In 2014, the Lakeview Church family committed a verse of Scripture each week to memory. Our pastor, Al Jackson, provided a commentary on the memory verse each week to help us think about the verse. Below is the schedule we used. If you would like to commit 52 verses of Scripture to memory, we encourage you to use this schedule and the accompanying commentary.
In addition, we have a special children’s Scripture Memory Plan for children in grades 1-6.
Please click on any Scripture passage below to see the passage and to see Brother Al’s commentary on it for the week.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
The first sentence in the Bible sets the stage for everything that follows. The Bible is a book about God – who he is and what he has done.
God is the Eternal One who was “in the beginning.” God himself has no beginning. In eternity past, God was present. In eternity future, God is present. He has neither beginning nor ending. With God all is an eternal now. He exists above time yet he created time. He is Alpha and Omega; the First and the Last.
Our God, who is eternal, created “the heavens and the earth.” That is, he alone both designed the entire universe and caused it to come into existence from nothing. We learn in the remainder of Genesis chapter one that he created the universe by his word – “And God said, ‘let there be . .. ‘” (v. 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 26 & 29). The Apostle John wrote, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). All of creation, from the most glorious heavenly body to the smallest cell, has its origin in the creative word of God the Father, Son and Spirit. As the Psalmist wrote, “he has made us and not we ourselves” (Psalms 100:3).
There is no place in Holy Scripture for a naturalistic explanation of the origin of the universe. God and God alone created everything that exists and he did so for his own glory. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).
A correct understanding of the doctrine of creation is foundational to understanding God’s plan of redemption and restoration from the fall. Failure to grasp this glorious truth will result in doctrinal error in other Christian doctrines. Therefore, let us affirm without hesitation or equivocation that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. – 2 Timothy 3:16
The Bible is no ordinary book. Unlike all other books, the Bible is supernatural in origin. The Bible “has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy” (Baptist Faith and Message).
The Bible is a trustworthy book because “all scripture is God-breathed.” The words of Scripture were written over a period of 1400 years by at least forty different authors. These human authors were diverse in background. Some like Moses and David were great leaders. Others, like Peter and John were fishermen. Still others, like Isaiah and Jeremiah were prophets. Yet the Bible has one grand theme – the redemption of guilty sinners through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God who is Jesus.
When we read the prophecy of Daniel or the letters of Paul, we are not just reading their opinions. We are reading the very Word of God who breathed out of holy men His trustworthy Word. Therefore, we affirm that every book, every chapter, every verse and every word found in the Bible is the Word of God.
Our “God-breathed” Bible is the most useful book ever written. There is great profit for the Christian who saturates his mind with the words of Scripture. First, the Bible teaches us about God and how we can be reconciled to Him. Second, the Bible rebukes us when we sin. Third, after being rebuked for our sins, the Bible corrects us by showing us the correct pathway to follow. Fourth, the Bible trains us to live righteous lives which glorify God.
As we memorize this verse let us remember that we do not stand over the Bible to judge whether we agree or disagree with its teachings. Instead, affirm the Bible as the supreme standard to which we submit every thought, word and deed. As we submit to the teachings of Holy Scripture we are being conformed to the image of Christ.
Do not let this Book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. – Joshua 1:8
Everyone desires to be “prosperous and successful.” How good to know that God desires prosperity and success for his children. But we must be careful that we define prosperity and success as God defines those terms.
For Joshua and the Israelites, prosperity and success entailed possessing the Land of Promise. Many military battles lay ahead before they would occupy the land which the Lord promised to them. But victory was assured if they would “be careful to do everything written in the Book of the Law” of God. For the Israelites, the Book of the Law was the revelation of God’s will and ways for his people given by the Lord to Moses; that is, the Old Testament books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. For us, the Book of the Law is the entire canon of 66 books of the Holy Bible.
Success, as God defines it, is found in obeying the commands and precepts of Holy Scripture. The Word of God reveals the will of God. To embrace the will of God is to experience authentic success and spiritual prosperity.
The key to knowing and doing God’s will is found in meditation on the Word of God. We are to immerse ourselves in God’s Word so that our instinctive reflex is to obey God at all times. However, only as we commit God’s Word to memory will we be able to “meditate on it day and night.” Therefore, let us continue to hide God’s Word in our memory bank.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9
This is one of the most precious verses found in the Word of God. Every disciple of the Lord Jesus needs to know and claim this promise daily. Why? Because Christians continue to sin after they are converted. Sin breaks our fellowship and intimacy with God. Sin hinders our gospel witness to unbelievers. Sin results in a guilty conscience. However, we do not have to live in broken fellowship with God. We can be forgiven and cleansed. Hallelujah!
While forgiveness of sins is promised to the Christ follower, it is not automatic. Cleansing is conditional upon our willingness to confess our sins to the Lord. To confess our sins means to acknowledge that we have sinned. To confess means that we agree with God about our sin. And God hates sin. To confess means that we hate our sin. To confess means we turn away from our sin. To confess means that we name our sins one by one.
We often want to confess our sins wholesale even though we committed them retail. It is not enough to say to the Lord, “Forgive me of all my sins”. Instead, we must name them. For example, “I have been angry” or “I have lusted” or “I have been lazy” or “I have neglected your Word”. Then, and only then, will we experience the forgiveness of our sins as promised.
How is this possible? How can God, who is absolutely holy, forgive guilty sinners and yet remain just and holy? Simply because Jesus took upon himself on the cross all of our sin and guilt and judgment and shame. Otherwise, the confession of our sins would be of no avail. Therefore, since Jesus has borne our sins upon the cross we should daily confess our sins to God in order that we might walk in intimate fellowship with Him.
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
God’s love for us is never seen more clearly or demonstrated more compellingly than in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. The willingness of one person to sacrifice his or her life in order to save someone else from death is rare. Yet it happens from time to time. Occasionally we hear about a soldier who gave his life in the heat of battle to protect the lives of his fellow soldiers. These acts of courage are praiseworthy and deserving of our commendation.
The death of the Lord Jesus Christ for guilty sinners is infinitely different from that of one sinner giving his life for another sinner. Instead, the death of Jesus on Calvary’s cross meant the sinless Lamb of God died for sinful, guilty humanity. The apostle Paul said of Jesus’ death for us, “When we were powerless, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6). The hymn writer Philip Bliss captured this reality when he wrote:
“Guilty, vile and helpless we,
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement! Can it be?
Hallelujah, what a Savior!”
Yes, the death of Jesus Christ on the cross is surely the greatest demonstration of love ever expressed. Yet his death did far more than reveal the love of God the Father and of God the Son. Christ’s death atoned for our sins. What we were and are incapable of doing for ourselves, the Lord Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. Therefore, how could we do anything else but to fall at his feet in adoration and thanksgiving and cry out, “Hallelujah, what a Savior!“
I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you. – Psalm 119:11
The psalmist knew the power of the Word of God to protect himself against the temptation to sin against God. Therefore, he practiced the spiritual discipline of Scripture memory.
Temptation is ever present in the life of the disciple of Jesus Christ. As the Lord God said to Cain, “lf you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7). But how do we master sin instead of having sin master us? The answer is found in being mastered by the Word of God. The Word of God will keep us from sin or sin will keep us from the Word of God.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness he overcame Satan’s assault by quoting from the Word of God, specifically from the Book of Deuteronomy (Matthew 4:1-11). If Jesus needed to memorize and quote Scripture to defeat the attack of the devil, how much more do his followers need to arm themselves with the Word of God. Thankfully, as we can hide God’s Word in our hearts we too are given supernatural power to resist and overcome all of Satan’s temptations.
Scripture memory is not optional for those who desire to live holy lives. Indeed Scripture memory is absolutely indispensable. Let us, like the psalmist, continually hid God’s Word in our hearts that we might not sin against God.
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. – Ecclesiastes 12:13
After setting forth many wise proverbs, the Teacher, who is Solomon, summed up his work by declaring, “Fear God and keep his commandments” (Ecclesiastes 1:1, 12:9-14). If we so live we will have fulfilled our God ordained duty as men and women created in his image. Everything else is secondary to that purpose.
• To fear God means to stand before him in awe and wonder and worship.
• To fear God means to love him supremely.
• To fear God means wanting to please God more than wanting to please people. It is impossible to be a people pleaser while fearing God.
• To fear God means living in such a way as to not bring dishonor on God’s holy name
• To fear God means following his decrees and obeying his commands.
• To fear God means embracing the will of God as “good, pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
• To fear God is to seek the blessing and anointing of the Holy Spirit.
• To fear God is to live fully submitted to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in the pages of scripture.
• To fear God is to walk the pathway of wisdom and joy.
The fear of God will drive out the fear of man. Conversely, the fear of other people results in disobedience to God’s commands and the dishonoring of God’s name. Every day we have to make a choice. Either we choose to fear God and obey his commands or we fear people and dishonor God.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4
This statement was Jesus’ response to the devil who was attempting to get him to turn stones into bread. Such a temptation would be of no appeal if Jesus had not been hungry. But in fact, Jesus must have been ravenously hungry. Matthew says of Jesus, NAfter fasting forty days and nights, he was hungry” (4:2). This temptation was real.
Since Jesus was the Son of God he could have easily turned stones into bread and satisfied his hunger. Later in his ministry Jesus miraculously blessed five loaves of bread and two small fish so that they multiplied to feed five thousand people. Yet when Jesus himself was hungry he resisted the devil and refused to do his bidding. Amazingly, Jesus resisted Satan, not in the power of his divine nature, but in his humanity by using the Word of God against the devil’s temptation.
When Jesus said to Satan, NMan does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,” he was quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3. Twice more (Matthew 4:7, 10) Jesus quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy to overcome the temptations of the devil. Obviously, Jesus knew the Old Testament well and did not hesitate to take up appropriate passages in his ongoing battle with Satan.
The apostle Paul described the Word of God as ‘the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). Without a thorough knowledge of the Bible we are at great risk of succumbing to Satan’s subtle snares. However, when we are armed with the Word of God hidden in our hearts we have a powerful weapon to use against Satan. Therefore, let us memorize God’s Word so that we can triumph over the inevitable temptations to sin which come our way daily.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
• To be “in Christ” is to be united with Jesus in a personal, saving relationship.
• To be “in Christ” is to be transformed by the power of God.
• To be “in Christ” is to put off the old nature of sin and to put on the new nature of Christ.
• To be “in Christ” is to walk in holiness with God.
• To be “in Christ” is to be different from all who are not “in Christ”.
• To be “in Christ” means a radical lifestyle change.
• To be “in Christ” is to find lasting satisfaction in Jesus alone.
• To be “in Christ” is to live for his glory.
• To be “in Christ” is to have new desires, new ambitions, and new goals.
• To be “in Christ” means being a son or daughter in the family of God.
• To be “in Christ” means being seated with him in heavenly places.
• To be “in Christ” is to be eternally secure and heaven bound.
• To be “in Christ” is the best place to be in all the universe.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1
The words “no condemnation” are words of hope for the sons and daughters of Adam. In Adam’s fall we all fell. Therefore, the entire human race stands guilty before the Lord God Almighty who is absolute holiness.
In the first eight chapters of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul declares the guilt of every man and the cross of Christ as the divine remedy for that guilt. What the law of God could not do (grant righteousness to guilty sinners) Christ did through his sacrificial, substitutionary death on the cross. All who come to him in repentance and faith are declared righteous in his sight. On that basis alone could Paul write, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.”
The person who is “in Christ” never needs to fear that he or she will be condemned by God. Jesus was condemned in our place! As we sing:
For nothing good have I
Whereby thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calvary’s lamb.
Jesus paid it all,
All to him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
However, for those who are not “in Christ” is to be “condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18). The contrast is stark and sobering. All who are in Christ are not condemned. All who are not in Christ are condemned already.
Let those who are not condemned rejoice and give thanks to the One who took their condemnation upon himself on the cross. Furthermore, let those who are not condemned fearlessly proclaim the gospel to those who are condemned while there is still time to repent and believe in Christ.
“For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone,” declares the lord. “Repent and live!” – Ezekiel 18:32
This rather obscure verse gives us a look into the heart of God. Here we see the compassion of God for all people. Earlier Ezekiel had proclaimed the Word of the Lord saying, “the soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:20). Death is the consequence of sin. This doctrine was first proclaimed by God himself to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Lord said to our progenitors, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Tragically, they both ate and died. Adam and Eve died immediately in their spirits, progressively in their souls and ultimately in their bodies. Furthermore, they brought down upon their descendants (that is all of us) the sentence of death.
Centuries after the prophetic ministry of Ezekiel, the Apostle Paul wrote “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Sin always pays off in death: spiritual death and physical death and eternal death. Nevertheless, God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone, not even the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23). His heart’s desire is that everyone will “repent and live” (Ezekiel 18:32).
Eternal life is granted to anyone who will repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is God’s revealed will. The Apostle Peter declared, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
As followers of the Lord Jesus we can be confident when we proclaim the gospel to our unbelieving friends that the Lord God himself desires that those to whom we bear witness will repent of their sin and believe in Christ and live eternally.
Dear Friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. – 1 John 3:2
As the children of God, our hope is found not only in Jesus death and resurrection but also in the promise of his return at the end of the age. Then and only then will our salvation be complete. But when “he appears, we shall be like him.”
When he brings down the curtain of human history and ushers in his eternal kingdom, the lifeless bodies of all God’s people buried in a multitude of graves will be raised from their graves and given glorified, resurrection bodies like the resurrection body of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will be made like him when we see him face to face. This is our glorious hope.
Sickness will be no more. Physical disability will not exist. Mental illness will not be known. As the Apostle John wrote in the Apocalypse, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
Hallelujah! This is our destiny as the children of God. King Jesus is coming again. When he comes he will make all things new. He will usher in “a new heaven and a new earth, the house of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
With the Apostle John we cry out, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7
These words on intercessory prayer were spoken by Jesus to his disciples. While the Bible describes many great men of prayer, such as Moses and Elijah and Daniel, no one can match the prayer life of Jesus. He was preeminently a man of prayer. We are told in Mark 1:35, ‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” In Luke 5:16 we learn, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Furthermore, Jesus often taught on prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:1-13, Luke 18:1-8). There is no one more qualified to instruct us on prayer than the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the secrets to answered prayer is persistence in praying. At times our prayers go unanswered because we fail to persevere until the Lord God answers our requests. Jesus uses three key phrases to call us to persevere in our praying. Each phrase contains both a command and a promise. Literally, we are to ask and keep on asking, to seek and keep on seeking and to knock and keep on knocking. When we do, Jesus has promised that for which we asked will be given and that which we seek will be found and that door on which we knocked will be opened to us.
This promise of Jesus ought to motivate us to press on in our praying until God grants our requests. Tenacity in continuing to pray is an expression of our faith in God who honors his promises. Therefore, let us “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).
He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. – Titus 3:5
Salvation is totally of the Lord. As guilty sinners we have nothing to contribute to our salvation. Even our righteous acts are as filthy rags in God’s holy sight (Isaiah 64:6). We have nothing in ourselves with which to commend ourselves to the Lord. Our salvation is a gift of God’s mercy which was accomplished for us through the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross. When we trust what Jesus did for us on the cross, we experience in a personal, saving way the mercy of God in salvation.
Furthermore, our salvation is effected by the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit who imparts new life to us while we were still dead in our sins. Therefore, we confess that Christians are twice born. As such, we have a new nature given to us through the renewal of the Holy Spirit. The Christian life is supernatural. All other religious expressions are natural, works based attempts to earn God’s favor. Such works will never achieve eternal salvation.
We see this clearly in Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector. Both were sinners who needed God’s mercy in order to be saved. But only one “went home justified before God” (Luke 18:14). The self-righteous Pharisee did not understand that he needed God’s mercy just as much as did the humble tax collector. As a result, the proud Pharisee did not receive salvation. Mercy is only given to those who confess their sin and guilt and who cry out “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
The parable of the proud Pharisee and the humble tax collector reveals the dividing line between true and false salvation. To misunderstand this teaching is to be lost forever.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:6
The 53rd chapter of the Prophecy of Isaiah describes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ eight centuries before that event took place. Verse six in that chapter may be the most significant and profound verse in the entire Old Testament. In this one verse we learn both of the sin and guilt of the human race and of God’s provision for atonement from that sin.
First, we learn that sin and guilt are universal. All people “have gone astray. N All of us are guilty of “iniquity” in God’s holy sight. There are no exceptions. Each of us and every one of us has rejected God’s way, which is the pathway of holiness and righteousness. Instead, each of us “has turned to his own way. N I did it my way is the theme song of the human race. We are all rebels from God and his commands. We have all spurned the Lord and his holy will. Therefore, each of us is alienated from the Lord and deserving of his righteous judgment.
Second, we learn God has not left us without help or hope. Jesus Christ has taken upon himself our sin and our guilt and our judgment and our shame. Isaiah said ‘the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. N That is, God the Father placed upon God the Son the sin of Adam’s race. This took place on the cross of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ death was for more than a demonstration of extraordinary love. By his death on the cross Jesus took upon himself our sin. The sinless Son of God became sin for us. He paid our sin debt in full. When Jesus cried out on the cross “It is finished” ( John 19:30) he was answering for all time and for all eternity that the just judgment of God against sin had been satisfied through his blood shed on that cross. Therefore, pardon for guilt and forgiveness for sin is available to anyone who will repent and believe. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. – Philippians 1:21
The Apostle Paul’s perspective on life and death is radically countercultural. For most people, death is an enemy to be feared. The subject of death is taboo in polite circles. For most people, we speak of death only when compelled to do so when a family member or friend dies. The very subject of death makes us uncomfortable so we try to push death’s reality out of our minds.
But not the Apostle Paul. He told the Philippian believers ‘to die is gain.” How can this be? How can dying be gain when it appears to be loss – the loss of life and relationships? Why could the Apostle Paul write “to die is gain”?
The answer is simple. Death for the Apostle Paul was gain because Paul was “in Christ.” To be in union with Christ is to be eternally united with Him. To be eternally united with Christ is to have the assurance of eternal life in heaven.
To the church in Corinth, Paul put it this way, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling . . . For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2, 4-5).
Not only is dying gain for the Apostle Paul but dying is gain for every son and daughter of God who is “in Christ.” Heaven is our destiny. We will be given glorified, resurrection bodies like that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we can say with the Apostle Paul “to die is gain.”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
This statement by Jesus has become one of the most politically incorrect statements of this generation. We live in an era when the very idea of absolute truth is being rejected. So much so that truth claims like this one by Jesus are regarded by some as not just being narrow-minded but are seen as hate speech. In an attempt to be politically correct, many have abandoned belief that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life.” However, the very nature of truth is narrow.
Mathematical truth is narrow. Two plus two always equals four. It never equals three or five. Scientific truth is narrow. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, not at 33 degrees. Geographical truth is narrow. The northern border of the United States is Canada, not Mexico. Historical truth is narrow. The first president of our country was George Washington, not John Adams or Thomas Jefferson. So why should we be surprised that theological truth is narrow. Either Jesus is the only way for sinners to come to God the Father or he is not. If Jesus is not the only way to the Father then he is not worthy of our love and devotion. C. S. Lewis said it best in his classic work Mere Christianity:
I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ”I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg -or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. – Matthew 6:24
During the three years of his public ministry, Jesus often spoke about money and material possessions. Clearly, Jesus recognized the danger that money posed to his disciples, otherwise he would not have warned them by saying, “You cannot serve both God and Money.” He did not say we should not serve both God and Money but that we cannot serve them both.
Every professed follower of Jesus is confronted with the stark reality of settling this question, “Who is Lord?” In other words, if Jesus is Lord then money is my servant to advance the Kingdom of God. However, if money and the things which money can buy reign supreme in my affections, then Jesus cannot be Lord. Jesus said we will either “hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other”. We cannot embrace two masters at the same time.
Earlier, Jesus warned his disciples saying, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). Instead, Jesus encouraged them to “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). In other words, put your treasure in the kingdom of God so that you will have eternal reward. In contrast, treasure stored up on earth will be eternally lost when we die.
The wise follower of the Lord Jesus will put a cap on his standard of living in order to be able to store up greater treasures in heaven. The wise follower of the Lord Jesus will guard his heart against the love of money. The wise follower of the Lord Jesus lives with eternity in view.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9
As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to be actively engaged in doing good works. These good works are not the means of our salvation. Instead, they are the outward expression of our inward experience of God’s saving grace. By the practice of “doing good” we are patterning ourselves after Jesus of whom it was said, “he went around doing good” (Acts 10:38).
The doing of good works does not happen without the expenditure of energy – physical, spiritual, mental and emotional. The consequence of the expenditure of energy is fatigue in body and weariness of soul. As a result we are tempted to withdraw from the ministry of good works.
Satan takes great delight whenever a follower of Christ withdraws from the frontlines of ministry to the sidelines of comfort and ease. Paul addressed this very matter when he wrote to the Galatians with this admonition, “let us not grow weary in doing good.” This generation of Christians faces the same danger.
When our good works are met with indifference or even opposition it is tempting to pull back and withdraw from service for Christ. This we must not do. Instead, we must claim the promise of God which is “at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Jesus is Lord of the harvest. We do not know when the harvest will ripen. But we do know that the harvest will surely come. Our responsibility is to faithfully engage in works of service with the full confidence that the Lord Jesus will reward our labors in his time and for his glory.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
This may be the most profound statement in all the Bible. Here we find the way by which guilty sinners are reconciled to God who is altogether holy and righteous.
First, we learn of the role of God the Father in our salvation. In eternity past God the Father planned that God the Son would take on flesh and become the God-man. Furthermore, God the Father purposed that his Son would be crucified as payment for the sin debt of the human race. Here we see the extraordinary love of God the Father in the giving of his Son.
Second, we learn of the awful price which the Son of God paid for our salvation. Jesus is the one “who had no sin”. He was the spotless Lamb of God. He was perfect in every way. Yet Jesus was made “to be sin for us”. That is, Jesus took our sin upon himself. Every sinful thought, word or deed of Adam’s race was placed upon the sinless Lamb of God. What God the Father purposed in eternity past God the Son achieved in the fullness of time on the cross. This is the doctrine of penal substitution.
Finally, as a result of God the Father and God the Son working in harmony for the salvation of guilty sinners, everyone who places his or her trust in Jesus’ finished work on the cross is declared justified before God. That is, they are clothed in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Positionally, they are as righteous as Jesus is righteous because his righteousness has been imputed to them through faith. This is the great exchange. We give Jesus our sin and he gives us his righteousness. This is the gospel of saving grace.
The lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. – Nahum 1:7
What a wonderful promise of God to all who trust in him. This promise reveals much about the character of God. First of all we learn that “the Lord is good.” There is no evil in God’s holy character. At all times and in all ways, “God is good.” As we sometimes say, “God is good all the time and all the time, God is good.” We never need to question the goodness of God. He is incapable of moral wrong or injustice or evil. All his ways are righteous and just. The familiar chorus we sing is true, “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.”
Second, God is “a refuge in times of trouble.” Everyone encounters troubling circumstances. Hardship and adversity are universal. No one is exempt. But God has promised to be a refuge in the difficult seasons of life. He is a shelter in the storm for those who seek Him. King David said of the Lord, “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings” (Psalm 61:4).
Third, the Lord “cares for those who trust in him.” How encouraging to know that God cares for everyone who trusts in him. His watchcare for his people is genuine. Friends and family may forsake us, but God never will. Faith is the key that releases God’s care. It is not that his watchcare is in any way diminished by a lack of trust. However, we experience the fullness of God’s care only as we are walking in faith. To trust in ourselves is to place our confidence in the wrong person. Our trust should be in God alone. He cares, he shelters and he is good. Therefore, we have nothing to fear.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28
This familiar verse has comforted and encouraged the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ since the Apostle Paul penned those words twenty centuries ago. However, it must be noted that some have misunderstood the true meaning of this promise.
Notice what Paul did not say. He did not say that all things are good. In fact, most of the actions of the human race are evil. In Romans 3:11-12, Paul wrote, “There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless, there is no one who does good, not even one.” Clearly as followers of Christ we live among a people who are in rebellion against God and his kingly rule. Before we were transformed by the saving grace of Christ, we ourselves lived that way. The Scripture teaches and human history demonstrates that this world is filled with evil doers who practice evil deeds. Murder, stealing, adultery and false witness are common. These sinful acts are definitely not good nor are they the will of God.
However, while all things that take place are not good, Paul does say, “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” In good times and in bad times, in prosperity and adversity, God is working for our welfare and for his glory.
This promise is not given to humanity in general. Instead, this promise of God is only for those who know God and who love him. As the sons and daughters of God we can take heart in knowing that even in the storms of life the Lord is sovereignly orchestrating circumstances so that we will “be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:29). Therefore, let us rejoice in the knowledge that the difficult seasons of our lives are one of God’s tools to conform us to the image of Christ.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ are called to a lifestyle of kindness and compassion. A hard-hearted, mean-spirited, unforgiving person cannot and should not call himself or herself a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Kindness and compassion is not naturally produced in the human heart. Instead, kindness and compassion is the work of the Holy Spirit working supernaturally within the follower of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, kindness and compassion is not mere emotion. While there is an emotional component present, kindness and compassion move beyond emotion to action. This action is often expressed in the forgiving of others when they sin against us.
Forgiveness is not to be given because it is deserved but because it is needed. The pattern of this forgiveness is found in the way in which God in Christ has forgiven us of our sins. God’s forgiveness of sinners is based in his extraordinary grace and undeserved mercy. What each one of us deserves from God is his holy judgment upon our sin. But on the cross of Christ, God the Father placed his wrath for sin upon his sinless Son in order that we might be forgiven and reconciled to God.
The forgiving grace and mercy of God in Christ upon the cross is the model by which we are to pattern our own expression of forgiveness to everyone who sins against us. Such expressions of forgiveness are not natural to the human heart, yet, such expressions of forgiveness are clearly commanded by God and therefore, are to be obeyed through the supernatural aid of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we must forgive one another just as God has forgiven us.
The lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you in His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17
These words of promise and hope were spoken against the backdrop of God’s impending judgment upon the people of Judah. God’s people had forsaken his commands. They had left the true worship of Jehovah in order to embrace the false worship of Baal and Malech. God’s messenger Zephaniah had thundered against their sin, saying ‘”The great day of the Lord is near . . . that day will be a day of wrath a day of distress and anguish” (Zephaniah 1:14-15). Judgment was coming. Was there any hope?
Yes, there was hope for those who would repent and confess their sins. There was hope for those who would seek the Lord, for the prophet Zephaniah also declared, “Seek the Lord … seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3). Only those who humbled themselves and sought the Lord could expect to escape judgment and experience the promise and hope of Zephaniah 3:17.
This promise has five components:
1. God’s presence – “The Lord your God is with you.” He will never forsake those who trust in him.
2. God’s salvation – “He is mighty to save.” God alone can save us from his judgment upon sin. On the cross the Lord Jesus took our sin and judgment upon himself.
3. God’s pleasure – “He will take great delight in you.” God is pleased when his chosen ones delight themselves in him.
4. God’s peace and love – “He will quiet you with his love.” The Lord takes away the fears of all who trust in him, quieting our troubled hearts with his perfect love.
5. God’s joy- “He will rejoice over you with singing.” Amazingly, the Lord rejoices over his children even with singing.
The fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. – Proverbs 9:10
King Solomon was the wisest man of his generation. People came from far and near to receive his wise counsel. The Old Testament book of Proverbs is a collection of his wise sayings which were written for his son (Proverbs 1:1, 8).
The book of Proverbs is a resource of godly wisdom on a wide variety of subjects. These subjects include marriage, parenting, wealth and poverty, laziness, speech, sexuality, self-control and other practical matters which everyone faces in life. However, the theme of the book of Proverbs can be summed up in this one verse, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Solomon also wrote, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). We begin our pursuit of wisdom by learning to fear the Lord. This does not mean that we live in terror of the Lord for God is loving and gracious and kind. To fear the Lord means that our love for God is so deep and so genuine that we fear doing anything which displeases him or dishonors his holy character.
As we grow in our “knowledge of the Holy One” we will grow in our “fear of the Lord.” As we grow in our fear of the Lord we will grow increasingly wise in the sight of our God. As a result, God will be glorified and we will be satisfied.
You shall have no other God’s before me. – Exodus 20:3
By his mighty power the Lord God brought his chosen people out of slavery in Egypt. As they journeyed toward the land of promise they stopped at Mount Sinai where the Lord spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses who in turn declared them to the Israelites. These Ten Commandments have served as the building blocks of every civilized society for more than three thousand years.
The first of those commandments – “You shall have no other gods before me” – serves as the foundation of the other nine commandments. The Lord God is a jealous God. Later he declared, “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14). The Lord demands not just the place of priority in our lives; he demands the place of preeminence. When that happens, we will obey all the commands of God.
The Israelites of old failed again and again to worship God alone. Across the succeeding generations they fell into polytheism, or the worship of other gods. Every generation of God’s people face the same challenge. Old gods don’t die. They just repackage themselves for each new generation.
A god is anything that usurps the supremacy of the Lord God for our affections and devotion. Some will make a god of their possessions. Others will find their god in various kinds of pleasures. Still others will make a god of popularity. But God warns, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Jesus put it this way, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). When we love God in this manner there will be no place for other gods to gain a foothold in our hearts.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from
heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
First, notice THE PEOPLE GOD HAS. This word from God was given through King Solomon to the people of Israel, who were God’s chosen people. It was not given to the surrounding Gentile nations. The contemporary parallel is the church. While genuine revival affects the surrounding society, it always begins with God’s people. The moral decay which we face today is real and growing. However, we should not be surprised when lost people act like the sinners they are. Here, the Lord reveals that the greater problem is not with “them” but with “us” – the church. As the church goes, so goes the culture. The hope of the nation is found in the people of God.
Second, consider THE PRIDE GOD HATES. The world honors pride. However, “God opposes the proud, but give grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Revival comes to God’s people when they “humble themselves” before him and before one another. Humility may be scorned by the culture; nevertheless, we are to be counter-cultural people like the Lord Jesus who said of himself, “/ am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).
Third, reflect upon THE PRAYER GOD HEARS. Yes, God knows our every thought and he hears our every word, including our prayers. But the Lord hears prayers with the intention of answering them only if they come from his redeemed people who humble themselves by “seeking his face and turning from their wicked ways.” The Lord said, “You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). If we spent as much time seeking God’s face through contrition and repentance as we do in seeking his hands for material and physical provisions we would be well on our way to revival. Sin that remains unconfessed and unforgiven is the greatest hindrance to revival.
Finally, be encouraged by THE PROMISE GOD HONORS. To those who “humble themselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways”, the promise of God is sure. The Lord declares “Then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” The future hope of our land is found in the promise of God given to his redeemed people, the church of Jesus Christ. As the church goes, so goes the nation.
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but was made alive by the Spirit. – 1 Peter 3:18
The death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross was unlike any other death in all of history. The uniqueness of his death was not the manner in which he died. The Romans were notorious for executing their enemies by means of crucifixion. The uniqueness of Jesus’ death is found in the reason for which he died.
The Apostle Peter explained that NChrist died for sins . .. the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. 11 The Apostle Paul described Jesus’ death as, NGod made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”
(2 Corinthians 5:21). The Apostle John said of Jesus, NHe is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 4:4).
The witness of the New Testament is clear. The death of Jesus is different from any other death. His death, and only his death, was sufficient to pay the sin debt of Adam’s guilty race. Only a sinless sacrifice would suffice. And only Jesus was without sin. He was the One who was altogether righteous who was dying in the place of an unrighteous humanity. He was the innocent One who laid down his life for the guilty sons and daughters of Adam. He was the just One who died for the unjust ones.
This is the doctrine of penal substitution. Jesus died as our substitute, thereby paying the penalty of our sins. As a result, all who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus will be reconciled to God. The only appropriate response to his sacrificial death is gratitude and wonder and adoration and love and obedience. Come, let us adore our crucified and resurrected Lord.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. – Luke 6:31
We recognize this well know saying of Jesus as The Golden Rule. In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrased Jesus statement in this way, “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them.”
While The Golden Rule was spoken by Jesus only to his disciples, nevertheless, it provides wise counsel for all people on how to relate to other people. We are to treat people in the same way we would desire them to treat us if our roles were reversed. Therefore, if you want others to show respect to you then you should show respect to them. If you want others to be kind to you, then give kindness to them. If you want others to love you or care about you or be friendly toward you, then you should extend love and care and friendship toward them.
The practice of The Golden Rule in our interpersonal relationships will do much to resolve conflict between people, whether in the home or the office or the boardroom or the neighborhood or the classroom or even in the church.
It must be pointed out that the practice of The Golden Rule will not earn someone eternal life. We are not saved by being kind and thoughtful and respectful to others. Our sin is far too great for that. We are saved eternally by the grace of God given to guilty sinners when they turn away from their sin and place their trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Those who profess to be followers of Jesus should lead the way in seeking to practice The Golden Rule.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5
As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we are called to bear fruit for the glory of God. The fruit we are to bear is a Christ-like life. The Apostle Paul described this life when he wrote, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). These nine Christ-like character qualities are the singular fruit of the Holy Spirit in the life of the person who remains in Christ.
However, the fruit we are to bear also includes making disciples of those who do not know Christ and helping them grow to maturity. That means we have been born again so that the life of Christ in us will be reproduced in the lives of others. Therefore, the fruit of a Christian has two dimensions: evangelism or making disciples and Christ-like character.
This bearing of fruit is not something we can do on our own. Spiritual fruit is the work of the Spirit of God. Our responsibility is to simply remain or abide in Jesus. Just as the branch of a grape vine bears fruit only as it remains attached to the vine, we too can bear spiritual fruit only as we remain completely dependent upon the Lord. When we try to bear fruit through our own efforts we are doomed to fail. Jesus could not be any clearer on this saying, “Apart from me you can do nothing”. We can do nothing without his divine life flowing through us. But as we remain in Christ Jesus moment by moment, he will produce spiritual fruit in our lives.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29
The words we speak are powerful. With our words we can bless or curse. Our speech either builds others up or tears them down. The things we say either honor the Lord or bring dishonor to his holy name.
Jesus said the words we speak reflect the character of our heart, declaring, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” (Matthew 12:34-25). In other words, what we say is what we are. That is, what is down in the well is what comes up in the bucket.
Paul’s admonition about guarding against “any unwholesome talk” was addressed to Christians of the first century. Apparently, this generation of followers of the Lord Jesus is not the first to sin against God and others by what they say. We must confess that unwholesome talk “grieves the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30) as much today as it did twenty centuries ago.
Unwholesome talk includes a variety of sins, including gossip, slander, filthy talk, vulgar words and lying. Such speech should never come forth from the mouth of a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, let us resolve to only speak words that build others up. Let us speak words that benefit those who listen. Let us speak words of blessing and encouragement to our family members and friends and to all people. This we will do as we take care to “guard our heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13
The Lord God who we worship and serve is both personal and knowable. That means we can experience his presence and enter into close fellowship with him. Our ability to know and experience intimacy with God is only because the Lord God has chosen to reveal himself to us. This he has done in ancient times through prophets and apostles and most clearly through his Son (Hebrews 1:1-3). God’s revelation of himself to us is mediated today through his Word and through his Spirit.
In his famous sermon preached on Mars Hill in Athens, The Apostle Paul declared that God has revealed himself “so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27). If God is not far from us, then the question that begs for an answer is, “Why does God seem distant at times?” The ultimate answer lies in the imponderables of God. However, a partial answer is found in James 4:8-9, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” In other words, nearness to God is conditional upon having clean hands and a pure heart. Intimacy with the Lord is the experience of all who come to him in holiness and humility.
God’s plans for his people in this generation are no different than they were for the people of Jeremiah’s generation – “to give you hope and a future”. Those blessings were provided only to those who “will call upon me and come and pray to me (God)”. We, too, will experience God’s presence in powerful and personal ways only as we seek the Lord with all our hearts.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching. – Hebrews 10:25
Faithfully worshipping the Lord God Sunday by Sunday in the assembly of God’s redeemed people is a habit which every professed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ must develop if he desires to glorify God. The experience of meeting together with brothers and sisters in Christ to hear the Word of God proclaimed, to pray for one another and to fellowship with one another is indispensable to Christian growth and maturity. However, the failure to develop this habit results in stunted spiritual growth. There is no escaping the fact that we cannot live the life of a disciple of Christ in isolation from other believers. We need each other.
The neglect of this discipline is not a contemporary phenomenon. Before the end of the first century of the Christian movement some professed Christians were already in the habit of neglecting the practice of regular corporate worship and fellowship. Therefore, they received the admonition to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing – but let us encourage one another”.
Gathering with Christian brothers and sisters on the Lord’s Day is a means of receiving God’s grace to love God more passionately and to serve him more wholeheartedly. We must fuel our holy fire of devotion to Jesus by drawing close to others whose lives are aflame with love for our Savior. As we do so we in turn will be a means of encouragement to them just as they are to us.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. – Ephesians 5:18
This verse contains two commands addressed to the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first command is negative – “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.” The second command is positive – “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Both are equally applicable. Both are to be obeyed. Failure to be filled with the Holy Spirit is as much a sin against God as is the sin of drunkenness. Yet within the church, failure to live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit has become acceptable even as drunkenness is not acceptable.
We are forbidden to get drunk on wine or any other spirits because drunkenness leads to debauchery, which leads to ruin morally, spiritually, relationally and physically. The person in a state of drunkenness has come under the influence of a substance outside of himself. On the contrary, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit we come under the Spirit’s control. The result is self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
The command “Be filled with the Spirit” is literally translated from the Greek New Testament “be you being filled with the Spirit.” The Spirit-filled life is the normal Christian life. No follower of Christ is exempt. Everyone who professes to follow Jesus should daily surrender himself or herself to the authority of the Lord Jesus. Only as we are fully surrendered to his Lordship can we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit is holy, he will not fill an unholy vessel with his presence. However, as self is dethroned and Christ is enthroned over our lives, we can appropriate the fullness of the Spirit in our lives. Then and only then will we experience a normal Christian life which glorifies God.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. – 1 Corinthians 6:18
While every sin has within itself the seeds of destruction, this is especially so with sexual sin. However, sex itself is not sinful. Sex is God’s idea. The Lord has made us male and female. The sexual desire of a man for a woman or of a woman for a man is the result of God’s design for mankind. God told Adam and Eve to be “fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:28). This expression of the sexual union was to take place in the context of marriage between a husband and a wife. The Lord said, “For this cause a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become on flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God’s design has not changed. This one flesh relationship is the sexual union of a man and a woman within the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual expression is forbidden by the Lord of creation, whether pre-marital, extra-marital or homosexual. The Lord has made this emphatically clear in the seventh of the Ten Commandments, saying “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).
When the Apostle Paul penned his first letter to the Christians in Corinth he did so knowing the design of God for human sexual expression as revealed in the books of Genesis and Exodus. He was also knowledgeable of the rampant sexual immorality being practiced in the city of Corinth. Corinth was famous in the first century for its temple prostitutes. Paul knew the temptations which faced the followers of Christ in Corinth. His counsel was clear and strong – “Flee from sexual immorality”.
With some temptations we should stand and fight the enemy of our souls in the power of the Holy Spirit. But when it comes to sexual temptation, the only wise and safe course is to flee. We deceive ourselves if we think we can remain sexually chaste before marriage or sexually faithful within marriage if we play around with sexually enticing images or words which are common within the media today. Pornography is often the first step on the road to sexual bondage. In fact, the phrase “sexual immorality” translates the Greek word porneia from which we get our English word pornography. Let us never forget that, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31
True followers of the Lord Jesus have a consuming passion to live holy lives that bring honor and glory to God. To glorify God means to make much of the Lord. While we cannot make God any more glorious than he already is, we can and should order our lives so that others can see that the Lord is glorious and most worthy of our affections and worship.
We glorify the Lord when we obey his commands. Obedience demonstrates our trust in the Lord and our confidence that his commands are infinitely wise. As we walk with God in submission to his will those around us will see the goodness of God exhibited to us. As a result the Lord God will be glorified in us before the watching world.
The Apostle Paul specifically declares that what we Heat or drink” should be for God’s glory. Our daily bread and drink come from God’s gracious hand to nourish and strengthen our bodies. God is glorified when we acknowledge that he is the provider of our food by giving him thanks for what we have to eat.
Not only are we to eat and drink to the glory of God but “whatever” we do is to be for God’s glory. “Whatever” is an all-encompassing term. No area of life is left untouched. The words we speak are to glorify God. Positively, this means we speak often of the Lord Jesus. It also means that we speak wholesome words that build others up. Negatively it means we refuse to engage in gossip and slander and lying and profanity and vulgarity.
Furthermore, our actions should glorify God. The Lord God is glorified when we walk with him in holiness of life. A holy lifestyle displays God’s glory by showing his supreme worth to those with whom we come in contact day after day. Therefore, let us make it our ambition to live for the glory of God in all that we think and say and do.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. – 2 Peter 3:18
Every follower of Jesus Christ has been redeemed from sin so that the Lord will be glorified in us both in this life and in the life to come in heaven. When we see the Lord Jesus our salvation will be completed for we are promised that “when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Until that day, we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
As we grow in “grace” we are becoming more like Jesus. The Apostle John said that Jesus was “full of grace” (John 1:14). Every true follower of the Lord Jesus seeks to become increasingly more like Jesus. This means becoming a man or woman of grace. As recipients of God’s grace, Christians understand their debt to the Lord. As a result they seek to become channels of God’s grace to others.
The primary means by which we grow in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior” is through the study of the Word of God. God has revealed himself to us through the pages of the Holy Bible. The Apostle Peter understood this, writing, “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). At the moment of conversion the new believer becomes a spiritual baby. He has new life in Christ. Now he needs to grow in Christ-likeness.
A mushroom can spring up overnight. A squash can ripen in a few weeks. However, it takes decades for an oak tree to come to maturity. Likewise, our growth “in grace and knowledge” as a Christian takes time. The Christian life is not a hundred meter sprint but a lifelong series of marathons.
This growth into Christ-likeness is not automatic. It does not just happen with the passing of time. We must study the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as revealed in the pages of Scripture, especially the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Here we hear his voice. Here we discover his will. Here we learn how to live as Jesus’ disciple. As we do so we will become more like Jesus and he will be glorified in and through us.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. – Ephesians 6:18
Prayer is the Christian’s channel of communication with God. God delights to hear our prayers. His ear is attentive to our petitions and intercessions. However, to pray with power we must “pray in the Spirit”. Left to our own devices our prayers are weak and ineffective. Therefore, we depend upon the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness in prayer for “we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26).
We should pray “on all occasions”. Yes, we are to have regular times of prayer, both private and corporate. However, our praying should not be limited to those set times but should extend to “all occasions” of our lives. Joyful occasions call for prayers of gratitude and praise. Difficult occasions call for prayers requesting help from the Lord. There is no situation we will ever experience about which we cannot pray to the Lord.
We are to pray “with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Prayer takes many forms. There are prayers of adoration in which we praise God for who he is. There are prayers of confession of sin in which we repent of our sins and receive God’s forgiveness. There are prayers of thanksgiving by which we express our gratitude to God for his immeasurable gifts to us. There are prayers of supplication by which we make our requests known to God.
Finally, we are to “be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” The temptation to give up praying when our prayers are not answered according to our expectations is a real one. We must resist this temptation. God will answer our prayers if we persevere, especially as we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers in his harvest field.” – Luke 10:2
These words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ are as true today as they were when he spoke them 2,000 years ago. The harvest is still plentiful and waiting to be gathered. The workers are still few. Approximately 95% of all Christian workers serve among 5% of the people of the world while 5% of Christian workers serve among the remaining 95% of the people of the world. This is unacceptable to every Bible-believing, Spirit-filled follower of the Lord Jesus.
The Spirit of the Lord is moving around the world to expose the emptiness of the false religions which are embraced by billions of lost souls. Multitudes are seeking the forgiveness of their sins and atonement for their guilt. Tragically, they are looking for redemption in religious practices which cannot save them from their sins. As Christians, we have the message of salvation and eternal life.
How shall we respond to the shortage of workers? Jesus has given us his answer. We are to pray. We are to “ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers in his harvest field.” However, we cannot pray this way with integrity if we are unwilling to go ourselves, or if we are unwilling to send our sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters.
Therefore, let us boldly pray for the Lord of the harvest to raise up an army of God-called men and women who will go to the ripe harvest fields of the nations with the glorious message of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Delight yourself in the lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4
This amazing promise is almost too good to be true. Who would not want to have the desires of his heart become reality? Yet this is exactly what King David, the sweet singer of Israel, is saying. However, this is a conditional promise. Nowhere in Scripture are we promised that the Lord will give us whatever we desire regardless of our spiritual condition. Our desires are to flow out of our delighting ourselves in the Lord. We are to seek our pleasure in him. We are to pursue his eternal purposes for our lives. We are to seek to be holy just as the Lord is holy. We are to seek to honor him. Fellowship with the Lord is to be the consuming passion of our hearts. Then, and only then, will we be given the desires of our hearts. Because only then will our desires be in agreement with the plans which God has for us.
This is a win-win situation. God’s will is done and he is glorified. Our desires are fulfilled and we are satisfied. In other words, when we want for ourselves what the Lord wants for us we will always have all we want.
Just as a loving son or daughter takes delight in honoring parents, we too are to seek to please the Lord. We are to seek our joy in him. As we do so we will not be disappointed. The more we delight ourselves in the Lord the more we desire to delight ourselves in him. As a result we experience the desires of our heart in ever increasing measure. King David knew this reality, saying “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
Never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
Money is a wonderful servant but a cruel master. Money can be used for noble purposes which honor the Lord and bless others. On the other hand, money can be used to gratify selfish and sinful desires which dishonor God. In itself, money is neither good nor evil. Money is simply a medium of exchange. It is morally neutral.
The love of money is deadly. The love of money destroys contentment because money cannot satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. The allure of money is powerful. However, it always over promises and under delivers. Only a love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ provides true and lasting joy and contentment.
Furthermore, the love of money has destroyed the faith of some who once followed Christ. The Apostle Paul declared, ‘The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10). Such is the tragic end of those who fall in love with money and the things which money can buy.
As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we are to be wise stewards of the money which God has entrusted to us. We are to “keep our lives free from the love of money” by maintaining a Christ-centered focus on eternity. Money is not to be hoarded. Instead we are to keep money in circulation in order to bless others and advance the gospel. The Lord, not money, is our security. He has promised “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” With this assurance we are liberated from the allure of money to become channels of blessing by releasing the money entrusted to us for kingdom purposes. As a result we experience genuine contentment which glorifies God as we show the world that we value God far more than we value the things of this world.
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. – Proverbs 22:1
This statement is clearly counter-cultural. We live in an affluent society which places a premium on the accumulation of wealth and on the things which money can purchase. Those who are wealthy are regarded as successful. Those without much money are considered to be unsuccessful. From a biblical perspective the world’s standard of success is fatally flawed.
King Solomon, who was the wisest man of the Old Testament era, declared a person’s good name to be far more valuable than the accumulation of material riches. From his inspired words as found in the book of Proverbs we learn:
“Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (11:28).
“Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil” (15:16).
“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint” (23:4).
“Riches do not endure forever” (27:24).
While material wealth is not sinful, material gain at the expense of a man’s integrity is sinful. Wealth lost can be regained. However, the loss of one’s good name is difficult to regain. Therefore, the follower of the Lord Jesus Christ should guard the integrity of his good name even if doing so results in financial loss. It is far better to have a sterling reputation than to have sterling silver in the bank. We gain and keep a sterling reputation by walking with the Lord in holiness and humility.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, 11 says the Lord Almighty, “And see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” – Malachi 3:10
This verse contains both a command and a conditional promise. The command is “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.” The tithe is the first tenth part of one’s income. Tithing was practiced by Abraham (Genesis 14:17-20) and by Jacob (Genesis 28:20-22) long before the giving of the law through Moses. The lawgiver Moses instructed the people of God to bring “a tithe of everything from the Lord, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, for it belongs to the Lord, it is holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30).
By the time of the prophet Malachi many centuries after Moses, the people of God had ceased to bring the tithe to the Lord as an expression of their worship. Therefore, the Lord spoke to that generation through his messenger saying, “You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me” (Malachi 3:9). Apparently, the Lord considers the withholding of the tithe to be on par with stealing.
The command is clear – “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.” The promise of blessing is conditional upon obedience to the command. The promise is given in the form of an invitation to put God to the test. The Lord says “test me in this”, and you will experience blessings from heaven. These blessings from the Lord are so great that he will have to “throw open the floodgates of heaven” to bestow them and they are so numerous “that you will not have room enough” to receive them. Such is the gracious blessing of the Lord upon those who “bring the whole tithe” to the Lord as an expression of their love and worship and devotion.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. – Acts 4:12
The pathway to salvation is narrow. Contrary to much contemporary opinion, there are not multiple ways for guilty sinners to be reconciled to God who is absolute holiness. The way of salvation is found only in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The pathway to heaven is through the blood stained cross of the sinless Son of God. To believe that the Lord God will save guilty sinners apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross is na’ive at best and blasphemous at worst. To believe that God will save sinners other than through conscious faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is to call into question the goodness of God. How could a good God send his only begotten Son to suffer and bleed and die for sinners if there are other ways for guilty sinners to be reconciled to God? Such a God would be unspeakably cruel.
Nevertheless, some people who profess to follow Christ advocate for a broadness in God’s mercy which is foreign to the teaching of the New Testament. Such people believe that Christians go to heaven first class while everyone else goes second class. Such false teaching undercuts the evangelistic mandate of Jesus.
We must formulate our doctrine of salvation upon the Word of God alone. When the Apostle Peter was called before the Sanhedrin and instructed to give an account of his actions, he proclaimed, “Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” The Apostle Paul stands in solidarity with Peter, declaring, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Both Peter and Paul were only affirming what Jesus himself taught when he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The way of salvation is as narrow as the cross of Christ. Yet it is sufficiently wide enough that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). The reality that salvation is found in Jesus alone gives every true disciple of Christ a sense of urgency to proclaim the message of salvation to lost sinners everywhere in the earth.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. – James 1:22
Every follower of the Lord Jesus Christ takes seriously the necessity of listening to the Word of God. There are diverse ways to receive God’s Word. We can hear it preached in a public worship service. We can hear it taught in a small group Bible study. We can read the Word of God for ourselves in our personal time alone with God. We can listen to the Scriptures being proclaimed through various forms of media. There is no shortage of ways to learn the message of the Word of God. Furthermore, we should take advantage of as many of these means to listen to the Word of God as we can.
However, we must be careful that we do not stop at only listening to the Word of God. James says that if we “merely listen to the word” but “do not do what it says” then we “deceive ourselves”. The Word of God is not given to us for our information only. The Word of God has been given to us for our transformation. It is not enough just to fill our minds with facts from the Bible. It is not enough to comprehend sound doctrine, as important as that is. We must go further. We must obey the Word of God. We must practice its precepts. We must claim its promises. We must gladly submit to its commands. We must respond to the Lord in whatever ways he has revealed himself in the Word of God.
The goal of our Christian pilgrimage is “to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:29). Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate. The Bible is the Word of God written. Only in the Word of God do we learn of Jesus Christ. Only through the Word of God do we experience life transforming encounters with Jesus. Therefore, let us not be content with merely hearing the Word of God. Let us daily put into practice what we learn from the inspired Word of the Living God.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7
Every follower of the Lord Jesus Christ is called to a life of fellowship with other Christians. The Christian life is to be experienced in community with other followers of the Lord Jesus. Isolation from other Christians is not an option for the person who professes to follow Christ.
Our fellowship with other Christians is grounded in our fellowship with God. The Apostle John declares, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). God is absolute moral perfection. There is no flaw in his holy character. However, the human race is morally corrupt. We stand guilty before the Creator of all things. Fellowship with God is impossible apart from “the blood of Jesus” which “purifies us from all sin”. However, through the death of the Son of God on the cross, fellowship with God is made possible for everyone who repents of his or her sin and who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Once fellowship with God has been gained then, and only then, is it possible to “have fellowship with one another”. This fellowship which Christians experience with one another is far deeper than that experienced in any other community. This fellowship flows out of fellowship with God. Fellow believers are not just good friends. They are brothers and sisters in the family of God. This fellowship is not centered upon common interests like hobbies or athletics or political causes. Instead, it is centered in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. This fellowship transcends social and ethnic and even political differences. It transcends social and economic barriers. But even this is possible only as “we walk in the light, as he is in the light”. As we walk in close fellowship with Jesus we will supernaturally desire to walk in close fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the family of God. Such fellowship is a grace gift of God to his church.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10
Every Christian has been given a spiritual gift which empowers him or her to serve the Lord Jesus through the church of God. A spiritual gift is not a talent nor is it a natural ability. All people, Christians and non-Christians alike, have talents of some kind. However, a spiritual gift is a God-given, supernatural ability which is given only to Christians. No believer has been left out in the distribution of spiritual gifts or exempted from service for Christ. The Apostle Peter made this clear when he wrote, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others”. Spiritual gifts are not given for the purpose of showcasing the gifted person. Instead spiritual gifts are to be exercised in ministry for the glory of God. This gift must ultimately point to the Giver, who is the Lord God.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are diverse. They are given to believers in “various forms”. One believer might have a ministry of teaching based upon his gift of teaching. Another believer might have a ministry of encouragement based on her gift of encouraging. Other spiritual gifts include prophecy, administration, helps, showing mercy, faith, leadership, giving, discernment and others. In every case, the spiritual gift determines the focus and fruitfulness of one’s ministry.
Regardless of the diversity of spiritual gifts, every gift comes from “God’s grace”. Therefore, when the church of the Lord Jesus Christ functions as he intends, it becomes a grace filled community of brothers and sisters who serve one another in love.
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” – 1 John 5:13
Eternal life is the gift of God to everyone who “believes in the name of the Son of God”. In his high priestly prayer Jesus prayed, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). The Apostle Paul wrote, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). To have eternal life is to have an unbreakable relationship with God through faith in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Eternal life begins at the moment of conversion and never comes to an end.
The gift of eternal life is not something we find out we have at the moment of physical death. Notice what the Apostle John does not write. He does not write, “write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may hope you have eternal life.” Nor does he write, “write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may wish you have eternal life.” Furthermore, John does not write, “write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you will find out on judgment day that you have eternal life.”
Instead, John declares that we can know now that we have eternal life. We can have full assurance in this life that our eternal destiny is settled. We have a know-so salvation. Heaven is our home. The God who saves sinners wants us to know that we are his sons and daughters, redeemed by his mercy and eternally secure in his great grace.
With this assurance of eternal life we can boldly proclaim the gospel of salvation with great confidence that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ will experience eternal life.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
These are the last words spoken by Jesus before he ascended back to his Father in heaven. We can be sure that Jesus chose his final words carefully as such words carry greater significance than other words. These words are the last of the five Great Commission statements of Jesus, along with Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:46-49 and John 20:21-22.
Jesus begins with a promise to his followers – “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” This promise was fulfilled ten days later on the day of Pentecost as “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). Jesus used a word for power from which we get our word dynamite. Every true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ has the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit within his or her life.
Not only did Jesus promise his followers the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, he also declared, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The Book of Acts records the advance of the gospel beginning in Jerusalem (1:1-7:60) moving into Judea and Samaria (8:1-12:25) and continuing to the ends of the earth
(13:1-28:31). Here we have a pattern of gospel witnesses for every church in every generation.
Gospel witness begins at home. Every church has the responsibility to proclaim the message of salvation to its own community. But it does not stop there. This gospel is to be proclaimed across geographical and racial boundaries. Unfortunately, the members of the first century church at Jerusalem neglected to obey Jesus commission until “a great persecution broke out against the church” so that “all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1). Only then were they obedient to go forth with the gospel of salvation. Eventually, the message was preached in the imperial capital of Rome.
Like those first century Christians, we too have a mandate from Jesus to declare the gospel to our own community and across racial and linguistic barriers. And just like them, our mandate is to go “to the ends of the earth” with the announcement that a Savior has come who is Jesus Christ the Lord.
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” – Hebrews 12:14
Every follower of the Lord Jesus has a God-given responsibility to seek to “live in peace with all men.” While some may refuse our efforts to “live in peace” nevertheless we must “make every effort” to relate to everyone in a spirit of peace. To do so is to be like Jesus who told his disciples, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). To be a person who seeks peace is to be like Jesus who is the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
When the Apostle Paul wrote, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility . . . His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:14-15), he was speaking of the bitter racial hostility between Jews and Gentiles which was overcome by the death of Jesus on the cross. A saving relationship with the Lord Jesus so transforms a person’s sinful heart that he or she grows to love persons or groups that he or she once despised.
Not only are followers of Christ to “make every effort to live in peace with all men” but they are “to be holy.” To be holy is to be different. To be holy is to think Christ-honoring thoughts. To be holy is to speak wholesome words which build up others. To be holy is to so live that God is glorified and his church is edified. Holy men and women reflect the holy character of God.
Holiness is not optional for, “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Holiness is both positional and practical. Every person who repents of his or her sin and who trusts in Jesus alone is declared positionally holy or righteous by God. This is justification. However, there is a practical holiness (sanctification) which is to be lived out day by day. Practical holiness calls for daily repentance from sin as well as daily surrender to Jesus as Lord. Practical holiness means living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. As we so live we can be sure that we “will see the Lord” for Jesus proclaimed, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
This is one of the most profound verses in all Scripture. Here we learn that God the Son, who is co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and God the Spirit, took on flesh and became a man. The very idea appears to the human mind to be beyond comprehension. How can this be? How can God become a man? How can the second person of the Trinity take on human flesh? Yet it is gloriously true. ‘The Word became flesh.” God the Son left heaven’s glory and entered into the human experience as the baby born to the Virgin Mary. God became man so that he is fully God and fully man. He is as much man as if he was not God. He is as much God as if he was not man. Jesus is unique. He has God as his father and Mary as his mother. Explaining how the “Word became flesh”, the Apostle Paul wrote, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4). Therefore, we affirm that Jesus Christ is God incarnate.
Jesus came to us clothed in flesh that we might see and experience God. During the days of his earthly ministry Jesus proclaimed, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). John wrote of himself and of the other disciples, “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father.” Jesus is the revelation of the glory of God. On another occasion John wrote of Jesus, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked out and our hands have touched” (1 John 1:1). Jesus is God made visible.
This Word which has become flesh is “full of grace and truth.” Jesus reveals God to be true and trustworthy. There is no flaw in his holy character. Jesus also reveals God to be gracious toward sinners who repent and believe. Such a God is worthy of all our love and adoration and obedience.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” – Romans 1:16
The word “gospel” means good news. The gospel is the good news that the Lord Jesus Christ has come into the world to redeem guilty sinners from their bondage to sin and Satan and self. This good news is best understood against the backdrop of the bad news. The bad news is “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Furthermore, as a result of sin the bad news for all of humanity is “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Therefore, apart from the gospel every man and woman faces the reality of eternal death. As guilty sinners, the entire human race is separated from God and is helpless to repair the breech between God and man.
However, what we cannot do, God in Christ has done for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul proclaimed this good news as “the gospel I preached to you” as being “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This is the gospel. Here is found our only hope of eternal life.
The Apostle Paul was “not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” The gospel has supernatural power to transform the most hardened sinner into a saint of God. The gospel is the power of God which breaks the chains of lust and pride and greed and envy and a multitude of other strongholds which enslave men and women. The gospel has power to impart spiritual life where there is spiritual death. This gospel is good news indeed.
Furthermore, the gospel of salvation is for “everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” God is no respecter of persons. The gospel knows no racial or social or economic barriers. Anyone may be saved if he or she will simply embrace the gospel of God’s redeeming grace.
This sin scarred world desperately needs the good news of the gospel. Therefore, let us affirm with the Apostle Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” Let us be found gossiping the gospel with clarity and boldness until Jesus returns.