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
(1) There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. (2) And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? (3) I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. (4) Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? (5) I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
Unless You Repent…
Some of the most productive and memorable lessons I ever learned were quite painful. In some instances, years passed before I began to realize the great blessings these lessons had bestowed upon me. Don’t we say, ‘No pain, no gain’?
The Jews who inform Jesus about a tragedy, presumably in Jerusalem, probably expect Him to comment on Pilate’s cruelty. They may expect Him to tell them not to dwell on such things. But Jesus says nothing about Pilate. Instead, He urges His audience to think about tragedies from a biblical perspective They too will die. They must be prepared. Repentance is the way to accomplish this.
“Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3).
Instead of focusing on supposed judgments of others, He tells them to take a good look at themselves. If they do not repent, they risk an eternal tragedy that surpasses anything that can happen on earth. If present pain forces them to focus on their own sins and the need to repent, then they can profit eternally.
Many news items upset us. Let earthly tragedies remind us to repent and motivate us to seek our heavenly home.
-- 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
But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
(Galatians 1:11 NKJV)
the gospel is not from man but by the revelation of Jesus Christ
- The Galatian brothers have taken a giant step in the wrong direction. They are in the process of apostasy and therefore of being accursed (1:6-9). They illustrate what falling from grace looks like. (“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” – Galatians 5:4).
- Paul wants these confused brothers to know that his gospel is not of his own invention. It came by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12). If they reject his teaching, they reject Christ Himself. “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
- Like many today, the Galatians think they are safe in choosing what they want to believe. If they ate after this manner, they would just as soon pick poison as wholesome food.
– 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
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"
(Mt. 17:5 NKJV)
Only by hearing Him (explicitly obeying His Word) can we have hope of eternal life
The scene is the Mount of Transfiguration. The Lord’s face has shone like the sun. His clothes have become as white as the light. Moses and Elijah have appeared and talked with Him. Surprisingly, Peter suggests making three tents: one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah (Mt. 17:4).
We don’t know if Peter actually wanted to put Moses and Elijah on the same level as Christ, but the Father’s voice certainly rejects that notion. This passage teaches us that:
- Jesus is the way, the only way, to the Father (John 14:6). When the old covenant was in effect, Jews who wanted to remain faithful to God had to listen to Moses and Elijah. That time has passed. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
- No matter how exalted Old Testament prophets were, they cannot compare to God’s Son. Jesus alone is Lord of all (Acts 10:36). “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
- Only by hearing Him (explicitly obeying His Word) can we have hope of eternal life. “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8-9).
On the Day of Judgment we will stand before the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:10). The answer to one question will occupy our mind – Did I obey Jesus?
-- Rick Duggin
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved
(Acts 4:12 NKJV)
Salvation can only be found in Jesus
The context of this passage reveals Peter’s response to a hostile Jewish Sanhedrin. He does not mince words.
The general teaching of Scripture from beginning to end is that God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). He delays the coming of His Son in the hope that more will repent (2 Peter 3:9).
God desires the salvation even of His enemies who killed His Son and who are now persecuting Peter and John. Luke later records that a great many of the priests obeyed the faith (Acts 6:7). Jesus had prayed for this response (Luke 23:34).
This salvation comes only in Jesus. If some other name (person) could shed his blood to wash away our sins, or if we could save ourselves, we would not need Jesus. All others have sinned and are themselves in need of salvation. Our only hope lies in Jesus the sinless Savior of mankind (John 14:6).
-- Rick Duggin
“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God”
(Eph. 5:5 NKJV)
we can know right from wrong
From this passage we learn that . . .
We can ‘know’ right and wrong. The Bible tells us so. “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” – John 8:31-32. “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.
Though immoral people may prosper in this life, they exclude themselves from God’s incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance that He has reserved for us in heaven, 1 Pt.1:4.
“No fornicator . . . has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” This statement strongly proves the possibility of apostasy. Paul’s warning is directed toward Christians. Immoral people who refuse to repent and to obey the Lord have no hope of heaven (Revelation 21:8).
It is not unkind to warn people that, unless they repent, they will not go to heaven. In fact, kindness demands loving warnings.
– Rick Duggin
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love
(Colossians 1:13 NKJV)
the kingdom of Christ exists today
The context of this passage shows that “ He ” is God; the “ Son of His love” is Christ; “us” (twice) refers to Christians.
Our salvation, viewed negatively, describes deliverance from satan"s dark domain, enabling us to escape eternal condemnation
in hell with the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41, 46). “The power of darkness” accurately describes satan"s influence on
people who are held captive by spiritual blindness, ignorance, hatred, helplessness, and misery.
Our salvation, viewed positively, describes our entrance or transfer into the kingdom of God"s dear Son. This blessing
occurs when He forgives us of our sins. Verse 14 explains: “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of
Since we are conveyed into the kingdom of Christ, we serve Him as our King. We have become “workers for the kingdom of God”
(cf. Colossians 4:1). His kingdom is not of this world -it is heavenly in origin, spiritual in force, based on truth, and of
eternal duration (John 18:36) but already a present state. He is even now “King of kings and Lord of Lords” (1 Timothy
These wonderful spiritual blessings are based on our redemption from sin by the blood of God"s Son (Colossians 1:14).
This salvation is consummated in heaven. Colossians 1:5 elaborates: “because of the hope which is laid up for you in
heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel”
In heaven our inheritance is laid up, our hope remains, and our Savior awaits.
-- Rick Duggin
... praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:47 NKJV)
- Though this verse appears here without the benefit of its greater context, most Christians already know the setting. The passage refers to those who have received the word of God and have been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38, 41).
- These saved people, spiritual babies, numbering about 3000, were not left alone to fend for themselves. They were added together. Verse 47 says the Lord added others to His church daily. This illustrates the power and truth of the gospel. The evidence for the resurrection of Christ and His plan were too strong to ignore.
- These saints would continue to mature in their association with like-minded Christians. God’s plan has never been to convert the lost and then leave them alone. These saved people become the church of the Lord in Jerusalem. Our assemblies edify us and help us to grow in Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25).
- Saved people praise God for His forgiveness of their sins. He has made them His people. Their praise foreshadows the eternal thanksgiving that Christians will offer in heaven.
- They enjoyed these blessings without joining denominations. In fact, they could not have joined a denomination if they had wanted to. Hundreds of years would pass before these human arrangements would come into existence.
- The good news: we can do what they did. We can be part of the Lord’s church, serve Him faithfully, and spend eternity in heaven with Him.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.
-- Rick Duggin
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
(Gal. 5:4 NKJV)
a Christian can fall from grace
Incredibly, some people deny that a Christian can fall away from Christ. They base their view on the Lord’s promise of eternal life, and then either ignore or reconstruct the hundreds of passages that clearly prove the possibility of apostasy. We do not actually obtain eternal life until we reach heaven – the age to come (Mark 10:30). “In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2).
To be ‘estranged’ from Christ is to be separated from, discharged from someone (Thayer, 336). ‘You are severed from Christ’ (ESV).
The result of this estrangement: ‘You have fallen from grace.’ This passage clearly warns Christians that a failure to change their course will result in separation from Christ and His grace.
What is the condition of one who does not have grace? Can anyone be saved while separated from Christ? How could the Lord have made this warning any plainer?
-- Rick Duggin
“Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight”
(Acts 20:7 NKJV)
observe the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week
This passage establishes the frequency with which early disciples, under the direction of apostolic doctrine (Acts 2:42), observed the Lord’s supper: the first day of the week.
Those who assume a monthly or annual observance of the Lord’s supper have no scripture to support their practice.
Those who prefer taking of the Lord’s supper in a Saturday night assembly have departed from the scriptural pattern in order to promote their own wishes.
Those who change the Lord’s supper into a common meal must either ignore or scorn the spiritual context of this passage and the apostolic rebuke that such abuses merited (1 Corinthians 11:20-22).
“The first day of the week” recalls the resurrection of the Lord—a fact that New Testament writers emphasize. This special day gives Christians an opportunity to remember His death, to partake of His body and blood, and to gives thanks for His love. Those who depart from this pattern dishonor the Lord they profess to worship.
“If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God…” (1 Peter 4:11).
– Rick Duggin
"Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…"
(Luke 18:1 NKJV)
Though this verse is short enough to memorize quickly, its lessons may continue to impress us for many years.
- Jesus spoke a parable. Someone defined a parable as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. This story depicts a widow who does not take no for an answer. The judge finally grants her request simply because she will not leave him alone. He may fear that she will follow him to his death bed.
- The parable teaches us pray as fervently as this widow pursued the judge. Do we cry out day and night to our Judge?
- Prayer assumes faith. Faith requires action. Jesus asks, “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him…?” The implied answer is “Yes!”
- We are in danger of growing weary in prayer. When we pursue spiritual growth and the power to overcome sin with the zeal that this widow showed in pursuing the judge, Jesus certainly will find faith on the earth.
– Rick Duggin
1 Thessalonians 5:16
(1 Thessalonians 5:16 NKJV)
In Him we can “rejoice always”
Our first glance at this verse might lead us to think it is either a joke or is based on an extremely naïve outlook
on life. Who remains cheerful ‘always’? Who smiles in the face of pain or disaster? Let’s give our passage a closer look.
This memory verse does not take a lot of work to memorize. Most regard John 11:35 (‘Jesus wept’) as the shortest in the
New Testament. Actually, this verse is shorter. Both verses seem to focus on opposite actions: Jesus wept … but we must rejoice.
But why did Jesus weep? Because He sympathizes with the family that grieves over the death of Lazarus, illustrating
Hebrews 4:15—Our High Priest is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, to feel our pain. He cares.
The Greeks had pretend gods who not only did not care, but also bullied and punished people without pity. They prompted fear,
not cheer. Jesus knows, He cares, and He saves. We rejoice.
Paul illustrates this rejoicing in his own life. His thorn in the flesh was painful and persistent, and yet upon
learning the spiritual benefits of the thorn, he could say, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions,
in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10-11).
Our joy is not based on circumstances. We do not ride the emotional rollercoaster of the world. A mother who lost her
teenage son explained why she was smiling through her tears—she would see him again. With feet planted on higher ground,
she did not sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). In Him we can “rejoice always.”
– Rick Duggin
And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch
(Acts 11:26 NKJV)
disciples of Jesus Christ wear the name Christian
- Barnabas and Saul (Paul) provided the same teaching and guidance to the church at Antioch that the written word provides to us. They first spoke God’s plan to them and then committed it to writing for our benefit.
- The goal in Antioch was to be Christians. They knew nothing of becoming “hyphenated-Christians” (different types of denominational disciples). Such language is unknown to the New Testament. Denominations did not exist back then; they are contrary to God’s plan. “ Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? – 1 Corinthians 1:10-13.
- The emphasis in Antioch was on teaching. These Christians had first heard the gospel, then obeyed it (verses 19-21). After this, Barnabas and Paul assembled with the church and taught many (verse 26). Spiritual babies must not be neglected. The word that made them Christians also made them strong. “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). It can do the same for us.
– 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
1 Peter 4:16
“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter”
(1 Peter 4:16 NKJV)
suffering because one is a Christian is expected
The word “Christian” occurs three times in the New Testament. “And the disciples were first called Christians in
Antioch” (Acts 11:26). “Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian’”
(Acts 26:28). Peter records the third reference.
The apostle expects his readers to suffer for their faith. They must not think it strange when fiery trials
come (1 Pet. 4:12). They must expect them, and even rejoice in them (1 Pet. 4:13). They can expect reproaches for His
name (1 Pet. 4:14). Since His teaching is as unpopular in their day as it was in His time on earth,
sufferings give them the privilege of sharing in His mistreatment.
They must be careful, however, not to deserve their suffering: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief,
an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Pet. 4:15). Verse 16 (1 Pet. 4::16) contrasts with verse 15
(1 Pet. 4::15) – saints suffer because of the sins of their tormentors, not because of their own sins (1 Pet. 4:16).
Suffering as a Christian is suffering because one is a Christian. Just as the world rejected Jesus, it rejects
His disciples (John 15:18). Sinners strike out against those who try to teach them, though the source of this
teaching comes from the Lord’s own mouth. Those who love darkness despise those who shine a light on their deeds.
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light,
because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
The name “Christian” is formed after the Roman style, “signifying an adherent of Jesus” (Vine). Deissmann compares
Christian with Caesarian, used of an imperial slave. The ending -iani means belonging
to Caesar’s party. Christian means belonging to Christ.
Some assert that the name “Christian” was first given as an insult, referring to “these Christ folks.” Even
if this were true, Peter encourages his readers to glorify God in this matter (or as other versions put it:
in this name). Let us never be ashamed to wear the name of our Lord.
Finally, we honor the Lord by wearing His name. We cannot honor Him by wearing the name of mere men
(1 Corinthians 1:10-13) – even if the men were outstanding leaders in the first century church. Many
churches honor the names of popular but misguided religious leaders instead of Christ. Let us drop all
denominational titles and call ourselves after the name of Him into whom we were baptized and who was
crucified for us (1 Corinthians 1:13). This is the very least we can do.
-- Rick Duggin
You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
(James 2:24 NKJV)
not by faith only
Some claim that Paul disagreed with this verse when he affirmed that we are saved by faith alone. Where did Paul ever say this? This false claim misunderstands James and misrepresents Paul.
In Romans, Paul condemns attempts to be justified by works of the Law (Romans 3:27; 4:2; 9:32, etc.). The only way to be saved by works is to perform them perfectly (Ro.4:2, 4).
Romans 2:10 promises salvation to everyone “who works what is good.” This agrees with the very point James is making.
Paul regularly distinguishes between works of Law (or boasting) and works of faith. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Again, this is the very point James is making. Paul and James stand or fall together.
Abraham had an active (working) faith when he offered up Isaac on the altar (James 2:21). “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:22).
And then there is Rahab (James 2:25). A dead faith would not have prompted her to risk her life hiding the spies or to identify her house with a scarlet cord, etc. Even without James 2:24, the Bible denies the doctrine of salvation by faith alone.
-- Rick Duggin
'Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
(Matthew 7:21 NKJV)
Our part consists in doing the will of our Father
We have heard many radio and TV preachers assure their audience that they will go to heaven if they cry, “Lord, save me!” Their double sin consists in rejecting what the Lord says and replacing it with their own plan. Amazingly, some accept this phony plan and think they are saved by it.
Jesus rejects this false doctrine and replaces it with facts: the only way to go to heaven is to do the will of our Father in heaven. Jesus is the ‘way’ (Jn.14:6). Everything else is an invitation to eternal loss (v.23).
From verse 22 (Mt. 7:22) we learn that going to heaven requires more than mere . . .
- Talk. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’”
- Belief. They call Jesus, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and yet they are lost.
- Sincerity. Despite their assumption that they are saved, the Lord disagrees.
- Zeal. Though they have actively engaged in religious works, they are lost.
- Piety. Their good deeds cannot save them. If our own goodness saved, why would Jesus have to come?
- Miracles. They have done ‘many wonders’ and yet are lost.
- Works. Their good works may have outweighed their bad works, but they are still lost.
Someone may wonder how we know these people are lost? After all, most people would assume these people are saved if they claim only a fraction of the good deeds we have itemized. Carefully consider verse 23 – “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Lawlessness is not an absence of law, but the practice of unlawful deeds; they break God’s laws.
God has done His part in our salvation. Our part consists in doing the will of our Father in heaven (verse 21). There is no other way.
-- 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
“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day”
(John 12:48 NKJV)
to receive Jesus is to obey His words
- Jesus connects Himself with His word. He who rejects “ME” . . . “does not receive MY WORDS.”
- Jesus connects the rejection of His word with the rejection of Himself. Jesus is the author of eternal life to all who obey Him (Hebrews 5:8). But we cannot obey Him without knowing His gospel. “…in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
- Jesus connects these rejections with the coming Judgment in the last day. Our destiny then depends on our response to His word now. We must heed what He ‘has spoken.’
- Jesus connects Himself with His plan of salvation. These facts forever destroy the false choice of those who advocate preaching ‘the Man not the plan.’
-- 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
“Therefore do not be unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is”
(Eph. 5:17 NKJV)
we can understand the Bible by fervently studying every day
The first word in this verse captures our attention. “Therefore” connects verse 17 to the preceding verses. “Therefore” practically shouts: “read the previous section and you will know why I’m saying this.” The context highlights the difference between living in light and living in darkness (8-10). Do not fellowship the works of darkness, but rather reprove them (11). They are shameful (12). They are foolish (15). They misuse time (16). Therefore...be different.
The second thing we see is the contrast: “do not be unwise...” An unwise person may not know what really matters in life. His first concern may lead him to pursue financial profits, what brings him the most illicit pleasure, or what makes him popular. Christians must resist these temptations.
“Do not be unwise but…” Paul encourages the understanding reader to focus on what is really important in life —spiritual things, holiness, growth in Christ, and spiritual influence upon others. Christians must pursue these virtues.
“Understanding” promises that we can know the will of the Lord. This echoes a previous promise: “…how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I wrote before in a few words, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” – Ephesians 3:3-4. God revealed the gospel to Paul; he wrote it for our benefit. Reading what Paul wrote allows us to know what Paul knows.
Every Christian needs God’s wisdom to survive this evil age. The most important question in the universe is, “What is the will of God for me?” God has put the answer within our grasp. The only thing worse than being unable to grasp this salvation information is being unwilling to read it.
Fervently study the Bible every day. This is the only way to understand God’s will.
– Rick Duggin
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth”
(John 17:17 NKJV)
Only God’s word is absolute truth
The rules that govern the study of any document require the reader to know the subject, what the subject is doing,
why he is doing it, and other pertinent facts. Applying these rules to John 17:17 yields powerful and edifying conclusions.
The subject is Jesus—the lofty theme of John’s book. “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of
His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is
the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).
The action is prayer. Jesus Himself is praying. This is one of many passages showing His exalted view of prayer.
Each of the Lord’s prayers is edifying; this prayer is especially so. It reveals His chief concerns just hours
before He goes to His crucifixion. If you were about to die, how would you pray? What would you ask for?
Undoubtedly, your chief concern would include salvation, both your own and that of your loved ones.
Jesus prays for salvation—not for Himself, for He was without sin—but for His disciples. They would experience
a potentially faith-shaking tragedy as they watched their Lord die on a cross. He prays that they will
weather this storm and succeed in the great commission He will give them.
And, remarkably, He prays for us: “those who will believe on Him through their word,” v.20.
“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies.
Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me” (Cheyne). “Therefore He is also able to
save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession
for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Our lives reveal how much this great blessing means to us.
Jesus concludes this verse with the illuminating statement, “Your word is truth.” John has
previously revealed that grace and truth come through Jesus (John 1:17). But what is truth?
People answer in a variety of ways: truth is what we think, what society says, what the majority believes,
or what church scholars teach. Many search for truth in dreams, visions, or personal experiences.
All such subjective, contradictory opinions cannot rise above their source: mere man himself. Jesus
denies each of these counterfeits when He proclaims, “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines
the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). The Lord warns His listeners against blindly following the
blind (15:14). It does matter what we believe.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). When He says, “Your word is truth” (17:17),
He reveals the source of truth once and for all. God’s word alone can set us free from sin.
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples
indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:31-32). Only
God’s word is absolute truth, and as such, it is the only way to salvation and sanctification.
– Rick Duggin
and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
(Matthew 18:3 NKJV)
humility - the way up is down
- This passage reveals an ugly side of the apostles. Each is vying for the “top” position in the kingdom. Each thinks he is better than his fellow apostle.
- Jesus rebukes their pride with an object lesson. He calls a little child, sets him in the midst , and makes his humble character the means to the end of the disciples’ pride. Jesus turns their ambition on its head. The way up is down.
- Pride is dangerous. It destroys the soul and leads to a fall. “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD…” - Prov.16:5a. “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall” - Proverbs 16:18.
- Jesus alone occupies the position that His disciples are seeking. Their pride would push the Lord off His throne and replace Him with themselves! No wonder “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” - 1 Peter 5:5.
– Rick Duggin
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms”
(James 5:13 NKJV)
relief from suffering through prayer
If there has ever been a verse that every human can relate to, surely this is it. The promise of relief from suffering
through prayer reminds the sufferer that he is not alone. “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Jesus spoke a parable. Someone defined a parable as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. This story depicts a widow who does
not take no for an answer. The judge finally grants her request simply because she will not leave him alone. He may fear that she will follow him to his death bed.
Suffering may attack us mentally, physically, or spiritually. It can affect us in our work, our family, our souls, and our goals.
Not only does God care—He wants joy in our hearts. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
Cheerfulness is a great blessing, unless we forget to thank God for it. One way we thank Him is in song. Worldly people
cannot understand how Paul and Silas could praise God in a time of agonizing injustice (Acts 16:22-24). Would we do that? What is the secret? Consider –
Paul and Silas were in the habit of praising God every day; how much more in times of perse-cution? (James 5:13)
Paul and Silas remembered that their Lord had suffered for them. Though He was perfect, He suffered to save
them (and us) from sin. The least they (we) can do is live for Him, even if we are called upon to suffer for His sake. (Philippians 1:29)
Soldiers have often used the word ‘honor’ to explain their heroic suffering for their country. Paul and Silas counted it an honor to
suffer for Him. “But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:16, NASB).
Present suffering for truth will be rewarded with future glory (Romans 8:17). Our Lord deserves our praise.
Finally, like all other passages on singing in the New Testament, this verse commands singing, not playing
on a mechanical instrument. Some try to justify pianos and similar instruments in worship by appealing to
Old Testament practices. They might as well practice Old Testament animal sacrifices. Should we sacrifice
a goat in worship? We must be consistent: “And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that
he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified
by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:3-4). It’s all or nothing. Jesus is our Lamb (John 1:29).
The heart is our instrument: “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and
making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Our authority is the New Testament.
To go beyond its teaching is sin (2 John 9). His word is truth (John 17:17) and this guides our worship (John 4:24).
– Rick Duggin
2 Peter 1:20-21
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”
(2 Peter 1:20-21 NKJV)
God Himself originated Scripture
These verses are widely misused and misunderstood. Some assume that Peter is giving approval
to his readers to interpret Scripture as it pleases them. They insist on the flexibility of
Old Testament prophesies, allowing the reader to use Scripture to prove just about anything.
Catholics believe the passage forbids conclusions that are not endorsed by their “clergy.”
These ideas are false and foreign to the context.
Peter has shown that the life, the work, and the evidence of Jesus makes the prophetic word even more certain (v.19).
Placing the prophecies beside His life and actions proves beyond any doubt that Jesus is the Messiah.
His transfiguration alone proves that He is God’s Son (Mt.17:1-5). The presence of eyewitnesses at His
transfiguration (Peter, James, and John, v.16; Mt.17:1-5) shows that these things really happened.
These powerful evidences, in addition to His resurrection, puts the word of prophecy beyond dispute.
Whatever Peter is saying in v.21, he does not deny in v.20. ‘Private interpretation’ refers to the
prophets who wrote Scripture, not to the interpretation that readers might force upon the prophecy.
False prophets wrongly interpreted prophecies (2 Peter 2:1); true prophets did not.
Though Isaiah did not always understand some of his own prophecies (see 1 Peter 1:10-12)
he nevertheless received his revelation from God. So, we could express Peter’s affirmation in
verse 20, “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private origination.” Its origin is of God, not of man.
Note that verse 21 begins with “for.” Verse 21 explains verse 20 – prophecy never came by the will of man
(men did not originate Old Testament prophecies). Prophets of God were moved by the Holy Spirit.
God Himself originated Scripture.
This passage affirms the same truth as 2 Timothy 3: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God
may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (verses 16-17). What does this mean to me?
On the mount of transfiguration, the great voice of God commanded the disciples,
“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” Dare we do any less?
– Rick Duggin
1 John 5:3
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome”
(1 John 5:3 NKJV)
when we love God, we keep His commandments
Our passage reveals that one who loves the God who begot us also loves those who are begotten by Him (verse 1). If we love God, we will love the family of God — other Christians.
We can know that we truly love God’s children (verse 2). We know this when we love God and keep His commandments.
In this context, verse 3 is repeating (emphasizing) the second part of verse 2: it tells us what true love of God does.
“For” builds on this theme of God’s love. This expression (love of God) can refer to His love for us or to our love for Him. Actually both are included in this passage. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Paul prayed for his readers to be rooted and grounded in love, that they “may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge…” (Ephesians 3:17-19). Apart from our God, where could we ever learn such love?
But loving response cannot be satisfied with mere admiration or thanksgiving. The love He requires keeps His commandments (1 John 5:2-3). Anything short of this is a counterfeit love. “Let love be without hypocrisy” (Romans 12:9). “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
John states the requirement to “keep” His commandments in the present tense, making this an ongoing mindset – a way of life that “keeps on keeping on.”
Finally, John reminds us that “His commandments are not burdensome.” The mother who has lost many hours of sleep does not consider it a burden to remain awake in order to care for a beloved child. The soldier who voluntarily throws his body onto a grenade does not act merely on a reflex, but out of genuine love for his brothers in arms. It is well said that love lightens all loads. Jesus expresses a similar thought in Matthew 11:28-30.
The supreme test of being born of God is whether we love Him so much that we gladly yield our will to His in loving obedience. Anything less than this falls short of what our Savior expects and deserves.
– Rick Duggin
See The Power of a 100 Scriptures
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