Hear Him! [Jesus] and be Saved

The Prophesied Prophet

The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die. And the LORD said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good, I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among your brethren, and I will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks* in My name, I will require it of him (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).’’

Peter took up this theme and preached it to the people at Solomon’s Porch after the lame man had been healed in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:6-10). He said, “‘For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people (Acts 3:22, 23).’’  Peter told them that the man had been healed through ‘faith’ in the name of Jesus, and this faith came through Him (Acts 3:16:).

Stephen, just before he was martyred (Acts 7:59, 60), preached the same message: “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like Me from your brethren. Him you shall hear (Acts 7:37).

The Importance of ‘Hearing’ Jesus

Hearing Jesus is paramount. The prophets pointed to Him for salvation (Luke 24:25; Acts 7:52). Again and again their message was to ‘hear’ Him (Jeremiah 25:4). Moses prophesied of the coming of Jesus, and it was Him who people were to hear. He was the Messiah, the Just One (Acts 3:14; 7:52), and through Him all the elect would be saved (Ephesians 1:3-10).

There are no prophets today, but God’s prophets of the Old Testament and those of the New, spoke not only to the Israelites, but also to the Gentiles. Their message was pertinent to their generation, and it is to ours also. We are to learn from them: ‘For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4).’

Paul in his Epistle to the Romans wrote: ‘Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).’ And those who are saved are saved through faith by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

Jesus, Himself, spoke these words, “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house. and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock (Luke 6:47, 48).”’

He said,“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life (John 5:24),”’ and

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish: neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand (John 10:27, 28).”’

‘“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should  *speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak (John 12:48-50).”’

Salvation

If you are to be one of God’s elect, you must ‘hear’ Him through His son, the Lord Jesus (John 14:6). If you confess Him ‘with your mouth’ and ‘believe in your heart’ , then ‘you will be saved (Romans 10:9).’

‘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).’

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Relaxing in Jesus

Vocabulary and Communication

Concepts or understandings are mostly communicated through the use of words, and they are effective when the parties communicating have common definitions of those words. This goes for all sorts of people within their disciplines. For example, astronomers use their specialist vocabulary and medical practitioners use theirs. Neither fully understands the other, because they do not have common vocabularies. Likewise those who are not familiar with biblical terminology have difficulty in appreciating what Christians say about the Bible and its message.*

To this end, the Christian apologist has to explain the meanings of certain words such as: ‘redemption’, ‘justification’ and ‘sanctification’. This can be quite difficult, because a good many biblical words have different meanings according to their contexts. Biblical dictionaries are helpful, since they compare words that have similar or identical meanings, both in the Old and New Testaments.The former Testament was mainly written in Hebrew, and the latter in Greek and their vocabularies have to be cross-referenced.

The Meaning of the Word ‘Relaxing’

There are certain everyday words we use that are not found in the Bible, and one such word is ‘relaxing’. How is the word defined? It is ‘to make less tense or firm’.  An example could be that of two wrestlers; one has the other in a head lock, and when the restrained wrestler acknowledges defeat, the other loosens his hold. He no longer needs to apply force. Victorious, he relaxes, both physically and mentally.

Another meaning of the word is, ‘to make less strict or severe’. You can imagine a scenario where a teacher severely punishes a pupil for bad  behaviour. Afterwards the child behaves himself and their relationship improves. The pupil cooperates and respects his teacher. With the improved atmosphere there is less stress, less tension and a sense of relief. Both the pupil and the teacher are more relaxed.

Relaxing in Jesus

As stated above, the word ‘relaxing’ is not found in the Bible, but it can be equated with *’resting’, as described in Hebrews 4:1-10.

There is no better experience for a Christian than to ‘rest’ in Jesus. He does this, since he knows he has been forgiven his sins (Luke 5:24; Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:9), and he has been accepted by Jesus (Ephesians 1:6), who makes him one of His chosen ones (1 Peter 2:4; Revelation 17:14). This is a Christian’s reality, and there is nothing more comforting, lovely, wonderful, edifying or satisfying – the superlatives go on, and on, and on!

To be ‘in’ Jesus is to ‘relax’ in Him. When you wake up in the morning you know you are in Him. With this knowledge and reassurance you are totally relaxed. You are grateful and thankful for His mapping out of the day ahead (Ephesians 2:10); for it is for your good. Here’s what the apostle Paul said about that confidence: ’And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).’

With that state of mind – one of belief, faith and trust – the Christian can truly ‘relax’ in Jesus. He knows there is ‘no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), who says, ‘“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).”’

*The Message of the Bible

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/08/25/the-message-of-the-bible/

**Christian Sabbath? [Christian Rest?]

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/10/01/christian-sabbath/

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Generous Giving

There are many natural disasters, and just now thousands of people are suffering badly from the effects of an earthquake and a tsunami in Indonesia. When there is a disaster on this scale, and a foreign government appeals for outside help, the UK Disasters Emergency Committee sets up a nationwide appeal for aid. They ask for money to pay for food, water, medicines and equipment. All of this has to be transported across oceans, and it requires coordinated logistics for things to flow rapidly from donors to those in need.

People in the UK are well-known for their generous giving when it comes to situations such a this one on the island of Sulawesi. There are thousands missing feared dead, buried beneath mud slides or crushed under collapsed buildings. Survivors desperately need shelter from the elements, and they will be wanting massive help for getting them back on their feet. New infrastructure, housing and public amenities will have to be built. The task is enormous, and it will take years.

If you’ve ever given to relief-aid charities you’ll know they like to keep hold of your details so that they can come back to ask for more. Whenever another disaster occurs you can be sure they’ll send you a letter or make contact via email with a request for help. So, as a Christian, how do you respond? Indeed, do you respond more generously than those who do not know the Lord? What is the proportion of Christians who give to *DEC Org? There’s no way of knowing.

I would like to think their ranking is high, but in the end, although the Lord supplies their needs, some may not be able to respond as they would like. They could well be committed elsewhere. However, they most certainly will respond with prayer. I’m reminded of the passage in Mark’s Gospel where Mark describes an episode when Jesus was at the treasury in Jerusalem:

‘Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrant. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood (Mark 12:41-44).”’

This illustrates the importance Jesus places on generosity. The widow gave ‘all’ she had! How remarkable was that. How precious it was in the sight of our Lord!

The Scriptures have more for us to draw on regarding giving. For example, in the case of tithing, a Christian is not required to do it. The Israelites under the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 14:22-29) were obliged to give one tenth or more of their income. A number of Christians tithe, for it comes from their hearts to do so. Heart giving is beautiful. The Lord loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). I am thinking, ‘If only I had a bigger heart and a bigger purse!’ We may feel guilty or inadequate when we look back on our giving, and our conscience may prick us when we consider our present giving.

However, Jesus doesn’t ‘always’ want us to give sacrificially. A cup of water can be valued a lot by one who is thirsty (Matthew 10:42; Mark 9:41). Our motivation and the state of our heart is what counts, and there’s pleasure in satisfying the needs of the needy. No one can evade the eye of the Lord; for He sees everything we do. He knows of everything we do, and strangely, He has preordained all things; including our giving (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you (Luke 6:38).”

Finally, Jesus gave His all: ‘“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).”’

*DEC.org.uk

https://www.dec.org.uk

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Wisdom and Folly

‘Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise that they are futile (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).”

The Differences between Wisdom and Folly

Wisdom – What is it? The Bible has a lot to say about it – God’s wisdom and the wisdom of men. Being foolish is the opposite of being wise, and the Bible poignantly states in Proverbs, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).’

For the Christian that is the heart of the matter – not fearing God as one who is condemned to suffer His wrath, but as one who has received His forgiveness and experienced His mercy, His love, kindness, joy and peace. For those in Christ there is no fear in love, for love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18).

God is wise (1 Timothy 1:17; Jude 1:25) beyond our understanding. In His wisdom He created the world (Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15) and foreordained (1 Peter 1:20) all that would happen there until He destroys it and creates a new one (Revelation 21:1).

In His wisdom He created both the wise and the foolish, and this is what perplexed the writer of Ecclesiastes. He saw that wisdom excels folly (2:13) and yet in an event – perhaps a catastrophic one – both the wise and the foolish suffer the same fate (Vs 15, 16). This caused the writer to despair (v 20) because he wasn’t viewing things with the eye of faith. He was looking at them from a worldly point of view. He reasoned that if a man is wise, works hard and accumulates wealth, he should be able to reap the benefits. Others should not profit from his industry and wisdom after his death. The foolish lose nothing because they accumulate nothing; furthermore they may inherent a wise man’s estate – possessions for which they did not labour. To the author of Ecclesiastes this was ‘vanity’. Man’s toil, therefore, to him was pointless, and moreover, a man’s days are ‘sorrowful ‘and his work is ‘burdensome’ (2: 23). This is the folly of an unbeliever.

The Wisdom of God

Paul the Apostle has a completely different understanding. He explains, ‘The deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10) are revealed to those who receive the Spirit of God: ‘But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew, for had they known they would not have crucified the Lord of glory …….. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things 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. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:7-14).’

The psalmist through God’s Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16) wrote, ‘I will hear what the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land (Psalm 85:8, 9).’

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7), and, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever (Psalm 111:10).’

In His wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:21) God sent His Son to die for those whom He predestined (Romans 8:29) for glory from before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). He makes men and women wise (1 Corinthians 2:7) in His knowledge through His Spirit (V 10), and He speaks peace to them (Psalm 85:8) and gives them His *rest.

*Christian Sabbath?

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/10/01/christian-sabbath/

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Christian Sabbath?

Is there such a thing as a ‘Christian Sabbath’? We know that practising Jews observe the Sabbath, and for them there are strict rules as to what can be done on that day, i.e., the last day of the week which is a Saturday.

The real meaning of ‘sabbath’ in Hebrew is ‘to rest from labour’. It’s origins may be traced back to the creation of the world when God created it in six days and rested on the seventh. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words states that the Greek word for Sabbath has a root meaning ‘to cease or desist’, and it specifically explains it does not mean refreshment, but cessation from activity.

From Genesis 2:2, 3 we learn that God ceased creating the world on the seventh day, and He blessed and sanctified it: ‘And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.’

Over 2,660 years later God gave the Israelites Manna from heaven (Exodus 16:1-31), and speaking through Moses He said to them about the Manna, ‘“Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning  (Exodus 16:23).’ On the morning of each sixth day God would provide double the amount of Manna for collection and preparation, and on the seventh day when none would be provided they were to do no work and they were to rest (Vs 29, 30).

Later God set forth His Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) for obedience by the Israelites. He commanded them to, ‘“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Vs 8-11).’

So clearly the Sabbath was to be kept and honoured by the Israelites, i.e., the Old Testament (Mosaic Covenant) People of God (Deuteronomy 16:18, 19). How were they to keep it? By resting and doing no work (Leviticus 23:3; Deuteronomy 5:13, 14), but how about the New Testament (New Covenant) People of God? What did Jesus have to say about His church (Matthew 16:18) regarding Sabbath keeping?

He said He was Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8) and, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27, 28).In other words He was the Arbiter who would decide what His disciples could do on a Sabbath. In fact He did many of His miracles of healing on the Sabbath, and by so doing He technically contravened the fourth commandment to do no work and to rest.

It must be noted that after the coming of the Holy Spirit and the formation of the Church (Acts 2), the disciples generally met for worship on the first day of the week, i.e., Sunday. But nowhere in the Scriptures is Sunday described as, ‘The Sabbath’ or a Sabbath. Instead the Lord’s people referred to it as ’The Lord’s Day’. They did not set it aside as a day of rest on which no work was to be done; nor did they make a rule that Sunday was to be a regular or obligatory day of worship.

By extension the writer of Hebrews explains that believers in Jesus enter into His Sabbath rest: ‘Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said, “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:1-3).’

The Old Testament Israelites under the Mosaic Covenant never made it into Canaan because of their unbelief. They never had rest in the land of their inheritance, because they lacked faith; whereas New Covenant Christians enter into God’s rest, which is a Sabbath rest where no work is done to inherit it. Their salvation and inheritance is in, and through Jesus, who by the New Covenant in His blood (Matthew 26:28) has bought them that rest in His kingdom land.

So the ‘Christian Sabbath’ rest is obtained by faith in Jesus; not by works. Christians can rest in Him and receive His peace (John 14:27). They should not be forever striving to do more and more, and yet they should ‘…..not grow weary in doing good (2 Thessalonians 3:13).’

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The Compassion of Jesus

One of the salient characteristics of Jesus is His abundant ‘compassion’ (Matthew 9:36).

When He was here on earth, wherever He saw suffering, sorrow or misfortune, His desire was to restore to wholeness or to normality those who were in trouble. He fed the hungry (Matthew 14:15-21; 15:32-38), healed the sick (Matthew 9:35), and He even brought people back life (Luke 7:13-15; John 11:35-44). There was always action on His part as a result of His compassion. He could not stand by and not do anything – so strong was His empathy and care for those in trouble.

When Matthew wrote his Gospel he drew attention to the great compassion of Jesus. Here are some extracts that illustrate this:

Matthew 9:36 ‘But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.’

Matthew 14:14 ‘And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude, and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.’

Matthew 15:32 ‘Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”’

Matthew 20:34 ‘So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.’

In fact, it was the compassion of Jesus that gave Him His desire to come to earth, to suffer, to die and to rise again to be a ransom (Matthew 20:28) for many. He saw their suffering; He saw their iniquity; He saw their hopelessness, and He had compassion on them. He forgave them their sins (Luke 5:20-24) and overlooked their transgressions (Hebrews 9:15).

What is our response? Are we like Him? Are we compassionate for those in trouble: those who are suffering, those who are being persecuted, those who are sick, widows, orphans (James 1:27) and the needy?

When Jesus had compassion He felt the distress, the pain and the anguish of those in difficulty. He cared for them – even loved them. Often they were people He hadn’t met before, but He invariably acted to take away their distress. Here’s an example from Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 7, verses 13-15 ‘When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her [a widow] and said  to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him [her only son] to his mother.’

There was the time when He healed a leper: ‘Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed (Mark 1:41, 42).’

We are not able to do miracles, but if we are believers we can be compassionate like Jesus (cf Psalm 86:15) and we can react positively with prayer (Luke 18:1), and if it is practical, respond with actions. At the same time we can be thankful for Jesus’ compassion for us and for our salvation (Romans 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:9).

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Trust in the Lord

‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5, 6).’

The senior elder of the church of which I am a member, invariably ends all of his preachings with the exhortation for us to ‘trust’ in Jesus. I don’t want to trivialise this particular trust by giving you some examples of trust to illustrate what trust means. However, I will give you one example; that is trust while driving on the roads. We go through life trusting in so many things and activities, and being on the road is something most of do, and to which we can relate.

When I drive my car I trust others to drive according to the rules of the Highway Code for England, Scotland and Wales. No one is allowed to drive a car in the UK without being under supervision while learning, and if on their own, without having passed the official tests of theory and of practice. He must be the owner of a driving licence. The driver has to be competent, being able to manage his vehicle safely.

Knowing this, when I get in my car I assume my responsibility to drive it safely and courteously, and get on with it. But, there is another aspect which I must consider, and that is the ‘unexpected’. If a driver contravenes a rule, and places me, and possibly my passengers in a perilous situation, I must respond quickly in an endeavour to escape the danger. If other road users are irresponsible, perhaps by drinking alcohol or taking drugs, thereby reducing their capacity for safe conduct, I can do nothing about them; therefore being on the road while they are on the road is a ‘risk’ I must take.

Now that’s were *’faith’ plays its part. I can’t fully trust drivers of other vehicles, but I can have faith in God to protect me. I can also ‘trust’ Him to do it (Psalm 125), which makes my faith in Him firm. Trusting is the doing, practical application of faith.

God is fully dependable. He does not lie, and what He says He will do, I know He will do it. How do I know? He has given me His trust. He has revealed Himself to me through His word, by His Spirit, His creation of the world, His sustaining of the world and through personal experience of our relationship through His Son, Jesus.

My trust then in getting home safely after driving must go beyond knowing and applying the rules of the Highway Code while expecting others to do the same. You might say, I don’t know if I shall get home safely, which is true, because none of us can foresee the future. Only God is **Sovereign in all matters, and He has determined the future. Our surrender to Him, and our full trust in Him who loves and cares for us is what matters.

Our trust in the Lord is paramount, and if we lack trust in Him we are lost (Luke 19:10)!

*Faith

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/12/25/faith/

**Free Will and the Sovereignty of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/04/20/free-will-and-the-sovereignty-of-god/

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