Worthy Conduct

Philippians 1:27Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – All too often we compartmentalize our lives into the spiritual and the worldly. In spiritual situations we conduct ourselves as a Christian should. In other situations, our behavior may not be grossly improper, but also not altogether consistent with our Christianity. This should not be. We are who we are wherever we are and should conduct ourselves appropriately.

My Advice – No matter what situation you find yourself in, whether at work or with friends, ask yourself if what you are doing is consistent with your profession as a child of God.

No More Change

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NO MORE CHANGE Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.” “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  (Revelation 22:11-15)

Continue On Those who do wrong and are vile are told to continue to do so, and those who do right and are holy are told to continue to do so. These exhortations have puzzled some, as they appear to encourage people to remain in their wicked state. This clearly cannot be the case. As John and Jesus point out, the time of the Lord’s return is near. If people do not heed this final prophecy from the Lord and turn from their wicked ways they will enter eternity a fallen creature. Afterwards, no change in a person’s conduct or destiny will ever again be possible.[i]

This is not an arbitrary (it follows from God’s righteous character) or a capricious (He has long delayed not willing that any should perish) judgment. It is the natural law of causality (cause and effect). One that mankind has been forewarned about and for which God has provided a remedy. No worse punishment can God lay on ungodly men than to leave them to themselves (continue to be…).

The solemn lesson is for sinful man to be converted now in what may be the brief time that is left (Revelation 22:10) before “I come” (Revelation 22:7, 12). Otherwise, he must remain unconverted forever. Sin in the eternal world will be left to its own natural consequences.[ii] Those who ignore the warnings will be left outside (outer darkness) the gates of God’s presence.[iii] The final judgments of both the wicked (rejected God’s grace) and the righteous (accepted God’s grace) will be judgments of works (“according to what he has done”). This is the joyous expectation of those who are faithful (those who wash their robes) and the fear of those who have not been faithful (everyone who loves and practices [all that is evil]).[iv]

Alpha and Omega Once again Christ is described as the Alpha and the Omega (first and last letters of the Greek alphabet). He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Christ is before all Creation and He will continue to exist after the present creation is destroyed. He is, always has been and always will be the Eternal One (Revelation 1:4, 8, 17; 2:8; 21:6).[v]

Up Next – Final Words.

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References

[i] Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 988–989). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[ii] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 604). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[iii] Dockery, D. S., Butler, T. C., Church, C. L., Scott, L. L., Ellis Smith, M. A., White, J. E., & Holman Bible Publishers (Nashville, T. . (1992). Holman Bible Handbook (p. 804). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[iv] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 989). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[v] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 989). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Ready for Battle

Ephesians 6:12 – Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace…the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. 

My Musings – A soldier would not go into battle without being properly armed and protected. So it should be with us. We do spiritual battle every day but are largely unprepared for it, then wonder why God allows us to get beat up so much of the time.

My Advice – Be ready for spiritual battles. While there may not be demons hiding behind every challenge or misfortune, you still need to be wary. Satan does not want you living for God, so be on your guard. Be truthful and live a righteous life. Be ready to share the good news. Strengthen your faith. Be secure in your salvation and study God’s Word.

 

Wholehearted Servitude

Ephesians 6:5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Today, it is not uncommon to do as little as possible to earn the paycheck. To not respect our employers. To take advantage when we can. To work hard when being watched, but slack off when we are not. God calls us to a much higher standard – not like we were doing it for ourselves, but as if we were doing it for Christ.

My Advice – Earn the trust and respect of your employer. In so doing, you will also earn the respect and trust of God.

As Long As the Earth Endures

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Genesis 8:22 –  “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – It’s been a “long” winter here in the Midwest, as a seemingly continuous cycle of heavy snow, followed by freezing rain followed by record cold spells has marked the “winter of our discontent.”  Like many other things in life, our current circumstances have a tendency to overshadow our past experiences.  For example, the last several winters have been fairly mild.  Before that, we’ve had colder weather and deeper snows.  But spring has always followed winter.  Flowers will bloom again and summer will be here once again. We’ll forget about the winter weather and begin to complain about the heat (“well, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity).  And the debate about climate change will rage once again.
We’ve been visiting my son this weekend, and our thoughts have turned to a different type of season as we reminisced about the past and about how quickly time passes. As our son enters late spring (he’s almost to the mid-point of “three-score and ten”) and we face the autumn of our life (I know it’s autumn because the “leaves” are turning color – not to vibrant reds and yellows, but to gray).
And so it goes.  The seasons of weather/climate and the seasons of life – but only “as long as the earth endures.
My Advice – Jesus admonished us about being adept at reading the weather signs but missing the signs of His return.  How much longer this earth will endure is a matter of much debate. The certainty of His return is not.  Are you ready for harvest time?

No More Mystery

NO MORE MYSTERY I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”   Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near.” (Revelation 22:8-10)

The Greek word means a revealed secret, something that was formerly hidden, but now is made clear by God’s revelation (Romans 16:25; Colossians 1:26–27).[i] Daniel was told that some of his prophecies should be “sealed until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9) and remain a mystery (formerly hidden). John, on the other hand, was told not to seal up the words of these prophecies (now being made clear).[ii] Yet many still find the book of Revelation to be anything but clear.

The Book of Revelation was not intended to be an imponderable mystery for which no key is available. It is the Word of God, not the vague imaginations of a confused or senile and aged Apostle John. Since it was intended to describe future events, we can likely expect to see the prophecies with a great deal more clarity as events begin to unfold. The Word of God was not given to remain an obscure puzzle. It was given to be understood by those instructed by the Spirit and for whom the time is right.[iii]

The fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy was distant, while that of John’s prophecy is “near” or imminent. The New Testament is the age of grace and ushers in the time of the end and the fulfilment of all things.[iv] It is a time for mysteries to be unsealed, such as grace being extended to the Gentiles. The age of grace will someday come to an end and the Tribulation, the age of wrath, will begin.

As we have seen before, there were clearly parts of John’s revelation (and Christ’s Olivet discourse) that were meant to be understood in that generation, the things that were intended for their time. But perhaps it was meant to be more fully understood by future generations, for the things that are intended for their time (the fullness of time).[v] Revelation is clearly intended to reveal facts and events relating to and leading up to the second coming of Christ. Perhaps it is that generation that will need to understand the mystery more fully. If so, there will be no excuse for not anticipating it before it happens (“see I have already told you”), and recognizing it when it begins to happen. Thus, the viewpoint of some scholars that the Book of Revelation is an impenetrable puzzle is expressly contradicted by this and other passages.[vi] “He who has an ear, let him hear ….”

Up Next – No more change.

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References

[i] Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). In Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (p. 337). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[ii] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 988). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[iii] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 988). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[iv] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 604). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[v] Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 22:10). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[vi] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 988). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Foul Mouth

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Ephesians 5:4Nor should there be any obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – Of course, we know that taking God’s name in vain is specifically forbidden. But beyond that, how do we know what language is improper? If it is considered vulgar or obscene by the world’s standards we should clearly avoid using the language. If we would be uncomfortable using the language around our parents or clergy, then it should also be avoided. If in doubt, use a different word.

My Advice – Watch your language. There is no need for obscene, profane or coarse language. Do not allow yourself to become de-sensitized by foul language just because it is common.