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Showing posts from January, 2017

Love and Obedience

The Bible speaks of the church as the Bride of Christ. We in the church, both male and female, are part of the Bride of Christ. A bride’s love for her husband is a responsive love. The love of a man for a woman is an originating love. She loves because he first loved her. The more he loves her, the more she loves him. The less he loves, the less she loves. Look at 1 John 4:19: “We love Him, because He first loved us.” Make a study from the Bible on how much God loved, and how much He loves us. Keep this study going. You will find your love for Him growing. You will find obedience growing, too. God’s love for us is sacrificial. Our responsive love for Him is obedience. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Eph. 5:22-24). These are unconditional commands to wives

If You Love Me...

Recently I received a letter asking for help with getting rid of bitterness. The correspondent was so bitter that he admitted that he could not do the will of God. I answered the letter with the help he needed and wanted. However, there was something else in his letter that was a contradiction. He said that he believed in and loved Jesus. I am sure he thought so, but he did not love Jesus by Jesus’ definition. If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 14:15) Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:23-24) If he loved Jesus, he would have obeyed Him; but he said that he could not do the will of God. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, w

His People

“My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jer. 24:6-7) This was written of the exiles of Judah in Babylon, so it does not apply directly to us today. However, it tells something about God—He does not change. • He watches over them for their good. • He will build them up. • He will not tear them down. • He will plant them. • He will not uproot them. • He will give them a heart to know Him. • He will have them for His people. • He will be their God because they will return to Him with all their heart. We are His people, too. God is good.

Righteousness in the Camp

God’s view of righteousness in society is that it is meant to have a positive effect on society: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Matt. 5:13). Salt is not to be ineffective. Salt that does not have the characteristics of salt is good for nothing. Light that is hidden is not light. Men do not praise God for the bad deeds in Christians’ lives. There are two events in biblical history which take this truth to two opposite extremes. One is the destruction of Sodom, and the other is the minor defeat of Israel at Ai. The stories are found in Genesis 18-19 and Joshua 6-7. In the case of Sodom, God had promised the safety of a very wicked city if ten righteous people were found in it. In the case of Ai, God allowed the defeat of a righteous nation by a wicked city because there was one unrighteous man in the camp. Thirty-six other men were kil

Ignorance in Abortion

The very nature of an effective lie is to make it sound true. The devil is the father of all lies. When he speaks, he speaks his native language. A liar does not say, “I am a liar; do not listen to me.” He speaks “the gospel truth.” A false prophet does not say, “I am a false prophet.” If the truth teller says, “I am telling the truth,” and the liar says the same thing, then the listener has to tell the difference. The biggest alliterative lie of the last century are two innocent-sounding words Planned Parenthood . It is planned genocide, only the deaths come one at a time. Many people are choosing death, others are committing the murders, and not just a few people, but many, many others are endorsing the murders. The U.S. Federal Government is subsidizing the murders with hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. With this support, it is easy for a 15-year-old girl to think that she is not doing anything wrong in having the abortion. She is more likely to think that getting pregn


“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This chapter presents such wonderful truth! The truth in this verse is predicated on the statement in verse 5: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Although I am seated in a well-lit room, there is darkness in the room. How do I know? Because if I look outside I can see the brightness of the sunshine in the yard, and this room is not that bright. However, there is darkness outside where shadows are cast. There is always a place of more light, except in the presence of God. God is light. He is the very essence of light. “In Him there is no darkness at all.” This is absolute light, pure light, the source of all other lights. Then we have the conditional if. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light...” How is He in the light? In Him is no darkness at all. The kind of light we are to walk in

Joyful Praise

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs" (Psalm 100:1-2). In this world, there are sad songs, love songs, and battle songs, but when it comes to singing of salvation, the songs are songs of joy and gladness. David knew this when he wrote Psalm 51. In it he sings, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Psalm 51:12). Salvation means joy, and joy means singing. Psalm 126 speaks of release from physical captivity, but it is also a great picture of spiritual salvation. When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like steams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow

Who Is Like You, O Lord?

In the Bible, God, in His holiness, declared the sinfulness of men: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5). I can understand how God can speak about man’s state, because God’s judgment is absolutely right. However, whether I can speak about God’s holiness is another thing. Even though I am redeemed and looking for the completion of that redemption, I do not yet see him as he really is. “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2b). Until that time, we know Him as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. The Song of Moses Moses and the Israelites sang about God’s holiness after Israel passed through the sea and the Egyptians were drowned: “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory , working wonders?” (Ex. 15:11). In this song, God is described in tr

True or False? "Religion Is A Personal Thing"

Across the nation, there is a thought that gets expressed this way: “I think that religion is a personal thing.” This statement may be translated, “I don’t want to talk about it,” “I don’t want you to talk about it,” or “Please get off my back!” In the last 60 or so years, this expression has also become common in evangelical circles: “Receive Jesus Christ as your own personal savior.” This was a reaction to the impersonal deism of church membership. Yes, Christianity is personal. Religion has to be personal—Jesus Christ is a person. He loves people. That is personal. But after it becomes personal it must become public. How does Jesus expect the personal to become public? “What I tell you in the dark [personal], speak in the daylight [public]; what is whispered in your ear [personal] proclaim from the roofs [public]” (Matt. 10:27). If you do not want to be publicly identified with Jesus now, then He will not identify with you publicly later. “If anyone is ashamed of me and my wor

Bad Theology & Knowing the Father

Most of us know the truth expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” Perhaps we also know the truth taught in Romans 1:18-32, which is, to state it succinctly, “Bad theology corrupts good character.” Even though we know both of these truths, we can still be left wondering how certain Christians end up in immoral situations. Our wonder is increased when the Christian involved has emphasized “good company” (nearly to the point of legalism) and “sound doctrine” (to the point of arguing with all who differ). A good portion of my time is spent with Christians who have fallen into sin. Some of them, it is true, turned out to not be Christians. That is a subject for another post. However, some of them were Christians. As they have recounted the details of their sin, I could see they had not been keeping “bad company,” and their theology, on the surface, appeared to be sound. So how could I account for the sin? After more questioning, I s

The Heart: Fully Committed

This was written by my wife Bessie. "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." (2 Chron. 16:9, KJV) "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." (2 Chron. 16:9, NIV) Asa, king of Judah, had been a reformer. According to 2 Chronicles 14, he was actively engaged in removing idolatrous practices from Judah with a call to his people to “seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands” (14:4). Asa’s army was victorious over the Cushites, and his prayer before the battle explains why in verse 11 of chapter 14: “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O Lord, you are God; do not let man prevail against you.” In the fifteenth year of his r


God’s objective for us as seen in Romans 8:29 is that we be “conformed to the image of His dear Son.” In similar passages, we were told to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24), and that we “have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Col. 3:10). At one time, we were created in the image of God. We lost the part of our God-likeness that had to do with true righteousness and holiness. Jesus came to earth to restore that likeness. We are to be like God. What is that like? Jesus! We are to be like Jesus. He is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Heb.1:3). To be like Jesus, we must first know Him. One of the most obvious characteristics of Jesus is His humility; He patterned and taught it. Let’s examine this pattern He left for us to imitate. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselv

Caring for Casualties

In the early part of the Vietnam War, I visited an officer at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He had been badly burned when his jeep hit a land mine. The Vietnamese soldier who was with him was also critically injured. These two men were fellow soldiers. When they became casualties, however, a big difference suddenly became evident. The American went to a U.S. hospital and on to full recovery. The Vietnamese went to a Vietnamese hospital, where he was almost certain to die. My friend told me how thankful he was to be in the U.S. Army instead of the Vietnamese Army. He had been a casualty in the Korean Conflict also, so he knew what he was talking about. The difference lay in the quality of care given to casualties. In other wars, in other armies, at other times, there was an even greater difference in the quality of care: there was no care at all! Casualties were left to die. Their deaths, however, had a significant impact on the rest of the men. They were not willing to risk themselves

Loving the Unlovely

You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matt. 5:43-47) There is nothing distinctively Christian about loving those who love you or loving the lovely. To convey this point, Jesus chose a class of people despised by the Jews—tax collectors—and said, “Tax collectors love like that. They are not believers, and they are not moral, but they love those who love them.” When a Christian loves those who love him, all he is doing is something that is natural to man. That is not a Christian characteristic. It is something God create

Saturation Love

This is another topic I speak on often to parents. God gives commands to love. These commands are to be applied to wives, brothers, neighbors, aliens, and enemies. This love is the love that God had for us when Jesus Christ died for us. It is sacrificial; its primary expression is giving. It is designed to be effective. It worked for our salvation. Love requires an object, and love requires expression. “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16). The world was love’s object, and giving was love’s expression. This love was not half-hearted or reluctant or “almost enough.” It was complete and more than adequate for all of the sins and sinners in this world. “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more…” (Romans 5:20). In obeying God’s commands to love, we are to love as He loved. That is unconditional and without reserve or reluctance. We should have and give more love to the person needing love so that his need for love is satisfied. You may think that that is

Relationships with Parents

Of the many talks I frequently give, there are two which have received the most favorable response and the most fruitful application among young and old alike. The first is how to be free from bitterness, and the second is relationships with parents. At Urbana ‘93, I conducted a workshop on the second subject. Only about 50 students attended. The shock, the incredulity, the rebellion, and the impossibility of putting this teaching into effect showed in the tears, the questions, the comments, and the follow-up conversations. That is why I originally wrote it down. If you are familiar with my writing, you may have read this before, but I am posting it here again because it is still needed. I would first like to draw your attention to two passages in the Old Testament. I will first comment on them, and then I will make a few suggestions for applying these Scriptures in your life. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or

Positive Obedience

Having learned how to refrain from disobedience, we are now ready for active, positive obedience. Start out by learning how to recognize positive commandments in the Scriptures. They are almost always expressed in superlatives. For example, Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” A positive command is not a suggestion. It is a requirement. Because these commands are so complete and all-encompassing, it is easy for the Christian to think of them as “ideals” and not realistic requirements. Before we can consider how to obey, we have to know and accept the commands as they are. The Scriptures do not qualify these commands, and we do not have the freedom to qualify them, either. There are several wonderful means of obeying these commands. All of them are effortless on our part. The first is the death of Christ. We all know that Jesus died so that we could be forgiven. Few of us realize that He died so we could be obedient. Romans 6 teaches the effic

A Clean, Clear Conscience

Each Christian should be ruled by a conscience that is clean, clear, and consistent with Scriptural teaching. Sadly, though, many Christians dull their consciences by not confessing sin—even to the point where the conscience becomes warped or seared. We begin our new life in Christ by having our conscience cleansed from guilt. It is very clear in Hebrews 9:14 and 10:22 that the blood of Jesus Christ is the means of this cleansing. Once our conscience is clean, Scripture then describes it as good or clear. “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim. 1:5) “…holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.” (1 Tim. 1:19) “They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.” (1 Tim. 3:9) The relationship between a good, clear conscience and a sincere faith is very important. But when the deep truths of the faith are held in a do

Big and Little Sins

Have you ever wondered how men who have been Christians a long time or who are leaders in the church fall into sexual immorality, get divorced, or are dishonest or unethical in their conduct? One of the answers that Christians have given to me is that these leaders are special targets of the Enemy because they are so greatly used. I have difficulty with this answer (although it is possible) because of 1 Corinthians 10:12-13: “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” In this passage, there are statements about man, temptation, and God. If a man sins, it is not caused by the greatness of temptation; that is common. Nor is it caused by God’s unfaithfulness; God is faithful. So what is the problem? Man thinks he is strong. He is n

Refraining from Disobedience

The first broken command was worded negatively: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Most of the Ten Commandments are also worded negatively. Starting with Deuteronomy 5:8, “You shall not” occurs eleven times in the next thirteen verses. Disobedience is doing, thinking, or saying something we have been commanded not to do or think or say. It is also the opposite: not doing, not thinking, or not saying what we are commanded to do or think or say. For example, “Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment’” (Matt. 22:37-38). Neglecting to love the Lord in this way is a violation of the first and greatest commandment. It is easier to measure disobedience by what we do rather than by what we do not do. This, however, does not keep the latter (sins of omission) from being sin. The first means of refraining from disobedience is to know the commandments