“Come Aside…and Rest a While” #2473

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat (Mark 6:31, NKJV).

Jesus was in constant demand from the crowds. His apostles had just returned from their limited commission (Mark 6:7-13, 30). Finding a “deserted place” where one can “rest a while” is important to ”recharge our batteries” and return to our work with renewed vigor. God rested after finishing His work of creating the heavens and the earth (Gen. 2:1-3). God commanded Israel to rest from their labors every seventh day (Exod. 20:8-11; 31:12-17). Every seventh year their land was to rest from planting and harvesting (Lev. 25:1-7). Every fiftieth year, Israel’s land was to rest during the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-11). Rest should have a calming, comforting, and reassuring effect. Rest also reminds us to trust the Lord for our strength instead of ourselves. Israel anticipated the rest God would give them from their enemies in the promised land (Josh. 1:14-15; 23:1). Christians look hopefully for eternal rest (Heb. 4:8-10; Rev. 14:12-13). With these blessings in mind, we will be taking a short time to rest from our daily regimen of writing Sword Tips. We believe this respite will invigorate us to count our blessings and thank the Lord for His provisions and promises in Christ. We plan to resume the daily Sword Tips in early June. I appreciate your interest in these daily offerings.

Religious Traditions and God’s Revealed Word #2472

1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, 3 “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:1–3, NKJV)

Religious traditions (formed, validated, and passed down by humans) are not equivalent to God’s will. Many religious traditions fashioned and perpetuated by people contradict and violate the word of God. For example, Jesus not only rebuked the Jewish binding of traditions that were foreign to the Law of Moses, but He also exposed the tradition of Corban that excused violating God’s word (Matt. 15:1-3, 4-6; Mark 7:9-13). He called this conduct hypocrisy (Matt. 15:7). While claiming allegiance to God, they nullified God’s commands by demanding conformity to the tradition of the elders. A notable comparison to this is water baptism by sprinkling instead of immersion. Baptize (baptizo) means “to immerge, submerge” (Thayer, 94). Bible baptism requires much water, going down into and coming up out of the water (Matt. 3:16; John 3:23; Acts 8:38-39). Baptism is a burial (Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:4-5). Sprinkling water as baptism began as an accommodation to the scarcity of water and, later, for clinical (deathbed) baptism in the third century for the bedfast. In some cases, the Roman papacy approved it in the eighth century until it was declared equal with immersion in AD 1311 by the Council of Ravenna (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, II:247-252). We must reject human religious traditions if they (1) Bind what God has not bound upon us or (2) Approve actions that violate the revealed word of God (Gal. 1:6-10; 2 John 9).

Compassion Teaches the Lost #2471

33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things (Mark 6:33–34, NKJV).

As the crowds pressed around Jesus and His apostles, finding time to rest a while (or even eat) was difficult (Mark 6:31-32). Instead of being anxious and upset at the people for interrupting their search for a place to retreat, Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the multitude (v. 34). He saw them as untended, scattered, and wandering sheep. Consequently, Jesus began teaching them many things. We correctly conclude Jesus knew the solution to this problem was hearing God’s word. Why? Because faith comes by hearing (and receiving) the word of God (Rom. 10:17; Luke 6:46). Teaching God’s word to feed lost, struggling souls is an act of compassion (Matt. 9:35-38). Most likely, lost souls do not know what they truly need. Jesus did not begin by addressing what people thought they needed (i.e., their “felt need”). Instead, he gave them what they actually needed, the word of God, that fed their souls the food “which endures to everlasting life” (John 6:27, 33-35, 44-48). More than physical food, we need the teachings of Christ to lead us to green pastures, still waters, and paths of righteousness that restore our soul (Psalm 23:1-3; Matt. 11:28-30). Let us show His compassion and teach others His word of salvation and eternal life.

Beware Ad Hominem Attacks #2470

Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s (2 Corinthians 10:7, NKJV).

Paul opposed and exposed the error false teachers spread against the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 10:3-6; Gal. 1:6-12; 2:4-5). Unwilling and unable to withstand the truth Paul spoke, these “false apostles” and “deceitful workers” resorted to ad hominem arguments to blunt the force of the Spirit’s sword (2 Cor. 11:13). They attacked Paul instead of the truth he preached. We can hear their accusations against Paul as they tried to diminish his effective teaching and influence among the Corinthians. “Paul is bold in his letters but weak when in your presence” (2 Cor. 10:1-2, 10). And, “Paul is a former persecutor who never was with Jesus. He is an upstart unqualified to be an apostle – do not listen to him” (2 Cor. 11:5-6). They tried to gaslight the brethren, projecting onto Paul what they were doing as they “walked according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:2-3). This diversionary tactic is used when false doctrines are indefensible from the Scriptures. “Fool!” “Ignorant!” and “Pharisee!” are among the ad hominem responses against Christians who oppose and expose sin and error from God’s word. The Lord’s servant does not resort to ad hominem to bias his audience. It is a ploy unworthy of Christ’s disciple (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Reacting against reasoned biblical teaching with ad hominem responses diverts attention from the word of God. It is a carnal attack that fails to persuade while exposing the weakness and error of the one using it (2 Cor. 10:3-4). Do not be deceived.  

Honor the Father by Honoring the Son #2469

20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him (John 5:20–23, NKJV).

Jesus boldly proclaimed, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). His enemies charged Him with blasphemy and prepared to stone Him, yet His words and works support His conclusion “that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38, 30-38; 5:31-39). Today’s passage expresses the unity of purpose, will, and nature between the Father and Son. The Father and Son share (1) The same purpose (v. 20). Human redemption accomplished in Jesus Christ is the purpose and aim of both the Father and Son. Greater works (gospel salvation) would follow Christ’s life on earth, including the bodily resurrection of the dead, judgment, and everlasting life (John 5:24, 28-29). (2) The same power of life (v. 21). The Son would not only raise dead bodies but souls dead in sin (John 5:24-26). (3) The same judgment (v. 22). The Son’s judgments are righteous and entirely in harmony with the Father (John 5:27-30). (4) The same honor (v. 23). The Son is due the same honor given to the Father. Doctrines that claim that Jesus the Son of God is a created being less than the Father deny the Scriptures. Jesus is fully human and fully deity (Col. 2:9). Let us fully honor the Son. Otherwise, we fail to honor the Father who sent Him to save us (John 5:23).

Power Went Out from Jesus #2468

And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all (Luke 6:19, NKJV).

We are told of “a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed” (Luke 6:17-18). Significantly, “power went out from” Jesus that healed them all. These healings were not the trickery of an illusionist or a scam artist. Divine power cured the sick and banished tormenting spirits. It is not lost on us that Jesus knew when healing power went out from Him. Jesus knew a woman with faith touched His garment and was healed even as the throng pressed around Him (Mark 5:27-34). “But Jesus said, ‘Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out of Me” (Luke 8:46, 43-48). Here is today’s lesson: God knows when even one sinner reaches out to Him in faith, repents, and obeys His word for salvation (Luke 15:3-7; Mark 16:15-16; Heb. 5:9). He is aware of each of us and saves us one at a time. God’s saving power in Christ goes out from heaven’s throne and heals each lost soul with divine forgiveness (Luke 15:17-24). God cares and knows your plight. He loves you so much His Son died for your salvation (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). Like the woman whose faith compelled her to touch the garment of Jesus for physical healing, may each of us reach out to Jesus in faith, trusting Him to heal our souls from eternal death (Rom. 6:1-4, 16-18, 22-23).

Jesus and Legion #2467

6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” 8 For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” 9 Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” (Mark 5:6–9, NKJV)

The man lived a torturous life among the tombs, caves, and mountains. Unclean spirits involuntarily possessed him, and he could not be restrained due to unnatural strength (Mark 5:1-5). The demons who tormented the man knew Jesus, acknowledged He is the Son of God and begged Jesus not to torment them “before the time” (vv. 6-7; Matt. 8:29). Jesus banished the demons to a herd of swine that stampeded into the Sea of Galilee (Mark 5:11-13). Healed and in his right mind, the man wanted to remain with Jesus, who told him to tell others of the compassion he received from the Lord (Mark 5:15, 18-20). This amazing miracle teaches us important lessons of truth about Jesus and the deliverance He can give sinners. (1) Jesus has power over demons. He came to destroy the devil’s works, and His power over demons illustrated that defeat (1 John 3:8). We are assured of the Lord’s strength to stand against the “spiritual host of wickedness” when we put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-13). (2) Faith only does not save. The demons “believe—and tremble” but are lost (James 2:19). Do not accept the false doctrine of salvation by faith only (James 2:20-24). (3) Tell others of God’s compassion. Spread the good news of salvation that saves oppressed and lost souls. Its power transforms lives (Rom. 1:16; 12:1-2).

Faith that God Will See You Through the Storm #2466

37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:37–40, NKJV)

After a full day of teaching many parables to “a great multitude,” Jesus and His apostles crossed the Sea of Galilee at night (Mark 4:1-2, 35-36). While Jesus slept, a sudden and violent storm arose, endangering them as their boat took on water. In fear, the apostles woke up Jesus asking, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Fear can grip us when facing unexpected dangers, traumas, and uncertain outcomes. Jesus calmed the storm, then challenged His apostles to see their fearful doubts as a lack of faith (v. 40). The cares of this world (physical ailments, financial pressures, etc.), if allowed, can press us to the edge of fear and faithlessness. Our Adversary tempts us to think God does not care “that we are perishing.” But Christ’s power over nature secures our faith in Him to face life’s storms (Mark 4:41). God Himself has said, “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me (Heb. 13:5-6)?’” Let us strengthen our faith in the Lord in uncertain times. None of these things separate the faithful from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:31-39).

The Grace of God #2465

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11–13, NKJV).

The grace of God is His favor toward sinners, unmerited, undeserved (Eph. 2:4-7). His grace is rich in mercy and spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:7; 2:7; Rom. 3:24). Today’s passage gives a simple yet profound explanation of God’s grace and our response to it. (1) The grace of God has appeared to all men (v. 11). God has not limited His offer of grace only to predestined chosen one whom He will save. Calvinism’s predestination, unconditional election, and limited atonement are false and deny the universal offer of grace (Acts 10:34-35). Since not all are saved, grace must be accessed or received (by faith, Rom. 5:1-2; 2 Cor. 6:1). (2) The grace of God brings salvation (v. 11). We would remain dead in our sins without God’s grace in Christ. We cannot redeem ourselves from sin; We cannot earn our salvation. We praise the glory of God’s grace by which we are redeemed and accepted in Christ (John 1:14, 17; Eph. 1:6-8). (3) The grace of God teaches us to stop sinning (v. 12). We learn from “the word of His grace” to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Christians fall from grace when they practice sin (Gal. 5:4; Rom. 6:1-2). (4) The grace of God teaches us how to live (v. 12). The power of God’s grace is seen in lives lived for Christ (Acts 11:23). (5) The grace of God assures our hope (v. 13). As we practice righteousness, we stand in grace and rejoice in hope, sure of our eternal life in Christ (Rom. 5:2; 1 John 3:3-7; 5:13). Indeed, God’s grace is amazing.

Using Necessary Inferences to Know the Scriptures #2464

37 “But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him (Luke 20:37–38, NKJV).”

The apostles and prophets teach us to be careful how we handle the word of God. We are to rightly divide [“to make a straight cut, to dissect (expound) correctly” (G3718)]. Jesus showed that one way to do this is to use necessary inferences (conclusions) drawn from the Scriptures. The passage He referred to in refutation of the Sadducean error of no resurrection of the dead was Exodus 3:6: “Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’” Jesus drew a necessary conclusion that since God used the present tense (“I am the God…of Abraham…Isaac…Jacob”), their fathers were still alive (Matt. 22:31-32). He rebuked the Sadducees for failing to draw the conclusion demanded by the text. Many balk at the binding authority of necessary inferences, yet Jesus used one to prove there is a resurrection of the dead. We are in the company of Jesus when we carefully handle God’s word to draw their binding conclusions. Like the Sadducees, failure to do so results in being deceived by error for “not knowing the Scriptures” (Matt. 22:29).

“And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:17)