|April 25, 2017
The Spirit and the Word
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9)
As we see in our text, the Holy Spirit indwells every one who is a true believer, a child of God. Each believer is born again through “the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21), for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
But the role of the Spirit of God and the Word of God in our salvation only begins the Christian’s relationship to them, for we are enjoined to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) in the same sense that a drunkard is filled with and controlled by wine, and to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). These two entities equip us to be effective representatives of Him here on Earth.
Note, however, that in both of these passages the immediate results of such controlling input are the same. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms [primarily the Old Testament psalms] and hymns [songs of praise directed to God] and spiritual songs [a generic word for song, but here ‘spiritual’ songs], singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19), and “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). A Spirit-filled Christian, knowledgeable in the Word, just can’t quit singing!
May we always manifest the work of the Spirit and the knowledge of the Word by our thankful hearts and the songs on our lips. JDM
April 21, 2017
Where Are the Nine?
“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17)
Ten lepers, hopeless and incurable, came to Jesus, begging for His help, and He miraculously healed them. All 10 should have fallen down to worship and thank Him, but only one praised God and thanked Him for His marvelous deliverance.
We are at first amazed at such ingratitude, until we realize that not more than 10 percent of even those people who know about Christ ever stop to give Him thanks for His innumerable blessings—life, freedom, food, shelter, health, family, and especially easy access to the Bible and His gracious offer of salvation—far greater in value than the gift of special healing received by the 10 lepers.
The thankful leper received a much greater gift than the others. “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:19). They had received an outward cleansing of the body, he an inward cleansing of the soul! These words spoken by Christ are found four other times in the New Testament (Matthew 9:22; Mark 5:34; 10:52; Luke 8:48), plus two times where the word for “made whole” is translated “saved” (Luke 7:50; 18:42). This word (Greek sozo) occurs many other times. For example: “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Hebrews 7:25).
Ten lepers were healed, but only one was saved, and the proof of his salvation, received through genuine faith in Christ, was his gratitude, giving glory to God. The primary evidence of being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) is that the one so controlled by God’s regenerating Spirit will be “giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Those who are not thankful to their saving Lord are the 90 percent who have not been made whole. HMM
|April 20, 2017
“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.” (Colossians 1:23)
Many times Christians piously say, “Why get worked up over creation, why don’t you just preach the gospel?” But such a question reveals a faulty knowledge of what “the gospel” consists of, for, as has been noted many times on these pages, the gospel consists not only of the redemptive work of Christ, but His entire person and work as well. The message of the “everlasting gospel” is to “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:6-7). Elsewhere, the gospel includes His coming Kingdom (Matthew 4:23, for example). From creation to redemption to ultimate restoration, all is “good news,” all the work and person of Christ.
In our text we see that the gospel “was preached to every creature,” or perhaps better translated “in all creation.” What was the message of the gospel for which Paul was so jealous? The answer is found in the preceding verses.
Christ is preeminent, literally “the firstborn of every creature” (v. 15), totally God (v. 19). He is the Creator of all things, both physical and spiritual (v. 16), and continues to maintain His creation (v. 17). He leads the church, assuring victory over death (v. 18). He is the Redeemer, the perfect sacrifice for sins (vv. 20-22), providing each believer total sanctification (v. 22). He will ultimately restore all of creation to its original created intent (v. 20).
Only as we recognize and believe the teachings of His Word on the entire “good news,” from creation to consummation, can we hope to victoriously “continue in the faith grounded and settled.” JDM
|April 18, 2017
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
Paul’s “charge” to young Timothy, just before the great apostle’s martyrdom, was urgently needed by Christians in those early days of persecution and incipient apostasy, and his words are even more appropriate today.
The admonition to “be instant” is worth special note. The Greek word ephistemi is translated in various ways (“be present,” “be at hand,” “come upon,” etc.). The main idea is simply to be there, doing what needs to be done at the time it is needed. In this particular context it is stressing the Christian’s responsibility to be there with the right words from the Word of God—words of exhortation, of doctrine, of reproof if needed, yet words given patiently, even when rebuffed by the hearer. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).
Furthermore, the charge applies not only to those times when we are officially on duty, so to speak. It applies to off-hours as well as work time. Be instant out of season, as well as in season! The Christian must always be “on call” when God calls.
The apostle could rightly issue such a charge because he himself had set such an example. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: . . . thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience” (2 Timothy 4:7; 3:10). It is touching that Paul could then use the same word (ephistemi) concerning his own coming death, when he said, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6). He was as ready to die as he had always been to speak, for the Lord! HMM