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Principles Related to Being Good Examples


Being a godly example is not an option, it is commanded in Scripture.  We have no choice in being an example of some kind and having an impact on those around us, but we do have a choice in the kind of witness and impact we provide.

Someone is going to follow us and be influenced by us. The questions are: Do we know where we are going? Are we providing the kind of example that will enhance their lives, or are we like the blind leading the blind?

The Perfect Example“I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “don’t follow me, I’m lost too.”  That’s the state of the world and, unfortunately, of many well-meaning Christians. They are like the commercial pilot who told his passengers, “I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is we are lost, but the good news is we are making good time.”

Motion in itself does not mean direction. Activity in itself never means effectiveness. We need quality lives with quality motion aimed in the right direction with specific, biblical objectives.

We need Christian maturity that provides people with real honest-to-God examples of authentic Christ-like living. Effective ministry to others is often equated with such things as dynamic per­sonali­ties, with talent, giftedness, training, enthusiasm, and with charisma. But these things alone are inadequate. Much more is needed.

In the Bible, the qualities that lead to effective ministry are found in the elements of spiritual character, in the character of Christ reproduced in us by the ministry of the Spirit (see Eph. 4:12f.; Gal. 5:22ff). Look at the disciples. How would you like to launch a worldwide campaign with the likes of Peter and his comrades? Yet, with these common, average, uneducated men, the Lord launched a campaign that has spanned the globe and turned the world upside down.

Was this because of their unique and imaginative methodology? No! It was because these common men knew the Lord and began to experience His life and His qualities of godliness. He took common men and made them into great men who became spiritual leaders because they were experiencing Him through the power of the Spirit of God.

Mature Christians and leaders have a responsibility to maintain a consistent example. This is a constant theme of the Bible. Other than the raw power of the Word itself, nothing is so determinative for spiritual change in the lives of others as one’s own example.

To be a disciple of Christ requires that we are disciplined in our life of faith, which comes alive and becomes faithful in love. It means we exercise self-control, engaging only in activities that enhance our walk with the Lord, while at the same time resisting the demon of busyness and finding a healthy balance between the “doing and being sides” of our lives.

Reuben Job wrote: “Consider it a gift when you keenly feel the tension between doing and being. It is a positive sign of your awareness of God’s call, a sign of your maturity in Christ, and one of the places where every Christian must experience significant growth and renewal.”

It is God’s priority that we understand our “being,” for it is there that we discover him more intimately! Being in Christ requires that my soul first listens to His still, small voice our of my love and obedience to His Word, His Lordship, His reveled truth and His will for my life.

(Matthew 22:34-40)  “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. {35} One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: {36} “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” {37} Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ {38} This is the first and greatest commandment. {39} And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ {40} All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.””

(Luke 10:38-42)  “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. {39} She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. {40} But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” {41} “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, {42} but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.””

The Latin root for the word “obedience” means “to listen.” Only after we have first taken time to listen for God’s Word will we be able to fully respond to His love and Word in obedience.

Dallas Willard said: “There is nothing that requires more energy for the typical American Christian than the discipline of doing nothing. The hardest thing you can get anyone to do is to do [and say] nothing. We are addicted to our world, addicted to talk…The goal of Christian spirituality is conformity to Christ—not togetherness or meditation or acceptance. The issue is discipleship. Discipleship is learning from Jesus Christ how to live my life as He would live it if He were me.”

Henri Nouwen: “We do not take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside some time to be with God and listen to him…The amount of time will vary for each person according to temperament, age, job, lifestyle, and maturity…The more we train ourselves to spend time with God and him alone, the more we will discover that God is with us at all times and in all places. Then we will be able to recognize him even in the midst of a busy and active life…The discipline of solitude enables us to live active lives in the world, while remaining always in the presence of the living God.”

When the prophet Elijah, zealous for the Lord, was sent to the mountain to wait for God to pass by (1 Kings 19:9-13), was God in a powerful wind? In an earthquake? A fire? No! Surprisingly, the Lord made his presence known through a gently whisper.

So often we come to God and want to be “zapped,” tingling with His presence, when all the while he wants us to rest in him, be comforted by his love for us, and listen carefully for his gently whispers.

Beyond our busyness and our lack of communication with God, what are some of the other distractions we face? The occupations and pre- occupations that get us off course from the direction we should be heading as Christ-followers?

The lure of the evil one. Satan’s activity level is heightened when he thinks we are vulnerable to his attacks and his cunning nature. We need to be fully aware of his sly movements that seek to destroy and devour God’s people.

Messed-up priorities. Too often, we are not wise in the use of our time and energies, and the tyranny of the urgent far outweighs what’s truly important. It may be time to reassess your priorities and realign your schedule so you can spend time developing your heart for God and his Word.

Our desire to climb the ladder of success. When our hearts and minds are fixated on adding wealth to our portfolios, we are distracted from spiritual formation and pulled away from a sacrificial lifestyle of love and generosity. The needs of others tend to wait until it’s more convenient for us to give. But Jesus calls us to a life of sacrifice, service, and surrender.

We hunger and thirst for things that don’t feed our souls. A carryover to the success syndrome is the accumulation of things and experiences that thrill us, often to the neglect of the spiritual life. We have computers, laptops, handheld gadgets, boats, ski-boats, golf sets, summer homes, winter homes, fancy cars, expensive vacations, and a ton of other “stuff’ that gets accumulated over the years. The more we have, the more we want; all the while our excitement for being alone with God and his  Word wanes. I am convinced that the judgment on our generation will be focused on the almighty dollar and how we spent it so luxuriously on ourselves, often to the neglect of the poor and needy.

Skepticism. In many respects, we don’t take seriously the role of the Keeper of our soul, mostly because we are skeptical if he’s really necessary. We are an independent people who like to make it on our own. This works for a while, but eventually our attitudes and speech reveal the state of our souls. If we fully believe in the fruit of ongoing spiritual disciplines, though, our skepticism will be reversed and heartfelt commitment will return.

A lack of models. We are human “doings” much more than human “beings,” so creating a quiet center is generally more difficult. But we need to be modeling for each other what a healthy spiritual life looks like. I long to see the day when local church leaders hold one another accountable for their personal spiritual life and see this role as more significant than the work they are called to accomplish together.

We are more self-reliant than God-dependent. We are very confident in our own abilities, so we don’t depend on God for our day-to-day needs. In crisis moments we cry out for mercy and strength because of our desperate need. But in the mundane aspects of our life in him, we tend to walk the walk how we see fit.

We are far more reactive than proactive. Instead of reacting to the issues of life all around us, we need to proactively choose to step off our treadmills and find a place and time to be alone with God. It takes focused! discipline, but it’s absolutely essential.

We have lost our first love. This is the most difficult possibility to raise and sometimes the most difficult to discern if it’s true. If you sense that you are falling out of love with God, remember that He is still faithful. He has always been by your side, available and aware of your heart cries. He has always longed for your love and is waiting with open arms to receive you once again.

If you are a prodigal child and need to return home, he will be there to greet you. Don’t let your feelings of love lost  for God hinder your return to him today.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2019 in Encouragement

 

CHECK LIST FOR HUSBANDS/WIVES


Allow at least 30 minutes for this exercise. Make sure you are alone and undisturbed. Husbands should fill in the answers first, then fold, the answers under while the wife answers. The wife’s answers apply to the husband’s behavior, not hers. The two should then dialogue on their responses, each one from the “feeling” point of view (non-judgmental).

                                                               Yes           No

  1. I write a personal, affectionate note or letter to my wife regularly (weekly?).
  2. I never have to be reminded of her birthday or our anniversary.
  3. I plan an honest evaluation of our marriage regularly (perhaps with testing).On your anniversary do you recommit? Perhaps listen to the tape of your marriage ceremony.
  4. We have developed specific goals for n our family spiritually, emotionally and economically.
  5. We have at least one meal daily with all the family members together.
  6. My wife has confirmed to me that the money she receives is reasonable and adequate under our financial circumstances.
  7. I encourage my wife to develop her own potentialities (by taking courses, etc.)
  8. I am aware of what is going on in my house between my wife and our children.
  9. In dealing with all family members, I am more positive than negative.
  10. I regularly help my wife with the children and the “necessary drudgery.”
  11. 11.I never ask others to our house without my wife knowing in advance and with assurance of my help.
  12. I respond to her preferences in buying a new house or automobile.
  13. I seldom tire of talking with my wife.
  14. I still court my wife.
  15. I spend at least one hour each week, alone with my wife, talking about our mutual interests.
  16. I am closer to my wife now than I was one year ago.
  17. I make most decisions of my family’s welfare rather than my own (Phil. 2:3,4).
  18. I allow my wife to use her abilities and talents to their fullest.
  19. I show patience in most situations.
  20. I allow her to make many decisions.
  21. I treat her as a partner, not as a servant.
  22. I forgive her when she makes bad decisions.
  23. I try to guide (vs. boss) when she needs
  24. She can talk with me about anything without my getting angry.
  25. There is nothing about which she is afraid to talk with me.
  26. I try basically to be an unselfish person.
  27. I am primarily a Christian who loves the Lordship of Jesus.
  28. Is the Lord really first in your life?
  29. Are nagging, bickering or picking general occurrences at your home?
  30. Are you in subjection to your husband? Do you place him in the position of leadership?
  31. Are you a happy person? Do you take life, generally, without complaint
  32. Are you a positive, affirming person?
  33. Are you a forgiving person?
  34. Do you often interrupt your husband when he talking or telling a story?
  35. Do you put your husband down in public? In private?
  36. Do you have reasonable control of your weight?
  37. Are you sexually responsive to your husband at least 95% of the time?
  38. How do you handle problems and pressures? Do you remain indecisive or blame others when things go wrong?
  39. Do you call your husband any ugly names? (Any name he does not like is ugly.)
  40. Do you have any resentments against your husband (because he is “fat,” “late,” ill-mannered, uneducated, etc.)?
  41. Is your house reasonably organized and clean?
  42. How do you feel about housework? Do you do it willingly?
  43. Are you too “fussy” about how the house looks?
  44. How is your credit? Are you inclined to buy things on impulse, then have trouble paying your bills?
  45. What is your social life like? Do you find yourself spending most of your spare time with your family and friends and very little with your husband’s family and friends?
  46. Would you prefer to watch TV rather than talk with your husband?
  47. Do you spend at least one-half of your leisure time together?
  48. Do you ask which film or TV program he would like to see and then somehow you end up seeing the one you prefer?
  49. Do you treat his mother (or yours) with disrespect?
  50. Are in-laws allowed to interfere or set policies for your family?
  51. How is your sense of humor? Do you laugh easily – even at yourself?
  52. Has your husband caught you in little lies which you have tried to wriggle out of?
  53. When you are wrong, do you find it hard to admit?
  54. Do your prime interests in life center around things more than people?
  55. Have you thought about who you are and what you will be like in 25 years
 
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Posted by on January 14, 2019 in Marriage

 

Questions Jesus Asked (from the gospel of Mark) – Why Are You So Afraid?


That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

STORM-TOSSED LIVES

The question Jesus asked is preceded by one that was asked of him, and it too is a provocative question. The disciples on the boat woke the Lord and asked him, “Don’t you care if we drown?

This story not only describes an incident that happened in history on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus and his disciples almost two thousand years ago, but it also illustrates conditions of life that resonate with most of us. There are times when life is overwhelming and treacherous for us, when there are anxious and threatening circumstances.

We petition God, we seek out friends, we read the Bible, we fast and pray, hoping to penetrate to heaven. And it seems as if our Savior and Lord is asleep. The thing we’re most aware of is the hardship, and the thing we’re least sure of is his love.

Human beings live storm-tossed lives. The most difficult question that non-Christian skeptics ask is the question of suffering. How can God be all-powerful and all-loving and allow his people to live in fear and anguish?

The place Jesus ended in this story is the place that everybody who believes has to come to in theology and experience. He asked the disciples, “Do you still have no faith?” In the long run, the problem of human suffering is the problem of faith. It requires that we be persuaded by One whose presence mitigates the need to have our questions answered.

WHY JESUS SLEPT IN THE BOAT

Let’s observe the details of the story. Verse 35 starts out, “…When evening came….” A long day of demanding public ministry preceded this account. Jesus was exhausted. “…He said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side’….”

They set out across the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee, leaving the region of Galilee where Jews predominated and going to a region that was mostly Gentile, the Decapolis area. “Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.” The words “just as he was” remind us of how tired he was, and indicate why he quickly fell asleep.

It’s helpful to see Jesus unable to keep his eyes open. Have you ever felt that way? We struggle with our weakness and weariness. We wish we could be better parents late in the day, and often we’re too tired to be. Weary husbands and wives have little to offer each other. Making it through the day becomes a major accomplishment.

But it’s encouraging to see Christ in that very same condition, because the words of Hebrews 4:15 come back: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin.”

He knows what it’s like to be human. He’s been in every human place, been pressured by every human pressure, even such a simple thing as weariness from a day’s hard work. The next time you feel that way, remember you have a high priest who will minister to you with sympathy and understanding.

Another observation that’s worth making from this scene is that after a day of teaching, the Lord decided to leave, precisely because the day of teaching was over. It was useful to those he had taught for him to leave. To hear Jesus speak for an entire day, to fill a notebook full of the themes of the kingdom of God, to be given instruction in the truth in wonderful and creative and picturesque ways, and then for him to leave, suggests to us that there comes a point when learning should lead to obedience.

Rather than allowing these people to spend the next day in another seminar, and the next, as if more information were the key to everything, Jesus realized, “I’ve taught them more than they can handle. And it is thinking harder about what they have already been told, deepening their experience with the truth they already have, that this group in Galilee needs. So I’m going elsewhere for a time.” Similarly, the majority of us in this church have more information than we have experience with the truth, we know more than we believe, we’ve been told more than we act on.

THE PROBLEM OF OVERREACTING

Moving farther into the story, we ought to consider the nature of the storm. Mark records this, probably from Peter’s telling of it, as a “furious squall,” as the New International Version translates it. On the Sea of Galilee, which is roughly the size of Lake Tahoe, there are seasons when gusts of wind blow down off the Golan Heights. It’s set in a valley between hills that form a corridor for the winds. This was not a supernatural event; it was a storm of the type that still happens on the Sea of Galilee. It was a very serious storm. It was at night, which made it even more dangerous. The text is very clear that the disciples faced a treacherous set of circumstances.

But the question that we might ask is whether this was the zenith of testing that these disciples thought it was. Were they in the most extreme of conditions? Were they at their wit’s end, completely overcome, with nowhere to turn? Is that what the passage is telling us? Or was this a storm like storms they had seen before? After all, these were fishermen who had spent their life on this lake. I believe the disciples were overreacting, and we can learn why as we hear Jesus’ question to them.

Jesus was never worried about the storm. When he was awakened, he wasn’t shaken by an awful storm-wracked sea. He rebuked the storm the way you would rebuke an overzealous puppy: “Quiet, stop! Calm down!” One translator renders it, “Pipe down!” And he stopped the storm not because he felt lives were threatened, but so he could have a conversation. He was calming noise and confusion. Jesus treated the storm as a difficult test, a demanding set of circumstances, a hard lesson, but not as if all were about to be lost at any moment.

Many of us conclude at times that we are in emergency situations when we are not. Many of us feel overwhelmed by pressures and demands and stresses. We give ourselves permission to throw up our hands and tear our clothes and wail and feel sorry for ourselves and expect others to coming rushing in to help. We declare ourselves to be at the end of our rope and rail at the unfairness of it all. That is essentially a declaration of immaturity.

This was a hard storm, but the disciples’ sense that their lives were momentarily to be forfeit was an overreaction.

Rather than grab Jesus and accuse him of lovelessness in this out-of-control way, they had the opportunity to face the storm with faith, bail out the boat, and work together with the sailors in the other boats in case someone fell overboard. They had the opportunity to trust God and strengthen each other in very trying conditions.

Young Christians often have the mistaken notion that coming to the Lord means the end of life’s troubles. Did you ever think that? And for many, in the earliest months of Christian life there is wonderful provision. Doors open at just the right moment, the sun comes out just when the clouds seem to be gathering, and wonderful possibilities abound. Then the storm strikes. Maturity comes from trusting God when there is no evidence of his presence. Storms are the school in which we learn faith. Emotional overreaction to demanding circumstances is one indicator of how much we have left to learn.

It was, of course, completely legitimate for the disciples to awaken Jesus. A faithful response in waking him up would be to say, “Here’s a bucket-you need to start bailing,” or, “What do you think we ought to do?” or, “These kinds of storms are nothing to trifle with, and we need all hands on deck.” The problem with their response was that they had concluded that Jesus had stopped loving them, and they had given way to panic.

THE WORST FEAR OF ALL

Let’s consider the struggle that elicited their question and Jesus’ question in response. They grabbed him and said, “Don’t you care? How could anyone who loves us treat us the way you’re treating us?” The sleeping Savior, who had performed miracles for others, was unresponsive to their plight.

Job wrestled with some of the same issues: a God who didn’t respond to the suffering of his loved one. What we usually say to God when we’re hurting is this: “I need you to wake up and change the circumstances. If you really care for me, you’ll do something to get me out of the mess I’m in. But at a minimum, if you don’t change the circumstances, at least explain them.” The Lord could act if he chose to. We know his power is great enough, but the fact that we are still struggling, anxious, uncertain, confused, and weighed down is evidence that he doesn’t care.

It is not physical danger or even the prospect of death that we fear the most. The deepest fears are about eternity and the character of God.

The disciples had placed ultimate hope in Christ. They had seen him release sufferers from the power of demons. They had heard him tell them truths that no one else had ever spoken before. They had heard him pray as only he could pray, with a Spirit-given intimacy with God in his prayers that they had no experience with. They had seen him challenge fleshly religion and declare the love of God. They believed that he was a source of hope, that he could be trusted, that life would make sense with him at the center. But now he was asleep in their hour of need, and they were beginning to say to themselves not, “I fear I am going to die,” but, “I fear he is not who he claims to be.”

I have trusted my life to Jesus of Nazareth who lived as no other has and died as no other has and is now seated at God’s right hand. I would be shaken to the core if these things proved to be a hoax. The disciples on the lake were not most afraid of physical death (by drowning). They were deeply shaken by the possibility that Jesus would put them in extreme circumstances and then ignore their plight-that he was not who he claimed to be. “Do you not care…?”

“The boat won’t sink, and the storm won’t last forever.” The gospel won’t “sink”; it will bear all the weight you put on it. The hope of the gospel doesn’t dim over time or fail under pressure. The Lord will supply our needs for every day of this life and for eternity.

But the second phrase is important, too: “The storm won’t last forever.” It is not true that being a Christian is to be assigned to suffer forever and ever. The end of the story is not more suffering. The end of the story is joy, glory, the approval of God, being made like Christ, fellowship with other people who believe, the end of evil.

A HEALTHY FEAR OF GOD

This account has a great ending. “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'” A moment earlier they had been terrified by the storm; now they were more terrified! They saw the one who, with a word, banished wind and waves.

That’s what it means to have faith: to be more impressed with Christ than we are with the problems, to have a fear of God in the proper sense. This is no one to be trifled with, and when he engages our enemies, they will fall. However we evaluate our circumstances, whatever our feelings tell us-and very often they are negative and hurtful, with no reason for hope-against all these is the word of Christ. We ought to be more impressed with him than we are with our analysis of our circumstances.

Moses preached a wonderful sermon in the book of Deuteronomy. He stood before the children of Israel at the end of their wilderness wanderings. He was at the end of his life, he knew, and he would not be with them much longer. He preached of law and covenant, of the past and future, of blessings and curses. At the end of the sermon, this great patriarch, this great man of faith, the friend of God, used one of my favorite metaphors for thinking about God’s love.

Deuteronomy 33:26-27: “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty.The eternal God is your refuge,and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Always underneath everything is the embrace of God, the one who holds on to us. His arms are everlasting; they will not fail. Storms, problems, pressures, failures, inadequacies, anxieties, confusions-underneath them all are the everlasting arms of God. He will embrace us and hold us up.

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun….” That’s what Jesus helped these men in the boat see. Faith that believes that underneath everything are the everlasting arms of God will give us the courage we need, whatever the circumstances.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2019 in Mark

 

Quiz for Couples — How’s Your Marriage?


This quiz is based on an understanding of many key studies in the field. Following the Quiz you can add up your points and use the scale to see how you are doing. You should take the scores seriously, but realize that there is a lot that the quiz doesn’t take into account about your relationship. While these questions are based on studies that assess such things as the likelihood of a marriage working out, we would hate for any one person to take this and assume the worst about their future. Rather, we believe that the quiz can motivate high and medium- high scoring couples to take a serious look at where their marriage is heading–and take steps to turn negative patterns around for the better.

Please answer each of the following questions to see how you are doing. We recommend that you answer these questions by yourself and not share scores with your partner.

Use the following 3 point scale to rate how often you and your mate or partner experience the following:

1 = Never or almost never 2 = Once in awhile 3 = Frequently

1 2 3  Little arguments escalate into ugly fights with accusations, criticisms, name calling, or bringing up past hurts.

1 2 3  My partner criticizes or belittles my opinions, feelings, or desires.

1 2 3  My partner seems to view my words or actions more negatively than I mean them to be.

1 2 3  When we have a problem to solve, it is like we are on opposite teams.

1 2 3  I hold back from telling my partner what I really think and feel.

1 2 3  I think seriously about what it would be like to date or marry someone else.

1 2 3  I feel lonely in this relationship.

1 2 3  When we argue, one of us withdraws, that is, doesn’t want to talk about it anymore; or leaves the scene.

Determining Your Score:
Add up your points to determine your score. (Include only your scores, do not add to your partner’s!) The ranges we suggest for the quiz are based on results from a nationwide, random phone survey of 947 people (85% married).

8 to 12 “Green Light”
If your total points is in the 8 – 12 range, your relationship is probably in good or even great shape AT THIS TIME, but we emphasize “AT THIS TIME” because relationships don’t stand still. In the next 12 months, you’ll either have a stronger, happier relationship, or you could head in the other direction. To think about it another way, it’s like you are traveling along and have come to a green light. There is no need to stop, but it is probably a great time to work on making your relationship all it can be.

13 to 17 “Yellow Light”
If you scored in the 13-17 range, it’s like you are coming to a “yellow light.” You need to be cautious. While you may be happy now in your relationship, your score reveals warning signs of patterns you don’t want to let get worse. You’ll want to be taking action to protect and improve what you have. Spending time to strengthen your relationship now could be the best thing you could do for your future together.

18 to 24 “Red Light”
Finally, if you scored in the 18-24 range, it’s like approaching a red light. Stop, and think about where the two of you are headed. Your score indicates the presence of patterns that could put your relationship at significant risk. You may be heading for trouble–or already may be there. But there is GOOD NEWS. You can stop and learn ways to improve your relationship now!

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2019 in Marriage

 

Questions Jesus Asked (From the gospel of Mark) – Good Or Evil, Life or Death?


Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”

In this series of messages we are considering questions Jesus asked in a variety of settings. These questions always prove to be more provocative and important when the context in which they occur is carefully examined.

The question before us now comes from Mark 3. Jesus was addressing Pharisees who were looking for an excuse to oppose him. They were poised to pounce as soon as he did something that contradicted their traditions.

The law, of course, was an expression of God’s heart. So Jesus’ question was, “What would please God on the Sabbath day, to do good or to do evil, to give life or to kill?” This should not be a difficult question. The answer is so obvious that we would easily trust them to correctly answer this question.

However, Jesus’ antagonists refused to answer the question. Eventually they would indicate an answer that defied the heart of God. By the end of this passage we’ll find that they were choosing both evil and death. They were determined to kill Jesus.

Taking a step back

In Mark 2:23-3:6 there are two Sabbath stories back-to-back. For most of us Sabbath activities are not an ethical problem. But we have similar habits and behaviors. Something you’re doing to please God will look foolish or hurtful, if you take a step back and examine it. We are capable of doing the ungodly things in God’s name. Sometimes we need to be asked the sort of simple question Jesus asked: “Why are you doing this? Is this what God really wants human beings to live like? Is this healthy and honoring and sane and wise? Is it right in God’s name to do good or evil? Is it right to kill or make alive?”

Let’s read the first of the two Sabbath stories in 2:23-28:

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?

In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

On a certain sabbath day, Christ and his disciples were passing through a grain field. The disciples, being hungry (Mt. 12:1), began to pluck ears of grain and to husk them with their hands (Lk. 6:1).

First, Christ himself was not directly accused of breaking the law on this occasion. Only the disciples were charged with the violation. But the Pharisees were hoping to hold Christ accountable for the conduct of his students. How many teachers today would be persuaded by such an argument?

Second, the truth is, however, not even the disciples actually violated the sabbath law of the Mosaic system. Hebrew law made provision for those in need to eat when they passed through a field of grain (Dt. 23:25; cf. Ruth 2:2-3). So it was not “stealing” that was the focus of the Pharisaic criticism. Rather, this was the crux of the matter.

Over the years, Rabbinic tradition had evolved a host of infractions (some 39) that, allegedly, violated the law’s prohibition of work on the sabbath. (This matter has been discussed in detail in Emil Schurer’s, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ (New York: Chas. Scribner’s Sons, 1891, II, pp. 96-105.)

One of these forbidden acts was “grinding,” which, by a nit-picking Pharisaical stretch, the disciples actions would be perceived to be doing. The activity, however, was hardly that of commercial grinding, as contemplated in the law.

Third, Jesus, in commenting upon the disciples’ conduct, plainly said they were “guiltless” (Mt. 12:7). The Greek term describes one who is not liable to blame in the matter of a crime (see W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary, Iowa Falls: World, 1991, p. 367). The disciples broke no law.

This was not a tense exchange. Jesus’ questioners were clearly disapproving, but this text doesn’t describe them as being angry or antagonistic to the Lord. They asked a real question, and he gave them a very thoughtful, challenging answer. Jesus made powerful claims about the nature of the Sabbath and about himself, drawing on the Scriptures.

The second story, in contrast, is filled with confrontation. Let’s read Mark 3:1-6 (ESV)

1  Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand.

2  And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.

3  And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.”

4  And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.

5  And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

6  The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

Here, Jesus was in the presence of enemies. His actions were a clear challenge (“Stand up in front of everyone.”) Jesus was both angry and sorrowful at the hard hearts of traditionalists in this synagogue.  Now, to make sense of these stories, we need to ask, What is the point of the Sabbath? Why is the Sabbath a reason for the difficulties that are in this passage?

SABBATH LESSONS. The Sabbath is an important theme in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The fourth commandment concerns the seventh day, and there were other laws about the seventh and 49th year. There is a simple core to the idea of Sabbath. The word shabbâth, transliterated into English as Sabbath, is the word for rest in Hebrew. It means at its heart to relax, to cease from activities.

YOU CAN REST

There are two different reasons given for the fourth commandment, in which the children of Israel were told to keep the Sabbath holy and do no work. The ten commandments are listed twice, in Exodus and Deuteronomy. First, Exodus 20:11: For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The reason to keep the Sabbath in this case is that God rested, having completed everything that needed to be done. How many of us live with a desperate sense that no matter how much we do, it’s never enough? But, tasks can be finished. Work doesn’t have to go on forever. We aren’t required to carry every burden. Some of us fear that a moment’s relaxing of vigilance will lead to the unraveling of everything. Who knows what horrible things will happen if we relax? But God’s Sabbath calls for us to rest in Him.

Psalm 127:1-2 makes a wonderful point about vigilance:

“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat- for he grants sleep to [or while they sleep he provides for] those he loves.”

It’s foolishness to imagine we are indispensable. God makes the watchman successful and the builder successful, and he gives to his beloved their sleep. God’s work is done, and he invites us to enjoy a sense of completion with him, not to be distracted and pressed always to do more and more.

The second reason for the Sabbath is that slavery is ended. Deuteronomy 5:15:

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

The Sabbath is a marvelous gift, an incredible blessing. But it is a gift that every generation resists. Sabbath rest is physically refreshing, it encourages community, it makes worship a priority, it teaches us the deep lessons of dependence on God.

The freedom to let go, to relax and enjoy the world God has made, the privilege of setting ourselves aside and gazing at him, the marvel of enjoying each other, of not having to pay attention and keep records and account for everything-it’s an incredible gift. And we resist it. Why is grace so hard to receive?

The law of the Sabbath was undermined quickly in Israel’s history. The questions became, If God says to do no work on the Sabbath day and keep it holy, what is work?

In order for us to do no work, we need some accurate sense of measurement as to who’s working and who isn’t. And since this is a test, not only do I want to get it right, but I want to do better than everybody else. And so the ancient teachers wrote lengthy commentaries, trying to decide what was work and what wasn’t… they came up with endless definitions.

Dragging a stick on the ground was forbidden on the Sabbath as a form of plowing. It was permitted to spit on a rock but not on the ground. If you spit on a rock, the spit would eventually evaporate, but if you spit in the dirt, it might actually make the dirt come together and form some sort of clay, which could conceivably be made into a brick.

Tying a knot was work, so a woman could not tie a knot in her girdle…but if you joined a bucket with a knot in order to draw water from a well…that was OK. (Do you get the idea?)

I have long told my children of a particular issue that arises in our congregations: we have congregations and individuals who are quick to “draw lines” that God did not draw. They seek to ‘legislate’ where they have no authority. This is wrong! We should not “add to” “or take away” from God’s Word. God knows how to instruct His people and God knows what we need. Let’s leave it to Him!

We must also admit that there is also an element in our brotherhood that seeks to “erase lines” that God has drawn. This is also wrong!

We need to avoid the Pharisaical attitudes which Jesus condemned in Matthew 23! We must not “bind loads on people” and do it with no willingness to “lift a finger” on their behalf.

The very commandment that called for joyful rest became an incredible burden. You have to work very hard to keep the Sabbath, as it turns out. You have to plan ahead and do many things on the sixth day, getting everything prepared, in order to be ready for the seventh. So the sixth day becomes especially burdensome. Further, you spend all of the seventh day wary of inadvertent failure: “What if I look the wrong direction? What if I say the wrong thing?”

FREEDOM AND CONFRONTATION

Regarding the picking of heads of grain on the Sabbath, Jesus was asked, “Why are your disciples doing what is unlawful?”

In reply he asked them an important question: “Haven’t you ever read the Bible? God often appoints his servants to break conventions.”

God is interested in love and righteousness. People who hear the message of the Bible will find themselves unable to settle for rigidity and narrowness and negativity. They won’t assume that it’s a good thing to do evil on the Sabbath, to kill rather than to make alive on the Sabbath, because the Bible is not like that.

Finally, note that Jesus said that he is Lord of the Sabbath. Do you think of him with that name very often? He is in charge of dispensing freedom and rest, taking off burdens. We’re not supposed to be driven and desperate and confused.

He intends for us to experience rest and contentment and joy that come from the Spirit. The work has been accomplished, the slaves are free, life is a gift. He is the Lord of the Sabbath, and if he is your Lord, that is his intention for you.

Did Jesus Violate the Sabbath?

First, if Christ “violated” the law of God, then he sinned. Transgression of the law is sin (1 Jn. 3:4). If the Lord sinned, the biblical affirmations regarding his perfection are false (see Jn. 8:29; Heb. 4:15;1 Pet. 2:22).

Second, if Jesus broke the law of God, he would have been unable to function as the spotless sacrifice for our sins (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). Consequently, we would remain unredeemed, and of all men, be most pitiable.

And so, to contend that the Son of God “violated” the sabbath law is a concept that has dreadful consequences. The fact is, such a claim reveals a profound misunderstanding of the circumstances connected with Mark 2:23ff. Let us survey the details of that narrative.

Christ did not intend to let these arrogant, law-making Pharisees usurp the place of God in binding unauthorized burdens upon his men. With brilliant logic he demolished the charges of the opposition.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2019 in Mark

 

A study of Eternal Life by Leslie G. Thomas


I was blessed a few years back to be on a church staff in Tennessee with Leslie G. Thomas, a wonderful Christian man with a brilliant mind. The following material was shared with me during that time, and I am pleased to present it now.

 Preface

The question of eternal life has occupied the mind of mankind from time immemorial. The central character, in what is probably one of the oldest books of the Bible, raised the question; “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14: 14). The dream of the Indian warrior, who probably had little or no knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, was his heaven, which he called the happy hunting ground.

 But it remained for Jesus to give the most authoritative and complete answer to the question, when he said: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die.” (See John 11:25-26.)

There are two aspects of eternal life which must be carefully considered, in any adequate dealing regarding the subject, namely, quality and duration. Quality must be ours, here and now; while duration will be assured, only after we have maintained faithfulness to the end of our life here upon the earth.

 (John 6:47-58 NIV)  I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. {48} I am the bread of life. {49} Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. {50} But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. {51} I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will John 3:16 (30 kb)give for the life of the world.” {52} Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” {53} Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. {54} Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. {55} For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. {56} Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. {57} Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. {58} This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”

 (Titus 1:2 NIV)  a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,

 (1 John 2:25 NIV)  And this is what he promised us–even eternal life.

 (1 John 5:10-13 NIV)  Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. {11} And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. {12} He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. {13} I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

These lessons were written with the conviction that the Bible contains all that we need to know regarding eternal life; and that many people are satisfied with that. But it is also true that there are people who would like to know what well known and respected scholars say about the subject: hence, the careful, and trustfully adequate, documentation.

The scriptural text used in these studies, unless otherwise indicated, is the American Standard Version.

I am grateful to our heavenly Father for enabling me to complete these studies, on the life which will never end. And it is my hope that others will be led to a sincere study of the Holy Scriptures, so that they can live in the full expectation of being with the Lord and the redeemed, while eternity continues to unfold before their grateful eyes. — LESLIE G. THOMAS.

THE GIFT AUTHORIZED AND IDENTIFIED

These things spake Jesus: and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said, Father, the hour is come: glorify thy Son, that the Son may glorify thee: even as thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that to all whom thou hast given him, he should give eternal life. And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom that didst send, even Jesus Christ. (John 17:1-3; cf. Romans 6:23.)

The passage just quoted contains the words of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, words which he addressed to the heavenly Father, just before Judas betrayed him into the hands of his enemies.

When one considers the setting of the prayer, in which the words are found, it is not difficult for one to understand that Jesus was pouring out his very soul unto his Father in heaven, and was giving utterance to the deepest thoughts and feelings of his spirit, as he faced death upon the cross for the sins of the world.

However, as one reads and studies the Lord’s intercessory prayer, which he offered on the occasion now before us, one is unable to detect the slightest indication of depression or dejection. Instead, Jesus spoke of his joy, as he reviewed his past and contemplated his future.

Jesus was deeply concerned for the welfare of his disciples, especially their eternal welfare; and he mentioned at the very beginning of his prayer, the fact that God has authorized him to “give eternal life” to all his people, that is, the people whom the Father had given him. (See John 17:2.) Every normal and thoughtful person, who is responsible in God’s sight, is interested in the subject of eternal life, or, at least, that is what most such people would say. But how many of us ever stop to ask the question, “Just what is eternal life”?

The nearest approach to a definition of eternal life is found in the words of Jesus himself. which are quoted above; but even those words do not contain a formal definite, in the purely scientific or metaphysical sense.

The words just referred to, however, are the Lord’s own description of the subject; and they clearly reveal his conception of that wonderful issue. These words of Jesus, therefore, are more precious to us, than a formal definition would be. And so, as we begin the study of this question, let us ask,

WHAT DOES JESUS MEAN BY ETERNAL LIFE?

The average person would probably answer, Jesus means by the expression, a life which will last forever, that is, a life which will never end. But if one will only take the time to read all that Jesus says about the question, one will soon see that the Lord was not talking merely about an existence which will last forever, or which will never end; but rather about a certain kind of life. All men, both good and bad, have a life, that is, a soul or spirit, which will always exist; but mere duration or existence is not necessarily desirable.

Furthermore, duration is not the only, or even the principal feature which should be emphasized when one studies the subject of eternal life: quality also enters into the definition of the term.

God is eternal. not merely because he will always exist: rather, he will always exist because of the quality of his being. God himself would not always exist, if he were not what he is.

Jesus wants us to understand that he came to give us more than merely an existence. If we expect to live with God forever, we must have a quality of life which will endure forever. “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth: and some unto honor, and some unto dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor. sanctified, meet for the master’s use, prepared unto every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20, 21; read also verses 4-19).

People who are interested in the question of eternal life, should always keep in mind the words of Jesus, quoted at the beginning of this study, namely, “And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3).

The original Greek term for “know” is ginoskosin which, as A.T. Robertson points out, is the “present active subjunctive with hina (subject clause), ‘should keep on knowing’.” [1]

Marvin R. Vincent, in commenting on the term “know”, as used by Jesus, says: “Might recognize or perceive. This is striking, that eternal life consists in knowledge, or rather the pursuit of knowledge, since the present tense marks a continuous, a progressive perception of God in Christ. That they may learn to know. Compare ver. 23; x. 38; I John v. 20; iv. 7,8.”[2]

The apostle John, the writer who recorded the Lord’s intercessory prayer, wrote, many years after that momentous occasion, about how we may know that we know the Lord:

And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoso keepeth his word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected. (I John 2:3-5.)

Rudolf Bultmann notes that “it is plain that ginoskein does not mean the knowledge of investigation, observation or speculation, nor of mystical vision remote from historical contacts or action: it achieves concrete expression in historical acts.

The agape of God for the kosmos is actualized in the sending of the Son (In. 3: 16; 1 In. 4:9f.), and the agape of Jesus in obedience to the Father and service for the world or for his own (In. 14:31; 13: Iff.; 15:9, 12f.). Since the knowledge of Jesus or of God expresses itself accordingly in agapan, observing the commandments (which have in agape their content) might also be called a criterion of ginoskein (I In. 2:3-5; cf. 3:6). [3]

Jesus says that to know the Father and the Son is to have eternal life; or, that life eternal is to know the Father and the Son. The apostle John, as we have already seen, shows just exactly what it means to know the Lord. This, of course, should be a matter of great concern to people who sincerely desire to have eternal life.

This concern, indeed, should prompt people, seeking for eternal life, to make a diligent search in the Scriptures, in order to ascertain just what the Lord expects of them. When once the seeker knows what the commandments of the Lord are for him, he should immediately, with a heart filled with love, for that which the Lord has ordained for him. (Cf. John 14: 14,23: I John 5:3.)

There are two types of life or character set forth in the Scriptures. This is clearly seen in the passage quoted above (2 Timothy 2:20-21). One type will always endure, and one will prove to be only temporary.

Gold, for example, will always endure because of its nature: it cannot be destroyed because of what it is. “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23: l0b.) The materials which are placed in contrast with gold, do not possess the enduring quality of the precious metal; and they will, of course, be destroyed when the testing times come. (Cf. I Corinthians 3:12-15.)

There would be little satisfaction in the endless continuation of life, even in heaven, apart from the issue of its quality. When Jesus spoke about eternal life, he had reference primarily to the life which is imparted by the Father, following a complete surrender of the will of the recipient to the will of God, as revealed in the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8: 1,2).

This kind of life must be ours, here and now (cf. I John 5:10-13: Colossians 3: 1-4); and such a life must be continued, if we have the right to expect to enter into heaven at the last day (2 Peter 5:5-11).

LIFE, SOUL, CHARACTER, PERSONALITY

Gospel preachers, in an effort to bring about a better understanding of the meaning and use of the term “church”, frequently compare it with some related terms, such as kingdom and body. All three of the terms just mentioned refer to one and the same thing, namely, God’s people in Christ, considered from three points of view.

The people under consideration are the church (ekkiesia): because they have been called out of the world and unto Christ.  They are the kingdom (basileia), because Christ rules over them as king. And they are the body (soma). because Christ is their head (Colossians 1: 18, 24).

The eternal life which God authorized his Son to give to his people, may in precisely the same manner, be better understood when it is compared with the terms/ soul, character, and personality.

Most Bible students are aware of the fact that the word “soul” is sometimes used in the sense of life, as may be seen by reading Matthew 16:25, 26. (Cf. this reading in the King James and American Standard Versions.) But the average person, it may be, does not usually think of the terms “character” and “personality” in this connection.

Character has been defined as the deepest fact of human life; the essential truth concerning man, that is, the truth about him which is written upon his personality. Or, which is the same thing, the aggregate of the distinctive qualities which belong to him.

Personality is also the aggregate of the distinctive qualities, which belong to an individual. But the term “personality” differs from the word character, in that it implies that the individual is distinguished as a person, rather than simply as a moral being.

All four of the designations now being considered, belong to the same individual; and ifhe enters into heaven at the last day, he will enter with his life, his soul, and character, and his personality.

Not a single one of them will be left behind.

When the individual is redeemed by Christ, a new life is imparted unto him (Romans 6:3,4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:9b, 10: Titus 3:5.) Such a one is expected to spend the remainder of his time here upon the earth, in developing that life and growing a character, which God can take into the society of heaven (Matthew 6:l0b; Revelation 22:3) and if this is done, the individual’s personality shall survive the shock of death, and his redeemed soul shall enter into the glory world to be with the Father forever.

The expression “is being renewed”, in Colossians 3: 10 (cf. 2 Corinthians 4: 16 and the contrast in Ephesians 4:22), is from the Greek word anakainoo. The form used in the passage is the passive participle, and it indicates a continuous refreshing of the new man in Christ Jesus.

Thayer calls this a new kind of life, as opposed to the former corrupt state.[4] Vincent says that the word kainos (new), which enters into the composition of the verb anakinoo, gives the idea of quality. [5]

The apostle Peter, in the first chapter of his second epistle, presents both sides of this transaction. He first tells what God did to enable us to become “partakers of the divine nature” (verses 3, 4): and then he tells us what must be done, in order to make the process complete (verses 5-7). The remaining verses of the paragraph (verses 8-11) show that the final results will be, namely: “For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle or unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he that lacketh these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble: for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

It is essential that we keep before us in these studies at all times the distinction between life, as such, and the new life which is imparted to the believer, when he becomes obedient to the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (Cf. I John 5: la: Ephesians 4:22-24.)

People who are born anew (John 3:3-5: d. Titus 3:5,6) become new creatures in Christ: or , which is the same thing, there is a new creation in the Lord (cf. Ephesians 2: 10): and such people are expected to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3,4).

CHRIST IS THE SOURCE OF OUR LIFE

The quality of life, which every genuine Christian possesses, here and now, is in Christ Jesus our Lord. “If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4: cf. Romans 6:3,4: I John 3: 1-3.)

The words of the apostle Paul, which have just been quoted, may be thought of as setting forth “the true sphere of the Christian life”. It should be carefully noted, however, that before this life which we have from Christ begins, a death must take place.

“For ye died, . . .” refers to the same truth which is graphically and pictorially set forth in Romans 6:3,4  where the apostle Paul says that we are raised from our burial with Christ in baptism, “so we also might walk in newness of life”.

The original word for “newness” is kainoteti dative singular of kainotes, found in the New Testament only here and in Romans 7:6. Johannes Behm, in commenting on kainotes, says: “In the NT it is found only in Paul. In accordance with the use of kainos (- 449), it denotes the fulness of the reality of salvation which Christ has given to Christians in comparison with the worthlessness of their former condition. . . Where there is kaine ktisis (-449), law and sin are left behind. The Spirit is the completely different force which determines the new life.” [6]

The new life which the child of God has in Christ Jesus as a result of his having been raised from his death to sin (Romans 6: 1-2), was imparted to him by the Holy Spirit. This entire process is described by Jesus himself as the new birth (John 3:3-5), and by the apostle Paul in the following words: “Not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7.)

The new birth, which Jesus says is essential to entrance into the kingdom of God, is described by our Lord as being a birth “of water and the Spirit”. The water in John 3:5 is equivalent to the “washing of regeneration” in Titus 3:5; while the Spirit in both passages is, of course, the Holy Spirit.

A birth, in its comprehensive sense, involves both a begetting and a bringing forth. (see Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:14, where both the begetting and the bringing forth are implied. Read Luke 1:26-35.) The term “birth” is also used in a narrower sense, namely, that of bring forth (Hebrews 11 :23).

But anyone is familiar with the facts in the case, knows that what is commonly referred to as the “birth” or bringing forth, is not that which imparts life to the person who is born. Life must always exist before the birth or bringing forth takes place, if the birth is to be normal. The birth simply introduces the living child into a sphere or condition suited to its needs; and where it can grow, develop, and function as God intended that it should.

That which has just been said is what water baptism does, that is, it simply delivered the child of God into a sphere, in this case the family of God – the church (I Timothy 3: 15), where he can grow, develop, and function as the Lord wills that he should. But if there were no prior life, that is, life before the bringing forth or deliverance, there would be no normal child of God to add to the church (Acts 2:38, 47).

The imparting of life to the one who has been dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2: 1), is the part which is performed by the Holy Spirit in the new birth. This always takes place at baptism or the deliverance of one into the body of Christ.

The Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2). R.C.H. Lenski, in commenting on this significant designation, says: “The Holy Spirit is thus significantly called ‘the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus’. This is the life we live with Christ, which makes us alive (6:8, 10, 13), the end of which is life eternal (6:22, 23). So its creator, the Spirit, is called ‘the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus’, for the fact that we have it ‘in Christ Jesus’ is shown in 6:1-11, and is stated in 6: 11.  This spiritual life constitutes the life of our inner man and animates our ‘mind’ and moves our will to will the good law of God and not to will the base things of the sin power (6: 15, etc.). ” [7]

The apostle Paul declares that people who are in Christ Jesus are new creatures, or, as the marginal note has it, there is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5: 17; cf. Ephesians 2: 10; Colossians 3: 10). That, if course, implies the beginning of a new life, that is, a new kind of life, that is, a new kind of life (Romans 6:3, 4; Titus 3:5,6).

The “renewing”, or the making of the new creature, is done by the Holy Spirit (see Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, article, ana-kainosis, page 38). Thus, the new creation brings into existence the new life (Ephesians 2:5, 6; Colossians 2: 13); and that life is introduced into God’s family, the church by water baptism (cf. Acts 10:47-48), where its needs are met or supplied. This, in brief, is what is meant by obeying the gospel (Mark 16: 15, 16; Acts 18: 18; Galatians 3:26-27; cf. 1:6-9).

Every Christian, therefore, has a new kind of life in Christ Jesus, a life begotten or created by the Holy Spirit; a life which did not exist before obedience to the gospel; and the quality of that life is eternal in its nature.

This life, to use another metaphor, flows from Christ; and surely no thoughtful person will contend that is anything less than eternal. This is especially significant, if one will only consider the source of this life.

THE TESTIMONY OF THE SCRIPTURES

He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36.)

The verb “hath” (echei) is present indicative which, according to Webster, pertains to that mood of the verb “which represents the denoted act or state as an objective fact.” [8]

In the words of A.T. Robertson: “Hath eternal life (echei zoen aionion). Has it here and now
and for eternity. [9]

R.C.H. Lenski, in commenting on John 3:36, says: “These are not abstract or theoretical propositions that the Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hands. They apply most directly to these disciples-and to us. Since all things are in Jesus’ hands, ‘life eternal’ is included. It is the highest gift dispensed by the Messiah. Therefore everything depends on each man’s personal relation to Jesus.” (Cf. John 17:2.) [10]

And, in the words of Marvin R Vincent: “Compare the future tense with the present ‘hath eternal life’, and the simple life with the fully developed idea eternal life. He who believes is within the circle of the life of God, which is essentially eternal. His life ‘is hid with Christ in God’. Life eternal is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. Hence, to such an one, eternal life is not merely something future. It is a present possession. He hath it. . . “[11]

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life. (John 5:24.)

The identical expression “hath eternal life” (echei zoen alionion,) found in John 3:36, is used in the passage just quoted, and in the same present tense.

The same truth is set forth, in identical language (echie zoen aionion), in John 6:47, 54. It should be noted that to eat the flesh of the Son of man, and to drink his blood, is equivalent to partaking of the quality of his life, namely, to believe and obey the will of the Father, and to share in the benefits of the Savior’s death.

The apostle John, from whose record of the gospel narratives the preceding quotations were taken, also wrote: He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath borne concerning his Son. And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life. These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life. even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God. (I John 5:10-13.)

Anyone who reads the passage just quoted, can easily see that the verb “gave”, in the expression “that God gave unto us eternal life” (verse 11). is in the past tense. The tense in the original is the aorist indicative active, according to The Analytical Greek Lexicon. [12]

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines “aroist” as “expressing action or, in the indicative mood, past action without further limitation or implications. [13]

Marvin R Vincent notes that “the reference is to the historic fact of the gift”. He then cites I John 3:23, 24, where the same tense of the verb “gave” (edoken) is used in precisely the same sense. (See Vincent’s comments on I John 5: 11.)

It should be noted that the term “hath” (has) of verse 12 is in the present tense, which indicates a present possession. Thus, according to the inspired apostle John, if one has the Son of God, he has the life which the Father authorized the Son to give to his people. But if he does not have the Son of God, he does not have that life, that is, the life which both Jesus and John call eternal. [14]

Furthermore, Jesus declares: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) the life which Christ is, is eternal; and he said that the Father authorized him to give eternal life to his people (John 17:2ff.).

Eternal life is the only kind of life which Jesus has been commissioned to give to the people who come unto him from the kingdom ruled over by Satan.

This is another way of saying that Christ is the source and the giver of the life which is declared to be eternal. (Cf. John 1 :4.) There is no life which Christ imparts to his people, which is less than eternal in its nature.

It appears quite certain that John had in mind, primarily at least, the false teachers of his day, that is, the false teachers who denied the basic truth regarding Jesus as the Christ, when he wrote I John 5: 10-13 (ef. I John 2:18,22,4:3; 2 John 7). Inasmuch as the antichrists denied that “Jesus is the Christ”, it was in keeping with their philosophy to deny that Jesus Christ, as God’s Son, gave eternal life to his people.

God, of course, was displeased with those false teachers; and he is also displeased with any other person who disrupts the fact, that it is through the Son that God has, indeed, give eternal life to those people who are in Christ Jesus.

John, in fact, says that anyone who does not believe that God gave eternal life to his people in Christ, has “made him a liar; because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath born concerning his Son. And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son”. Such a sin is, indeed grave, and it will certainly prove to be fatal, if the guilty person does not repent and seek God’s forgiveness.

Brooke Foss Westcott says that “the Mission of His Son, which He attested, was the gift of life (John x. 10,28; xvii. 2), of life in His Son (John xx. 31, en to onomati).”. . .The reference is to the historic facts by which this life was communicated to humanity. That which before Christ’s coming was a great hope, by His coming was realized and given. The gift, as far as St. John here regards it, was made to Christians (hemin), who appropriate it.” [15]

A.T. Robertson, in commenting on the expression “that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (verse 13). calls this a “purpose clause with hina and the second perfect active subjunctive of oida, to know with settled intuitive knowledge. He wishes them to have eternal life in Christ (John 20:31) and to know that they have it, but not with flippant superficiality (2:3ff). [16]

CHRIST IS OUR LIFE

Not only is Christ the source of our life, as was set forth in the preceding chapter; he is, in truth, our life itself. Spiritual life, insofar as we are concerned, would be impossible without our union with Christ. (Cf. John 15:4-6.)

Here is the testimony of the Scriptures: “Having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” (Colossians 2: 12-13; cf. Romans 6:3-4.)

When people die, the life which they had been experiencing is over; and if they are ever to live again, a new life must come into existence, a life which they have not had before. That is exactly what happens to people who die to sin, that is, the old way of living ceases, and they come into a new way of living in Christ. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5: 17; Titus 3:5; Colossians 3:9b, 10; Ephesians 2:8-10.) The apostle Paul. therefore continues:

“If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is. seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not upon the things that are upon the earth. For ye died. and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ. who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.” (Colossians 3: 1-4; cf. Philippians 3:20. 21.) Thoughtful and conscientious students of the Holy Scriptures should experience no difficulty in seeing that people who have this new life in Christ, must come into it in the Lord’s own way. Dead people are not capable of raising themselves into a new kind of life.

The apostle Paul says that after our death to sin, and our burial with Christ in baptism, we are raised to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3, 4). This life is a new kind or quality of life, which is created by the power of God, that is, by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5; Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5: 17). That the Holy Spirit is God’s power may be easily seen by reading Luke 1:34-35.

The original Greek term for “newness” is kainoteti, dative singular of kainotes. [17] Thayer calls this “the new state (of life) in which the Holy Spirit places us, Rom. vii. 6; . . . in a new condition or state of (moral) life, Rom. vi. 4, . . . so as to produce a new state which is eternal life? The same over-all issues are set forth in Titus 3:5, where “the washing of regeneration” (palliggenesia) and “renewing” (anakainosis) of the Holy Spirit, are made to stand for two fundamental ideas, the new birth and the living of the Christian life. [18]

R.C. Trench, in discussing their basic relationship, as set forth in Titus 3:5, says: “. . .the new-birth is contemplated as already past, as having found place once for all, while the ‘renewal’ or ‘renovation’ is daily proceeding-being as it is that gradual restoring of the Divine image, which is ever going forward in him who, through the new birth, has come under the transforming power of the world to come. It is called ‘the renewal of the Holy Ghost’, inasmuch as He is the efficient cause, by whom alone this putting on of the new man, and the putting off of the old, is brought about. These two then are bound by closest ties to one another; the second then following up, the consequence, the consummation of the first. The palliggenesia is that free act of God’s mercy and power, whereby He causes the sinner to pass out of the kingdom of darkness into that of light, out of death into life; it is the anothen gennethenai of John 3:3; the gennethenai ek Theou of I John 5:4;. . . with anakainosis it is otherwise. This is the gradual conforming of the man more and more to that new spiritual world into which he has been introduced, and in which he now lives and moves; the restoration of the Divine image; and in all this, so far from being passive, he must be a fellow-worker with God. “[19]

It should be noted that Thayer points out the same use of the term from which we have “renewal” in Titus 3:5.[20] Johannes Behm, in discussing “renewal” (anakainosis), says that it “refers to the renewal of thought and will, which Christians constantly need if they are to show by their moral conduct that they belong to the new aeon and are members of the new humanity (cf. Col. 3:10, – 452). The subject of this inward renewal, which affects the centre of personal life, is the Spirit of God (R. 8:9-13; cf. I C. 12:13) who dwells and works in Christians. The saying in n. 3:5. . . refers to the unique and basic beginning which the Spirit makes in man at baptism. Without any human cooperation there arises in baptism kaine ktisis (2 c. 5: 17; – 449) by the miracle of renewal through the Holy Spirit who created a life that was not there before (-44 7f; 449).” [21]

This life which was not there before, is the new life in Christ Jesus. It is the life which comes to us from Christ. It is his life which is extended to us; and it is eternal in its nature. It is a life which will never end, if we remain faithful to our Lord.

Thus, to sum up that which has just been said so far in this chapter, God makes people who obey the gospel, that is, those people who respond favorably to the message which the Lord commanded to be proclaimed (cf. Mark 16:15, 16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; I Peter 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14), alive with Christ.

And it is this life which the obedient believer has in Christ, that has the quality of endurance. And if it is maintained, as God intends that it should be, it will never be taken away from the child of God. The life itself is eternal in its nature or quality; but the believing possessor has the God-given responsibility of guarding that which has been committed to him. (See I Timothy 6:20; cf. 2 Timothy 1:12.)

THREE WORDS: LIFE, DEATH, RESURRECTION

Jesus, in his conversation with Martha, regarding the death of her brother Lazarus, brought to light some very important truths, as they relate to three words now under consideration: Jesus said unto her, Thy brother shall live again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:23-26.)

Three of the most tremendous words in human language are found in the passage just quoted, namely, life, death, and resurrection. These three words stand for ideas, concerning which men most earnestly desire information.

The context of the passage now before us appears to indicate that Martha had some information regarding the words in question; but the knowledge which she possessed did not bring her much comfort. Her brother had lived and died; and while she did expect a resurrection, it was in her mind a far-away event, and she would therefore have to wait until the last day, before her brother could live again.

It was in response to Martha’s thought-pattern, that Jesus spoke that which is recorded in John 11:25-26. Martha had been thinking of death only as a physical experience, and of the resurrection only as a doctrine regarding a far-away event, as already indicated. She had never associated the resurrection with Jesus; but the Lord made it plain to her, and to all others who will accept his word, that he, and not some far-away event or doctrine, is “the resurrection and the life”.

Merrill C. Tenney, in commenting on John 11 :23-26, says: “. . .By his reply, Jesus turned Martha’s acceptance of a dogma into faith in his person. In what is surely one of his most majestic and comforting utterances, Jesus said that he embodied the vital power to bring the dead to life: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die’ (cf. 25-26), the one who believes in Christ has eternal life that transcends physical death. If he is living and believing, he will never die but will make an instant transition from the old life to the new life. . .”[22]

When one considers the words of Jesus, in the passage now under consideration, it is important that one pay attention to the order of the words “resurrection” and “life”. Resurrection comes first, because the teaching of Jesus, on the occasion now before us, began with death, that is, the death of Lazarus. Of the three terms now being considered, the idea of life is the greatest and most inclusive. Resurrection is involved in life, as an incident made necessary by the temporary and apparent triumph of physical death.

John Albert Bengel notes that Christ is the Resurrection of the dying, and the Life of the living: and that in the presence of Christ, Death must restore all his prey.[23]

One of the principal features of the Gospel According to John, is that of life; and it will be helpful, at this point in our study, to look again at some of the great affirmations regarding this issue, while at the same time considering their significance: “In him was life: and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4.) “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36.) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24.)

This last quotation should be considered in the light of Romans 8:31-39. No sincere and faithful child of God, who has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, will ever be subjected to an adverse sentence, as long as he remains in Christ (cf. Romans 8: I, 2).

R.C.H. Lenski. in commenting on John 5:24, says, in part: “This is made more vivid by the statement, ‘but has passed from the death into the life’, the perfect tense meaning that once having gone from the one to the other he remains where he is, I John 3: 14. Whereas Jesus speaks of ‘the dead’ in v. 21 he now speaks of ‘the death’, and the article points to the specific death here meant, namely, spiritual death that ends in eternal death, the opposite of ‘the life’, again the article and again the specific life that ends in eternal blessedness.

“In saying these things Jesus utters the most effective call to faith in the ears of the hostile Jews. In every word the gift of life was knocking at the hearts of his hearers, trying to break the bonds of their death; but they held to death and wilfully rejected the gracious giver of life. “[24]

It was on the night of his betrayal, that Jesus said to his disciples: “Yet a little while, and the world beholdeth me no more: but ye behold me; because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14: 19.)

The only death which would ever affect Jesus or his faithful disciples, would be physical death; and that, insofar as they were concerned, would only be the prelude to eternity. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow expressed the issue in this way:

There is no death! What seems so is transition. This life of mortal breath Is but a surburb of the life elysian, Whose portal we call Death. – Resignation.

Thus, when Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die”, he was, in effect saying that those who die physically shall be raised up; but there is no spiritual death for those who are in him.

Quintin Hogg notes that “if we Christians believe the smallest fraction of what we pretend to believe, there is but little to mourn over in death. I know not when or how that veiled messenger may come to me, but this I do know that it can come only at the bidding of my Father. I know its mission can be nothing more than the unclothing of this poor weak body of my humiliation to clothe me with the body of his glory. . . Death is not only an exodus, it is also an entrance: while we stand by the bedside and say, ‘He is gone’, they on the other side are welcoming him with unspeakable joy”. (Cf. I Thessalonians 4: 13-18.)

The geniune believer in Christ has the right to be disturbed by the thought of physical death: for that is certain to come to all men, unless the Lord comes first. But what the Lord’s people should always keep in mind, is that physical death will always be overcome by the resurrection of all the dead at the last day (John 5:28, 29; cf. Daniel 12:2).

All true life, as well as everything essential to it, including its origin, maintenance, and consummation, is in Christ: and it is all conveyed to the believer through his union with Christ (Colossians 3:1-4).

It is hardly necessary to say that the life which pleases God must be lived by faith. In the words of the apostle Paul. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20; d. I Peter 4:1-2.)

Faith implies a sense of the “Divine-dimension”, a conforming to its purpose and order, as well as a perception of its working in and through the present system in which we live. The lack of faith implies that we are out of harmony with the divine plan and purpose. And as long as this condition prevails, we can never please God. (Cf. Hebrews 11:6.) It is regrettable that so many professed Christians thinks of eternal life as something we shall have, only after this earthly pilgrimage is over. This view of eternal life, of course, thinks of it only in terms of duration, thereby ignoring its qualitative aspect.

The Bible nowhere teaches that the life which we are now considering, is ours eternally, while we are still in the flesh. But the Scriptures just as clearly teach that the redeemed children of God do, indeed, have eternal life, here and now. (Read again I John 5:10-13, and note the tenses of the verbs.)

That the unfaithful child of God, that is, one who does not carefully guard that which has been committed to him and live as God ordains that he should, will certainly lose his inheritance in the end, is clearly implied and plainly taught in such scriptures as Luke 15:25-31; Hebrews 6: 4-8; 2 Peter 2:20-22.

The life of the faithful child of God is forever linked with our heavenly Father and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We can therefore, sing with Jennie Wilson her beautiful and encouraging song, Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand: Time is filled with swift transition, Naught of earth unmoved can stand. Build your hopes on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand. Trust in him who will not leave you, Whatsoever years may bring, If by earthly friends forsaken, Still more closely to him cling. When your journey is completed, If to God you have been true, Fair and bright the home in glory Your enraptured soul will view. Hold to God’s unchanging hand! Hold to God’s unchanging hand! Build your hopes on things eternal. Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

And finally, in the words of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: God’s child in Christ adopted-Christ my all – What that earth boasts were not lost cheaply rather Than forfeit that blessed name, by which I call The Holy One, the Almighty God, my Father? Father! in Christ we live, and Christ in Thee Eternal Thou, and everlasting we. The heir of heaven, hence forth I fear not death; In Christ I live! in Christ I draw the breath Of the true life! Let then, earth, sea, and sky Make war against me; on my front I show Their mighty Master’s seal. In vain they try To end my life, that can but and its woe. Is that a deathbed where a Christian lies? Yes, but not his- ‘Tis Death itself there dies.

A PRESENT POSSESSION AND A FUTURE FRUITION

When it is affirmed that the Scriptures teach that the Lord’s people have eternal life here and now, the emphasis, let it be repeated, is not upon its duration, but rather upon its nature or quality. The life which we have in Christ comes directly from him (cf. Colossians 3: 1-4); and it can no more be destroyed than can Christ himself. (Read again John 11:23-26: 14:6.)

Christians, of course, can lose their life, which they have in Christ Jesus (cf. 2 John 8: Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31: 2 Peter 2:20-22) but it cannot be destroyed. If one will carefully consider the passages just cited, one will be able to see that the Bible teaches, that as long as we are in the flesh it is possible for us to lose our life (soul – Mathew 16:24-26): however righteous we may have been at any given time. Here is the testimony of the Scriptures:

“He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36.)

“For I know nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.” (I Corinthians 4:4.)

“But I buffet my body. and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others. I myself should be rejected.” (I Corinthians 9:27.)

The original word for “rejected” in I Corinthians 9:27 is adokimos. Its basic meaning in the passage just cited, is disqualified, according to Arndt-Gingrich. [25] The original word is found in the New Testament in the following passage: Romans 1:28; I Corinthians 9:27; 2 Corinthians 13:5. 6, 7; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1: 16; Hebrews 6:8.2 Anyone who will study these scriptures will have no trouble in seeing that the inspired apostle Paul means to teach that it is possbile for an unfaithful Christian to lose his life eternally. The rendering of adokimos, in all the passages cited is “reprobate,” except in I Corinthians 9:27 and Hebrews 6:8,2, where the rendering is “rejected.” When the privative prefix “a” (equaling “un” or “non”) is removed, that result is dokimos, which is the Greek term for approved or genuine, or that which is acceptable.

Marvin R. Vincent, in commenting on adokimos, in I Corinthians, says: “. . .rejected, and unworthy of the prize. ” [26] And, according to A.T. Robertson. “Most writers take Paul to refer to the possibility of his rejection in his personal salvation at the end of the race. He does not claim absolute perfection (Phil. 3: 12) and so he presses on. At the end he has serene confidence (II Tim. 4:7) with race run and won. It is a humbling thought for us all to see this wholesome fear instead of smug complacency in this greatest of all heralds of Christ.” [27]

The question for the duration of the life which has been given to us in Christ Jesus, will not be settled therefore until this earthly sojourn is over. And herein lies the significance of such passages as Titus 1:2; 3:7; 1 John 2:25; Matthew 25:46; Mark 10:29,30; John 10:27, 28; Galatians 6:7. 8; Romans 6:23; I Timothy 6:12; and similar statements.

We can have eternal life in the sense of its nature or quality, here and now, without having it eternally. But when once we have gained the other shore, there will be no further danger of losing our glorious and eternal inheritance. (Cf. Hebrews 9: 15; 10:35, 36; I Peter 1:3-5; Ephesians 1: 13, 14.) So then, whatever hope of the future we may have, in the light of the over-all teaching of the New Testament, depends upon our having in our life an eternal quality. Transient things are always transient. here and anywhere; but eternal things are always eternal, here and everywhere: they cannot help but last.

The apostle Paul expresses these truths in this way: “Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16; cf. Colossians 3:10.)  Our “inward man” is the new creature, which has been created in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2: 10; Colossians 3: 10; and it is for this reason that the Lord calls us to a quality of living. which is eternal here and now.

There is a contrast throughout the New Testament between “eternal life” and “eternal death”, or, which is the same thing, eternal punishment. (Cf. Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-12.) That which is emphasized in eternal death is loss (the individual in question has lost his life, along with its consequent blessing, which were possible for him in Christ Jesus. Cf. Matthew 16:24-26). And so, after we have grasped the qualitative sense of the term “eternal” whether of eternal life or eternal death, it is then in order to consider the idea of duration.

Life in Christ is according to God’s eternal purpose; and its duration is a natural consequence. That which is f an enduring quality. will last forever; it cannot be destroyed. Therefore, when this life in Christ is gained and kept. it will never end. But if one fails to obtain it, or fails to keep it. the loss will likewise be eternal. (Cf. Daniel 12:2; John 5:28. 29.) THE KNOWLEDGE WHICH BRINGS LIFE “And this is life eternal. that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send. even Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3; I John 2:3-6.) The knowledge about which Jesus spoke is vastly more than mere intellectual perception and understanding. It is moral knowledge, personal acquaintance, and fellowship with the Father and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Cf. I John 1:5-7; John 8:55). Fellowship clearly implies union; and where there is union with Deity, there is always life.

The knowledge which is essential to eternal life also implies similarity of attitude, disposition, outlook and interest (read again 2 Corinthians 5:9; I John 1:5-7). Such knowledge is the bringing of the whole personality of man into right relationships with the Personality of God (Romans 12:1; Galatians 4:19). The expression in the latter passage, “until Christ be formed in you,” according to Thayer, literally means “until a mind and life in complete harmony with the mind and life of Christ shall have been formed in you.” [28]

With this thought in mind, it is impossible for one to conclude that somewhere along the line, between the time one becomes a child of God that is, is made a new creature in Christ Jesus, and the time he enters into heaven itself, that this life undergoes a change in nature – from mortal, transient, or finite, into immortal or eternal.

Johannes Behm notes that the only occurence of the original term for “formed” (morphoo or morphoomai – for the second spelling, see Moulton and Geden[29]) is in Galatians 4: 19. He then goes on to say that becoming a Christian is here depicted in terms of birth; and the goal is the fashioning of Christ in man. Christ, according to the apostle’s view, lives in Christians (Galatians 2:20; Romans 8;10; 2 Corinthians 13:3.5; Colossians 1:27; 3:11).

Christ therefore dwells in the hearts of Christians (Ephesians 3: 17). And so, in order for this Christ-life to come into being in Christians, Christ himself must take form in them. He must in some sense be incarnate afresh in each individual. The nerve of this metaphor, which is based on the development of the child in the mother’s womb, is that Christ should come to full growth to maturity, in the Christian. This growth-process must continue throughout the Christian experience here upon the earth.[30]

The physical life which is nurtured in the womb of the mother, is the same life which will characterize the child who is born into this world; and it will continue with him as long as he is permitted to remain here upon the earth.

And so, in keeping with this principle, the spiritual life which begins with the new creation, and which is described as Christ himself (Colossians 3:1-4), will remain unchanged, insofar as its nature is concerned, until it enters into heaven itself. Its growth and development, in the process of Christian living. only makes it more Christ-like.

George Braumann makes this observation: “In Gal. 4: 19 Paul speaks of being ‘in travail until Christ be formed (morphothe) in you’. The thought is not that of having correct teaching in contrast to the erroneour teaching of the Galatian. It is rather that of coming into the world as a child comes into the world through conception and – birth. Christ himself is to be formed in them in the reality of his being.”[31]

Marvin R. Vincent, in commenting on the expression “until Christ be formed in you” says: The forming of Christ in them, their attainment of the complete inner life of Christians, is the object of the new birth. By their relapse they have retarded this result and renewed Paul’s spiritual travail. The idea under different aspects is common. See Rom. viii. 9; I Cor. 11. 16; vi. 15; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 3:17; Col. 1:27.” [32]

It is difficult for one to see, in the light of the scriptural statements, which have just been quoted and referred to, along with the testimony of scholars of recognized and respected ability, how anyone can possibly doubt the truth which boldly affirms, that the faithful child of God has eternal life, here and now (I John 5:10-13) along the glorious declaration that Christ himself is our life (Colossians 3:4)!

Anyone who is conscious of the fact that he has something in his possession as valuable as eternal life. will be much more likely to try to keep it. But if he is not aware of that fact. the manner of his living will be in keeping with his thinking. (cf Proverbs 23:7.)

AN OPPOSITE VIEWPOINT

It is alleged by some, that is, asserted without proof, that those who hold to the proposition, that the Lord’s people do indeed have eternal life, in the sense of its nature or quality, here and now, are being influenced by human theology rather than by the Scriptures themselves.

The effort is also made to show that such passages as Titus 1:2 and I John 2:25, on the one hand, and I John 5:11-13, on the other, negate each other, if they are taken at face value. The affirmation made in I John 5:13 “cannot be properly interpreted to mean that we have in actual possession eternal life here, since this conflicts with the apostle’s own statement that we possess it in promise.”

“It must mean that we have eternal life in prospect to be realized at the end of the age when, in triumph, we are forevermore beyond the possibility of apostasy. Until that glorious day, our approach to life is through the Son who has it: ‘And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life” (I John 5:11-12).”

One fundamental principal of sound Biblical interpretation is this: No two or more passages of Scripture should be made to contradict each other, if they can be explained, in harmony with the over-all teaching of the Scriptures, so as to avoid such a confrontation.

Practically all believers in the Bible are in agreement regarding the hope of actually possessing eternal life in heaven; that, indeed, will be our glorious inheritance. But the hope we have of that great achievement, in no way conflicts with the Lord’s gracious gift to his people in this age of our relationship with him. This may be clearly seen by the testimony of the Scriptures themselves, along with the present tense of the verbs in question: “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36.) It is in this earthly life that one must believe on and obey the Son, if one expects to be saved.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath eternal life and cometh not into judgment but hath passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24.)

The “judgment” referred to here is condemnation (cf. Romans 8: 1) and “death” is spiritual death (Ephesians 2: 1). All people both good and the bad will stand before the Lord in the final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) and all people both the saved and the lost will die physically unless they are living when Christ comes (I Thessalonians 4: 15).

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die. yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11 :25. 26.) All believers who die physically will be raised up at the last day; but all believers who continue in Christ will never die spiritually.

“He that believeth on the Son of god hath the witness in him: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath borne concerning his Son. And the witness is this. that God gave unto us eternal life. and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life. “These things have I written unto you. that ye may know that ye have eternal life. even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.” (I John 5:10-13.)

It is in this life that we have the Son or do not have him. If we have the Son, we have the life, that is, the eternal life; but if we do not have the Son of God, we do not have the eternal life. The statements made by John in the passage just quoted, are too easily understood for any honest believer to mistake their meaning and implication.

The people who have been redeemed by Christ were dead in trespasses and sins, when the gospel message reached them (Ephesians 2: lff) and, responding to that message, they were buried with Christ “through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father”, so that they also might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). This new kind of life, which was created in Christ Jesus. and which did not exist before, is ours in Christ, and it will never end. (cf. 2 Corinthians 5: 17, and the marginal note.)

It is only when one is united with Christ, that the new life flows into his being, that is, the life which comes from Christ, and which the Father authorized him to give to his people (John 17:2, 3). The life which is in Christ, and which flows from him, is certainly eternal in its nature and quality. Certainly no rational humange being would contend that Christ imparts an inferior life to his people, who are members of his body.

When pure electricity flows from a generator, and eventually reaches an imperfect appliance, is the quality of the electricity changed into something less than its pure character, so that it will be compatible with an inferior appliance? The only life which comes from Christ is eternal in its nature and quality; and it is certain that it does not undergo any change. When it becomes the possession of the redeemed child of God. The truth is, we have eternal, here and now; but we do not have it eternally. It is only when we have passed the state of responsibility, in this earthly sojourn, that we shall receive the promise which will make the possession eternally ours. And so, we can sing with Mrs. C.H. Morris:  Eternal life, begun below, Now fills my heart and soul; I’ll sing his praise forever more. Who has redeemed my soul.

OUR LIFE IN CHRIST IS SUSTAINED BY DIVINE MEANS

It should always be kept in mind, when the life which is being discussed in this series of studies, is being considered, that is, the life which we have in Christ Jesus, is the life which was divinely imparted. Here is the testimony of the Scriptures: “Having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” (Colossians 2: 12. 13.)

“If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not upon the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.” (Colossians 3: 1-4.)

 “These things spake Jesus; and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that the Son may glorify thee: even as thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that to all whom thou has given him, he should give eternal life. And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God. and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ.” (John 17: 1-3.)

Life is always united with the source of life, just as death comes when the life-life has been severed. (Cf. John 15: 1-6.) No man can live, even the physical life, apart from the provisions which God has made for its sustenance (see James 2:26). And in keeping with the same principle, the child of God must depend upon the divine resources which Deity provides. If one s new life in Christ is to be continued and developed as God has ordained. Or, to say the same thing in another way, it is utterly impossible for one to continue the life which he received in Christ, by his own unaided efforts.

Note carefully these words of Jesus: “And ye will not come to me, that ye may have life.” (John 5:40.)

“I came that they may have life. and may have it abundantly.” John 10:10.)

 “Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life. which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.” (John 6:27; d. 17:2)

 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth hath eternal life, I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died. This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread which came down out of heaven: if any man eat this bread he shall live forever: yea and the bread which I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.

 “The Jews therefore strove one with another saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Jesus therefore said unto them Verily, verily, I say unto you. Except ye the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me. and I in him. As the living Father sent me. and I live because of the Father; so he that eateth me. he also shall live because of me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven: not as the fathers ate. and died; he that eateth this bread shall live forever. These things said he in the synagogue. as he taught in Capernaum.” (John 6:47-59.)

Some of the Lord’s disciples found it difficult, and some indeed impossible, to accept his teaching regarding the eating and drinking of his flesh and blood. (See John 6:60-66.) This was because they tried to understand that which the Lord said literally.

Jesus explained to his troubled disciples, that they had missed the point in his teaching. “It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life.” (John 6:63.)

This is to say that the Lord’s words must have a spiritual, rather than a literal or fleshly, application: “It is the spirit that giveth life.” (Cf. James 2:26) To think of the “flesh and blood” of a person, is to think of his being. And so, to think of eating the flesh and the drinking of the blood of Christ, in a spiritual sense, is to think of partaking of his life and the benefits of his death. Of, to say the same thing in another way it is to inbibe his spirit and be governed by his word. (Cf. John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38-40; 17:4.)

R.C.H. Lenski, in commenting on the thought now before us, says: “To parallel the eating of the flesh with the drinking of the blood of the Son of man, as Jesus parallels them here, is to point in the clearest way to his own sacrificial death. The parallel explains what eating and drinking really mean, namely, participation in the sacrifice. By the death of the Son of man his blood is shed in sacrifice. It is folly, then, to think for one moment of drinking that blood in a physical (Capernaitic) manner. To drink the blood thus shed is a spiritual act in toto, and acceptance by the soul of the efficacy of that blood once shed and of the atonement and expiation wrought by its being shed.”[33]

The two-fold reaction of the Lord’s disciples to his address on the bread of life may be seen, in part at least, by the words of the apostle who recorded these events: “Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him, Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, Would ye also go away? Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and know that thou art the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69.)

The attitude of the unbelievers among the Lord’s disciples, and his response to them, are set forth in the preceding paragraph: “Many therefore of his disciples, when they heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it. But Jesus knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said unto them, Doth this cause you to stumble? What then if we should behold the Son of man ascending where he was before. It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray him. And he said, For this cause have I said unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it be given unto him of the Father.” (John 6:60-65; cf. verses 44, 45.)

 If one will read the first twenty-five verses of the sixth chapter of John, it will be relatively easy for one to see the setting for the Lord’s discourse on the bread of life. The feeding of the five thousand had created an atmosphere of great excitement among the people.

Jesus perceived that the people were about ready to use force in their effort to compel him to become their king. He certainly could furnish the food to feed an army; and now, in their opinion, was the time to fight the Romans for the Jewish independence.

It was under these circumstances that Jesus felt that he should leave the multitudes, which he did by returning again to the mountain, where he could be alone and spend some time on communing with his heavenly Father.

When evening arrived his disciples went down to the sea, entered their boat, and started in the direction of Capernaum. The great wind which began to blow made it extremely difficult for them to make much headway in their boat. Later on, the Lord came to them, walking on the water; and inasmuch as they did not recognize him, they were filled with great fear. Jesus, however, calmed their fear, and they were soon at their landing place.

The next day the multitude began their search for Jesus, and soon found him in Capernaum. They immediately asked him how he came to be there. Jesus knew, of course, the motive which prompted them to seek for him; and it was at that point that he began his great address on the bread of life.

The ministry of Jesus had grown to be very popular with the multitudes; but it was very evident that the majority of the people were following Jesus for the wrong purposes. Their motivation was for material and political gain, while Jesus was emphasizing the spiritual. And so, instead of falling in line with the Lord’s intention for them, the people, on the whole, sought satisfaction for their own ideas of what was best for them.

Therefore, it became necessary for Jesus to sift the crowd, which he did by speaking unto them regarding his mission to the earth. But only the most spiritually-minded of his hearers, would accept that which he said. The majority of the people left him, as already pointed out, because they professed not to understand his teaching. They did, however, understand that which he said well enough for them to see that he was not the teacher and leader who would satisfy their desires.

Not only did the teaching of Christ have the effect of separating the people, on the occasion now before us; that has ever been the Lord’s method of dealing with the peoples of the earth.

Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19: 10), and he does not want anyone to be condemned forever (2 Peter 3:9: 2 Timothy 2:3.4: d. Mark 16: 15, where the gospel was authorized to be preached to all men). But it ever remains true that only obedient believers have the promise of eternal salvation. (Cf. Hebrews 5:8,9.) The principle of separating people, on the basis of their attitude toward the Lord’s teaching was stated by Jesus himself: “Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father and the daughter, against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that doth not take his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lost it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39.)

Christianity has been defined as the reproduction of the life of Christ in the human heart: and that is the goal toward which every person who expects to go to heaven should strive. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24.)

 

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death.” (I John 3: 14: cf. 2:9-11.)

 

 

THE GLORIOUS CONSUMATION

“Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that If he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall I see him even as he is. And everyone that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (I John 3: 1-3.)

The writer of the words just quoted wants all Christians to know what a glorious thing it is for them to be children of God. But the future state of the faithful child of God, is far more wonderful than his present relationship. It is wholly beyond the ability of any human being to conceive of the glory which shall be his, when he is finally made into the complete likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

All people who are redeemed by Christ Jesus, are made into new creatures, that is, they are given a life which they did not have before (2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5,6; Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 2: 10); but their transformation into the complete likeness of their Lord Jesus Christ, will not be finished until they shall see him, even as he is.

When one becomes a Christian he is made a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3.4). But the must continue to grow into the divine likeness all the remainder of his time here upon the earth (2 Peter 1:5-11). That is what John means when he says, “And everyone that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure (I John 3:3; d. Matthew 5:8; Colossians 3: 1-4).

Thus, beginning with the knowledge which has been vouchsafed to all believers, namely, “We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him: for we shall see him even as he is”, we can turn to the Lord’s own transfiguration for a glimpse of that which we may expect, when he comes again. Peter was one of the three disciples who were privileged to be present on the glorious occasion of the Lord’s transfiguration; and he refers to that which happened as the Lord’s “majesty” (2 Peter 1: 16-18).

Luke describes the scene in these words: “And as he was praying, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and dazzling.” (Luke 9:29.) It is probably not out of place, therefore, to think of the transfiguration of Christ, as a “preview” of his glory, when he comes again. And it will be in that day that his faithful disciples shall with him be glorified together.

And so, in the words of Mrs. Frank A. Breck: Face to face with Christ my Saviour, Face to face-what will it be, When with rapture I behold him, Jesus Christ who died for me? Only faintly now I see him, With the darkling veil between; But a blessed day is coming, When his glory shall be seen. What rejoicing in his presence, When are banished grief and pain, When the crooked ways are straightened, And the dark things shall be plain! Face to face! 0 blissful moment! Face to face-to see and know; Face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who loves me so. Face to face shall I behold him Far beyond the starry sky; Face to face in all his glory, I shall see him by and by.

Life here upon the earth, has many things to commend it; but there is no life here which is comparable to the life, which is given to new creatures in Christ Jesus. The Lord himself teaches us that life (soul) is more valuable in God’s sight, than the whole world itself (Matthew 16:24-26). It is this life which the believer possesses, which shall never die: “and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:26).

It appears that even the Roman poet Virgil, who lived before Christ, had at least a passing glimpse of the relationship of the human spirit with God. His words, as transplanted by F.W.H. Myers, the English poet and essayist, are as follows: Then since from God those lesser lives began, And the eager Spirits enter into man, To God again the enfranchised Soul must tend, He is her Home, her Author is her End. No death is hers; when earthly eyes grow dim Starlike she and Godlike melts in Him.


[1] A.T. Robertson: Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume V, page 275. Ray Long & Richard R Smith. Inc.. New York 1932.

[2] Marvin R. Vincent: Word Studies in the New Testament. Volume II, page 263, Wm. R. Eerdmans Publishing Company’, Grand Rapids. Michigan, U.S.A.

[3][3] Rudolf Bultmann: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,  Volume I, page 711. Wm. B.Eerdmans Publishing Company. Grand Rapids, Michigan – London.

[4] Joseph Henry Thayer: Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. article. ana-kainoo. page 38. Zondervan Publishing Company Grand Rapids. Michigan.

[5] Marvin R. Vincent: op. cit. Volume Ill. page 503.

[6] Johnnes Behm: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume III, page 451. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Grand Rapids. Michigan.

[7] R.C.H. Lenski: The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, page 496. Augsburg Publishing House. Minneapolis, Minnesota

[8] Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary – A Merriam-Webster, 1961. G. & C. Merriam, Publishers. Springfield, Mass. U.S.A.

[9] Archibald Thomas Robertson: Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume V, page 57. Ray Long & Richard R Smith. Inc.. New York – 1932.

[10] R.C.H. Lenski: The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel, page 293. Augsburg Publishing House. Minneapolis. Minnesota.

[11] Marvin T. Vincent: Word Studies in the New Testament, Volume II, page l09f.. Will. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Grand Rapids. Michigan.

[12] The Analytical Greek Lexicon, article, edoken, page 115. S. Bagster and Sons. limited. London, James Pott & Co.. New York.

[13] The Random House Dictiouary of the English Language – the Unabridged Edition Jess Stein Editor in Chief. Random House, New York. . ,

[14] Marvin R. Vincent: op. cit. page 368.

[15] Brooke Foss Westcott: The Epistles  of St. John – The Greek Text with notes, page 187. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Grand Rapids. Michigan.

[16] Archibald Robertson: Word Pictures In the New Testament, Volume VI, page 242. Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York and London – 1933.

[17] The Analytical Greek Lexicon, article. Kalnoteti, page 208. S. Bagster and Sons, Limited. London. James Pott & Co.. New York.

[18] Joseph Henry Thayer: Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, article. Kalnotes, page 318, Zondervan Publishing House. Grand Rapids. Michigan.

[19] Richard Chenevix Trench: Synonyms of the New Testament, page 65f” Kegan Paul, Trench. Trubner & Co.. Lid.. London – 1890.

[20] Joseph Henry Thayer: op. cit., articles, anakainoo and ana-kainosis.

[21] Johannes Behm: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume III. page 453. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Grand Rapids. Michigan.

[22] Merrill C. Tenney: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Volume 9. Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, page 118, Zondervan Publishing House. Grand Rapids, Michigan.

[23] John Albert Bengel: Gnomon of  the New Testament. Volume I,  page 657. A New Translation by Charlton T. Lewis and Maryln R. Vincent. Perkinpine & Higgins. Philadelphia – Sheldon & Company. New York.

[24] RC.H. Lenski The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel, page 390, Augsburg Publishing House Minneapolis. Minnesota.

[25] Arndt. William F. and Gingrich. f. Wilbur: A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature articles, adakinos and dokimos, pages 18, 202. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Illinois.

[26] A Concordance to the Greek Testament by W.F. Moulton and A.S. Geden, article. adokimos. Page 22. T. & T. Clark, 38 George Street. Edinburgh.

[27] Marvin R. Vincent: Word Studies in the New Testament, Volume III. page 238, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Grand Rapids. Michigan. U.S.A.

[28] Joseph Henry Thayer Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament, article morphoo, page 418. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids. Michigan.

[29] Moulton and Geden. op. cit.. article morphoomai, page 657.

[30] Johannes Behm: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume IV, page 753f, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

[31] Georg Braumann: The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Volume I, page 708. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids. Michigan 49506.

[32] Marvin R Vincent: op. cit. Volume IV page 147.

[33] R.C. Lenski: The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel, page 492. Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis. Minnesota.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2018 in Doctrine

 

Chasing after courage…“Courage is fear that has said its prayers”


Have you ever felt as if you wanted to run away from God? Maybe you thought the responsibilities of the Christian life were too heavy for you, or you just could not be the person you were supposed to be and do the things God was asking you to do.

If you could just get away, things would be better. Or maybe the model of a Christian husband or wife was too overwhelming and you could not live up to it.

Or you knew how a Christian parent was supposed to treat his children but you seemed to fall short several times a day. Maybe you committed yourself to teach a class of children for a year but you just Proverbs 31:30 (19 kb)did not want to face them another Sunday. Or you knew God expected you to flee temptation but you could not seem to resist it, and now you feel as though God is on your back.

If you could just get away from Him for awhile, go someplace where He could not see you, then everything would be all right.

That is exactly what the prophet Jonah thought. God told him to go to the city of Nineveh and preach against its wickedness, but that was the last thing in the world Jonah wanted to do. Nineveh was the capital of a proud and powerful nation, and he was sure the people there would reject him, maybe even try to kill him for pointing out their sin.

If they did repent God would probably hold back the punishment He had predicted and Jonah would become the laughingstock of the whole city. As far as he was concerned there was no way he would ever go to Nineveh.

“But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD” (Jonah 1:3).

It is mentioned twice in that verse that Jonah wanted to get away from God’s presence. Somehow he had developed the ridiculous notion that God did not live in Tarshish.

Do you share his sentiments? Do you think there might be some place on this earth where you can hide from God?

Jonah should have known better. As a prophet in Israel he was certainly familiar with the inspired Psalms of Israel’s greatest king. David had written a powerful message about trying to run away from God’s presence: Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Thy hand will lead me, And Thy right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee (Psalm 139:7-12).

If God is an infinite spirit then He is not only free from the limitations of time, but He is free also from the limitations of space. He is omnipresent, that is, present everywhere all the time. No other living being has that attribute. Every other being is restricted to a particular place at a particular time. I cannot be in Ohio and Florida at the same time. Angels cannot even do that. Satan cannot do it.

But God is wholly present in every part of His domain at the same instant. He is not partly present in one place and partly present in another, but He is as fully present in every particu­lar place as if He were in no other place. God cannot be split into little pieces. Wherever He is, He is in the fullness of His being.

While I do not fully understand it, there is no question but that God claims omnipresence for Himself in His Word. David assured us that there was absolutely no place he could go to escape the presence of God, even if he wanted to. Not even pitch‑blackness could screen him from God’s presence, be­cause God sees in the dark as well as in the light.

Daniel confirmed that: It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him (Daniel 2:22).

Jeremiah proclaimed the same truth to the people of his day. The land was filled with dishonesty, profanity, and immorality, and the false prophets of the day were not only condoning it but actually participating in it (Jeremiah 23:11,14). They assured the people that God would not judge them for their sin (verse 17). That is when God spoke through Jeremiah: Am I a God who is near, declares the LORD, And not a God far off? (verse 23)

I read somewhere about a little boy who believed it too: He was just a little lad, and on a fine Lord’s day, was wandering home from Sunday School and dawdling on the way. He scuffed his shoes into the grass; he found a caterpillar, he found a fluffy milkweed pod and blew out all the filler. A bird’s nest in the tree o’erhead, so wisely placed and high, was just another wonder that caught his eager eye.

A neighbor watched his zigzag course and hailed him from the lawn, asked him where he’d been that day, and what was going on. “Oh, I’ve been to Sunday school,” (he carefully turned the sod,  and found a snail beneath it). “I’ve learned a lot ’bout God.” “M’m, a very fine way,” the neighbor said, “for a boy to spend his time. “If you’ll tell me where God is, I’ll give you a brand new dime.” Quick as a flash his answer came, nor were his accents faint,  “I’ll give you a dollar, Mister, if you’ll tell me where God ain’t.”

And knowing this fact about God’s omnipresence is sufficient to give me the courage I need to be courageous each day I have upon this earth, “…because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

When we truly accept this fact, we can respond with courage. Conviction becomes our strength. We become bold in our words and our actions. We grow more immune to the normal despair brought on by pressure presented by peers.

Victor Frankl, the eminent German Jewish doctor, was arrested by the Gestapo during World War II.  As he was being interrogated by the Nazi secret police, Frankl was stripped of all his possessions–his clothes, his jewelry, his wedding band.  His head was shaved.  He was repeatedly taken from his prison cell, placed under bright lights, and questioned for hours.  He underwent many savage, senseless tortures. But Frankl realized he had one thing left:  “I still had the power to choose my own attitude.  Bitterness or forgiveness, to give up or go on.”

One of the most difficult realities of the future is the regret of the past. We must strive not to paralyze ourselves with such lingering doubts of mistakes-past that we aren’t moving forward. The following words (author unknown) depict our best-hoped aspirations:

   I’d rather be the ship that sails, And rides the billows wild and free,

   Than to be the ship that always fails To leave its port and go to sea.

   I’d rather feel the sting of strife Where gales are born and tempests roar

   Than to settle down to useless life, And rot in dry-dock on the shore.

   I’d rather fight some mighty wave With honor in supreme command,

   And fill at last a well-earned grave Than die in ease upon the sand.

   I’d rather drive where sea storms blow, And be the ship that always failed

   To make the port where it would go Than be the ship that never sailed.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. [1]


[1] Theodore Roosevelt.  Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2018 in Encouragement

 
 
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