Monthly Archives: July, 2017

What God Says About Problems

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9)

All too often in these days of “easy believism” and the erroneous “peace and prosperity” teaching, we hear someone say, “Once you become a Christian, all your problems will be over.” It is doubtful that anyone really believes such a statement, much less experiences it. Certainly the Israelites who had just been miraculously delivered from bondage didn’t experience it.

Of course, this concept is not biblical. In fact, the Bible teaches quite the opposite. Christ promised, “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). He, Himself, would have many problems. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Later, after experiencing many problems, John wrote, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13).

These problems may take the form of general troubles that come from living in a sinful, cursed world; specific afflictions, which God allows in our lives to bring about His purpose; or discipline for personal sin, as well as direct persecution from without.

While troubles will come, all is not lost! Christ promised, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Through Him we have the strength to meet every difficulty of this life with peace, good cheer, and victory. Through Him we also receive the promise that throughout eternity “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). JDM

How to Handle a Multitude of Sins

“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” (Proverbs 10:12)

There is an old familiar cliché to the effect that we should “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” This may sound a bit trite because of overuse, but it is nevertheless both biblical and practical. It is easy and tempting to be critical and condemnatory toward someone who has sinned (especially if the sin has affected us directly), but such an attitude seldom, if ever, produces repentance on the part of the sinner. As the above proverb reminds us, it will more likely generate an angry, defensive response and further strife.

An attitude of loving concern, on the other hand (not of condoning the sin but of personal understanding and sincere interest in the person) will much more likely lead to a genuine change of heart and restoration. Two New Testament writers (Peter and James) cite this Old Testament text in their own advice to Christian believers. Peter says, for example, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). “Charity,” of course, is the Greek agape, which is more often translated “love,” even in the King James Version. The translators used “charity” here, no doubt, because “love” might be, in this context, misunderstood as erotic love, or even brotherly love (different Greek words), whereas “charity” (as an attitude toward others) more nearly describes the agape kind of love. Note also that this “charity” is to be fervent charity.

James, like Peter, understands “all sins” in the Proverbs text to imply “a multitude of sins,” and he stresses the true goal in using this kind of love in dealing with a sinner. “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). HMM

Searching for God

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

These are days when few people seem satisfied. Everyone seems to be searching for something—for riches, power, health, adventure, fame, peace, conquests, or escape. Shamefully, even few Christians seem to realize that the permanent fulfillment or redirection of such desires can only be found in the Lord, the One who created them and designed them to operate in a particular, satisfying way.

While it is true that in an ultimate sense “there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11) for salvation without the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Christian (and indeed the entire human race) is enjoined again and again to seek God. Note the following passages of encouragement.

“If from thence [i.e., captivity due to disobedience] thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). “If thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever” (1 Chronicles 28:9). “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee” (Psalm 63:1). “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me” (Proverbs 8:17). “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

As in our text, our search should be for God and His characteristics. All of man’s desires will either be fulfilled or reoriented as we find Him, and according to the several verses quoted, we will find Him if we truly seek Him. JDM

Worshiping God

“And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” (Genesis 22:5)

We tend to think of “worship” as singing, or testimonies, or hearing a message. This could hardly be the meaning in our text, however, for Abraham was intending to offer Isaac on a sacrificial altar in accordance with God’s command. Furthermore, Isaac was willing to be offered. “They went both of them together” (vv. 6, 8). Isaac, in fact, was not just a little boy at this time. The word “lad” in our text is the same word as “young men” in the same verse.

The first time the Hebrew word for “worship” is used is in Genesis 18:2. When Abraham saw three men approaching (later revealed as the Lord and two angels), he “bowed himself toward the ground.” Thus, “worship” means, essentially, “bow down” in obedience to the will of the one deserving “worship.”

Abraham’s supreme act of worship, however, was his willingness even to sacrifice his beloved son, if God’s will so required. He trusted so fully in God that he knew “God was able to raise him up, even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19), and so he could tell his two servants that he and Isaac would “come again to you.” No wonder Abraham is called “the father of all them that believe” (Romans 4:11). He was, indeed, “strong in faith” (v. 20).

The New Testament Greek word for “worship” also means essentially to bow down to God’s will. It occurs first when the wise men came to King Herod seeking the infant Savior, saying: “We . . . are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). As long ago a great man on Earth bowed down to the three from heaven, so now these great men on Earth with their three precious gifts bow down to One from heaven, the One who alone is worthy of true worship. HMM

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