9 Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ 10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9–10, NKJV)
How could shouts of Hosanna (“save, we pray” or “save now”) turn so quickly to shouts of “Crucify him!” (Mk. 15:31)? Because Jesus did not meet their expectation of salvation, of a king and of the kingdom. They expected a king who would save them from Rome (like David saved Israel from their enemies), and a kingdom wielding earthly power over men. But, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jno. 18:36). He withdrew Himself from forcible attempts to make Him king; His kingdom is “within” (Jno. 6:15; Lk. 17:20-21). And so, they killed Jesus. Even to this day, when Jesus does not fit people’s expectation of salvation, their shouts of hosanna turn to scornful contempt. For example, Jesus could not be more plain, that one must believe and be baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:16). Yet, people ridicule His way of salvation as “water salvation.” They clamor for “faith only” salvation (which will never save the lost, see Jas. 2:14-26). When one shouts, “Save me, Lord,” he must be willing to be saved Christ’s way. There is no other way (Jno. 14:6; Acts 4:12).
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:35–36, NKJV)
This passage is particularly instructive about what it means to preach Jesus. Preaching Jesus identifies Him as the suffering Servant of God who sacrificed His life (Acts 8:32-34; Isa. 53:7-8). It includes teaching about sin and salvation from it. The Ethiopian was lost, and wanted to be saved. The water would facilitate his salvation. When he asked Philip about baptism, he had not yet announced his personal faith in Jesus, since Philip stated that as the condition upon which he could be baptized (v. 37). To preach Jesus means preaching baptism, since the Ethiopian immediately asked about it when he saw water. How else did he know about baptism, expect that Philip spoke of it when he “preached Jesus” to him? Surely, he told the man what Jesus preached about baptism: “He that believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). The Ethiopian confessed his personal faith, stopped the chariot, and Philip baptized him (Acts 8:37-38). The man joyfully went on his way, because he was saved when he believed and was baptized. Christ continues to save sinners the same way, today. What hinders you from being baptized to be saved?
30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31, NKJV)
This passage does not excuse or encourage sins committed out of ignorance. Indeed, it plainly says that God “now commands all men everywhere to repent” of their sins – including sins of ignorance. This verse does acknowledge the forbearance of God, who mercifully gives sinners time to repent before interposing His just penalty against their sins (see Acts 14:16-17). Ignorance will not be an acceptable defense to free us from our sins and their wages (which is death, Rom. 6:23). God’s command to repent is merciful, since it seeks to prepare us for the coming day of judgment. Additionally, God has assured us of the future judgment by raising from the dead His appointed judge; Jesus Christ. Escaping eternal punishment on Judgment Day is a compelling motive to repent of our sins. God has been very clear. He will impose His punishment “on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8). Are you ready for the Judgment Day? Now is the day of salvation in Christ (2 Cor. 6:2; Acts 4:12).
25 Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. 26 For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. (Proverbs 6:25–26, NKJV)
Yielding to fleshly lust is a losing proposition. What appears so appealing and promising such satisfaction, invariably causes pain, sorrow, regret and loss. How many men have literally squandered a fortune on the fleeting fantasies of the flesh? The passion of lust promises pleasure but produces the spiritual bondage and death of sin. Many men and women have been led to the depths of disgrace and despair by its sordid appeal. Sin, whatever form it takes, is never a good deal. Today’s verse reminds us that even more than material poverty, lust bears fruit that brings a person spiritual shame and deprivation. Thanks be to God there is a Savior who lifts sinners out of the muck and mire of sin. Jesus Christ forgives sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)! Trust and obey Him; not the lusts of the world (1 Jno 2:15-17).
3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24:3–5, NKJV)
One does not accidentally stand in the presence of Almighty God. Fellowship with Him is a privilege. Only the one who is holy as God is holy will be granted a place in His presence. One cannot live in the defilement of sin and properly claim a place of blessing in His holy place; such would be incompatible with the holiness of God. If you wish to ascend to God’s holy hill of habitation, the psalmist David explains the faith that must characterize your life. First, cleanse your hands. You cannot do impure things and stand in God’s holy place. Pure actions require a pure heart. Purge your mind of evil thinking so that you may stand in God’s presence. Additionally, you must not lift up any idol in your heart. Only the true and living God has a place in the soul of the person with whom God has communion. Finally, be an honest person, one who does not deceive or mislead with your words. God’s blessing of righteousness and salvation is given to the person of faith who is holy in heart, in word and in deed (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” 5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3–5, NKJV)
Sorrow is not repentance. Nor is sorrow equivalent to salvation. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10). Judas was remorseful upon seeing Jesus condemned as a result of his betrayal. Instead of turning back to God, his despair led him to suicide. Clearly, his sorrow did not save him. The Lord is ready to forgive every soul (including you) whose sorrow over sin leads them to repent and follow Him. For the soul who is not a Christian, godly sorrow for sin leads to repenting and being baptized to be saved (Acts 2:37-38). For the disciple of Christ who falls into sin, godly sorrow produces repentance and prayer (Acts 8:20-24; 1 Jno. 1:9). The path out of sin’s sorrow is not despair and death; it is forgiveness through godly sorrow and repentance.
2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:2–3, NKJV)
Jonah did not want to obey God. So, he tried to run away from God, like many today who do not wish to obey God’s commands. As events unfolded, it became obvious Jonah could not run away from God. Neither can we. Jonah even paid to fulfill his futile quest, buying passage on a ship to a far away land. Like Jonah, many pay great sums of money as they try to rid themselves of God. They pay for drugs and alcohol. They pay for pornography. They pay for the indulges of the flesh and the excesses of worldliness as they try to escape God and His will. But, they fail, too. Even as they pay with their own souls, they only succeed in hastening the day of their destruction (Matt. 16:26). The irony is that God’s salvation is obtained “without money and without price” (Isa. 55:1). Why do we pay for sin when God offers us the gift of salvation without cost to all who call on His name (Acts 2:21; 22:16). Run to God, not away from Him. Salvation is in His Son, not away from Him (Matt. 11:28-30; 28:19-20).