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The Necessary Light

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June 17, 2017
The Necessary Light
“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26:18)

All human experience understands the relationship between darkness and light. Those who love wickedness crave the darkness to hide their deeds (John 3:19).

Jesus insisted that He is the “light of the world” (John 8:12). Now in His glorified state, the Lord Jesus—our King of kings and Lord of lords—is described as “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Timothy 6:16). This is not a mere metaphor. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

It is certainly clear in the Scriptures that those who have not yet been twice born must come “to the light” before they can ever receive the gift of eternal light (John 3:20). Indeed, the very process of “coming” is empowered by the drawing power of the Godhead Himself (John 6:44). No one who is “dead in trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1) is able to come out of darkness on their own into the light without the supernatural power of the “light” Himself.

Once we are rescued from the darkness by the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus and “birthed” from above by the power demonstrated in the resurrection of our Lord, we who are so redeemed become “children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). Thus empowered, we are to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7) and have no “fellowship . . . with darkness” (2 Corinthians 6:14). With the “armour of light” complete (Romans 13:12), we can openly let our “light so shine” that we become a “light of the world” (Matthew 5:16, 14). HMM III

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Be Ye Separate

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June 16, 2017
Be Ye Separate
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

The doctrine of separation from “the unclean thing” is neglected today by professing Christians, but it is still here in God’s Word. The context indicates that Paul is warning against Christians being “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” and urging us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 6:14; 7:1).

Such separation does not mean having no contact at all with unbelievers, “for then must ye needs go out of the world” (1 Corinthians 5:10), whereas Jesus commanded, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). He also prayed to the Father, “not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15).

He does demand, however, that we are not to compromise with unbelief or with the unclean thing. We are “born again” into the family of God through simple faith in the person and saving work of Christ; but the full manifestation and fellowship of our relation with the heavenly Father as His spiritual sons and daughters is evidently, in this passage, conditioned on the vital principle of separation from all unbelief and filthiness of the flesh, with Jesus as our example (Hebrews 7:26).

We are specially warned to “turn away” from those who, “having a form of godliness,” attempt to accommodate the naturalistic viewpoint of modern scientism within the Scriptures, thus “denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5). “Be ye separate, saith the Lord.” HMM

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True Love

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keep going or moving don’t quit or stop continue don’t give up signJune 14, 2017
True Love
“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.” (Song of Solomon 8:7)The Song of Solomon, as part of God’s inspired Word, is much more than an ancient erotic poem, as some have interpreted it. Solomon was given great wisdom by God, so that he “spake three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five” (1 Kings 4:32). Of these latter, he apparently considered this to be his masterpiece, his “song of songs” (Song 1:1). It can best be understood as a pure love song describing the courtship and marriage of Solomon and his first bride, long before he later married “many strange [that is, ‘foreign’] women” (1 Kings 11:1) who “turned away his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4).Another interpretation, favored by many Bible scholars over the centuries, is that the story is an allegory whose theme is the love of Christ and His heavenly bride, the true church.That is, it really does seem to describe the love of young Solomon and his first bride. Such love had and still has God’s blessing, for the union of man and woman in permanent, loving marriage has always been God’s plan, ever since Adam and Eve (note Christ’s confirmation of this in Matthew 19:3-9). It is “the works of the flesh,” including adultery and fornication, that God condemns.But the song can also bring great blessing to the reader as he sees therein the eternal love of the Lord Jesus and His heavenly bride. Our text verse, read in this light, is a glorious truth. Not even the waters of a great flood could quench such love, nor all the possessions of a wealthy king ever purchase it. It is true eternal love, bought by the blood of the Bridegroom and received with undying faith by His beloved bride. HMM

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Waxing Old, like a Garment

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June 13, 2017
Waxing Old, like a Garment
“Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” (Psalm 102:25-27)

This remarkable passage, quoted also in Hebrews 1:10-12, anticipates the famous second law of thermodynamics, or law of entropy, indicating that everything in the physical universe is growing old and wearing out. God created everything in the beginning, winding it up like a great clock, so to speak. Because of sin and the curse, however, it has been running down and “perishing” ever since. Jesus also said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away” (literally “are passing away”) (Matthew 24:35).

This universal scientific law is also anticipated in Isaiah 51:6: “The earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner.” That is, the law of decay and death applies both to the earth and its inhabitants. The concept of universal evolution is clearly refuted both by Scripture and true science.

Note that our text also anticipates that, although the earth is growing old and seems about to die, it will suddenly be changed, like a garment. The old garment will be discarded and a new garment put on. Peter puts it this way: “The heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:12-13).

Now, although the universe is perishing and will one day be suddenly renewed, its Creator never changes. His years will never end, and His Word and His righteousness will never pass away. HMM

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From Disciples to Brethren

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June 9, 2017
From Disciples to Brethren
“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17)

It is interesting to note that our Lord never called His disciples “brethren” until after His resurrection, and our text, which identifies them as such, was the first thing He uttered after rising from the dead, at least as recorded in Scripture.

Until then He had referred to them in a variety of ways, including “little children” (John 13:33), “brethren,” in the sense of brothers in a family (Matthew 12:49), and even “friends.”

“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). Certainly the disciples held a special place in Christ’s heart.

But it was not until He had risen from the dead, He who was “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18), the “firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20), that His disciples, and indeed all who would “believe on [Him] through their word” (John 17:20), could be made “sons of God” (Romans 8:14). “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). This high standing comes as a fulfillment of His determination to “be the firstborn among many brethren” (v. 29).

He has relabeled the “great congregation” (Psalm 22:22, 25 quoted in Hebrews 2:12) the “church,” identifying the individual members as His “brethren,” and is not “ashamed” to do so (Hebrews 2:11). As we see in our text, His God is our God, His Father is our Father; in all ways, we who have believed on Him are His brothers. Oh, what a standing is ours! JDM

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The Battle for Purity

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June 7, 2017
The Battle for Purity
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19)

One of Paul’s major messages to his young disciple Timothy was to strive for purity in every area of his life. Compromise and impurity were not to be glossed over; they were to be vigorously opposed.

Concerning purity in doctrine, Paul charged, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). He was to “charge” his followers not to wrangle over trivial issues and not to listen to false teaching (v. 14). They were to “shun” vulgar and empty talk, knowing that such will only lead to more impurity and doubt (vv. 16-18). Furthermore, he was to actively “oppose” those who taught or lived by any other code, doing everything possible to “recover” those ensnared by satanic lies (vv. 25-26).

A prerequisite for an effective battle for purity in doctrine is purity in character. A Christian leader must be prepared for the work. “If a man therefore purge himself from these [i.e., false teaching, practices, and attitudes], he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (v. 21).

Finally, a Christian leader must have proper and pure relationships with both those who are under his influence and those who must be opposed. “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves” (vv. 24-25). This is a difficult task, but as in our text, our foundation is sure, and we are known fully by the One who leads and empowers us in the work ahead. JDM

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Sowing Continually

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June 6, 2017
Sowing Continually
“In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6)

In the Bible, the common occupation of sowing seed is frequently used as a symbol of witnessing for the Lord. Unlike an actual farmer, however, Christian seed-sowers are to engage in their occupation perpetually, day after day, morning and evening, everywhere they go. “Cast thy bread upon the waters,” the wise preacher said, “for thou shalt find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1). The sowing is often difficult but is necessary before the fruit can grow, and the promise is that “they that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5).

Often others may reap the fruit of our seed-sowing labors (or we may reap the fruit of theirs), but that is all right, for Christ Himself said that “one soweth, and another reapeth” so that “both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together” (John 4:37, 36). Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Some seed, faithfully sown, may not seem to grow at all. In Christ’s great parable of the sower, much of the seed fell by the wayside or on rocky or weed-infested ground, but “other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit” (Matthew 13:8). It is our job to be sure that the seed we sow is good seed, wherever we go—by word, by life, by giving, by listening, by our very presence, by praying, by whatever we say or do or even think—and then to trust God to bring forth the fruit according to His own perfect will.

“Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters” (Isaiah 32:20). Therefore, “in the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening,” and God will prosper our faithfulness in His own good way and time. HMM

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