Jonathan (the son of king Saul) and David were dear friends. Jonathan did not see David as a threat, far from it. Their souls were knit together, even closer than brothers (Prov. 18:24). Friendship is a marvelous blessing to be cultivated and nurtured. Like Jonathan and David, friends are more than neighbors. Friends are familiar, trusted, and devoted as they share life (1 Sam. 18:3-4; Ps. 41:9). Jonathan and David’s friendship was strong due to their common mind and faith. Their love for one another was great (1 Sam. 18:3-4; 2 Sam. 1:25-26). When Jonathan’s father Saul threatened David’s life, Jonathan endangered himself to protect his friend (1 Sam. 20:4, 16-42). Facebook may say you have many “friends,” but the Bible defines true friendship differently. Consider the following: (1) A friend gives sound counsel even when it hurts. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Prov. 27:6). A friend does not try to manipulate you. A friend’s counsel may hurt, but its goal is to help us, and so, “the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel” (Prov. 27:9). (2) Choose your friends carefully. “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Prov. 12:26). Like Jonathan and David, a shared faith will see you and your friend through life’s trials (1 Sam. 20:12-17). Friends can also hinder your faithfulness to God (1 Cor. 15:33). Choose wisely. (3) Be a friend to Jesus. “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). Jesus will be your true friend. Are you His? Obey Him and it will be so.
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.
16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:16–19, NKJV).
Read today’s passage again, carefully. The writer has urged Christians to “hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.” Israel’s sins and failure to enter the rest of the promised land warns us (Heb. 3:6-15). Now, he summarizes for emphasis; Christians can fall and fail to enter God’s rest like Israel. (1) Israel rebelled after hearing God’s word (v. 16). We must hear God’s word, but that alone does not bring our souls into God’s rest. (2) God’s people do not escape wrath and punishment when they sin and rebel against God (v. 17). Israel’s sin stirred God’s wrath against them, and they died in the wilderness. Even so, Christians who “depart from the living God” will face His wrath (Heb. 3:12-13). (3) Without obedience, God’s people do not enter God’s rest (v. 18). Disobedient, rebellious Israel stands as a stark warning that Christians cannot live in disobedience without forfeiting eternal rest (Heb. 2:1-3; Matt. 10:28). (4) Unbelief is identified by disobedience (v. 19). Far from separating unbelief and disobedience, the Holy Spirit joined the two here. Unbelief produced Israel’s disobedience and God’s punishment (the forfeiture of Canaan’s rest). Even so, belief produces obedience leading to God’s eternal rest in heaven. Let us learn and live the lesson of Israel in the wilderness, lest we fall short of God’s rest like they did (Heb. 4:1, 11).
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).
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).
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14–15, NKJV)
Paul’s sequential flourish of rhetorical questions reaches an apex with the glorious gospel of peace with God and its welcomed messengers. Nahum wrote of the impending downfall of Nineveh, the great enemy of righteousness whose sins doomed her to destruction. God was against her and would be laid waste by Babylon (Nahum 3:5-7). Messengers shouted the good news of Nineveh’s demise from the mountaintops; Peace had arrived (Nahum 1:15). Nahum’s portrait of this victorious proclamation typifies the more significant announcement of sin and death’s defeat by the Son of God. His gospel declares deliverance from sin’s bondage and death. It heralds salvation’s peace with God through Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6; Eph. 2:14-18; Col. 1:20-22). Preaching the gospel of Christ is essential for sinners to hear its saving message. Otherwise, they cannot believe in Christ and call on Him for salvation (Rom. 10:12-13; Acts 22:16). And so, Christ sent out His apostles to preach the gospel of peace to the world (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20). Early Christians went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4). Christians continue to walk in their steps, bringing the glad tidings of good things, the gospel of peace.
30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here (John 14:30–31, NKJV).
Jesus was about to be arrested, tried, and condemned to death by crucifixion. We marvel at God’s love for us by which He “gave His only begotten Son” for the redemption of sinners (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16; 4:8-10). Today’s passage adds another element to God’s love for us; the Son’s love for the Father. Jesus’s death on the cross was not only the great expression of divine love for humanity but also the great expression of His obedient love for His Father (Rom. 5:8; John 6:38; 10:18). Christ’s love for the Father compelled Him to do the Father’s will, becoming “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). His sacrificial, selfless obedience makes Him the Exemplar of love. You see, previously in today’s passage, Jesus had told His apostles, “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Jesus holds His disciples to the same standard He followed; to express our love for Him through faithful obedience. We ought not to view obedience as a legalistic approach to discipleship but as love’s full measure of devotion. As John wrote, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). It is no wonder that Jesus saves those who obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9). Today and hereafter, “arise, let us go from here” and in love obey the Father and the Son.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (John 13:20, NKJV).
“Receive Jesus as your personal Savior” is an oft-heard exhortation. How does that happen? How does a person receive Jesus? We need a Bible answer, and God provides one. The word “receive” in John 13:20 means to “take” and “get hold of” (G2983). It is a deliberate action, not a passive reception. John 1:12 says those who receive Christ have “the right to become children of God.” These are the ones “who believe in His name.” Believers received Jesus, and they had the right to become children of God. So, this verse explains that believing in Jesus is not the end but the beginning of becoming a child of God. (Many believers are not saved, John 12:42-43.) Receiving Jesus for salvation is further explained in Galatians 3:26-27, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Believers in Jesus are baptized into Christ to “put on Christ;” To “get hold of” Jesus and be a child of God. Just as Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Now, the question is whether you will receive Jesus and be saved by receiving the words of His apostles (whom He sent into the world, John 13:20; Matt. 28:19)? To receive Jesus, one must believe in Him and then obey Him by obeying the apostles’ teachings. Faith only does not save the lost (James 2:19-20, 24). If you believe in Jesus, you have the right to become a child of God. Now, take hold of Christ and His salvation by receiving and obeying His apostles like sinners did on Pentecost (Acts 2:37-41).
His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5, NKJV).
Mary’s simple statement to the wedding feast servants is worthy of our contemplation and imitation. Our lives change when we do whatever Jesus says. We must hear and do what Jesus says to be wise and blessed: “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24). Consider some things Jesus said, and do them. (1) We must receive the words of His apostles. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (John 13:20). That means we must believe and do what His apostles taught (Matt. 28:20; 1 Cor. 14:37). (2) The lost must believe and be baptized to be saved. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Instead of refusing baptism is essential for salvation, do what Jesus said, and you will be saved. He said we must be born again of water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5-7). (3) Christians must worship in spirit and truth. Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). We must offer God the worship He approves in His word. (4) Christians eat the Lord’s Supper in memory of Christ’s death. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:24-25). The Lord’s Supper is not an unbloody sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It is a memorial of His death by which our sins are forgiven (Eph. 1:7). Remember that having ears to hear Jesus will do what He says (Luke 8:8, 18).