5 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. 6 Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5–6, NKJV)
As an assayer tests the purity of silver and gold, God’s word stands the test of purity. It has been tried in the crucible of conflict, rebellion, rejection, and alienation by men. With the word of God, His people have weathered every storm of attack from faithless foes. His word continues to stand, while its adversaries lie in the ash heap of history. Undaunted, men and women of faith trust in the word of God, and are delivered. That is why they dare not add to it or take away from it. It does its work as it stands, undefiled and incorruptible. We shall never be persuaded that God’s word is out of date – far from it. It is living and active, powerful and pure. God’s word is able to save the lost and protect the saved. It is indeed “a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” Respect it, believe it, obey it. To do less will bring God’s rebuke upon those who simply pretend to trust Him.
1 I said, “I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me.” 2 I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; And my sorrow was stirred up. 3 My heart was hot within me; While I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue:” (Psalm 39:1–3, NKJV)
David took special care when wicked people were before him. He knew the ungodly, if given a chance, would unjustly turn their evil against him. They did so frequently throughout his life, without justification. When confronted by evil people, David chose to carefully guard his conduct and his words, lest he should fall into sin himself, and become “the reproach of the foolish” (Psa. 39:8). We may feel the impulse to lash out against the wicked, instead of speaking with the restraint of wisdom and truth. David knew the former would produce no good. Plus, it would fail to express the hope he had in the Lord and His deliverance from evil (Psa. 39:7-8). Like David, we should be “slow to speak” and “slow to wrath” when the wicked are before us. Even as he sighed with sorrow and grief of heart over the wickedness before him, David did not speak until he could do so as an expression of his faith and hope in the Lord (Psa. 39:3-8). His momentary silence allowed him to guard his ways, gather his thoughts to avoid sin, and then to speak fearlessly with faith in the Lord. It is a mark of spiritual maturity to remain calm, composed, and faithful when evil is before us (Jas. 1:19-20).
9 Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ 10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9–10, NKJV)
How could shouts of Hosanna (“save, we pray” or “save now”) turn so quickly to shouts of “Crucify him!” (Mk. 15:31)? Because Jesus did not meet their expectation of salvation, of a king and of the kingdom. They expected a king who would save them from Rome (like David saved Israel from their enemies), and a kingdom wielding earthly power over men. But, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jno. 18:36). He withdrew Himself from forcible attempts to make Him king; His kingdom is “within” (Jno. 6:15; Lk. 17:20-21). And so, they killed Jesus. Even to this day, when Jesus does not fit people’s expectation of salvation, their shouts of hosanna turn to scornful contempt. For example, Jesus could not be more plain, that one must believe and be baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:16). Yet, people ridicule His way of salvation as “water salvation.” They clamor for “faith only” salvation (which will never save the lost, see Jas. 2:14-26). When one shouts, “Save me, Lord,” he must be willing to be saved Christ’s way. There is no other way (Jno. 14:6; Acts 4:12).
19 And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” (John 9:19–23, NKJV)
Jesus had healed a man who was blind from birth. His parents knew who healed him, but fear kept them from confessing Jesus to the Jewish leaders. This is a clear example of what Jesus taught about being ashamed of Him: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mk. 8:38). Being silenced by intimidation is the cowardice that results in the second death (Rev. 21:8). Never be ashamed of Jesus and His words, regardless of what other threaten to do to you. This is the teaching of Jesus.
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:17–19, NKJV)
The examples set by the apostle Paul and the other apostles form a pattern we must follow. By way of contrast, Paul warned there are many who appear to be following the apostles, but who are in fact “enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Not everyone who says they love Jesus, does in fact, love Jesus.) When will we heed Christ’s warning about false prophets who are wolves in sheep’s clothing? “You will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15-21). Likewise here, Paul describes these enemies as those who worship their own desires (“whose god is their belly”) and who set their minds on earthly things instead of things above (cf. Col. 3:1-4). Does it matter what a person believes and does? Absolutely! Their end will be destruction – eternal punishment (2 Thess. 1:8-9). We weep with Paul over the existence of such enemies of Christ. Many walk – but they do not walk in the apostolic pattern of revealed truth. Whenever we walk by our own desires and purposes, our end will be destruction, too. Let us be warned, and never become an enemy of Christ. Walk worthy of Christ by following the examples of His apostles (Eph. 4:1).
1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. (Romans 14:1–3, NKJV)
There are quite a number of folks who try to insert questions of morality and doctrine into Romans 14. For them, “let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (verse 5) means you are at liberty to choose from a variety of studied views on topics of moral and doctrinal import. We can all be united, they say, by letting each one decide what is right for himself and herself on subjects like divorce and remarriage, drinking alcohol, immodest clothing, and many other such things, that, when taught or practiced, constitutes sin in the Scriptures. But, this is not at all the context and application of Romans 14. In this chapter, the items over which conscientious disputes are to cease are matters that, when practiced, do not produce sinful immorality or doctrinal error. We are to receive each other when our scruples of conscience differ over issues of liberty. These are “doubtful things” – not sinful things. If one can put moral and doctrinal differences into Romans 14, then God is made to have already “received” those in immorality and error (v. 3). That, He does not do; and neither must we (2 Jno. 9-11).
33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:33–35, NKJV)
Paul did not preach the gospel in order to make money. Indeed, there were multiple occasions when he had to make tents to provide for himself and his companions (Acts 18:1-3). The example he set is a template for us to apply. When we are tempted to work so we can buy the next best gadget and gizmo, Paul has shown us a better way. We should work like he did so that we can “support the weak,” that is, give to those in need (Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 6:17-18). A growing faith develops to the point where we wish to give more than to receive. This well-known statement from the mouth of Jesus draws our attention away from silver, gold and apparel, to the spiritual fortune of a life that is spent in giving to those in need.
And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24, NKJV)
Jesus was very sorrowful when the young ruler went away “very sorrowful” upon hearing what he still lacked in order to have eternal life (Lk. 18:22-23). Christ’s sorrow is far removed from the blasphemous picture of a God who delights in humanity’s suffering and demise. God is grieved when we choose other things instead of His will. It is also helpful to see that Christ did not change His will to somehow make following Him more palatable for the young man. Neither will He for us; He deserves our full submission. On another occasion, Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He knew she would soon be destroyed because of rejecting Him as the Messiah (Lk. 19:41-44). God cries when we refuse Christ in our lives. An even worse punishment, an everlasting destruction, will come “on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8-9). We must resolve not to bring God to tears by our sins against Him. God has prepared a New Jerusalem where every tear will cease forever (Rev. 21:4). Be true and faithful and true – His words certainly are (Rev. 21:5).
32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him. (Mark 12:32–34, NKJV)
Notice the traits of this scribe whom Jesus said was “not far from the kingdom of God.” First, he accepted what Jesus said as the truth (v. 32). Secondly, he believed in the one, true God (v. 32). And thirdly, he acknowledged the primacy of loving God and one’s neighbor over giving God offerings without the presence of such love (v. 33). Yet, the man was not in the kingdom, he was near it. Even so, you may believe that Jesus spoke the truth, and that God is real. You may even profess love for God and show kindness to your neighbor. Yet, to actually enter the kingdom of God you must be born again (from above, Jno. 3:3-5). The new birth consists of water and the Spirit, being directed by the Spirit to be baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:26; 1 Pet. 1:22-23). Until you believe the Spirit’s word and are baptized, you may not be far from the kingdom – but you are not yet in the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 1:13-14).
11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:11–13, NKJV)
Jesus came to the Jewish people, and they rejected Him as the Messiah. But, their refusal to receive Him did not prevent God from declaring Jesus to be Lord and Christ (Psa. 2:1-7; Acts 2:33-37). Now, everyone who receives Him has been given the right to become a child of God. It is precisely those who “believe in His name” that have the right to be born of God to become His child. Some have this verse 12 all wrong. They think it says, “receive + believe = become.” They use this verse to say you should pray for salvation, but nothing is said of prayer here. The verse actually says, “received Him (believed) = right to become” children of God. If you receive Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God (that is, you believe it), then you have the right to become a child of God. That truth is embedded perfectly into the call of the gospel at the Great Commission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:15-16). You have the right to become a child of God when you receive (believe) He is the Christ, the Son of God. But, without faith you cannot be saved (Jno. 8:23-24).