what they all had to say.

It was his task
that Pilate ask,
Are You King of the Jews?
With Jesus mute
there was dispute
and so the crowd would choose.

Barabbas won,
so on the run
good Peter tried to hide.
The time was grim
when asked of him,
but three times he denied.

Now at the cross
was greater loss
with torture and with pain.
From crown of thorn
to nails and scorn,
would someone please explain?

Though not His fault,
they would not halt.
Was this unstoppable?
I called His name
so I could blame
the one responsible.

Above the din
I asked again,
“Oh, whose sin it could be?”
Through blood and sweat
I won’t forget
when His eyes turned to me.

by louis gander © 2019

Jehovah’s Judgments | 2. Pride

“And them that are turned back from the Lord; and those that have not sought the Lord, nor enquired for Him.” ~ Zephaniah 1:6

Zephaniah 1:4-13 describes six (6) practices that led to God’s judgment of Judah when He sent them off to Babylon in captivity.  We looked at the first sinful practice, idolatry, in a previous article. Now we will look at the second, pride.

Our text is actually the completion of the statement that started in Zephaniah 1:4. Accordingly, it could be considered as part of the judgment of idolatry. Nevertheless, there is a clear shift from rejecting God to serve idols, to just rejecting God. This change in emphasis highlights the fundamental issue that undergirds idolatry namely, pride.

Zephaniah explains pride in two ways:

  1. “Them that are turned back”
  2. “Those who have not sought The Lord, nor enquired for Him”

Firstly, “Them that are turned back” refers to persons who once sought The Lord, but decided that God’s way was not for them. To be clear, this does not describe ones who are backslidden or have fallen into sin like the prodigal Son of Luke 15. These individuals were at one point interested but never saved: Like King Agrippa, they were “almost persuaded”, but ultimately lost (Acts 26:28). They might have appeared to be Believers, but their rejection of God shows they never really were His:

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

1 John 2:19

The crux of the problem is that, having looked at God’s way, they decided they could do better. That is the quintessential definition of pride.

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” ~ Proverbs 16:25

But this was not unique to Judah then, and it certainly isn’t now. Every day, though aware of God, though being taught the truth, individuals decide to go their own way. They decide that what the world has to offer is superior to God’s promises. They decide that their concept of life and their perception of truth is at least good enough that they can ignore God and go their own way.

Bizarrely, many also assume that God will be okay with their rejection of Him. Judah discovered the truth the hard way: God is not mocked and God does punish evil: God judges those who reject Him.

“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

The second way in which pride is manifested is demonstrated by “Those who have not sought The Lord, nor enquired for Him”. The emphasis is on not desiring to KNOW The Lord personally or to look to Him for salvation, for guidance or for help. The individuals might have been diligent in keeping The Law, but the had no desire to relate to the God to which they made their sacrifices.

In the present day, we see this in evidence where God and His church are merely cultural institutions. A person goes to church when they are supposed to, but there is no real relationship with God. There is no real interest in knowing God, knowing His Word, seeking God’s guidance. The church is just something one attends and God is the guy they talk about, sometimes.

While this state of being might not be as open of a rejection of God as those who “turned back”, it still is rejection. The key issue here is that God isn’t worth knowing: He isn’t important enough to seek out and He doesn’t have anything I need.

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” ~ Jeremiah 33:3

Sadly, our churches are full of those for whom God only “matters” for the few hours they spend in church each week. But God is only Lord of me if He is Lord of ALL of me ALL of the time.

If I can live without God some of the time, then I can live without Him all of the time: Therefore, I don’t need Him. That is, again, the exact definition of pride. If I don’t need God, then I am my own God.

“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.”

Psalm 10:4

God is available, God cares about us. The question is whether we care enough to seek Him.

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:13

In closing, it is often easier to identify those who reject God to worship something/someone else. However, God is also rejected by those who consciously, deliberately turn away from The Truth. And by those who live as if they don’t need Him, even if they profess otherwise.

God will not force Himself on us: He is not a bully. We can choose Him or reject Him, but we must expect to live with the consequences of our choice. Judah did.

“Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24

Jesus written in Graffiti style

Cradle, Cross & Crown

A poem by John Janzen © 2014

His glory Crown was laid aside
As babe, He came to Earth
While shepherds watched their flocks by night
Mankind to God gave birth

Creator takes creation’s place
Both fully God and man
Made weak enough to suffer death
And thus fulfill His plan

He grew in favour with all men
In Spirit He grew strong
In service showing that He knew
His mission all along

He taught us truth, forgiveness, grace
He taught how gain was loss
Then demonstrated selfless love
By dying on the cross

He satisfied the wrath of God
He washed the guilt stained hand
As with his wounds, we may be healed
If we by faith will stand

And now secure in what God wrought
In hope of glory, rest
The crown upon the saints above
Is proof that they are blessed

This blessed hope in Christ revealed
Obtained but through His worth
In cradle first, then cross and crown
God’s gift to us – new birth

by John Janzen © 2014

Jehovah’s Judgments | 1. Idolatry

“I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham; ” ~ Zephaniah 1:4-5

Zephaniah 1:4-13 describes six (6) practices that led to God’s judgment of Judah when He sent them off to Babylon in captivity.  Here we will look at the first one, Idolatry, and see what we might learn about how we should walk before God.

Our text, Zephaniah 1:4-5, shows us that God planned to judge the idolatry of the people of Judah.  And it describes the three ways in which idolatry is manifested in society:

  1. “the remnant of Baal” & “the name of the Chemarims with the priests”
  2. “them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops”
  3. “them that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham”

The“the remnant of Baal” was the remaining Baal worshippers in Judah. Despite the efforts of King Josiah to eradicate idolatry in Judah (2 Kings 23:24), some Baal worshippers remained. And the“Chemarims” were simply priests who worshipped idols such as Baal.

The practice of Baal worship and other forms of paganism are not prevalent in modern society. However, the principle is alive and well. Baal-worshippers exalted a “god” made by their own hands. Accordingly, the modern analog of Baal-worship is materialism.

The materialist lives to gain more stuff, or more money to be able to get any kind of stuff desired. This was also the goal of the Baal-ist. Baal worship promised prosperity without the requirement to love and look after one’s less prosperous neighbors as Jevohah demanded.

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry

Colossians 3:5

The worshippers of “the host of heaven upon the housetops” refers to astrologers and those who believe in astrology: practices that the Bible strongly warns against doing (Isaiah 47:13-14, Deuteronomy 4:19).

Astrology is at least as popular today as it was when Zephaniah prophesied. The basic idea underpinning astrology is that the universe has knowledge that can affect our lives and we can gain that knowledge by studying it or by communing with it. In other words, we can gain all the knowledge we need for life without God.

Worshipping and/or deifying the universe is currently quite trendy. However, the idea of not needing God to know how to live is more than popular, it is entrenched in the culture of the day.

Malcham means king. The third group, those who “worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham”, are people who tried to maintain religious allegiance to God and political allegiance to the king, even if the king was corrupt: They were trying to “serve God and mammon”, which Jesus tells us is impossible (Matthew 6:24).

Attempting to gain favor with both God and with man/mammon by declaring allegiance to both, does not sound like typical idolatry. However, the goal of that strategy is to minimize risk for the individual. In other words, the strategy is neither driven by love for God nor love for the king. Rather, it is driven by love for self: by the desire to ensure a good outcome for oneself in any situation. In this case, the idol is the self.

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
an holy nation, a peculiar people;
that ye should shew forth the praises of him who
hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light”
1 Peter 2:9

Idolatry in any form is repugnant to God and deserving of His judgment (2 Chronicles 24:18, 2 Chronicles 34:25, Ezekiel 20:8, Ezekiel 36:18). Jehovah judged idolatry in Judah and we can expect He will judge idolatry again and again wherever it is found.

“And they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.”

2 Chronicles 24:18

Perhaps the most surprising and the most pertinent part of our text is the reference to the Chemarims: the idolatrous priests. The priests were supposed to be the spiritual leaders for Judah. The priest’s job was to come to God to seek mercy for his people and himself. How horrible it was that the men entrusted to take care of God’s people were themselves idolators!

Since Jesus’ death and resurrection, that role has been given to His followers (1 Peter 2:9). And, as it was with the priests in Judah, how horrible it is when idolatry is found among Jesus’ followers today.

We do great harm to the cause of Christ, to the spreading of the Gospel, when there is evidence of idolatry in the church.

Sadly, present-day churches seem to struggle greatly with all forms of idolatry. On any day, and in too many churches the stain of materialism is easy to spot.

As each day passes it seems more and more Believers and more and more churches give in to worldly “knowledge” and give up Biblical teaching on various subjects, from creation to sexuality.

And, in the last forty years, the modern church has fostered an unholy alliance with political institutions to gain favorable legal and financial status. Daily we see the church trying, and failing, to balance its allegiance to God with its political allegiance.

Idolatry has no place in the Body of Christ. We cannot lead anyone to Christ if we do not believe in His exclusive lordship over our lives. We cannot lead anyone to faith in Christ if our faith is compromised by idolatry. We cannot be priests of God and serve another “god”.

If we don’t change, then, like Judah, we too must face God’s judgment.

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

1 John 5:21

Sifting to Secure the Success of the Saved

The separation of two entities is a principle that occurs several times in the Scriptures. In the Genesis, God separated the light from the darkness; the land from the water; one firmament from another, and so on. And all the way to Revelation, we see God continuing this process of separation, which He often calls sifting.

Indeed, The Scripture shows us that, after creation, God has turned His attention to sifting us. And that elicits the question: When and why does God sift us? Or What are God’s reasons for sifting us?

Thus far, we have found two types of sifting in Scripture:

  1. Sifting for Salvation
  2. Sifting for Sanctification

1. Sifting for Salvation

The first type of sifting we will look at is sifting for salvation. John the Baptist described this type of sifting when He introduced Jesus ministry:

“…[Christ] shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in His hand [to SIFT], and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Matthew 3:11-12

In this passage, Christ is likened to a farmer winnowing, i.e., sifting, wheat. The purpose of the sifting is to separate the grain from the chaff. The grain is then gathered into His barn (garner), but the chaff is burned. This imagery precisely describes the meaning of salvation.

The saved are those that, by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), have become useful to God; like grain is to a farmer. The unsaved, by their rejection of God, are unuseful, inedible, and so must be burned. In which pile will you find yourself on Jesus’ threshing floor?

“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” ~ Matthew 25:32

Interestingly, this sifting only separates the wheat from the chaff: It does not address the quality of the grain. That requires a different kind of sifting, which we will examine next.

2. Sifting for Sanctification

The second type of sifting is sifting for sanctification. Jesus described this type of sifting when He counseled Peter:

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

Luke 22:31-32

We can also see this type of sifting in work in the Book of Job.

The symbols are the same as before, but here the chaff represents the bad aspects of ourselves that remain, even after salvation. After we are saved we still have bad habits and attitudes to deal with. Peter was saved (John 17:6-19) but he still had to grapple with his own prejudice (Acts 10-11), his anger (John 18:10), his impulsiveness (Matthew 17:4), and his hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-16).

We should note here that previously God was the one sifting everyone to separate the saved from the unsaved. However, God allows/permits satan to effect this type of sifting. God would allow satan to sift Peter just as He allowed him to sift Job centuries earlier. And God will allow satan to sift Believers today.

“Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth. ” ~ John 17:17

We should never forget, however, that the sifting is for our GOOD. Satan wants to harm us for sure, but God uses satans ill-intended actions for our benefit. Notice that

  1. Jesus has already prayed for Peter so that his faith would not fail: Peter would be able to endure satan’s sifting.
  2. Jesus said “…when thou art converted” NOT “…if thou art converted“. Jesus already gave Peter victory over satan’s sifting.
  3. The purpose of sifting was Peters conversion: Peter would be blessed by the sifting because it would change him for the better.

Crucially, we see here that the process of conversion takes place AFTER salvation. At salvation, we become new spiritual creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10). But we still have our old corrupt flesh present.

The conversion process, which is otherwise called sanctification, takes us from being dominated by our flesh to being willingly submitted to the Holy Spirit. And God allows trials to come into our lives so that by them our sanctification can be accomplished.

Finally, after his conversion was complete, Peter’s next step was to “strengthen thy brethren“. In other words, Peter was to be sifted so that he could thereby be sanctified; and then become useful to help his fellow Believers grow stronger. What satan meant for evil would end up being a great blessing to many.

Similarly, when Job’s trials were complete, he was able to help his friends who had been wrong about God (Job 42:7-10). Therefore, when we are sifted we should keep in mind that we will endure because God will give us victory and enable our ministry.

“And not only so , but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Romans 5:3-5

Closing Thoughts

It’s too late to change when the chaff hits the fan.

The Deception of Disobedience

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” ~ James 1:22

Both the meaning and the application of our text are fairly straightforward. In summary, it tells us that we should do more than simply listening (or just reading) God’s Word: We should put it into practice, i.e., we should OBEY the Word of God.

However, we would like to turn the spotlight on two parts of this passage for more examination. Specifically, we will explore two related questions:

  1. What exactly is the deception caused by not applying/obeying God’s Word when we hear (or read) it?
  2. What does this passage tell us about God’s blessing(s)?

1. The Deception of Hearing without Obeying

In the Bible (i.e., the Word of God given to guide Believers) places the emphasis for Christian living on actions. It is true that Believers are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:9). However, Christian living does end there: we are saved to do something: we are saved to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus put it this way:

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 7:21

And

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

Luke 6:46

The deception of disobedience is that it is enough to simply hear/read God’s Word or that it is enough to just acknowledge God. But Jesus clearly shows that He is far more interested in our obedience to the Word we have heard/read.

“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” ~ Matthew 7:19-20

It is not enough to just have faith. Rather, the faith that we have must be transformed into obedience. The great amount of energy an electric power company has in store has no use to a community unless it is transmitted to that community. The knowledge we have acquired regarding God’s Word is useless unless and until His Word is activated in our lives through our obedience. Likewise, simply acknowledging or simply believing in God is insufficient, for even demons believe in God.

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”

James 2:19

Believing in God is the crucial starting point. However, if we have allowed ourselves to be deceived by our disobedience, then we must consider, we must question, the validity of our own salvation: As we saw earlier: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven…” ~ Matt 7:21a

Moreover, we are instructed as follows:

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

2 Corinthians 13:5

The faith that saves, is the faith that makes us available to obey God.

To be clear, these passages do not argue for sinless perfection or perfect obedience as the standard of salvation. For example, we know that Peter denied Christ and that Jonah ran away from delivering God’s message.

Rather, as our text shows, the question is whether we remember what we looked like in the mirror of God’s Word and whether we will do something about it. In other words, the child of God cares deeply about God’s Word and what it reveals about his state. The child of God wants to be transformed into the image, the full stature, of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13-14).

Conversely, those who do not care about applying God’s Word to their lives demonstrate that they have no genuine desire to become Christlike. They are willing to cry “Lord, Lord” but are uninterested to do the things which Christ, The Word (John 1:1-3), says to do.

How important is it to you/me to serve God as Christ did?

2. Blessings

What do we want?

We want God’s blessings!

When do we want them?

We want them now!

Our text identifies who are blessed and what God blesses:

“…But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

God blesses the one who is both a hearer and a doer. And God blesses the doer’s deeds. In other words, God blesses the one who is living according to God’s will for his/her life.

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. ” ~ John 15:8

One may also think of it this way: Are God’s blessings available to those living outside of God’s will? Are God’s blessings available to those who have no intention to obey His Word?

Clearly, God’s intends to bless our acts of obedience to His Word.

To the extent that we are not living in obedience to God’s Word, we should be careful about claiming His blessing on our actions. Indeed, it is possible to claim blessings that do not originate with God.

Make no mistake, God is merciful. But God is also righteous and cannot tolerate sin/disobedience, much less bless it.

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”

Psalm 66:18

Closing Thoughts

Jesus made it clear, it is our fruit that identifies us as His disciples or as pretenders (Matthew 7:18-20). Moreover, God’s will is that every Believer bears much fruit (John 15:5-8). But it is impossible for us to bear good fruit when we fail to apply God’s Word to our lives.

“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Matthew 13:23