Jesus Christ is exalted and magnified by the Father as He is the fullness of God’s redemptive work. Ephesians 1:10 provides a parallel: “that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” Paul summarized the fullness that dwells in Jesus Christ in Colossians 1:14-18. (1) Redemption is in Christ (1:14). Salvation from sins is only in Jesus (Acts 4:12). (2) He is the image of the invisible God (1:15). When we see Jesus, we see the Father, for He manifested Him to the world (John 1:18; 14:9; Heb. 1:3). (3) He is the firstborn over creation (1:15). He ranks above everything seen and unseen because all things were created by Him, through Him, and for Him (1:16; John 1:1-3). (4) He is eternal (1:17). His “goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2, NASB). (5) He holds all things together (1:17). He is “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). (6) He is the head of the church (1:18). The church is His body, those saved by His blood (Eph. 1:22-23; Acts 2:47; 20:28). It is “the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). (7) He is the first cause of everything (1:18). He is the Creator. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). (8) He is the firstborn of the dead (1:18). Raised, never to die again, He has power over death (1 Cor. 15:20). (9) He has preeminence over all things (1:18). He has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). All we need to live with God now and eternally is in Jesus Christ. Praise be to God for such a Savior!
The giant’s incredible size loomed over the valley as he hurled his insults toward the armies of Israel. He was a champion among the Philistine warriors, and everyone knew why: he was huge! Several feet taller than the average man, no one could hope to survive hand-to-hand combat with Goliath of Gath. No one, that is, except a youngster named David. Armed with faith in God, David displayed remarkable courage as he first challenged and then defeated the giant. His confrontation with Goliath is an impressive display of faith, courage, conviction, and the victory God gives those who rely on Him (read 1 Samuel 17). David’s brothers scolded him for talking about doing battle against the giant. His response, “Is there not a cause?” resounds today (1 Sam. 17:29). Enemies to the faith exist, the cause for battle remains (2 Cor. 10:3-6). (1) False doctrine is a mighty giant we must battle. Contending for the faith is not fashionable to many Christians, yet the cause exists (Jude 3-4). (2) Worldliness is a formidable giant we must battle. Every day, the world defies the armies of the living God (1 John 2:15-17). (3) Complacency is a dangerous giant we must battle. Apathy is an intimidating opponent we must slay with fervent zeal to do the will of Christ (Heb. 6:11; Rom. 12:11). Faith overcomes evil giants that oppose the living God (1 John 5:4). Christians must fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Take up the whole armor of God and trust God’s victory through the power of Christ (Eph. 6:10-13, 17). Soldiers of Christ, arise. The cause is great, but our God is greater (Rom. 8:37).
The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason” (Matthew 19:3, NKJV)?
Ending marriages for all sorts of reasons is commonplace in America and around the world. The deterioration of marriage does untold damage to families and souls. How Jesus answered the Pharisees’ insincere question settles God’s view of divorce. (1) “Have you not read” (Matt. 19:4). God’s word answers the question of divorce for all who believe. (2) God rules over marriage (Matt. 19:4-5). It is His gift to humanity, and we must obey His will in it. (3) Marriage is between a male (man) and a female (woman) (Matt. 19:4, 5). Same-sex “marriage” is a corruption of marriage and not God’s will. (4) God joins together the man and his wife (Matt. 19:5-6). God approves and joins one man and one woman in marriage (Rom. 7:2-3). (5) People are not to separate what God joins together (Matt. 19:6). Ending a marriage without God’s approval is a sin (1 Cor. 7:10). (6) Jesus said God allows one reason for ending a marriage, fornication (Matt. 19:9). Divorce for “any reason” (Matt. 19:3) violates God’s will and is evidence of a hard heart toward God and marriage (Matt. 19:7-8). Christ permits putting away a spouse for the cause of fornication. By doing so, the one innocent of fornication has God’s consent to marry another. All other remarriages produce adultery, and those in them are not “joined together” by God (Matt. 19:9, 6). God’s way is not man’s way (Isa. 55:8-9). All who want God’s blessing will abide in His will concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage (Matt. 19:10-12).
6 “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matthew 18:6–7, NASB95)
A stumbling block (Gr. skandalon) is a “trap-stick” (G4625). It is “the moveable stick or tricker (“trigger”) of a trap” (Thayer, 577). Thus, a stumbling block is “any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall” (Thayer). It is an enticement to sin. Jesus warned against becoming the “cause” (stumbling block, v. 6) that lures and captures another person in sin. We must not entice others to sin. Solomon warned his son to avoid the enticements of sinners (Prov. 1:10). But today’s passage warns against becoming the enticer of others. The apostle Paul explained that even a sinless act (like eating meat previously dedicated to an idol) becomes a stumbling block when it leads the weak in conscience (toward eating such meat) to eat in violation of his scruple (1 Cor. 8:4-13). Being a stumbling block is a “sin against the brethren” and a “sin against Christ” (1 Cor. 8:12). Therefore, Paul would forego his liberty to eat meat to avoid being a stumbling block (1 Cor. 8:13). Jesus said the punishment for being a stumbling block is worse than being drowned in the sea (Matt. 18:7). Woeful punishment awaits those who are impediments to righteousness and enticements to sin (Matt. 18:7). Love does not harm a neighbor (Rom. 13:10). Therefore, love carefully avoids becoming the cause of someone else’s sin (Rom. 13:8).
1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1–3, NKJV)
Jesus rejected the philosophy of Karma. (“Karma is a Hindu term which comes from Sanskrit and relates to fate and action. You alone are responsible for your actions. It is the law of cause and effect, an unbreakable law of the cosmos. You deserve everything that happens to you, good or bad. You created your happiness and misery,” The Tree of Awakening.) While it is true that our choices bring consequences, that is not the only force at work in our lives (Gal. 6:7). It was wrong to conclude that these people Pilate killed were “worse sinners” than others (it was an invalid judgment, see Lk. 12:57). Evil people commit evil acts against the innocent. Time and chance happen to us all (Lk. 13:4; Eccl. 9:11-12). Suffering in the present does not necessarily correspond with some wrong in the past (Jno. 9:1-3; cf. Job). But, times of suffering and affliction should cause us to examine ourselves and repent of our sins. Whether we are experiencing a moment of distress or we see others suffering, instead of judging them as “worse sinners,” we should ponder our lives and repent of our sins. Why? Because we will answer to God for our sins and be punished justly by Him (Rom. 6:23).