Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Our Hope

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.” (1 Timothy 1:1)
Paul, in his opening salutation to Timothy, makes it clear that the Christian’s hope is not just in Christ but is Christ! In the New Testament, the term “hope” does not refer to some vague wish but to a confident expectation of something (or someone) sure to come. It focuses especially on the promised return of Christ to complete His great work of redemption.
It is specifically called the blessed hope: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). It is also a living hope, for God the Father “hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
Furthermore, since Christ is our hope, it is a saving hope. “For we are saved by hope” (Romans 8:24). It is a glorious and joyful hope. It recognizes the present truth of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), so that we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
It is not a blind hope but a reasonable hope, one founded on solid evidence, and every believer must “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
Finally, this hope of the imminent coming of Christ, when at last “we shall be like him,” is a purifying hope, for “every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). It also is a stabilizing hope, “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Hebrews 6:19). In every way, God “hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Names of the Men

“And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you: of the tribe of Reuben; Elizur the son of Shedeur.” (Numbers 1:5)
These are the first entries in several long lists of names here in the book of Numbers—all names of men in the 12 tribes of Israel. We know nothing about most of these men except their names, so it is natural to wonder why God had Moses include them in the inspired Scriptures.
In fact, this is one of the objections that skeptics and liberals have raised against the doctrine of verbal inspiration of the Bible. What possible spiritual or doctrinal or practical purpose could be accomplished through these lists of names for any future readers of the Bible?
And there are, indeed, many such lists of names. For example, the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles consist almost entirely of names. Then there are the lists in Ezra 2; Ezra 10; Nehemiah 7, 11, and 12; Romans 16; and others.
Information is included about some of these people, of course, and even the meaning of the names may warrant speculation about their parents’ hopes for the children.
But there is also another very cogent reason for God to have included all these names of relatively less significant people in His book. He wants to assure us that He is interested not only in the Abrahams, Daniels, Pauls, and other great men in His Kingdom, but also in the Elizurs and Shedeurs and Bills and Kates in His spiritual family.
There are many millions of names “written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27), and the heavenly Lamb—the Lord Jesus Christ—is also the Good Shepherd that “calleth his own sheep by name” (John 10:3). The names in His book here on Earth are an assurance that He knows and calls us by each of our names in His book in heaven. 

Monday, 20 November 2017

Our Hiding Place

“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)
There are times in the life of each believer when the trials become overwhelming and the whole world seems to be falling apart. Without the Lord, it would be impossible to escape, but with the Lord there can be safety and restoration, for He can be our precious hiding place until the storm is done.
There are many gracious promises to this effect in His Word, and we need only to claim them to experience them. The “pavilion” in our text is best understood as the tent of the commander-in-chief, well-protected and away from the battlefront. Surely, we are safe there. “Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues” (Psalm 31:20). There is a wonderful Messianic promise in Isaiah 32:2: “And a man [that man is Christ!] shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”
There, sheltered from the storm, our gracious Lord gives comfort and sweet counsel until we are able to face the tempest victoriously. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2).
One of the most beautiful of these promises introduces David’s great song of deliverance: “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Saviour; thou savest me from violence” (2 Samuel 22:2-3). 

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Only Way

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)
This is surely one of the best-known, best-loved, most important, clearest, yet most profound verses in the Bible. There is no other way to come to God except through Christ, no other truth than that which is founded and centered on Christ, and no other eternal life except the life of Christ imparted to the believer—through faith in Christ.
All who teach otherwise are “thieves and robbers” of the soul, for Jesus said, “I am the door” (John 10:8-9). There is no other door to heaven and no other Shepherd of the sheep. He is the only “light of the world” (John 8:12) to illumine a world otherwise blackened by sin. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
He is “that bread of life . . . the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever” (John 6:48,51), and there is no other such life-sustaining eternal food for the hungry soul.
Likewise, He is the “living water.” “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37-38). No other water satisfies. He is also the one “true vine” in whom we must abide for fruit-producing life. He said, “For without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:1,5).
The Scriptures have made it abundantly plain that there is “none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
There is no other way; the Lord Jesus Christ is the all-sufficient way, and the perfect way, to God. It is not that He shows the way; He is the way, and all who want to come can come to God through Him.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Jesus Christ, Our Hope

“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.” (1 Timothy 1:18-19)
Paul had been entrusted with the gospel of Jesus Christ by Christ Himself (1 Timothy 1:1,12-16), and he did not take this fact lightly when it was time to pass on the job of guarding and propagating the truth to others.
In our text, following his praise to God for giving him such a function, Paul now “charges” Timothy to follow in his footsteps. The word “commit” finds usage in banking vocabulary and implies a deposit of something of great value. Timothy was to continue to teach the valuable, life-changing truth of the gospel in love (1 Timothy 1:5) while guarding the flock against the teaching of false teachers (1 Timothy 1:3).
Paul had not found such a responsibility to be easy. In our text he reminds Timothy of this fact, encouraging him to “war a good warfare.” Note the two weapons of Timothy’s warfare mentioned here. First, faith, which, while not specified, certainly implies faith in God and Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and faith that this cause is just and right. Second, a good conscience, yielding a life and ministry free from both controlling sin and the guilt of that sin. Such a conscience comes from a lifestyle brought into submission to God’s Word. In fact, this couplet—faith and a good conscience—is said to be “the end of the commandment” (1 Timothy 1:5), along with love.
Some (1 Timothy 1:19) had abandoned these vital weapons to the “shipwreck” of their own faith and the faith of their followers. Nevertheless, such weapons, properly used, are “mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Friday, 17 November 2017

Son of God

“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:3-4)
It is noteworthy that the identification of Jesus Christ as the Son of God is directly associated with His resurrection from the dead. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26), and since only God Himself can conquer death, Christ’s bodily resurrection is the conclusive affirmation of His unique deity: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Many others have claimed divine sonship, but all are dead—only Christ validated that claim by defeating death. “God . . . hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Acts 13:33). “Death is swallowed up in victory . . . . through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54,57).
Jesus is explicitly called “the Son of God” about 44 times in the New Testament, only half as often as He is called “Son of man.” Nevertheless, this great truth is clearly taught in numerous other ways than by the use of the title itself. It is so important that there is no salvation for the one who denies it. Jesus said plainly, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
Because He lives, we who believe on His name will also live forever! “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? . . . He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:5, 12-13).

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Asking and Receiving

“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:8)
The tremendous resource of prayer is far too often neglected by far too many Christians. If nothing is standing between us and the Lord to keep us from asking effectively (sin, unbelief, selfish motives, etc.), then God has promised to act when we ask by giving us our request or something better. Note just a few of the many promises to those who ask:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God . . . and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
“Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
“How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).
“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22).
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
“If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).
Obviously, there are conditions. These marvelous promises assume that those who ask are abiding in His commandments, truly desiring His will, having His priorities, thinking His thoughts, and are asking in faith and in His name.