7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” (Galatians 3:7–9, NKJV)
The apostle boldly states that sons of Abraham are now identified based on faith, not flesh. This flies in the face of the belief that the nation of Israel continues to this day to be the people of God. The gospel teaches Christians are the sons of Abraham. Justification is reckoned on the basis of faith in Christ, not upon fleshly descent from Abraham. Paul later explained that “if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). Christians are “sons of God” (Gal. 3:26). You became a child of God and seed of Abraham when you were “baptized into Christ.” That is when you “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). Thank God today that your salvation does not depend on your physical pedigree. It depends on Christ, and your faith to believe and to His will. As Jesus said, “For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother” (Mk. 3:35).
5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned— In these ways we continue; and we need to be saved. 6 But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:5–6, NKJV)
Far from confirming the false teaching of total depravity and a “sin nature” inherent in humanity, this passage explains the sinfulness of a rebellious nation. Neither does it teach that we can do nothing that impacts our salvation. Israel had turned from God’s ways to idolatry, eliciting God’s wrath (“we have sinned,” v. 5). Indeed, even after repeated warnings, Israel continued in the ways of sin instead of turning back to God’s “old paths, where the good way is” (Jer. 6:16; Isa. 65:2-3). The people needed to be saved. None of their sacrifices pleased God; in their sin they were unclean like a defiled garment (Isa. 1:10-15). It was their sins (not some “sin nature”) that separated them from their God (Isa. 59:2). Like Israel, God’s people can still turn away from God’s way, become defiled in sin, and face divine wrath. God spares the one who “rejoices and does righteousness” (v. 5; Acts 10:35). But, those who practice sin are like a dead leaf, blown away by the wind. So, rejoice in God’s salvation and walk in “true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne. 9 The princes of the people have gathered together, the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted.” (Psalm 47:8–9, NKJV)
In this political season, God’s people remember the majestic rule of God. Men and nations scurry about, trying to secure their fleeting power and prominence on the earth. At the same time, God remains solemnly and securely seated on His throne, ruling over all the kingdoms of men. The leaders of ancient Israel gathered in worshipful awe of His might (Psalm 47:1-2). This same praise and adoration is to define God’s people today. All the military might of men pale in comparison to our God, who is exalted in the heavens. We trust in the Lord God, not the fancies and foibles of men who do not honor Him who rules heaven and earth.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15, NKJV)
Anyone who knows baseball knows the umpire has the final say on the field; balls, strikes, safe, out. Players will disagree and coaches will object. But, when the umpire rules, that settles the matter. When Christians face moments of conflict, we must recall and rely on the peace of God to be our “umpire” to bring us to a godly resolution. The peace of God is the decisive factor that controls our hearts and helps us maintain unity in the “one body,” the church. Let each one express thanks to be sharing peace in Christ, who is our means of peace with God and with one another (Eph. 2:14-18). In the moment of conflict, instead of being driven by selfishness, pride, envy, anger and other sinful impulses of the heart, allow God’s peace decide the matter. By using God’s truth to guide you, endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). To be at peace with fellow Christians, remember the peace you share in Christ.
22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did. 1 Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” (Genesis 6:22–7:1, NKJV)
Noah was a righteous man. This does not mean Noah never sinned. This does not mean Noah earned his way onto the ark. It means God accounted Noah righteous when he did “according to all that God commanded him” (Gen. 6:22). Noah built the ark “by faith,” and in so doing he “became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Heb. 11:7). Thus, Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). Noah was saved from the flood waters “by grace, through faith.” This is a perfect type of God’s salvation of sinners in Christ, the antitype of which “now saves us—baptism” (1 Pet. 3:20-21). Water baptism no more earns salvation than building the ark earned Noah’s salvation from the flood. Salvation is “by grace” and it is “through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Yet, the faith that saves is the faith that obeys. Is it essential to obey God’s command to be baptized in order to be saved? Yes. If you doubt it, just ask Noah.
And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. (Daniel 2:44, NKJV)
Daniel had just given God’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. A great image depicting four successive world kingdoms, beginning with Babylon, was struck on its feet of iron and clay (the fourth kingdom, v. 40). The image was crushed by a stone of divine origin, which became a great mountain that filled the earth (Dan. 2:31-43). The superiority of the kingdom of God over the kingdoms of men is thus portrayed, as well as when it would come into existence. God’s kingdom would be “set up” in the “day of these kings” (of the fourth kingdom, v. 40-43). This occurred during the Roman Empire, the legs and feet of the image. Jesus came preaching, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:15). And, He said some would not die until they saw the kingdom come with power (Mk. 9:1). The kingdom of Daniel 2:44 is the church of Christ (Matt. 16:18-19). Unlike the kingdoms of men, God’s kingdom, the church, is “not of this world” (Jno. 18:36). It fills the earth, it cannot be destroyed by men, and it shall stand forever.
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. (John 5:17–18, NKJV)
Jesus had just healed a lame man on the Sabbath. The Jewish rulers, due to their wrong interpretation and traditions concerning God’s law, viewed Jesus and the man He healed as Sabbath-breakers (Exo. 20:8-11; Jno. 5:8-11; 16). But, God’s law never prevented mercy. Jesus did not violate the Sabbath. Jesus forthrightly associated His work with God the Father. By doing so, they understood Him to be making Himself equal with God, and they were right. The Son is due the same honor as the Father (Jno. 5:23). Jesus would later say, “I and my Father are one” (Jno. 5:23; 10:30). Jesus Christ is Immanuel, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). All who refuse to believe in Jesus as being “the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” join with those who tried and eventually did, kill Jesus (Col. 2:9). What will you believe?
8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? (Galatians 4:8–9, NKJV)
It brings us to tears to see Christians, who have tasted heaven’s gift of salvation and freedom from sin, turn back to its bondage and spiritual death. Before your conversion, you did not know God. Like the idolaters of Galatia, you served the false gods of worldliness, materialism and self. Yet, God acted with great love for you, and gave His Son as the ransom for your sins and the whole world (1 Tim. 2:6). Freedom from sin and death came to you when you believed and obeyed the gospel of Christ. Now, fellow Christian, do not be enticed by sin’s attractions to abandon God and turn back to the impotent and contemptible things of the world. God knows you, and you have experienced His goodness. There is no good reason to turn again to what held you in bondage. Instead, remain faithful and true to God.
8 The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. 9 The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:8–9, NKJV)
God embodies the fullness of grace, compassion and mercy. He is longsuffering toward sinners, for He wishes our salvation, not our eternal demise (2 Pet. 3:9; Ezek. 18:32; 1 Tim. 2:3-4). The goodness God shows us is evidence of His mercy, and is an incentive to repent of every sin we have committed against Him (Rom. 2:4). Do not take God’s “slowness to anger” as indifference, toleration or acceptance of sin; it is not. Instead, find His merciful grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). His anger is stirred by sin. When God’s righteous judgment comes, there will be no escape (Rom. 2:3-6). Praise God for His compassion and mercy. Honor Him for His goodness. Serve Him with a ready faith.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3, NKJV)
The proof of loving God is in obeying the commands of God. Jesus affirmed this truth and applied it to Himself in John 14:31. He said, “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do.” We dare not attempt to separate love and obeying the commands of God. Such love is not “legalism,” as some charge. Nor is obeying God’s commands “burdensome” to such love, but a joy. To say we love God while not obeying His commands is self-deception. It is only words, not the love of God.