As we will see in Verse 32, this parable is primarily applicable to those who had heard the message of John the Baptist, some rejecting and some receiving and responding. Those that had rejected the message of John were the “chief priests and the elders of the people,” (See Verse 23) and those that had responded positively to John’s message were the “publicans and the harlots.” (See Verse 31)
Just what was the message of John the Baptist? His was a message of repentance and of preparation for the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. It was his task in life to prepare the people for His coming, to ready them for His ministry, and then to “decrease.” John’s message made people to see that their sins were many, and that they simply were not prepared for the coming of the Lord Jesus. Many responded to John’s message, following that repentance with water baptism, a baptism of repentance. For the most part, the religious leaders of the Jews did not receive John’s message, refusing to repent and be baptized. They did come to hear him preach, for we read that John condemned their hypocrisy. In Matthew 3:7 we read, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance; And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Needless to say, the religious leaders were not very impressed with John, but neither did they impress him at all. And, of course, John was correct and they were not.
In the parablel, the one son that had said he would not work in the father’s vineyard, but later complied, represented the “publicans and the harlots..” The son that originally agreed to work in the father’s field, but later did not, represented the religious leaders. They had claimed to be servants of God, being obedient to His Word and will, but later proved to be anything but faithful, fully rejecting the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. Needless to say, we must ever respond to God’s Word in obedience, and ever be faithful to our Blessed Savior. Let’s busy ourselves in His vineyard!
This is a very important parable. Here, please read the following passages: Isaiah 5:1-4; Jeremiah 2:21; Psalms 80;8-16. The vineyard speaks of Israel, revealing the Divine favor shown her by the Lord and His expectation of obedience and commitment from her accordingly.
The history of Israel is a sad one. She did not return to the Lord the “fruit” due Him, and rejected the messengers He sent to correct them, even to the point of persecuting them. Some were even slain in their rebellion against God. This resulted in the Lord chastising Israel, and eventually judging them with “blindness in part,” meaning that most of them were rendered incapable of grasping the truth of the Gospel of Christ. (See Romans 12:25) Consequently, the focus of His dealings was turned to the Gentiles and His heart toward the Church. That partial judicial blindness will continue until the Church is completed, at which time once again His workings in the world will be reverted to Israel.
The saddest reality taught in this parable has to do with Israel’s rejection of Christ, rejection that moved them to cry, “Crucify Him !” The Lord still loves Israel and is certainly not through in His dealings with her, but the reality and accuracy of this prophetic parable is beyond question. The Church’s duty is too pray for Israel and to continue to reach as many of God’s chosen people with the Gospel as possible. May He make that a reality in our lives. Amen”
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” Revelation 19:7-9
The Bride of the Lamb is the Church, the called out body of believers that was birthed on the day of Pentecost and will be taken out of this world at the Rapture, just before the Tribulation Period. See Ephesians 5:21-33; Revelation 4:1-3 with Revelation 19. The marriage spoken of in this parable will see its fulfillment in the event prophesied in Revelation 19:7-9.
The call to salvation is a call to be part of the Bride of Christ, His Church. That call came through the witness of the Gospel of Christ coupled with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (See John 3:1-8; 16:8) For the most part, that invitation was shunned by the majority of the Jews, and the Lord turned that invitation to Gentiles. We should be most thankful that the Lord was willing to go out into the highways to bid as many as would respond to come to the wedding.
There is only one way to be allowed to be part of this great wedding, and that is having the proper garment. According to Revelation 19, that garment is “fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.” That garment is the righteousness of Christ given to the believer when saved. The old garments of sinfulness were placed upon the Lord Jesus through His death on the Cross. It is very sad but true that many are endeavoring to right themselves with God through their good works and through their self merit. Like the man found at the wedding without the proper garment, these poor deceived souls will be sent to a terrible place of “outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Salvation is such a wonder gift, and such a gracious invitation. Praise God for the day that invitation was given to you!
Matthew 24:32-35; Mark 13:28-31; Luke 21:29-33
Please note that the context of the above passage is dealing with the Second Coming of Christ, the event prophesied in Revelation 19:11-21. To help understand the context, please read Matthew 21:18-22. In the Old Testament, Israel was represented by the olive, the vine and the fig. When Jesus “returned into the city,” the city referred to is the city of Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel and the center of Judaism. As He made His way toward the Temple, He passed by a fig tree and stopped to pick figs to eat along the way. When there were no figs, He cursed the tree and “presently the fig tree withered away.” That fig tree was representative of Israel. Here read Isaiah 5:1-7 and compare this with Jeremiah 24. The Lord’s will for Israel was that they might bring forth the fruit of righteousness as His chosen people, but they simply did not. Not only did they not bring forth fruit unto the Lord, they rejected the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that rejection, the Lord turned His attention to the Gentiles with the Gospel of Christ.
Now consider this, beginning with the Babylonian captivity, six hundred years before the birth of Christ, Israel cease being an independent nation. This condition continued until May of 1948, when once again after over 2500 years, the world recognized Israel as a sovereign nation. Many believe that this was the “budding of the fig” that Jesus spoke of in our verses for today. If that be true, the message is easily understood. Read carefully the account given in Luke 21:29-33. The message given by the Lord was concerning the rebirth of Israel, and the implications of that event in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. It would appear that the generation that witnessed the rebirth of Israel would be the generation that would witness the events that were prophesied surrounding Christ’s Second Coming. Suffice to say, beloved, we are living in what must be considered the “last days,” and we must certainly live accordingly. Amen!
Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-48
Let’s concentrate on Luke 12:42-48, for this passage gives the greatest amount of information to help in understanding the parable. It was given in response to Peter’s question found in Verse 41, “…Lord, speaketh thou this parable unto us, or even unto all?” Jesus had been speaking of prophetic issues surrounding the Second Coming. (See Verses 35-40)
In answering Peter’s inquiry, Jesus spoke of “servants” and their “lord.” Each individual servant is identified by the words, “that servant.” The first servant mentioned was the one that was found “so doing” his lord’s bidding (See Verse 42) when he returned. “That servant” would be rewarded by being made “ruler over all that he (his master) hath.” A second servant is known as “that servant” that says “in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken….” That particular servant, “when his lord cometh” will be “cut…in sunder…” and will have his “portion with the unbelievers.” The third servant in this parable is one “which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his lord’s will.” This particular servant “shall be beaten with many stripes.” The final servant was ignorant of his lord’s wishes, therefore his punishment would be lighter. Jesus finished this parable by stating, “For unto whosoever much is given , of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
Now notice the beginning of this parable found in Verse 42 where we read, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household….” A steward was a servant that was placed over the household of his master. He was a manager or superintendent. In Paul and Peter’s writings, pastors are referred to as stewards. See the following passages: 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 1 Peter 4:10. Pastors have been placed as servants of the Lord to oversee His work on this earth. They are indeed “ministers,” “servants” to the Lord and His Church, but have the duty of overseers.
This parable was given in answer to Peter’s question, “Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all.” The apostles were the first overseers of the Lord’s work, and represented all that would follow. This parable seems to have been aimed at those who would serve as “stewards” of the Lord’s work throughout the years that would follow. Some are “faithful and wise” stewards that will be rewarded for their faithfulness. Others are “stewards,” but are wicked, and will be appointed their portion with unbelievers, for they truly are not believers of Christ. Some will be chastised for their disobedience with few stripes, some with many, depending on their service and based upon their understanding of Biblical truth. As our Lord said, “For unto whom much is given, of him shall be much required….”
This is a familiar parable. Publicans were tax collectors for the Roman government, and as such were considered traders to Israel and the lowest of the people of the land. The Pharisees were considered to be the highest in rank among the people of Israel spiritually. Of course, Jesus felt differently about the Pharisees and the publicans. He saw through the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and condemned them strongly in His addresses.
This parable was a strong rebuke of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.
In the parable, a Pharisee and a publican both went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee’s prayer was filled with praise for himself and all that he did in the exercise of his religious beliefs. It was also filled with condemnation of others, especially the publican that was “standing afar off.” The publican, on the other hand, was repentant, seeking God’s forgiveness in a most humble way. Jesus’ summary of the parable revealed the great lesson needed. “I tell you this man (the publican) went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall he exalted”
Paul wrote, “For by grace are ye saved through faith….” (Ephesians 2:8) “Grace” is the unmerited favor of God toward man through the Lord Jesus Christ. The fact is that all mankind is pictured in the publican. None are worthy of the least of God’s favors, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Until men see themselves as unfit for God’s goodness, and realize their sinfulness, they will never be able to come to Christ for His blessed salvation. It is only those who recognize their sinfulness and unworthiness, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that will know the blessedness of being “justified,” or declared right with God. Have you been declared right with God through faith in the Lord Jesus?
Remember please that in the “kingdom of heaven,” there are “tares among the wheat,” and “fowls lodging in the branches,” which signifies both the unsaved and the saved in the body of professing Christendom. The same is seen here in this parable of the ten virgins
The virgins were waiting to go forth to meet the bridegroom. Each had their lamps, but five were considered wise while the other five were considered foolish. All ten of the virgins slumbered and slept when the bridegroom tarried his coming. When the cry came at midnight, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,” all the virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. Here is where the foolish virgins were pointed out as being foolish. They had no oil for their lamps. When the wise virgins went out to meet the bridegroom to go with him to the marriage, the foolish virgins were left behind. When the foolish virgins came to the door of the marriage seeking an entrance, the reply was given, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” Jesus gave the conclusion of the parable by saying, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
In the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is represented by oil, specifically olive oil. We saw that earlier in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The pure olive oil used in the golden lampstand in the Tabernacle was a picture, a type of the Holy Spirit. It is through the illumination of the Holy Spirit that sinners are brought to the Light of this world, the Lord Jesus Christ. The virgins were foolish because they had no oil, just as the unsaved have not the Spirit of Christ. (See Romans 8:9; Jude 1:19)
It is a most sad reality that there are those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ who in reality are not. Like the five foolish virgins, or like the tares among the wheat, in appearance they seem to be genuine followers of Christ, but they are not! There is nothing in this world more tragic than the fact that there are people attending apostate churches around the world where the true Gospel of Christ is not declared. To them, being a Christian is quoting a prayer, or lighting a candle, or observing certain religious rituals. It will be a sad day when these blinded souls are turned away with the words, “I know you not.” And, beloved, it will be a terribly sad day when false teachers stand before God with the heavy weight of having led precious souls astray with their errors. Praise God for the truth that sets free, and for sound Churches that still proclaim the joyful sound, “Jesus saves, Jesus saves!”
The “talents” given by the man to his servants before leaving on his travels were measurements of money; of gold, or of silver. His desire was that they might wisely invest his resources so that he might receive a return on his invest upon his return. Those servants that wisely invested the resources were rewarded accordingly. The one servant that buried his talent also gave account to the master, and was sorely punished.
What greater resource or source of wealth could be given than the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. It is through that gospel that we have been introduced to the true and greatest riches of all time. (See Ephesians 3:4-12) The one “servant” that buried his “talent” shunned the Gospel, burying it out of sight. When judged, this “servant” was cast into “outer darkness,” the eternal abode of all who thus shun the Gospel of Christ. The servants that saw the “talents” as the true emblems of value they were invested them wisely and were rewarded accordingly. The way the Gospel is invested is through faith, and then through the sharing of that faith with others. The Gospel of the Lord Jesus is of immeasurable worth, and they they see it so and believe its truths will be blessed eternally. Amen!
The Lord Jesus used parables to teach His great truths to His disciples, and we will be studying them until the day when He comes for us. These devotions have been brief overviews of the parables, and certainly not detailed studies. It is my prayer that you will be encouraged to delve deeper into their wisdom. Seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you study these precious truths spoken by our Lord.
“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”
This week (These devotions were written in March) we learned that the Evergreen Packaging plant in Canton is scheduled to close sometime in June. This plant employs over 1200 people, not to mention all of the contractors, vendors and suppliers whose livelihood is derived from the “Mill.” This is really heartbreaking and troublesome news for our area.
News like this can be fearful. I’m sure there have been many sleepless nights since this closing came to light. In times like this, God’s Word is a great comfort. The Psalmist, speaking from a lifetime of experience, gave some very comforting words to troubled hearts; “…I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Jesus encouraged His followers with these words, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” He also promised in His word to never leave or to forsake His own. Companies might, so-called friends might, be He will never. Praise God for that reality!
2 Timothy 3:1-5
This is a tremendous chapter of prophetic truths. See how it is opened; “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” The Greek word translated “last” is “eschatos” from which we get our word “Eschatology,” the doctrine of future events and prophetic revelations. The description of “last days” humanity is not very flattering. The truly sad thing is that all around us we see the very illustration of these descriptions that were given two thousand years ago. We are living in the “last days.”
Look at the description given in Verse 2. Everything given by way of describing “last days” humanity is anti-God, anti-Bible and anti-holiness. “Lovers of their own selves,” rather than lovers of God. “Covetous,” which is a breaking of the tenth commandment. “Boasters, proud,” both describing attitudes and traits which the Lord despises. “Blasphemers,” which means speaking evil or slanderous things. “Disobedient to parents,” another example of broken commandments, and “unthankful and unholy,” which things reveal humanities godlessness and ingratitude.
As we continue looking at the descriptions given these verses, it is like a detailed description given of modern humanity in the twenty-first century. Beloved, these are truly “last days” in which you and I are living, and they are days filled with “peril.” But they are also filled with hope, the hope of the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The next time you see an illustration in real life of the prophesies of 2 Timothy 3, just praise the Lord for you can know that He is coming soon! Amen!
2 Timothy 3:6-9
Who were “Jannes and Jambres?” Some are of the opinion that these were two of the “magicians” of Pharaoh’s court that “withstood” Moses, the man of God. While their names can be found in no other place in the Bible, it is certain that these two “withstood” the very man that had been sent of God to lead the Children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt. One of the attitudes of the last days is that of “Jannes and Jambres,” men who withstood the bearer of truth, Moses. “Last days” humanity will be resisters of truth, and will actively withstand all who endeavor to be proclaimers of that truth. Do we see that in our world today?
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof….” There is no lack of professing Christianity in our world, but there is a definite lack of Biblical, Christ honoring, sin-hating and Satan fighting Christianity. There is much of “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” This is similar to Paul’s words in Romans 1:22 where we read, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools….”
Know this, beloved, “their folly shall be manifest unto all men….” The day is coming, perhaps nearer than we think, when the Judge of all the earth will return, and all will be made manifest; truth and error. Don’t allow the ungodliness and anti-Christian attitudes of the day to defeat your spirit. Keep looking up, your redemption draws nigh. The Lord is coming, O hallelujah!!
2 Timothy 3:10-13
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse….”
Jesus prophesied that the latter days would be like the days of Noah and Lot. You and I have lived to see those days arrive. Who would have thought just a few years back that our enlightened world would be treating our innocent youth as is happening today? Who would have dreamed that libraries for the young would be filled with what could only be considered pornographic literature? Had you told our grandparents that one day medications would be given and surgeries would be performed on young people In a twisted effort to change their biological sex, they would have thought such actions impossible for the “Christian” country they proudly called their homeland.
Think of the changes that this country has witnessed since prayer was thrown out of the schools of our youth and abortion became a “right” for any who sought it? Perversion has become not only acceptable, but has become an encouraged lifestyle. Right has become wrong, and holiness and purity things of the past. What is this all about? Last days!
Beloved, we are living in some of the most perilous times this world has ever known, but also some of the most exciting and hopeful. Our Lord is coming for His Church, and that coming may be soon. If we are indeed living in the last days, we certainly need to be ready and waiting for our Lord to come. Don’t allow these days and their wickedness to defeat you. Be thrilled, diligent and faithful. This could be the very day when the trump sounds and we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. “Even so come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)
2 Timothy 3:15-17
How can the follower of Christ survive this “last days” in a way that is pleasing to his or her Lord? How can we be saved from these perilous times? Paul’s counsel to Timothy provides the answer.
First, Timothy is reminded of the godly examples he was blessed with from his youth and since his introduction to Paul. From his youth, Timothy had been taught truth. (See 2 Timothy 1:5) You are blessed, child of God. If you were taught Scriptural principles in your formative years. God be merciful to youth today that are being led down the dark path of sin and impurity ! Not only had Timothy been taught from youth the Holy Scriptures, he had been mentored by Paul. Have you someone in your past that was an example of godliness, holiness and faithfulness to the Lord? How truly blessed you have been if you had such influence in your life.
But if not, along with your relationship with the Lord, you have been given His Holy Word. What a blessed resource of wisdom, direction and strength to lead us through these perilous times. Everything you need the Lord has provided! Praise His Name! Our challenge is that we utilize what He has provided to the fullest extent. You can do this, child of God. Just keep looking to and for Him. Keep reading, believing and obeying His Holy Word. He will get you through as a victor. What perilous times! Yes, but what exciting and hopeful times! Amen!
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another….”
The Church is made up of individual believers in the Lord Jesus; individuals that come from different backgrounds, with different strengths and weaknesses, and with various personalities. According to the Lord Jesus, and reemphasized in other passages throughout the New Testament, God’s people are to.love one another just as Christ has loved us. Paul’s challenge and charge is that we be “kindly affections one to another: and that we practice “in honour preferring one another….”
There is absolutely no room for selfishness in the body of Christ. We are a spiritual family with a command from our Lord concerning our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to be concerned for each other; praying and caring for one another in the spirit of Christ. Jesus said that it would be by our love for one another that others would know that we are His disciples. Please read the following passages and determine by our Lord’s help that we will be obedient, and in doing so create in our church an atmosphere of brotherly love that will clearly identify us as followers of our Saviour. (John 13:34-35; 15:17; Acts 4:32; Galatians 5:6-22; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1)
1 John 4
“…Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
John informs us that in this world there are two “spirits,” “the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” It is essential that we understand this, and that we who are followers of Jesus Christ be able to distinguish between the two. To fail in this is to invite confusion and catastrophe into our lives.
See the following passages concerning truth: (John 8:28-32; Psalms 25:5-9; Proverbs 2:1-7; John 17:17) Truth is based upon and comes from the Word of God. As believers, we must walk in the light of God’s Word, know and understand that Word and allow our lives to be governed and led by its principles.
Error has been with humanity since the fall in the Garden. Satan’s first lies plunged the human family into error, and that error has only increased with the passing of the ages. (2 Timothy 3:13) Please note the following passages: (Genesis 3:1; 2 Corinthians 4:14 ; 11:13-14; Revelation 12:9) All error comes from the deceiver, and he has been most successful in spreading his deception.
Believer, you are not of the night, but of the day. You have been given the light of truth through the Holy Spirit. Walk in that light, and be alert and aware of the error that surrounds you in this world. The “spirit of truth” will guide you into all truth and enable you to overcome the error in this world. Amen!
“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.”
The “perfect” man is not one who has no sin, but one that has been made complete through his relationship with the Lord. The “upright” speaks of that person that is endeavoring to live his life in keeping with the Lord’s will as expressed in His Word. The Psalmist declared that the “end of that man is peace.” Is that not what we all are really after as far as this life is concerning? Are we not all seeking after peace in our hearts? Peace comes from knowing and trusting Christ, and from being obedient to His wishes expressed in the Word of God. Note these verses that speak of the very opposite of this principle: (Isaiah 48:22; 57:21; Job 15:20-24; Romans 3:17) Now examine the following passages that refer to the pursuit and finding of real peace: (Philippians 4:6-9; John 14:27; Isaiah 26:3)
In our restless world we can know and experience the peace of our God. Let’s seek that peace, and be satisfied with nothing less that a full experiencing of the state of mind that the Lord has willed to us and desires for us to know. Amen!
“And immediately he received his sight….”
The vast majority of people that were confronted by the Lord Jesus during the days of His earthly ministry did not receive from Him what they could have. Most rejected Him and His message. Hear their cry before Pilate, “…We will not have this man to reign over us.” (Note this “prophecy” was made by the Lord Jesus in Luke 19:12-14. Compare this with John 19:14-15) Because most refused Him, they would never know the blessings He could have bestowed upon them. It is like what happened in His home town of Nazareth, where we read, “And he could do there no mighty work…because of their unbelief….” (See Mark 6:5-6)
However, there were many that did receive blessings and favor from the Savior, just like the blind man of our reading today. He heard of the Lord, believed in Him and called upon Him for his specific need. And, praise the Lord, that need was met. By the way, that is exactly what happened to you when you were saved. You heard of the Lord Jesus, His death on the Cross and His resurrection. You heard that He would birth you into His family if you would only call upon Him in faith. You heard, you believed and you called upon the Savior. Consequently, your eternity was changed and filled with hope.
Most today reject Him. That is so sad! But praise the Lord, all do not. Some hear, believe and trust Him as Lord and Savior. Let’s pray together that more in our area will hear the blessed story, believe in the Lord Jesus and call upon Him for His wondrous salvation! And, let’s continue hearing, believing and trusting Him that we may continue to receive His gracious blessings and favor. Amen!
“…It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.”
God judged Sodom and Gomorrha in the days of Abraham and Lot. The judgment was severe and unmerciful. The only mercy shown in those cities was that which was shown to Lot and his two daughters. God’s mercy had been extended to the entire family, but it was refused. Although the cities of the plain were judged with complete destruction, those citizens of Sodom and Gomorrha will still stand before God at the Great White Throne Judgment. (See Revelation 20:11-15) This is that judgment Jesus was referring to in our Scripture reading for today.
The cities that had been, and would be privileged by hearing the Gospel of the kingdom preached by the twelve that were sent out will, according to our Lord, give account for that privilege in the judgment. It is to that the Lord was referring when He declared that it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the judgment than for these cities in Israel.
If that be the case, and it certainly is, what accountability will the blessed nation of America have in the judgment? There has perhaps been no country in the world outside the nation of Israel that has been so blessed by God. It is sad to say, but true, that daily our land seems to drift further and further away from the Lord and His Word. I personally wonder if this land has already passed the point of no return. Be that as it may, it behooves followers of the Lord Jesus to pray more than ever, and to be faithful in the service of our Savior. If there is any hope of revival in this land, it must begin in the house of our Lord. (See 1 Peter 4:17) May it begin in our own hearts and in our church! Amen!
1 Peter 4
“…what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”
What an important question! The Bible provides several insights as far as answering this question. What about those who obey not the gospel? What will their fate be? One verse of Scripture declares that they most likely will enjoy their lives of sin, at least for a season. (See Hebrews 11:25) There is obviously fleshly pleasure in sin, especially in the beginning. Some folks you see today that are openly living in complete opposition to God and His holy Word seem to actually be thoroughly enjoying their life, and seem to be genuinely prospering as they do so. Of course, Scripture is right when it says that this is only “for a season,” for the day will come when the pleasures of sin will be replaced with the realities of reaping what has been sown. Paul wrote, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
Some who have yielded themselves completely to a life of sinfulness reap those sinful years while still in this life. It is often to be observed in their facial expressions, and proven through the difficulties and hardships those sinful lives are bringing to bear. Others know no such difficulties or hardships, and seem to live their entires lives with plenty and pleasure. But in all honesty, this life is extremely short lived, and eternity is long. Here is where “the end…of them that obey not the gospel of God” is proven to be so heart rending and frightful.
The “end of those that obey not the gospel of God” is spoken of repeatedly in God’s Word. Our Lord of the terrible place called “hell” more than He did of that wonderful place called “heaven.” The end of those whose lives have been dedicated to sinfulness will reap an eternity of woe. What a tragic thought! May the Lord place upon our hearts the burden needed to endeavor to reach souls for Christ that they might be saved from the wrath to come. Amen!
Reading my devotions this morning I came across this one word that stopped me, challenged me and brought many thoughts to my heart. Jesus was speaking of His return, of His Second Coming, and of the events surrounding that glorious day. He challenged His listeners with this thought, “And take heed to yourselves, lest…that day come upon you unawares.” “Suddenly, unexpectedly and unforeseen” is the thought expressed in that word. According to this warning and challenge, there is a real danger that the events surrounding the Second Coming could come upon us suddenly, and find us ill-prepared, not expecting the nearness of His appearance.
“Take heed….” This is a phrase that was used by the Lord often. It was a word of warning that He used concerning the giving of alms, (Matthew 6:1) the doctrine of the Pharisees, (Matthew 16:6) the despising of one of His little ones (Matthew 18:10), and of several other dangers we might face. It is the Lord informing us of things we may face, or that we may actually be in danger of being guilty of. In the case of our text, He was challenging us to being ready and watching for His Second Coming. It was warning us to overcome the tendency of being so absorbed with our lives that we are not attune with Him, His Word or of His promises and prophesies. When you think about that, and compare that with the message to the Laodicean Church in Revelation 3, it is easy to see the real possibility of that very spirit of lukewarmness infecting the hearts of “last days” believers, causing them to be “unawares.” O beloved, let’s pray that this not be the case with us, but that we be ready, watching and waiting for the sound of the trump. Amen!
“…Take heed and beware of the leaven of Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”
Verse 12 tells us that Jesus was warning His disciples to “beware” of “the doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Obviously, from this warning, there is a real danger for God’s people to get ensnared with unsound doctrinal issues. And, beloved, there are myriads of unsound doctrinal issues circulating in the professing body of Christianity today. These unsound doctrines are snares to entrap God’s people, rendering them ineffective, unproductive and robbed of glorious doctrinal truths designed for their benefit as God’s people.
How can I “beware” of unsound teaching? The very best way to readily identify error is to be thoroughly bathed in truth. It is to be well read in Scripture, to have an in depth understanding of God’s Word. That takes study and prayer. Because of Satan’s ability to twist the Word of God, to take its truths and add to them or subtract from them, thus causing them to be lost in error, the child of God must “beware” unsound doctrine.
Know this, believer, our Lord would not have warned us of something that was impossible to have any effect on us. If there was no way we could become ensnared by unsound teaching, He would not have said, “Take heed…the doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Unfortunately, many have been effected negatively by unsound Biblical interpretation and teaching. May our Lord “guide us into all truth” (John 16:13) by the Blessed Holy Spirit! May He protect us from Satan’s continual efforts to question and cast doubt on God’s Holy Word. (See Genesis 3:1) Let us “take heed” of unsound doctrine, and let us ever seek His truth to lead us, to nurture us and to prepare us into ever good work. Amen!
“…he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
In our last devotional thought, we looked at the danger facing all believers of being led astray doctrinally. We noted that there is a need for study and prayer to ensure that we are doctrinally sound. Paul wrote to Timothy, “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) In our reading today, the Lord Jesus taught His disciples concerning the important ministry of the Holy Spirit, promising that He would teach Christ’s own all things. Who better to turn to for a right understanding of God’s Word than He that inspired the writers chosen to give us the Word. (See 2 Timothy 3:16)
We must learn to rely upon the Holy Spirit to guide us in the Word of God, and to fill us with His wisdom. I would encourage you, child of God, to spend some time praying before you reading the Bible. Ask for His guidance as you examine and are influenced by God’s Holy Word. The One Who inspired the Blessed Book will gladly open its precious truths to you.
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Before reading any further in this devotion, please read the following passages carefully: Deuteronomy 32:22; Psalms 16:10; Acts 2:25-27; Luke 16:20-31; Ephesians 4:8-10; Isaiah 5:14-16.
God created hell for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41) It became the place of the departed dead, both the saved and the unsaved during the Old Testament years. There was a gulf that divided the place of torment and that of paradise. Like the rich man of Luke 16, the unsaved were held in the place of torment, suffering in the flames of Divine judgment. The saved were held captive in the place of paradise. When Jesus died on Calvary, He descended into hell, the place of the departed dead, to rescue those held captive in paradise. He took the believing thief that had died on Calvary next to Him into paradise and then, along with all those that had died in faith, on into heaven prior to His resurrection. When this happened, the place of the departed dead, hell, became in its entirety the abode of the unsaved; “…hell hath enlarged itself….”
When Jesus descended into paradise, could those across the great gulf see, hear and know of His entry? What did they observe? Was there rejoicing, shouting and praising of the Messiah? What was their reaction when suddenly paradise was emptied of its captives and hell enlarged itself?
Don’t you thank God for your eternal salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ!
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22
Many consider the Book of Genesis to be a book of myths handed down through oral traditions. We do not. Like all of God’s Word, Genesis was given by inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, and is an inseparable part of Scripture. The events recorded in Chapter 3 provide the only answer to the problems that have historically faced humanity, and are continuing to face modern man today.
In Adam all have died, both spiritually and physically. His sin in the Garden brought forth death to beings that God intended to live eternally. “…and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:15) Adam died spiritually the day that he sinned against God, and he began the process of physical death which would eventually end his existence on the earth from whence he had been taken. He passed that “death” on to all his descendants. In Adam, all are dead spiritually, and all are in the process of dying physically. “…in Adam all die.”
In Christ all have the opportunity to “be made alive.” When you were “born again,” (John 3:1-5; 1 Peter 1:23) the life of Christ was imparted to you through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:1-9) Physical death will continue for the human family until death, the ultimate enemy and dread of humanity, will be put away for ever through the Lord Jesus Christ. (Revelation 21:4; 1 Corinthians 15:26)
No, Genesis is not myth. It is Divine truth; the only truth in our world that explains life and death, along with the problems that have always faced humanity. And like the rest of God’s precious Word, leads humanity to the conclusion that life is only possible through our Lord. Thank God for life that is in Christ! Amen!
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins….”
1. In your own words, write out an explanation of what it means to be dead in trespasses and sins. (See Genesis 2:15-17; Romans 5:12)
2. What does Scripture mean when it speaks of being “quickened?” (See 1 Corinthians 15:45; Colossians 2:13; 3:1; John 3:1-5; 5:21; 1 John 3:14)
3. Explain life in Christ that is based upon and brought to reality through faith in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 5:21-26; Romans 5:12-21)
“Wherein in times past….”
Right after Christmas all types of media are filled with weight loss commercials. Why do you suppose that is? It’s all those Christmas goodies! In many of those commercials, there are pictures of “before and after” models posing to show how a particular diet or program can make you look after just a short while. Usually in the before picture, there is a look of total hopelessness on the face of the chubby person, but in the after picture happiness and vitality have been restored.
You have a before and after; a before you met Christ, and an after you met Christ. Before Christ, you were without God and without hope in the world, lost in your trespasses and sins and void of spiritual life. You were facing a Christless eternity in a terrible place created for the devil and his angels. But in Christ all that has changed. Not only have you been given joy and peace, and a purpose for this life through Christ, you have been given the blessed hope of eternal life in Christ. Praise God for Christ delivering you from the reality of your past, and for His given you a blessed present and a glorious future. Amen!
For your devotional study today, read the following passages in conjunction with Ephesians 2:7. (John 3:15; 5:19, 28-29; 6:54; 10:28; 17:2;5:28-29; Revelation 19:7-9)
What a wonderful present and a glorious future we have as children of God through our Lord Jesus Christ!
1. Is salvation and a right relationship with God attained, earned, or is it given freely? Explain.
2. The old hymn declared, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” Grace has been defined using the acrostic, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” It has been illustrated using David’s goodness shown to a descendant of Saul named Mephibosheth for Jonathan’s sake. (See 2 Samuel 9:1) How is our salvation a gift of God’s grace?
3. Although saved by grace through faith, where do “works” come into the equation for the follower of Jesus Christ?
There really was a distinction between Jews and Gentiles in the Old Testament era. God had chosen Abraham and his descendants through which to work to bring the Messiah and the hope of eternal salvation into the world. (Compare 2:12 with Genesis 12:1-3; 18:18; 22:18) Through Israel, the rest of the world, the Gentile world, had the opportunity to know God. (By the way, Israel’s mission was to let the world see the working of God through their nation, their people.)
In Christ, that distinction is removed. He “hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us..,” making of both Jews and Gentiles “…of twain one new man, so making peace….” What a blessed truth! As Gentiles, we had no claim to God or His promises until the Lord Jesus died on the Cross, was buried and raised back to life again. Now, we Gentiles that were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise…” are “made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Praise God!
Now, beloved, our task and mission is to let all know that there is hope for all in the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. All can be told the “…joyful sound, Jesus Saves! Jesus Saves.” Rejoice, child of God, for the glorious salvation you have been given in Christ, and share that blessed truth with others so that they might have the opportunity to know that same joy. Amen!
The saved make up the Church, that “habitation of God through the Spirit.” The Church is made up of both Jews and Gentiles, individuals from all walks and stages of life, that have been brought together through faith in Christ and the operation of God through the Holy Spirit. This spiritual temple, the Church, is holy. It has been made so, and declared so, by the Lord Himself.
Now, beloved, understand this, the true Church of the Lord Jesus is not referring to the professing body of Christendom we see in the world today. There are many organizations and gathering places of humanity that claim the title of “church” that are really not connected to Christ at all. The true Church of the Lord Jesus is made up of all who have a genuine relationship with Him through the New Birth. It is made up of all who have been redeemed through His blood, and regenerated through the power of the Holy Spirit. (See 1 Corinthians 12:13) Are you part of the Church of the Lord Jesus? Have you truly been saved through faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection?
The Church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.” The Church is not buillt upon personalities, programs and plans. It is not built upon popular themes, schemes or the vain imaginations of men. The Church does not succeed due to current marketing platforms. The true Church of the Lord Jesus is built upon Him through the workings and power of God the Holy Spirit. Her foundation, message and hope is the Lord Jesus Christ. May He ever bless our Church, and make her the part of His True Church forever dedicated to His honor, praise and glory! And may our message ever be Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and coming again! Amen!