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"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make
your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never
fall....” (2 Pet 1:10).
One of the most potent weapons a child of God can use
against the devil is the assurance of salvation. Make a man doubt his salvation
and he will falter in his fight against sin. Make him sure of his salvation and
he will cheerfully face all opposition.
Here saints are told to make their calling and election
sure. The words “to make” are a middle infinitive in the Greek. The middle voice
has the subject acting upon itself. So the saints are to make their calling and
election sure to themselves. Their calling and election in Christ Jesus before
the world began is sure and certain. (Eph 1:4; 2 Tim 1:9; Rom 8:29, 30).
Salvation is sure to all the elect of God.
But saints don’t always live in the assurance of their
salvation. The closer they live to God, the more sure they are of their
salvation. Then they will “in no wise stumble at any time.” (literal Greek).
"Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the
glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in
the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head
above all.” (1 Chr 29:11).
We need to be constantly reminded of the greatness of God.
We live in an age of skepticism, agnosticism, and growing atheism. Men mock God
in their words and deeds. Movies, plays, and songs are written in which God and
the Bible are openly mocked.
Even many Christians don’t have the proper idea of the
power of God. Many pulpits picture God as weak and impotent as He begs the
sinners to let Him come into their hearts. Expressions such as “please give
Jesus a chance” are commonly used.
But this is not the picture of God which the Bible gives
us. He is the almighty. Everything belongs to Him and He controls even wicked
men and women for His own purposes. See Rom 9:17.
This God is worthy of our worship and our trust.
"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain;
for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exo
This commandment means, among other things, that we are
forbidden to use the name of the Lord in an empty manner. This means that there
must be a good reason for using His precious name every time that we use it.
When we say “Lord,” “oh God,” or “lordy,” and such expressions we are taking the
name of the Lord in vain.
The slang expression “gee” is a contraction of Jesus (Webster’s
Dictionary) and is taking God’s name in vain. “Golly” is a euphemism for God
and should not be used by those who desire to please God. “Gosh” is also a
euphemism for God.
You may have been in the habit of using some of these
expressions, thinking that they were harmless. But they are not. They are the
taking of the name of our Lord in vain. The sin must be confessed and the habit
must be broken with the help of God.
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we
have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).
Light is a wonderful thing. “... God is light....” (1 John
1:5). The first thing that God created was light. (Gen 1:3).
Darkness is a fearful thing. Those in darkness stumble and
fall because they can’t see where they are going. Those living in darkness have
miserable homes and miserable individual lives.
There is only one way to have light on our pathway. We must
walk close to God. He is the source of light. We walk close to Him as we live
according to His word. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my
path.” (Psa 119:105).
Let us heed the challenge that Isaiah gave to the people of
God long ago: “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the
LORD.” (Isa 2:5).
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive
us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).
This is a wonderful promise to a sin-burdened child of God.
Often when the saint has been overtaken in sin, Satan tells him that his case is
hopeless -- that there is no forgiveness for him this time. The one overtaken in
sin often feels that there is no forgiveness.
But we must not go by our feelings nor by Satan’s lies. We
must go by the infallible word of God. And the word says there is forgiveness
upon confession. The word translated "confess" is HOMOLOGEO and
literally means “to speak the same thing.” When we truly confess our sins we say
the same thing about them that God does. We agree with what God says in His word
about our sins. As a result of the inward conviction of the Holy Spirit we
declare ourselves guilty.
And our merciful God forgives us and cleanses us.
"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James
A double minded man is one who can’t make up his mind what
he wants to do. One moment he wants one thing, and the next moment something
else. The context in James indicates that the double-minded man doesn’t pray
effectively because he wavers right in the middle of his prayer! This man is
unsettled and disorderly in all that he does. He will never get anything
significant done in the cause of the Lord.
The unstable man is like the Israelites of whom Elijah
said, “How long halt ye between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21). The word “halt”
is from PASACH and means "to limp.” The Israelites were just limping
along like a nation of cripples, because they couldn’t make up their minds
whether or not to serve God.
Don’t go limping along. Satan is the author of this
attitude. Be single-minded. Put God first today and every other day of your
"Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt,
that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Col 4:6).
There is a lot more in this verse than meets the eye. To
live according to it, we need to carefully choose each word that we speak. We
use many words that would shock us if we knew their real origin and meaning.
For example, when something pleasant happens to a person
they are likely to say, “That was lucky or that was fortunate.”
Such words should never be used by a child of God. They are pagan in origin. The
words “fortune,” “fortunate,” etc. come for Fortuna, who in Roman
mythology was the goddess of fortune. The word “luck” is a synonym of fortune.
Instead of using such words the informed child of God will
give God credit for all the things he receives. He will call God’s goodness
“blessings” instead of “luck” or “fortune.”
Let your speech be seasoned with grace.
"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it
not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17).
There are sins of omission as well as sins of
actual commission. We may think the sins of commission are
greater, but sin is sin.
Many professed Christians think if they are free from some
of the grosser sins such as adultery, murder, and drunkenness, that they are
doing well. But this verse from James tells us that it is sin to not do that
which God has commanded.
In the parable of the talents, the Lord referred to the one
who had not put his talent to use as a “... wicked and slothful servant....”
(Matt. 25:26). This man was guilty of sin because of inaction!
Have you been smugly resting in the idea that since you’re
not grossly sinning that God must surely be well-pleased with you? You had
better reconsider the matter, repent of the sins of inaction and get busy in the
"Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the
name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.”
The lives of Christians sometimes become very difficult.
Especially is this true of very dedicated followers of the Lord who live in a
complacent and luke-warm age like that of today. When their voices rise in
protest against the ungodliness which abounds on every hand, they are sure to be
persecuted -- at the very least verbally.
When these trials come they need to again study the lives
of those prophets of the past who lifted their voices like trumpets to protest
the rising tide of ungodliness in their day. They stood against incredible odds.
Often they lost their lives without seeing any outward fruit of their work. But
the Lord Jesus said of such: “... for great is your reward in heaven....” (Matt.
5:12). “Just one glimpse of Him in heaven will the toils of life repay.”
"But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by
heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be
yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (James 5:12).
We sin with the tongue a great deal more than we realize.
We are not to utter any idle words. But, because of habits that we pick
up, most of us are prone to say many unnecessary things. Most, if not all, these
unnecessary words are sinful.
It would appall most of us if we had to listen to a
recording of our speech during a day. We probably utter many oaths without
realizing it. But remember that God hears each word. Let us carefully
listen to every word that proceeds out of our mouths and let us cultivate the
habit of letting our “yea be yea; and our nay, nay.”
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by
the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do
appear.” (Heb 11:3).
The first chapter of Genesis makes it plain that God
created the universe, including our heavens and earth, out of nothing. There was
a time when there was no matter. God simply created all material substance by
His word and formed it as He pleased.
Atheists, skeptics, and other so-called intellectuals
believe that matter is eternal. Some believe that God and matter are the same
thing. In other words they believe the universe is “God,” but the Bible teaches
that God is a Person -- not just a mass of mindless matter. God is immaterial;
He is a Spirit. (John 4:24).
How can one believe this? How can one literally believe
what the Bible says about Creation? Only if God has given him faith. Without
faith a man can no more understand this than a dog can understand a man’s world.
"By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as
yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which
he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”
What we do always has an effect on others, especially on
those of our own family. This is particularly true of the heads of households.
Noah’s family was saved from the flood because he believed and obeyed God. When
Lydia obeyed the word of God preached by Paul, her entire household was
affected. (Acts 16:15). The same was true of the Philippian jailer. (Acts
When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled against the Lord
their entire households were destroyed. (Num. 16:23-35).
Let us be very careful how we live before the Lord. We can
be a great blessing or a great curse to the ones who are closest to us.
"And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless
thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing....” (Gen 12:2).
Abraham was not only blessed; he also became a blessing. So
it should be with each of us. God doesn’t bless us just so we can selfishly
consume His blessings. He intends for us to use His gifts for the benefit of
others. If we fail to do this, He will likely cut off His stream of blessings to
The Dead Sea is at the lowest sea level on earth. The
Jordan River flows into it but nothing flows out of it. And it is so dead that
nothing lives in it. So it will be in our lives.
The Sea of Galilee has streams flowing both into and out of
it. It is teeming with life. It keeps on receiving and keeps on giving.
Has God given you money, health, talents? “Give and it
shall be given unto you....” (Luke 6:38).
"(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in
deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Heb 11:38).
It is much better to be considered great in the eyes of the
Lord than great in the eyes of the world. John the Baptist was “... great in the
sight of the Lord....” (Luke 1:15). So were these heroes of the faith in Old
Testament times whose sufferings and deeds of faith are recorded in Hebrews
In the Apostolic Age and since there have also been many
who were despised by the world but who received the gracious approval of God.
The world exalts her own heroes. She builds monuments to
them and writes of their earthly exploits in numerous books. But some day
monuments, books, even the world itself will be burned up by the fire of God.
But those lowly ones, of whom this world was not worthy
“... shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and ... as the stars for
ever and ever.” (Dan. 12:3).
"For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12:29).
We often hear that “God is love.” That is wonderfully true.
But it is also true that God is a consuming fire. This truth is a terror to the
enemies of God, but, it is a wonderful consolation to His friends.
As far as His enemies are concerned, “... he will burn up
the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:12). This will be the eternal fire
of “... hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.” (Mark 9:43).
But the friends of God will not be destroyed by His fire.
For them the fire is designed to purge away the dross of sin that they
accumulate in their daily lives. For them it is the “refiner’s fire” that they
undergo from time to time in this earthly life. “And he shall sit as a refiner
and purifier of silver: and he shall purify
the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer
unto the LORD an offering in
righteousness.” (Malachi 3:3).
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for
ever.” (Heb 13:8).
This wonderful verse reveals much of the Godhood of the
Lord Jesus Christ. First, it says that He is “the same.” This speaks of His
immutability. Men are fickle. They change. But our blessed Lord is perfect. He
never changes. To change would imply imperfection. We can rely on His unchanging
perfection. As the song writer put it: “Change and decay in all around I see: O
Thou who changest not, abide with me!”
Christ’s eternity is also taught here. He has always been,
is now, and always will be. He said, “... Before Abraham was, I am.” (John
8:58). He is now with His people. He said, “For where two or three are gathered
together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20). He will
always be. Paul, speaking of the resurrected saints, said, “... and so shall we
ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:17).
"Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee:
for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” (2 Tim 4:11).
There is a wonderful lesson of restoration taught here.
Mark had once proved cowardly and had in fear forsaken the service of the Lord.
(Acts 13:13). Because of this Paul refused to take him with him the next time he
went on an evangelistic tour. (Acts 15:37-39).
Now, many years later, Mark has repented and become strong
in the Lord. Paul says that he is now profitable for the ministry.
Have you failed God? All is not lost! Beg God for
forgiveness. He will strengthen you, restore you, and make you profitable for
"And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart
and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he
possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” (Acts 4:32).
The early church had tremendous spiritual power. Two
reasons for this were their amazing degree of unity and their willingness to
share what they had with one another. When these conditions are met today, the
power will likely return.
Not everyone sold everything they had. But even what they
retained, they freely shared -- even houses. See Acts 12:12.
Some people criticize this sharing and say that it brought
poverty to the Jerusalem church. But this is not what brought poverty; the
poverty was the result of a severe drought. See Acts 11:28,29.
There is not even implied in the inspired account one word
of disapproval of this holy liberality.
Let us pray that God will soften our hearts and give us
this unity, this generosity, and this power.
"For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou
hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people
of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel
determined before to be done.” (Acts 4:27, 28).
God controls all things! Even the wicked inadvertently
fulfill His will. It was in God’s plan that the Lord Jesus die for His people.
Christ stood in God’s plan as “... the Lamb slain from the foundation of the
world.” (Rev. 13:8).
God is not the author of sin but He uses even wicked men
for His purposes. These wicked ones who vented their malice on the Lamb of God
were acting according to their natures and their desires when they crucified
Jesus. But, unknowing to themselves, they were carrying out the purposes of God.
They were doing “... whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be
done.” (Acts 4:28).
We must bow in reverence and in awe before Him “... who
worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Eph. 1:11).
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl
of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping
thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Gen 1:26).
In this age of amazing achievements of men in almost every
field of endeavor, we hear much boasting of the greatness of man. Secular
humanism has become a religion and man is his own god. But man deserves no
credit. When God created man, He gave him the commission and the ability to have
dominion over all the earth. This commission did not include just the saints but
mankind in general.
It is true that man has misused the commission and abused
God’s good earth, but the commission is still in force. Even wicked men live,
and move, and have their being in him -- not as Savior, but as Creator. (Acts
17:28). Let us give credit to God to whom it is due.
Man can go no farther than God will allow him.
"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring
forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is,
God with us.” (Mat 1:23).
Some so-called Christians today deny the Virgin Birth of
the Lord Jesus Christ. They know not what they say. It was absolutely essential
that the Son of God be born of a virgin. He had to have a human nature in order
to take on Himself the sins of humans. See Heb. 2:14. But He had to have sinless
human nature. This would have been impossible had he had a human father. All the
human race, coming from Adam, were born sinners. See Rom. 5:12.
But Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy
Spirit. See Matt. 1:20. Thus He had a human nature, but was sinless. There
could have been no Savior without this sinless conception and birth. Praise be
to God for His marvelous work of the Virgin Birth of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Truly Christ was and is “... holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,
and made higher than the heavens.” (Heb. 7:26).
"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or,
What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" (Mat 6:31).
Is it not true that almost universally men violate this
command of the Lord? What do most people, even Christians, worry about the most?
Isn’t it rising prices, not enough money, fear of poverty? And yet our Lord says
“don’t worry about these things.”
He doesn’t mean by this for us to be lazy or foolish. He
means that we should do an honest day’s work so far as He provides ability and
opportunity, and let the matter rest with Him.
Follow this command of the all-wise Savior and see if you
don’t feel and get along a hundred per cent better.
"But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon
they tell him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up;
and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.” (Mark 1:30,
We can learn a good lesson from Simon’s mother-in-law. When
Jesus healed her, she immediately began to serve. Many people when either
spiritually or physically sick, want the Lord to heal them. They want to get
well. But, why? All too often it is so they can go back to their old fun-loving
way of life. They don’t want to get well so they can serve the Lord and His
How is it with you? Are you sick? Do you want to get well?
Or maybe the Lord has blessed you to get well. What are you
doing with your physical and spiritual health?
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings,
the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having
authority, and not as the scribes.” (Mat 7:28, 29).
When one has true authority, he doesn’t have to argue. He
just has to make statements. In fact, when one in authority argues with those
under him, he lowers himself in their eyes.
Our Lord didn’t argue. He had authority from heaven. He
just spoke the truth and let it lie with the hearers. God didn’t argue or try to
reason with the atheists and evolutionists. He has authority and He simply said,
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1).
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ isn’t called to argue.
They are simply called to speak with authority. We have no authority in
ourselves, but when we speak God’s word we speak with His authority. Let us be
careful to speak only His word. When we speak our words we cease to speak with
"He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).
John the Baptist was a great man. He stirred the world with
his preaching. He had large crowds of followers. He was truly “the man of the
hour.” But what really made him great was that he realized his littleness. He
didn’t exalt himself or try to make a place for himself. His one aim in life was
to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. He knew that if Christ was going to be exalted
in his life that he was going to have to get into the background.
He didn’t try to draw attention to himself. He pointed men
to the Lamb of God. He constantly said, “... Behold the Lamb of God!” (John
If we want Jesus to be exalted in our lives we are going to
have to do the same thing. Let us concentrate on decreasing that He may be
"John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except
it be given him from heaven." (John 3:27).
We hear people today say something like this: “Christ has
purchased salvation for you but all His work will be in vain if you don’t accept
His offer of salvation. He has done all he can; now you must do your part, or
all will be in vain.”
This is not the teaching of scripture. According to the
above verse a man can’t even receive anything unless the ability to receive it
is given him from heaven. Christ purchased total salvation for His
people. And this includes the ability to receive what He purchased on the cross.
He said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to
me....” (John 6:37). And they don’t come of their own ability. “No man can come
to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at
the last day.” (John 6:44).
God must receive all the credit for salvation. None
of it belongs to man.
"That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour
the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath
sent him.” (John 5:23).
This verse excludes all but the Christian religion from
being true religions. Many religions profess to honor God, but they don’t do so
unless they give full credit to the Lord Jesus Christ as being co-equal and
co-eternal with God the Father. Mohammedans claim to honor God, but they hold
Jesus as merely a great prophet. The Jews profess to honor the God of the Old
Testament but they will never do so until they acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ
as the true Messiah. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons have a high place in
their theologies for the Lord Jesus Christ, but it is not high enough.
No one can honor God until he can from the heart say of
Jesus what God the Father did. Of God the Father it is said: “But unto the Son
he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is
the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Heb. 1:8).
"The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.”
Do you know why that no man had ever spoken like this Man?
Because there had never been another Man like Him. He was the God Man. When He
spoke the blind received their sight, the lepers were cleansed, the lame were
healed. Even the waves and the wind obeyed His voice.
Nothing and no one can resist when He speaks. When He
chooses to speak to the dead heart of a sinner that sinner receives spiritual
life just as surely as Lazarus received physical life when he was raised from
the dead. Lazarus didn’t resist that irresistible voice and neither will any
sinner to whom He chooses to speak. He said, “... the words that I speak unto
you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63). Has He spoken to you?
If He has you will hear Him speak again when “... the Lord
himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel,
and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise....” (1 Thess.
"She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither
do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11).
This woman had broken one of the Ten Commandments of God.
She had been caught in the very act of adultery. But Jesus had granted her
repentance. He had forgiven her. He did not condemn her. We had better be mighty
careful to not be in the position of condemning one whom Jesus has forgiven. We
had better not be found in “Moses’ seat” as the Scribes and Pharisees were,
administering the cold condemnation of the letter of the law. We might find that
“Moses’ seat” will turn out to be a “hot seat” for us.
But if we are in the position of the forgiven one, we had
also better take heed to the words of the Master, “... go, and sin no more.”
"Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot
hear my word.” (John 8:43).
These are amazing words. These people heard the words of
Christ. They discoursed with Him. They were not deaf. There was nothing wrong
with their physical ears. But Jesus said that they could not hear His word.
What did He mean?
They could not “spiritually understand” the import of the
words of the Savior. They were dead in sin. They were not the children
of God. Christ said that “Ye are of your father the devil....” (John 8:44).
A man may hear many glorious sermons, but unless the Lord
gives him spiritual “ears” he won’t really hear. Have you heard the Savior? Has
He so spoken to you that your life has been changed? Then praise Him for it and
live for Him. Where would you be if He had not loved you and blessed you to