1 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know. (John 14:1–4, NKJV)
Jesus was preparing His apostles for His impending departure. His crucifixion was just hours away. They would scatter – fearful in the moment, uncertain of the future (Matt. 26:31-35). Asking questions like, “Where are you going?,” and “Why can’t we follow you?,” their souls were unsettled, stirred up, confused (John 13:36-37). In their moment of distress, although He was facing the cross (and their approaching abandonment), Jesus reassured their hearts with a call to believe in Him. Jesus had always told them the truth. The faithful heart is comforted in knowing the Father has many dwelling places in His house. Christ’s death and resurrection would prepare the way for them (and us) to abide in the house of God with the Father (1 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 2:19-22). Finally, eternal heavenly dwelling places are prepared for Christ’s disciples. Jesus had said, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor” (Jno. 12:26). Jesus is the way to the Father (Jno. 14:6). In times of spiritual disturbance, the troubled heart is calmed by faith in Jesus and the preparations He has made for the soul.
37 And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. 38 When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40 Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?” (Luke 11:37–40, NKJV)
Jesus did not concern Himself with the traditional ceremonial washing of hands which the Pharisees and all the Jews held as binding (Mk. 7:1-3). Just as the Pharisees found fault with the Lord’s disciples on the matter, so this Pharisee disapproved of Jesus. Whether the man verbalized his astonishment is unclear. Still, Jesus spoke directly to him of the hypocrisy on display by demanding the washing the outside of a cup or dish while leaving the inside filthy. Of course, these are metaphors of a heart “full of greed and wickedness” (v. 39). A corrupt heart is not concealed from God by external religious rituals and displays of purity. We must first cleanse the inside of our cup – our heart – so the outside (our conduct) can be pure. Otherwise, we are hypocrites like the Pharisees, pretending to be pure yet having defiled hearts. James explained the purification God accepts, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas. 4:8). Repentance produces purity of heart and life. But without heart conversion, religiosity is feeble, futile, and false (Jas. 1:26-27).
3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:3–5, NKJV)
The diligence with which Jesus labored is a model of zeal, endurance, and accomplishment. As He prepared to heal a man who was blind from birth, He explained the principle which drove Him each day. He had been given work to do by His Father (who sent Him to the earth). His time on the earth was limited, and so He diligently went about doing His Father’s work (which was teaching the gospel and showing Himself to be “the light of the world” – the Christ, the Son of God). Just as the Father gave the Son work to do, Christians are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). With Jesus as our model, let us be zealous to walk in (do, practice) the good works of God each day, by living soberly, righteously, and godly (Tit. 2:11-12). Night is coming for us all, when our time to labor for the Lord will end. So, as long as we have today, let us be diligent children of light who do the Father’s will, and “through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:9-12).
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” (Acts 2:40, NKJV)
When the gospel of Christ was preached by His apostles on Pentecost, they invited and implored sinners to be saved from their sins and the impeding judgment upon that present, perverse generation (Acts 2:16-21). Those who believed were told to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:37-38). There awaits a great day of judgment when we all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and our lives judged by His word (2 Cor. 5:10; Jno. 12:48-50). Knowing this, salvation and eternal life are offered to all through the truth of the gospel (1 Tim. 2:3-4). This being true, why don’t we regularly hear gospel invitations from a growing number of pulpits in the churches of Christ? Why aren’t gospel preachers punctuating their sermons with calls to come to Jesus for salvation, to escape the punishment of hell? The apostolic tradition is to exhort sinners to be saved. “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). Why is it we fail to hear the gospel invitation to “come” and be saved? We hear, “If you have a need, come…” But, without telling sinners what they need, how will they know they need anything, or what to do about it (read Rom. 10:13-17)? Preaching the word demands we preach the gospel call to be saved (Matt. 11:28-30).
20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?” (Colossians 2:20–22, NKJV)
The gospel of God calls sinners out of the world’s darkness into the light of fellowship with Christ (1 Pet. 2:9; 1 Cor. 1:9). The gospel calls us to no longer live according to the wisdom and will of the world, but by the truth of Christ (Jno. 8:31-32). Yet, just as in the first century, Christians must continue to be warned not to be ruled by the religious regulations of men. It is not God’s will that humanly devised expectations are bound upon people as if they were God’s will (1 Tim. 4:1-3). The “commandments and doctrines of men” have often taken the form of creeds and confessions through the ages, resulting in Protestant denominations. The inspired Scriptures are sufficient to define and regulate our lives (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3). Yet, literally billions of souls religiously obligate themselves to things that “perish with the using.” Instead of this, obligate yourself to God’s word. It purifies the soul, it is incorruptible, and it abides forever (1 Pet. 1:22-25).
1 Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! 2 For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (Psalm 43:1–2, NKJV)
The psalmist’s heart was tempted by doubt as he faced evil pressures from an ungodly nation. He pleaded to God for deliverance from the deceit and injustices that surrounded him, and that were directed at him. If David is the author of this psalm, we recall his son Absalom’s treason, and the betrayal of Ahithophel, David’s once trusted adviser, as illustrations of overwhelming moments of temptation for David (2 Sam. 14-18). Had God cast him aside? No, by no means! As we live in a nation that increasingly denies God and refuses to be ruled by godly principles, we must remember that “God is my strength” (v. 2). We must keep our hope and trust in Almighty God, who “rules in the kingdoms of men,” vindicating the upright and punishing evil (Dan. 4:25-26, 34-35; Rom. 12:17-19). Instead of mourning the oppressive tactics of the enemies of truth and goodness, let us keep faith in God. His will is that we are not overcome by evil, but that we “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20-21).
22 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: 24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:22–26, NKJV)
This priestly blessing drew Israel’s attention to the presence of Jehovah and His providence over them. Israel was favored when the Lord God was with her, guarding the nation and being gracious to His people. As the sun warms the body, the face of the Lord looked mercifully in love and salvation upon the souls of His chosen ones (Psa. 27:1; 44:3). (But, the Lord’s face was turned against Israel when the nation sinned against Him, resulting in destruction and death, Deut. 31:17-18; Psa. 34:16.) This priestly blessing would remind the Israelites to keep their faith focused on the Lord God as their Provider, Protector, and Giver of peace. Surely these things have been written for our sake (1 Cor. 9:10; 10:11; Rom. 15:4). Christ’s church is the Israel of God, with Christians composing a royal priesthood (Gal. 6:16; 1 Pet. 2:9). The Lord shines down His eternal favors of grace and salvation to us, His children, compelling us to walk in the warm light of His truth (Jno. 8:12). We are “kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” and inherit a blessing when we are faithful to the Lord (1 Pet. 1:5; 3:8-12).
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:4–5, NKJV)
Psalm 100 is a psalm of thanksgiving unto God. All the earth is pictured as serving the Lord with gladness, and coming “before His presence with singing” (Psa. 100:1-2). God is due the service of worshipful praise because He is our Sovereign, our Creator, and our Sustainer (Psa. 100:3-4). The blessings that come to us from Almighty God also inform and persuade our thankful worship of Him. Three of God’s character traits, from which our blessings flow, are highlighted as reasons for giving Him thanks. 1) His goodness. In His beauty, God showers good blessings on us all (Acts 14:17). 2) His mercy. God is unfailing in His kindness and ever vigilant to show mercy “to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exo. 20:6). 3) His truth. Unfailing in its power to purify us, God’s word of truth endures forever (Jno. 17:17; 1 Pet. 1:22-25). God’s goodness, mercy, and truth compel us to “enter His gates with thanksgiving” with joyful praise. May we always give God thankful praise for who He is and for what He does for us.
“It is good for nothing,” cries the buyer; But when he has gone his way, then he boasts. (Proverbs 20:14, NKJV)
Honesty and equity should define our financial transactions. We certainly recognize a difference between getting the best deal possible when purchasing an item, and greedily taking advantage of the seller. (The same can be said for the seller, who is tempted to use uneven scales to gain dishonest profit, Proverbs 11:1). Today’s verse suggests several of the pitfalls to avoid when transacting business from the buyer’s point of view. First, we must be honest in purchasing from others (Eph. 4:25). Whether it is giving an honest day’s work for the wage we receive, purchasing products, or paying for services rendered – we must be guided by honesty (even when others are not, Matt. 7:12). Secondly, we must guard against greed. Greed can easily enter the buyer’s (and the seller’s) mind. The desire to get more than a fair exchange for goods and services reflects a love for money (1 Tim. 6:9-10). The love of money is the root of dishonest transactions. Greed tempts people to pervert justice for the sake of material advancement (Deut. 16:19). Thirdly, today’s proverb warns us against pride. Boasting in getting away with an unjust transaction is particularly ugly. Honesty, contentment, and humility should inform and guide all our financial transactions, and are counterweights to the sins of dishonesty, greed, and pride.
In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil. (Proverbs 16:6, NKJV)
Most right-thinking people desire mercy. People go to traffic court looking for mercy to get traffic tickets expunged from their driving record. Typically, with no other extenuating circumstances, after a period of time with no additional infractions, one’s record is cleared. Thus, mercy and truth provide the cleansing of one’s record. But, unless one respects the legal system, the driver will not go to court to seek this release, and often will continue to drive recklessly. This helps illustrate today’s passage. Fear of the Lord (reverential regard) prompts a person to seek God’s mercy to escape the punishment for sins. When the sinner’s plea for atonement (cleansing and reconciliation) is coupled with following God’s truth concerning forgiveness, divine mercy is applied, and the sins are forgiven. The truth revealed in the gospel reveals how to receive mercy from God for atonement. Truth teaches sinners to hear the gospel, believe in Jesus Christ, confess their faith, repent of their sins, and be baptized for the remission of sins (Jno. 6:44-45; Mk. 16:15-16; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:37-38). When we fear God we turn away from evil and turn to Him, obey His truth, and receive merciful atonement through His Son Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:6-10).