15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:15–17, NKJV)
Paul turns our attention to the Godhood of Jesus Christ. 1) Jesus is the image of God whom we have not seen (v. 15). Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jno. 14:9). He is the brilliance and exact image of God’s real nature (Heb. 1:3). He is God with us, Immanuel (Matt. 1:23). 2) Jesus is the firstborn over all creation (v. 15). Here, “firstborn” does not mean the Son was “the first one born.” It speaks of His preeminence, priority, and first place, even as Israel was God’s “firstborn” among the nations even though it was not the first nation to exist, Exo. 4:22; Psa. 89:27). 3) Jesus is Creator of all (v. 16). John declared this great truth in John 1:1-3. Everything was created through Him and, for Him, both in the material and immaterial realms, including domains, dominions, positions, and powers. This universe serves His purposes; He is Sovereign over it all. 4) Jesus is eternal (v. 17). Micah prophesied the eternal nature of the Messiah, “Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). 5) Jesus actively sustains all things (v. 17). He holds together all things. He is not a distant God who is disinterested in us, “In Him we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27). Jesus is our King, Redeemer, Sovereign, Creator, and Sustainer. His Deity compels our honor, humble devotion, and faithful obedience.
And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” (Mark 9:1, NKJV)
Jesus promised His kingdom would come into existence with power before death took away all those who heard Him that day, and so it was (Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:6-8; 2:32-36). The taste of death is bitter to the faithless, but it has a vibrant, hopeful flavor for the faithful (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Its taste lingers on the senses of those who remain and mourn the separation caused by this final passage to unseen realms. It is a meal we all will taste except those alive when the Lord returns (1 Thess. 4:17). Jesus tasted death for every one of us (Heb. 2:9). His resurrection from the death assures our hope of being raised from the grave (1 Cor. 15:19-24). His death has the power to save us from our separation from God and the eternal death caused by our sins (Rom. 5:8-11; 6:23). Although we will taste physical death, we need not taste eternal death. Jesus explained, “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death’” (Jno. 8:51-52). Jesus spoke of escaping eternal death, the most bitter death of all (Rev. 21:8). How? By keeping His word. For Christians, the tears of death fall on the soil of faith and nourish the fruit of hope with the expectant joy of eternal life (2 Cor. 5:1-4). “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psa. 30:5).
49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:49–50, NKJV)
Hell is real, and hell is horrible. Jesus often spoke about hell and warned of “everlasting fire” into which those cursed by sin will “depart” (Matt. 18:8-9; 25:41). This sorrowful scene of “wailing and gnashing of teeth” will not be God’s doing. Some who do not believe in hell try to convince us God does not punish people, and if He does, then He is a horrible God. Their attempt fails miserably. The eternal punishment of hell’s corruption results from sowings seeds of sin in our lives (Gal. 6:7-8; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 2:1-11). God sent His Son Jesus to save us from sin’s eternal death. We do not rely on poets’ imaginative journeys to explain hell (i.e., Dante’s Divine Comedy). We listen to Jesus. Denying hell’s existence and its eternal punishment of sin denies Jesus (Matt. 25:46). It is that simple. We believe the Son of God and the truth He taught about hell (Jno. 1:14; 14:6). Those who accept the Bible as God’s word believe in eternal hell (and eternal heaven) because we trust His word as truth (Jno. 17:17). If you deny hell is real, you do not believe Jesus (“Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire,” Matt. 25:41); you believe the devil (“You will not surely die,” Gen. 3:4). We urge you not to believe the liar and father of lies (Jno. 8:44). Believe and obey Jesus, who warns us to escape the condemnation of hell (Matt. 23:33).
1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. 3 You turn man to destruction, And say, “Return, O children of men.” 4 For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:1–4, NKJV)
Daylight Savings Time ended last night. We manipulate the clock, attempting to improve the human condition. Scripture teaches us God peers into the ebb and flow of time from His timeless, eternal throne. He is unhindered by the limitations of time; He is God “from everlasting to everlasting.” God created time for human survival (days and seasons), and with it, we measure our existence (Gen. 1:14-18; Psa. 90:10). There was a “beginning,” and there will be an “end” of earthly time (Gen. 1:1; 1 Cor. 15:24). When we are reflective, time teaches us “to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” because “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Psa. 90:12; Heb. 9:27). While God is not defined and detained by time, we are. Time teaches us our mortality, our fragility (Psa. 39:4-6). Our life is “a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14; Psa. 90:3). Time is a precious commodity. Use today to honor God by walking carefully and wisely because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-16). “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” (Psa. 90:14)
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. (Psalm 116:15, NKJV)
When death takes loved ones, we ask, “Why?” and “How could this happen?” It is not that we do not know the answers (death comes to us all, Heb. 9:27). Such questions come to our minds because we are left to grapple with our loss. That is natural. The gospel teaches Christians how to deal with death by developing God’s point of view of death. The death of God’s saints (holy ones) is a valuable event in God’s sight. Even at the moment of our loss, it also can be precious to us. Saints have overcome by the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:11). They have lived their lives by faith, not sight (2 Cor. 5:7). A living hope has lived in them (1 Pet. 1:3). When God’s people die, He blesses them with rest from their fleshly toils and adversities (Rev. 14:13; Lk. 16:25). To “depart and be with Christ” is “far better” than this physical realm. So, we accept patiently and joyfully the passing of beloved saints, knowing the assurance of God are real and received. And so, we press on by faith while living in the flesh, anticipating eternal realms of glory with God and His saints. Thanks be to God that death is our doorway to everlasting joy. Are you ready to die? When you live holy as God is holy, you are (1 Pet. 1:13-16).
31 When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” (Matthew 25:31–33, NKJV)
Of course, we understand Jesus is describing people under the figure of sheep and goats. The setting is the day of His glory and judgment. Attended by a heavenly host, Jesus will be arrayed gloriously on His throne of judgment (2 Cor. 5:10). All the tribes of humanity from Adam to the last day will gather before Him, where each person will give an account of our lives (Rom. 14:12). Christ will judge impartially and righteously according to God’s truth, and each of us will receive judgment according to our deeds (Rom. 2:1-11). Judgment involves a moment of decision and separation, and Jesus describes it as separating sheep and goats (a common practice to this day). The question on our heart should be, “Will I be a sheep or a goat?” The answer is up to us. Jesus describes the sheep as those who loved their neighbor as themselves (Matt. 25:34-40). These will inherit a kingdom of eternal life (v. 34, 46). The goats are those who failed to regard others before themselves. By failing to serve others, they failed to serve Christ (Matt. 25:41-45). These will inherit an eternal punishment of fire (v. 41, 46). Instead of denying the judgment, denying our sins, or denying eternal hell, we should believe Jesus and serve Him by serving others. Prepare for Judgment Day. Sheep or goat; Which will we be?
47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:47–51, NASB95)
Bread is a staple of physical life and stands for the food that sustains life. Jesus takes this common truth and applies it to Himself as the bread of life (Jno. 6:35, 48). He is “the living bread that came down out of heaven” (Jno. 6:51). When we “eat this bread” (His flesh, the offering of His body to give life to the world, v. 51), we will live forever. How do we eat His flesh and drink His blood to have life eternal (Jno. 6:53-56)? Not by cannibalism (Jno. 6:52). Not by the Roman Catholic Church’s Eucharist and transubstantiation (this verse does not discuss the Lord’s Supper). We eat His flesh and drink His blood (figuratively) for eternal life by coming to Jesus and believing in Him as the “bread of life” (Jno. 6:35). By the words of Christ (which “are spirit and are life,” Jno. 6:63), the Father teaches and draws sinners to the Son (Jno. 6:44-45). Faith in Jesus Christ comes from hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17). The word of Christ says actions produced by faith are necessary to partake of the bread of life for eternal life. In faith one must 1) Confess faith (Rom. 10:9-10), 2) Repent (Acts 2:37-38; 17:30), 3) Be baptized (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:37-38), 4) Be a faithful servant of Jesus (cf. Jno. 4:34; Rom. 12:1-2). Jesus has the “words of eternal life” (Jno. 6:68). Live by His words, and you will live forever (Jno. 6:51).
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36, ESV)
Yesterday we learned from this verse that whosoever believes in the Son “has eternal life” precisely because one obeys the Son. One who “does not obey the Son” is under God’s wrath instead of life. There is one more thing worth our consideration here. Many who believe one is saved “by faith alone” also believe in the impossibility of apostasy (“once saved, always saved”). However, if it is true that once the believer has eternal life he will always have life and never lose it – even if he becomes disobedient – then it necessarily follows the disobedient unbeliever can never escape the wrath of God that “remains on him.” To believe “once saved, always saved,” one must (according to this view of John 3:36) also believe “once lost, always lost.” (We are aware Calvinistic theology accepts these conclusions.) However, the gospel does not. It is for all (Mk. 16:15). God desires the salvation of every sinner (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Freewill enables us to choose to hear, believe, and obey the gospel to be saved (Acts 2:21-22, 37-41; 17:30). It also allows us to choose to sin and fall from grace (Gal. 5:4; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). Security in Christ is sure when we obey in faith: “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:10-11).
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36, NKJV)
It is unfortunate the King James translators in 1611 used “believeth not” in the second part of this sentence. The New King James version followed suit, using the more modern, “does not believe.” But, the word in the Greek manuscript is apeitheō, which means “disobey” (BDAG), as in Romans 2:8 where the KJV and NKJV translate it, “do not obey” the truth. When the word is thus translated, John 3:36 takes on a whole new meaning: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36, ESV, see also, NASB). Obedience is necessary to have everlasting life. Since the one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who does not obey the Son “shall not see life,” we properly conclude that believing in the Son takes more than faith alone. Surely this why Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46) Believers obey Jesus. Those who reject Him are “disobedient (apeitheō) to the word” (1 Pet. 2:7, 8). Demons believe, but faith alone will not give them eternal life (Jas. 2:19-20). Those who believe in the Son have everlasting life precisely because they trust and obey Him. The disobedient shall not have life, but punishment (Matt. 25:46). Have the faith to obey Jesus, and you will see everlasting life.