17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:17–18, NKJV)
Judgment from God comes to the Christian as well as to the unbeliever. This passage affirms the house of God (the church) obeys the gospel of God and is composed of “the righteous” who are saved. By contrast, the result of the ungodly and sinner, who does not obey the gospel of God, is being lost. Each of us choose whether our judgment will bring us salvation in Christ or condemnation due to our sin. To be “scarcely saved” requires the strenuous activity of obeying the gospel. Jesus said the way that leads to life is difficult (confined or straight, Matthew 7:14). The way that leads to death is broad and has many travelers (Matthew 7:13). It is time to see clearly which road you are on. One leads to eternal life and the other leads to eternal death. Choose wisely by obeying the gospel of God.
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day; 18 For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:17–18, NKJV)
Envy involves misplaced zeal. Becoming agitated and activated to compare yourself with the advantages of sinners robs you of fervor that ought to be directed toward fearing God and trusting Him. Envy is strong displeasure caused by observing the prosperity of others. It drives a person to even try to deprive a person of what he has. Envying sinners reveals a heart that is not fearing God because it is consumed with brooding and grieving over the temporal advantages of others. The psalmist “nearly slipped” when he “was envious of the boastful” and “saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2-3). He experienced the pain and pride of envy until he remembered the goodness of God and the end result of the wicked person (Psalm 73:1, 16-28). Remember your hope is in the hereafter, not the here and now (Psalm 37:1-4). The wicked will face accountability on the day of judgment, and so will those who have envied them. Direct your zeal toward fearing God and keeping His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). By doing so your life will be blessed with sure hope and a heart free of envy.
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17, NKJV)
We are not told why this man ran to Jesus. We assume he urgently desired to talk with Jesus before he lost his opportunity. (We should not delay to urgently run to Christ for salvation and the spiritual blessings only He gives.) He knelt before Jesus in an obvious expression of deference and honor. (We ought to approach Jesus with reverential honor.) The man recognized Jesus as “Good Teacher.” (Jesus emphasized His goodness was linked to His divine nature, since “No one is good but One, that is, God,” Mark 10:18). The man was interested in eternal life, and wanted to know what to do to inherit it. Note, Jesus did not tell him there was nothing he could or should do. Jesus told him to keep the commandments of God (which the man had kept from his youth, Mark 10:19-20). Jesus loved the man, but he lacked one thing. His heart was not fully given to Christ. He loved his possessions more than following Jesus (Mark 10:21-22). He had to change his heart – his allegiance – to follow Jesus and inherit eternal life. When you run to Jesus, where is your heart? Be sure your heart will do whatever it takes to “take up the cross and follow” Jesus (Mark 10:21).
25 These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:25–26, NKJV)
Jesus taught His apostles the commands of God. They were to keep them because they loved Jesus, as must we (John 14:15). By doing so His abiding presence was assured, even as it is to us when we obey His word (John 14:19-24). Jesus had just promised He would not abandon the apostles as orphans, but would come to them by the Spirit of truth (“another Helper”) whom the Father would give them (John 14:15-18). Today’s passage assured the apostles that what Jesus taught them in person would continue with them through the work of the Helper (the Holy Spirit) whom the Father would send. The Spirit would reveal “all truth” to the apostles as well as give them reliable recall of all that Jesus had taught them (John 16:12-13). We are reading and keeping the word of Jesus when we read and obey what the apostles taught (John 14:23). Jesus promised the apostles that the Father would send them Spirit, and He did (Acts 1:4, 5, 8; 2:1-4). Jesus promised the Spirit would empower the apostles to know all Jesus taught them, and He did (Hebrews 2:3; Galatians 1:11-12). When we read what they wrote we can understand what they knew about God’s plan to us in His Son (Ephesians 3:3-5). Now, by keeping what the apostles taught we love Jesus and have His fellowship (John 13:20; 14:23-24).
1 The Lord reigns; Let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; Let the earth be moved! 2 The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples. 3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name— He is holy. (Psalm 99:1–3, NKJV)
We are given multiple reasons in this passage to reverently praise and worship God. Let us recognize them and allow them to inform and invigorate our worship. 1) The Lord reigns in glory. His sovereign rule over men, nations, the world, and the universe is reason enough for all the nations of the earth to tremble before Him. 2) The Lord dwells in mercy. Between the cherubim refers to the mercy seat atop the ark in the Most Holy Place, a figure of heaven itself. We worship God both to honor and to seek His mercy. 3) The Lord is great in His kingdom. God is exalted in greatness in Zion, and His kingdom excels all the kingdoms of men (Psalm 2; Hebrews 12:22-23). 4) The Lord is holy. Though we have sinned against God, in Christ we are redeemed and granted the honor of being God’s people. As Moses sang, so we also join the refrain, “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)
9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” (John 2:9–10, NKJV)
Many who support the social consumption of alcohol resort to the wedding feast in Cana (when Jesus turned water into wine) to support their cause (John 2:1-11). They overlook several crucial points in defending their consumption of what Scripture warns is a “mocker” (Proverbs 20:1). First, the word “wine” (Gr. oinos) may be used of either alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage (Ephesians 5:18; Revelation 19:15), and context helps determine which. Next, Jesus would not purposefully contribute to someone’s sin, yet, that is what He did if He miraculously provided the feast with alcoholic beverage. If true, Jesus became a bartender, providing another 120-180 gallons of alcohol to inebriated people so they could remain in their drunkenness (which is sin, Galatians 5:21). In truth, Jesus bypassed the natural and months-long process of water going from the clouds to the ground, to the vine, to the grape, to the cup. In an instant, He showed His power over nature and time. To use His miracle to prop up a foolish practice that destroys soberness and self-control denies His glory – the very glory that was displayed at Cana (John 2:11).
10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You! (Psalm 84:10–12, NKJV)
This is a portion of a psalm of the sons of Korah, Levites who were charged with being doorkeepers of the God’s tabernacle (1 Chronicles 9:19; 26:19-27). In it, they praise their appointment at the threshold of God’s house. Unlike their ancestor Korah who rebelled against God and dwelt in the tents of wickedness, they were content with being servants (Numbers 16:1-3, 26). One day in the service of God is more to be treasured than a thousand days without God. The most menial task in service to God and His house is important and does not go unnoticed by God. He is ever gracious to the person who serves Him with an upright heart and life. Humble yourself before the Lord and serve His purposes and His people, and He will exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5:5-7). Such trust in the Lord brings present blessings and eternal glory.
As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country. (Proverbs 25:25, NKJV)
Good news lightens the heart and refreshes the soul. Like cold water in the heat of the day, good news revives us within. The good news of Jesus Christ (the best news of all) does more than temporarily refresh us, it sustains our souls unto eternity. From heaven’s throne the gospel of redemption has been revealed to and preached by the apostles of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12). God speaks to us in His Son by their word (John 13:20; Mark 16:15; Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). How satisfying God’s word is to the thirsty soul – living water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:10-14)! The news of the gospel working to save the lost and to transform lives is wondrous news. Do not be overwhelmed when some refuse the gospel. Instead, remember others are being saved by the same gospel. Listen for the news of their salvation and be invigorated in your faith. Let us take heart and be revived by the good news that comes from heaven.
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (John 15:13–14, NKJV)
The sacrificial quality of love is unsurpassed. It is this love that prompted the death of Jesus and provided the world our only means of redemption (Romans 5:8-10; 1 John 4:8-10). The question for us to ponder is whether we have the love it takes to be a friend of Jesus. We hear much about needing Jesus as our friend. True, and He has shown the measure of His loving friendship by His death. Now, do we show the measure of our friendship to Him? We are not His friends when we disobey Him. It is quite ironic that many who speak loud and long about being friends with Jesus refuse His clear commands. For example, many reject His command to believe and be baptized to be saved in Mark 16:16, and yet claim friendship with Him. How can that be? Indeed, they say any necessary obedience nullifies God’s grace. If true, then we cannot be a friend to Jesus without denying His word and His grace! Our plea is to return to the simple harmony of gospel of salvation by grace, through faith. Salvation is an unearned, yet conditional gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). God receives sinners when we fear God and work righteousness; the gift is thus received (Acts 10:34-35). Are you a friend to Jesus? That is answered “yes” when you obey Him in faith.
1 I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations. 2 For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.” (Psalm 89:1–2, NKJV)
God is merciful, but He will not at all clear the guilty who reject His mercy by refusing to repent and obey Him (Exodus 34:7; Nahum 1:3). A distorted view of God’s mercy lulls souls into complacency toward sin. Convincing themselves that God is too loving to see any soul be punished in hell, they willingly deceive themselves with the illusion that everyone will go to heaven. (Well, at least, most people!) Jesus often spoke of hell, and said many who call on His name will depart into everlasting fire (Matthew 25:46). God is not only merciful, He is also faithful. We can depend on Him, as surely as the heavens show His fidelity. We trust what He says is the absolute truth. Let us tell others of His ageless mercy and call them to find it for themselves in the gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:16).