“Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” #1264

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1, NKJV)

The apostle Paul urges his beloved Timothy to be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Timothy had work to do as an evangelist, and he ought to be made strong by the grace that is in Christ to carry out his work (2 Timothy 4:1-5). Even so, God’s grace emboldens us to do the good work He gives us (Ephesians 2:10). Like Timothy, we must rely on God’s favor as we do His work, instead of depending on our own wisdom and power. Timothy’s work included teaching the gospel to faithful men, who could teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). He was to endure hardships, and not be diverted from his work of preaching the gospel (2 Timothy 2:3-4). He would have to play by God’s rules – he could not “make it up” as he went along (2 Timothy 2:5). And, to reap the reward of his labor, he would have to be a dedicated worker (2 Timothy 2:6). To be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” means to be empowered by God’s good favor to meet our challenges of faith. By God’s grace, we can faithfully persevere in doing God’s will.

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“Justified freely by His grace…through faith” #1263

23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,” (Romans 3:23–25, NKJV)

The reality of sin in our lives makes it impossible for us to ever earn our way to heaven. God, out of His great love for us, provides sinners (us) with redemption from sin in Christ Jesus. His grace, freely given, justifies through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Since not everyone is saved (Jesus said few find the way to life, Matthew 7:14), it necessarily follows that sinners have a responsibility to respond to the gospel call to be saved in His Son. God’s grace is available to sinners in the blood of Jesus Christ, by which God’s wrath against sin is appeased (that’s propitiation). Redemption by the blood of Christ (His death) is obtained when we are “baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). The action of faith that brings the sinner into contact with the atoning blood of Jesus, is baptism. We need God’s grace to be justified from our sins. Without grace, we are lost. Grace is available to all, and is received by those who “fear God, and keep His commandments” (Acts 10:34-35). Thank God, that He has revealed His plan to redeem us in His Son.

Doctrine Matters #1262

11 “How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:11–12, NKJV)

Jesus warned against the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees bound the traditions of the elders as if they were the law of God (Mark 7:1-13). The Sadducees went to the other extreme, denying the Scriptures with their teaching of no resurrection, no angel and no spirit (Matthew 22:23-33; Acts 23:8). Currently, some categorize doctrine as “primary essentials,” “secondary essentials,” primary non-essentials,” and “secondary non-essentials” (“Doctrine Grid,” Matt Slick, carm.org/doctrine-grid). We have yet to discover such graduations of doctrine identified and defined in the inspired Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Then, there are those who would convince us doctrine is entirely non-essential to salvation, and to hold doctrine as essential is to incite division amongst believers (“The Gospel/Doctrine Distinction, Part Two,” Tom Roberts, truthmagazine.com). Why would Jesus warn against their doctrine, if doctrine is secondary, and not essential for God’s approval? In fact, “the doctrine of Christ” is essential for fellowship with God and His people (2 John 9-11). The doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees is still at work today.

The Plain of Ono #1261

2 that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:2–3, NKJV)

Just weeks before, the wall of Jerusalem were rubble. Now, under the leadership of Nehemiah, the people “had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6). In less than two months, the wall would be finished (Nehemiah 6:15). Sanballat and Geshem were enemies of the Jews (Nehemiah 6:1). Their proposed talks with Nehemiah were nothing more than an effort to delay and defeat the rebuilding of the wall. Nehemiah rejected their call for compromise. He had work to do, and he refused to indulge their attempt to slow the progress being made. Do not be lured by the siren calls of religious and moral compromise. “Friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4). Compromise with doctrinal error and immorality is sin, and it harms the gospel cause of Jesus Christ (Ephesian 5:11; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18). Do not hinder the Lord’s work by going to the “plain of Ono,” where compromise with the enemies of righteousness breeds spiritual delay and defeat.

“Guard what was committed to your trust” #1260

20 “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge— 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:20–21, NKJV)

Timothy was Paul’s “true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). Paul charged this young evangelist with guarding the gospel that had been committed to his trust. Timothy would accomplish his task by turning away from base, empty chatter that contradicted the sound words of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:3-5). This charge continues to ring true. We must distinguish between teachings that are “falsely called knowledge, and what is actually “the faith” (the gospel of Christ). God’s word is a symphony of harmonious truth, not a discordant accumulation of opinions and human wisdom that passes for knowledge. Therefore, God’s preacher must preach God’s word, not the speculations, opinions, and traditions of men that lead souls away from the faith. What message is being preached by the preacher to whom you listen; the faith, or that which contradicts the Bible? It matters. Following the faith keeps you in God’s grace. Following contradictions of God’s word leads you astray from the faith, putting your soul in peril.

“The heart is deceitful above all things” #1259

9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9–10, NKJV)

Now we are told why trusting in man brings the curse raised in Jeremiah 17:5-6. The heart is open to being deceived. It is where wickedness begins, and where it is housed. Jesus explained that sin comes from within us, from our hearts, and defiles us (Mark 7:20-23). The heart of which the Scriptures speak is not your blood pump, it is composed of your intellect, your will, your emotions, and your conscience. God knows the heart of every person, and He will render to every person “according to his ways.” Since our conduct proceeds from our heart, God’s judgment of us will be according to what we do (our ways, our doings). God does not say, “You have sinned, but your heart is good, therefore, everything is all right.” Instead, God says to “get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit,” that follows His will, and not your own (Ezekiel 18:31-32). Turn your heart away from sin and do God’s will. Then, both your heart and your life will be blessed by the Lord.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord” #1258

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7–8, NKJV)

In contrast to the one who trusts in man (verses 5-6), the person who trusts and hopes in the Lord, is as a mighty tree, planted by the waters. Its roots grow deep and wide, nourished by the water and strengthened by its refreshment. It survives seasons of heat and drought, flourishing and bearing its good fruit. So are those who put their faith and hope in God. God is our Life-giver, who also sustains us through life’s trials and difficulties. And, more than physical sustenance, the Lord has prepared for us a better place than this world of shadows and sorrow. A heavenly dwelling place awaits all who put their trust and confident expectation in Jesus (John 14:1-6). Far from having blind faith, our eyes are wide open as we see from afar the heavenly country (Hebrews 11:13-16). Walk by faith. Trust the Lord, and rest your hope in Him.