9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12, NKJV)
Those who believe they have had a vision from God should consider this simple, scriptural fact: there are “lying wonders” that deceive those who do not love and believe the truth. Could it be you have been deceived into thinking your experience was from God? There is a way to find out. Test it against the Scriptures. You see, Scripture says God speaks to us now by His Son, through His apostles – not by visions and dreams (Hebrews 1:1-2; 2:3-4; John 13:20). Therefore, to accept an experience as a divine message contradicts the Scriptures (which, by the way, completely equip us for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). When we want to believe a lie, the Lord will let us (2:11). Please know that God speaks to us all in the Scriptures, not through experiences, feelings, dreams, and visions. Love the truth. Believe the truth. Be saved by the truth. Or, perish by the deception of error. This is the choice each of us must make.
8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:8–9, NKJV)
We are commanded to be patient, even in the face of suffering, like the laborers whose wages were being withheld fraudulently (Jas. 5:4). The Lord of Hosts sees every injustice, and will right every wrong when He comes in judgment (2 Thess. 1:6-7). R. C. H. Lenski’s comments on verse 9 are worthy of careful consideration: “The verb does not mean ‘to murmur’ but ‘to groan’ (Rom. 8:23)…to groan against each other as though one can blame his distress on another. When one is full of complaint he is ready to grumble against even his best friends in an unreasonable way. To give way to such feelings invites judgment from the Lord. And the readers must know that the Judge is already standing before the door. He has risen and has come near. What if he opens the door and steps in as suddenly and unexpectedly as he has said he will and finds us impatient, groaning at each other in dissatisfaction instead of being patient and firm?” (The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James, 655). Strengthen your heart by being patient in the face of trials. Do not grumble, groan and complain against others; the Judge is standing at the door. When He judges others, He will also judge you and me. Let us all be ready, by being patient in trials (Jas. 1:2-4).
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10, NKJV)
Sorrow and repentance are two, very different things. This passage discusses two types of sorrow; godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Only one of them produces repentance. Judas expressed “the sorrow of the world” when he was remorseful over betraying Jesus (Matt. 27:3-5). Such sorrow is directed inward, and leads to spiritual death. Worldly grief over your sins is hopeless and impotent to cleanse its stain and guilt. In Judas’ case, it led him to suicide. Sorrow that is directed toward God leads to repentance. Hearts are changed toward sin and toward God when we sorrow over having wronged God. We ought to recall that every sin we commit against others, is against God (Psalm 51:4). Even though all have sinned, not everyone has godly sorrow for their sins. The challenge of repenting of our sins begins with a heart that is crushed with grief for sinning against God. That is godly sorrow. Godly sorrow is hopeful, and is directed toward God. It produces repentance, and leads to salvation. Which kind of sorrow you have, when you sin? Or, have you so hardened your heart toward God that you are sorry when you sin against His will? Become sensitive to sin, sorrowful toward God, and repent (Acts 17:30-31). When you do, salvation will arise out of sorrow.
9 “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:9–12, NKJV)
Jesus had just told the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mk. 2:5). After that, the miraculous healing of the man was evidence that Jesus “has power on earth to forgive sins” (v. 10). This teaches us one of the prevailing reasons for the miracles of Jesus. They were convincing proof that Jesus is the Savior of mankind. His name means “Savior” (“for He will save His people from their sins,” Matt. 1:21). He is Immanuel (“God with us,” Matt. 1:23). He is the “Son of Man,” because He rises above every other man, as the one man in whom dwells the fullness of the Godhead, bodily (Col. 2:9). The visible miracles He worked show His power to do an even greater, invisible work – the forgiveness of sins. An inspired record has been left of some of His miracles, so “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jno. 20:31).
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 4 What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? 5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:3–5, NKJV)
Take time out of your busy life to consider the heavens. They are not ours; they belong to God. Pondering the sun, moon and stars teaches us of God’s mighty power and precision. His wondrous plans and purposes achieved with a simple, “God said…,” and it was so (Gen. 1; Psa. 33:6). Many were reminded during the recent solar eclipse to think about humanity’s place in this vast universe. As a young shepherd, David had many nights to gaze heavenward and ponder the greatness of God and the seemingly insignificance of man. And yet, man and woman are the crowning event of all God’s creation. How shameful it is when we forget God, who created us, sustains us, and crowns us with glory (Psa. 8:6-8). Considering the heavens reminds us it is by God’s power that we exist, and by His lovingkindness that we are sustained. Gaze heavenward, and ponder the great glory of God (Psa. 8:1). By doing so, we are reminded to praise God and humble ourselves before Him, whose name is excellent in all the earth (Psa. 8:1, 9).
27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” 28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:27–28, NKJV)
Jesus assured the apostles a place of rule or authority over in His kingdom (see Lk. 22:30). Their authority would exist “in the regeneration,” a reference to spiritual rebirth. Of course, spiritual rebirth occurs now, through Christ and His gospel (Jno. 3:3-5; Acts 3:19-21; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet 1:22-23). Therefore, the apostles are now on the thrones Jesus promised. Their places of rule occur “when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory.” Christ’s position as King was proclaimed in Acts 2, when the apostles preached by the Holy Spirit that Jesus is seated on the throne of David, at God’s right hand, ruling as King (Acts 2:29-36; Psa. 110:1-2). Therefore, by teaching Christ’s word, the apostles rule with heaven’s approval. The kingdom exists, and the authority of the apostles is sure. The apostles have authority now, because Christ has all authority (Matt. 28:18; Acts 1:8). The apostles’ teaching executes the authority of the Son of Man. That means we must follow the apostles to have Christ’s approval (John 13:20). It is impossible to follow Christ, without following the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42).
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37–38, NKJV)
In answer to the question posed by the murderers of Jesus (Acts 2:36), Peter did not tell them to “just accept Jesus as your personal Savior, and you will be saved.” (They evidently already believed Jesus to be “both Lord and Christ,” because they are convicted of their sin against Him. You cannot be convicted about something you do not believe.) Peter did not tell them to “pray the sinner’s prayer” to be saved. (Yet, that is what many tell sinners to do about their sins.) Peter did not tell them, “There is nothing you can do to save yourselves. God has done everything.” (But, many tell sinners they are completely passive in their salvation.) Peter did tell them to repent. These believers were not yet saved; they needed to repent, or they would not be saved. Peter also told them to be baptized “for the remission of sins.” Just as one must believe and repent to be saved, one must also be baptized to be saved. Instead of accepting doctrines that deny and oppose this simple passage about how to be saved, why not believe it, obey it, and be saved? When you believe, repent and are baptized, God will remove your sins, just like He did theirs.
1 O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. (Psalm 63:1–2, NKJV)
God is not a fire escape when trouble comes into our lives. God is the One who fills up our longings and satisfies all our needs. God is not a place mat on the table of our lives – useful, but often forgotten until needed. God is the Supplier of everything that sustains us, body and soul. He is the One we seek and trust. Like David, let us seek God early and always. Our soul must long for God like the thirsty man in a hot, waterless desert. Worship is our refuge and relief. In worship, we adore His great power and honor His glorious name. In worship, we bow before the One in whom we rely for life, for mercy, and for salvation. How big is your God? Truly, He fills heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24). The pertinent question is, are you seeking God by trusting His word and obeying Him, so that He fills your life? “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).
15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. (Philippians 1:15–18, NKJV)
Some people preach the gospel from evil motives. Others preach the gospel from godly motives. Paul made this observation while imprisoned in Rome for Christ’s sake (Phil. 1:13). Some were preaching Christ out of envy for the apostle, attempting to foment strife against him. Driven by selfish ambition, they pretended affection for the cause of Christ. But, they only loved themselves. Their insincerity became obvious, as they aimed to harm the apostle, not help him in his bonds. Others were preaching Christ out of goodwill and love, knowing the apostle was determined to defend the gospel. Amazingly, Paul rejoiced that the gospel was being preached, even though some preachers’ motives were evil. He did not seek personal vindication, he sought the progress of the gospel and the salvation of souls. Even if a gospel teacher’s motives are shown to be evil, rejoice in the truth he has taught. And, do not blame the truth when men, including preachers, sin against it. One man’s sin against the truth is not your license to reject the truth.
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23–26, NKJV)
It is not riches that will keep a person out of heaven, but how one views and uses his wealth. Just before Jesus said these words, a rich young man had turned away from following Him after Jesus told him to sell all he had and give to the poor (Matt. 19:21-22). His love of money prevented him from following Jesus. When we love money and material things more than putting Jesus first and obeying Him, then we will not be saved (1 Tim. 6:10). You had just as soon try to pass a camel through a needle’s eye, as try to get to heaven serving riches. God has and will save rich people (Abraham, for example, Gen. 24:35). Jesus is not saying wealth is evil. But, it is evil to love money more than God. Godliness with contentment is the lesson we must all learn and live, whether we are rich or poor (1 Tim. 6:6-10).