Originally posted on Possessing the Treasure:

By Mike Ratliff

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 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.” (John 10:25-30 ESV)

God is Sovereign. That sovereignty is not partial. It is not subject to any conditions or forces outside of God. He has never nor will He ever relinquish any portion of His sovereignty. What He sets out to do, He does. What Men…

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5:18 give thanks. Thanklessness is a trait of unbelievers (cf. Ro 1:21; 2Ti 3:1–5). “This is God’s will” includes vv. 16, 17.

MacArthur Study Bible

Reading for Today:
Judges 15:1–16:31
Psalm 51:1-6
Proverbs 14:31-32
Luke 18:1-23

Notes:

Judges 16:20 he did not know that the LORD had departed from him. Here was the tragedy of the wrath of abandonment. His sin had caused him to forfeit the power of God’s presence. This principle is seen throughout Scripture (Gen. 6:3; Prov. 1:24–31; Matt. 15:14; Rom. 1:24–32).

Judges 16:24 they praised their god. It is tragic when a person’s sin contributes to the unsaved community’s giving praise to a false god, for God alone is worthy of praise.

Psalm 51:1 lovingkindness. Even though he had sinned horribly, David knew that forgiveness was available, based on God’s covenant love.

Psalm 51:4 Against You, You only. David realized what every believer seeking forgiveness must, that even though he had tragically wronged Bathsheba and Uriah, his ultimate crime was against God and His holy law (see 2 Sam.11:27).

Psalm 51:5 brought forth in iniquity. David also acknowledged that his sin was not God’s fault in any way (vv.4b, 6) nor was it some aberration. Rather, the source of David’s sin was a fallen, sinful disposition, his since conception.

DAY 25: Why is human righteousness so insufficient for salvation?

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9–14 is rich with truth about the doctrine of justification by faith. It illustrates perfectly how a sinner who is utterly devoid of personal righteousness may be declared righteous before God instantaneously through an act of repentant faith. The parable is addressed to Pharisees who trusted their own righteousness (vv. 10, 11). Such confidence in one’s inherent righteousness is a damning hope (see Rom. 10:3; Phil. 3:9), because human righteousness—even the righteousness of the most fastidious Pharisee—falls short of the divine standard (Matt. 5:48). Scripture consistently teaches that sinners are justified when God’s perfect righteousness is imputed to their account (see Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:4, 5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:4–9)—and it was only on that basis that this tax collector (or anyone else) could be saved.

For the Pharisee to fast twice a week (v. 12) was more than is required by any biblical standard. By exalting his own works, the Pharisee revealed that his entire hope lay in his not being as bad as someone else. He utterly lacked any sense of his own unworthiness and sin.

The tax collector’s humility is notable in everything about his posture and behavior (v. 13). Here was a man who had been made to face the reality of his own sin, and his only response was abject humility and repentance. He contrasts with the Pharisee in virtually every detail. “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” He had no hope but the mercy of God. This is the point to which the law aims to bring every sinner (see Rom. 3:19, 20; 7:13; Gal 3:22–24). He was “justified” (v. 14), i.e., reckoned righteous before God by means of an imputed righteousness.

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, http://www.thomasnelson.com.

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, do not resist an evil person. – Matthew 5:38–39

Christians are to “resist the devil” (James 4:7; cf. 1 Peter 5:9) and all that his evil world system stands for (Matt. 6:13; Rom. 12:9; 1 Thess. 5:22). This proves that, although Jesus refuted the Jewish leaders’ wrong teaching that people should take revenge in personal matters, our Lord did not teach that His followers simply had to tolerate all sorts of sinful misconduct and evil.

The resistance of evil and wrong, if done properly, will occur within the church. Jesus’ instruction on church discipline concludes with this command: “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matt. 18:17; cf. 1 Tim. 5:20). A sinning member who rejects one-on-one reproof as well as reproof from two or three others and from the entire church must be excluded from the fellowship. Concerning unrepentant immorality in the church, Paul instructed—quoting the Old Testament—“Remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (1 Cor. 5:13).

In contrast to this, Jesus clarifies that His followers must not resist or take vengeance regarding supposed harm done to them personally. Such retaliation has no place in society at large, much less among Christians. Paul later wrote, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone” (Rom. 12:17; cf. v. 19). Instead, God calls us to overcome others’ bad treatment of us by doing good to them (Rom. 12:21).

Ask Yourself

What are the main reasons for this kind of rebuke and discipline? What are its goals and objectives? When do circumstances become necessary to perform it?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, http://www.moodypublishers.com.

 

But made alive in the spirit.

1 Peter 3:18, nasb

 

Today’s verse makes a specific reference to the life of Jesus’ spirit—it does not refer to the Holy Spirit. The apostle Peter is contrasting what happened to the flesh (or body) of Jesus with what happened to His spirit. His spirit was alive but His flesh was dead.

Some think “made alive in the spirit” refers to Christ’s physical resurrection, but that would necessitate a statement like, “He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the flesh.” The resurrection was a spiritual and physical occurrence. Thus Peter’s point has to be that though Christ was physically dead, His spirit was still alive.

On the cross, Christ’s spirit experienced brief separation from God. He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). The separation ended quickly, however, for shortly after our Lord’s lament, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46). Then, His spirit was no longer separated from God; it was committed to the Father.[1]

 

 

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 130). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

“If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

1 Corinthians 15:19

✧✧✧

Without Christ’s resurrection, our individual Christian lives would be pathetic exercises in futility.

In ancient times the strongest swimmer among the sailors on a ship was called the archegos, a Greek word that means “front–runner” or “pioneer.” If as the ship approached shore, it got caught in waves so strong that a safe landing was doubtful, the archegos would fasten one end of a long rope to the ship, tie the other end around himself, jump into the water, and guide the ship to land. Once on land, he would secure the rope to a rock or tree. Then the other passengers could disembark and use the rope as a safety tether to reach the shore.

Jesus is our archegos. If He didn’t overcome death and make a way possible for us to do the same, we would have nothing more to look forward to than life on earth, which would leave us with no brighter hope than the typical unbeliever (Rom. 6:23).

The archegos illustration shows us once again the crucial importance of Christ’s rising from the grave. Without the Resurrection, Christianity loses its doctrinal strength, as we saw in yesterday’s study. Furthermore, the Christian life would become futile and pathetic if we could not point to the truth of the Resurrection. If our Lord were still in the tomb, He could not help us regarding eternity or our earthly ministry. We would have nothing to justify our efforts in Bible study, preaching, teaching, witnessing, or any activity of Christian service.

However, God the Father did raise “Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:24–25). Because Christ lives, we too shall live (John 14:19). This great certainty should give us all the confidence and motivation we’ll ever want or need as we serve our Lord and risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Based on the reality of the Resurrection, ask God today to give you fresh incentive to be His faithful servant.

For Further Study: Read Luke 24:1–12. What immediate effect did knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection have on Mary Magdalene and the other women? ✧ How did their reaction differ from most of the disciples’?[1]

 

 

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

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You are a messenger of peace!

When Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” He was referring to a special group of people whom God called to restore the peace that was forfeited because of sin. They may not be politicians, statesmen, diplomats, kings, presidents, or Nobel prize winners, but they hold the key to true and lasting peace.

As a Christian, you are among that select group of peacemakers. As such you have two primary responsibilities. The first is to help others make peace with God. There is no greater privilege. The best way to do that is to preach the gospel of peace with clarity, so people understand their alienation from God and seek reconciliation. Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” The early church preached peace through Christ, and that is your privilege as well.

Your second responsibility is to help reconcile believers to one another. That’s a very important issue to God. He won’t accept worship from those who are at odds with each other. They must first deal with the conflict (Matt. 5:23–24). That is especially true within a family. Peter warned husbands to treat their wives properly so their prayers wouldn’t be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

Peacemakers don’t avoid spiritual conflicts. Rather, they speak the truth in love and allow the Spirit to minister through them to bring reconciliation. If you see someone who is alienated from God, you are to present him or her with the gospel of peace. If you see two Christians fighting, you are to do everything you can to help them resolve their differences in a righteous manner.

Of course, to be an effective peacemaker you must maintain your own peace with God. Sin in your life will disrupt peace and will prevent you from dispensing God’s peace to others. Therefore continually guard your heart and confess your sin so God can use you as His peacemaker.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for those close to you who don’t know Christ. Take every opportunity to tell them of God’s peace.

For Further Study: Read 2 Corinthians 5:17–21. ✧ How did Paul describe the ministry of reconciliation? ✧ What was Christ’s role in reconciling man to God?[1]

 

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 128). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

 

scripture reading:

 

Romans 8:31–39

 

key verse:

 

Exodus 14:14

 

 

The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.

Not only is God’s Spirit in you, but also God is for you. There are amazing power and freedom in knowing that almighty God is now on your side.

Have you blown your marriage due to immorality? If you are a believer, God is still for you.

Have you backed off from your commitment to God? Have you ignored His counsel, refused His direction? As staggering as it seems, God is still for you.

Here’s why. When Christ died, God’s judgment was fully executed on His Son. His wrath against sin was vented. God’s love is steadfast for those who receive the gift of eternal life by faith in Christ Jesus. You may sin and rebel, but His love for you does not change.

Yes, He will discipline you; yes, He will chastise you if necessary. But all correction is filtered through His loyal, blessed love.

God is for you, not against you. Because of the Cross, you can abide in His presence permanently and experience His love by personal faith in Jesus Christ. Paul declared that nothing can “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).

Thank You, Father, that even when my commitment to You is feeble, You are still for me. Thank You that nothing can separate me from Your love.[1]

 

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.

Psalm 40:8

What is the way out of a circumstance created by an unwise decision? A wise decision. And who is primarily responsible for meeting the need? The person who has made the unwise decision.

What is God’s role in this?… I believe that God will give daily guidance to any person who requests it, and that He will give courage, fortitude, and willpower to any person who requests these qualities.…

He will not do our part, but He will assist us so that our efforts will succeed and we will have both the courage and the endurance necessary to see a problem resolved fully or a need fully met.[1]

 

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2004). God’s way day by day (p. 126). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture reading: Philippians 4:11–19

Key verse: Philippians 4:19

My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Our materially oriented culture is programmed to generate discontentment. That is why each year brings new cars, new fashions, new improvements, all designed to make us dissatisfied with our present status or possessions.

Cultivating contentment in the Christian life begins with understanding that things never define your value. Your job, neighborhood, or net worth does not figure into God’s equation for value and worth. Your value lies in your priceless relationship with God as your Father.

Still more, you can counter the anxious and stressful tug of discontentment with a solid understanding of several basic scriptural truths.

God cares for you. Because you are His child, He has assumed responsibility for providing for your emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. He will do so as you trust Him without reservation while you go about the routine tasks of each day.

God is in control. When a job is terminated, a mate quits, a friend deserts, God is quietly but sovereignly at work for your good. You are not a victim of the economy or another’s decision.

You can be content in any circumstance when you are sure of God’s unceasing care and absolute control of every detail. Rest in His ability, and contentment will follow.

Father, I am so thankful that You are in control of every circumstance of my life. You care for me and have assumed responsibility for me as Your child.[1]

 

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 120). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15

Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 15:26

The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

It’s a cold winter day. The canvas awning under which you sit flaps roughly. The people behind you cry silently. Those gathered around the sides are red-eyed and somber.

In front of you a preacher stands next to the casket of your loved one—the one with whom you ate, laughed, walked, and communed for all these years.

Long minutes pass. It is over. Friends hug you; the preacher consoles you; and you return to your car for the lonely trip home.

In this setting of grim, undeniable reality lie the profound and majestic hope, comfort, and assurance of the Christian faith—forever set in the scriptural jewel of John 11:25 (nasb): “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.”

Death isn’t the final act. It isn’t the ultimate farewell scene.

Because Jesus confronted death and emerged the Victor, we who believe in Him also will live—even though we die. Because of Christ’s resurrection, our forever is guaranteed. Our faith is valid; our hope is sure; our expectations are fulfilled. Christ, the Death Slayer, has won the ultimate battle and invites all who believe in Him to experience the delightful fruit of His victory—eternal life.

Dear God, I praise You that my forever is guaranteed. My spiritual journey will not end with death. It will continue for eternity.[1]

 

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 120). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture Reading: John 14:16–19

Key Verse: John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

It is possible that we can walk away from the Holy Spirit’s control and endure a life that is less than Spirit filled. This is one of the reasons many believers endure defeated lives even after experiencing great joy for a period after salvation.

The Spirit-filled life is not about how much of the Holy Spirit a believer can gain. At salvation, God indwells you fully, forever, with His Holy Spirit. The Spirit-filled life is about how much of you the Holy Spirit can gain.

Many believers are defeated because they have not been properly taught about the Holy Spirit. Some refer to the Holy Spirit as an “it” and fail to recognize Him as a person. He is a person of the Trinity who comes into the life of the believer at the moment of salvation. There doesn’t have to be an accompanying experience, feeling, or manifestation.

The Bible clearly states that the Holy Spirit is a person, and God is not going to equip you with a partial person or with a person who darts in and out of your life based on your successes or failures in the Christian walk. But if we are not taught properly, or if we burn out by attempting to walk and serve in our own power, we naturally are going to become discouraged and defeated.

Praise the Lord that the role of the Spirit is to enable us to live as God desires, after our lives are changed at the Cross.

Holy Spirit, help me to seek not what I can get from You, but what Your power can enable me to do for You.[1]

 

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 120). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture reading: Acts 2:23–24, 32–36

Key verse: 2 Timothy 2:9

The word of God is not chained.

In her book, Shadow of the Almighty, Elisabeth Elliot offers penetrating insights into the life of her husband and missionary martyr, Jim Elliot. Ever the seeker, Elliot disliked any attempt to contain or confine the fires of God in the human life. He wrote this while a student at Wheaton College:

2 Timothy 2:9 says, “The word of God is not bound.” Systematic theology—be careful how you tie down the Word to fit your set and final creeds, systems, dogmas, and organized theistic philosophies!

The Word of God is not bound! It’s free to say what it will to the individual and no one can outline it into dispensations which cannot be broken. Don’t get it down “cold,” but let it live—fresh, warm, and vibrant—so that the world is not binding ponderous books about it, but rather the world is shackling you for having allowed it to have free course in your life.

Although Jesus was not a revolutionary, what He began on Resurrection Sunday has transformed millions of men and women through the centuries.

When you are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, you are filled with the power of the risen Christ. You are joined with a Savior with whom nothing is impossible. Never be surprised at what He will do next.

Father, I claim the power of the risen Christ in my life. Renew my strength by Your Spirit.[1]

 

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 120). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Joshua 14:1–15:63; 2 Corinthians 11:16–23; Psalm 54:1–7

Faith is not just about being faithful; it’s also about trusting in God’s faithfulness.

For years God dealt with the confused and waning nature of His people while they were in the wilderness. They wondered, “Will God actually do what Moses has told us?” They had seen God repeatedly act on their behalf, but they continued to grow frightened and faithless. In return, the first generation that left Egypt never saw the promises of God. Instead, a later generation witnessed His faithfulness.

In Joshua 14:1–15:63, we see God fulfilling His words. Caleb and Joshua get a chance to witness this faithfulness, but the Hebrews who doubted that God would act on their behalf did not (Josh 14:6–15; also see Num 13:25–14:45). This is an incredible moment: these two men had watched the failures of their elders and led their peers and people younger than them so that they could witness the faithfulness of God together. You can almost hear them singing, “It is well with my soul.”

Faith is a two-way street. We are to be faithful, but we must also have faith in God’s faithfulness. God will do what He has told us He will do. He will act upon His word like He did with Joshua and Caleb.

We will be able to look back upon the events in our lives and say, as the psalmist does, “I will freely sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Yahweh, because it is good. Because he has delivered me from all trouble” (Psa 54:6–7).

Since we know that day will come, why should we not freely sacrifice to Him now? He will overcome our opposition. Why should we not boldly proclaim, as the old hymn says, “I am bound for the promised land,” and use it as leverage to say, “God will be faithful, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t be”?

God has bound us to His faithfulness; Christ’s death and resurrection shows that He blesses us beyond measure. So let’s be bound to God with the knowledge that we are bound for the heavens that He has promised.

In what ways has God been faithful to you? How can these moments be a reminder to you now to be faithful?

John D. Barry[1]

 

 

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

 

Intro

Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Psalm 91 through 95. Our lesson is from Psalm 95:1–2, “O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” (NASU)

Lesson

Today’s psalm is about praise and worship. But it also warns the people of God not to imitate Israel’s murmuring at Meribah when they tested the Lord. Let’s look at these verses.

The psalmist’s first invitation is to sing to the Lord. The Psalms are songs. Sometimes we do not realize the importance of music and especially song. All cultures have songs, although some may appear to sound strange to our ears. Songs are an expression of the heart. The beauty of the Psalms is that in the hands of a capable composer, they can be sung in many different cultures. These different cultural expressions anointed by the Holy Spirit are wonderful ways to spread the kingdom of God.

The psalmist’s second invitation is to shout joyfully to the Lord. Just like other songs, some are joyful and upbeat; others express sadness or any other human emotion. But this psalm is a summons to shout joyfully. It is an animated way of demonstrating an interior emotion. Some people do not care for this enthusiasm or think that a church service must be somber. There is room for both. At times solitude and quietness are appropriate. At other times, celebration should be expressed. In all, we must make sure that respect and honor of God prevail.

The psalmist’s last invitation is to show gratitude to the Lord. Thanksgiving is a display of genuinely being appreciative of what the Lord has done for us. There are so many things to be grateful for. Just take a moment to reflect on God’s grace and mercy in your life. You’ll probably have a list a mile long! There is no way that we could ever repay Him for what He has done for us. He truly is an unbelievably generous and giving God!

Let’s summarize. The psalmist’s invitation is to sing to the Lord. The psalmist’s invitation is to shout joyfully to the Lord. And the psalmist’s invitation is to show gratitude to the Lord.

May we be a people who love to praise and worship the Lord in all circumstances and in diverse ways. Let us not be limited by our own cultural expressions in worship.

Try to find a psalm sung in another language and listen to it. Another suggestion is to see if you can locate a recording of a psalm with a Middle Eastern flavor to it. Learn to appreciate different cultural expressions. Enjoy praising the Lord!

End

It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Psalm 96 through 100. Let’s not forget the words of the psalmist, “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Until tomorrow and may God bless you in abundance as you study the Word of God.[1]

 

 

[1] Venditti, L., & Venditti, N. (2012). Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.

I know that You, Lord Jesus, were manifested to take away my sins … and that I, having died to sins, might live for righteousness. You are also able to save to the uttermost those like me who come to God through You.

You, Jesus, were wounded for my transgressions, You were bruised for my iniquities; the chastisement for my peace was upon You, and by Your stripes I am healed. My Lord God has laid my iniquity on You. Thus it was necessary for You, Lord Christ, to suffer so that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in Your name to all nations. You have appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Yourself.

God has exalted You to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance. Through You, Jesus, is preached to me the forgiveness of sins; and by You, I believing, am justified from all things from which I could not be justified by the law of Moses. My sins are forgiven for Your name’s sake.

Thank You, Jesus, for dying for my sins. Teach me to live for righteousness!

Matthew 1:21; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 7:25; Isaiah 53:5–6; Luke 24:46–47; Hebrews 9:26; Acts 5:31; Acts 13:38–39; 1 John 2:12[1]

 

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 128). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Numbers 14:9

The Lord is with us. Do not fear them.

I love the story of the Israelites when they were in Kadesh Barnea (Numbers 13). Moses sent spies into the land to check it out. The majority came back and reported, “We can’t do it. We checked it out, and we are like grasshoppers in front of the giants of the land.” But Joshua and Caleb went to the same land, saw the same giants, and probably experienced the same initial fear, but they said, “We’re no match for them, but they are no match for God. We can do it!” Joshua and Caleb were honored for their faith. That’s why they got to go into the Promised Land while the other spies didn’t.

When you worship God, when you praise Him, when you honor Him, when you hallow His name, your vision will be expanded. You will become a more visionary businessperson, a more visionary spouse, a more visionary parent. You will see life not in the little restricted areas that are yours, but you will begin to see that part of your life expand into that which God wants to do through you.[1]

 

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 120). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

Why and How to Study the Bible

It is not unusual in our day for men and women to have a low view of the Bible. Many persons, including professors of theology and ministers, feel that the Bible is man’s word about God rather than God’s word about man and so devalue it. Therefore, it is necessary to speak as Christ did, stressing the divine origin of the Bible and pointing out its supernatural characteristics.

What is the purpose of Scripture? According to Jesus Christ the purpose of the Scripture is to point to Him and reveal Him. Thus He said, “You diligently study the Scriptures, because you think by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).

If you think about this purpose of Scripture for a moment, I am sure that you will see that it is an additional reason why the Bible must be divine in origin. The Bible was written over a period of several thousand years by over thirty human authors. If the product of these men was no more than a human product, it is inconceivable that they could have agreed even on an outlook on life let alone on the grand purpose of God in history or the purpose of their book. Yet this agreement is precisely what we find. The only explanation is that, although the human writers did write out of their own perspective and out of their own historical environments, nevertheless, the God who stands behind the Bible so inspired their writings that the resulting words were inerrant and consistent. What is more, the combined result was, in an important sense, one book.

A popular English and New Zealand preacher by the name of Frank W. Boreham published five books on verses from the Word of God, relating each verse to a well-known figure from church history, politics, or literature. The best-known of these books had the subtitle: “Texts That Made History.”

I have never felt at ease claiming one verse more than another as my particular text. But if I do have a life text, it is one I was given by the pastor of the church in which I grew up: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

It is the last phrase that particularly interests me. Whether providentially given or not, I do not know, but 2 Timothy 2:15 has characterized much of what I have done in my academic and Christian life. During my grade school and high school years I received the basic instruction that any young man growing up in an evangelical church might be expected to have. In college I was no longer receiving formal biblical instruction (at least not in Sunday school), but I supplemented my earlier knowledge by Christian reading. In seminary I delved into biblical languages, theology and church history. I was able to further this study during three years of intensive graduate work in Switzerland. Since that time I have been engaged in systematic study and exposition of the Word of God as part of my responsibilities as pastor Philadelphia’s historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. Yet I must say that in spite of what has now become thirty or forty years of Bible study, I recognize more acutely than ever the danger of handling the Word of God incorrectly.

I take you back to the third chapter of 2 Timothy. Paul encouraged Timothy to continue on the path of ministry he has been walking because “from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Why is the Bible able to do that? It is because it is “God-breathed.” That is, it is the very Word of God and therefore carries with it the authority and power of God. Yes, and it is useful too. It is useful for “teaching, rebuking, correctly and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

That is exactly it. That is what we need. It is what everybody needs. And only the Word of God is sufficient for it.

This devotional is an excerpted version of Dr. James Boice’s helpful booklet, “Why and How to Study the Bible.” If you would like to read the work in its entirety, please find it in digital form at ReformedResources.org.

James Montgomery Boice

http://www.thinkandactbiblically.org/tab/why-and-how-to-study-the-bible

The Greatest Christian Sin

Many writers, secular and religious, talk about the failure of the church. But since the church is made up of the totality of its members, the failure of the church is the failure of its members. Let us leave out of our consideration, for the moment, the question of the mixture of tares in the midst of the wheat. It is simple to explain the failure of the church on the basis of the mingling of the unregenerate with those who have been born again.

Let us look at the church as an organism and consider the failure of those who are truly saved, for there is a sense in which the true church does fail. Christ said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). But now that He is not in the world He is no longer the light of the world except by reflection through those of whom He said, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). What is wrong with the believers? What is the chief sin of the Christian?

The world says that “familiarity breeds contempt.” This may be true in some situations, but familiarity also breeds something entirely apart from contempt. In multitudes of Christian lives familiarity breeds indifference, and indifference is the characteristic sin of the believing church today. Several million Christians go to church each Sunday and hear evangelical sermons; they are not lacking across the country. Although there are areas where there may be but one building in fifty miles which houses a group of true believers of the Lord Jesus, there are vast areas where the doctrine is impeccable but the people are indifferent. Honest preachers who have cried to God in the loneliness of their studies will hold forth the faithful Word, but many wonderful people will only smile at them and say, “I certainly did enjoy it.” The preaching was meant to probe, to prick the heart, to burn the dross, but people go back instead to their conversations about neighbors and friends and all the pettiness of life.

The reason for this indifference seems to be that these people only have time for God from eleven to twelve on Sunday morning, and fifteen seconds of grace before a meal and sixty seconds of prayer before sleeping. There is no feeding upon the Word, yet growth comes from the Word (1 Peter 2:2). We must steadfastly hold forth the Word and call people to it. There is no other cure.

1. Much like Dr. Barnhouse’s day, apathy is killing the church. How then is the complacency of the 21st century being played out in our theology, church lives and involvement in society?
2. Dr. Barnhouse is rightly addressing an issue of commitment in our churches. How do we view daily devotions? Is this a biblical view of spiritual growth? Why or why not?

Donald Grey Barnhouse

http://www.makinggodswordplain.org/mgwp/the-greatest-christian-sin

I think there are great numbers of Christian believers who ought to go home and go into their places of prayer and apologize to God for their demeaning attitudes toward the Holy Spirit of God. Included in their numbers are Bible teachers who are guilty of leading us astray. They have dared to teach Christians that the Holy Spirit will never speak of His own person or position, as though the third Person of the Godhead may be ignored and His ministry downgraded! Jesus said, “[When He comes] He shall not speak of himself, but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak” (John 16:13b). Jesus was actually telling His disciples: The Comforter will not come to stand on His own, to speak on His own authority. He will guide you into all truth-He will speak and act on the authority of the divine Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If you do not yield and honor the Holy Spirit, your lives will not show forth the blessed fruits of the Spirit!

Verse

Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

Thought

The Comforter will not come to stand on His own, to speak on His own authority. He will guide you into all truth-He will speak and act on the authority of the divine Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Lord, help me never to accept anything but the truth regarding the Holy Spirit. Make me always yielding and malleable in the Holy Spirit’s hands. I praise you and server you – the Triune God.

A. W. Tozer

http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=260

Every man in a free society must decide whether he will exploit his liberty or curtail it for intelligent and moral ends. He may take upon him the responsibility of a business and a family and thus be useful to the race, or he may shun all obligations and end on skid row. The tramp is freer than president or king, but his freedom is his undoing. While he lives he remains socially sterile and when he dies he leaves behind him nothing to make the world glad he lived.

The Christian cannot escape the peril of too much liberty. He is indeed free, but his very freedom may prove a source of real temptation to him. He is free from the chains of sin, free from the moral consequences of evil acts now forgiven, free from the curse of the law and the displeasure of God. Grace has opened the prison door for him, and like Barabbas of old he walks at liberty because Another died in his stead.

All this the instructed Christian knows and he refuses to let false teachers and misguided religionists rivet a yoke of bondage upon his neck. But now what shall he do with his freedom? Two possibilities offer themselves. He may accept his blood-won freedom as a cloak for the flesh, as the New Testament declares that some have done, or he may kneel like the camel to receive his voluntary burden. And what is this burden? The woes of his fellowmen which he must do what he can to assuage; the debt which he along with Paul owes to the lost world; the sound of hungry children crying in the night; the church in Babylonian captivity; the swift onrush of evil doctrines and the success of false prophets; the slow decay of the moral foundations of the so-called Christian nations and whatever else demands self-sacrifice, cross-carrying, long prayer vigils and courageous witness to alleviate and correct.

Verse

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. First Peter 2:16

Thought

The limited freedom that is ours we may exercise as a cloak for evil or to serve God. Beneath the cloak sin chains form again. Serving God results in growing assurance of faith in Christ (1 Timothy 3:13). How are you using your freedom?

Prayer

It is serving You, Lord, that brings ultimate life fulfillment.

A. W. Tozer

http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=1260

 

I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee

Isa. 41:13

Don’t try to hold God’s hand; let Him hold yours. Let Him do the holding, and you do the trusting.

H. W. Webb-Peploe[1]

 

 

[1] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.

 

Be instant in season, out of season. 2 Tim. 4:2.

Many of us suffer from the morbid tendency to be instant “out of season.” The season does not refer to time, but to us. “Be instant in season, out of season,” whether we feel like it or not. If we do only what we feel inclined to do, some of us would do nothing for ever and ever. There are unemployables in the spiritual domain, spiritually decrepit people, who refuse to do anything unless they are supernaturally inspired. The proof that we are rightly related to God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not.

One of the great snares of the Christian worker is to make a fetish of his rare moments. When the spirit of God gives you a time of inspiration and insight, you say—‘Now I will always be like this for God.’ No, you will not, God will take care you are not. Those times are the gift of God entirely. You cannot give them to yourself when you choose. If you say you will only be at your best, you become an intolerable drag on God; you will never do anything unless God keeps you consciously inspired. If you make a god of your best moments, you will find that God will fade out of your life and never come back until you do the duty that lies nearest, and have learned not to make a fetish of your rare moments.[1]

 

 

[1] Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

Morning, April 25

 

“Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.”

— Song of Solomon 2:10

 

Lo, I hear the voice of my Beloved! He speaks to me! Fair weather is smiling upon the face of the earth, and he would not have me spiritually asleep while nature is all around me awaking from her winter’s rest. He bids me “Rise up,” and well he may, for I have long enough been lying among the pots of worldliness. He is risen, I am risen in him, why then should I cleave unto the dust? From lower loves, desires, pursuits, and aspirations, I would rise towards him. He calls me by the sweet title of “My love,” and counts me fair; this is a good argument for my rising. If he has thus exalted me, and thinks me thus comely, how can I linger in the tents of Kedar and find congenial associates among the sons of men? He bids me “Come away.” Further and further from everything selfish, grovelling, worldly, sinful, he calls me; yea, from the outwardly religious world which knows him not, and has no sympathy with the mystery of the higher life, he calls me. “Come away” has no harsh sound in it to my ear, for what is there to hold me in this wilderness of vanity and sin? O my Lord, would that I could come away, but I am taken among the thorns, and cannot escape from them as I would. I would, if it were possible, have neither eyes, nor ears, nor heart for sin. Thou callest me to thyself by saying “Come away,” and this is a melodious call indeed. To come to thee is to come home from exile, to come to land out of the raging storm, to come to rest after long labour, to come to the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes. But Lord, how can a stone rise, how can a lump of clay come away from the horrible pit? O raise me, draw me. Thy grace can do it. Send forth thy Holy Spirit to kindle sacred flames of love in my heart, and I will continue to rise until I leave life and time behind me, and indeed come away.

 

Evening, April 25

 

“If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.”

— Revelation 3:20

 

What is your desire this evening? Is it set upon heavenly things? Do you long to enjoy the high doctrine of eternal love? Do you desire liberty in very close communion with God? Do you aspire to know the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths? Then you must draw near to Jesus; you must get a clear sight of him in his preciousness and completeness: you must view him in his work, in his offices, in his person. He who understands Christ, receives an anointing from the Holy One, by which he knows all things. Christ is the great master-key of all the chambers of God: there is no treasure-house of God which will not open and yield up all its wealth to the soul that lives near to Jesus. Are you saying, “O that he would dwell in my bosom?” “Would that he would make my heart his dwelling-place for ever?” Open the door, beloved, and he will come into your souls. He has long been knocking, and all with this object, that he may sup with you, and you with him. He sups with you because you find the house or the heart, and you with him because he brings the provision. He could not sup with you if it were not in your heart, you finding the house; nor could you sup with him, for you have a bare cupboard, if he did not bring provision with him. Fling wide, then, the portals of your soul. He will come with that love which you long to feel; he will come with that joy into which you cannot work your poor depressed spirit; he will bring the peace which now you have not; he will come with his flagons of wine and sweet apples of love, and cheer you till you have no other sickness but that of “love o’erpowering, love divine.” Only open the door to him, drive out his enemies, give him the keys of your heart, and he will dwell there for ever. Oh, wondrous love, that brings such a guest to dwell in such a heart! [1]

 

 

[1] Spurgeon, Charles H. (2006). Morning and evening: Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

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