8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. 10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. (Psalm 34:8–10, NKJV)
David’s life was in danger. King Saul was pursuing him, and when he fled to Gath of the Philistines, he had to pretend to be insane to escape threats on his life (1 Samuel 21:10-15). When we fall into trials we are tempted to accuse God. How is it that these perils did not shake David’s faith in God? Today’s passage shows us how David’s resolve was strengthened in the face of trials. First, he knew God blesses those who trust in Him (v. 8). David believed God’s word and promises. Trust in God overwhelms trials in this world. Second, David feared God (v. 9). Reverence for God, who provides and protects His people, keeps its focus on God in the day of calamity. Third, David continued to seek the Lord. God’s will and pleasure, not his own, ruled David’s life. Do not allow temptations and trials of life to diminish your faith. Like David, trust God, fear God and seek God. The Lord is good. He will bless and sustain His holy ones, for they rely on Him and see His goodness.
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. (Romans 4:3–4, NKJV)
Obedience to Christ is not a work of merit that nullifies grace. The theology of Calvin has persuaded untold millions that obedience is a work that “earns” or merits salvation. If true, then James contradicts Paul, for he said, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God” (James 2:21-23). Faith is made complete by obedience. There is no contradiction in Scripture, only with Calvinism’s faulty definitions of faith and works. Like us all, Abraham was a sinner in need of grace. Only perfect law-keeping (sinlessness) would nullify grace and make salvation a debt (Romans 4:4). The faith that saved Abraham was not sinless, but it was obedient (as witnessed in the matter of Isaac). Through the gospel, it is obedient faith that God counts for righteousness today. Obedience earns nothing; it is the action of a dutiful servant (Luke 17:10). Obedience is the work that justifies the ungodly, for without it, faith is dead (James 2:20). Obedient faith, not faith only, justifies sinners (James 2:24).
“But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.” (2 Corinthians 1:18, NKJV)
The fruit of the Spirit contains the attribute of faithfulness (Galatians 5:22). There is a wide range of applications of this trait in the Scriptures, from being faithful to God, to being reliable and trustworthy in one’s character and treatment of others (Galatians 2:20; Titus 2:10). At the heart of faithfulness is one’s reliability, trustworthiness and dependability. God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can always depend of Him and His word. The person who is faithful to God relies on Him, trusting His word and following His directives. We are to always be faithful toward others. Paul was thankful for Philemon because he was hearing of his “love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints” (Philemon 5). Spiritual maturity not only means we are reliable in following the will of God, but by doing so, we are also trustworthy in our dealings with others. Just as the Corinthians could trust Paul’s word in today’s passage, our words must be faithful, reliable, trustworthy. The integrity of faith defines the person who is led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18).
1 To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. 3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. (Psalm 25:1–3, NKJV)
David praised God with his whole being. God, who breathed into man the breath of life, is the one to whom we (like David) now present our entire being, both to praise Him, and to devote ourselves to His purposes. Faith in God compels us to offer our lives to Him. We trust Him with our lives, as we give ourselves to serving His purposes. God assures us that our faith is the victory that overcomes the world and its enemies of righteousness (1 John 5:4). Although life brings trials, they are only temporary. We keep our hope set on the Lord, and wait on His justice (see 2 Thessalonians 1:3-8). The enemies of holiness will be confounded, and reduced to shame, for fighting against God and His people. But, those who live by faith will not be brought to shame, but to eternal glory.
16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16–18, NKJV)
False teaching is not benign. It leads to harmful spiritual effects upon its teachers, those who follow them, and those influenced by the followers (2 Pet. 2:1-2). Yet, some will tell us that false doctrine is really a non-issue. They say things like, “everybody is in error on something;” or, “nobody is 100% doctrinally pure.” Their solution is agreeing to disagree on revealed truth. That is not the Bible solution (1 Corinthians 1:10). Today’s passage exposes and explodes this false reasoning about false teaching. First, false teaching is identifiable. Some messages are indeed profane and empty, infecting and destroying souls (v. 16). These stand in contrast with “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Second, error leads to ungodliness (v. 16). False teaching is sin. Third, error leads to more error. It spreads. Someone said, “Error does not stand still. It continues to work.” Unopposed, it spreads like cancer (v. 17). Fourth, false messages leas to overthrowing faith (v. 18). It does matter what you believe. Fifth, false messages lead to strife (2 Timothy 2:23). Avoid error. Do not begin to listen to it, or receive those who teach it (2 John 10-11). It leads you away from the truth, and straight into iniquity (2 Timothy 2:18-19).
1 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2 Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. (Mark 2:1–2, NKJV)
As the crowds gathered around Jesus, “He preached the word to them.” It is no secret that preaching is not in high demand, nor held in high regard today. The general population disdains Bible preaching, for it exposes sin to the light of God’s truth. Frequently, the worldly conclude that when one preaches a moral and doctrinal message, he is “judging” them – and he is evil to do so! Yet, Jesus was not bashful to proclaim heaven’s word to the very ones who needed heaven’s mercy and salvation. He did not shy away from expecting sinners to have active faith in Him to be saved by Him (Mark 2:3-5). When Jesus preached, He demanded that sinners repent, or perish (Luke 13:1-5). May we not preach God’s word today, knowing it possesses the same authority today that it had when Jesus preached it? Indeed; We can, and we must (2 Timothy 4:1-2; Titus 2:15). When we preach the word, we proclaim God’s truth and love, extended to a lost and dying world. We proclaim the reality of sin, death, and salvation (Romans 6:23; Matthew 7:21-23). Like Jesus and His apostles, we urge repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21; 26:19-20). We must never stop preaching the word.
16 “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” (2 Timothy 4:16–17, NKJV)
Paul’s faith did not waver as he faced impending death at the hands of lawless men (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Forsaken by friend and foe, he was not forsaken by the Lord (2 Timothy 4:10, 14). Nor did Paul expect Timothy to turn away from him, as he urged him to “Be diligent to come to me quickly” (2 Timothy 4:9). Paul paid a great price as an apostle of Christ. Truly, the Lord showed “him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). Yet even now, surrounded by enemies and facing eminent death, Paul knew his mission, and was not deterred from fully preaching the gospel. Even so, we are faithful to the Lord, knowing He promises not to abandon us in our time of need. We may take courage from the faithful example of Paul, assured that the Lord “Himself has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say; ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).