1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1–3, NKJV)
This three-fold promise God made to Abram (Abraham) forms the thesis statement of the rest of the Bible. Its pages show God keeping His promise to make a great nation of Abraham’s offspring when He brought out the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and established Israel as a holy nation (Genesis 12:2; Exodus 19:4-6). The Scriptures show God keeping His promise to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham (“To your descendants I will give this land,” Genesis 12:7, 1). God kept His word as He promised, and gave Israel “all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers” (Joshua 21:43-45; Nehemiah 9:7-8). The Scriptures show God keeping His promise to bless all nations through the Seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 22:18). In Jesus Christ, “the blessing of Abraham” (redemption from sin) is available to all flesh (Galatians 3:14, 16, 22-29; 4:4-6). Let us praise God for His matchless wisdom, glory, power, love, mercy and grace! Salvation is only through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). The Bible teaches us how to be saved in Him (Acts 2:36-41; 10:34-35). The Bible is truly remarkable, and invaluable (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David,” (Luke 1:67–69, NKJV)
With words of inspiration, the father of the forerunner of the Messiah, spoke forth praise unto God for His wonderful provisions of redemption. God’s plan of redemption for Israel (as well as the nations) was always spiritual in nature. In Christ Jesus, this plan is fully realized and accomplished, as salvation from sins is provided through Him (Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 2:11-18). Note the threefold aspect of Israel’s redemption, as proclaimed by Zacharias: 1) Its Source is supernatural. The Lord Himself visited and redeemed His people. Jesus Christ is this supernatural visitor and Redeemer (John 1:11-13); 2) Its Strength is salvation. God’s might against sin is magnified in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world (Acts 4:12); 3) Its Sovereign reigns. The Messiah sits on the throne of His father, David, ruling the kingdom of God (Luke 1:32-33; Psalm 110:1-2; Acts 2:32-36). God has sent His salvation. His name is Jesus. He calls us out of sin and into the warmth of His love and forgiveness. Come to Jesus; He will save you (Matthew 11:28-30).
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.
24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.” (John 10:24–25, NKJV)
In the last year of Jesus’ life, during the Feast of Dedication (present-day Hanukkah), unbelieving individuals confronted Him and demanded of Him a plain declaration that He was the Christ (John 10:22-24). Like ravenous wolves the Jewish rulers encircled Him, ready to pounce upon their prey (v. 24). Jesus was surrounded by unbelievers. They had seen His miraculous works and their results, but still they did not believe in Him. His works and His words still provide ample proof that He is the Christ, the Son of God (John 5:36; 10:25; 20:30-31). A further demonstration of His power would be casting pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). They had made up their minds. They were looking for a reason to put Jesus to death. Why do we surround Jesus? To oppose Him and His word as false, ineffective, and irrelevant today? Or, to learn from Him, and follow the Good Shepherd to have eternal life (John 10:11)?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3, NKJV)
Several important truths are found in today’s text, and they cause us to pause and praise God for His wisdom, love and mercy toward us in Christ. (1) The source of our blessings is God the Father. The One who blesses us with every spiritual blessing is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Man does not bless himself with eternal blessings. The blessings we have in Christ are not given through the Roman Papacy, or a Watchtower Society, or a so-called Latter-day prophet. God the Father is to be praised as the Giver of all our blessings in Christ. (2) Jesus is the Lord and Christ, by whom our redemption is obtained (Eph. 1:7). God has gathered together everything that pertains to our redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10). (3) The nature of our blessings are spiritual, not of this world. Prosperity theology (the “health and wealth gospel”) perverts the nature of the blessings obtained in Christ. (4) Our fellowship with Christ is “in the heavenly places.” The worldly-minded person does not perceive these great spiritual blessings; they elude his closed heart (1 Cor. 2:14). But, our redemption is very real, reaching into eternity. (5) All spiritual blessings are “in Christ.” Spiritual blessings will never be found in Buddha, Mohammed, human philosophy or reason, or any other source (Acts 4:12). Come to Jesus; He will save you.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25, NKJV)
How incredible would your marriage be if you loved you wife as Christ loved the church? Wonderful, you say? Hopefully so. Yet, what if your wife becomes “lukewarm” toward your love, just as the church of the Laodiceans became lukewarm toward Jesus Christ (Rev. 3:14-16)? Even that must not deter and diminish your love for your wife. You see, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ continued to love the Laodicean church when it was less than loving, using words of rebuke and chastening to urge her repentance (Rev. 3:19). Christ’s utter and complete sacrifice of himself for His church is the model for every husband’s treatment of his wife. Loving your wife is not about getting something from her in return. It is not about always doing everything she wants. It is about always looking out for what is in her best interest, especially when that means making a sacrifice on your part. Hopefully, she will see your love and honor you for it. But, if she fails to see and value this sort of love, do not stop sacrificially loving her. You must remain true to the Lord, and that includes being a righteous, loving husband at all times.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18, NKJV)
The rock upon which Jesus built His church is not Peter; it is the confession Peter had just made: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Without this great truth, there would be no church, no “called out” body of redeemed souls who are purchased by the blood of the Son of God (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 25-27; Rev. 5:9-10). It is an obvious, yet neglected truth, that the church belongs to Christ. The church does not belong to you or me, or any other person. Therefore, no one has the right to alter it, abuse it, disrespect it, discount it or corrupt it with the “commandments and doctrines of men” (Col. 2:22; Matt. 15:7-9). The death of Jesus did not prevent the building of His church. Indeed, His death and resurrection declares His great power over sin and death. The church is the result of Christ’s great victory over sin and death. So, rather than minimizing the church as an afterthought, or as a non-essential, personal choice, let us praise God for the church of Christ and the heavenly blessings Christians have in Christ (Eph. 3:10-11; 1:3). There is only one church, and that is the church we must choose; the church which Christ built. The churches of men are not, and never will be, the church of Christ.