7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? (Isaiah 53:7–8, ESV)
The Ethiopian read this stunning prophecy of Christ in his chariot during his return home from Jerusalem, where he had worshiped (Acts 8:27-33). Perplexed about its meaning, he asked Philip to join him and explain it. So, beginning with this Scripture, Philip preached Jesus to him, leading to his salvation (Acts 8:34-39). Approximately 700 years before His crucifixion, Isaiah described God’s suffering and sin-bearing servant (Isa. 53). Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. What marvelous humility and complete willingness to endure injustice, agony, and death without defiantly opening His mouth (Matt. 26:59-68). Depicted as a docile sheep being led to slaughter, in death, Jesus “suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21-24). He bore the pains of death for us, an offering for sin accepted by God (Isa. 53:10-12). When people revile you for the name of Christ, do not “revile in return.” Instead, bear the reproach of Christ and commit yourself to God who judges righteously (1 Pet. 2:23; Heb. 13:13-14). Like Jesus, may we surrender ourselves to doing God’s will, knowing He is faithful safely secure our souls in Christ (Heb. 13:5-6).
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).
Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6, NKJV).
Enemies attacked Ziklag, the Philistine city where David and his cohorts found refuge from king Saul’s attempts to kill him (1 Sam. 27:1-7). The invading Amalekites plundered and burned the city, taking captive the women and children, including David’s wives (1 Sam. 30:1-5). Sorrow consumed the people “until they had no more power to weep” (1 Sam. 30:4). Grief turned to retribution, and their leader David was in their crosshairs. Theirs was not an uncommon response, though unfair and unjust. David was innocent in the matter. He too was grieved, but not to despair. David knew he needed God’s help in this moment of crisis. The Lord was not a stranger to him; the Lord was his shepherd (Ps. 23:1). Sadly, many only turn to God in a crisis. But David could say, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence” (2 Sam. 22:2-3; Ps. 18:1-3). The Lord was his God, not the false idols of the Philistines. By the Lord’s strength, they recovered all (1 Sam. 30:8, 18-19). Turn to the Lord every day for your strength. Then, when a crisis comes, there will be no doubt the Lord is your God who will deliver you from the calamity (2 Tim. 4:16-18).
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39–42, NKJV)
Many emphasize “witnessing” for Jesus, and “giving their personal testimony” of Christ to convince others to believe. But, today’s passage shows a personal testimony did not cause others to believe. It was “His own word” that led many Samaritans (in addition to the woman at the well, Jno. 4:5-26) to believe Jesus is “the Christ, the Savior of the world” (v. 41, 42). They did not believe “because of what (she) said” (v. 42). It is not her word, my word, or your word that produces faith – God’s word does that (Rom. 10:17). The power to convert and save lost souls in Christ is in the gospel. The gospel saves when it is believed and obeyed (Rom. 1:16-17). Personal testimonies focus attention on self (a “personal” experience). The “testimony of the Lord” (the gospel, 2 Tim. 1:8) focuses attention on Jesus Christ, His atoning sacrifice, and His call to believe and obey Him for salvation (Heb. 5:8-9; Mk. 16:15-16; Matt. 11:28-30). Believe because of Christ’s word, and then your faith will be in Him and not in another.
“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2, ESV)
Preaching the gospel ought to include personal applications. After all, its purpose is to convict hearts of sin and convert souls to the Savior. That’s hard to do without getting personal. Nathan got personal when he exposed David’s adultery with, “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7). Peter certainly got personal when he preached, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Yet, there is a lot of “no application” preaching these days. A well-known preacher (Joel Osteen) will not use the word “sin” when he preaches. (He is not preaching the gospel of Christ.) Others refuse to make personal applications that identify sinners with their sins like Paul did when he named Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus and their error (1 Tim. 1:18-20; 2 Tim. 2:16-18). Some think a good sermon is one that flies over their heads and hits their neighbor between the eyes! No, a good sermon will cut us to the heart (Acts 2:37). We must preach the applications of God’s word or our preaching does not profit the listeners (Acts 20:20). Application-less preaching fails to declare “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). When gospel preachers preach there will be personal applications that “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” (2 Tim. 4:2). Listen for the personal application of truth in your life. Oh yes, gospel preaching gets personal!
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; (Ephesians 4:4, NKJV)
God has revealed His platform for unity in Christ. It is not ecumenism. It is not unity in diversity. It is not all-inclusive and all-accepting. The first plank in God’s “One-derful” platform of unity is “one body.” Paul identified this “one body” in this Ephesian letter. He wrote that Christ is “head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). One head, Christ. One body, the church. The fullness of Christ is found in His body (church), not outside of it. (Is the church important? Absolutely!) Furthermore, Christ reconciles sinners (Jews and Gentiles) “to God in one body through the cross” (Eph. 2:14-16). Unquestionably then, the church is composed of those who are reconciled to God. (Is the church important? Absolutely!) Yet again, Christ is the head of the church and “the Savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23). Undeniably, those who are saved are in His body, added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:47). (Is the church important? Absolutely!) Christ loves His church and died for it (Eph. 5:25-27). (Is the church important? Absolutely!) Every Christian has a relationship with God in the “one body” of Christ (the church). And, we share a relationship of brotherhood with fellow Christians in the one body (church) of Christ. His one body – one church – is the relational unity we have with God and with His fellow Christians.
1 Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth. 2 Why should the Gentiles say, “So where is their God?” 3 But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases. (Psalm 115:1–3, NKJV)
The sovereignty of Yahweh (the “eternally-existing One,” Exo. 3:14-15) evokes, demands, and prompts us to praise and magnify His grandeur and power. In contrast to giving honor to God, the sin of idolatry is rooted in glorifying men instead (Psa. 115:4-8; Exo. 20:1-6). Idolatry is a lie that corrupts the nature of God and the lives of those exchange the truth of God for the lie (Rom. 1:21-25). We honor and praise the true and living God because of His mercy and truth. These are hallmarks of God’s sovereign dealings with humanity. Paul succinctly noted that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Thus, the sovereignty of God is not arbitrary (saving and condemning on a divine whim). Neither does it rob humanity of freewill, for we must “come” to the knowledge of the truth (Matt. 11:28-30). We are responsible before God to seek His mercy according to His truth. In His mercy, God has given His Son to be our Savior. In His truth, He calls sinners to believe the gospel of His Son, repent, and be baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38). God’s mercy and truth brings the sinners to salvation, saved by grace through faith. To Your name we give glory, O Lord, God of mercy and of truth.
1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. (Hebrews 3:1–2, NKJV)
As benefactors of the redemptive work of Christ (outlined in Hebrews 2:10-18), it is only fitting that Christians pause to consider (fully observe) Christ Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. Our “confession” is the profession of faith the gospel calls us to live (Heb. 4:14; 10:23). As God’s Apostle (one sent forth), Jesus came to earth as a messenger with a mission. The message the Father sent Jesus to proclaim was the gospel, God’s heavenly invitation to sinners to be saved (Lk. 4:16-21). Jesus, who God sent, spoke the words of God (John 3:34). The mission Jesus was sent to accomplish was to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). In the shadow of the cross, Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:3-4). We partake of the heavenly calling by a life that professes the gospel He preached (Matt. 28:19-20). One cannot partake of the heavenly calling by rejecting the word and work of the Apostle of our confession. Just as Jesus was faithful to the Father, Christians must be faithful to Jesus. This is how we “hold fast our confession” (Heb. 4:14).
22 His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin. 23 He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray. (Proverbs 5:22–23, NKJV)
The Bible clearly explains the effects and consequences of personal sin. The worldly mind refuses to acknowledge what sin is, and what it does to one’s soul (Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-18; 6:23). Sin is very real, even though the fleshly mind ignores it, and even redefines it to justify its wrongdoing. Sin is a snare from which no one can escape without God’s help. Its bands grow increasingly tight as one ignores God and His truth. Every sinner must listen to and follow the instruction of God to be freed from the bondage of their sin. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jno. 8:32). Do not believe the lies of the world the says sin is nothing. To practice sin is exceedingly foolish, and those who choose to go astray in it are not wise. If you are living in sin, you are headed for eternal death, a fiery punishment from which there will be no escape (2 Thessalonians. 1:8-9; Revelation 20:11-15; 21:6-8). Jesus Christ will save you from your sin and death, if you will listen to His word, believe Him and obey Him (read Luke 8:8; John 8:23-24; Acts 17:30; 22:16; Hebrews 5:8-9).