Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” (Acts 24:25, NKJV)
Ah yes, a convenient time. “Not now,” says the heart that has been hardened by sin, when urged to repent. “I want to be left alone,” says the defiant soul who refuses to be snatched from the fires of sin and destruction. “Maybe later,” says the reluctant soul who has not yet taken full responsibility for his or her transgressions. Felix heard the truth of God and was terrified by its prospect, yet he would not yield his heart and life to it. Claiming to be interested in a more suitable, opportune time to believe and obey, Felix put off doing God’s will. From all we are told his convenient time never came. It never does. It is not convenient to obey the gospel. The heart must be changed. Sin must be admitted and ceased. Different living must begin. These things are not easy; they are not convenient. But, they are necessary if we are to follow Jesus (Lk. 9:23-25). Being saved and being a faithful Christian demands the focus and fortitude of faith to forsake the sins of the past and to live according to the will of Christ. Immediately, without delay. Especially when it is not convenient.
18 You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 19 You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 16:18–20)
Our elected representatives are presently considering a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. A righteous nation seeks to appoint judges who will judge among the people with “just judgment” (v. 18). Such justice requires impartiality – a judge who will not be bribed or swayed by the outward circumstances of either the plaintiff (seeking judicial relief) or the defendant. Poverty and wealth hold no preferential sway over the righteous judge. If it does, then injustice will prevail. Israel was told, “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor” (Lev. 19:15). Impartiality is required if justice under the law is to prevail. The judgments of God’s law are “true and righteous altogether” (Psa. 19:9). Therefore, let us use them to “judge with righteous judgment,” without the bias of circumstance or the prejudice by emotion (Jno. 7:24).
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:6, NKJV)
True friends tell us what we need to hear, when we need to hear it. They know the difference between sparing our feelings and watching us make dreadful mistakes that damage our lives and our souls. Friends have our best interest at heart, and give us sound counsel, even when it brings a momentary pain (wound). Such a friendship is forged in the crucible of life’s trials, its joys and sorrow, its pain and grief. That is the friend we need. That is the friend we ought to be to others. Feigning care and concern, while paving a path of deceit in order to gain an advantage over someone, is not the action of a true friend. The next time your friend tells you what you need to hear – even though it is painful to hear – thank them for it. They are a true friend. The world needs more of their number.
We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6, NKJV)
We hear a lot about fake news these days. Vying for attention and credibility, fake news causes people to doubt all news as tainted. Similarly, there are many fake gospels in the world which give skeptics an excuse to reject the genuine message of Christ. Yes, many “false prophets” peddle their bogus gospels, and we must test them to see if they are from God (1 Jno. 4:1). The test is whether their message agreea with the testimony of the apostles of Christ, who heard, saw and handled “the Word of Life” (1 Jno. 1:1-4). The New Testament is our standard of truth; whatever does not conform to it is fake. For example, salvation by “faith only” is a fake gospel, since the Scriptures say, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). The gospel that says Christians cannot fall from grace is fake, since the Scriptures say, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4). We must test the gospels people preach to us, to know whether it is the truth, or error. By searching the Scriptures and comparing what we hear to what they says, we can discern between fake gospels and the true gospel of Christ.
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:35–36, NKJV)
This passage is particularly instructive about what it means to preach Jesus. Preaching Jesus identifies Him as the suffering Servant of God who sacrificed His life (Acts 8:32-34; Isa. 53:7-8). It includes teaching about sin and salvation from it. The Ethiopian was lost, and wanted to be saved. The water would facilitate his salvation. When he asked Philip about baptism, he had not yet announced his personal faith in Jesus, since Philip stated that as the condition upon which he could be baptized (v. 37). To preach Jesus means preaching baptism, since the Ethiopian immediately asked about it when he saw water. How else did he know about baptism, expect that Philip spoke of it when he “preached Jesus” to him? Surely, he told the man what Jesus preached about baptism: “He that believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). The Ethiopian confessed his personal faith, stopped the chariot, and Philip baptized him (Acts 8:37-38). The man joyfully went on his way, because he was saved when he believed and was baptized. Christ continues to save sinners the same way, today. What hinders you from being baptized to be saved?
“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19, NKJV)
From creation, God gave mankind authority to subdue the earth. But, with the introduction of sin, that task became must more laborious and demanding, until finally, this body wears out and dies. By physical exertion we must meet the tasks of the day, while unavoidably moving toward the time when we will work no more. Our mortality teaches us to use our time wisely. It draws our attention to a crucial decision: Shall we only live for what is decaying (this physical life), or shall we live so as to prepare ourselves for immortality? We are not only dust; our spirit will return to God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7). Will you have access to the tree of life in the heavenly garden of God? Or, will you reap the corruption of sin that you have sown on this earth? This choice belongs to each of us. Choose your priority wisely Jesus said, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jno. 6:27). The food of this world perishes. A life that follows Jesus reaps everlasting life.
19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19–20, NKJV)
This Bible passage enjoins upon faithful Christians the task of rescuing a struggling, sinning Christian from spiritual death. It forever exposes and opposes the false teaching of “once saved, always saved.” Here, the soul that needs saving is a Christian who: (1) Has wandered from the truth. We must walk in the truth to be secure in our salvation (Jno. 10:27); (2) Needs turning back. The person is headed in the wrong, spiritual direction; His present way is “error.” You see, there really is only one way that leads to life (Jno. 14:6); (3) Has sinned. The person is “a sinner,” “in error” and in “death.” He/she is lost. You see, doctrine (teaching) affects salvation. False doctrine is error; a wandering from the truth. Wandering from the truth into error is a real danger. When it happens, the spiritually strong must become first responders, trying to save a soul from death (Gal. 6:1). In what more worthy endeavor can you participate? “He who wins souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30).