And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. (Matthew 4:23, NKJV)
It is quite disheartening to hear gospel preachers teach that Jesus was teaching the Law of Moses to the Jews while He was on the earth. They say this, it seems, to prop up their own false teaching about marriage, divorce and remarriage. They say we cannot use Matthew 5 and 19 to know about divorce and remarriage today, because He was teaching Jews how to be good Jews under the Law. But, Jesus was preaching “the gospel of the kingdom” – no plainer, simpler words could describe the content of Christ’s teaching. His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) was the gospel of the kingdom, not a rehearsal of how to keep the Law of Moses. Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets (which He did, Matt. 5:17-18; Lk. 24:44-47; Rom. 10:4), not to preach it. The miracles of Jesus did not confirm the validity of the Law of Moses, they confirmed the validity of the gospel Jesus preached. They showed Him to the be Son of God, not the defender of Moses (John 20:30-31). We may – and must – go to what Jesus taught while He was on earth, as well as what His apostles taught after He ascended, to learn His will on “all things that pertain to life and godliness” – including the subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage.
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, And your princes feast in the morning! 17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes feast at the proper time— For strength and not for drunkenness! (Ecclesiastes 10:16–17, NKJV)
When a country has an inexperienced, self-indulgent leader, its people suffer. Foolishly ranting and raving, instead of wisely serving the best interests in the nation, such a leader brings ruin to his realm. Conversely, the leader who learns from the experience and counsel of others in positions of rule, are more likely to manifest propriety and decision-making that brings a blessing to his people. We live in dangerous times. Rumors of war are heard around the globe. Let us pray for leaders here and abroad who wisely defend justice while refusing the oppressive, destructive dictates of self-indulgent hearts. “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
1 Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? 2 For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:1–2, NKJV)
Men’s view of God is very often far too small and finite. The true and living God is not contained in the walls of temples made by human hands. All things were created and are sustained by His word. He is Sovereign over heaven and earth. Yet, God will give attention to every soul who acknowledges the impoverished nature of the soul and utterly depends on Him. The kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:6). While billions of people turn their attention to religious temples and shrines made by human hands, God turns His attention to those who “tremble at His word.” God is not impressed by architectural feats. He is impressed by hearts and lives that reverence and obey His word. Let us be among the number who hold God in complete reverence, who tremble at His word, and willingly obey Him in all things (Matthew 7:21; Colossians 3:17).
Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. (Psalm 119:89, NKJV)
Truth is determined in heaven, not upon earth. That is, God is the source of truth, not man. For example, many “laws of nature” (like gravity) have been discovered by mankind, but they were not established by human beings. The truth of these laws has existed since “God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Likewise, spiritual and moral truth is not determined through the experiences and wisdom of humanity; it is established and settled in heaven. Heaven’s truth is the word of God. Jesus Christ emphatically agreed when He said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus possesses the full authority of truth in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). Humans have no standing to argue against the truth of God (authority of heaven). Human beings do not vote to decide what the truth will be. We have only to either believe and obey God’s truth to receive His blessings, or to refuse and disobey His word unto our eternal demise (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Truth will not change to our whims; We must be converted and follow it (John 8:31-32).
17 But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” (Luke 15:17–19, NKJV)
Pride prevents repentance and salvation from sin. It is only when we realize the depth of our sin against our Father in heaven, that we become willing to entertain the thought of returning to Him in search of His compassionate forgiveness. God is always ready to give it. Just as a father whose child has wandered far away from him, wasting the blessings of the father’s love, God is always ready to receive and forgive the sinner who repents and abandons sin with a servant heart. There is no doubt that God compassionately forgives repentant sinners. The real question is, when we sin, will you and I humble ourselves before God, repent, and come to Him and cast ourselves upon His mercy?
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24, NKJV)
Divided loyalty dooms one to failure. Jesus laid down this simple, yet profound principle, which plays out in our lives every day. We establish priorities that reflect our values, our motives, our goals, and our aspirations. We will either serve the spiritual, or the material. We will either serve God, or riches. Attempts to serve both God and the world lead to spiritual demise. Double-mindedness prevents effective faith and wisdom (Jas. 1:5-8). Christians cannot successfully live by faith with one foot in the world, and one foot in the church. “Limping between the two sides” will never lead to heaven (1 Kings 18:21). Disciples of Jesus must wake up from spiritual apathy, clean up lives that have been defiled by sin, and grow up in Christ by abandoning every vestige of the flesh (Rom. 13:11-14). Love and serve the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). Commit yourself to being God’s servant every day, with all your being.
10 When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” 12 Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.” (Matthew 15:10–13, NKJV)
Jesus openly rebuked the religious leaders for their hypocrisy of elevating religious traditions above the word of God (see Matthew 15:1-9). Instead of accepting the correction and repenting, the Pharisees were offended when He exposed their sinful error. Their traditions focused on spiritually inconsequential things (ceremonial washings, etc., Mark 7:3-4), persuading people to conform to their traditions to be considered “clean” or worthy before God. The Son of God does not approve binding religious traditions that originate with man. Jesus explained to the crowd that food does not defile a person, but what comes out of a person’s heart (see Matthew 15:17-20). Like Jesus, we must have the boldness to use the Scriptures to help people see their sin and the way of salvation. Otherwise, how will the lost soul he or she needs salvation (Rom. 10:13-14; 2 Tim. 4:2)?
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Genesis 3:8–11, NKJV)
God’s constant desire is to dwell with His people. From the days in the garden, when God walked with Adam and Eve before their sin against Him, God has arranged the opportunity for men and women to share in His fellowship. The tabernacle of Moses and Solomon’s temple were places God accepted their service and “dwelt among them” (Exodus 25:8; Deuteronomy 12:5; 1 Kings 8:10-13; 9:3). Of course, these did not contain God (1 Kings 8:27). Today, He walks with His people in His temple, the church (Ephesians 2:16, 21-22). The dwelling places of God anticipate heaven (Revelation 21:3). It is sin that prevents walking with God, now and eternally. Reconciliation with God is available to you through the death of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6-11). You cannot walk with God while living in sin (1 John 1:6). Today is the day to put away your sin, and walk with God (2 Corinthians 6:16-17, 2).
31 “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:31–32, NKJV)
The Sadducees attempted to justify their false doctrine of no resurrection with what they thought was an insurmountable dilemma (read Matthew 22:23-28). Without hesitation, Jesus said, “You are mistaken (deceived, footnote), not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (verse 29). Please notice that Jesus made His made the case for life after death from the present tense of the verb, “I am” (verse 32). Jesus regarded the tense of the verb as being inspired by God and worthy of note. Since God said at the burning bush, “I am the God of Abraham…,” Jesus expected them to draw the necessary inference (conclusion) that humans continue to exist after physical death. We must approach Bible study with the utmost respect and care, for it is God’s word, not man’s (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). Even the tense of a verb is not without significance. And, please be aware that Christ expects us to use necessary inferences to know the Scriptures and avoid being deceived by error.
31 Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! 32 Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” 33 And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.” (Exodus 32:31–33, NKJV)
God has a book. This means that God knows the names of those who are faithful to Him and obtain eternal life, and He knows those who commit sin against Him and lose their souls. “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15). Some say once a person is saved, that person can never be lost. This is false doctrine. God had saved Israel from Egyptian bondage, and now, because of their sin with the golden calf, they were in danger of being blotted out of God’s book. It was about Israel (His own people) that God said, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.” Dear Christian friend, do not be complacent about your salvation. “Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). Like Israel, we too can commit sin. When we continue in sin, refusing to repent to be forgiven, our names will be removed from God’s Book of Life. Be faithful to follow Jesus and do not walk in darkness, “but have the light of life” (Jno. 8:12).