Category Archives: Doctrine

“Does It Really Matter What One Believes” Ephesians 4:1-6

*Appreciation to Marvin Bryant for many great thoughts…

A few years ago a man and woman in Long Beach, California stopped and bought some fried chicken for a picnic. When the clerk took their money she somehow, mindlessly, enclosed a large stack of the cash register’s money in with their food. When they arrived at the picnic spot and found the money, the man instantly said they had to return it, which they did.

The frantic manager was thrilled to meet someone of such honesty. He wanted to call the newspaper and have the man’s picture and story printed. The man refused, which is even more impressive as long as you think it was due to his humility. But the story turns sour when you find out the reason he didn’t want to call the newspaper is that the woman he was picnicking with wasn’t his wife but was in fact someone else’s.

That sick feeling you have right now is why we need to be genuine as God’s people…this “thing” we’re doing here is not about ritual or numbers, but we’re seeking to be a church that belongs to Christ…individuals who want a high moral standard that includes lifestyle, attitudes & beliefs.

From the front page of some website:

“…is part of a fellowship of independent congregations known as the churches of Christ, with roots in the Restoration Movement. We seek to shed our individual differences and unite on the simple truths of the New Testament. We are far from accomplishing this ideal, but we do seek to follow God’s word in an open and authentic way.
   “We are not a perfect church. We are a church where imperfect people can connect with a perfect God, where people can grow together, learn together, and serve together. We are each unique members of Christ’s body, using the gifts His Spirit provides to build each other up, lift up Jesus Christ in this community, and reach the world with the Good News! We’d love for you to join with us on this journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.”

 Beliefs matter.  Jesus confronted the Sadducees regarding their disbelief on the subject of the resurrection in  Matthew 22. He stopped their ‘trap’ but he also exposed the error of their belief.

When Apollos began to preach the word of God in Acts 18-19, he was “off” on the subject of baptism and it was corrected.

We are to use wisdom and grace in building people up and bringing people into the “way of the Lord more perfectly” (Acts 18:24-28; Col. 4:5-6; Eph. 4:29).

(Acts 18:24-28)  Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. {25} He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. {26} He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. {27} When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. {28} For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Colossians 4:5-6 (NIV) 5  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
6  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) 29  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Which beliefs matter? Is it what the elders offer as “official church policy?” Do you have to follow lock-step with everything the preacher or favorite Bible class teacher presents? Of course not!

We will have our own ideas about many subjects, but on some subjects there can be no real discussion, if it fits in the area of God’s Word and it is clearly given by direct command, necessary inference, or is based upon the teaching in the 1st century of the apostles of Christ.

Right doctrine is essential to right living. It is impossible to live a faithful Christian life without knowing biblical doctrine. Doctrine simply means teaching, and there is no way that even the most sincere believer can live a life pleasing to God without knowing what God Himself is like and knowing the sort of life God wants him to live.

When people say, “Don’t talk to me about doctrine—just let me live my Christian life!” they are revealing their ignorance of the way the Holy Spirit works in the life of the believer.

“It makes no difference what you believe, just as long as you live right” is a similar confession of ignorance. It does make a difference what you believe, because what you believe determines how you behave!

The main idea in these first sixteen verses is the unity of believers in Christ. This is simply the practical application of the doctrine taught in the first half of the letter: God is building a body, a temple. He has reconciled Jews and Gentiles to Himself in Christ. The oneness of believers in Christ is already a spiritual reality. Our responsibility is to guard, protect, and preserve that unity.

Most denominational members would be surprised to discover that their chosen religious affiliation is less than 500 years old. Many people assume that the church of which they are members is ancient in origin, divinely ordained, and a part of the church revealed in the New Testament.

It doesn’t always occur to them that there were no denominations in New Testament days. When the church was established in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost, there was one church with Christ as the head and the apostles as pillars of faith as they did exactly what Jesus had trained them to do.

That church was planned (Eph. 3:10-11), prophesied (Isaiah 2:2-3), prepared (Matt. 3:1-2), and promised (Matt. 16:18) before it existence. The kingdom came with power (Mark 9:1) when the Holy Spirit came (Acts 1:8).

The gospel was preached, sinners responded to that resurrected Savior, they repented, they were immersed in water for remission of sins, and they began the Christian walk.

How simple! And how tragic today that so many have changed that simple beginning with their own ideas and teachings. How thrilling it is to find people in the Ukraine (for instance) who were given Bibles in years past and began reading it and with little or no help from outside teachers, became New Testament Christian and began worshipping in ways God approved through the apostles and first century Christians.

 At Pentecost, every person obeyed the same gospel, became members of the same body, and ultimately wore the same name.

Jesus prayed that His followers would be united (Jn. 17:21-23).

(John 17:20-23)  “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, {21} that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. {22} I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: {23} I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

 Those who cause factions are to be rejected

(Titus 3:10)  Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.

Men who cause dissensions are to be avoided

(Romans 16:17)  I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

Tim Stafford (OCC professor) tells of a minister who used a jar full of beans in teaching. He asks his students to guess how many beans are in the jar, and on a big pad of paper writes down their estimates. Then, next to those estimates, he helps them make another list: their favorite songs. When the lists are complete, he reveals the actual number of beans in the jar. The whole class looks over their guesses, to see which estimate was closest to being right.

He then turns to the list of their favorite songs. “And which one of these is closest to being right?” he asks. The students protest that there is no “right answer”; a person’s favorite song is purely a matter of taste. And the teacher agrees.

But then he asks, “When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is that more like guessing the number of beans, or more like choosing your favorite song?” Always, and amazingly, he gets the same answer, from old as well as young: they say choosing one’s faith is more like choosing a favorite song than knowing the # of beans in the jar.

IF that is true, then what we believe has more to do with what we like or what we will not accept. The issue of God’s authority is taken out of the equation!

One of the main reasons that cults in our day have had such an impact on the world is their unity. Disharmony is not tolerated. Though misguided, misused, and often totalitarian, such unity is attractive to many people who are tired of religious uncertainty, ambiguity, and confusion.

Few of us who have attended church for a number of years have not been in or known of a congregation where there was a split or at least serious quarreling. The problem has existed in the church from New Testament times. The Corinthian believers fell short of the Lord’s standards in many ways, and the first thing for which Paul called them to task was quarreling.

Quarrels are a part of life. We grow up in them and around them. Infants are quick to express displeasure when they are not given something they want or when something they like is taken away. Little children cry, fight, and throw tantrums because they cannot have their own ways.

(James 4:1-2)  What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? {2} You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.).

What the Lord laments and opposes, Satan applauds and fosters. Few things demoralize, discourage, and weaken a church as much as bickering, backbiting, and fighting among its members. And few things so effectively undermine its testimony before the world.

The church we see in the New Testament was planned (Eph. 3:10-11), prophesied (Isaiah 2:2-3), prepared (Matt. 3:1-2), and promised (Matt. 16:18) before it existence.

At Pentecost, every person obeyed the same gospel, became members of the same body, and ultimately wore the same name.

God is much more desirous of people being saved, than of their being condemned

(Ezekiel 18:23)  Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

 (John 3:17)  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

 (2 Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

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Posted by on March 19, 2020 in Church, Doctrine, ephesians


Are we living in the last days?


Are we living in the last days? It’s a question often asked when difficult times arrive.

Yes, we are living in the ‘last days.’ It should not be a cause for alarm, however, because we have been living in the last days for more than two thousand years!

The ‘last days’ refer to the last great period of history, the Christian Age. There have been three great dispensations or ages of God dealing with mankind. The first was the Patriarchal Age, when God dealt directly with the heads of families (from Adam to Moses). This period ended with the beginning of the Mosaic Age, when God gave the Law of Moses to Israel. The Mosaic Age (the age under which Jesus lived) ended with the advent of the Christian Age, ushered in by the preaching of the Gospel and the establishment of the first century church.

On the Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ, Peter rose up with the rest of the apostles to speak and said, concerning the things that were happening, ‘This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams’ (Acts 2:16-17). Peter said that the events of that day were the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy concerning what would happen ‘in these last days.’

Succeeding verses describe dramatic events: ‘…wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood and fire and vapour of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come’ (2:19-20). This ‘apocalyptic’ language describes cataclysmic events that man could hardly imagine. Some have suggested that these events refer to the crucifixion of Christ or the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies.

The Spirit was poured out on ‘all flesh,’ as the Gospel message was to go from Jerusalem to all the nations of the world, a message of salvation: ‘And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Acts 2:21). To the Jews it was almost unbelievable that the Gospel could be for the whole world, including Gentiles, but Peter promised such: ‘For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call’ (2:39). He called all present to respond: ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for (in order to have) the remission of sins’ (2:38).

Later Peter wrote that Christ ‘was manifest in these last times’ (1 Peter 1:20).

Time may be drawing to an end.  Today may be the last day. Or, the Lord may delay His coming for a thousand years so more can ‘come to repentance’ (1 Pet. 3:9).

Look for no special ‘last days’ signs in present events. Do not listen to false teachers who set dates for the second coming or the end of the world. Do not be lulled into thinking you have plenty of time to make your life right with God, either. We should prepare to meet Christ-the angel may be getting his trumpet ready (1 Thes. 4:13-18). Now is the time to obey Christ (2 Cor. 6:2).

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Posted by on November 14, 2019 in Doctrine


10 Reasons to Believe in a God who allows suffering

Suffering Comes With the Freedom to Choose.
Loving parents long to protect their children from unnecessary pain. But wise parents know the danger of over-protection. They know that the freedom to choose is at the heart of what it means to be human, and that a world without choice would be worse than a world without pain. Worse yet would be a world populated by people who could make wrong choices without feeling any pain. No one is more dangerous than the liar, thief or killer who doesn’t feel the harm he is doing to himself and to others (Genesis 2:15-17).

Pain Can Warn Us of Danger.
We hate pain, especially in those we love. Yet without discomfort, the sick wouldn’t go to a doctor. Worn-out bodies would get no rest. Criminals wouldn’t fear the law. Children would laugh at correction. Without pangs of conscience, the daily dissatisfaction of boredom or the empty longing for significance, people who are made to find satisfaction in an eternal Father would settle for far less. The example of Solomon, lured by pleasure and taught by his pain, shows us that even the wisest among us tend to drift from good and from God until arrested by the resulting pain of our own shortsighted choices (Ecclesiastes 1-12; Psalm 78:34-35; Romans 3:10-18).

Suffering Reveals What Is in Our Hearts.
Suffering often occurs at the hand of others. But it has a way of revealing what is in our own hearts. Capacities for love, mercy, anger, envy and pride can lie dormant until awakened by circumstances. Strength and weakness of heart are found not when everything is going our way but when flames of suffering and temptation test the mettle of our character. As gold and silver are refined by fire, and as coal needs time and pressure to become a diamond, the human heart is revealed and developed by enduring the pressure and heat of time and circumstance. Strength of character is shown not when all is well with our world but in the presence of human pain and suffering (Job 42:1-17; Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-5; 1 Peter 1:6-8).

Suffering Takes Us to the Edge of Eternity.
If death is the end of everything, then a life filled with suffering isn’t fair. But if the end of this life brings us to the threshold of eternity, then the most fortunate people in the universe are those who discover, through suffering, that this life is not all we have to live for. Those who find themselves and their eternal God through suffering have not wasted their pain. They have let their poverty, grief and hunger drive them to the Lord of eternity. They are the ones who will discover to their own unending joy why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3, NIV; see also Romans 8:18-19).

Pain Loosens Our Grip on This Life.
In time, our work and our opinions are sought less and less. Our bodies become increasingly worse for the wear. Gradually they succumb to inevitable obsolescence. Joints stiffen and ache. Eyes grow dim. Digestion slows. Sleep becomes difficult. Problems loom larger and larger while options narrow. Yet, if death is not the end but the threshold of a new day, then the curse of old age is also a blessing. Each new pain makes this world less inviting and the next life more appealing. In its own way, pain paves the way for a graceful departure (Ecclesiastes 12:1-14).

 Suffering Gives Opportunity to Trust God.
The most famous sufferer of all time was a man named Job. According to the Bible, Job lost his family to war, his wealth to wind and fire, and his health to painful boils. Through it all, God never told Job why it was happening. As Job endured the accusations of his friends, heaven remained silent. When God finally did speak, He did not reveal that His archenemy Satan had challenged Job’s motives for serving God. Neither did the Lord apologize for allowing Satan to test Job’s devotion to God. Instead, God talked about mountain goats giving birth, young lions on the hunt and ravens in the nest. He cited the behavior of the ostrich, the strength of the ox and the stride of the horse. He cited the wonders of the heavens, the marvels of the sea and the cycle of the seasons. Job was left to conclude that if God had the power and wisdom to create this physical universe, there was reason to trust that same God in times of suffering (Job 1-42).

 God Suffers With Us in Our Suffering.
No one has suffered more than our Father in heaven. No one has paid more dearly for the allowance of sin into the world. No one has so continuously grieved over the pain of a race gone bad. No one has suffered like the One who paid for our sin in the crucified body of His own Son. No one has suffered more than the One who, when He stretched out His arms and died, showed us how much He loved us. It is this God who, in drawing us to Himself, asks us to trust Him when we are suffering and when our own loved ones cry out in our presence (1 Peter 2:21; 3:18; 4:1).

 God’s Comfort Is Greater Than Our Suffering.
The apostle Paul pleaded with the Lord to take away an unidentified source of suffering. But the Lord declined, saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” “Therefore,” said Paul, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Paul learned that he would rather be with Christ in suffering than without Christ in good health and pleasant circumstances.

 In Times of Crisis, We Find One Another.
No one would choose pain and suffering. But when there is no choice, there remains some consolation. Natural disasters and times of crisis have a way of bringing us together. Hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, riots, illnesses and accidents all have a way of bringing us to our senses. Suddenly we remember our own mortality and that people are more important than things. We remember that we do need one another and that, above all, we need God.

Each time we discover God’s comfort in our own suffering, our capacity to help others is increased. This is what the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

 God Can Turn Suffering Around for Our Good.
This truth is best seen in the many examples of the Bible. Through Job’s suffering we see a man who not only came to a deeper understanding of God but who also became a source of encouragement for people in every generation to follow. Through the rejection, betrayal, enslavement and wrongful imprisonment of a man named Joseph, we see someone who eventually was able to say to those who had hurt him, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

When everything in us screams at the heavens for allowing suffering, we have reason to look at the eternal outcome and joy of Jesus who in His own suffering on an executioner’s cross cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

You’re not alone if the unfairness and suffering of life leaves you unconvinced that a God in heaven cares for you. But consider again the suffering of the One called by the prophet Isaiah “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). Think about His slashed back, His bloodied forehead, His nail-ripped hands and feet, His pierced side, His agony in the Garden and His pathetic cry of abandonment. Consider Christ’s claim that He was suffering not for His sins but for ours. To give us the freedom to choose, He lets us suffer. But He Himself bore the ultimate penalty and pain for all our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).

When you do see the reason for His suffering, keep in mind that the Bible says Christ died to pay the price for our sins, and that those who believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). The forgiveness and eternal life Christ offers is not a reward for effort but a gift to all who, in light of the evidence, put their trust in Him.

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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in Doctrine


10 Reasons to Believe in Life After Death


What happens when we die? Down through the millennia, the pious and the pagan have believed that death is but a doorway to a new journey.

The Injustices of Life.

It would be difficult to believe that life is good if we knew there was nothing beyond the grave to compensate for problems of inequality and unfairness. While some people seem destined for happiness, others are born into terrible relationships and circumstances. If we could be sure there was nothing to offset unequal distribution of suffering, many would have reason to curse the day of their birth for the way life has treated them (Job 3:1-3). We could agree with King Solomon who at a low point in his life said, 

I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter. And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3, NIV).

 Beauty and Balance.
There is much about life that doesn’t seem to correspond with personal problems of unfairness and hardship. But for all that is hurtful and unequal, there is beauty and balance. For moments of horror and violence, there are times of harmony and peace. As age-worn bodies succumb to pain and weakness, children and young animals play with carefree joy. Human art, in all of its glory, corresponds to birds in playful flight and morning song. Each sunset and dawn provides an answer to nature’s need for rest and renewal. Dark nights and cold winters come with the awareness that “this too shall pass.” If there is nothing beyond the grave, the pattern of nature is stunningly incomplete.

 Near-Death Experiences.
The clinical evidence for life after death is subjective and arguable. It’s often hard to assess the significance of “out of body experiences,” encounters with bright lights, long tunnels or angelic guides. It’s difficult to know how to respond to those who speak of temporary near-death visions into heaven or hell. What we do know is that there are enough of these kinds of experiences to create a sizable library on the subject. Taken as a whole, this body of evidence shows that as people approach death, many sense they are coming not to the end of existence but to the beginning of another journey.

 A Place in the Heart.
The human heart hungers for more than this life offers. Each of us experiences what King Solomon called “eternity in [our] hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). While it is difficult to know what Solomon meant, it is apparent that he was referring to an inescapable longing for something this world cannot satisfy. It was an emptiness of soul that Solomon could not escape. For a while, he tried to fill this inner void with work, alcohol and laughter. He tried to satisfy his longings with philosophy, music and sexual relationships. But his disillusionment grew. Only when he returned to his confidence in a final judgment and afterlife could he find something large enough to satisfy his longing for significance (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

 Universal Beliefs.
While some believe it’s impossible to know whether there is life after death, belief in immortality is a timeless phenomenon. From the pyramids of the Egyptians to the reincarnation of New Age thinking, people of all times and places in history have believed that the human soul survives death. If there is no consciousness or laughter or regret beyond the grave, then life has fooled almost everyone from the Pharaohs of Egypt to Jesus of Nazareth.

 An Eternal God.
The Bible names God as the source of immortality. It describes His nature as eternal. The same Scriptures tell us that God created us in His likeness, and that His plan is to welcome His children eventually into His eternal home. The Scriptures also teach that God introduced death into human experience when our first ancestors trespassed into the darkness of forbidden territory (Genesis 3:1-19). The implication is that if God allowed the human race to live forever in a rebellious condition, we would have unending opportunity to develop into proud, self-centered creatures. Instead, God began to unfold a plan that would ultimately result in the eternal homecoming of all who chose to be at peace with Him (Psalm 90:1; John 14:1-3).

 Old Testament Predictions.
Some have argued that immortality is a New Testament idea. But the Old Testament prophet Daniel spoke of a day when those who sleep in the dust of the earth will be resurrected, some to life and some to everlasting shame (Daniel 12:1-3). An author of the Psalms also spoke of the afterlife. In Psalm 73 a man named Asaph described how he almost lost his faith in God when he considered how evil people prospered and the godly suffered. But then he said he went into the sanctuary of God. From the perspective of worship, he suddenly saw evil men standing on the slippery ground of their mortality. With new insight he confessed, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:24-26).

 Quotes of Christ.
Few would accuse Jesus of being an evil man or a false teacher. Even atheists and people belonging to non-Christian religions usually refer to Jesus with deference and respect. But Jesus wasn’t vague or indefinite about the reality of a continuing personal existence after death. He said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Jesus promised Paradise to the repentant thief who was dying at His side, but He also used the Valley of Hinnom-a foul garbage dump outside of Jerusalem—as a symbol of what awaits those who insist on risking the judgment of God. According to Jesus, facing the reality of life after death is the most significant issue of life. He said, for example, that if an eye keeps you from God, you have reason to get rid of that eye. “It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell” (Mark 9:47).

 The Resurrection of Christ.
There is no greater evidence for the existence of life after death than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament predicted a Messiah who would overcome sin and death for His people (Isaiah 53; Daniel 9:26). The testimony of Jesus’ followers is that He did just that. He voluntarily died at the hands of executioners, was buried in a borrowed tomb and then three days later left that tomb empty. Witnesses said that they had seen not only an empty tomb but a resurrected Christ who appeared to hundreds of people over a period of 40 days before ascending to heaven (Acts 1:1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

Practical Effects.
Belief in life after death is a source of personal security, optimism and spiritual betterment (1 John 3:2). Nothing offers more courage than the confidence that there is a better life for those who use the present to prepare for eternity. Belief in the unlimited opportunities of eternity has enabled many to make the ultimate sacrifice of their own life in behalf of those they love. It was His belief in life after death that enabled Jesus to say, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). It is the same truth that prompted Christian martyr Jim Elliot, who was killed in 1956 by the Auca Indians, to say, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

You’re not alone if you find yourself honestly unconvinced about life after death. But keep in mind that Jesus promised to give divine help to those who want to know the truth so as to surrender to it. He said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17).

If you see the evidence for life after death, remember that the Bible says Christ died to pay the price for our sins, and that all who believe in Him will receive the gifts of forgiveness and everlasting life. The salvation Christ offers is not a reward for effort but a gift to all who in light of the evidence put their trust in Him.

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Posted by on September 26, 2019 in Doctrine, Evidence


What Every Christian Should Know About Grace – Titus 2:11-14

Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. {12} It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, {13} while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, {14} who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

As a Christian husband/father, I appreciate so much what’s occurring in the United States:
· advertising groups are producing catchy, appealing presentations teaching our children to ‘say no’ to drugs
· there are now bans on public smoking in most places because we’re finally admitting the harm done by secondary smoke
· there’s a constant public outcry against drunk driving and many groups are trying to enact stricter laws and pressure is being put upon the court system to see that the penalties are carried out

I thank God for the progress!…though it’s only treating the symptoms of the real problem: the worship of self.

But I’ve said that to make this statement to us today: we can’t expect society “to clean itself up.”

It is, however, a role the church ought to assume, though the method might be surprising:
· we’re to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world
· and those who become Christians must bring about dramatic lifestyle changes in their lives!

A simple question: is Christianity a “yes” religion or a “no” religion? What do I mean? Do you see the requirements put upon us by Christ as mainly negative or positive?

We say “YES:”
· to God and His authority
· to Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord of our life
· to the Bible as our only map to eternal life
· to the purpose of the church and the need to make it important in our families’ life
· to the responsibility we have as parents “to give our children back to God”

I hope we also realize that pleasing God involves both “yes” and “no.”

Matthew 12:43-45: “”When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. {44} Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. {45} Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and
live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.””

This side of grace is powerful beyond words:
· It appears to all men
· It brought the death of Christ 
· It makes those dead in sin alive in Christ.
· leads and guides us…it doesn’t throw us into confusion
· redeemed us from all wickedness
· purifies us as His people
· inspires us to the extent that we’re eager to do what’s good and right!

It teaches us what to avoid and what to follow! 

There is another side of grace, grace as it relates to the Christian, the “us” side of grace…it teaches us some truths we all need to learn:

Jesus said, “If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

This is not some initial act once performed that should never be considered again. It is an ongoing act! 

We must constantly deny (say NO!) to “ungodliness and worldly lust” 
· Ungodliness is a lack of reverence for the spiritual and a lack of worship and devotion that results from not living like the Lord. 
· To deny ungodliness is to strive always to avoid that which pulls you away from God. 
· This demands ongoing evaluation. Worldly lusts are those desires which lead one further from the kingdom of God.

Salvation is not only a change of position as we’re set free from the slavery of sin…it’s also a change of attitude, ambition, and action.

And if God’s gift of grace doesn’t change us, and give us a different lifestyle, then something is eternally wrong!

Anything I do that Christ wouldn’t do…or anything I do which would bring reproach upon God and the church, I must say “NO!” to it!

1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. {16} For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. {17} And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the
one who does the will of God abides forever.”

We must live “under control”…’s a way of life. This isn’t the idea of being “in control” but being “under control.” They key is a surrender or yielding to God in a dignified, reasonable way:

· God tell us that man cannot direct his own steps
· the key to winning is losing
· to way to be first is to be last
· the way to be great is to be least
· and if we think we can control our lives, the devil smiles in hell and God weeps in heaven!

Second, we must live righteously. This is a matter of our relationship with the Lord. It’s the concept of “clothing ourselves with Christ” We’re made righteous because of the constant cleansing in the blood of Christ.

We live according to a standard…and first and foremost, God wants us to know that that He sent us a man to follow.

Third, we are to be godly. 
The idea here is to include God in all our plans…God must not be the “third man out” with the Christian. We should have a reverence, respect, worship, and devotion that moves into daily life and causes us to live as the Lord wants us to live.

When we yield, study and follow God’s Word and God’s will, we become people-centered…which leads us to ask “what does God like?” (we answer that by looking at God incarnate):
· Jesus liked little children
· Jesus liked people who innocently and completely trusted in Him
· Jesus liked to forgive prostitutes and “sinners”
· JJesusIsLordofthisWebSiteesus liked to spend much time in small groups teaching and training people
· He loved His mother
· He was willing to die for His friends but also His enemies
· He was comfortable with His friends (He could tell Martha to get out of the kitchen and spend more time with people)
· He was involved and interested in people and spent little time worrying for material things or things which would bring Him comfort

Notice the text: we’re eager to do good!

    We look for Jesus’ return. This is our blessed hope, our fulfillment. It will be a glorious appearing. We will get to see Jesus, our great God and Savior. It is a shame that we have so preached on the second coming that even Christians do not look forward to it. We must remember who is coming. He is the One who redeemed us from the lawlessness of sin and purified us as
    His own special people. Our specialty is good works. When we live by grace, the world can see our specialty.
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Posted by on September 19, 2019 in Doctrine


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.


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.


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,


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).


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).


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.


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]


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.)


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.


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.)


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.


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.)




“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


Beliefs Matter: One Faith: A Call To Arms! – Philippians 1:27; Jude 1

A note posted on a religious website, discussing sexuality as a spiritual experience…says “it is OK be monogamist OK to be Gay,  Bi, Straight; OK to be different; OK to follow our own path; OK to make our own choices without being judged, particularly in this community.”

The truth tells us that while people may indulge their sinful desires in that way, we don’t please God like that.

How do we know? Where do we go for direction? We believe there is One Lord, and today we see there is one place where we can go to find the written directions. The “one faith” does not refer to the act of believing, but to the body of doctrines which we believe. The one faith is the Gospel.

(Philippians 1:27 NIV)  Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel

(Jude 1:3 NIV)  Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

It is not scriptural to speak of “many faiths” or “interfaith activities” as many do. There are not two faiths nor several faiths. There is only one faith that leads into God’s presence and that is the faith founded by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Contrary to what Oprah and others are teaching, there is no other approach to God. If a person wishes to live with God—to be approved and accepted by Him—that person has to approach God through the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 NIV)  But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. {14} He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The point is this: every believer has come to God in the very same way—by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in Him is the only way, the only true faith. Therefore, standing before God and having come to Him through the same faith, there is no room for any differences. We all stand on the same ground, on the same level: the ground and level of faith.

If you want to be a member of this congregation, realize that we believe there is One body, One Spirit, One Hope, One Lord, and One Faith.

Jude 1:1-4 (ESV)
1  Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
2  May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
3  Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
4  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Why did Jude write this letter?

To warn his readers that the apostates were already on the scene! Peter had prophesied that they would come, and his prophecy had been fulfilled.

He wrote to “exhort” them (Jude 3). In the Greek language, this word was used to describe a general giving orders to the army; hence the atmosphere of this letter is “military.” Jude had started to write a quiet devotional letter about salvation, but the Spirit led him to put down his harp and sound the trumpet! The Epistle of Jude is a call to arms.

The Army (Jude 1-2)

The Captain of the army is Jesus Christ, and the soldiers He commands are people who share a “common salvation” through faith in Him. Jude called them saints and addressed them as sanctified.

Not only are God’s saints set apart, but they are also preserved. This means “carefully watched and guarded.” The believer is secure in Jesus Christ. This same word is used in Jude 6 and 13 (“reserved”) and also in Jude 21 (“keep yourselves”).

The Enemy (Jude 3-4)

I must confess that I sympathize with Jude. I would much rather encourage the saints than declare war on the apostates. But when the enemy is in the field, the watchmen dare not go to sleep. The Christian life is a battleground, not a playground. Jude wasted no time in identifying the enemy.

They were ungodly (v. 4b).

This is one of Jude’s favorite words. While these men claimed to belong to God, they were, in fact, ungodly in their thinking and their living.

They were deceitful (v. 4c).

They “crept in unawares.” The Greek word means “to slip in secretly, to steal in undercover.” How could false brethren get into true assemblies of the saints? The soldiers had gone to sleep at the post! The spiritual leaders in the churches had grown complacent and careless. This explains why Jude had to “blow the trumpet” to wake them up.

They were enemies of God’s grace (v. 4d).

Why did they enter the churches? To attempt to change the doctrine and “turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness” (Jude 4). The word lasciviousness simply means “wantonness, absence of moral restraint, indecency.” A person who is lascivious thinks only of satisfying his lusts, and whatever he touches is stained by his base appetites.

Many scriptures warn us that the apostates would argue, “You have been saved by grace, so you are free to live as you please!” The apostates, like the cultists today, use the Word of God to promote and defend their false doctrines.

They seduce young, immature Christians who have not yet been grounded in the Scriptures. Every soldier of the Cross needs to go through “basic training” in a local church so that he knows how to use the weapons of spiritual warfare.

They denied God’s truth (v. 4e).

Jude was affirming strongly the deity of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God! But the apostates would deny this. They would agree that Jesus Christ was a good man and a great teacher, but not that He was eternal God come in human flesh. The first test of any religious teacher, as we have seen, is, “What do you think of Jesus Christ? Is He God come in the flesh?”

Anyone who denies this cardinal doctrine is a false teacher no matter how correct he may be in other matters. If he denies the deity of Christ, something will always be missing in whatever he affirms.

They were ordained to judgment (v. 4a).

Jude did not write that these men were ordained to become apostates, as though God were responsible for their sin. They became apostates because they willfully turned away from the truth. But God did ordain that such people would be judged and condemned. The Old Testament prophets denounced the false prophets of their day, and both Jesus Christ and His Apostles pronounced judgment on them.

Why should these men be judged by God? To begin with, they had denied His Son! That is reason enough for their condemnation! But they had also defiled God’s people by teaching them that God’s grace permitted them to practice sin.

How, then, should the church respond to the presence of this insidious enemy? By earnestly contending for the faith.

“The faith” refers to that body of doctrine that was given by God through the Apostles to the church. The word doctrine is found at least sixteen times in the Pastoral Epistles alone.

What does it mean to “contend for the faith”? The Greek word is an athletic term that gives us our English word agonize. It is the picture of a devoted athlete, competing in the Greek games and stretching his nerves and muscles to do his very best to win.

You never fight the Lord’s battles from a rocking chair or a soft bed! Both the soldier and the athlete must concentrate on doing their best and giving their all. There must also be teamwork, believers working together to attack and defeat the enemy.

Sometimes you hear well-meaning people say, “Well, it’s fine to contend for the faith, but don’t be so contentious!” While it is true that some of God’s soldiers have been the cause of quarrels and divisions, it is also true that some of them have paid a great price to defend the faith.

As Christian soldiers, we must not fight each other or go around looking for trouble. But when the banner of Christ is in danger of being taken by the enemy, we cannot sit idly by, nor can we ever hope to win the victory by wearing kid gloves.

Paul admonished both Timothy and Titus to make sure the believers were being taught “sound doctrine,” which means “healthy doctrine,” doctrine that promotes the spiritual health of the local church.

While individual teachers and preachers may disagree on the fine points of theology, there is a basic body of truth to which all true Christians are committed.

He exhorted Timothy to entrust the Word to other faithful men (2 Tim. 2:2). You and I would not have the Word today were it not for faithful believers down through the ages who guarded this precious deposit and invested it in others.

The church is always one generation short of extinction. If our generation fails to guard the truth and entrust it to our children, then that will be the end! When you think of the saints and martyrs who suffered and died so that we might have God’s truth, it makes you want to take your place in God’s army and be faithful unto death.

False doctrine is a deadly poison that must be identified, labeled, and avoided. We must always speak the truth in love, and the weapons we use must be spiritual. At the same time, we must dare to take our stand for “the faith” even if our stand offends some and upsets others. We are not fighting personal enemies, but the enemies of the Lord.

It is the honor and glory of Jesus Christ that is at stake. “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12).

The Victory (Jude 5-7)

Jude 1:5-7 (ESV)
5  Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
6  And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—
7  just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Jude reached back into Old Testament history and gave examples of God’s victory over those who had resisted his authority and turned from the truth. The point Jude was making is that God judges apostates. Therefore, the false teachers who had crept into the church would also one day be judged. Their seeming success would not last; God would have the last word. 

The sin of Israel was rebellious unbelief (Heb. 3:12). The sin of the angels was rebellion against the throne of God. The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was indulging in unnatural lust. Unbelief, rebellion against authority, and sensual indulgence were sins characteristic of the false teachers.

The conclusion is obvious: the apostates will be judged. But, meanwhile, God’s soldiers must stay on duty and see to it that these false teachers do not creep into the ranks and start to lead people astray.

Jude 1:17-25 (ESV)
17  But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.
18  They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”
19  It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.
20  But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
21  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
22  And have mercy on those who doubt;
23  save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
24  Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,
25  to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

What can we do practically to oppose the enemy and maintain the purity and unity of the church?

For one thing, we must know the Word of God and have the courage to defend it. Every local church ought to be a Bible institute, and every Christian ought to be a Bible student.  The pulpit needs to declare positive truth as well as denounce error.

Second, we must “watch and pray.”

The Christian life must never stand still; if it does, it will go backward. The enemy is already here and we dare not go to sleep! Spiritual leaders in local congregations need to be alert as they interview candidates for baptism and church membership. Congregations must exercise discernment as they select spiritual leaders.

Finally, we must have the courage to maintain a position of biblical separation from those who deny Christ and the fundamental doctrines of the Word. This does not mean that we separate from fellow believers over minor doctrinal differences, or that we practice “guilt by association.” God’s true army needs to stand together in the battle for truth.

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Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Doctrine

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