Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Things Men Consider Cheap

Someone said, “Riches are a golden key that opens every door except the door of heaven.” Men may consider things like money, security, property, or pleasure valuable. But often times men have their values confused and we tend to think of things as valuable, when truly they are of very little value. Keep this thought in mind ---- that which man considers valuable is not so considered by the Lord. Jesus said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). John D. Rockefeller is supposed to have said, “I would give all my millions for a working man’s stomach.” Money is not all. Men must train themselves to think of things valuable if the Lord thinks them to be valuable. Christ is the best judge of a bargain. What is my evaluation of things in contrast to His? Jesus said: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2), and “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Our soul should be regarded as the most valuable thing that we possess.

Something is cheap to a person if he would give just a little for it. Anything that exalts a nation must be very valuable. The wisest of all men said, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). This would eliminate the oppression of one group by another. It would end racial hatred and political prejudices. It would eliminate the waste of money spent for liquor as well as on welfare that people do not deserve - when they won’t work. It would do away with dishonesty in business and government. Truly the Lord knows what is valuable, but it seems that most men won’t accept the formula given to us by God.

Following Christ
If you consider something cheap, you won’t give much for it. That’s the reason I know that men consider following after Christ very cheap. They don’t put any money or effort into it. If they considered following Jesus Christ a valuable thing, they would do so at all costs. Only a very few people do. Jesus saw Simon and his brother fishing on the sea of Galilee and Jesus said, “come and I will make you fishers of men.” The Bible says they left their nets and followed Him. Jesus puts great value on following Jesus the Christ. In fact, we must leave all, as did His beloved disciples. Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). Most people must consider Christ cheap, because very little value is placed on their salvation.

Don’t Set Your Hope on Riches
All the solid evidence points to the wisdom of setting our affections on heavenly things. Men depend too much on material things. If we have money, we feel secure. The Bible says: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). One corrupts, corrodes, rusts and rots, while the other remains. One promises much and delivers little. The other promises much and God has the power to deliver. We sing the song, “Jesus is all the world to me” but do we really believe it and trust in Him? There have been many men on their death bed wishing they could buy back the past, but it is too late. One cannot do so. If one could only buy back a few days to accept the Lord, how secure he would be, but he comes to his death realizing that money now will do absolutely no good. It truly is my hope and prayer that all men would “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). That is not cheap at all – that is where true value is. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Things Considered Valuable

When we think of things valuable, we usually think of money. If you had a ten-thousand-dollar bill, it would be valuable, at least in the eyes of men. A thing may be valuable because of what it will buy, or it may be valuable because it is scarce. Or a thing may be valuable because it has sentimental value to a particular person. So, in a real sense, money is very valuable in the eyes of most of us. But it is very easy to consider it too valuable. 

When money, or its equivalent, causes us to be envious, or jealous; when money is put before friends or other things more valuable, we are getting the wrong concept of money. Some people know the price of everything, but the value of nothing. The wise man said, “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city.” While valuable, let us ask this question: “What value does the Lord place on money?” The Bible says: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10). The rich man in Luke 12 thought so much of himself and his wealth that he forgot about what was really important - his soul! Notice what is said in Luke 12:19-21: “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then who's will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Wealth is only a temporary thing. Our soul will live forever. Our soul, or money – what do you think is the most important? 

Solomon said, “The rich man is wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 28:11). A person with money thinks of himself as very secure. Insurance companies are among the wealthiest businesses in the world. Men put much faith and money in security. We want to be secure in our homes, in our businesses. We want to provide for the time when we will not have a good income. Money makes us feel secure. Did you ever think how much better you felt with money in your pocket - especially if you are on a trip or away from home. Security is a very valuable thing to mankind.

But the security that is really valuable is the conviction that I will someday live with God. Paul said: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12). The impossibility of apostasy is a doctrine of Satan; but strong faith in God is the greatest security one can have. Think about it, do you have the security of knowing that you are doing all things that are pleasing to God? Remember Jesus said: “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).

Men seem to be living for pleasure, power and prosperity. Did you ever think how much money is spent on pleasure? Men will risk life and limb to have a good time......to satisfy the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Men will risk a whole life in prison for a few moments of pleasure. Men will spend thousands, risk their lives, endanger their home, and do just about any other foolish act for a few moments of pleasure. This is a form of selfishness.

What does the Lord think of pleasures? Listen to the inspired writer as he commends Moses of old: “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26). Moses had the perfect opportunity to forsake his values and enjoy wealth, fame, fortune, and all the other pleasures of life. But he chose to live a life devoted to God. The Lord commended him for that choice in these verses. Will the Lord be able to say these things about you and me? We should all desire to be like those others that are mentioned in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, which I like to call the “Hall of Faith chapter.” Don’t forsake the Lord for a few moments of pleasure here on this earth. It’s not worth spending an eternity away from God because of it. May we all think about what is truly valuable and realize that the most valuable thing that we all possess is our own soul.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The Purpose of Miracles

God does not do things without a purpose. All of His work is planned, purposed and orderly done. This was true with His work with reference to performing miracles. Let us examine and answer this question; “What was the purpose of miracles during the days of the apostles and Jesus Christ on earth?”

Revealing the Truth
One purpose of miracles was to reveal the truth unto all mankind. If God speaks to man, then He must choose some medium. Rather obviously that medium must be in ways that man will understand. So God spoke to man in words adapted to man's understanding. In 1 Corinthians 2:9-13 Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit gave unto the apostles what he wanted the apostles to reveal to man. Here is what Paul wrote: “But as it is written: “EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” The Holy Spirit revealed unto the apostles the words that God wanted them to speak. Listen to Him: “These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches.” Miracles had to be performed for man to know the truth.

Confirming the Word
Another purpose of miracles in the first century was to confirm the word. By this we mean that the apostles did miracles in order to prove they were truly speaking from God, that they were not imposters. These men claimed to be spokesmen for God. But how were the people to know for sure? Miracles were done to prove it. These miracles were signs. Other miraculous manifestations were called "wonders" or "miracles." There were differences in the design or purpose of the kinds of miracles. "Signs" were proof of divinity or proof of authority. "Wonders" had to do with the great power manifested in the miracles. In John 2:11 we read: “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.” The turning of water into wine was proof that Jesus was divine. You remember Nicodemus said: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Yes, signs, or miracles, were proof of the genuineness of the person speaking from God. But still, even seeing all these signs, wonders, and miracles, people would not believe. The gospel of John is filled with miracles for the purpose of getting people to believe in Jesus. John wrote: “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). Do you believe in Jesus Christ? I certainly hope so because unless one believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God and is buried with Him in baptism, they cannot have eternal life. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

No Evidence of Miracles Today
Now think about this. Since the Bible, the Word of God, is now revealed, and since the confirmation has already been made, what need have we of miracles? There is no valid evidence today that men can do miracles as they did in the first century and that is because it is not needed today as it was then. Do we need more truth revealed to us? Is not the Bible enough? Would you charge that the Bible is insufficient? Is there something lacking in God’s book? Do we need more light now than the people did in Paul's day? If one faithfully follows God’s book today, wouldn’t he be saved? If so, then what do we need with added revelation? Since the Bible is proven to be from God, why do we need more confirmation?

Friday, January 6, 2023

God Hates Sin

Can God hate? The Bible says He can. In the Proverbs, chapter 6, it says "These six things the Lord hates..." Each of these is sin. God hates sin so much that He was willing to let His son die to destroy it. This is the love, or the mercy of God. The Bible says: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). It also says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God," (Ephesians 2:8). Let no one tell you that members of the church of Christ do not believe in the grace of God. But grace alone will not save any more than faith only. When Paul said we are saved by grace, he did not say we are saved by grace alone. Without man's faith and obedience, one could never be saved. The Bible says "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). This passage clearly states that He is the author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him. Without obedience to Jesus, we cannot be saved. Have you made a determination within your life to obey Him?

The Cleansing Agent
If a worker comes in with dirty hands, there are several things necessary to get them clean. First, he must recognize that they are dirty. Without this realization he would not wash his hands. Secondly, he must have a cleansing agent. This probably is soap and water. Without this he may never get the grease or dirt off his hands. But before that cleansing agent of soap and water will do any good, he must apply that cleansing agent to his hands. No matter how much soap and water one has, without application of it, then he would never get his hands clean. In like manner, Christ shed His blood for sinful man. But first man must realize that He is a sinner. The Bible tells us that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23). This is probably the most difficult thing in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most people are defensive about admitting that they have sin in their life, saying that they are really pretty good folks. But in reality, they know that they are sinners. Next, they must have a cleansing agent to get rid of the sin and that cleansing agent is Jesus Christ. This has been provided for the taking. Paul wrote: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Jesus has provided the most wonderful gift ever for mankind - it is there for the taking. But without application of the blood of Christ, then there is no cleansing. Wishing will not make it so. Paul also writes: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?" (Romans 6:3). There is the application! It is not until we are baptized into Christ, into His death, that we put on Christ. The Bible also says: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). It is baptism that provides the means of cleansing for man's sins. Just as soap and water is needed to cleanse our dirty hands, baptism is the application needed to cleanse us from sin.

The Sacrifice of Christ
How does one take advantage of the sacrifice of Christ? Most Bible believers admit that it takes the blood to wash away sins, but how is this blood applied to the human heart? The apostle Paul wrote: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). What does it mean to be baptized into Christ? Simply, that we are baptized into the benefit of the death of Christ which is eternal salvation. Christ died for our sins. To benefit from the blood, we must get into Christ, which means getting into a right relationship with Christ. Thus, being baptized is simply being saved, or accepting the offer of Christ's salvation. Peter said: "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;..." (Acts 2:38). How did these individuals obtain remission of their sins? By repenting and being baptized. How does one get into Christ? By baptism. The same act that saves you puts you into Christ. Baptism brings salvation, remission, church membership, and puts one into Christ. The destruction of sin can only be had through our obedience to Jesus.

Newness of Life
Becoming a Christian is likened to the death of Christ. The Bible says in Romans 6:3-6: "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." In verses 3-4, it says that these New Testament Christians had just been baptized into Christ. That means into the benefits of the death of Christ. In so doing, the sinner puts off the old man of sin and puts on the new man in Christ. When did this happen? When they were baptized into Christ. The idea that one does not need to be baptized in order to be saved has been invented by man and is without Bible authority. The Bible clearly says that to be in Christ one must be baptized. One is baptized into the death of Christ. There the sinner puts off the man of sin and puts on Christ Jesus. There is no way under heaven to put on Christ outside of baptism into Christ. Please read what God says in His word, and then be submissive to His teaching.