"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine." II Timothy 4:1-2
Good morning. We need to follow Jesus everyday according to the words of that song! Welcome to 2021. We’ve all survived 2020 during the year of Covid 19! In times past we have been told to stay away from negative people, but last year we were told to stay away from positive people. It seems like the whole world is turned upside down—the old people are slipping out of the house and going out and their kids are yelling to stay indoors. But we have all survived.
Our lesson today is “I Press On!” I press on is the statement from the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:12 through 16. Clay Brown, you did a good job reading that text. And I hope all of you will open up your Bibles and look at the text, because that’s where we’re going to drive the stake down today and talk about that statement from Paul to the church at Philippi. And if you think about it he had some really bad things to happen to him in Philippi. You remember it started out in a good way when he went out by the riverside and some women were having a prayer meeting. This gave Paul an opportunity for him to preach the word of God to them and then they were baptized into Christ. So they continued having prayer meeting every time they could get together.
In the meantime there were some people that served idols and Paul had preached that there is just one God, and so their idol selling business was falling apart. They stirred up the people and had the magistrates to beat them and put them in jail and the jailer put them in the inner part of the prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Now many years later after Paul baptized the jailer who became a Christian, along with Lydia, Paul is writing back to that church and he says, “I press on!”
Now I don’t make any New Year’s resolutions, because when you do, you end up breaking them anyway. But here’s one that we can all make and if we do make this resolution, it’ll take care of any others that we could possibly make. And that resolution is “I Press On.” And it’s in the first person singular, so it can apply to all of us. We can all say in 2021, I Press On and not get tied up in negativity! Paul was a positive person, so he says I press on.
When we go back to biblical times there were a lot of idols of all kinds. When Paul visited in Athens, Greece, there were so many gods that they were afraid they had left one out and so when Paul walked around through the city he found an idol with the inscription “To The Unknown God,” and he used that phrase as his proof text and preached a great sermon on the God that they did not know—the God that created heaven and earth.
The Romans also had their pagan gods and the pagan god Janus was pictured as a two-faced god—one face look back at the old year and the new face looked forward to the New Year! So Janus was a god that looked both back and forward, and that’s where we got our name for January. All of us here at Heartland are looking forward to 2021 and we’re not looking back to March, April, and May when the coronavirus started. We’re looking forward to January and the New Year. Continue reading “I PRESS ON”→
The Bible teaches that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). God is the one who created the light in the beginning and he said it is good (Genesis 1:3-4). Light is good because it has the qualities to dispel darkness, direct and discover.
In the fullness of time, God sent his Son down to be the light of the world. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8.12). The Bible declares that we can have fellowship with God if we walk in the light as he is in the light. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
We will not have fellowship with God if we make these false claims. (1) When we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in darkness, we lie to our fellow-Christians and there is no truth in us (1 John 1:6). (2) If we claim we have no sin when we do have sin in our lives, we lie to ourselves and we are not living by the truth (1 John 1:8). (3) If we claim that we have not sinned, we lie to God and prove that God’s word has not found lodging in our lives (1 John 1:10). God’s word declares that all have sinned and all do sin (Romans 3:9, 23). Solomon said, “There is no one who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). Sin means to miss the mark or to live in lawlessness, “For everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).
The answer to these false claims is to walk in the light as God is in the light. Walking in the light does not mean that we can be perfect and live without sin. It does mean that we are to do the best we possibly can, and then when we do sin, we are to repent and confess our sins in order that the blood of Christ will continually cleanse us of our sins: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
We will have fellowship with God when our walk and our talk agree! If we talk a good talk, let us also walk a good walk in the light!
Have any of you ever had anybody come up and ask, “What are you?” I’ve never had anybody come up to me and ask that, but I have had people come up to me and ask, “Who are you?”
WHO IS MAN?
We’ll answer that question by maybe giving our name, our address or whether we’re a Hoosier, Kentuckian, or whatever. But I’ve never had anybody ask me, “What are you?” Yet, that is a question that is asked in the Bible. It is not “Who are you?” The question is “What are you?” There are a lot of different theories that degrade man and do not give man the proper rank, dignity and honor that God intended for man to have. For instance, some say that you are born a child of the devil. That’s the theory of total hereditary depravity. Some teach today even in our higher institutions of learning that man is born a child of a gorilla. That’s the theory of evolution. And some for fifty years or more, until just recently, had argued that we are born the child of the state. That’s communism. Any one of those theories would degrade man and not elevate him to his proper rank and dignity.
WHAT IS MAN?
If you really want to know what is man and when I ask that question and when the Bible asks that question, we are not making a distinction here between man and woman. When we say, “What is man?” we are using that in the Greek use of the word anthropos, mankind, including both the male and the female sex. What is man? What is mankind? If you really want to answer that question, we must go to the Bible, because the best book on self-knowledge is the Bible. God made us and then He gave us a handbook on what is man. If you want to know what you are, you must study the book on self-knowledge called the Bible. The Bible is not only the book that reveals God to man, it’s a book that reveals man to himself. Down through the ages, the scholars, the sages, the wise men, have asked that question. For instance, Marcus Aurelius, philosopher at Rome, said, “Control thyself.” Socrates said, “Know thyself.” Juvenal said, “From heaven descended the precept ‘Know thyself.’” And the English poet Chaucer said, “For wise is he that can himself know.” And the great poet Alexander Pope, wrote, “Know then thyself. Presume not God to scan. The proper study of mankind is man.” So if you really want to know what is man, you have got to study man. The proper study of mankind is man himself.
Now when we go back into the classical age of Greece, Plato wrestled with this question. They were not dummies. He wrestled with the question, “What is man?” His first answer was that man is a vegetative being. By vegetative, he meant that man has an eating, sleeping, exercising nature. Well, that is good as far as it goes. All right, man is a vegetative being. We even use that word today and say, “Well, I’m going to go home and vegetate.” We mean we’re going to crawl on the couch and go to sleep watching the ball game or something. Then he said that man is an appetitive being. By that he meant that we have passions, both the good and the dark side of man. Man has appetites. Then he said that man is also a rational being. According to Plato, the biggest sin, the biggest mistake that a man can make is not to be informed, not to be intelligent, and, therefore not to regulate and rule his life in a rational way. Plato was a great philosopher. What is man? According to Plato, he’s vegetative, he’s appetitive, and he’s rational as a being.
The next man that came along was Aristotle. Aristotle agreed with just about everything that Plato said, but Aristotle went a step further. He said that everything in this world must have a purpose and everything in this world is either good or bad as to whether it carries out its purpose. The clouds overhead have a purpose. The sun has a purpose. The moon has a purpose. The earth has a purpose. It’s good or bad as to whether it fulfills its purpose. A carpenter is a good carpenter if he can build a good house. A ship is a good ship if it can carry passengers and cargo to its destination. A hammer is a good hammer if it will drive a nail. But then he led up to the question, “What is man’s purpose?” Have you ever asked that question of yourself? Why am I here? Why are we here for just a few years and then we shuffle off the stage of action? What is man’s purpose? We must leave Aristotle right here, because he can’t answer that question. He asked the question, but did not give the answer. You know a lot of people are good at asking questions, but not too good in giving answers.
WHAT IS MAN’S PURPOSE?
We’ve got to go to the Bible to add to what Plato and Aristotle wrote. When we open up to Genesis, the first chapter (and the word Genesis means “beginnings”), we read in verse 26, “The Lord God created man in His image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them.” Then Genesis 2:7 says, “The Lord God (or Jehovah God) formed man out of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” What is man? Yes, we have a body. Remember a few years ago on television they had the show “The Million Dollar Man”? Then somebody said that man is not really worth a million dollars. When we die, our body melts back into dust from which it was made and the elements of man are just worth a few dollars. But I have heard that has since been revised. Even from the standpoint of the chemicals that are in your body, man is worth over a million dollars. If you had to go buy the DNA and all the chemicals that make up your body, even from that standpoint, man is a million dollar person. It would cost that much to buy all of those elements that make man a living, walking, moving, working, functioning human being. What is man? He was made out of the dust of the earth and when he dies will go back to the dust of the earth. But man is more than dust. God breathed into our nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.
So what is man? The way to answer that question is to go to Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. From that we learn that man has an animal self In that sense, we share with the animals that God created in this world, because there are many similarities between man and animals as far as legs, the appendages that God gave us, and eyes, ears, etc. We share many of those similarities. But does an animal have a soul? Does an animal have a rational mind? Does an animal have the ability to love and have other emotions? So man not only has an animal self, he has a soul self. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.
In addition to having an animal self and a soul self, we have a spirit self. Paul was not a philosopher, but speaking by divine inspiration to the Thessalonians said man has his whole “spirit, soul and body” (1 Thess. 5:23.) So in his metaphysical reasoning there he points out that man is a triune being. What is man? We are a being that has an animal self, a soul self and a spirit self.
But what is man’s purpose? Why are we here? Why did God create us? Why did He put us on this terrestrial globe? Again the philosophers can’t answer that question. Some people think that we are just here to gratify all the passions and appetites that God has instilled within our body, soul and mind. Is that man’s purpose? What is man’s purpose? Again, we to go to the Word of God to find out the purpose of man. Solomon was the greatest ruler in many respects in the kingdom of Israel and God gave Solomon not only wisdom, because that is what he asked for instead of riches, but God said in addition to wisdom He would give him riches, honor and glory. The kingdom of Israel reached its zenith under the reign of King Solomon. He went out and tried everything under the sun to produce joy, happiness and pleasure. After he had tried all of these things, he said there was nothing new under the sun and that is true. It may be new to us today and it may be new to the young people because they’ve never gone that way before, but somebody at some place has tried it at some time down through the centuries. After Solomon had tried everything to try to find pleasure and joy and gratify all of his appetites, he said it was all a vanity and a vexation of spirit and finally he concluded that great sermon by asking, “What is the whole duty of man?” He answered his own question— “Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl. 12:13). I think in the original language there it is just “Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole of man.” This is our purpose for being here.
Now it follows then that to the degree and to the extent that we can fear God, respect God and keep His commandments, to that extent we would be happy, we would be successful, we would be fulfilling our purpose. Many of us go out today after the sermon is over and have a fine meal. It is rewarding to enjoy a fine meal. Some of you may go home and you may have a faithful dog, a wonderful pet. It’s more rewarding to have a faithful dog or faithful pet than it is to have a fine meal. And we have wonderful families. I love my family. It’s a good family. I love my grandchildren. It’s more rewarding to have a good family than it is to have a good dog or a fine meal. But what is the most rewarding thing of all? If you think you are fulfilling your purpose and you’re trying to fulfill your purpose in all these things that are finite, then your happiness is going to be finite. The only way that you will ever be infinitely happy and successful is by fulfilling your infinite purpose in this life and that is to fear God and keep His commandments. Augustine said back in the fifth century, “Our soul is never at rest until it rests in thee.”
Look around at the world today. We see many going after pleasure, riches, fame and honor and few are happy. Why? Because those things will not fulfill the infinite longings of the soul of man, the spirit of man. What is man? He is a being made in the image of God and he will never be happy until he fulfills that image in which he was made by fearing God and keeping His commandments.
WHAT IS MAN’S WORTH?
What is man worth then? Jesus said in Matthew 16, “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” What is the profit? If you can gain everything in this world, and many people have tried, what is the profit? When Howard Hughes, the multi-billionaire, died, somebody asked how much he left and someone answered that he left it all, every bit of it. He didn’t take any of it with him. What is man worth? What would it profit you if you gained the whole world and lost your own soul? Sometimes when we become involved in sin and we are so full of guilt that we feel like we’re not worth anything, man is still worth a lot. I don’t care how depraved a person might become in sin, there is still a spark of that divine nature that is in all people. The apostle Paul was a great sinner. In fact, he judged himself the chief of sinners. He said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” If God can save the chief of sinners, Saul of Tarsus who murdered Christians and imprisoned them and beat them and persecuted them and made havoc of the church, He can save any person today. I don’t care how much the divine nature has been marred by sin. God can take a lump of clay like Jeremiah talks about and it was put on the potter’s wheel and the potter started to make a beautiful instrument out of it, but it marred in his hand because the extraneous material that was in the clay. So what he did was put it back on the wheel and worked on it again and molded it. But we must yield as the clay must be pliable and yield to the potter’s hand, so we must be like clay in the hand of God. He can take us even when we mar and we sin and we do not answer our purpose for which we are here. He can take us and mold us and make us into a vessel of honor. God is the potter and we are the clay.
I want to close the lesson with this little poem I found years ago and I have never used it before today. I saved it because I thought that it would work into a lesson one day. It is called,
THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER’S HAND
‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer Thought it scarcely worth his while To waste much time on the old violin, But held it up with a smile; “What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried, “Who’ll start the bidding for me?” “A dollar, a dollar “, then, “Two!” “Only two?” “Two dollars and who’ll make it three? Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice; Going for three—“ But no, From the room, far back, a gray-haired man Came forward and picked up the bow; Then, wiping the dust from the old violin, And tightening the loose strings, He played a melody pure and sweet As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer, With a voice that was quiet and low, Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?” “A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two? Two thousand! And who’ll make it three? Three Thousand, once; three thousand, twice; and going, and gone, “said he. The people cheered, but some of them cried, “We do not quite understand What changed its worth?” Swift came the reply; “The touch of the master’s hand”
And many a man with life out of tune, And battered and scarred with sin, Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd Much like the old violin. A “mess of pottage “, a glass of wine; A game—and he travels on. He is “going “once, and “going” twice, He’s “going” and almost “gone” But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd Never quite understand The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought By the touch of the Master’s hand.
—Myra Brooks Welch
What is man? What is man’s worth? If you let Jesus Christ, the Master, touch your life, He’ll make your life worthwhile. What is worthwhile?
WHAT MAKES MAN’S LIFE WORTHWHILE?
Nothing is worthwhile unless you let the touch of the Master’s hand come upon you. What is man’s purpose on this earth? To love God in return for His love that He shows us in Jesus Christ. Batsell Baxter tells about growing up and hearing a preacher and he said every time the preacher closed out the sermon he said, “God loves you. Love Him back.” Brother Baxter said years ago he never understood why he was doing that, but later he understood. He was really saying that love is the key purpose of man in life. God made us in His image, created us to serve Him, showed us how much He loved us by sending Jesus to die for us and our purpose is to show our gratitude and love him back and serve Him all the days of our lives. Jesus himself said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15.)
What are the commandments? Jesus said, “If you believe in God, believe also in me, in My Father’s house are many mansions.” (John 14:1-2.) “Repent or ye shall perish.” (Luke 13:3,5.) Repent means to change your will power brought about by godly sorrow, which will result in a change in your life. In other words, if you repent, you have to prove your repentance by bringing forth a new life that is answerable, amenable, and agreeable to what you say you have done. Jesus said, “If you do not confess me before men, I will not confess you before My Father which is in heaven.” (Mt. 10:32-33.) Then ultimately, “He that is baptized shall be saved.” (Mk. 16:15-16.) The purpose is to love the Lord. Show your love for Him by doing all that He has said. Man lives in different states. Sometimes we talk about the state that we live in today as the kingdom of nature. You’re not living in the kingdom of nature today. The kingdom of nature was the Garden of Eden. That was the natural kingdom. Today we live in a preternatural, or unnatural, world. It is not natural to die and suffer and have pain. Satan brought that into the world. We live in an unnatural world. It’s not natural for the earth to be full of briars, thorns, thistles and thickets. It is unnatural. It is the course that was brought on because man violated God’s law and was pushed out of the natural kingdom into an unnatural kingdom. By entering a spiritual kingdom, the church, and living for God, fulfilling our purpose, we can ultimately enter into that supernatural kingdom, or heaven, itself. We enter the preternatural kingdom by a birth of and from the womb. We enter into the spiritual kingdom of God by a birth of and from water. (John 3:3-5.) We enter the kingdom of glory by a birth of and from the grave. But you will never reach that supernatural kingdom, the kingdom of glory, unless you are born into the kingdom of God. Will you do that and come right now while we stand and sing?*
I love the “ancient words” from the word of God. The longer we live and the more we read and study God’s word, the more beautiful they become. It was good to hear the reading of the “ancient words” from Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus (Ephesians 3:14-21).
The last time I spoke to you about three weeks ago our lesson was on “The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart.” At that time we pointed out that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, his magicians had something to do with hardening his heart, and the Bible declares over and over again that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. As a result God brought ten plagues upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, the last of which was the death of the firstborn sons of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. It was at this point that Pharaoh urged the children of Israel to leave Egypt as rapidly as they could.
From all of this, we learn that the condition of our heart is ultimately up to each one of us. We have the final say as to how receptive our heart will be to the word of God. So today I want to continue that theme on a positive note. Our lesson today is on the indwelling of Christ in our heart. All of us desire to to think, speak and act better than we normally do. But we will never reach the fullness of faith, hope, and love until Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. In that regard I have always loved the Scripture that Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia, when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). So we want Christ to live in our hearts. But how does Christ live in our hearts? He lives in our hearts by faith! Why did he want us to let him live in our hearts? Because he loves us, he died for us and he cleanses us by his precious blood shed on Calvary.
PAUL’S SECOND PRAYER FOR THE EPHESIAN CHURCH
In our text today the words are part of the second prayer that Paul prayed for the Christians at Ephesus. You notice that in most of our public prayers, we usually pray regarding external things. We thank God for our food, clothing, shelter and other things regarding our outward person. I hope in our lesson today that I can motivate all of us including myself, to pray that in spite of ourselves Christ will abide inside of us and take up his abode in our hearts. We can all do this by exercising a stronger faith in God and his word.
Now let us notice the first words that Paul wrote in his prayer to the Ephesian church:
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14-15).
Paul mentions his posture in his prayer to the Father by the word “bow.” To bow the knees is always a sign of humility, respect and reverence when we come before the deity. But there is no particular posture that is bound when we go before God in prayer. We read in the Bible of people who stood, sat and prostrated themselves upon the ground when they prayed to Almighty God. The important thing is that we bow our hearts when we come before the Lord. I heard of a church that had a hobby that you had to bow when you had a public prayer. But they asked a visiting preacher to lead the closing prayer and he stood when he prayed. One person rebuked him for standing instead of bowing. His classic reply was, “while I was standing and praying you were peeping and praying.” He pointed out the inconsistencies of all religious cranks. The important thing is that we humble ourselves when we come before God in prayer.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians was addressed to “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” Fatherhood is under attack today in our country. Fathers and boys are being belittled by many in the major establishments in America. But according to Paul all fatherhood originated with God the Father. All Christians are called sons of God (Galatians 3:26-27), and the Lord Jesus Christ is said to be the Son of God. So the universal archetype of fatherhood is Almighty God. If we want to be better fathers and better sons, we should study the Fatherhood of God because he is the perfect Father over all his creation. Remember God is the perfect Father of the whole family in heaven and on earth!
THE INDWELLING CHRIST
The life which pleases God not only observes outward forms, but it is characterized by purity, holiness, and a Christ like attitude within the inner man. What we see is the outward man, but we also have an inward man. Let us notice our text again in which Paul prays, “that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:16-17). So Paul is praying that these Ephesian Christians will be strengthened with might. The word “might” translates from a word from which we get the words “dynamic and dynamite.” He wants every one of us to be strong in the inner man. And how is this done? We are strengthened in the inner man when we let Christ dwell in our hearts by faith. Therefore our might and strength comes to the inner man through faith. We will further explain how that is done as we develop this theme. Do we let Christ come and visit our heart on Sunday or do we let him come and take up his home and abode in our heart permanently? Christ wants to dwell in our hearts by faith. The word dwell is in the aorist tense and it simply means he is to make a permanent home in our heart at a certain point in time and then continue throughout the rest of our life. And when will this take place? It should take place when we are baptized into Christ. Just as God the Father was pleased to have his fullness dwell in Christ (Colossians 1:19), so we should let the fullness of Christ dwell in our hearts (Colossians 2:9-10).
ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE
When we are rooted and grounded in the love of God, Christ will dwell in our hearts through faith. (Ephesians 3:17). “Rooted” is an agricultural term. From trees to vegetable plants we all understand the need for the seed to be planted and to be rooted in order to produce fruit. “Grounded” is an architectural term that involves the building of houses and gigantic buildings. The bigger the building the deeper the foundation must be grounded. This same principle applies to the Christian life. When the love of God is rooted and grounded in our hearts, then Christ can come and make himself a permanent home in our hearts by faith.
THE FOUR DIMENSIONS OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST AND FULLNESS OF GOD
Next, we notice Paul mentions the four dimensions of the love of Christ and the fullness of God. He prays that we “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).
Have you ever tried to comprehend the width and length and depth and height of the universe? There is no end! Scientists tell us that our universe seems to be expanding for ever and ever in all directions. That is a good illustration of how much the Lord Jesus Christ loved us and loves us still.
Let us look at several Scriptures that tell us how much Christ loves us and even then his love passes our knowledge:
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
That is a beautiful promise. But it is a conditional promise. When we love Jesus then both the Father and the Son will come and make their home in our hearts.
Romans 8:8-10 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
The idea here is that we cannot please God in the flesh. Even though we are in the flesh alive, we are not in the flesh in the sense that we live the fleshly life. The reason we do not live the fleshly life is because the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God dwells within us. And when the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ dwells in us we crucify the fleshly life and live the spiritual life. And we have already learned that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith and the Holy Spirit dwells in us through the word of God.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.
We all need to examine ourselves—physically, mentally, morally and spiritually. When we do that then we will know whether Christ is in us or if we have failed the test and been spiritually disqualified.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
According to John the apostle, Christ is knocking on our door. He does that every day. He wants to come in and live in our hearts and our lives. He wants us to glorify him by what we say, by what we do as we live the Christian life. And when Christ lives in our hearts he will make great changes in our lives. His indwelling will affect our social relationships and our conversations. His indwelling will shape our business transactions and keep our religious views within the teaching of the word of God.
CHRIST DWELLS IN THE BIBLE HEART (“INNER MAN”)
Now a few weeks ago I explained what the Bible heart is according to the teaching of the Scriptures. Sometimes people will ask, “What in the world is the Bible heart?” The inspired apostle Paul referred to the heart as “the inner man.” The heavenly Father wants us “to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). Therefore the inner man equals the Bible heart. We all have an outward man and an inward man. The Greeks looked upon the inner man as made up of the intellect, emotions, conscience and willpower. And the Greeks got that right because that is exactly how the Bible describes the Bible heart. The Bible heart is the seat of your intellect, emotions, willpower and conscience. Therefore, these are the areas which we must strengthen with the power and might through the Spirit of God who dwells in the word of God.
THE ADVANTAGES OF CHRIST DWELLING IN OUR HEARTS
Whatever the advantages of having Christ to dwell in our hearts by faith? We have many advantages and we will specify two or three.
Constancy! Someone said one time, “Oh that I was always what I am sometimes.” There are many advantages to be steadfast in our faith and the indwelling of Christ in our hearts. We definitely want to imitate Christ in every way that we possibly can. And it was said of Jesus Christ “that he is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). And it was said of the early Christians on the day of Pentecost, that they continued steadfastly in the apostle doctrine, the breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:42). And we should definitely in by spirit of polls closing words to the church at Corinth in his first letter: “therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (first Corinthians 15:58).
Better Understanding Another advantage of Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith is that we will have a better understanding of God and his will for us today. When Christ dwells in our hearts through faith and we have been rooted and grounded in love, then we will be able “to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-18). Every Christian should desire to have the four dimensional knowledge and understanding of the will of God. Christianity has been defined as the reproduction of the life of Christ in the human heart. This was the prayer of Paul for the Ephesian church and for the church today!
CHRIST INDWELLS THE HEART BY FAITH
Let us now investigate as to how Christ dwells in our hearts. When we began this lesson, we quoted Paul to the effect that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17). The Bible says we live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). But what is faith? We are not left in doubt. The Bible defines faith in simple terms: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). According to this statement faith is the substance or foundation of everything that we hope for. Notice the prefix in substance. We all are aware that the prefix sub is found in many words. For instance, submarine means a boat down under the water. A subterranean passage way is down under the ground. A sub foundation is the foundation on which the structure is built. We could go on and on that these words illustrate the function of faith. Faith stands down under all of our hope for eternal life. And the Hebrews writer also has stated that without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
And Abraham is the best example of faith. He is called the father of the faithful. Because when God commanded him to offer up his only son—his unique son of promise, he was ready to do the deed! He was ready to plunge the knife through his son’s heart. But God stayed his hand. And God said, “Now I know that Abraham believes. He stood the test. His faith was strong. He did not waver; he believed that God was able to raise him from the dead.
So Christ dwells in our hearts by faith when we become Christians and we live by faith after we become Christians. Let me give you an example. Paul went over into Europe to the city called Philippi. And there were some business women who went out by the Riverside to have a prayer meeting. We speak of Lydia and some of her friends. And the Bible says that the Lord opened her heart that she might hear and attend to the things that were spoken by Paul. After she was baptized she was considered to be a faithful Christian lady (Acts 16:14-15). This illustrates how Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. Therefore, Christ will dwell in our hearts by faith when we will have a mind and life in complete harmony with the mind and life of Christ formed in our heart. The apostle Paul declared that he was in the pains of childbirth until Christ would be formed in some of his dear children (Galatians 4:19).
Our prayer for any who are not Christians is that you will be baptized into Christ even this very day. According to the teaching of the Bible faith is unto (Romans 10:10)), repentance is unto (Acts 11:18), confession is unto (Romans 10:10), but baptism is always into! “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). Will you become a Christian and let Christ dwell in your heart by faith? And then he will add you to the church where you can glorify Christ “to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).*
It is so good to be before you today to worship with you, and with those of our brothers and sisters that are worshiping from their home. We thank you for your interest and your devotion to Almighty God. We are thankful that we do have that anchor of the soul that keeps us on the right path, and we are glad that we have the opportunity to sing and to praise our God who lives and abides forever.
Today I’m speaking to you on the subject, The All Seeing Eye. I have never presented this lesson before and so I have been excited about studying and preparing to present it to you. The text that was just read from Psalms 139 actually introduces this lesson. Psalms 139 is one of my favorite Psalms and you’ll notice verses one through six actually describes the omniscience of God—He knows everything! Verses seven through 12 reveals the omnipresence of God—He is everywhere; and verses 13 through 18 expresses the omnipotence of God—He is all powerful! He is everywhere and He is all knowing! So that’s the God that we serve and that’s the God that we were praising in our song service today
I would like for all of you to take out a dollar bill and just hold onto it for a while. I hope all of you have one and if you don’t just see Mick because he is loaded! But just keep the dollar bill handy because we will talk about it a little bit during the course of this lesson.
Years ago I don’t particularly remember singing this song, but I know a lot of the old timers remember the song. It was called Watching You and it was written by a preacher named R. E. Winsett, and the song was describing the text and the subject that I’m discussing today—The All Seeing Eye. The first verse goes like this and will give you the idea of how this song would relate to the subject:
All along on the road to the soul’s true abode, There’s an Eye watching you. Every step that you take this great Eye is awake, There’s an Eye watching you. Everyday mind the course you pursue; Watching you, watching you, There’s an all-seeing Eye watching you.
I have been fascinated with what looks like a Big Eye on the screen. With the giant telescopes that we have today they can aim those things out into the universe and see things that we don’t see when we’re setting in the backyard on a starry night. Although it looks like a big giant EYE, I use that as the symbol for the All Seeing Eye of God. Now a lot of people didn’t like that song because they felt like it portrayed God as The Giant Policeman in the Sky, that’s just watching and waiting to catch you doing something wrong and punish you. But that’s the wrong idea because according to the scriptures Almighty God sees the good and the bad. And he wants to do good for us and not just bad. God is a just God; God is a loving God; God is a God of grace; and God is merciful and loving. Therefore today we are going to see that God has a many sided nature.
Now somebody penned these words one time about the All Seeing Eye of God:
For God our maker, ever nigh, Surveys us with a watchful eye; Our every thought and act he knows, From early dawn to daylight’s close.
We want to explore seven scriptures that indicate that the All Seeing Eye of God is in the plural—the All Seeing Eyes of God.
SEVEN BIBLICAL STATEMENTS ABOUT GOD’S ALL SEEING EYES
Now the title of this lesson is the All Seeing Eye, but when I started examining the Scriptures, eye is always in the plural–the All Seeing Eyes of God! We are made in God’s image, and we don’t look like one of those space characters with one eye. We have two eyes. We don’t know what God looks like for the Bible says no man has seen God at any time. Moses wanted to see God and he showed him his backside, but would not show his face. There is a spiritual body according to first Corinthians 15 and there is a physical body. We are physical beings; God is a spiritual being, and what He looks like I don’t know. But when I examined the Bible I found that just like us, it’s God’s All Seeing Eyes, plural.
1. God’s Eyes are Strong and Loyal!
Now I want to talk to you about those “eyes!” In second Chronicles 16:1-9, we have the record of God sending a seer—they called a prophet a seer at that time. God sent Hanani the seer to speak to Asa, King of Judah. King Asa basically was a good king for the most part. He had served God faithfully and always did the right thing, but even the best of people mess up sometimes, and that’s exactly what had happened to Asa toward the end of his life. Hanani came to Asa and reminded him how God had given him a great victory when he had relied upon God to help him defeat his enemy: “Were the Ethiopians and the Lubim not a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand” (2 Chronicles 16:8).
But now, Baasha King of Israel came up and started building at Ramah on the land of Judah and King Asa didn’t like that, so he went and formed a partnership with Benhadad King of Syria. Syria has always been among a perennial enemy of the Jewish people, so he went up and formed a league with the Benhadad and asked him to break his covenant with Baasha the King of Israel. He promised to give him some gold out of his house and some gold even from the Lord’s house. And yes, the King of Syria broke his covenant with Baasha King of Israel and they were able to drive him back to his territory.
But that is when Hanani the seer came to him and spoke the key words that describe the All Seeing Eye of God:
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Take note of what Hanani said, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him.” Now there’s a thought for us to think about. Are you loyal to the Lord throughout the week or just on Sunday? God sees what’s going on if we act like we are so loyal and through the week we are disloyal! But when we’re loyal to him, God is looking for people that are loyal and He is strong on their behalf. So the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, and He sees everything that’s going on, He sees those that are loyal and He sees the disloyal. God noticed when King Asa had been a loyal servant and he saw when he stopped relying upon the Lord. God’s all seeing eyes saw King Asa relying upon the King of Syria to help them out instead of God.
That is when Hanani said, “In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars” (2 Chronicles 16:9). In others words, “He said because you’ve acted this way you will have wars the rest your life—you will be fighting all the time. I will bring wars your way because you didn’t rely upon the Lord.”
Do you know what King Asa did to the Hanani the seer? He put him in prison! If one does not like the message you get rid of the messenger. That’s happened quite a few times in history. What about Joseph when he was put in prison because he was loyal? Yes, and what about the apostle Paul at Philippi when he was put in the inner prison with his feet fastened in this stocks? We know that down through the centuries faithful servants of God have been persecuted and have been put in jail. And persecution is going on right now throughout our country. There is a movement against organized religion and churches, and their not being treated the same way that they treat other institutions, and that in spite of the fact that our Constitution guarantees us the freedom to worship God and not answer to the State. Therefore number one, God’s eyes are strong and loyal and they run to and fro throughout the whole earth and see everything that is going on—and they take special notice of those who are loyal to the Lord.
2. God’s Eyes Are Perfect in Watchfulness and Caring
And in the second place, God’s eyes are perfect in watchfulness and caring. In Zechariah 3:9 the prophet said,
For behold, the stone That I have laid before Joshua: Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,’ Says the Lord of hosts, ‘And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
Here we have seven eyes mentioned. Seven in the Bible is a symbolic word for completeness. For instance God created the heavens and the earth in six days and He rested the seventh day. A seven day week is a complete unit, and that’s one of the strongest arguments for the inspiration of the Bible that you will ever find. Why is it all over the world we have a seven day week? We have a 365 day year. We have quarters in the year and usually around 30 day months. But these are based upon are the movements of the heavenly bodies. But where did the week come from? The 7 day week is based upon the original creative week in six days and God rested on the seventh day. Literally God created the heavens and earth in six days and rested on the seventh day. Therefore seven stands for completeness and the seven eyes of God stands for complete omniscience. He sees everything and we have already established that, and this just confirms it further.
3. God’s Eyes Globally Scan all Small Things.
Now we will look at another verse in Zechariah 4:10:
For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”
The prophet asked the question, “For who has despised the day of small things?” Well, a lot of people despise the day of small things, because we love big things, large things, and great things. But don’t despise the day of small things for the seven rejoiced to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.” Why, because these seven are the eyes of the Lord which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth. When I saw that word “scan” I thought about my computer where you can go to documents and you can put a word in there and it will scan all your documents and bring all of them up for you to see. But the verse says these seven rejoiced to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel! These seven are the eyes of the Lord and they scan to and fro throughout the whole earth. This is just another way of saying God knows everything that’s going on, you can’t trick God, you cannot lie to him, and you cannot hide from him, because he sees everything that happens on the earth.
4. God’s Eyes Always Look to Bring Justice!
God’s eyes are always looking to bring about justice. God is a just God, He is a loving God, God is full of grace, mercy and forgiveness, but he also is a God of justice. He brings about justice as the prophet said in Amos 9:4:
Though they go into captivity before their enemies, From there I will command the sword, And it shall slay them. I will set My eyes on them for harm and not for good.”
Amos is talking about Israel who went to Babylon into captivity at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar for 70 years. From Babylon God will command the sword and it shall slay them because “I will set my eyes on them for harm and not for good.” Why is God so just? It is because they have not obeyed him, they had strayed away from him and they were practicing all the abominable things that were going on in the nations around them, like idolatry and all kinds of wicked sexual acts. God would set His eyes on them for harm and not good. We should keep that in mind concerning the way that Christians should live today!
5. God’s Eyes and Ears are Always Open to the Cries of the Righteous?
In contrast, God’s eyes and ears are always open to the cries of the righteous. That should be a wonderful promise to all of us today. When we go through some trouble during hard times and you are worried, just remember God’s eyes and ears are always open to the cries of the righteous. Why? Because David exclaimed in Psalms 34:15:
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.
The eyes of the Lord are specifically on the righteous and his ears are open to their cry! The eyes of the Lord are providentially caring for His people. What a wonderful promise.
6. God’s Balanced Omniscient Eyes Keep Watch on the Good and the Bad!
God’s balanced eyes keep watch on the good and the bad at all times. This is also a wonderful promise to all of us today. His eyes not only see the bad but also the good. In Proverbs 15:3 the wise man Solomon wrote:
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.
Notice that the eyes of the Lord are in every place keeping watch on the evil and on the good. We see all the bad stuff going on and we have the habit of dwelling on the bad. But God takes notice and sees the good as well as the bad. God is always balanced in superintending the universe!
7. God’s Eyes are Open to the Secrets of all People.
And now I will attend to the passage in the New Testament. The New Testament doesn’t mention the eyes of God as often as the Old Testament. But it does mention the eyes of God in a powerful passage in Hebrews 4:12-13:
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
This should be a very sobering thought to all of us, when we realize that nothing is hidden from the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account at the judgment day!
We have studied seven passages of scripture that shows that God sees the good and the bad. He is a righteous God whose ears are open and his eyes see the righteous people and hear their cries. God is a wonderful God and in justice, love and mercy he will take care of all his faithful children!
THE HISTORICAL MEANING OF THE EYE IN A TRIANGLE
Now I want us to take a look at your dollar bill. Take a look at the front of it and we have a picture of the father of our country—George Washington. In my opinion he is the greatest president ever because he started it all. He made great sacrifices when he could have been sitting under his own vine and fig tree. He gave up the good life in order to serve our country. But let us all look on the backside of the dollar bill. In 1776 certain people were commissioned to come up with a great seal for the United States of America. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and a few other people were on the committee. But the design they created was for the most part rejected. Benjamin Franklin came up with E Pluribus Unum—out of many one and they kept that and it was put on our Coins. Benjamin Franklin also wanted the turkey to be on the great seal, but that also was rejected. Aren’t you glad that the bald eagle is on our national seal instead of the turkey? We have enough turkeys running around already!
But we are just going to look at one aspect of this great seal. Notice on the left side of the dollar bill there is a Pyramid, and above it there is an Eye and a Latin phrase—ANNUIT COEPTIS and below it there is also a Latin phrase. I have been discussing “The Eyes of God” in the plural. That phrase is used about seven times the in the Bible. Scripture speaks of “the eyes of God,” but I recognize that an “eye” can stand for both eyes. If l say, “I have my eye on you,” that doesn’t mean that I am going to cover up one of my eyes. No, that’s a figure speech called synecdoche where a part can stand for the whole or the whole can stand for the part. Therefore, I have no problem here with this “all seeing eye,” because it really represents the “All Seeing Eyes of God!” as the Scripture teach.
But first, let us take a historical look at the triangle with an eye over it during the 15th through the 18th centuries. During this time period it was common to see this All Seeing Eye on different things, like the paintings of the great painters of that time period. For example, the painter Pontormo painted The All Seeing Eye above a Triangle on a painting called Supper at Emmaus in 1525, and is here displayed for all to see. You can see that it represents the providence of Almighty God—the God of justice, the God of mercy and the God of love. Throughout the centuries there were many paintings symbolizing the eternal God by the All Seeing Eye in a Triangle. The triangle represented the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The All Seeing Eye in a triangle of the 15th through the 18th centuries had this inscription upon them: DEO FAVENTE, and when translated into English it meant “With God Favoring.”
THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL SEAL EXPLAINED
We are just going to look at one aspect of this great seal. Notice on the left side of the dollar bill there is a Pyramid, and above it there is an Eye and a Latin phrase—ANNUIT COEPTIS. And below the pyramid there is a Latin phrase “NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM,” Above this pyramid there is The All Seeing Eye, that I been talking about and found seven times in the Bible. In these seven references the scripture uses the phrase “the all seeing eyes.” But I recognize that one eye can stand for both eyes. If I say, I have my eye on you,” that’s a figure of speech called synecdoche where a part can stand for the whole or the whole can stand for the part. So I have no problem here with this All Seeing Eye because it really represents the All Seeing Eyes of God, as the Scriptures teach.
But notice that our forefathers didn’t take that Latin saying of The All Seeing Eye of the 15th through the 18th centuries, but they rejected “With God Favoring,” and instead they came up with a new design and a new Latin phrase. But what is the meaning of the pyramid? The pyramid stands for strength. You have to admit that out of all the ancient buildings in the world, the pyramids are still standing in our day. They are beginning to crumble on the outside, but they are still in tack and so the way those things are made, it reveals strength and stability. So our forefathers used the pyramid as a symbol of the strength and stability of our country. And then they put a Latin saying over The All Seeing Eye of God, ANNUIT COEPTIS, meaning “He (God) has favored our undertakings.”
At the bottom of the pyramid our forefathers put the Latin inscription “NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM,” when translated into English means “A New Order of The Ages.” “The pyramid signifies strength and duration; the eye over it and the motto alluded to the many signal interpositions of Providence in favor of the American cause.” The final rendition of the national seal was created by Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, and was adopted by Congress on June 20, 1782.
When you read about the history of the beginning of our country, Almighty God had to be with us in those battles against the greatest navy in the world—the British Navy. If you are really interested you can study about the right side of the Great Seal with the Eagle and the arrows in his talons and the stars and all that. It all has meaning and it’s very interesting.
THE ALL SEEING EYE GOD IS NEUTRAL—HE SEES THE GOOD AND BAD
I want to close out this lesson with the idea that The All Seeing Eye of God is neutral. He sees the good and he sees the bad. I remember when I was growing up I didn’t like my dad to see something when I was doing bad because I knew what was going to happen. But as I got older and I did some things that were good, I really enjoyed when he could see me doing something good. Don’t you think that God feels the same way? He wants to see all of you brothers and sisters in Christ living the Christian life. When He looks down and sees that brother is doing a good job living the Christian life consistently it will please Him. But he may see a brother or sister over here that has left their Christianity here in the building, they’re not doing right and it hurts him to see that kind of thing going on. So I guess that what we’re trying to get over today is we want to make God happy when we leave here and go out to live this week. Let’s remember that God sees everything we’re doing, everything we say and He even sees our every motive, our thoughts, and our actions. God loves us and let us live in such a way that God will smile and reach out to help us. So remember The All Seeing Eye of God is neutral—He sees the good and the bad!
In Proverbs 15:3 Solomon stated, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place keeping watch on the evil and the good,” and in Psalms 139:7-8 that was read at the beginning, David said,
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
God is everywhere, He sees everything that’s going on, and the New Testament writers teach, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
And one of the most beautiful verses in the Old Testament is Psalms 34:15,
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.”
Simon Peter became an apostle and preached to the Israelites and the Gentiles. Later in life Peter quoted in his general letter the words of Psalms 34:15. But he added these words:
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12 NKJV)
So let’s keep that in mind. God sees the good and the bad. He wants to see us doing the good, he wants to help us, He is a God of love, “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). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Therefore, God is a God of love, He is a God of mercy, and He is a God of grace: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). God, The All Seeing Eye, sees the good and the bad and he wants to see the good in all of his people.
I close today with a statement that Jesus made during his personal ministry. One day He asked some of his disciples “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10: 29-30). God does take notice of every one of us; He even knows the number of hairs on our head! There are millions of sparrows, and not one of them can fall to the ground without God taking notice. But then He said, “You are worth more than many sparrows.” Therefore, if the eyes of Almighty God are on the sparrow and not a single hair from our head can fall to the ground without Him taking notice, don’t you think God is concerned about us? He loves us, he wants to help us and he wants us to be loyal and faithful servants all the days of our lives.
If you are not a Christian, today would be a wonderful opportunity, the baptistery water is warm, and we have people ready to assist you. If you have not been immersed for the forgiveness of sin, why not do so today? Jesus charged his disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). But if you’ve done that and then for some reason or another you have become an unfaithful member because you have fallen away, you do not need to be baptized again. But you do need to repent of those sins, confess them and go to God in prayer and be restored, so the blood of Christ can take away all of your present sins and restore your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. If you’re subject to this invitation please come forward while together we stand and sing this hymn.
When one surveys history some notorious traitors come to mind, such as Benedict Arnold, Aaron Burr, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. But the name that most Christians remember is Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ:
Matthew 26:48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.”
Normally, a kiss is a sign of love, loyalty and friendship. But in the case of Judas it has become a symbol of sin, shame and betrayal.
In the days of Noah, all of the world’s population except eight people was disobedient and perished in the waters of the great flood: “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3:5-6). It seems Noah preached to them about the impending destruction for many years:
Genesis 6:3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
EIGHT SOULS “WERE” SAVED THROUGH WATER
When the ark was finished, those who were obedient, went into the ark, “…in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). Please note that the water, by which the world perished, is the same water that saved those obedient souls who were in the ark of safety—Noah’s Ark. Peter declares emphatically that “eight souls were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20).
HOW WATER BAPTISM “NOW” SAVES US
In the next place, the apostle Peter launches into how water baptism also now saves us—the obedient people living in the Christian age:
1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. NKJV
The subject of water baptism is mentioned over 100 times in the New Testament, and is one of the most explained topics affecting our salvation from sin. Water baptism may be classified under three heads: (1) the subject of baptism—all people accountable; (2) the action of baptism—immersion in water; and (3) the purpose of baptism—”for the remission of sins.”
THE TYPE AND THE ANTITYPE
Some commentators have said that water “baptism does not now save us,” contradicting the inspired words of the apostle. They contend that water baptism is only a figure of speech. It is true that in 1 Peter 3:20-21, Peter does say that “baptism does also now save us” as an “antitype” of the “eight souls saved by water,” in the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:20-21). If the water “baptism that does now also save us,” is the “antitype,” then “the eight souls who were saved by water” in the days of Noah, is the “type.” In these examples it does not matter whether the water is the type or the antitype as far as salvation is concerned. The water of the flood saved eight people from physical destruction and the water “baptism that does now also save us,” is spiritual salvation from sin.
But water baptism is not the only thing that saves us. We are saved by faith, repentance, and confession of our faith, and living a faithful Christian life. We are saved by all these actions because of the atonement of Christ and the shedding of his precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). “Baptism does now save us” because that is where we come into contact with the death of Christ and the blood of Christ (John 19:33-34; Romans 6:1-4).
“(For the Lord is our Judge, The Lord is our Lawgiver, The Lord is our King; He will save us) Psalms33:22 NKJV
Perhaps this is where James Madison and the Founding Fathers got the idea for Three Branches of Government. The Church or the Kingdom of God is under three branches of government. God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit compose the Divine Government! The Lord is our Judge, Lawgiver and King, according to Isaiah.
Our forefathers struggled to be free from dictatorial, absolute human monarchy. When asked who would be our King, Thomas Paine exclaimed, “But where, says some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you. Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the royal Brute of Britain.”-Common Sense.
A subject being hotly debated today is The Constitution of the United States of America. This amazing document has guided our blessed republic for 233 years. This is a record, for republics have been short lived throughout the history of man.
In the summer of 1787 seventy four delegates were invited to Philadelphia to a Congress to attempt to modify or replace the Articles of Confederation that had become inadequate to govern the new nation. In the end only 55 delegates showed up. George Washington left his retirement from under his own vine and fig tree at Mount Vernon, and became the President of the Continental Congress. And on September 17, 1787 the U. S. Constitution was signed by 38 out of the 55 men present.
Before this document was signed the founding fathers had constant debates about each item and how it would affect the liberties of the people and the states. Their constant vigil was to protect the freedoms that had been purchased at such great cost of blood and treasure. Every citizen would do well to read the book, The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution by Brion McClanahan. This would embolden us to speak up and stand up for our constitutional liberties that are under attack today and which we all are in danger of losing because of an uninformed citizenry.
This Constitution including the first 10 amendments that were added later and those that have been added since then, has been the bedrock foundation of all of our freedoms and privileges as citizens of this great republic for over two centuries.
Our second President, John Adams wrote these three thoughts about our Constitution:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion… Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” “The church is the moral compass of society.” “We have no constitution which functions in the absence of a moral people.”
Recently, The Indianapolis Star had an article stating that our country is moving away from religion and morality. This is why that many political leaders and many citizens are moving away from the founding Document of the Constitution. May God help us to have a revival of interest in upholding the Constitution by a revival of religion and morality!
THE NATURE AND USE OF CONSTITUTIONS
Webster defines a constitution to be, “the fundamental principles of a nation, state, or body politic that determines the powers and duties of the government and guarantees certain rights to the people and that together constitute the organic law of the land.” The word constitution also refers to “a written instrument embodying such rules.”
By the same token, the kingdom of God or the church of Christ must be under some type of constitutional arrangement in order to be called a kingdom or church. In one sense, we might say the entire New Testament is the Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven. But that does not accurately describe a constitution. A constitution is actually a summary that comprehends all of the laws and institutions within that kingdom. So today we will be looking for a summary of the laws, institutions, responsibilities and privileges of the people of God to be found in the kingdom of God.
IN EVERY AGE GOD HAS PLACED MAN UNDER A CONSTITUTION
The Patriarchal Age In the patriarchal age that lasted from Adam to Moses—approximately 2500 years, the people were under the constitutional arrangement of the patriarch of each family, clan and tribe. The word patriarch means the father. During this period the fathers carried out the laws and institutions and privileges and responsibilities of each family under God’s instructions given to the fathers at that time.
During this time, we take note that in the beginning in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were placed under a constitutional arrangement. God spoke to them face to face and mouth-to-mouth and gave them the first constitution. It briefly stated their obligations and their privileges to live in the beautiful garden that God had created for man. Their privileges and freedom definitely outweighed their constitutional obligations. They had the freedom to eat of the fruit of every tree that was in the garden, but they also had the responsibility to refrain from eating the tree in the midst of the garden—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their greatest privilege and liberty was to eat from the tree of life that would perpetuate their earthly existence.
After they were expelled from the Garden of Eden because of their sin, they and their two sons were still under some kind of constitutional arrangement. In every age of those who worship God by faith we find these three items: an altar, a sacrifice, and a priest. The altar was usually made out of stone, the sacrifice was a lamb etc., and the priest was the patriarch or the father of each family. We see these three items in the worship practiced by Cain and Abel—the altar, the sacrifice and the priest. The Bible says that, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4).
The Mosaic Age The next age named The Mosaic Age, which lasted from Moses to Christ—a period of about 1500 years, God communicated the Constitution of the Kingdom of Israel through Moses, of which a constitutional summary is found in the 10 Commandments given on Mount Sinai as recorded in Deuteronomy 5-6. This constitutional arrangement was explained and applied through additional revelations to Moses and Aaron.
The Christian Age Now in these last days, we live under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven, set up by the Lord Jesus Christ whose reign will continue until he comes back again. There are several passages of Scripture that summarizes this Constitution throughout the New Testament. A summary of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven may be found in Matthew 5-7 in the Sermon on the Mount. Also Romans chapter 12 is a good summary of this Constitution. And one of the most beautiful summaries is found in what some have thought to be an early hymn that was sung in the worship of the church. It is recorded in 1Timothy 3:14-16:
14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. NKJV
But in this lesson we will speak of a very comprehensive summary of the laws, institutions, responsibilities and privileges of every citizen in the Kingdom of Heaven found in the book of Hebrews 8:1-13. The first verse says, “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum” (Hebrews 8:1 KJV).
CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES OF PRIVILEGES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
A constitution is a guarantee to those who are to govern a kingdom or nation. It stipulates the extent of their privileges and responsibilities. It is also a guarantee to every citizen of the extent of their stipulated liberties and responsibilities.
For instance, to every American citizen our Constitution guarantees us the right of the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the freedom to assemble to redress or petition our government. We are also guaranteed in the second amendment the privilege and freedom of keeping and bearing arms in our homes in order to be called out to defend our liberties in a well-regulated militia. There are many more guarantees stipulated.
Therefore both those who govern and those who are governed are guaranteed the extent and continuance of all their stipulated privileges and responsibilities. On my Kindle I recently read an excellent book—Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankel—a survivor of the Nazi death camps. He recommended that we not only have the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast to symbolize our freedoms, but he thought it would be a good idea to have a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast, to symbolize that under this great republic we also have certain obligations and responsibilities on our part to keep. I think that is a good idea and from what I can find on the Internet, a Statue of Responsibility is already under construction and will be located on some island off the west coast.
But also under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven we are guaranteed the freedom from sin and the privilege to live a joyful life in Christ, free from guilt and with the hope of eternal life. Many other such privileges are guaranteed to the faithful and obedient child of God. We also have the responsibility to be good citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, and to be faithful and obedient to our great King Jesus Christ. But at this point let us look at some of the constitutional provisions that are stipulated to each of us who have been born again into the kingdom of God (John 3:1-8).
THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
The Constitutional Summary:
A constitution as we have previously indicated is a summary that comprehends all of the laws, institutions, responsibilities and privileges found in any kingdom or body politic.
In like manner, the writer of the book of Hebrews sums up all that he had been writing concerning the Kingdom of Heaven or the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Hebrews 8:1-5 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. 4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, said he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.
We notice in these verses the three items that we mentioned at the outset that are found in every constitutional arrangement under Almighty God. Those three things are an altar, a sacrifice and a priest. In this summary Jesus Christ is the high priest offering up himself as the ultimate atoning sacrifice on the altar of his own divinity. The book of Hebrews affirms that Jesus Christ in his own person is our Prophet, Priest and King.
A New Constitution (Covenant) Versus the Old Constitution (Covenant)
In the next order of business the author of the book of Hebrews informs us that our constitutional privileges and responsibilities in the kingdom of God will not be exactly the same as those that were under the previous Constitution of the Kingdom of Israel.
Hebrews 8:6-9 6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
Under this new constitution Christ has a better Ministry; and he is a better mediator of a better covenant based upon better promises. The Jewish constitution was faulty on man’s part, but the new constitution will correct this weakness. This new constitution will have such privileges and responsibilities guaranteed to every citizen that they will want to continue to be faithful and enjoy the ultimate privilege of living in heaven. What are those constitutional privileges guaranteed to every citizen who has been born into Kingdom of Heaven?
There are four of these mentioned in this Constitutional summary in Hebrews chapter 8:10-12:
1. Under this new constitution God has promised that he will write his law into the minds and hearts of his people:
Hebrews 8:10 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
2. Also under this Constitution God has promised and assured each citizen that He will be their God and they will be His people—they will be His and He will be theirs.
Hebrews 8:10 … and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
3. God has also assured all of his citizens of having a just knowledge of his will. He will teach them through his Word everything they need to know.
Hebrews 8:11 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
Under the old constitution a person was born into God’s family by a physical birth, of and from the womb. Then as the child developed, instruction was given of his constitutional obligations and privileges. Under the new constitution, a person is taught first of his responsibilities and liberties, and then is born into the kingdom of God by a new birth of and from the water and the Spirit—faith and water baptism.
4. And last of all and the best of all, God has promised each citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven that he will be a merciful God and forgive all of their sins and iniquities and banish all guilt and fear from their conscience.
Hebrews 8:12 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
Every citizen in the kingdom of God, having been forgiven upon entering that kingdom of all past sins is still in need of the mercy, grace and love of God. This is because we have sinned in the past, and we commit sins in the present. But when we continually have a penitent attitude, the blood of Christ continuously cleanses us of all our sins. This is declared by the apostle John:
1 John 1:5-10 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. ESV
These words represent the essence of a sermon I delivered at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, October 21, 2012, and will suffice until I have the time to transcribe the full sermon. May God help us to be good citizens of the United States of America and the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen. I have added some good thoughts from the prophet Isaiah and the application to our time.
When Jesus lived upon the earth he continually invited the people he met to come and follow him. Many did not accept his invitation, but made excuses why they either could not or would not learn of him. Once while Christ was at the table eating with his friends, a man spoke up and said, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15).
Jesus then compared the church or the kingdom of heaven to people invited to a great feast or supper. But they were full of excuses and went about their own business:
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come'” (Luke 14:18-20).
We need to be persistent in inviting everyone we come in contact with, to come and investigate the Christ and the church. When people make excuses, we must not become discouraged and give up. According to the sequel of the parable, the host instructed his servants to go out into the cities and villages and even the highways and byways, and invite as many as they found. The spiritual banquet hall of the Lord will be filled and it is up to us to make it happen.
But many times we who are the Lord’s servants make as many excuses for not inviting people as they do in turning down the invitation. Many people are members of the church because a friend or family member did not give up on them, but invited them to come to worship. Many of our fellow citizens think little about the spiritual education of their children and themselves. Let us make sure that their lack of interest is not because of our lack of interest in them.
The great and loving invitation of Jesus will stand until the end of the world:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:1-4).
Heartland members, let us invite as many family, friends and neighbors to our assembly each Sunday to an overflowing crowd!
When Jesus Christ sent the apostles out into the entire world to preach the gospel to every creature, he attended their ministry with signs and wonders and miracles:
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-20 NKJV).
The Purpose of Miracles Was To Confirm the Gospel
These miracles were designed to confirm the word. The writer makes an argument, a minore ad maius—from the less to the greater:
“For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will (Hebrews 2:2-4)?
Of course the answer is we shall receive a greater punishment if we neglect the great salvation offered by the Son of God and confirmed by the greatest demonstration of miracles!
How Miraculous Gifts Were Imparted
Not only were the apostles able to perform all of these wonders, but by the laying on of their hands they were also able to impart spiritual gifts to members of the New Testament church. For example, Peter and John, two apostles, were sent down to Samaria to impart spiritual gifts to those who had bean baptized for the remission of their sins. Philip, who preceded the apostles to Samaria, was able to work miracles himself; but not being an apostle, he was not able to impart them to others, this being reserved for the apostles (Acts 8:12-19).
The Many Manifestations of the Spirit
Today, there are a lot of persons claiming that they have the power to speak in tongues, heal the sick and receive direct revelations from God. This claim is false. In the church at Corinth, there were many members that received miraculous gifts. Later, when there was much discussion about the nature and use of these gifts, Paul wrote a letter to that church correcting their mistaken ideas, and informing them of the temporary nature of those gifts. There were several manifestations of the Spirit given to the members of the Corinthian church. Paul enumerates nine of them. They were: the word of wisdom; the word of knowledge; faith; the gifts of healing; the working of miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirits; different kinds of tongues and the interpretation of tongues (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7-10). Whereas, the apostles could work all of these miracles, the members of the church received only the gift that God desired them to have (1 Corinthians 12:11). The apostle Paul emphasized this point when be said,
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).
Miraculous Gifts Were Temporary
In chapter 13 of this same letter, Paul goes on to reveal that spiritual gifts, including tongues, were temporary, would pass away and be superseded by a better arrangement. A perfect and complete arrangement would take the place of that which was incomplete and partial. Paul said,
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
Paul does not mention all of the various miraculous gifts, but only three of them, they were: prophecies, tongues and knowledge. These three were representative of all of them.
All Miraculous Gifts Were To Cease
That which was to take place concerning these three gifts would be true of all the spiritual gifts. Paul used three verbs to describe the cessation of these gifts. Prophecies, tongues and knowledge were to cease, be stilled and pass away. Let us examine closely the meaning of those three words used to describe the end of all spiritual gifts. (1) First, “they shall cease.” The root meaning of this word is “to cause to cease; put an end to; do away with; annul and to abolish.” As it is used here in connection with prophecies it means they were to cease, pass and be done away. (2) In connection with tongues, Paul says, “they will be stilled.” There would be a time when speaking in tongues—languages—would “stop, be left off.” (3) Concerning miraculous knowledge, Paul says, “It will pass away.” How could we have any stronger language describing the end of miraculous spiritual gifts?
Love Would Never Cease
In contrast to the temporary nature of these miraculous gifts, “love never fails,” which simply means that it would “never perish, come to an end, disappear, cease, fail, fall;” whereas, these spiritual gifts were soon to pass away. Having stated that prophecy, tongues and knowledge were to cease, be stilled and pass away; Paul, introduced the reason why this would be in the next verse, saying, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:9-10). The word “for” which introduces the statement in verses 9-10 indicates that Paul is going to give a reason or cause for the preceding statement which he has just made in verse 8.
Miraculous Gifts Were In Part
According to Paul, the reason all spiritual gifts were to cease, be stilled and pass away is because they were in part or incomplete. God did not reveal his revelation all at one time, but progressively over a period of 60-70 years. During that period of time, the revelation was in part. “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9). You will notice that Paul used the present tense in describing that which was in part.
During the age when prophecy and knowledge were in part, God was revealing his message, a little at a time. This reminds us of the statement made by the great prophet, Isaiah, when he said,
“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people” (Isaiah 28:10-11).
The revelations by prophecy, tongues and miraculous knowledge were not complete, but were in part; they were constituent parts of the whole or complete revelation.
God’s Perfect Revelation Was to Replace Miraculous Gifts
In contrast to the incomplete state of revelation which prevailed at the time that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians; he anticipated a time when that would be replaced by something which would be perfect, complete, and whole, for he says, “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:10). The term “when” in this verse is an adverb of time, and is used in connection with a thing that is really to occur, but the time of that occurrence is not definitely stated in this verse. Here, it is used in the original with the subjunctive aorist verb, which means that it was to occur at a definite point of time. It had not occurred when Paul wrote the letter, but it definitely was going to occur; therefore, it was just one step away from reality. The point is this: whenever, that which is perfect came into being, that which is in part was to be done away.
We have already established “that which is in part” has reference to knowledge, tongues, and prophecies. The same word in the original that is used to describe the end of prophecies is that which is used to describe the end of that which is in part. Prophecies were to fail, and that which is in part was to be “done away;” therefore, there was to be a definite time when all miraculous gifts were to cease, vanish, fail, and to be done away. They were to be done away “when that which is perfect is come.” When that which is perfect came into being, when it showed itself forth, when it found place or influence among men, then that which is in part, that is, prophecies, tongues, knowledge, etc., were to be done away.
The New Testament Is God’s Perfect and Complete Revelation
To understand at what point in human history miraculous gifts ceased, it is necessary for us to identify that thing which is perfect, which was to come. The word “perfect” is used here properly to mean, “Brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, perfect” (Thayer, p. 618). The perfect thing which was to come is something that was to be complete, finished, and whole and brought to its proper object or goal. What was that thing? The Bible is its own best commentary. In the book of James, we have two verses that definitely help us in identifying “That which is perfect.” We are advised that: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). The word “perfect” as used in this verse indicates that which is complete, finished, brought to its end, that which is whole. According to James, every good gift, and every complete gift comes from the Father above. In this same chapter, James says,
“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).
The Perfect Law of Liberty
According to James, the perfect law of liberty, that is, the New Testament is that complete law of liberty; it is that good gift and that complete gift which came down from God out of heaven, into which every man can look and see his spiritual image. Therefore, the complete New Testament is that thing which is perfect, which was to come and when having come, that “which is in part (miraculous gifts) was to be done away.”
God’s Word Completely Equips Us for Every Good Work
Near the end of Paul’s life, he wrote a letter to Timothy, a young preacher and companion, in which he said,
“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” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The reason the Holy Scripture is able to make the man of God perfect or complete is because it (the Holy Scripture is perfect or complete. To this Jude agrees when he wrote: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). Therefore, when the New Testament came into being in its complete or finished form, then that which was in part (miraculous gifts) such as prophecies, tongues and knowledge ceased, passed away and was finished.
Act As A Child Or A Man?
In further illustration of the temporary nature of miraculous gifts, Paul said to the Corinthians, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). As in previous verses, that which was in part has been put in contrast with that which is perfect; so in this verse the state of a child is put in contrast with the state of a man. The spiritual gifts such as prophecies, tongues and knowledge are compared to a child in his speaking, understanding and thought; whereas, the complete and perfect New Testament is compared to a man’s speaking, understanding and thought. The point of illustration is this: just as the speech, understanding and thought of a child is incomplete and partial, so the understanding which came from prophecy, tongues and knowledge was incomplete and partial. Just as the transition from a child to a man took a certain period of time, so the transition of revelation from that which was in part to that which was perfect took a period of time.
Put Away Childish Actions
It would be just as foolish for a man who has completeness of understanding and speech to desire the incomplete state of a child as it would be for the church today to desire to leave the complete and perfect New Testament and go back to the incomplete state of miraculous gifts. Paul said, “When he became a man he put away childish things.” The word used to emphasize the end of childish things is “put away,” and it is the same word that Paul used to describe the end of prophecies, and the end of that which is in part. Therefore, today, let us put away all foolishness and have more confidence in the complete and perfect will of God which lives and abides forever.