Tag Archives: Word

When Our Lord Comes!

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“After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)

This is the first of the great “I am’s” of Scripture, and it was given to Father Abraham at a time of both great victory and great despondence. The Lord had enabled Abraham’s little army to vanquish a much larger Amorite host, but then, still childless, he was suddenly overwhelmed by his loneliness and vulnerability in an alien land.

Then Jesus came! When Christ much later affirmed His eternal self-existence to the Pharisees (“I am,” He had said), He claimed that Abraham had seen His day and rejoiced (John 8:56). This experience, recorded early in Genesis, was, no doubt, that great occasion. As the living Word (John 1:1) by whom all things were made (v. 3), He assured Abram that He, Himself, would provide all needed protection (“thy shield”) and all needed blessing (“exceeding great reward”). And then it was that “he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal existing Creator and Redeemer of all things, is no less able today than then to be our protection—and our provision, as well.

Note also that it was the Word of the Lord which came to Abram in a vision. This is the first use of the Hebrew word dabar in Scripture to mean “word,” and here it is the Word of God personified. This still further identifies the vision with the pre-incarnate Christ, who would eventually become God’s incarnate Word (John 1:1, 14).

Thus, as to Abram, God says, “Fear not!” Adam, indeed, was justifiably afraid when he heard the voice of the Lord (Genesis 3:10), for he had only a fig leaf for a covering. But, like Abram, we have a strong shield, which is none other than the Lord Himself. HMM

Practicing Righteousness

“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7)

Every genuine Christian knows that part of the salvation gift is the promise of being made “unblameable in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 3:13). We sometimes have trouble, however, with the concept of present-tense holiness in our everyday lifestyles.

John speaks of the abiding Christian who “sinneth not” (1 John 3:6). Indeed, such a Christian “doth not commit sin” (1 John 3:9) because, John notes, the “seed” of God “remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Furthermore, “whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18).

It’s accurate to translate those passages with the “continuing” implication of the Greek structure (i.e. “does not continue in [the practice of] sin,” etc.). However, the emphasis is on an obvious, continuous, clearly embraced lifestyle of righteous living!

The visible transformation from a worldly conformity (Romans 12:2) begins with a desire for “the sincere milk of [God’s] word” (1 Peter 2:2), fashioning ourselves after God’s holiness “in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:14-15).

Neither are we to let sin reign in our bodies, but we are to yield ourselves as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:12-13). Since we are “risen with Christ,” we are to “mortify” the fleshly appetites, “put off” emotional outbursts that reflect an ungodly nature, and “put on” godly attributes so that whatsoever we do is done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:1-17). HMM III

Have the Mind of Christ

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“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

The mind of the natural man is “a reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28), a “carnal mind” (Romans 8:7), and a “defiled” mind (Titus 1:15), characterized by a daily walk “in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:17-18).

When a person is born again through faith in Christ, however, he should be “transformed by the renewing of [his] mind” (Romans 12:2) and should henceforth seek to conform to the mind of Christ in every attitude and every decision.

But what is the mind of Christ? As our text says: “Who hath known the mind of the Lord?” Paul echoed the same question to the Romans: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34).

There are many aspects to His infinite mind, of course, but the key is undoubtedly the great attribute of sacrificial love. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who . . . became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-6, 8).

Thus, following His example, we should “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). We should constantly “consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest [we] be wearied and faint in [our] minds” (Hebrews 12:3). We should receive “the word with all readiness of mind” and serve “the Lord with all humility of mind” (Acts 17:11; 20:19). Herein is the mind of Christ. HMM

How to Know the Truth

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“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17)

The apostle Paul, in his last epistle, wrote about certain philosophers who would be “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). In the next verse, Paul makes it clear why such people, no matter how scholarly or well educated they seem to be, are still incapable of accepting real truth. “So do these also resist the truth,” he says (v. 8). They could not learn the truth because they were not willing to believe or obey the truth when they learned it.

For example, a very vexing controversy among modern Christians is whether or not the Genesis account of six-day creation can be so interpreted as to accommodate the billion-year, geological-age system of Earth history.

Perhaps the difficulty, in this as well as in other such doctrinal controversies, is a basic unwillingness to believe doctrines plainly revealed in God’s Word when they conflict with doctrines based solely on human reasoning. When the Lord Jesus spoke the words of our text, He was speaking to arrogant religionists who regarded Him as nothing but an itinerant preacher, rejecting His teachings, even though they knew these teachings were fully biblical.

His rebuke of these hypocrites is truly a timeless criterion for recognizing God’s truth and knowing His will. Such a heart does not try to twist God’s Word to accommodate a human philosophy, nor does it try to accommodate one’s personal will by persuading himself that it is God’s will. God’s will is always consistent with God’s Word, which is written to be easily understood by anyone who is willing to believe His Word and do His will. HMM

The Power of Faith

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“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)

When God grants the gift of faith to enable us at the point of salvation (Ephesians 2:8), it isn’t a static power that merely resides in our minds but is rather an empowerment that is expected to grow into a dynamic and demonstrable “divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

Faith preserves and protects us.

Jesus insists, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). These words are precise. Once faith is exercised, an eternal transaction takes place wherein a person is passed from spiritual death to eternal life. This is an absolute change and eliminates the possibility of hell (John 10:28-29).

Faith is power for effective prayer.

The “mustard seed” promise in Matthew 17:20 does not refer to size or amount but to quality. The Greek comparative hoce translated “as” in that passage refers to the same kind of faith as the mustard seed. Just so, the promise of Matthew 7:7 (if you ask and seek, you will find) depends on our confidence (faith) in the heavenly Father.

Faith is the shield against the Enemy.

God’s armor in Ephesians 6:10-18 lists “the shield of faith” that provides an ability “to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” That shield is defensive in the sense that it only provides protection when we use it to block the darts. The active use comes when we “resist the devil” (James 4:7) as we remain “stedfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). HMM III

The Prophetic Reason for Christmas

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“And [Joseph] knew her [Mary] not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” (Matthew 1:25)

The actual birthday of Jesus was sometime in the fall (September or October) rather than in December. The date is of lesser consequence, however, than the reason for the celebration (Isaiah 1:18). Heaven itself celebrated the birth (Luke 2:8-14). And after the shepherds got over their fear, they couldn’t stop telling the news.

Then there were the wise men from the east who came to worship the one “born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1-2). They got there well after the birth, having put their lives on hold, and willingly gave of their time and treasures to honor this great King while they rejoiced with “exceeding great joy” (Matthew 2:10). Surely all Christians should worship and rejoice as well as open our treasuries when we celebrate Christ’s birth.

But if we just focus on the birth, we may miss the greatest reason for the commemoration. After all, there was nothing uncommon about the physical process. The conception, now that was miraculous (Luke 1:35):

The eternal “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The great Creator and Son of God, “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20), submitted to the will of the Father and “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). That was why heaven celebrated.

Counting back nine months from around September puts us pretty close to the end of the previous December. Perhaps our sovereign God has orchestrated events so that we would celebrate the real miracle of the conception: “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). HMM III

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