9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. 10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth (Psalm 57:9–11, NKJV).
Doubt over what may happen in the future debilitates us. Dread over potential crises hinders clear thinking and decisive decision-making. Anxiety and fear harm one’s faith in God (Phil. 4:4-7). David’s life was being threatened by King Saul when he wrote Psalm 57 and hid in a cave from his would-be assassin (1 Sam. 22:1). Yet, David did not trust in himself or doubt the Lord. “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by” (Ps. 57:1). God’s mercy is higher than the heavens, and His truth touches the clouds, even as His glory fills the earth (Ps. 57:11-12). Instead of doubt, dread, anxiety, and fear, David trusted God’s mercy, justice, and power in times of trouble. For instance, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise” (Ps. 57:7). Even so, evil lurks nearby and pursues our souls (1 Pet. 5:8). God is merciful to forgive our transgressions as His truth guides our path and executes justice (1 John 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 4:17-19). Let us repent of doubt, dread, anxiety, and fear and replace them with faith in God’s mercy, praise for His steadfastness, and reliance on His truth to vindicate the righteous (2 Thess. 1:3-8).
For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light (Luke 8:17, NKJV).
The truth cannot be hidden. In context, Jesus had just explained the parable of the seed and soils. The condition of the heart determines whether God’s word (the seed) penetrates, germinates, and bears fruit (Luke 8:11-15). Untold amounts of time and energy are wasted trying to cover up, divert, deceive, and lie about the truth. Jesus later explained the efforts of such hypocrisy are exposed by the light of truth (Luke 12:1-3). Every sin we attempt to hide is uncovered and open before the eyes of God, even when they are concealed from others (Heb. 4:13). The light of His truth reveals our hearts and the sins that erupt from within (Heb. 4:12). When David hid his sins, he experienced increased grief and pain, but he found forgiveness when he acknowledged his sin to God (Ps. 32:3-5). Let us follow his example instead of Achan, who could not conceal his sin nor escape its punishment (Josh. 7:10-26). Today, may we meditate on the truth that God knows all about us, and His truth will save us when we open our hearts to His word and follow His will. Paul’s summary persuades us to live in the light of truth, “Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden” (1 Tim. 5:24-25).
Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s (2 Corinthians 10:7, NKJV).
Paul opposed and exposed the error false teachers spread against the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 10:3-6; Gal. 1:6-12; 2:4-5). Unwilling and unable to withstand the truth Paul spoke, these “false apostles” and “deceitful workers” resorted to ad hominem arguments to blunt the force of the Spirit’s sword (2 Cor. 11:13). They attacked Paul instead of the truth he preached. We can hear their accusations against Paul as they tried to diminish his effective teaching and influence among the Corinthians. “Paul is bold in his letters but weak when in your presence” (2 Cor. 10:1-2, 10). And, “Paul is a former persecutor who never was with Jesus. He is an upstart unqualified to be an apostle – do not listen to him” (2 Cor. 11:5-6). They tried to gaslight the brethren, projecting onto Paul what they were doing as they “walked according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:2-3). This diversionary tactic is used when false doctrines are indefensible from the Scriptures. “Fool!” “Ignorant!” and “Pharisee!” are among the ad hominem responses against Christians who oppose and expose sin and error from God’s word. The Lord’s servant does not resort to ad hominem to bias his audience. It is a ploy unworthy of Christ’s disciple (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Reacting against reasoned biblical teaching with ad hominem responses diverts attention from the word of God. It is a carnal attack that fails to persuade while exposing the weakness and error of the one using it (2 Cor. 10:3-4). Do not be deceived.
9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?” 10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand” (Luke 8:9–10, NKJV).
A parable is a similitude in which a spiritual lesson is thrown alongside a commonly known occurrence (hence, the word parallel). Parables illustrate a truth “using comparison, hyperbole, or simile” (The Lexham Bible Dictionary). Christ’s parables are understandable by those with open ears and hearts (“He who has ears to hears, let him hear!” Luke 8:8, 18). These are the ones to whom it is given “to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God” (v. 10-11; Matt. 13:10-12, 16-18). Although the parables reveal God’s truth about the kingdom of God, they are not understood by those who close their hearts, shut their eyes, and stop their ears (v. 10; Matt. 13:13-15). The state of mind we have when hearing the word of God is crucial to understanding and following it. That is the essence of the parable of the Sower and Soils that prompted the exchange with Jesus in today’s text (see Mark 4:10-13). The types of soil represent the condition of hearts and whether they receive the word of God (Luke 8:4-8, 11-15). The “noble and good heart” hears and keeps God’s word, bearing fruit with patience (Luke 8:15). (The Bereans in Acts 17:11 will become examples of this good heart.) Parables are beautiful expressions of the gospel of Christ. Our heart condition determines whether we are blessed by them or stumble over them. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19–20, NKJV).
James concluded his exhortation to have a mature faith by challenging the faithful to care for the spiritual well-being of their brethren. The tenor of his instruction is not a self-righteous approach toward the wandering saint but a sincere attempt to turn back the wandering Christian. James describes the wandering Christian as a sinner, in error, and dead in his sins. Yes, Christians can fall and be lost (Gal. 5:4, 7). If not, there would be no need to encourage brethren to turn this person back from the path he has taken. The standard we use to measure whether one is wandering away from the Lord is “the truth,” the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25). The wayward Christian has succumbed to the enticements “his own desires” that produce sin (James 1:14-15). Let us be invigorated not to neglect the danger and death faced by faltering brethren. With the mercy and urgency of Christ, let us attempt to pull them out of the fire, looking to ourselves, lest we also be tempted (Jude 21-23; Gal. 6:1-3).
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:2–3, NKJV)
Christ’s apostle boldly described those who perverted the gospel (i.e., false brethren) by demanding Gentiles keep the law of Moses to be saved; They were false brethren (Acts 15:5; Gal. 2:4-5; 5:4). For emphasis, Paul gave one warning three times. (1) Beware of dogs (v. 2). Feral dogs lived in packs, scavenging for food (Ps. 59:6; 1 Kings 14:11). We must be alert against false teachers who attack and consume souls (Gal. 1:6-10; Jude 4). (2) Beware of evil workers (v. 2). Their works are wicked; Do not give them quarter (Ps. 119:115; Phil. 2:18-19). (3) Beware of the mutilation (v. 2). The doctrine of binding circumcision for salvation did nothing to remove sin because it was only a physical incision. By contrast, Christians (whether Jews or Gentiles) are “the circumcision” (the covenant people of God, whose hearts are circumcised, Rom. 2:28-29; Col. 2:11-13). Next, Paul gave three counterbalancing descriptions of Christians. (1) Christians worship God in the Spirit (v. 3). The word “worship” denotes service to God. We serve God according to the truth that the Spirit revealed, not by the error of the “dogs” (Gal. 3:1-3; 5:5-6). (2) Christians rejoice in Christ Jesus (v. 3). We have joy in Christ and do not take pleasure in evil things (Phil. 3:1; 4:4; Rom. 12:15). (3) Christians have no confidence in the flesh (v. 3). Our salvation in Christ does not depend on physical pedigree, performance, and promotion. Paul refused to trust in such things (Phil. 3:4-7). Brethren, be alert to error and those who teach it. Serve God with the confidence of the truth of the gospel.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1, NKJV).
Sinners are “buried with Christ in baptism into death” when they are baptized into Christ and His death (Rom. 6:3-4). Thus “buried with Him in baptism,” they are “raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:12). Now saved in Christ, they are raised to walk in “newness of life,” having been “made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:13). Because we have been “raised with Christ,” the apostle teaches Christians how to live our new life with Christ in Colossians 3. (1) Seek things above (Col. 3:1). Our goals are spiritual and eternal, not fleshly and temporal (2 Cor. 4:16-18). (2) Set your mind on things above, not on the earth (Col. 3:2). Our commitment is now to lay up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-20). “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). (3) Sustain a faithful life with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Walk with God in the light by practicing His truth and be blessed by His fellowship (1 John 1:5-9). (4) Live in the hope of the eternal reward Christ will bring (Col. 3:4). To be received into His presence and to be like Him will be your crowning joy of righteousness (1 John 3:2-3; 2 Tim. 4:8). Living in Christ requires us to put sin to death (Col. 3:5-11), to put on a new heart (Col. 3:12-15), to let Christ’s word dwell in us with praise and grace (Col. 3:16), and to do everything in His name (by His authority) with thanksgiving (Col. 3:17). Our salvation in Christ changes everything about how we live (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:20-24).
1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:1–2, NKJV).
We need reminders. Calendars help us remember the day and its events. From a string around the finger, post-it notes, or an alarm clock, we need help remembering important events. God knows this, too. He inspired Peter and others to write letters that stimulate our understanding and remind us of the will of God. We “gird up the loins of (our) minds” as we remember the truth we know and in which we are established (1 Pet. 1:13; 2 Pet. 1:12-13). We must not forget the words spoken by the holy prophets. Their words were from God (1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). We must remember the commands of the apostles of Christ because they constitute the Savior’s will (1 Cor. 14:37). The pure (sincere) mind knows and remembers the inspired words from God. By learning and being grounded in the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles of Christ, we are equipped to (1) Identify and avoid false doctrine (2 Pet. 3:3-9), (2) Look forward to the day of the Lord in holiness and hope (2 Pet. 3:10-14), (3) Consider God’s longsuffering as securing our salvation, not abandoning us to the world (2 Pet. 3:15, 9, 3-4), (4) Handle God’s word properly to avoid falling into destruction (2 Pet. 3:16-17), and (5) Grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). The Scriptures stir up fervent faith as we remember them. Let us not forget God’s word nor scoff at its truth (2 Pet. 3:3-5).
17 For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. 18 Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him (Luke 8:17–18, NKJV).
How we listen to God’s word is a determining factor of whether we will understand it. When we make up our mind about any Bible subject before even considering what the whole counsel of God says, we have closed hearts, ears, and eyes (Luke 8:9-10; Matt. 13:10-17). We will never accept and hold fast the word of God with such a self-satisfied mindset (Luke 8:15). God’s word is not beyond comprehension. It reveals the purposes and will of God and the secrets of the human heart (Luke 8:17, 10; Heb. 4:12). A willingness to do God’s will, coupled with an earnest examination of God’s word, will result in knowing, accepting, and obeying His word (John 7:16-17; Acts 17:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:15). This person is assured abundant spiritual blessings (Luke 8:18). The person who dismisses the meaning of God’s word because it does not agree with feelings, experiences, and preconceived ideas has deceived himself. What he thinks he possesses (knowledge of the truth) is denied him due to conceit, self-righteousness, and arrogant assumptions. When we listen to God’s word, may we always keep humble hearts turned toward God and away from ourselves. Be careful how you listen to God’s word (John 8:43-47).
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad (John 8:56, NKJV).
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).