But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
(Heb 11:6 NKJV)
Faith is necessary to please God
It is impossible to please God without faith; it could not be done in the Old Testament and it cannot be done now. One must believe God exists and that He will reward those who diligently seek Him. Those who do not believe this, of course, would never truly serve Him anyway.
Note that God is a rewarder. He is not just a punisher. He motivates by punishment, but also by reward. Some folks think only of punishments, as they fear the consequences of disobedience. Others think only of rewards, and even deny the existence of punishment. God clearly states His intent to give both, according to the conduct of men.
But we receive the reward only if we diligently seek Him. This requires action. Faith is not just something you have in your heart but do nothing, and yet you are rewarded. Faith must lead us to act as God has instructed. then He rewards us. This is true in all the cases found in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, and it is taught in numerous places elsewhere. The faith that saves is the faith that obeys.
For other passages on obedience, see Matthew 7:21-27; 22:36-39; John 14:15,21-24; Acts 10:34,35; Romans 2:6-10; 6:17,18; Hebrews 5:9; Galatians 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:22,23; 1 John 5:3; 2:3-6.
-- David Pratte
Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.
(John 8:24 NKJV)
All of us will die (Heb.9:27) but we do not have to die in our sins
Jesus said these words to Jews, producing faith in many of them (John 8:30). But this passage has become politically incorrect in our day because . . .
- Jesus requires us to believe in Him exclusively—not in Mohammed or other religious leaders. Stated another way, no matter how religious we are, or how many other things we may believe, we cannot be saved unless we believe in Jesus.
- Jesus is ‘I AM’ (note that ‘He’ in John 8:24 is in italics, meaning that it was supplied by the translators. This passage parallels John 8:58: “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”
- His words require an ongoing faith. If they quit believing, they annul their salvation. Compare verses John 8:31-32 – those who believe Him must abide in His word. Sadly, by the time Jesus finishes this discussion with the Jews, they are ready to stone Him (John 8:59). In a few moments they go from faith (John 8:30) to hatred (John 8:59). This passage deals a devastating blow to the once saved, always saved position.
- Today most people abhor the idea that someone could die in his sins. Jesus is not a universalist. Our passage clearly gives only true believers this hope. Unbelievers will die in their sins.
All of us will die (Heb.9:27) but we do not have to die in our sins.
-- Rick Duggin
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.
(John 6:44-45 NKJV)
The Scriptures draw one to God
- Many assume the Father draws through some mysterious force, but John 6:45 explains the drawing of John 6:44 - they are ‘taught by God’; everyone who has ‘heard and learned’ comes to Him. When God’s teaching (His word) reaches honest hearts, the hearers learn how to come to Him. We see this illustrated throughout the book of Acts. When some asked Peter, “What shall we do?” it was because they had heard him preach Christ and were ready to come to Him (Acts 2:14-37). When Peter tells them to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38), about 3000 act on this knowledge and come to Him (Acts 2:40-41). God has drawn them to Himself through His teaching . . . just as John 6:45 says.
- In the Old Testament, God drew Israel with His lovingkindness: “The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you (Jer.31:3). The same word occurs in Hosea 11:4: “I drew them with gentle cords, With bands of love, And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.” God’s lovingkindness still draws honest hearts to repent (see Romans 2:4).
- Those who are drawn to God come to Him by hearing and responding to the teaching of His Scriptures.
Have you been drawn to God?
-- Rick Duggin
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent
(Acts 17:30 NKJV)
we must repent of our sins
You have heard the popular religious slogans of the day. “There is no God.” “If there is a God, He is off duty.” “God is not concerned what we do.” “God will save us; it’s His job.”
It would be difficult for so many to be so wrong about a subject so important. As Paul addresses the Athenian philosophers, he refutes each of these false claims. Paul schools these learned men in sound doctrine. By preserving these lessons in the Bible, the Lord teaches modern man as well.
Paul’s primary premise is that there is a God and He will judge us: “…because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” – Acts 17:31.
How can we know the judgment is real? God’s assurance is based on the resurrection of His Son. The future Judgment is as certain as this past fact.
Our only question is this: how should we live in view of the Judgment?
- We can begin by taking sin seriously v.30.
- We must repent of our sins, v.30.
- We do not plead ignorance or make excuses for our faults or character flaws, v.30.
- We must know the will of God, v.30.
- We must realize that if God will judge the world; I will be in that number, v.31.
- We must know that His standard of judgment is His holy Word, v.31; Jn.12:48.
-- Rick Duggin
2 john 1:9
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
(2 John 1:9 NKJV)
do not go beyond what is written
This passage, though not popular, is quite plain.
- To transgress is ‘to step over...or across...to go beyond (a limit or boundary); to break a law, commandment, etc.; sin’(Webster’s New World Dictionary). Other versions render it, Anyone who goes too far… NASB; Everyone who goes on ahead… ESV, etc.
- One who goes beyond the Lord’s teaching (doctrine) necessarily severs his relationship with God.
- Contrary to popular opinion, true doctrine is very important, as this verse clearly shows. Not only must we embrace truth, but also reject those who promote doctrines of men. “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 10-11).
- This passage stands with many others that emphasize the same truth.
- The Lord commissions His apostles to meet this obligation to their converts: “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” – Matthew 28:20.
- Paul cautions his readers in Colosse, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” – Colossians 3:17.
- Paul reminds Timothy, “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine” – 1 Timothy 1:3.
- Paul further warns, “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness” – 1 Timothy 6:3.
- The New Testament ends on this solemn note: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” – Revelation 22:18-19.
Only those who abide in the doctrine of Christ can rightfully claim to have a saving relationship with God.
-- Rick Duggin
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
(Gal 1:8 NKJV)
the gospel – the only means by which we gain access to the true grace of God
Christians are appalled that some abandon the Bible. Even more shocking: in Galatia it was Christians who abandoned the gospel of Christ.
Paul expressed his shock in these words: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6).
Why do some Christians turn away from the gospel?
- Some are disbelievers. A disbeliever is simply one who refuses to believe. Judaizers had entered the churches of Galatia, persuading them to abandon the truth for the Law of Moses (Galatians 2; compare Acts 15:1). Much of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians refutes this error and tries to restore the unbelievers.
- Some are dissatisfied. Strangely, they do not appreciate the grace of God that teaches them how to be saved (Gal.5:4; Titus 2:11-12). “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
- Some are disgruntled. This is nothing new. Some of Jesus’ disciples quit following Him when they could not accept His teaching (John 6:60-66). Some actually “wanted” a distorted gospel (Galatians 1:7) – one that fit their unscriptural desires.
- Some are disobedient. The gospel requires repentance which, in turn, requires a change of life. “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has needs” (Ephesians 4:28). Some are unwilling to change.
There is only one gospel. Turning away from it is eternally fatal. No one – not even an angel – can pervert the gospel with impunity. “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).
Let every Christian be thankful that he possesses the gospel – the only means by which we gain access to the true grace of God (1 Pt.5:12).
-- Rick Duggin
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
(1 Cor. 10:13 NKJV)
there is a way of escape
This passage gives us great motivation to resist sin . . .
- Our temptations are not unique, but common to all. An old song says, “Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen…” Maybe so, but if these words imply that the singer’s troubles are the worst that anyone has ever suffered, the song is wrong. Peter reminds his readers that they can resist satan, steadfast in the faith, “knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).
- God does not allow to suffer temptations that are too powerful to resist. People often excuse their sins by claiming that everyone else would have acted as they did under the same trials. Even if everyone we know yields to a certain temptation, this does not explain away the multitudes who regularly, successful resist it.
- God gives us a way of escape out of every temptation. Lot was tormented daily by the sins of Sodom, but God’s deliverance gave him a way out. This deliverance is a model for all of God’s children. “Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9).
- Our assurance of this success is based on the faithfulness of God. If we are willing to avoid haughty presumption (verse 12), to discipline our body to meet the demands of the situation (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), and to resist satan (James 4:7) we will defeat the devil’s attempt to overthrow us. God is faithful; He will do His part to prevent our fall. The rest is up to us.
-- Rick Duggin
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
(Mt. 16:18 NKJV)
the Lord's church
- Jesus states that He will build His church upon the facts that Peter had just confessed. Peter repeats this confession as he preaches Jesus the Christ in Acts 2.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
“Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
“This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:32-33).
- The future tense ‘I will build’ shows that His church did not come into existence during the Old Testament period. The church is first spoken of as being in existence in the book of Acts (2:47; 5:11; 8:2).
- The pronoun ‘My’ reveals that the church belongs to Christ. We have no right to ‘remodel’ the Lord’s building. The church must work, worship, and serve according to the pattern provided in the gospel of Christ.
- The promise that Hades would not prevail against the church proves that neither His own crucifixion nor the slaughter of His disciples could frustrate His plans. In fact, the sacrifice of Christ had to occur before He would build His church. After His announcement in verse 18, Jesus proceeds to prepare His disciples for His death (verses 21-23).
The Lord promises to save His body (Ephesians 5:23) which is His church (Ephesians 1:22-23). His gospel never promises salvation to anyone else.
-- Rick Duggin
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(Rom 10:17 NKJV)
obedient faith comes from the hearing of God's word
The words “so then” pull us into the context of chapter ten where Paul discusses his desire for the salvation of his Jewish countrymen (Rom. 10:1-3). They are lost because they are seeking salvation by their own righteousness (their own plan of salvation), not God’s.
Christ is the end (the goal) of the old covenant (Rom. 10:4). This end is not limited to Jews, but embraces “everyone who believes” (a worldwide scope, Rom. 10:5-8).
Both Jew and Gentile must believe in the resurrected Lord and confess Him in order to be saved (Rom. 10:9-10). Paul quotes Isaiah 28:16 to show that God always planned to include Gentiles in the scheme of redemption. “For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved”’ (Rom. 10:11-13).
These facts force us to undeniable conclusions –
- There is one plan for all. Verse 17 is an inclusive statement, based on the context (verses 11-13). The emphatic word is whoever. “Whoever” calls on His name shall be saved (verse 13).
- Paul summarizes this plan with the words, “obeyed the gospel” (Rom. 10:16). Faith is for all, Jew and Gentile alike, Rom.1:16-17. Many Jews were lost because they chose disobedience (Rom. 10:21).
- Faith, first mentioned in Romans in Rom. 1:5, links with “obedience.” This link holds throughout Romans. Paul ends the letter as he began, Rom. 16:26: “for obedience to the faith.” Does Romans 1:8 say their faith is spoken of throughout the whole world? Romans 16:19 says it is their obedience that has become known to all. Faith and obedience are synonyms. “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘LORD, who has believed our report?’” (Rom. 10:16).
- Faith comes by hearing, which includes reading, John 20:30-31. John wrote that we may believe...
- The Scriptures never say that one is saved merely by believing what God says without acting upon it (Romans 10; James 2:14-26). Dead, demonic faith never saved anyone. Paul’s Roman letter requires the same kind of works as James: “…but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God” (Rom. 2:10-11).
Paul also wrote, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). No passage ever commends an inactive, disobedient faith.
-- Rick Duggin
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
(Jude 1:3 NKJV)
Contend earnestly for the faith
Jude’s letter addresses an ever-present need – contend earnestly for the faith. Though most people today contentiously express their distaste for contention, this inspired writer affirms its necessity.
Everyone applauds a policeman who contends with a kidnapper to rescue a little child from an unthinkable fate. Everyone applauds a doctor who contends with an illness in order to save the life of a loved one. Jude encourages his readers to do something even more noble and necessary: contend for the faith to save a soul from eternal destruction.
“The faith” is the gospel. Consider Paul’s use of this expression in Galatians 1. In verse 23 he refers to “the faith which he now preaches. But in verse 11 he calls it “the gospel” that he preached and declares that it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In one sense the gospel does not need to be defended. Its truth will stand forever (compare Matthew 24:35). Nothing can destroy God’s word. Truth is truth.
Why, then, does Jude instruct his readers to contend earnestly for the gospel? “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemna-tion, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Evil men attack the gospel, but they cannot harm its truth. They can, however, do eternal damage to the souls of Jude’s readers.
Paul affirms that he is appointed for the defense of the gospel (Philippians 1:16). Jude exhorts us to join this faith by contending earnestly for the faith. Our motive is to save those who are being misled by “ungodly men” (Jude 4).
Jude tells us that this faith was “once for all delivered to the saints.” There will never be another gospel to replace this one. The same message that saved people in the first century also saves people in the twenty-first century.
Jude speaks of “our common salvation” because it applies to all people on earth, then and now, whether Jew, Greek, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free (Colossians 3:11). God never intended that each of us should choose his own way. There is only one way that saves (John 14:6). Every other road leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
May God bless our efforts to contend earnestly for the faith.
-- Rick Duggin
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Heb 10:24,25 NKJV)
Not forsaking our assembling together
The author is in the midst of admonitions intended to challenge the Hebrews to stay faithful to God and not be influenced to leave the gospel and return to the Old Testament (see Heb. 10:23 and verses throughout the book). He earlier admonished them that, to accomplish what was needed, they must exhort one another daily to not fall away, as the nation of Israel had done (3:12-14). He now emphasizes again the fact that we must consider the need we have to be exhorted and stirred up to love and good works. Every Christian needs to receive this stirring up, and every Christian is responsible to meet this need for others.
One of the best circumstances in which to give and receive this exhortation is when the church meets together. New Testament congregations provided opportunities, not just on the first day of the week, but at other times as well, for Christians to meet to be admonished and to admonish one another (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 11:26; 1 Corinthians 14; James 2:1ff).
This passages tells us that the individual Christians have a responsibility regarding these meetings. That responsibility is both positive and negative: (1) We are not to forsake them, and (2) we are to exhort one another in these meetings. Please note that it is not just the church’s duty to conduct meetings. It is the individuals’ duty to be present to receive the benefit of those meetings, so we are encouraged to hold fast and not fall away (Heb. 10:23). We cannot simply think of this as something the church does. We have a personal responsibility to be involved.
Further we see that the assemblies exist to meet a need: so the members can exhort one another and stir one another up to love and good works. This immediately tells us that assemblies should be so designed as to accomplish this purpose. If exhortation and stirring up are what the assemblies are for, then our activities should accomplish that and not be distracted to unscriptural goals (such as pleasing the people’s desire for entertainment, etc.). And if exhortation, etc., is the purpose, then the members should attend and participate so as to accomplish this purpose.
-- David Pratte
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
(Rom 1:16 NKJV)
The Gospel, God's Power to Salvation
This passage, consisting of four parts, contains Paul’s inspired pronouncement about God’s gospel. Paul affirms –
- He is not ashamed of this gospel. Does he expect intelligent people to believe such amazing claims as the Lord’s virgin birth, His resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven, and His plan of salvation? As a matter of fact, many in Rome have already embraced these facts. Paul will give others the opportunity to do so.
- The gospel is God’s power to save from sin. Some deny this statement.
- Skeptics deny the truthfulness of the gospel.
- Those who affirm a direct operation of the Holy Spirit deny the power of the gospel. If the Holy Spirit directly saves the sinner, even apart from the gospel, then Paul is wrong in this assertion.
- Some affirm that modern miracles, not the word of God, make believers. Would the Holy Spirit actually lead someone to deny what Paul says here? The Lord’s miracles are preserved in written form so that readers may believe (John 20:30-31).
- This gospel is for everyone. Both Jews and Gentiles received it and were saved by it. They still are.
- The gospel contains conditions for salvation. It brings salvation to everyone who believes. If salvation were unconditional, everyone would be saved and, again, the gospel would be irrelevant.
Paul does not teach salvation by belief alone. He later affirms that “the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). He adds, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). The same epistle shows the necessity of baptism. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3).
We learn all these facts through the gospel, for it is God’s power to salvation.
-- Rick Duggin
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
(Rom 3:23 NKJV)
all have sinned
Paul brings bad news. In Romans 1 he shows that Gentiles are guilty of sin and are under the wrath of God. In Romans 2 he shows that Jews are just as guilty as Gentiles and are just as deserving of God’s wrath. In chapter 3 he quotes various Old Testament passages that affirm the same bad news of everyone. All are guilty of sin against a holy God.
Paul does not publish this bad news because he likes to upset people, but because –
- If he does not reveal our true condition, we will never embrace the remedy (the gospel) that can save us.
- Many think that they can save themselves by their own righteousness. If this belief were true, why should they seek the gospel, God’s power that saves us (Romans 1:16)?
- He must expose our guilt to prevent us from justifying ourselves in our sins. His gospel highlights our sinful condition in order to shut the mouths that profess innocence (Romans 3:19).
Paul describes our state as falling short of the glory of God. Only the holy can share God’s glory. But if all are sinful, as both Romans and others passages affirm, we are without hope…unless God comes to our rescue. And this is where the good news of the gospel comes in.
Paul, like a good physician, diagnoses the patient accurately. The patient must know the bad news before he will embrace the good news.
The greatest news in the world is that Jesus the Christ died for our sins that we may come to Him in His appointed way and live with Him in heaven forever. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Thank God for His good news.
-- Rick Duggin
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
(Eph. 1:3 NKJV)
Every spiritual blessing is in Christ
This profound passage teaches us that . . .
- God the Father blesses us. “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” – James 1:16-17.
- God’s most precious blessings are spiritual (Ephesians 1:3). These blessings include God’s grace, mercy, love, kindness, and salvation (Ephesians 2:4-10). There are many material blessings that all people on earth share in common. God makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good. He sends rain on the just and on the unjust (see Matthew 5:45). Every good and perfect gift comes from His bountiful hand (James 1:17). These are wonderful blessings, but they cannot compare to the spiritual blessings of forgiveness of sins and hope of eternal life.
- Every spiritual blessing is in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Since the creation of the world, everyone has benefited from God’s physical and material blessings. When Christ died to save us from our sins, He gave us access to spiritual and eternal blessings that are found only in Him. These blessings are available to all people. Whether we are Jews or Gentiles, He came, “…that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:16).
- To benefit from these spiritual blessings we must learn how to get ‘into Christ.’ This is an easy task. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3). Scriptural baptism secures God’s spiritual blessings; it brings us into a sacred relationship with His son. We are baptized into His death, giving us the benefits of His saving blood. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” – Ephesians 1:7. Where? “In Him.”
Let every knee bow and every tongue confess and praise His Name.
-- Rick Duggin
See The Power of a 100 Scriptures for similar content on other passages.