Tags: 2 Corinthians 6, Ephesians 2, Jesus Christ, John 1, John 3, Luke 4, Romans 10, Romans 4, Romans 5, Romans 8, Titus 3
I. When you think of God’s holiness and your own sinfulness, do you ever wonder how God could love you?
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
It is simply in His marvelous nature to show forth His great love by His wonderful grace.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
I John 4:8
It is understandable that you might wonder HOW God could love you, but, if you have been born again into the family of God, justified through faith alone, and adopted as His Own child, then you ought never to question IF God loves you.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
II. When you understand that God’s holiness and justice require your absolute moral perfection and obedience, do you doubt that you have you worked hard enough to earn God’s approval, favor, or blessing?
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
You can stop asking that question. There is no doubt that you can never do enough good things to make God your debtor. HOWEVER:
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
You could never work your way to Heaven, but if you have trusted Christ unto salvation, then your disobedience, sin, and lack of good works have been washed away by the mercy of God in the blood of Jesus.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
III. Do you hope that one day God will forgive you, or decide to be kindly disposed toward you in spite of your rebellion and shame? Are you longing for a day when you will find yourself forgiven and accepted?
(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
II Corinthians 6:2
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
The sovereign Lord and Ruler of this universe, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the all-powerful, majestic and holy King above all kings, will answer your call this very moment.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
If you have repented and believed His Gospel, He loves you with an everlasting love, and nothing in this world or beyond will ever separate you from it.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Tags: 1 Timothy 1, commentary on Hebrews, Hebrews 8, Jeremiah 31, Jesus Christ, Job 9, ministry of the Holy Spirit, Romans 8, Sunday School lessons on Hebrews, Zechariah 8
Jesus, the Great High Priest, ministers in a better sanctuary than the Levitical priests of the Old Testament.
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
Jesus sits on the throne of God at the Father’s right hand, but He is not seated because He doesn’t care about us. He is seated because He is doing an everlasting job. He has been ordained to an everlasting ministry. He is also seated because of His majesty. He is the King, so He sits on a throne. He sits on a throne of truth and of grace.
His Heavenly tabernacle is better than the earthly Tabernacle known to the Hebrew believers. Jesus is a High Priest Who is perfectly suited for us because we need something more than the blood of bulls or lambs. We need a better sacrifice.
For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
The Law showed a picture of the eternal reality in Heaven. Earthly priests were suited to that ministry. They gave gifts and made sacrifices for themselves. But our Great High Priest did not need to sacrifice for Himself, and He does not need to repeat the sacrifice each year for atonement.
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
He is a better Priest, with a better ministry, ministering a better covenant, established upon better promises. His role as “Mediator” reminds us of the “daysman” longed for in Job 9:32-33. Our Mediator/Daysman brings us into eternal loving peace and familial relationship with God. Job had a desire to draw near to God – to “come together in judgment” – but he lived in the time of shadows – shadows of better things to come. He had the desire to draw near to God, but not the means.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
Was the old covenant wrong? No. It’s “fault” was that it was temporary and it led to what was to fulfill it. If the Old Testament Israelites had obeyed it, they would have been blessed, but it didn’t have the power to transform – to create new hearts.
Does the Law have any ministry for believers today? Yes, the righteousness of the Law should be fulfilled in us as we yield to the Holy Spirit.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
I Timothy 1:8-11
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
This shows the fulfilling of the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-34. The laws of the Old Covenant are inside Christians (Zechariah 8:8) in righteousness and in truth, as the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts and to our minds and actually lives inside us.
Lord, thank You for Your saving grace. I praise You because You can not lie, and because You do not change Your plan of salvation. Lord Jesus, we are grateful to You for making intercession for us before the Father. As You do so, let us draw ever closer and closer to You. Make me more like You today than I was yesterday. Amen.
Tags: Colossians 2, God's will, happiness in the Bible, John 16, knowing God's will, Libertinism, Manichaeism, Romans 8, suffering in the Bible
Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
The heresy in the church in Colossae was an early example of what would later become called Manichaeism. Manichaeism was started by an Iranian false prophet named Mani. It taught that the “spirit of the world” must be denied to the point where misery was a necessary ingredient of Christian service. Originally, its ideas competed with Christianity, but its principles appealed to some Christians, and the Gnostics attempted to sort of “adopt it into” Christianity, although it was quickly denounced as a heresy.
The truth is that God’s will for your life is not that He simply wants you to be miserable. However, in an attempt to counteract the false teachings of Manichaeism, it may be that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. The crisis in the modern Church is that we have a tendency to associate God’s will only with our temporal happiness. We fail to take into account the eternal weight of glory (Romans 8:18) which might be built, and we devalue perseverance and discipline as means of sanctification.
God does not get a kick out of you being unhappy in your marriage or on your job or from any physical or financial limitations you might have, but neither does He give carte blanche to be guided by your feelings. God is God of the decretive and He’s God of the absconditus, but He’s also God of the circumstances and the details.
As Christians, we are soldiers, so we have to train (unpleasant but necessary); we have to go to battle (excruciating but necessary); and we will eventually get to enjoy the spoils of victory (have a feast and ride in a parade), which is joyful while still being God-glorifying.
So, you may get the joy of helping people on a job you hate, and you may experience the ecstasy of “making up” (or the virtues of patience and contentment) after enduring mistreatment by your spouse. Either way, God’s will for your life is sanctification and joy in Him. Don’t get too caught up trying to demonstrate your “free will.” We are terrible judges of our own summum bonum. We are “settlors” when God wants us to be “overcomers.”
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Romans 8:35-37 (emphasis added)
Tags: commentary on Matthew, Herod Antipas, Luke 13, Matthew 13, Matthew 14, pearl of great price, Romans 8, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, tested faith
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
This parable is known as the “Pearl of Great Price,” not to be confused with a collection of writings by the heretic Joseph Smith, known by the same name and promulgated by he Mormon cult.
The pearl is a gem of unity. Unlike a diamond or emerald, it loses value if cut or carved. Pearls are the product of suffering. They are formed gradually – alone, in the dark, hidden from the world. Then, one day, they are revealed – in glory. It is important to remember that men, apart from the power of God, don’t seek the Savior, and that we can’t purchase salvation. Jesus sought us, and, in a sense, He “sold everything He had” – He gave His all – He died – to purchase His Church.
Matthew Chapter 14 mentions Herod the Tetrarch, also known as Herod Antipas, the son of “Herod the Great” (who had the male children of Bethlehem killed). Herod the Tetrarch had John the Baptist killed under the manipulation of his wife Herodias. When he heard of Jesus, he feared that He might be John the Baptist resurrected, and he was determined to kill Him once and for all.
Notice Christ’s response when He was warned that Herod had put a hit out on Him.
The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
Jesus used the term “fox” as a feminine reference – a way of letting Herod know that Jesus knew that his wife was calling the shots.
There were multitudes following Jesus. During this time He fed 5000 men, plus women and children, by miraculously multiplying five loaves and two fish. The disciples were learning, and they were right where the Lord wanted them to be, right in the center of His will. So it seems like there should have been “smooth sailing.”
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
Didn’t Jesus know there would be a storm? Why was He praying? Was He praying that there would not be a storm? Why would He do that when He could just command the waves and wind to be peaceful? No, Jesus was praying for the Disciples to prove their faith in the storm.
He is doing the same thing today. He knows we are in the storm. He sees us. He cares. The storm is for our good. He is praying and interceding for us with the Father.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Tags: 1 Peter 3, children's catechism, deity of Christ, Hebrews 10, Jesus Christ, right hand of God, Romans 8, the Ascension
Question 19: Where is Jesus now?
Answer: He is in Heaven with God the Father.
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
It is important for children to believe that, after Jesus died and rose from the grave, He showed Himself alive to many witnesses, and then ascended up to Heaven – still fully God, but also still fully human, in His resurrected and glorified body.
Other key verses to know:
Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
I Peter 3:22
Tags: 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Corinthians 2, Acts 8, Colossians 3, Ephesians 5, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, John 3, John 6, John 7, Luke 11, Philippians 4, pneumatology, Romans 8
Have you ever attended a church service or a conference that turned out to be sort of a religious pep rally where the speaker did his best to get you all fired up to do something, but then stopped short of actually telling you how to do it? Last time I wrote about the importance of being “full” of the Holy Spirit. Now we will look at how to do that.
The first clue lies right there in the verse that commands us to do it:
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
How do you get drunk with wine? You drink it – lots of it!
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
I Corinthians 12:13
That Spirit referenced in I Corinthians 12:13 is the Holy Spirit, and you have access to Him if you are truly a Christian – just like every other Christian has access to Him. So how do you “drink of the Spirit?” You drink the Spirit by “minding the things of the Spirit.” In other words, since the Spirit is not really a liquid, and we are using a metaphor here, you have to set your mind and your affection on spiritual things. You have to focus on the things of God and get involved in doing them. If you wanted to drink a large amount of water you would go to where the water is. You would pick it up, and you would pour it down your throat.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
1. Initiate spiritual thoughts and actions.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Think about that with which God would want you to be involved.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Get full of the Holy Spirit by thinking about – and doing – the types of things the Holy Spirit loves to do: things that help others; things that build up others; things that edify; things that bring praise and glory to God; things that magnify Christ Jesus – which brings us to the second way to get full of the Holy Spirit.
2. Imitate the Lord Jesus.
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
If you came to Jesus, repenting of your sins, believing the truth about Him, and calling upon Him to save you from the wrath of God that you and I deserve, then you “drank” of His Spirit, and, after that, rivers of this “living water” exist in you and flow out of you. Therefore, you “drink the Spirit” by living, loving, and leading like Jesus. You need to live a pure and holy life, because that’s how Jesus lived. You need to love the people around you – and especially the people who seem unlovable – because that’s what Jesus did. You need to lead people into a right relationship with God, because that’s what Jesus did.
3. Indoctrinate yourself with Bible principles.
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
You need to read and study and meditate on the teachings of Jesus. You need to go to church and Sunday School and learn about, put into practice, and live out the teachings of Jesus. You need to be a student of the records of what He said during His time on earth in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you are going to have to find out what the Bible teaches, both in the “red letter” words, and in the rest of the Bible, too, including the teachings of the Apostles.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
I Corinthians 2:12-13
If we will indoctrinate ourselves with the words of Jesus and with Apostolic teaching, we will be filled with the Holy Spirit.
4. Interact with the Holy Spirit Himself.
He is a person. He is not a source, a power, a mystical cloud, a thing, or an “it.” When you are dealing with a person, you must cultivate a real relationship.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
You can’t control the wind, but you can certainly interact with it. It is important – and perhaps this is the most important thing to know about how to be filled with the Holy Spirit – to pray for Him to fill you.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit.
You have to want to be Spirit-filled for the right reasons. He can not be manipulated.
But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
“Simony” is the purchasing of church offices, but Simon’s real fault was in thinking he could manipulate and control the Holy Spirit for his own profit. He was covetous (“in the gall of bitterness”) and he was being used by Satan (“in the bond of iniquity”). The wrong way to ask God for the Holy Spirit is with an ulterior motive of manipulation. The right way is with a heart that seeks to please God. Remember, when you are filled with the Spirit, here is what you will find yourself doing: praising the Lord; thanking the Lord, serving others humbly because of God.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Tags: commentary on Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiastes 1, Job 7, King Solomon, Romans 8, Solomon, Sunday School lessons on Ecclesiastes
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
As we study the book of Ecclesiastes, you’ll find that many of the principles put forth don’t seem to fit in with the joy we usually proclaim when we talk about the Bible. Many of these sayings, taken alone, with an earthly perspective, don’t seem to match up with the promise of Romans 8:28 – even though they’re clearly from God. However, the conclusion of Ecclesiastes teaches us that the principles of how God works, when combined together, make all things work together for good to those who are the “called” – the “ekklesia” – those who are separated out of this world unto God by faith.
That’s where the word “Ecclesiastes” comes from – the Greek Word for a “called out assembly.” In Hebrew the word is “qoheleth” (ko-HAY-leth), which means “preacher,” or one who presides over an assembly while speaking to them. The Greek word “ekklesia” is where we get the word “ecclesiastical,” which means “related to a church.”
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
The human instrument that the Holy Spirit used to write the Book of Ecclesiastes appears to have been King Solomon, and it was probably written near the end of his life. It is generally accepted that the Holy Spirit used Solomon to write Proverbs and Song of Solomon, as well.
King Solomon is known for two main things: wisdom and wealth. He was probably the richest human being in the Bible and possibly the entire world. He was even richer than Job. As Solomon began to look back, he spoke about the things he had done and all the experiences he had and all the tests he conducted to determine the meaning of life.
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
We have to be careful about taking doctrine from books like Ecclesiastes and Job. One of the practices of the cults is to take isolated Bible verses out of context and build fanciful doctrines around them. Here are a couple of examples in Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 of statements which contain greats truths in their context but could seem contradictory of other passages of Scripture on their face:
That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
Ecclesiastes is full of these kinds of statements – when isolated they don’t seem to fit in with the doctrine of the rest of the Bible.
Here’s an example from Job:
As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.
To get the correct understanding, we have to look at who’s speaking. It is true that someone said Job 7:9, but what he said is not always true.
Tags: 1 John 5, common expressions, Ephesians 2, John 11, John 14, life, Matthew 10, real life, Romans 6, Romans 8
Has anyone ever given you this strange piece of advice? Maybe you were speaking to someone about receiving Jesus as their Savior, or about their relationship with God, or about coming to church or getting involved in Sunday School. Obviously exasperated, they told you, “Get a life! Stop bugging me about all that religious stuff.”
Christians are more interested in the Life than “a life.”
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 14:6 (emphasis added)
Those who have the Life want to tell others to get the Life. When someone tells you to “get a life,” it is a snide way of saying there are many choices about how to live, and you are choosing the wrong way. But the born-again believer knows there are only two choices when it comes to eternal life. You will trust Christ and receive it or you will reject Christ and be denied it.
There are a number of ideas in the Bible which seem paradoxical from an earthly, finite point of view. For example, those who have been redeemed from slavery to sin have true freedom even though they are slaves to Jesus Christ. At the same time, those who are enslaved to sin often believe themselves to be free. It works much the same way with the concept of spiritual life and death.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Romans 8:6 (emphasis added)
The “dead” do not know they’re dead.
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Ephesians 2:1-2 (emphasis added)
I couldn’t find the expression “get a life” in the Bible, but the Bible does talk about “finding” life and “losing” life.
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Matthew 10:39 (emphasis added)
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:23 (emphasis added)
The Bible says very specifically that Jesus is the way to the kind of life that is stronger than death.
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
I John 5:11-13 (emphasis added)
Jesus is not only the way to life. He is the Life.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
John 11:25-26 (emphasis added)
The issue is not whether you will “get a life.” The real issue is whether you will believe and receive THE Life.
Tags: common expressions, common expressions in the Bible, eye to eye, eyes, Isaiah 52, messengers, Romans 8, watchmen
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.
Isaiah 52:8, emphasis added
The expression “eye to eye” or “seeing eye to eye” has come to mean “a meeting of the minds.” When we say that we see eye to eye with someone, it usually means we have found something on which we agree. I have to go to the eye doctor quite frequently, and the examination always involves him looking through this gadget that he jams into my eye socket. At that point, he and I don’t always agree on how “relaxed” I should be, but because our faces are so close together, and because he is using his eye to look into my eye, we are literally, if not figuratively, “eye to eye.”
The image of seeing “eye to eye” in Isaiah 52:8, however, is not really a picture of two people who are face to face. It is more of a description of people who are standing side by side, looking at something from the same viewpoint.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
God’s messenger is exuberant because he is bringing news of God’s deliverance. This is exceedingly good news, so the watchmen on the towers can actually tell from the way the messenger runs, even from a great distance, that he is bringing glad tidings of victory, not the discouraging news of defeat.
Therefore, the watchmen lift up their voices. They are excited to be seeing “eye to eye.” They are of “one mind with God:” they are seeing God’s people the way God sees His people.
Sometimes, as Christians, we are quick to get together and bemoan bad news: “Oh no, the stock market is crashing.” “Oh no, it hasn’t rained enough.” “Oh no, it’s raining too much.” “Oh no, the corrupt politicians are ruining our country.” We sometimes sound like a bunch of whining children, and someone who didn’t know better would get the impression that we have no idea that there is a God in Heaven Who is in control, Who hasn’t forgotten how to rule and reign, Who hasn’t fallen off His throne, and Who loves His people and is perfectly capable of making ALL things work together for an ultimate objective GOOD. Maybe we should stop fearfully and desperately searching each other’s eyes for some temporal, earthly sign of “hope,” and, instead, stand shoulder to shoulder, side by side, and train our eyes upon the King of Glory, Who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-seeing.
Tags: Acts 20, Apostolic doctrine, didache, James 3, John 14, Judges 17, Romans 6, Romans 8, teachers
If someone takes on the responsibility of being a “teacher,” and if what he is teaching is itself important, then the job of teaching becomes a very important job. If a teacher of anything “important” carries a great weight of responsibility, then a Bible teacher carries the greatest weight of responsibility of any teacher.
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
Those who would teach the Bible are held accountable. They are responsible for wanting to see their students grow – and I don’t mean “grow” in the sense of an increased number of students, although that is often a good goal to have as well. Bible teachers should want their students to grow in faithfulness. They should also want the time of teaching to be “fun” (or at least enjoyable on some level.) But most of all they should have a goal of being able to stand before God one day knowing that they have actually taught the Bible – regardless of the results.
Noah, Jeremiah, and many of God’s teachers and prophets did not see the earthly “results” they would have liked to see – but today they stand vindicated before God because they faithfully proclaimed and taught the Truth of God’s Word.
There are three principles that have helped me stay motivated, encouraged, energized, and focused as a Sunday School teacher: Truth, Type, and Treasure.
Truth: Realize that, when we teach from the Bible, we are teaching the Truth. If what we are dealing with is not absolute Truth – Truth personified (“I am the Truth…”), then we are wasting our time. We would be better off just entertaining people and keeping them busy instead of worrying about our Bibles if we are not committed to Truth.
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
Paul was speaking to the Church and he was giving sort of a farewell address. He had been with them, teaching them for some time, and he was about to go on a missionary journey. We usually think of being “free in the Spirit,” but the gift of the Holy Spirit comes with a great responsibility. He frees us from disobedience. He does not free us so we can engage in self-indulgence. This is real freedom, not the world’s idea of freedom. The world’s “freedom” is the worst type of slavery – slavery to self and to sin.
Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
As a Sunday School teacher, when someone leaves my class for good, I want to be able to declare truthfully before God that I am “pure” (innocent) of his “blood.” How can I do this? Only by declaring the whole counsel of God. If you are a Bible teacher can you say that you have talked to your class about the uncomfortable things of the Bible? Sometimes it’s relatively easy to tell students that “all things work together for good,” but have you told them about the sinfulness of boys and girls, of men and women? Have you told them about the holiness and righteousness and justice and wrath of God? Have you tried to explain what it meant for God to sacrifice His beloved Son? Of what it cost – and what the realization of that cost should mean in our lives – so we can be the children of God? When I presume to teach the Bible my attitude should be influenced by the thought that the students’ lives are in my hands.
Now if that sounds like an instance of inflated ego or boastfulness, let’s remember that, if they are in my hands, I am in God’s hands. I would rather be able to say that their lives are “in my hands” than that their blood is “on my hands.”
Type: We must realize that when we teach we are to make a “type,” an “imprint.”
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
The “form of doctrine,” the “type of teaching” handed down from the Apostles was known in the Greek language as the “typos didache.” A good illustration is the way old typewriters used to make an imprint on a piece of paper – or the way the seal or signet ring of an ancient king or Roman official would make an imprint in hot wax on a document. Bible teachers should deliver messages from God’s Word with such passion that it makes an imprint on the students – in such a way that they are “stamped” with orthodox teaching. Unless you are teaching a group of students that have an unusually large amount of Bible knowledge, or unless they are already under the teaching of someone else who does, they will not get the “didache” anywhere else. Children certainly do not get get it in school. It is not taught on television. Sadly, more and more these days, it is even absent from religious instruction. Your students will be prone to seduction by what “seems” good, by what “looks” good, by what “sounds” good, and by what “feels” good. We are living in a time when almost everyone does what seems right in his or her own eyes. A lesson plan can be erased, an arts and crafts project can be erased, a prize for being the best student can be erased. But a “type,” a permanent imprint, can not be erased.
A “type” must be pressed down hard. For a teacher this is hard work – the type must be held down for a while. It requires endurance, persistence, and determination. God has called you to deliver the “typos” – the imprint. Therefore, He will give you the strength and the ability – even the stubbornness or steadfastness – to do it.
We have seen the Truth and the Type. Next time, we will look at the Treasure.