Letters and Learning #222

Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” (John 7:14-17)

The enemies of Jesus viewed his teachings with suspicion and doubt; He had not been trained in one of their rabbinical schools! Many still judge teachers this way. If a preacher did not train at a renown university and obtain “letters” from a respected seminary, then what he says is diminished in the eyes of many. However, the words of Jesus are superior to all the words of men, including the scholars of that day and our day. Jesus spoke with heaven’s authority. His word contains the authority of God. Anyone who determines to do God’s will and listens to what Jesus taught will understand it. Put your faith in Christ and the authority of His word. The degrees and letters earned by men do not determine truth. The Bible is true, regardless of what “learned” men say.

Count the Cost, Pay the Price #221

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:25-27)

Jesus did not coerce people to follow Him. He did not entice disciples with promises of wealth or assurances of a comfortable life. Just the opposite. He was clear and exacting as He explained the cost of discipleship. Following Jesus requires loving Him more than those dearest to you – your family. Following Him requires loving Him more than life itself. Following Jesus requires accepting the burden of self-sacrifice and obediently following His teachings. Being a Christian is not about you doing what you want to do for Jesus; it is about doing what He wants of you. Count the cost and pay the price; otherwise, you cannot be His disciple. This is the teaching of Jesus. Make this your way of life and you will truly be His disciple.

Be Spiritual #220

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)

The “natural man” is the person who refuses to be guided by divine revelation. He “does not receive the things of the Spirit of God” that were revealed to Christ’s apostles and spoken by inspiration (1 Cor. 2:10-13). He lives his life on the basis of human reasoning alone. In his carnal way of thinking he does not have the spiritual discernment to receive them. To him, “the message of the cross is foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:18). He is carnal, and he is perishing in his sins (1 Cor. 1:18). On the other hand, the “spiritual” person examines all things in the light of God’s word and refuses to try to tell God what His will should be. We have the “mind of Christ” in the apostolic word (the gospel). Those who are spiritual trust it and conform themselves to it. Be spiritual, not carnal.

Enduring Mercy #219

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. (Psalm 107:1-3)

As Christians assemble to worship on the Lord’s day, we thank God with joyous praise for His mercy that delivers the redeemed from their enemy. This passage refers to God delivering the exiled Jews from Babylonian captivity over 500 years before Jesus lived. That deliverance foreshadowed the gospel gathering of the “remnant according to the election of grace” from the four corners of the earth (Romans 11:5). The redemptive power of the cross stands as a great monument to God’s enduring mercy. All who will heed Christ’s gospel call will be saved from sin and death: “…in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35). Oh yes, our God is good and worthy to be praised, today and every day!

Protection from Sin #218

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:9-11)

The word of God is such a wonderful blessing in our lives! By its precepts sins are cleansed. Through its commandments, the young man’s whole heart is turned toward seeking and finding God. By implanting it deep within your heart it shields you from sin. Do not take for granted God’s word. It belongs to God, and He has given it to you for your holiness. Trust it, build your faith upon it, and by keeping it you will walk with God.

Day and Night #217

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:3-5)

Both the light of day and the dark of night testify of the power and presence of God. They come in their appointed rounds each day; not by chance, but by divine design. By God’s word light appeared, and by His word light and darkness received their names (“day” and “night”). Humans have no power to hold back the light of day nor restrain the dark of night; both are under God’s control. As the light dawns on a new day, pause to recall the good thing God did when He gave this world light. And, as the sun sinks in the west, be assured that God has established the day and the night until the end of time. Praise God’s great and powerful name for the goodness He does for the children of men!

More Earnest Heed #216

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him…” (Hebrews 2:1-3)

What parent has not said to a child, “Pay attention to what I’m saying!”? God is saying the same thing to us, His children. To “give the more earnest heed” not only means to pay attention, but to do so more abundantly. Be especially careful to listen to God’s word (“the things we have heard”). It is easy to negligent what we know God’s word says. There is real spiritual danger in not giving careful attention to the gospel of Christ. “Lest we drift away” warns of our spiritual demise if we “neglect so great a salvation” (Heb. 2:3). God does indeed punish sin. He did under the first covenant, and He will under the new covenant of Christ. Strengthen yourself today by giving abundant attention to the word of the Lord Jesus. Follow Him and remain steadfast in faith.