The battle rages, and the Captain of our army encourages us to stand in the gap, to “put on the whole armor of God...and having done all, to stand.” A recent bulletin reported that the Episcopalian church is on the verge of allowing homosexuals into their pulpits. Another bulletin reports that the Catholic church is about to capitulate on this same moral issue. Meanwhile, toleration is in, opposition is out, and it is apparent that our brethren are about to succumb to the same kind of “pluralistic” thinking that is sweeping our society. “Judge not that ye be not judged” has become the battle cry for those weak of spirit. Controversy is no longer politically correct, whether it is in the political or the religious realm. I for one, am grateful that neither Jesus, nor His apostles, ever adapted such a philosophy in order to promote and promulgate the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Had the restorationist pioneers held to the same attitude toward religious division and error as some of our brethren do today, they would never have gotten to first base in bringing about a restoration of the ancient order of things. J.S. Lamar wrote the following approximately 30 years after the death of Alexander Campbell. I share it with our readers for no other reason than to show that firm conviction and a stalwart stand for the truth is the only way by which the citadels of error will ever be torn down and the truth of God exalted. Here is what brother Lamar wrote:
“Every party had made its own creed, and set forth its conception of Christianity in a form chosen by itself. Every builder had erected a structure in accordance with his own architectural ideas and designs; and the results were satisfactory to the builders and really, for human structures, very good. It was while resting in fancied security in these corrupted and beautiful temples, the product of their skill and the pride of their hearts, that Alexander Campbell, as with the voice of God’s thunder and the sword of God’s Spirit, broke upon them, and aroused them to a sense of their danger. Now, if instead of thus assaulting them, he had been content to accept their guage [sic], and to meet them on their own chosen ground, both the conflict and the result would had been different. They were fully prepared to contest the question of comparative merit; and if the issue had been, for example, whether the English church was better or worse than the German; whether the Methodist had more or less truth than the Presbyterian; whether the creed, the doctrines, the practices, of any given sect, approximated in more respects than those of some others to the apostolic model and teaching - in such case the conflict would have been most welcome. But Mr. Campbell did not condescend to engage in any such useless strife. The peculiarities of sects and their varying degrees of excellency were treated only as side-issues and incidents, while with ponderous and pounding logic he battered upon the very basis of sectarianism - contending that, whether they had more of the truth or less, they were still wrong, fundamentally wrong, wrong in being sects, wrong in not being what Christ had founded, while yet assuming to occupy the place, to command respect, and to wield the authority of the divine institution. And now the fight was on. It was Alexander Campbell against the whole sectarian world - and all this world combining to resist him.”
Thank God for such men as Mr. Campbell, “Raccoon” John Smith, Barton W. Stone, and a host of courageous men who refused to bow to the “pluralistic” mind-set that so dominates our world, yea even our own brotherhood, at this very hour. It is readily admitted that when we take a stand on the side of truth, that we will be criticized. But at least we know we stand with good company, “for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you” (Matthew 5:12b).
The fight is on! We have been provided adequate armor to repel the fiery darts of the evil one, but we must take up the armor. A careful examination of the spiritual armor described by the inspired apostle as set forth in Ephesians 6:14-17 leads us to the inevitable conclusion that God intended us to use the word to engage that battle. Our loins are girt with truth (Eph. 6:14). “Sanctify them in truth, they word is truth” (John 17:17). We have put on the breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14). The Psalmist told us, “all thy commandments are righteousness” (Psa. 119:172). We are to have our “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). If that is not the word of God, I am at a loss as to its meaning. The “shield of faith” (vs. 16) is more literally, “the shield of the faith,” which, of course, is the system of belief provided in God’s word, and specifically the New Testament (cf. Jude 3). We must “take the helmet of salvation” to protect our spiritual minds and hearts, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). Each of these six items refer to the word of God, with all of its power and persuasive capability to defeat the enemy and comfort the child of God. Yes, the fight is on! It is left up to us as to whether or not we will engage the battle. It will take courage and the determination to remain faithful to the end. We dare not compromise, and to capitulate is not an option. Martin Luther King once said, “Crowd pressures have unconsciously conditioned our minds and feet to move to the rhythmic drumbeat of the status quo. Many voices and forces urge us to choose the path of least resistance, and bid us never to fight for an unpopular cause and never to be found in a minority of two or three.”
Should it be our lot to stand alone, or at best with the minority, and should the host of the armies of darkness assail us, we can be assured that in the final analysis, when all has been said and done, and we stand before the Captain of our army, we will hear the sweet words, “Enter thou into the joys prepared for you.” It will have been a well fought battle, and the victory shall be ours to enjoy for all eternity. The fight is on! “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
By Tom Wacaster
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Saturday, August 19, 2017
The Baggage Claim
Baggage. What does that word bring to your mind?
To some, the word baggage will bring to mind suitcases and personal belongings of travelers. To others, Webster’s third definition may be considered: “intangible things that get in the way.” To all, baggage will likely be thought of as a heavy burden.
Jacob Hawk recently flew to Nashville, TN for a speaking engagement. He experienced some difficulties in his airline travel. “I was delayed on my first flight, arrived late on my last flight, and lost my bags in the process,” he reported. *
The airline placed his luggage on another plane, so he had to wait for a few hours at the baggage claim for his belongings to arrive. As he waited, he contemplated on some lessons about life learned from the baggage claim.
One lesson that Hawk considered was that every person has some “baggage.” “We have those ‘stories’ and ‘items’ we don’t want others to see. Some ‘carry it’ daily. Others ‘check it’ with Jesus (the much better option), but the baggage still exists. And that baggage is OUR baggage. No one else’s. They can try to claim it, but it’s the wrong bag. They have their own baggage to carry.”
Hawk also thought: “There may be similar ‘bags’ on the conveyer belt of life. Maybe the same size. Or the same shape. But our baggage still is our baggage. No one else can take it home with them.”
Baggage, despite the varying shapes, sizes, weights, and types, is burdensome to all… especially when it comes to the “baggage” of our mistakes, our sins.
But Hawk also considered the Good News (the Gospel): “Jesus gave His life for us so our baggage wouldn’t be charged against us.” “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24 NIV). “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28 NKJV).
Because Jesus died for our sins on the cross, we can be freed from the burden of sin and enter into eternal life in heaven (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23).
God will take away the burden of sin and give eternal life to those who accept His offer on His terms by placing our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to free us from the burden of sin as we continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
Your baggage is too heavy for you to keep carrying. In fact, it will destroy you. “Check” your baggage in to Jesus. Allow Him to take your burden from you. Then, you will be free to live for Him and you can look forward to your eternal destination in heaven.
Let Jesus take care of your baggage. Won’t YOU?
-- David A. Sargent
* From “Baggage Claim” by Jacob Hawk in The Hawk’s Nest in Start2Finish.org, 8/13/17.
David A. Sargent
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Alfred Angelo, a national bridal chain, abruptly closed around July 14, 2017, informing customers through their website and printed messages on closed storefront windows that the chain was filing bankruptcy.
Brides and their families who had not received their dresses panicked. Many of them had already paid for the dresses and for needed alterations.
Rose Ellis, a seamstress in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was picking up dresses to alter at the Alfred Angelo store in Oklahoma City when she learned the news that the bridal chain was closing that very day.
Her first thoughts were focused on the brides who were counting on their dresses for their special days. She felt she had to do something about the situation. And she did.
Rose gathered around 60 dresses in the Oklahoma City store that had been paid for and needed alterations and brought them home with her. Her goal was to complete the alterations, contact the owners of the dresses, and make sure the dresses fit properly – all at no additional charge. She was determined to do this despite the fact that she would not be compensated by Alfred Angelo.
Stephanie Huey of Oklahoma City had her bridesmaids’ Alfred Angelo dresses at the OKC store awaiting alterations. She was in a panic fearing that the dresses and her investment were irretrievable. But Rose contacted Stephanie to inform her that she had her dresses and that she would complete the alterations at no charge.
Touched by her thoughtful generosity, Stephanie assisted Rose in contacting other brides-to-be in similar circumstances and arranged for a Holiday Inn Express in OKC to provide a space where Rose could fit the wedding gowns for the Alfred Angelo customers.
“I was just dumbfounded,” Stephanie said. “I thought her good deed was just to bring the dresses back to everyone, but she was still doing all the alterations -- and for free.”
Stephanie and others whom Rose has assisted have opened a GoFundMe account to help defray her travel expenses and the cost of doing the alterations for free. At the time of the writing of this article, almost $24,000 of the $30,000 goal has been raised. *
Doesn’t the word “gracious” describe Rose Ellis?
Her selfless actions also picture the grace that God extends to you and me.
When we were “bankrupt” due to our sins and destined for destruction, God still loved us. He gave His Son to die on the cross for us so that we could be redeemed from sin and receive the gift of eternal life (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23). He did this, not because we deserved it, but because He loves us (read Ephesians 2:8-9).
Because of His love and grace, God will save those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Gracious, full of grace. God is gracious. He wants to save us – and He will, if we will only accept His offer on His terms.
-- David A. Sargent
* Information gleaned from “Seamstress from abruptly closed bridal store reunites brides with wedding gowns” by Katie Kindelan of abcnews.go.com, posted July 27, 2017
David A. Sargent
Saturday, August 5, 2017
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Friday, August 4, 2017
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
I have been accused of over emphasizing the part baptism plays in the salvation of sinners. In view of what the Bible teaches, I do not see how this could be possible.
There are five passages in the New Testament which mention both baptism and salvation in the same verse (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:4; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). In all of these passages, water baptism precedes the remission of sins. Do you know of a passage where the order is reversed?
Mark 16:16 contains two conditions for salvation: faith and baptism. It also contains the conditions for damnation: a lack of faith. If you want to know what you must do to be lost, it will tell you -- all that is necessary is a lack of faith. If you want to know what to do to be saved from your past sins -- it commands you to believe and be baptized.
In Acts 2:38 Peter told a group of believers to "repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Our Baptist friends often focus on the word "for" in this passage and insist it means "because of," even though it is never translated that way in any reputable translation of the Bible. We have to remind them that if baptism is "because of" the remission of sins, then so is repentance. Baptism and repentance are joined by the little word "and." Whatever one is "for" the other is "for."
After we are buried with Christ in baptism, we are raised to walk in a newness of life (Romans 6:1-4). This new life comes after baptism in water. Many preachers want to "bury" the "new man," since they claim the newness of life comes before our "burial."
Three days after the Lord appeared to Saul of Tarsus, Ananias told Saul to "arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins" (Acts 22:16). Many preachers today claim Saul was saved three days before Ananias met him. Ananias must not have known it, for he told Saul how to "wash away" his sins. If Saul had been saved on the road as some preachers claim, he must have been the most miserable saved man in the Bible. Saul was blind and spent three days praying and fasting until Ananias arrived.
1 Peter 3:21 states "baptism doth also now save us." However, baptism is not the only condition for the salvation of the alien sinner. Other requirements must be met, like faith, repentance and love. I do not know of anything "alone" that will save a sinner, not even faith (James 2:24).
- by David Padfield
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Thought for the Week
This is a most intriguing question put forth by James and is one that should command our attention. If our high hopes, our great expectation of one day going home to live with the redeemed of all ages is going to become reality, we must be a wise person. I wonder, what would you consider to be characteristics of a wise person. Certainly, I believe we would all agree that a wise person is one who builds his faith and hope on Jesus (Acts 4:12). Of course we must conclude that a wise person is one who fears God and strives to keep his commandments (Eccl. 12:13). There are many other characteristics of a wise man that could be mentioned but suffice it to say that the wise man knows he belongs to God and by a life dedicated to God, a life disciplined by God and a life that is distinctive for God testifies to all who know him that he belongs to God.
The wise man speaks often with his God and seeks God's blessing (1 Thessalonians 5:7; Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6-7; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Peter 5:7). You see, the wise man knows that there is no problem too great for the Lord to solve. The wise man takes time to feed on God's word (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:11-14). The wise man knows that he needs direction in this life so he lets God be his guide (Jeremiah 10:23; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The wise man trusts in God at all times (Psalms 62:8; Isaiah 12:2; Romans 8:28). The wise man diligently seeks first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).
The reward of being a wise man is found in knowing that one day we will stand face to face with our Lord and hear the most beautiful words we will ever hear, "Enter into the joys of your Lord". All of us should be living our lives right now in such a way that we can say with Paul. "I am ready. I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished the course". Live every remaining day of life on this earth as a wise man whose life is dedicated to God. disciplined by God and distinctive for God. If that be the case, the greatest victory imaginable will one day be the result.
Sunday, July 30, 2017
Do You Believe?
Ken Davis wrote about a demonstrative speech that he delivered in a speech class when he was in college.
We were to be graded on our creativity and ability to drive home a point in a memorable way. The title of my talk was, "The Law of the Pendulum." I spent 20 minutes carefully teaching the physical principle that governs a swinging pendulum. The law of the pendulum is: A pendulum can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was released. Because of friction and gravity, when the pendulum returns, it will fall short of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally it is at rest. This point of rest is called the state of equilibrium, where all forces acting on the pendulum are equal.
I attached a 3-foot string to a child's toy top and secured it to the top of the blackboard with a thumbtack. I pulled the top to one side and made a mark on the blackboard where I let it go. Each time it swung back I made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the top to complete its swinging and come to rest. When I finished the demonstration, the markings on the blackboard proved my thesis. I then asked how many people in the room BELIEVED the law of the pendulum was true. All of my classmates raised their hands, so did the teacher. He started to walk to the front of the room thinking the class was over. In reality it had just begun. Hanging from the steel ceiling beams in the middle of the room was a large, crude but functional pendulum (250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500-pound test parachute cord.).
I invited the instructor to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with the back of his head against a cement wall. Then I brought the 250 pounds of metal up to his nose. Holding the huge pendulum just a fraction of an inch from his face, I once again explained the law of the pendulum he had applauded only moments before, "If the law of the pendulum is true, then when I release this mass of metal, it will swing across the room and return short of the release point. Your nose will be in no danger." After that final restatement of this law, I looked him in the eye and asked, "Sir, do you believe this law is true?" There was a long pause. Huge beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and then weakly he nodded and whispered, "Yes." I released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. I never saw a man move so fast in my life! He literally dived from the table. Deftly stepping around the still-swinging pendulum, I asked the class, "Does he believe in the law of the pendulum?"
The students unanimously answered, "NO!" *
I have some questions for you:
1. Do you believe in God? Evidences for the existence of God abound in our universe (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20).
2. Do you believe God? Do you trust Him? Do you believe God when He says that if you place your faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from your sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ (Acts 2:38) that He will wash away your sins and give you the gift of eternal life? Do you believe God’s Word when it says that if you continue to walk in the light of His Word that He will continue to cleanse you from all sin (1 John 1:7)?
3. Will you believe God enough to obey Him? Unless your faith in God is expressed in trusting and obeying Him, then you really don’t believe God.
Believe, trust, and obey – these are the three components of saving faith.
Won’t YOU believe, trust, and obey Him? Do YOU really believe?
-- David A. Sargent
* Ken Davis, How To Speak To Youth, pp 104-106 as quoted in www.sermonillustrations.com
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Attending worship services faithfully is really important. Many strong Christians have become weak, and many weak Christians have totally fallen away, because at some point they began to miss worship services and Bible study on a regular basis. A Christian's attendance at services has been rightfully declared by many as a thermometer indicating one's fervor for the Lord. One cannot truthfully say he is a faithful child of God if he does not attend worship services regularly. Consider now the following reasons why we must attend worship services faithfully.
The Hebrew writer penned the following passage giving us several reasons for not forsaking the assembly of the saints. "Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh" (Hebrews 10:24-25). Our assembling together for worship services stimulates the brethren to love and good works, and exhorts and encourages us to greater Christian enthusiasm. It is important because of the trials, temptation and heartaches we face each week as Christians, to assemble together at each opportunity so that we might be stimulated and encouraged, and to do the same for others. It is reassuring to be around those of "like precious faith" (2 Pet. 1:1). We all need encouragement, but we must attend worship services and Bible study to receive this precious privilege.
Another reason we should attend worship services and Bible study faithfully is seen in Hebrews 10:25 - it is a command of God. Jesus said, "If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Furthermore, we also need to remember, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (1 John 5:3). The Lord informs us that we must assemble at every opportunity with the saints. If this were the only reason for attending worship regularly - it would be enough. If you really love the Lord you will keep His commandments.
Still another reason we should attend worship services regularly is that we must be a good example to others. Peter declared, "For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1 Pet. 2:21). Jesus left us wonderful examples of how we should live. One of these examples is that He kept the Law of Moses perfectly, which included attending all of the different feasts and special days of the Jewish religion. We, too, learning from the example of Jesus, should regularly attend all of the worshipservices as well as all other gatherings for the purpose of study and edification. We should do this to please God, but also to set good examples for others. Paul said that we are to be "an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12). What kind of example do you think we set for the non-believer or for the weak Christian by out apathetic attendance? Not a good one I assure you.
Would one consider a car faithful if it only starts every other time? Would you consider your spouse faithful if she cheated on your marriage once a month? Of course not! Then what makes us think that we can be faithful Christians if we are not attending worship services regularly? It is vital that we are faithful in attendance - our eternal destiny is hanging in the balances. We are not condemning those who are ill at home, or having to care for a sick loved one - we speak to those who have no reason for not coming other than being deficient in concern for spiritual matters.
We love you and hope to see you at our next scheduled meeting time.
- by Tom Moore
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
In the Old Testament, it is as clear as crystal that God wants his people to trust only in Him, and not in man or other nations. Here is just a sampling of the many such references:
I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me, 6that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.
7I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the Lord, who does all these things. Isaiah 45:5-7
“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4
Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 2 Chronicles 20:20
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord …
… The Egyptians are man, and not God, Isaiah 31:1,3
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, Psalm 146:3-6
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. Psalm 118:8-9
Hundreds and hundreds of years later, Jesus comes into the world and says unless you believe I AM, you will die in your sins; you believe in God? Believe also in Me:
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him. John 8:24-30
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. John 14:1-11
Can you believe that? No Jew in his right mind would ask his fellow-Jews to believe in Himself as they believed in God, yet Jesus comes to the very people whom God told to believe only in Him, and tells them that to be saved they have to believe in Him!! Look again at Psalm 143:3 above.
That is the clearest proof that Jesus is claiming to be God! Why would Jesus make such a claim? Because He is indeed God!! How astonishingly simple a proof of Jesus’ deity is this!!
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”
The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” John 10:27-33
These Jews understood exactly what Jesus was claiming! Yet our Jehovah’s Witness friends don’t get it, do they? They say they believe in Jehovah God, and in Jesus as God’s Son, but not in Jesus as God. But Jesus says if you don’t believe “I AM” (i.e. Jehovah), you’ll die in your sins!!!! John 8:24, as quoted earlier.
Under the Law of Moses, God always required Israel’s faith in Him for salvation.
“You shall have no other gods before me,” Exodus 20:3, helps us to see that, at the heart of the Old Testament, was the need for faith! As Abraham was justified by faith, Genesis 15:6, so Israel would be too. “The just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk 2:4. In other words, in commanding them to have no other gods, Israel was being commanded to trust only in Yahweh as the one and only true and living God. 2 Chronicles 20:20; Isaiah 40:6; Jeremiah 10:10. And yet there were times when Israel trusted other nations, Deuteronomy 8:17-20; 2 Kings 17:7-12; Isaiah 31:1-7, Israel knew their God, but they didn’t always trust Him! Knowing is not believing. Today, many know about God, but relatively few actually believe in Him – trust in Him for life.
In Exodus 20:1-2, we read: And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” The God who gave Israel freedom from slavery, and who then gave them the Ten Commandments and many other laws to obey, is the God who expected His people to trust Him in all things, including keeping His laws. He was their life. Deuteronomy 30:20.
In the Old Testament religion of Israel, keeping commandments was very important, Malachi 4:4, but believing in God was even more important. Keeping God’s commandments should have been seen as an expression of their faith in God for eternal life, for no one can perfectly keep every law all the time. Psalm 16:10; 21:3-7; 49:15; 73:24-26; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:1-3; Galatians 3:10-12. When they obeyed His laws, they were essentially trusting that what was in those laws was good for their souls. David knew this. Read Psalm 119 and Psalm 32. David loved God’s Law (just read Psalm 119), but he knew that forgiveness came through trusting in God! Read Psalm 32.
Let’s think about this a little more:
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the just decrees. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Exodus 24:3-4
Isn’t there a subtle difference between saying, ““All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do,” and thinking, “All the laws God has given us we can do all by ourselves”!! Isn’t the former a promise based on faith in what God has told them and given them (King David’s attitude), but isn’t the latter an assertion of self-righteousness (like the Pharisees)?? We Christians can make the same mistake by trusting our own obedience instead of Jesus!
Jesus came into the world to remind Israel of Laws they had forgotten[i], such as Leviticus 19:9-19a, set us all free from the slavery of sin, John 8:33; Romans 6:23, give us true life, Matthew 4:4; John 10:10; Hebrews 11:6, and revive God’s Old Testament truth that righteousness is only granted on the basis of faith – not law-keeping. He Himself lived his whole life believing in His Father, always doing what pleased His Father, and trying to get Israel to believe in God and Himself as God with us!! Matthew 1:23; John 8:24-36; 14:1-6. Israel had promised God, “All the Lord has spoken we will do.” Exodus 24:3. None was exempt. Jesus as a Jew obeyed everything His Father commanded, even though He Himself was God!. John 8:24,28,58; Hebrews 10:5-7. Jesus spoke the words of His Father. John 12:44,49-50; 14:24,31; 17:8. Jesus believed the words of His Father. Jesus thus did what no other Jew had ever done – do God’s will! Hebrews 10:7,9. Jesus – the Son of God - is an example to us that even the greatest should trust God!
The Pharisees thought they were the greatest, but they trusted in themselves instead of humbly trusting in God. Luke 18:9-14.
During Jesus’ life on earth, the Law of Moses was still every bit applicable, as it had been since the days of
Moses. Matthew 5:17-19; 22:36-40. Yet Jesus asked the Jews to believe in Him as they should have believed in God!! “You believe in God. Believe also in Me.” John 14:1. As stated above, this is as strong a statement anywhere in Scripture that Jesus is claiming to be God. Belief in Jesus, as God, brings freedom from sin, freedom from Satan’s clutches and the fear of death, Hebrews 2:14-15, the gift of eternal life, John 5:24, and also the responsibility to take seriously the righteousness God gives through Jesus by faith. Matthew 5:20; 6:1-8,33; Romans 6; 2 Corinthians 5:21.
John 8:24 doesn’t say “believe that I am He;” it says: “believe that I am.” That’s a claim to being the true God!! Just as later in John 8, Jesus says, “…before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58
Remember this? God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you … This is My name forever …!'" Exodus 3:14-15.
So when Jesus is saying, believe I AM, He is saying believe I am Jehovah. (For another proof that Jesus is Jehovah, read all of Hebrews 1, but especially 1:10, where Jesus is said to be the Lord who created the earth - a quote from Psalm 102:1,25, in which Psalm … Lord is Jehovah!! “O Lord” in Psalm 102:1 is rendered “O Jehovah” in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation, but they clearly don’t believe Hebrews 1:10 that Jesus is Jehovah!!
Though many did not in believe in Jesus, some Jews did believe in Jesus, John 7:31; 8:30-32; 10:41-42; 11:25-26. “The just shall live by faith” … in God and therefore in Jesus!
Such faith brought eternal life, John 6:40, even while the Law of Moses was still in effect!
Matthew 5:17-19. It was faith that had always brought eternal life – not keeping the law of Moses
Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Psalm 73:24-26; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 10:1-5. “End” in 10:4 is “goal”!!
(i) Jesus is God, for God said: “Trust Me only,” Psalm 62, yet Jesus said: “Trust me!” John 13:19-20; 14:1,6. Therefore Jesus is God!!
Jesus confirmed it. Mark 2:1-12.
John asserted it. John 1:1-4;
Thomas believed it. John 20:24-28.
We can also believe it and receive the gift of eternal life. John 20:29-31.
(ii) God has always justified his people through faith, whether or not the Law of Moses was in effect!
(iii) Jesus is the final proof that God always wanted Israel’s faith instead of their legalism and self- righteousness. Luke 13:34; 18:1-14; John 5:37-47. God saves only believers in Him! Romans 10:1-13.
Israel’s fatal mistake was in always assuming that their observance of the Law of Moses – not their trust
in God - would bring God’s forgiveness. Paul taught that very thing in his letter to the Roman Christians.
Now read Romans 9:30-33; 10:1-5. David loved God’s Law (just read Psalm 119), but he knew that
forgiveness came through trusting in God! Psalm 32. Jesus had spent his whole life trying to get Jews to understand this truth about believing in God instead of trusting self. In many respects he was only reminding them of what was already in their Law! This is all theologically explained in Romans 4:3-16 as follows:
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.
The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring — not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.
Justification, righteousness, salvation – whatever way God puts it – has always been based on God’s promise to Abraham that in Abraham’s descendant, Jesus Christ, God would bless all nations. Salvation for everyone – whether they lived before the time of the Law, like Abraham, or during the time of the Law of Moses, like Israel, or not under the Law, like the Gentiles, has always been by faith in God’s promise to bless us in Christ.
Jesus came into the world, as God with us, to urge us to believe in Him for our eternal salvation. What is your response?
[i] The task of any Old Testament prophet could well be summed up by the phrase “stating the obvious.” The kings and people of Israel had been given the Law of Moses and knew full well what their obligations were, yet, as we all do, they routinely fell short of them, and even worked against them. The prophets were called upon by God to state the obvious to Israel, and they were usually thanked for their efforts by being murdered. Few occupations are as dangerous as the prophetic, precisely because they tell people what they already know but don’t want to hear. Nicholas Senz, On the Need to State the Obvious.
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