Trustworthy Sayings

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Here is a trustworthy saying:  If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.  (2 Timothy 2:11–13, NIV 1984).

My Musings – This is an interesting passage, containing four couplets, each beginning with the word “if.”  What makes it interesting to me, is that the word “if” is typically the introduction to a conditional clause (if a certain condition is true, then a particular result happens), which it is in the first three couplets, but not the last one.  This should cause the reader to question why that is so, because it begs an explanation, which is given in the text.

If we died with Him, [then] we will also live with Him – “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3, NIV). “Unless” also forms a conditional clause.  As with most conditional clauses, we would like to substitute our own conditions (good deeds, live a “good” life, don’t commit any “mortal” sins, etc.), but we cannot.  We must “die” with Him (accept His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf) in order to live (be born again) with Him.  We cannot be born again, if we have not “died.”  We die so we will not perish. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16, NIV 1984).

If we endure, [then] we will also reign with Him – John 3:16, cited above, is not a conditional clause.  Whoever believes has eternal life.  It cannot be eternal if it can be lost.  So this conditional clause must mean something else.  “Well done, my good servant!” his master replied.Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.”  (Luke 19:17, NIV 1984).  How we live (endure in) this life, does not determine if we will live with Him in the next.  It determines how we will reign with Him in the next.

If we disown Him, [then] He will also disown us – This clause stands in juxtaposition to the first clause.  We can either die with (be owned by) Him, or die without Him by disowning Him. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 10:32–33, NIV 1984).  If we disown Him, we will never see the Kingdom of Heaven. To make sure we do not misapply this clause, that having once genuinely accepted Christ we can later disown Him and lose our salvation, the final unconditional clause is added.

If we are faithless, [nevertheless] He will remain faithful – There will be times in our Christian walk that our “enduring” will be less than stellar.  We will be unfaithful at times.  But God’s faithfulness to His promise “whoever believes in Him shall not perish” is unconditional.  He cannot be unfaithful. “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  (Hebrews 6:16–19, NIV).  As Christians, our identity is in Christ, God’s “one and only Son” and  “he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

My Advice – Die with Him so you can live and reign with Him.  Then live a life worthy of the calling.

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Want to become a Christian (die with Him)? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ (endure with Him)? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

I Now Consider Loss

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My Musings – Whether it is how we spend our time, invest our treasure or use our talent, we consider very carefully whether or not it is worth it.  Are there other “things” that would be a better way to spend our time, provide a greater return on our investment or be a more productive use of our talent?  Time, we can never get back.  Treasures can be subject to loss instead of gain.  Talent can go unappreciated.

Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”  (Matthew 16:24–26, NIV 1984).

To follow Christ, we must deny ourselves.  Taking up our “cross” is a powerful image of just how much the “cost” can be.  And afterall, there just might be other ways we’d rather spend “our” time, invest “our” treasure and use “our” talent that we think might profit us more.  But this profit is temporal.  Do we really want to forfeit our soul for temporal gain?

My Advice – We should have Paul’s perspective. Whatever we consider profit, if it is not for the Kingdom, is actually loss (Paul goes on to call it rubbish).  And whatever we do for the Kingdom can never be lost.  It will last forever.  Exchanging the temporal, even if it is “all things” or even the “whole world” for the eternal sounds pretty profitable to me.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon on November 3, 2019. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.

 

No Other Name?

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My Musings – There once was a time, at least in the Western world, that people almost universally accepted that Christianity was the only true path to God, whether they took that path or not.  Today, this is no longer universally accepted even within “Christian” circles.  Outside Christian circles this premise is becoming more and more contemptible.  These three “scenarios” (see below) are being played out like a shell game.  But it’s anything but a game.

You’re Okay, I’m Not Okay – Your path to God looks like the right path to me and I’m on the wrong path.

You’re Okay, I’m Okay – Your path to God might be okay for you, but that doesn’t make my path wrong.

You’re Not Okay, Saying I’m Not Okay – Your insistence that you are on the right path to God and I am on the wrong path is arrogant, intolerant and hateful.

The reality is: that Christianity has always been the only true path to God or it never was. The reality is: that other paths to God  have always existed or they do not exist now.  The reality is: if other paths to God exist, then Christianity is not one of them – because Christ said He was the only path (John 14:6).  The reality is: that it is up to us to decide what we believe (who we believe in).  Some would have you believe that the reality is that there is no wrong answer here.  The reality is: do you really want to bet your (eternal) life on it?

My Advice – Eternal security is not determined by the democratic process.  The majority view is only right if it is right, not because most people believe it is right (or not).  Stakes are too high to just go along with the crowd.  Being politically correct is an insufficient justification in the life to come, one must be absolutely correct.  You owe it to yourself to  investigate these “truth claims” very carefully, then to choose wisely.  The “pea” of truth is only under one of these shells.

This Far and No Farther

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My Musings – “He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them.” And the list goes on and on.  God is sovereign (possessing supreme or ultimate power). Kingdoms rise and fall at His bidding. He tells the seas this far you may go and no further.  I suspect He has also set limits on how far man may go.  We may think that the world is out of control, or that global warming has doomed us, but God is still sovereign – this far you may go and no farther.

In the days of Noah, the inclination of man was only evil all the time.  Talk about out of control.  Yet God finally said, you’ve gone far enough and “cleansed” the world with the flood, leaving only Noah (the last righteous man) and his family.  God’s remnant.  Perhaps we are reaching God’s limit once again.  This time the judgement will be final, purified by fire, and only the elect (saved), His remnant will survive to enjoy eternal life.

My Advice – Make sure you are part of the remnant.  Accept Christ.

Turn His Face

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Numbers 6:24-26 – “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”  (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Think about this for a moment.  God.  The Creator. Eternally existent. All powerful. Glory so magnificent and awesome that no one in the flesh can gaze upon Him and live. He needs nothing that we could possibly give Him, yet He longs for us.  A longing so deep that He sent His only Son to dies for us.  He turns His face towards us and shines upon us.  He graciously redeems us, who otherwise are unredeemable. He blesses us, who otherwise deserve a curse.  He will never grow tired of us, but will keep us close to Himself for all eternity to come.

My Advice – Be a peace in these thoughts.

 

The Heirs & The Disinherited

THE HEIRSTo him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:6b-7)

Overcomers – The heirs of new earth are the overcomers of the old earth. This includes all those addressed at the end of each of the seven letters to the churches (Revelation Chapters 2 and 3) as well as the martyrs who overcome through the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11).(1) As John pointed out in his first epistle, all true believers are overcomers (1 John 5:4–5). So, this promise is not just for the spiritually elite. Because we are the children of God, we shall inherit all things.(2)

Water of Life – People living in most developed countries do not think much about water. But it was a major concern in John’s day. No doubt John himself, working in the Roman mines, knew the meaning of thirst. Tortured saints throughout the ages would certainly identify with this wonderful promise from the Lord – free and abundant living water for all.(3) As is quite evident, this refers not to physical thirst but to a desire for spiritual blessings,(4) a thirst that will be quenched.

He Will Be My Son – This is the only place in John’s writings where son is used to refer to the relationship of man to God.(5) This expresses the intimate relationship between the saints and God in the eternal state.(6) An intimacy not known since the fall.

THE DISINHERITED“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

The Overcome –In contrast to those who were overcomers (heirs of the Kingdom), Revelation 21:8 describes the people who were overcome by sin and would not trust the Lord (the disinherited). The worldly consider Christians to be losers, when in reality it is the unbelievers who are the losers.(7)

How They Are Described – Eight epithets (not an exhaustive list) are used to describe the doomed and the damned: the fearful (cowardly); the unbelieving (faithless, untrustworthy); the vile (abominable, polluted); murderers; fornicators; sorcerers (those who practice magic arts, closely connected with idolatry and magic) and; idolaters.(8) This passage is not affirming salvation by works. Rather it refers to works as an indication of whether one is saved or not. Naturally there will be many in Heaven who were once guilty of these sins (as Paul said, as some of you were) before they were converted, but who turned from them when they trusted Christ as their Savior. Though works are the evidence of salvation (good works) or lack of it (evil works), they are not the basis or ground of it. Similar lists of sins are found elsewhere in Revelation (Revelation 21:27; 22:15).(9)

The fearful are the cowardly, people who did not have the courage to stand up for Christ (see Matthew 10:32–33). The word abominable means polluted, and refers to those who indulged in sin and were thus polluted in mind, spirit, and body (2 Corinthians 7:1). The other characteristics mentioned in Revelation 21:8 need no special explanation, except to note that all of them would be true of the beast’s followers (note Revelation 17:4, 6; 18:3, 9; 19:2).(10) Note also that God puts cowards at the head of the list. When people are afraid to take a stand for Christ, they are liable to commit any kind of sin as a result. They are the fearful, or the cowards who would not confess Christ, preferring and choosing to go along with the crowd who practiced sin.(11)

Eternal Thirst – They will be with Satan and the two beasts (the anti-Christ and the false prophet) in the lake of fire and brimstone for all eternity. This is the second death (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14). These are those whose names are not written in the book of life (Revelation 20:15).

Up Next – The Holy City.

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References

  1. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (pp. 1914–1916). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 564). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  6. 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. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 21:8). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  9. 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. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 856). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Never, No One

John 10:27, 28 – “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – The only reason to doubt eternal security is if the “salvation” experience was not genuine. But if it was genuine, it cannot be lost or taken away.

My Advice – You cannot lose your salvation by anything that you say or do, because “no one” includes you. But this does not mean you should live your life as you wish without concerns. God will discipline to bring correction (sometimes He even takes people home early), there may be lasting negative consequences (for this life) and you can lose blessings and rewards (this life and the next).