3:11 no one is justified by the Law. Cf. Ro 3:20. justified. Made righteous before God. See note on Ro 3:24. The righteous man shall live by faith. See note on Ro 1:17. Paul’s earlier OT quote (v. 10; cf. Dt 27:26) showed that justification does not come from keeping the law; this quote from Hab 2:4 shows that justification is by faith alone (cf. Heb 10:38).
MacArthur Study Bible
3:11 The OT itself points out that righteousness cannot be achieved through the law, as Hab. 2:4 illustrates.
ESV Study Bible
11 This juxtaposition continues as Paul writes, “Clearly no one is justified before God by law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ ” Paralleling the thought of v. 10, Paul reiterates the fact that no one is justified by the law. Paul’s scriptural argument, then, essentially continues along the lines of the preceding verses: “righteousness” is the domain of faith, while “curse” is the stronghold of law.
There is a measure of textual confusion with Paul’s quote of Habakkuk 2:4 in v. 11. The Hebrew text reads “the righteous will live by his faith,” while one text of the LXX reads “the righteous will live by my [God’s] faithfulness,” and another reads “my righteous one will live by faith.” Paul’s omission of the possessive pronoun “my,” however, would not have affected his argument in any case. Bruce, 162, has observed, “The faith by which one becomes righteous in God’s sight is faith in God, believing acceptance of his promise, as Abraham showed.”
Paul’s use of Habakkuk is probably his appropriation of an early Christian expression of faith. The early church would have used this “word of faith” as a vehicle to remind one another of the basis of life in Christ (cf. Longenecker, 119). The point Paul seems to be making with this quotation is that one who is “within this faith” shall live (ek pisteōs, “from within this faith”). In other words, Paul “strips faithfulness to its core of faith in God” (Fung, 144–45), thus expressing the validity of Habakkuk’s message as applied to his Galatian converts. Essentially, Paul is simply again emphasizing his previous point that the one who would emulate Abraham and share in his blessing is the one who exercises faith in God’s promise and integrity.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary
October 30: An Obstructed View
Daniel 9:1–10:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–17; Job 42:1–9
We need to see ourselves as we truly are, but we can’t do that on our own. Our communities can help us glimpse a more accurate reflection, but we truly know ourselves only when we know God. His light brings us understanding.
After suffering incredible loss, Job tries to understand his pain. He speaks some truth, but he often misunderstands God’s motives and minimizes His love. As his friends try to help him grapple with his grief, they sometimes point out truth, but more often they cause even more pain and confusion. It’s only when God arrives to enlighten Job’s understanding that everything changes. First God questions Job’s knowledge (Job 38:19–21), power (Job 38:25–38), and ideas about justice (Job 40:10–12). Then He shows Job that He is all of these things.
The realization exposes Job’s heart. “Then Job answered Yahweh and said, ‘I know that you can do all things, and any scheme from you will not be thwarted. “Who is this darkening counsel without knowledge?” Therefore I uttered, but I did not understand; things too wonderful for me, but I did not know. “Hear and I will speak; I will question you, then inform me.” By the ear’s hearing I heard of you, but now my eye has seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes’ ” (Job 42:1–6).
We might struggle to understand our frailty before a God who is all-knowing and all-powerful. We might be blinded by pride and self-righteousness, which can hinder us from seeing our need for God. But it is only then that we discover how we can be redeemed from our needy state.
Although God had never stopped loving Job, He further demonstrated His love by blessing Job once again. We can be convinced of God’s love for us because He sent His only Son to die for our sins. Although He is great and we are small, He was willing to die for our sins. We can be assured of His love for us.
What area of your life is filled with pride? How can you humbly allow God to expose who you truly are?
Rebecca Van Noord
HOLD THE FORT
Words and Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1838–1876
Only hold on to what you have until I come. (Revelation 2:25)
God’s call to each believer is to be obedient and faithful—not to seek a life of earthly success. Difficulties and defeats are a normal part of every Christian’s life. Our response to negative situations can either shatter us or they can intensify our perseverance and confidence in a sovereign God. It has been said that a mark of a champion athlete is not how he/she responds to a victory, but how a difficult loss on a previous day has been met.
As was true of so many of Philip P. Bliss’s gospel songs, this stirring hymn was inspired by an illustration used by Major Whittle, an officer in the American Civil War, while addressing a YMCA meeting on the text from Revelation 2:25. Major Whittle’s illustration was about a small Northern force of soldiers in charge of guarding a great quantity of supplies. They were being hard pressed by greatly superior Confederate forces. Finally, the Confederate general, General French, commanded the Federal troops to surrender. At that moment the troops saw a signal from their leader, General Sherman, on a hill some miles away, which said, “Hold the fort, I am coming. Sherman.” The story so captivated Bliss’s interest that he could not retire that evening until he had completed both the text and the music for this rousing gospel song. It later became a great favorite in the Moody-Sankey campaigns both in Great Britain and in the United States.
We too have a commander now in heaven who has promised to return for us. Victory is certain! Our responsibility is to faithfully “hold the fort” and to “occupy till He comes” (Luke 19:13 KJV).
Ho, my comrades, see the signal waving in the sky! Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.
See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on; Mighty men around us falling, courage almost gone!
See the glorious banner waving! Hear the trumpet blow! In our Leader’s name we triumph over ev’ry foe.
Fierce and long the battle rages, but our help is near; Onward comes our great Commander—cheer, my comrades, cheer!
Chorus: “Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still; wave the answer back to heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”
For Today: Matthew 10:22; Romans 5:3; 2 Timothy 2:10; Hebrews 12:2, 6, 7; James 1:12
Reflect seriously on these lines: “Christ’s cause is hindered everywhere, and people are dying in despair. The reason why? Just think a bit—The church is full of those who quit.” Carry this musical truth with you—
Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is First Kings 14 through 17. Our lesson is from First Kings 17:20–22, “He called to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord my God, have You also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?’ Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return to him.’ The Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived.” (NASU)
There is a lot of discussion in certain circles if when a person prays to the Lord if they need to continue to repeat their petitions. Some say just mentioning our requests once is fine because the Lord is All-knowing. Others respond with the need to persevere. What to do? I believe it is both. Let’s look to our text for guidance.
First, Elijah called to the Lord. The prophet was the guest of the widow and as was the custom, he was considered a part of the household. God had blessed the woman because of her generosity and faith. A new situation arose.
The widow’s boy had died. The prophet immediately responded by calling on the only One who could do something, the Lord. This is a great lesson for all of us to learn when a desperate situation comes our way, to respond by seeking God’s reply.
Second, Elijah called on the Lord a number of times. He did this as he stretched himself upon the child. This must have been a time of great intercession. It was a desperate and impossible situation. The widow now blamed the prophet. As we see, he was totally incapable of doing anything in his own power yet he knew the answer only could come from the Almighty. Who could give back life but only the Creator?
Finally, Elijah was heard by the Lord. Oh how wonderful it is when the Lord responds! It not only is a boost to our faith but can inspire others. There are times when a believer can feel that the prayers seem unanswered as if God does not listen. This is really a time for the Lord to build character in the believer and to learn to trust in Him. Desperate situations can be a time of testing and if one confides in the Almighty, it can propel us to new levels of commitment.
In review, Elijah called to the Lord. Elijah called on the Lord a number of times. And Elijah was heard by the Lord.
Ask the Holy Spirit if possibly there are unanswered prayers. If so, take time to call on the name of the Lord so He may respond.
It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is First Kings 18 through 22. 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.
|Increasing Your Spiritual Strength
“All Scripture is … profitable for … correction” (2 Tim. 3:16).
God’s Word strengthens the repentant sinner.
If you’re a gardening buff, you know that skillful pruning promotes the overall growth and productivity of a plant. Jesus assumed His audience knew as much when He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:1–3).
Jesus was comparing believers to branches, which the Father prunes for maximum productivity. The Word is His pruning shear, which He applies with skill and precision to remove our imperfections and to promote godliness. He wants to eliminate anything from our lives that may restrict our spiritual growth.
The word translated “correction” in 2 Timothy 3:16 speaks of the strengthening work of God’s Word. Scripture not only exposes your sin, but it also strengthens you and restores you to a proper spiritual posture. It convicts you and then gives you instruction to build you up again.
Job 17:9 says, “The righteous shall hold to his way, and he who has clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger.” Paul added, “I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
As the Spirit uses Scripture to expose sin in your life, forsake that sin, and follow what Scripture says to do instead. You will be strengthened in your spiritual walk as a result. To aid in that process, be “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and … sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6).
I firmly believe that any weaknesses you have can become areas of great strength as you allow God’s Word to do its sanctifying work within you.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the strengthening and restoring power of His Word. ✧ If there’s an area of your life that is weak and vulnerable to temptation, confess it to the Lord, and begin today to strengthen it according to the Word.
For Further Study: Read Ephesians 1:18–23 and 3:14–21. ✧ What did Paul pray for? ✧ How did God demonstrate His power toward believers? ✧ Is God’s power sufficient for all your spiritual needs? Explain.
Let Your Light Shine
Scripture reading: Colossians 3:12–17
Key verse: Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering …
Jesus told the people: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16 nasb).
Following this theme, Paul wrote, “Those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness …” (Col. 3:12 nasb).
The “good works” we do in Christ never consist of worldly honors and material gains. On our own, we can never achieve the level of spirituality Christ spoke of. But thanks to His presence in us, this is attainable. We honor God by allowing the Holy Spirit to reflect Christ’s life in us.
The Light of your life should be Jesus Christ. A heart of compassion, a look of kindness and true humility, or a gentle spirit cannot be forced. It is an overflow of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of a believer.
Can we block His activity? Yes. Sin, legalism, complacency, and lack of repentance block God’s work in and through us.
When God sees you, He sees the very core of your being. Allow Him to work through you to reveal His nature so that when people see you, they will see Jesus, and lives will be changed.
Dear God, work through me to reveal Your nature so that when people see me, they will see You.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.
Things that come from God are good and perfect. God could never produce evil because His nature is good. Rather, He produces unending good. Whereas we possess a nature that gives rise to sin, God does not.
Why would we try to satisfy ourselves with evil desires that result in death when God is pouring out everything we could ever want for our satisfaction? Only a fool would be lured away by such a trap when all the goodness of God is available by His grace. Likewise, our flesh can be compared to a well of stagnant water. It is ludicrous to believe we could be satisfied by drinking from it when we can come to the fountain of Living Water Himself who gives us every good and perfect gift.
October 30 Walking in Holiness
And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Oswald Chambers wrote in Our Brilliant Heritage,
The one marvelous secret of a holy life lies not in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfections of Jesus manifest themselves in my mortal flesh. Sanctification is “Christ in you.” It is His wonderful life that is imparted to me in sanctification, and imparted by faith as a sovereign gift of God’s grace.…
Sanctification means the impartation of the holy qualities of Jesus Christ. It is His patience, His love, His holiness, His faith, His purity, His godliness, that is manifested in and through every sanctified soul. Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy; it is drawing from Jesus the holiness that was manifested in Him, and He manifests it in me. Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation.
Many Christians run into difficulty when they work to imitate Jesus. They cannot do it and remain simple and pure in their spiritual focus. The key to living like Christ is found not in striving but in letting go of aspirations and seeking the Lord above all else.
When you pray to be holy, pray to be like Jesus. He lived life as a reflection of the Father. His holiness and purity were natural overflows that comforted and cared for all who were lonely and wayward in heart. He drew people to Himself not by being mechanical in His worship of the Father but by being a light of hope to a darkened world.
Christ in me! The very thought is overwhelming. Dear Lord, I draw upon the resources of this divine life flow within to walk in holiness today.
Draw Closer to God
The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.
god desires to meet your needs, but His need-meeting is part of a greater process. God is always seeking to develop a closer and more intimate relationship with you. He is molding and fashioning you into the person with whom He desires to spend all eternity. He is seeking to draw you ever closer and closer to Himself.
Many of God’s delays in meeting our needs are aimed at bringing us to a place where we will turn to God, trust in God, ask of God, and rely upon God. His purpose is to teach us what it means to be in fellowship with Him and to walk closely with Him day by day.
IF our Lord is so ready to heal the sick and bless the needy, then, my soul, be not thou slow to put thyself in his way, that he may smile on thee. Be not slack in asking, if he be so abundant in bestowing. Give earnest heed to his word now, that Jesus may speak through it to thy heart. Where he is to be found, there make thy resort, that thou mayst obtain his blessing. When he is present to heal, may he not heal thee? But surely he is present even now, for he always comes to hearts which need him. And dost not thou need him? Ah, he knows how much! Thou Son of David, turn thine eye and look upon the distress which is now before thee and make thy suppliant whole.
May I fear You, the Lord my God; may I serve You, hold fast to You, and take my oaths in Your name. For You are my praise, and You are my God, who performed for me these great and awesome wonders which I have seen with my own eyes. (Deuteronomy 10:20–21)
You are the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps His covenant of lovingkindness. (Nehemiah 9:32)
Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.
From within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil thoughts, sexual immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evil things come from within and defile a man. (Mark 7:21–23)
Ask the Spirit to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed sin. Acknowledge these to the Lord and thank Him for His forgiveness.
I will not let sin reign in my mortal body that I should obey its lusts. Nor will I present the members of my body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but I will present myself to God as one who is alive from the dead and my members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:12–13)
May I put away all filthiness and the overflow of wickedness, and in meekness accept the word planted in me, which is able to save my soul. (James 1:21)
Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.
I have called on You, O God, for You will answer me;
Incline Your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show Your wonderful lovingkindness,
O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand
From those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me in the shadow of Your wings. (Psalm 17:6–8)
Growth in Wisdom
Developing an eternal perspective
Renewing my mind with truth
Greater skill in each area of life
My activities for this day
No one should seek his own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 10:24)
My immediate family
Emotional and physical concerns
The day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements will be destroyed by intense heat, and the earth and its works will be laid bare. The day of God will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt with intense heat. (2 Peter 3:10, 12)
There will be a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth will pass away, and there will no longer be any sea. (Revelation 21:1)
Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.
Lord, You said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. You made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. You also made the stars; You set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And You saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:14–19)
You made the earth and created man upon it. Your own hands stretched out the heavens, And You ordered their starry hosts. (Isaiah 45:12)
Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.
All Your works will praise you, O Lord,
And Your saints will bless You.
They will speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power,
So that all men may know of Your mighty acts
And the glorious majesty of Your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures through all generations. (Psalm 145:10–13)
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
And Your glory above all the earth. (Psalm 108:5)
Praying for God’s Will
Scripture reading: Colossians 1:9–14
Key verse: Psalm 68:28
Your God has commanded your strength;
Strengthen, O God, what You have done for us.
The most powerful act anyone can perform is to pray for someone. Of course, the power is not in the praying, but in the release God gives in His perfect answer to our prayers. Paul provided an example of one of the most effective prayers we could utter. He prayed for the Colossian church:
- to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. What a wonderful gesture to ask God to make clear for family members or friends the precise, exact decisions He wishes them to make in every circumstance.
- to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. This means asking that someone’s life will have weight—will count eternally and not temporally.
- to bear fruit in every good work. We should pray for loved ones to remain so Christ-centered that He through them determines their conversation, conduct, and character.
- to increase in the knowledge of God. Can there be a more precious request than that of wanting someone to grow ever closer to our heavenly Father?
- to be strengthened and sustained with the power of God. Within an evil world system, we need the supernatural power of God to help us bear up under the strain.
- to give thanks for having qualified as saints of God. There is nothing for which we should be more appreciative.
Father, today I pray for those I love—that they will be filled with the knowledge of Your will and walk in a manner worthy of You. Let them bear fruit in every good work and be strengthened and sustained by Your power.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Have You, Lord, forgotten to be gracious? Have You in anger shut up Your tender mercies? I said in my haste, “I am cut off from before Your eyes”; nevertheless You heard my supplications when I cried out to You.
Shall You, God, not avenge me, Your own elect, who cries out day and night to You, though You bear long with me? You will avenge me speedily. I wait for You, Lord, and You will save me.
I rest in You, Lord, and wait patiently for You; I do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
I will not need to fight in this battle. I position myself, stand still and see Your salvation, Lord God.
Let me not grow weary while doing good, for in due season I shall reap if I do not lose heart. I see the farmer wait for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.
As I wait for You to work in my life, keep me doing good for Your kingdom and confident of Your salvation.
Lamentations 3:26; Psalm 77:9; Psalm 31:22; Luke 18:7–8; Proverbs 20:22; Psalm 37:7; 2 Chronicles 20:17; Galatians 6:9; James 5:7
Morning, October 30
“I will praise thee, O Lord.”
— Psalm 9:1
Praise should always follow answered prayer; as the mist of earth’s gratitude rises when the sun of heaven’s love warms the ground. Hath the Lord been gracious to thee, and inclined his ear to the voice of thy supplication? Then praise him as long as thou livest. Let the ripe fruit drop upon the fertile soil from which it drew its life. Deny not a song to him who hath answered thy prayer and given thee the desire of thy heart. To be silent over God’s mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude; it is to act as basely as the nine lepers, who after they had been cured of their leprosy, returned not to give thanks unto the healing Lord. To forget to praise God is to refuse to benefit ourselves; for praise, like prayer, is one great means of promoting the growth of the spiritual life. It helps to remove our burdens, to excite our hope, to increase our faith. It is a healthful and invigorating exercise which quickens the pulse of the believer, and nerves him for fresh enterprises in his Master’s service. To bless God for mercies received is also the way to benefit our fellow-men; “the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.” Others who have been in like circumstances shall take comfort if we can say, “Oh! magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together; this poor man cried, and the Lord heard him.” Weak hearts will be strengthened, and drooping saints will be revived as they listen to our “songs of deliverance.” Their doubts and fears will be rebuked, as we teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They too shall “sing in the ways of the Lord,” when they hear us magnify his holy name. Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties. The angels pray not, but they cease not to praise both day and night; and the redeemed, clothed in white robes, with palm-branches in their hands, are never weary of singing the new song, “Worthy is the Lamb.”
Evening, October 30
“Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.”
— Song of Solomon 8:13
My sweet Lord Jesus remembers well the garden of Gethsemane, and although he has left that garden, he now dwells in the garden of his church: there he unbosoms himself to those who keep his blessed company. That voice of love with which he speaks to his beloved is more musical than the harps of heaven. There is a depth of melodious love within it which leaves all human music far behind. Ten of thousands on earth, and millions above, are indulged with its harmonious accents. Some whom I well know, and whom I greatly envy, are at this moment hearkening to the beloved voice. O that I were a partaker of their joys! It is true some of these are poor, others bedridden, and some near the gates of death, but O my Lord, I would cheerfully starve with them, pine with them, or die with them, if I might but hear thy voice. Once I did hear it often, but I have grieved thy Spirit. Return unto me in compassion, and once again say unto me, “I am thy salvation.” No other voice can content me; I know thy voice, and cannot be deceived by another, let me hear it, I pray thee. I know not what thou wilt say, neither do I make any condition, O my Beloved, do but let me hear thee speak, and if it be a rebuke I will bless thee for it. Perhaps to cleanse my dull ear may need an operation very grievous to the flesh, but let it cost what it may I turn not from the one consuming desire, cause me to hear thy voice. Bore my ear afresh; pierce my ear with thy harshest notes, only do not permit me to continue deaf to thy calls. To-night, Lord, grant thine unworthy one his desire, for I am thine, and thou hast bought me with thy blood. Thou hast opened mine eye to see thee, and the sight has saved me. Lord, open thou mine ear. I have read thy heart, now let me hear thy lips. 
A Fresh Encounter with God
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 6:1–9
Key Verse: Psalm 139:3
You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
Have you ever approached your devotional time with the idea of actually meeting with God? It is easy to reduce a quiet time to little more than a perfunctory Bible reading or study and a quick prayer if you forget the real purpose of setting aside that time.
God wants you to have a real and fresh encounter with Him each day. You don’t generate this meeting through any formula or particular method; you simply come before Him with a humble, repentant heart and a genuine desire to know Him more.
You gain a sense of His presence. Isaiah knew immediately that he was in the presence of the living God. When the meeting ended, Isaiah walked away a changed man. You cannot experience God’s presence and be the same; God’s holiness is life changing, and through the Holy Spirit, He lives inside you forever.
You are never without His presence. You sense your unworthiness. As you come face-to-face with God’s holiness, you realize your needy state. His awesome brightness eclipses even the angels in heaven.
The standard of His righteousness illuminates the sin in your life. You need to understand His forgiveness. The purpose of recognizing sin is not for condemnation and guilt, but for repentance. Christ forgives all your sins, but He wants you to confess them in order to experience His wondrous grace.
Precious Lord, I want to have a fresh encounter with You today. I want to know You better. Meet with me, and when our meeting ends, let me walk away changed.
Getting to “Yes” the Hard Way
Whom the Lord loves, He chastens.
Until we are faced with the consequences of what we do wrong, we won’t even admit it to ourselves. We are the most marvelous people at rationalizing wrongdoing.
In our culture, absolutes are almost gone. We face a major problem in the church today with people doing what is absolutely wrong and having a good case for why it is not so bad. Until we face the penalty for our wrongdoing, we often won’t be honest with ourselves.
I think Jonah probably had a good case for not being the right man for the Assyrian job until the gastric juices started working on him in the belly of the fish. Then he started to say, “Well, maybe I am the right man for the job after all.”
Some people think that this type of foxhole decision isn’t genuine. But just because we say “yes” to God under pressure doesn’t mean we aren’t being honest. It means we had to get to “yes” the hard way, but we got there all the same.
|From Death to Life
I see your difficulty in regard to that pessimistic view of human nature, and I don’t agree with it anymore than you do. That was the old-fashioned theology, which no one in those days who tried to be religious at all dreamed of disputing. That was not the point in the book that attracted me. It was the profound philosophy of its teaching concerning the death of the selfish life in us. The clue you has missed is this, that we are created human beings but are called to become divine beings. It is a question of moving out of a lower form of being into a higher. It is as if the choice were deliberately put before a monkey whether he would like to become a man. He is good enough as a monkey perhaps, but if he is to develop into a man he must consent to let the monkey nature die and must receive the man nature in its place. He must lose his own lower life in order to find his own higher life.
Can’t you understand this? We are good enough perhaps as human beings, (though this has never been my experience), but we want to be more than human, we want to become “partakers of the Divine nature,” and the only way out of one life into another must be by the way of death and resurrection. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone.” This is in the very nature of things. Out of the death of the lower always springs the resurrection of the higher. Out of the death of babyhood springs the glory of manhood. The two lives cannot exist together. Because life is an interior principle, and not a system of outward action; and if I persist in being a monkey I cannot be a man, let me ape a man’s manners as much as I may.
Fenelon’s whole teaching is to show us how to let the lower life die, and the higher life take its place. Doesn’t this give you the clue? And doesn’t it also answer your question as to what the “Higher Life” so called is? It is the divine life lived out practically, to put it in short. I’ll send you my “Christian’s Secret,” which if Miss Dike will care to read it, contains my “views” on the subject. Perhaps you had better read it thyself, since I don’t believe you ever did.
—To Daughter Mary, October 9, 1881
Without faith it is impossible to please Him. Hebrews 11:6.
Faith in antagonism to common sense is fanaticism, and common sense in antagonism to faith is rationalism. The life of faith brings the two into a right relation. Common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense; they stand in the relation of the natural and the spiritual; of impulse and inspiration. Nothing Jesus Christ ever said is common sense, it is revelation sense, and it reaches the shores where common sense fails. Faith must be tried before the reality of faith is actual. “We know that all things work together for good,” then no matter what happens, the alchemy of God’s providence transfigures the ideal faith into actual reality. Faith always works on the personal line, the whole purpose of God being to see that the ideal faith is made real in His children. For every detail of the commonsense life, there is a revelation fact of God whereby we can prove in practical experience what we believe God to be. Faith is a tremendously active principle which always puts Jesus Christ first—‘Lord, Thou hast said so and so’ (e.g., Matthew 6:33), ‘it looks mad, but I am going to venture on Thy word.’ To turn head faith into a personal possession is a fight always, not sometimes. God brings us into circumstances in order to educate our faith, because the nature of faith is to make its object real. Until we know Jesus, God is a mere abstraction, we cannot have faith in Him; but immediately we hear Jesus say—“He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,” we have something that is real, and faith is boundless. Faith is the whole man rightly related to God by the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1–7
Key Verses: 1 Peter 1:1–2
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the … elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
In many places throughout the Scriptures, we find the word sanctification. Sanctification means “to make holy” or “to separate from a common use to a sacred use.” When you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, He sanctified you, setting you apart for a very sacred purpose.
The process of sanctification begins at salvation, where those who believe are deemed saints (1 Corinthians 1:1–2). Every believer is a saint, because God has made it so (1 Peter 1:2). Positionally, we are saints, even if our conduct is un-Christlike.
This is because, at the pivotal moment of salvation, we changed positions (Ephesians 2:1–5). We were born again, our sins were forgiven, we were adopted into the family of God, and we are now living under the grace of God instead of under His wrath.
It is important to understand that this first stage of sanctification was done for us by God. No human is holy in himself. We are sanctified only by the blood of Jesus Christ, the work completed for us by a loving heavenly Father. Stop to thank and praise God for His purifying love and grace.
Praise You, Lord, for setting aside this ordinary human to be used for Your sacred purposes. Thank You that it is not accomplished by my work, but by Your grace.
He placed … cherubims, and a flaming sword … to keep the way of the tree of life.… Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree at life
Gen. 3:24; Rev. 22:14
How remarkable and how beautiful it is that the last page of the Revelation should come bending round to touch the first page of Genesis! The history of man began with angels with frowning faces and flaming swords barring the way to the Tree of Life. It ends with the guard of cherubim withdrawn; or rather, perhaps, sheathing their swords and becoming guides to the no longer forbidden fruit, instead of being its guards. That is the Bible’s grand symbolical way of saying that all between—the sin, the misery, the death—is a parenthesis. God’s purpose is not going to be thwarted. The end of His majestic march through history is to be men’s access to the Tree of Life, from which, for the dreary ages that are but as a moment in the great eternities—they were barred out by their sin.
|The Solution to the Sin Dilemma
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Christians have been delivered from sin’s power and will one day be delivered from its presence.
The godly Puritan writer Thomas Watson once said that a sure sign of sanctification is a hatred and loathing of sin. It was his hatred of sin that caused Paul to cry out as he wrapped up his spiritual autobiography, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” That cry expresses the distress and frustration the apostle experienced in his spiritual battle. David expressed that same frustration in Psalm 13:1–2: “How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day?”
When he exclaimed, “Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Paul referred to his physical body that was subject to sin and death. It is there that the battle with sin is joined. The verb translated “set me free” was used to speak of a soldier rescuing a wounded comrade in the midst of battle. Paul longed to be rescued from his sinful, unredeemed flesh.
But the story doesn’t end there, with Paul frustrated and in despair. Certain of his eventual triumph over sin, the apostle says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” As he goes on to explain in Romans 8:18–19, 22–23 (and in 1 Cor. 15:53, 57), believers will one day receive their glorified bodies and enter Christ’s presence, never to struggle again with sin. Paul elaborates on that glorious truth in Philippians 3:20–21: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
What a triumphant hope is ours!
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God in advance for the glorified body that will one day be yours.
For Further Study: Read 1 John 3:2–3. Are you fixing your hope on your glorification when Christ returns? ✧ Is that hope having a purifying effect on your lifestyle now?
Reading for Today:
2 Timothy 3:1-17
Jeremiah 45:3 Woe is me now! Baruch felt anxiety as his own cherished plans of a bright future were apparently dashed; even death became a darkening peril (v. 5). Also, he was possibly pressed by human questionings about God carrying through with such calamity (v. 4). Jeremiah spoke to encourage him (v. 2).
Jeremiah 45:5 you seek great things. Baruch had his expectations far too high and that made the disasters harder to bear. It is enough that he be content just to live. Jeremiah, who once also complained, learned by his own suffering to encourage complainers.
2 Timothy 3:1 the last days. This phrase refers to this age, the time since the First Coming of the Lord Jesus. perilous times. “Perilous” is used to describe the savage nature of two demon-possessed men (Matt. 8:28). The word for “times” had to do with epochs rather than clock or calendar time. Such savage, dangerous eras or epochs will increase in frequency and severity as the return of Christ approaches (v. 13). The church age is fraught with these dangerous movements accumulating strength as the end nears.
2 Timothy 3:8 Jannes and Jambres. Although their names are not mentioned in the Old Testament, they were likely two of the Egyptian magicians that opposed Moses (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7, 18, 19; 9:11). According to Jewish tradition, they pretended to become Jewish proselytes, instigated the worship of the golden calf, and were killed with the rest of the idolaters (Ex. 32). Paul’s choice of them as examples may indicate the false teachers at Ephesus were practicing deceiving signs and wonders.
DAY 30: How does 2 Timothy 3:16 describe Scripture?
“All Scripture”—both Old Testament and New Testament Scripture are included (2 Pet. 3:15, 16, which identify New Testament writings as Scripture). “Is given by inspiration of God.” Literally, “breathed out by God” or “God-breathed.” Sometimes God told the Bible writers the exact words to say (Jer. 1:9), but more often He used their minds, vocabularies, and experiences to produce His own infallible, inerrant Word (1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21). It is important to note that inspiration applies only to the original autographs of Scripture, not the Bible writers; there are no inspired Scripture writers, only inspired Scripture. So identified is God with His Word that when Scripture speaks, God speaks (Rom. 9:17; Gal. 3:8). Scripture is called “the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:2; 1 Pet. 4:11) and cannot be altered (John 10:35; Matt. 5:17, 18; Luke 16:17; Rev. 22:18, 19).
“And is profitable for doctrine.” The divine instruction or doctrinal content of both the Old Testament and the New Testament (2:15; Acts 20:18, 20, 21, 27; 1 Cor. 2:14–16; Col. 3:16; 1 John 2:20, 24, 27). The Scripture provides the comprehensive and complete body of divine truth necessary for life and godliness. “For reproof.” Rebuke for wrong behavior or wrong belief. The Scripture exposes sin (Heb. 4:12, 13) that can then be dealt with through confession and repentance. “For correction.” The restoration of something to its proper condition. The word appears only here in the New Testament, but was used in extrabiblical Greek of righting a fallen object or helping back to their feet those who had stumbled. Scripture not only rebukes wrong behavior but also points the way back to godly living. “For instruction in righteousness.” Scripture provides positive training (“instruction” originally referred to training a child) in godly behavior, not merely rebuke and correction of wrong behavior (Acts 20:32; 1 Tim. 4:6; 1 Pet. 2:1, 2).
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.
October 30 – John the Baptist and His Doubt, Part 2
“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’” (Matthew 11:2–3).
That John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to Jesus testifies to his genuine faith. John was not seeking more information about Christ but confirmation. In essence, he asked, “Even though I firmly believed You are the Messiah, could I have been wrong?” It was the same attitude as the father of the boy the Lord had cleansed of an evil spirit—“I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
After being in prison for months, unable to minister and interact with the outside world except through periodic visits by his disciples, John had many doubts and uncertainties about Jesus. Those misgivings settled on his mind even though he had announced, baptized, and declared Jesus to be the Messiah.
This prompted John’s disciples to ask Jesus directly, “Are You the Expected One?” This was a common title for the Messiah, along with Branch, Son of David, and King of kings. The name first appears in Psalms 40:7 and 118:26, and the gospel writers often use it (e.g., Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27). There was no mistaking the fact that John wanted to know for sure if Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.
Many Christians today wrestle with doubt from time to time, so it should reassure them that one with the spiritual stature of John the Baptist also doubted. And it ought to encourage us, as we’ll see in the following days, that our doubts come for the same reasons as John’s—and we, like he, can overcome them.
What (if anything) has caused you to doubt the reality of God’s existence or the veracity of His promises? How did He bring you through the maze and mist of uncertainty into a surer place of confidence? What did you learn about Him and about yourself in the process?
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.
Thu, October 30, 2014
The world’s own prophets, the unbelieving psychologists (those eyeless seekers who seek for a light that is not God’s light) have been forced to recognize at the bottom of religious experience this sense of something there. But better far is the sense of Someone there. It was this that filled with abiding wonder the first members of the Church of Christ. The solemn delight that those early disciples knew sprang straight from the conviction that there was One in the midst of them. They knew that the Majesty in the heavens was confronting them on earth: they were in the very Presence of God. And the power of that conviction to arrest attention and hold it for a lifetime, to elevate, to transform, to fill with uncontrollable moral happiness, to send men singing to prison and to death, has been one of the wonders of history and a marvel of the world.
Our fathers have told us and our own hearts confirm how wonderful is this sense of Someone there. It makes religion invulnerable to critical attack. It secures the mind against collapse under the battering of the enemy. They who worship the God who is present may ignore the objections of unbelieving men. Their experience is self-verifying and needs neither defense nor proof. What they see and hear overwhelms their doubts and confirms their assurance beyond the power of argument to destroy.
Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; / God comes in awesome majesty.
Those who worship the God who is present may ignore the objections of unbelieving men.
Confirm in our hearts, Wonderful Father, the sense that You are there, close by.
A. W. Tozer
Art Not Thou Also One of His Disciples? – Part Five
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
In John 19:38 we read that Joseph of Arimathea was “a disciple of Jesus, but secretly.” Interestingly enough, this is the only time in the New Testament where the word disciple is mentioned without calling it His disciple or My disciple. Every other time you find the word disciple, it is “His disciple” or Jesus says, “My disciple.” Only once does it say, “A disciple.” In other words, he was a coward. Joseph fits the words of John 12:42-43, “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Such disciples are not happy ones.”
I wonder if some of you work in surroundings where you do not let the boss know you are a believer. “Oh,” you say, “but he is a member of the Knights of Columbus-a faithful knight-and if I let him know that I was a strong Protestant I might lose my job.” So what? Do you think God is not able to keep you in employment for Himself? He calls you to witness for Him. You don’t have to flaunt it. You don’t have to come in and call him names, but you can point out the fact that you’re a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you believe in Him.
In John 6:66 it says, “Many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” That’s one of the saddest verses in the Scripture. “Many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him.”
All the joyful times were passed. Why? Simply because He taught them some new doctrines and they were afraid. Things weren’t done exactly the way they were accustomed to have them. I wonder sometimes that these people would destroy fellowship.
I once published in a magazine an article entitled, “I Have Read the RSV.” Because I pointed out that there were people who were ignorant, who were damning the Revised Standard Version without having read it, and therefore, didn’t know how good a tool it could be, we had three people write in and cancel their subscriptions. “Oh no, if you don’t cross the T’s the way we cross them, we will no longer fellowship with you!” (Fortunately, we had, from several parts of the country, people who sent in ten dollars and said, “Here are three subscriptions for the three that were cancelled.” So we came out better in the end, perhaps, than we were before.)
I thought of the timidity of people who won’t talk with anybody that doesn’t walk exactly the way they walk; that do not understand the love of a disciple; that perhaps do not understand how people can be very good Christians, and not belong to what they belong to. They may not believe in the second coming of Christ as you believe it. They may not believe in baptism as you believe it or in church policy as you believe it. So what?
As long as we believe that Jesus Christ is God and that salvation is by the blood, we can be Presbyterians when we come to 18th and Spruce in Philadelphia, but when we go outside we can be Christians-disciples. Everywhere we go, let men and women understand that we are continuing in His Word; that we would be His disciples indeed; that we will be marked by our love for one another; and marked by the fact that we bear much fruit. These are the phrases that Jesus Himself has added to the word disciple. “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” `By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” “If ye abide in me … that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”
May God search our hearts that we may walk very close to Him.
How can we be more open with our faith?
Has there been a time when you found something in scripture you didn’t like? How did you deal with that issue?
How can we be more faithful to Christ as disciples today?
Pray that God would give you boldness to talk about your faith with family, friends and co-workers.
Donald Grey Barnhouse
Little Children and a Young Man – Part Four
Theme: Riches and Blessing
This week’s lesson teaches us how sacrifice brings blessing.
“Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
There is disagreement among commentators as to what Jesus meant when he promised that the disciples would “sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (v.28). Some refer it to a literal rule by the disciples over Israel under Christ’s overall messianic rule during a future earthly millennium. Others think of it as a participation of all the saved in the judgment of Christ to be exercised at the last day. Still others refer it to some kind of rule by Christians in this present age. I think the words “at the renewal of all things” and Christ’s “glorious throne” decide the matter in terms of a future millennial age, however that may be conceived.
But that is not the most significant thing. What is profoundly striking, is Christ‘s premise of blessing in the present age. All along, Jesus has been telling his listeners that in order to be disciples they must deny themselves and give up what they possess. He has done it in the case of the rich young filler in this very chapter. Now Jesus says that if his disciples do that, they will receive a hundred times as much as what was given up, and not only in some future life, but now.
In Matthew, Jesus’ exact words are: “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (vv. 28-29).
He ends with the paradoxical statement, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (v. 30), meaning, I suppose, that those who have most here will not necessarily have the most in heaven.
This statement becomes more and more astonishing as we study it. It is surprising that it speaks of rewards, first of all, since there is nothing in the mere notion of discipleship that requires them. At best we are unprofitable servants. However, in addition to speaking of rewards (perhaps spiritual rewards would suffice), it speaks specifically of homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children, and even fields.
And what about a hundred times as much? Even Job received only double his possessions after God restored his prosperity.
We must exercise some caution at this point, of course. For one thing, nothing in Christ’s teachings would encourage us to think of this in crass materialistic terms, as if Jesus were here merely giving a formula for sure wealth. Even this saying is ludicrous if taken in that way. If this is a formula for wealth, then what we should do is, first, earn all we can (taking years to do it if necessary); second, give up those earnings for Jesus and then, finally, wait for Jesus to multiply our charitable gift by one hundred. That would discourage discipleship rather than promote it.
Again, this promise does not necessarily apply to every individual. It is clear that some believers (though not all) are called to poverty. No matter how much they have and give up, they will always have only the most modest means, because that is what God has called them to have. I suppose that most of the disciples were in this category.
Still the text is a true promise, and it does have to do with earthly relationships and material possessions. At the least, it means that the true follower of Christ will not lack for any good thing (“My cup overflows,” Psalm 23:6) and that, in normal circumstances, a Christian will be blessed with earthly goods abundantly. Personally, I am convinced that Jesus gives us every good thing that he can possibly give us without rendering us unfit for his work or destroying our souls. The reason why many of us do not have more is that the Lord knows we would misuse it.
What is the significant message from Christ’s mention of the twelve tribes?
What does Christ mean by the phrase, “the first shall be last, and the last first”?
How might verse 29 be misinterpreted?
Review the text in Matthew 13:28-30. What is the meaning of the paradox?
James Montgomery Boice
PETITION: Pray for God’s Grace to Equip you for Everything Good and to Beget and Sustain New Life
We must pray for grace to equip us for every good thought, word, and work, that we may not only be kept from sin, but may be in everything as we should be, and do as we should do.
Let Christ be made of God to us not only righteousness, but wisdom, sanctification, and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30(ESV)
Let us be planted together in the likeness of Christ’s death and resurrection, that just as he was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so may we too walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4(ESV)
That the work of grace may be wrought where it has not yet begun.
Lord, teach transgressors your ways, and let sinners return to you; Psalm 51:13(ESV) and let the disobedient be turned to the wisdom of the just, and make ready for the Lord a people prepared. Luke 1:17(ESV)
Let those be quickened who are yet dead in trespasses and sins: Ephesians 2:1(ESV) Say to them, “Live!” Yes, say to them, “Live!” Ezekiel 16:6(ESV) And the time shall be a time of love. Ezekiel 16:8(KJV)
Open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified. Acts 26:18(ESV)
Because of the blood of the covenant, set the prisoners free from the waterless pit, that they may return to the stronghold as prisoners of hope. Zechariah 9:11-12(ESV)
Let the word of God prevail to the destroying of strongholds and the destroying of arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and let every thought be taken captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5(ESV)
That where it has begun it may be carried on and at length perfected, and the foundation that has been well laid may be happily built upon.
Fulfill in us every resolve for good and every work of faith by your power. 2 Thessalonians 1:11(ESV)
Let the God who began a good work in us bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6(ESV)
Fulfill, O God, your purpose for us; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever: do not forsake the work of your hands. Psalm 138:8(ESV)
Lord, let your grace be sufficient for us, and let your power be made perfect in weakness, that where we are weak, there we may be strong, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10(ESV) strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Ephesians 6:10(ESV)
Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer
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