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).
22 So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:22–23, NKJV).
The Lord of hosts had commanded king Saul to execute His judgment against the Amalekites by utterly destroying them (1 Sam. 15:2-3). Instead, Saul and the people spared their king and the choice animals, being “unwilling to utterly destroy them” (1 Sam. 15:9). When confronted by Samuel about this clear violation of God’s word, Saul was confident he had “performed the commandment of the Lord,” making an excuse the people spared the animals for a sacrifice to the Lord (1 Sam. 15:13-15). But Saul was wrong. God’s prophet spoke of God’s displeasure and condemnation of this disobedience. Saul had led the people in stubborn rebellion. Because he had rejected the word of the Lord, God rejected him as king of Israel (1 Sam. 15:22-23). There is an obvious lesson for us; The end does not justify the means. Like Saul, we have no right to change the command of God and rationalize our alteration with a “good deed” we put in its place. Living by faith is about trusting God’s commands are correct and following them with devoted allegiance. “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (Ps. 19:8). To obey God is better than offering sacrifices He has not commanded.
Paul’s stewardship was to preach the word of God, “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints” (Col. 1:25, 26). God’s redemptive purpose, hidden in past ages, is now revealed in His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). God has “willed to make known” His spiritual riches to the nations (Eph. 1:3-14). At the center of God’s revealed mystery of redemption is “Christ in you,” who secures our hope of glory (Heb. 6:19-20). Christ dwells in the Christian’s heart “by faith” (Eph. 3:17). Faith is the belief, trust, and confidence to follow Jesus when we hear His word (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:6). Such belief compels one to be baptized into Christ, who adds each saved sinner to His church (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:47; Col. 1:13-14). When Christ is in you, His word dwells in you (Col. 3:16; 1 John 2:24-25). When Christ is in you, you live by faith, obeying Him (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 12:1). When Christ is in you, you abide in Him and He in you by keeping His word (John 14:23). Is Christ in you? Yes, when by faith you hear and follow His word. Do you have the hope of glory? Yes, when Christ is in you, and you abide in Him by living as He lived (1 John 2:5-6). Let us not be “moved away from the hope of the gospel” that the apostles of Christ preached to the world (Col. 1:23, 28; 3:1-4).
3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:3–6, NKJV).
God accounted Abraham’s faith to him for righteousness (v. 6). All who have the faith of Abraham are his seed and heirs (Rom. 4:16; Gal. 3:8-9, 29). The nature of Abraham’s faith has long been disputed. Was his faith “faith only?” No, for James said Abraham’s works (obedience) completed his faith (James 2:21-24). His obedient faith was accounted for righteousness, as is ours. Such faith does not earn or merit the blessing, for we are sinners saved by grace (Rom. 3:23-24; 4:1-5). The apostle Paul used Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4:22, where its context gives us valuable insight into the nature of Abraham’s faith (Rom. 4:18-22). Abraham believed “in hope,” trusting God’s promise of a son, even though he and Sarah were past the age of having children. Instead of doubting God’s word, Abraham “did not waver” but was “strengthened in faith,” assured God would fulfill His word. And He did. “Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age” (Gen. 21:2). Abraham’s unwavering, active, obedient faith was accounted for righteousness. Like Abraham, our trusting, obedient faith will be accounted to us for righteousness.
Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided (Genesis 8:1, NKJV).
Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” in a world of growing wickedness ripe for destruction (Gen. 6:5-8). The description of Noah is impressive: “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). This man of faith obeyed “all that God commanded him” concerning the ark, saving his family while declaring the world’s guilt (Gen. 6:13-22; Heb. 11:7). The worldwide flood teaches us God punishes sin (2 Pet. 3:5-10). Noah received God’s mercy because of his obedient faith. Remarkably, God saw Noah amid a wicked and corrupt world. God also sees Christians who are “blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). God remembered Noah after the evil world perished. His compassion extended beyond the moment of crisis, sending wind to dry the earth, restraining the rain, and sealing the fountains of the deep (Gen. 8:1-2). To this day, God remembers His promises not to leave or forsake His people (Heb. 13:5-6). God sees the evil and the good and provides all we need for life and godliness (Prov. 15:3; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). He will not abandon people of faith (those who trust and obey His word). Scripture says, “Noah became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Heb. 11:7). Like Noah, our faith must obey God to be saved by grace. Obedient faith is “accounted for righteousness” and remembered by God (Rom. 4:5-6).
1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:1–2, NKJV).
Christians are repeatedly warned in the Scriptures to beware of falling away from God, His grace, and the faith (Heb. 3:12-13; Gal. 5:4; 1 Tim. 4:1; James 5:19-20). Embedded in this warning in 2 Corinthians 6:1 is a call to urgency by recognizing “the accepted time” and “day of salvation” and diligently receiving and standing in God’s grace (2 Cor. 6:2). Consider the days appointed by God that urge us to respond to God’s grace in faith and be saved in Christ. (1) The day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). This day is the gospel age. Salvation is available to all who believe (John 1:12; Mark 16:15-16; Rom. 10:8-13; Acts 2:36-38). God appointed this time to believe and obey the gospel for salvation and eternal life (Gal. 4:4). (2) The day of death (Heb. 9:27). Death is the great equalizer (Eccl. 2:14; 9:2-3; 12:6-7). Jesus releases the children of God from the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). Death is a great incentive to be a Christian and live by faith, not fear. (3) The day of judgment (Acts 17:31; Heb. 9:27). God calls us to repent because He will “judge the world in righteousness” by His Jesus Christ. God has confirmed a day of judgment is coming by raising Jesus from the dead. Therefore, God commands us to repent (Acts 17:30). We do not know when we will die or when the day of judgment will happen. But we know “now is the day of salvation.” Believe and obey Jesus to be prepared for the day of your death and judgment (2 Cor. 5:10).
Bible reading is essential to salvation from sins and living faithfully to the Lord. The Bible is the inspired word of God, His truth delivered in this last age by His Son, Jesus Christ (John 16:13; 17:17; Heb. 1:2; 2:3-4; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Jude 3). By it, faith is produced and strengthened in us (Rom. 10:17; Acts 20:32). Christians read the Bible! We read it to increase in knowledge of God’s will and wisdom to apply it to our lives (Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-11). It is little wonder the apostle Paul closes his letter to the Thessalonians with a charge to read it to all the holy brethren. His writings are the “commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). Paul’s “charge” (“to cause someone to swear,” TDNT, V:462) put them under oath to do so. It was not optional but mandatory that they read his epistle. Even so, we are under oath to read the Scriptures. Public Bible reading and teaching please God and should please us (Neh. 8:1-3, 7-9; 1 Tim. 4:13). The saints circulated the apostolic letters for all to read (Col. 4:16). We should never think there is “too much” Scripture in a gospel sermon. Private Bible reading allows quiet time for meditation, examination, and correction of personal spiritual needs (Acts 8:29-35; 1 Tim. 4:15-16; Phil. 4:8). The Holy Scriptures will make us “wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” when we read and learn them (2 Tim. 3:14-15; 2 Pet. 3:15-16). Have you read your Bible today?
1 I will love You, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies (Psalm 18:1–3, NKJV).
David fixed his eyes entirely upon Jehovah as his strength, rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, horn of salvation, and stronghold against his enemies. David was pursued by Saul and others who wished to kill him. God alone had the power to save David from all his enemies. And so, David praised the Lord for His salvation. Even so, the Lord Jesus Christ is mighty to save us from our enemies (the devil, sin, and death, Heb. 2:14-15). We have been redeemed to God by His blood (Rev. 5:9). God’s love, mercy, and grace are “poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,” justifying us by grace to become heirs of the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7). Like David, these divine blessings solicit our responses of faith and joyful praise. Consider David’s faith. (1) I will love the Lord (v. 1). Loving God means we humbly keep His commands (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3). Loving God means we hear and obey His word given by the Son (Heb. 1:2; John 13:20). (2) I will trust the Lord (v. 2). We can put our faith and dependency in none greater than Jesus Christ. He “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5, 6). Be careful not to drift away from Him (Heb. 2:1; 3:12-14; 4:11). (3) I will call upon the Lord (v. 3). Christians’ appeals do not go unanswered (Heb. 4:15-16; 1 John 5:14-15). God, who saves us in Christ, is worthy of all praise (Rev. 4:11; 5:8-14).
How could Abraham, who lived almost two thousand years before Jesus, see and rejoice in the day of Christ? Obviously, not with physical eyes. Abraham saw the Messiah’s time (“My day”) with eyes of faith. He believed the promise of God that “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Gen. 22:18). The writer to the Hebrews boldly says concerning Abraham (and others), “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13). Abraham saw God’s fulfillment before it happened because he lived by faith in God. Indeed, God “preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed” (Gal. 3:8). Christians “are blessed with believing Abraham” because we are “of faith” (Gal. 3:7, 9, 1-2). The striking contrast Jesus made in John 8 is that Jews who claimed to be children of Abraham saw Messiah’s day, but instead of rejoicing, they did not believe. They did not do the works of Abraham; They tried to kill Jesus (John 8:39-40, 59). Furthermore, Abraham obeyed God’s word, even as Jesus did (John 8:54-55). They were children of the devil by refusing to believe and obey the truth Jesus spoke (John 8:31-32, 40-47). Christians walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). With eyes of faith, we “see Jesus” at God’s right hand of glory, the great I AM whose died, arose, and is exalted, blessing all “who are of the faith of Abraham” (John 8:57-58; Rom. 4:16).
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13, NKJV).
Paul unashamedly declared the gospel of Christ “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). The gospel’s power to save the lost reached Thessalonica, where Paul, Silas, and Timothy preached “the gospel of God in much conflict” (1 Thess. 2:1-2; Acts 17:1-9). How the Thessalonians “received the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13) is how the gospel’s power continues to save lost souls. (1) First, the lost person must hear the word of God. The gospel cannot save if the sinner does not hear it (Rom. 10:13-17). The Thessalonians heard God’s word (v. 13). (2) Second, the lost person who hears the word of God must believe it. The gospel cannot save if the sinner does not believe it is true. The Thessalonians “welcomed” what they heard from Paul, Silas, and Timothy as God’s word, not man’s (v. 13). The gospel they preached is still the truth one must believe for salvation. (3) Third, the lost person must be converted and obey the word of God (Acts 3:19; 2:38). The gospel cannot save if the sinner does not obey it. Obedient faith saves. Otherwise, it is dead faith (James 2:17-18). When the Thessalonians heard, believed, and obeyed the gospel, they turned from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:8-9). The word of God “effectively works in you who believe” (Christians, v. 13). Hear, believe, and obey the gospel, and its power will work in your life, too (Phil. 2:12-13).