In Paul’s day, his “preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” encountered opposition on every hand. For faithfully proclaiming the glorious message which had been committed to his trust, he was constantly made to bear affliction and reproach. In one of his earlier epistles we already find a long list of the perils and persecutions he had by then been called upon to endure (II Cor. 11:23-33) and this opposition, bitter and relentless, continued throughout his ministry. In his last letter, written from prison in Rome, he calls attention to the distinctive character of his message, and adds:
“Wherein I suffer trouble as an evil doer, even unto bonds…” (II Tim. 2:7-9).
The almost constant suffering to which the apostle of grace was subjected naturally had its effect upon timid souls. Some, who saw the truth and the glory of his message, lacked the courage to stand with him in making it known. Others, who had started with him were tempted to — and some did — turn back. Of his first appearance before Nero, the Apostle had to say:
In the light of all this it is not strange that Paul should write to Timothy:
Nor is it strange that in II Timothy 2:1-3 the apostle should urge his son in the faith to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”and to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,”especially in the light of the fact that he himself needed constant help in this regard. The average Christian would find it hard to imagine Paul ever needing prayer for courage, yet he closes his Ephesian epistle with the request:
Oh, that all who have come to see the glory of the gospel of the grace of God would pray this prayer for boldness!
Some may suppose that it would require little boldness today to proclaim grace in all its purity. Who is ever persecuted now, at least in free, enlightened lands, for preaching God’s grace? Ah, but do not be deceived. Satan was no less active in his opposition to the truth when Constantine exalted the professing Church to prominence than when his predecessors persecuted the Church and sent its members to death by fire and sword. Indeed, the devil was doubtless more successful in Constantine’s day than he had been when persecution raged. And does any believer in the Word of God suppose that Satan has relented in his opposition to the truth today, just because men, at least in this land, are not burned at the stake or thrown to the lions? Do not be misled. Satan’s enmity against God and against His Word continues undiminished. His hatred of “the gospel of the grace of God,” is as bitter, and his opposition to it as determined, as it ever was. But well does he know that the constant discouragements connected with being in the minority often succeed in silencing those who would stand against physical persecution.
Let us, who know and love the truth, determine by God’s grace thatnothing shall make us unfaithful to our glorious commission; that, whatever the cost, we shall faithfully and boldly proclaim to others the unadulterated gospel of the grace of God, “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery.”
In years gone by, when life was simpler, men had more time to ponder over the really important questions: What will become of me when I die? Is there a heaven — and a hell? Can I know God? Will He forgive my sins? If so, on what basis? What must I do to be saved?
The materialism, commercialism and technology of our day, however, have so complicated life that secondary problems hinder many people from even considering at leisure that which is most important.
Yet, despite all the hurry and anxiety, all the noise and distraction, there are troubled souls, hungering and thirsting for true satisfaction, for hearts cleansed from sin, for deliverance from the awful burden of a guilty conscience.
Such people should read Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and meditate on its great message of salvation. In fact, this is the first book they ought to read.
In Romans the inspired Apostle declares that “all have sinned” (3:23) and that “the wages of sin is death” (6:23). But this is not all. Romans also proclaims the good news that the Lord Jesus Christ “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” and that therefore we may have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (4:25; 5:1).
More than this, Romans offers abundant grace to all who trust in Christ. “The law entered that the offence might abound, but where sin abounded grace did much more abound” (5:20,21). Thus believers are “justified freely by [God’s] grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (3:24) and “the [free] gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (6:23).
We urge those who are not sure of salvation to read carefully and prayerfully this great Epistle to the Romans. You may be thanking God for the rest of your earthly life — and forever — that you did.
“Being justified… we have peace with God”!
What a priceless blessing! We believers are prone to take this blessing altogether too much for granted. Since the day we trusted Christ and the burden of sin rolled away, most of us have never had another question about our eternal destiny. Hence the danger of taking our salvation for granted.
We often fail to appreciate sufficiently what it means to be able to arise in the morning, go about our business during the day and give ourselves up to unconsciousness at night, always assured that through our Lord’s redemptive work we have “peace with God” and our eternal destiny is secure. Surely this knowledge should overwhelm our hearts with constant gratitude and have a profound effect upon our daily conduct.
The companion blessing to “peace with God” is our full and free access into His presence: another blessing of grace far too little appreciated. Think of the wonder of our free access to God; how He, the Ruler of the Universe, invites us to come confidently before His “throne of grace” at our convenience — “in time of need.”
We should never forget that this high privilege was purchased for us by the precious blood of Christ, and that having thus been purchased, it is His will that we believers avail ourselves of “this grace.” Could there be greater proof of His love for us?
Three times in Rom. 1:14-16, the Apostle Paul uses the phrase “I am,” and each one carries an important message for every true believer in Christ.
First he says in Verse 14: “I am debtor” — debtor to all men, to tell them about the saving work of Christ. But why was he indebted to people he had never even seen? For several reasons.
First, he had in his hand what they needed to be saved from the penalty and power of sin. If I see a drunkard lying across the railroad track and I do nothing about it, am I not a murderer if he is killed by the train? If I see a man drowning and I have a life buoy in my hand but do not throw it to him, am I not a murderer if he goes down for the last time? If I see millions of lost souls about me and, knowing the message of salvation, do not tell them, am I not guilty if they die without Christ?
Further, Paul felt himself a debtor to others, because the Christ who had died for his sins had also died for the sins of others. As he says in II Cor. 5:14,15: “Christ died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto Him who died for them and rose again.”
Finally, the Christ who had died for Paul’s sins, had commissioned him to tell others of His saving grace. Thus he says in I Cor. 9:16,17:
Paul could say further what every true believer should be able to say: Not, “I am debtor, but,” but rather, “I am debtor… So, as much as in me is I am ready” (Rom. 1:15). He was ready to discharge his debt because he had that with which to discharge it — the wonderful “gospel of the grace of God.” And he did indeed make this message known to others with all that was in him.
And now the third “I am”: “I am debtor… so I am ready… for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (Ver. 16). Paul was always proud to own Christ as the mighty Savior from sin. Do you know Christ as your Savior? Do you tell others about Him?
There are different kinds of salvation in Scripture. Paul spoke about the salvation of our souls (Eph. 2:8,9), but he also spoke about his physical salvation from prison (Phil. 1:19 cf. Ex. 14:13). Additionally, he advised Timothy that if he would continue in Pauline doctrine he would “save” himself from the misery that always comes from not continuing in Pauline doctrine! (I Tim. 4:16). There is also the salvation from despair that the hope of the Rapture gives (Rom. 8:23,24), and the Rapture itself is called a salvation (Rom. 13:11).
The salvation in our text is yet another kind. In the context, Paul says he made the Corinthians sorry “with a letter” (II Cor. 7:8), i.e., his first epistle to them, in which he rebuked them for not disciplining the man living in fornication (I Cor. 5). They then “sorrowed to repentance” about this (II Cor. 8:9). The wordrepentance means to have a change of mind, and they changed their mind about allowing the fornicator to continue in their midst. This “saved” them from the dangerous leavening effect that his presence would otherwise have among them, and so their godly sorrow worked repentance to salvation, a salvation Paul assured them they would not regret or repent of later.
It also worked another kind of salvation among them, one similar to the salvation Paul references in I Corinthians 5:5, where he speaks about the fornicator and tells them,
In context, we know that delivering the man to Satan meant putting him out of the assembly (v. 2,13). Letting him wallow in sin might destroy his flesh, but it would bring him back to the Lord, and “save” him from a loss of rewards at the Judgment Seat (I Cor. 3:15). The Corinthians would likewise be saved from such loss by their obedience to Paul’s instructions. Their sorrow worked this kind of repentance to salvation as well, another salvation they would not regret, of course, for no one at the Judgment Seat will ever repent of having done the right thing.
Twice in the Book of Romans, once in Romans 3:22,23, and once in Romans 10:12,13, God uses the phrase, “There is no difference.”
First it is used in con-nection with the guilt of man. Religious Jews, as well as godless Gentiles; cultured moralist, as well as degraded savages, are proved guilty before God.
In the first three chapters, their privileges and responsibilities are fully discussed, and their arguments are carefully considered. Then comes the awful verdict:
Must we not all bow our heads in shame and admit that the indictment is true? Must we not acknowledge that our condemnation is just? There may, indeed, be differences as to the nature or the degree of our sins, but in this there is no difference: that we all have sinned. And a just and holy God must condemn sin.
It is refreshing, however, to find the phrase used a second time in connection with salvation. Again religious Jews as well as godless Gentiles are included, but this time, how gracious the declaration!
In the matter of sin, God cannot be partial. He cannot be lenient with certain classes or groups whose advantages have been greater. All have sinned, and all must stand condemned.
But neither does He show partiality in the matter of salvation. The rich or cultured or religious are not preferred before others. The illiterate or immoral are not excluded. The Law condemns all, but Christ died to save all, that we might be “justified freely by His grace.”
Friend, are you saved? Are you right with God? You can never hope to be accepted if you approach Him in your own merits, but if you come in the merits of Him who bore your sins, you cannot be turned away. “FOR THE SAME LORD OVER ALL IS RICH UNTO ALL THAT CALL UPON HIM, FOR WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.”
It is strange but true that most people — even the great majority of religious people — do not know what a church is. Ask the average man what a church is, and he’s apt to reply: “Well, anybody knows that! A church is a building where people go to worship God.” But this is not correct. The word translated church, in our Bibles, simply means assembly. A church is not a building, but the assembly that meets in the building. Technically, a church is not even a religious gathering, for the same word is used in Acts 19:32 of a riotous mob which had assembled at Ephesus, and this verse says that this assembly was confused and that “the greater part knew not wherefore they were come together.” Perhaps this could apply to many a church today, but the point is that a church is not a building but an assembly of people.
The church of which the Bible has most to say is “the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28), and St. Paul calls the church of this present dispensation, “the Body of Christ,” or “the Church which is His Body” (I Cor. 12:27; Eph. 1:22,23).
Men cannot join this Church by water baptism or any other religious rite, but only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. With regard to believers in Christ St. Paul declares: “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body” (I Cor. 12:13). And in Rom. 12:5 the Apostle says that “ye, being many, are one body in Christ.”
Many sincere people have had their names on local church rolls for many years before learning this great truth — that the true Church of God is not a building, but the assembly of those who trust in Christ as their Savior. Doubtless, people in and out of many of the religious organizations we call churches belong to this one great Bible Church, while others, with all their religious profession, do not. The question is: Have we sincerely trusted in Christ as the Savior who died for our sins?
True Christians have been saved from the penalty of sin for one reason alone: because of “the love of God, which is [manifested] in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
St. John wrote by divine inspiration:
Let us understand this clearly and remember it always. It is not our love to Him, but His love to us, that saves us — and it is His love to us that keeps us saved. This is where we must begin the Christian life.
A wayward husband returned to his grieving wife one day, after many months of living in sin. Sobbing his heart out in remorse and shame, he told her how often he had longed to be home again with the wife he knew to be so true to him. Asked why, then, he had not returned sooner, he explained that he was ashamed; to which his wife replied: “John, I want you to know something and never forget it: I love you.” John sobbed in response: “Who wouldn’t want to live for a woman like this!”
Just so it is the knowledge that Christ loves us no matter what; that nothing shall ever separate us from His love; it is this that makes the sincere believer determine, by God’s grace, to be always true to Him.
Thus the Scripture doctrine of the believer’s eternal security in Christ by no means leads to careless living. On the contrary, it affords the greatest possible motivation to “live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world” (Tit. 2:11,12).
Let us suppose that you have been saved, but live a careless life and bear a poor testimony before the world. Would water baptism change this? What would it be worth?
But suppose you have been saved and live a godly, consistent life before the world. Is a water-confession necessary? How much is it worth? Don’t be afraid to answer this question honestly. How many “baptized converts” there are who cannot even give a word of testimony for their Lord among the lost!
In a sense, however, the baptism of believers by water in this ageis a testimony — a bad testimony. When the Galatian believers submitted to circumcision it was a bad testimony (Gal.5:2,3). Circumcision, while a part of Peter’s “gospel of the circumcision” had no place in “the gospel of the uncircumcision” committed to Paul (Gal.2:7). And just as circumcision was connected with “the gospel of the circumcision” so water baptism was con-nected with “the gospel of the kingdom”
(See Matthew 3:2,6; 10:5-7; cf. John 1:31; Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:36-38; Acts 3:19-21).
We solemnly declare that the present day practice of water baptism is a reflection on the grace of God and a confession of a lack of appreciation of the finished work of Christ, and the believer’s completeness in Him (See Ephesians 1:6; Colossians 2:10). Furthermore, it betrays a poor understanding of the heavenly character and position of the Church of this age (See Ephesians 2:6; 1:3; Colossians 3:1-3).
Be a Berean. Search the Scriptures and see whether these things are so.
When we believing Christians hear some “scientist” speak of “our ancestors” roaming this earth, say, 40,000,000 years ago, we become upset, and exclaim: “What nonsense!”
Why? The answer is that we know that the speaker is not stating scientific facts; he is propagating the long-disproven theory of evolution. Worse than that, the speaker has denied God’s own account of creation by disseminating a theory far more difficult to believe.
Yet, when the believer hears a scientist refer to some planet, say, 460,000,000 miles away he rejoices and exclaims: “How great is our God!” Why the difference? Ah, because astronomy, unlike evolution, is basically a science.
Granted, some astronomers may go far afield when they speculate on the origin of the universe; they may even make many errors in their calculations, but astronomy proper is nevertheless a science, based mainly on mathematics and physics. This has proved to be true as men from earth have orbited the earth and the moon and have landed on the moon, returning back to earth again. Indeed, it is only a few months since two soft landings (of instruments) were made on the planet Venus, about 67,000,000 miles away, and all the above with the earth, the moon and Venus, not only travelling through space at incredible speeds, but with each all the while revolving on its own individual axis!
The Lord Jesus Christ dwelt in glory “far above all heavens” in eternity past and came to earth to subject Himself to humiliation and death only that He might pay the penalty for our sins and redeem us to Himself:
Surely what was true of servants and their masters applies equally to employees and their employers. Thus our text suggests that Christians involved in secular labor are “doing the will of God.” Of course, Paul says that we are to labor and work with our hands “the thing which is good” (Eph. 4:28). So unless you are an abortion doctor or some such thing, when you go to work, you are doing the will of God, and your work clothes are just as holy in the eyes of God as the vestments that Aaron wore when he entered the presence of the Lord, whether you wear a white collar or a blue collar.
Is it possible then that secular employment will earn rewards for Christians at the Judgment seat of Christ? The Apostle Paul saysyes! If such labor is done “not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart,” and if it is done “as to the Lord, and not unto men,” then Paul unequivocally asserts “that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance” (Col. 3:22-24).
There is even evidence to suggest that those involved in secular labor who then faithfully support the ministry can look forward to rewards equal to those given to Christians directly engaged in the Lord’s work. God instructed Moses:
When “wicked men” tried to ignore this plain command of God (I Sam. 30:22), David insisted:
Secular labor constitutes half of the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:9,10), and is also a commandment of grace. When the Thessalonians got so excited about the Rapture that they quit their jobs in eager anticipation, Paul twice reminded them that he had “commanded” them not to do this (I Thes. 4:11; II Thes. 3:10). He then re-issued the command (II Thes. 3:12) and further commanded them to “withdraw” from any who wouldn’t obey these commands (II Thes. 3:6-10). Thus we see that working for a living is a commandment of God given to members of the Body of Christ through the Apostle Paul.
Finally, if you are considering entering the Lord’s work, you should know that throughout Scripture, God called to His service men who were already demonstrating their faithfulness and dependability in secular employment. God called Moses when he was tending his father-in-law’s sheep, Gideon as he was threshing wheat, David as he was shepherding his father’s flock and several of the apostles as they were fishing or mending their nets.
We ran across an article recently, entitled: “Yes, the Bible is a Confusing Book.”
The article did not even attempt to dispel this “confusion,” or in any way help its readers to understand the Bible. It did not suggest even one basic rule of interpretation. Nor did it explain why the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles constantly exhorted men to study the Bible.
The Bible is indeed a very large Book, so that the greatest of us will never understand it all. Moreover, it is God’s Book and must necessarily contain much that is “hard to understand.” But this makes it the greater challenge to the believing heart to seek divine aid in exploring its depths and the greater joy when precious stones are brought up from this exhaustless mine.
God does not reward lazy and indifferent Christians with light from His Word, but confusion invariably vanishes as we prayerfully obey His command:
In studying the Bible there are basic distinctions to be observed; e.g., between the twelve apostles and Paul, the apostle for this age; between the “gospel of the kingdom” and the gospel for our day: the “gospel of the grace of God,” etc., but meantime there are many passages of Scripture so plain and simple that a child can understand them and no theologian can explain them away. For example, in John 3:35,36, we read:
At the other end from the spiritual poverty experienced by those who deem the Bible “a confusing Book,” we have what St. Paul, by divine inspiration, calls “all [the] riches of the full assurance of understanding” (Col. 2:2).
There are four words which every one of us should consider in connection with Christ’s death at Calvary if we would fully appreciate what our Savior did for us there.
It is doubtful whether man has ever conceived a more cruel and humiliating way to execute even the vilest criminals. The physical agony alone must have been horrible beyond comprehension. The criminal was nailed to a tree and left to hang there, writhing in the most intense pain until, fevers wracking his body, he died. And then think of the humiliation as he hung there, stripped and naked, to suffer shame and disgrace before the public gaze. Little wonder Phil. 2:8 says that Christ humbled Himself to become obedient “unto death, even the death of the cross.”
We have not even begun to understand the cross if we do not understand that Christ died there as our Substitute, paying for our sins.
But Christ was more than our Substitute; He was our voluntary Representative at Calvary. He had taken on Himself human form that He might represent man before God and die as Man for men.
It follows from this that if Christ represented me at Calvary, He became identified with me there, and I am identified with Him as I accept this by faith. Hence Paul exclaims:
Many people have truly come to know Christ as Savior after having been sincere, religious “church members” for years. Though faithful supporters of some earthly church organization they had never experienced the truth of II Cor. 5:17: “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation.” It is possible to be a member in good standing of some church organization, yet be outside of the one true Church of which the Bible speaks.
This is because the true Bible Church is not an organization but a living organism, a spiritual body, with a living Head and living members. Again and again St. Paul, by divine inspiration, calls the Church, the Body of Christ. He says: “We being many, are one Body in Christ…” (Rom. 12:5). “Ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular” (I Cor. 12:27). “We are members of His Body” (Eph. 5:30).
How do we become members of this true Bible Church, the Body of Christ? First, we must acknowledge ourselves to be sinners in God’s sight, for Ephesians 2 relates how Christ died for sinful men that He might “reconcile” them to God “in one Body” by the cross (Ver. 16). Thus, when believing sinners are reconciled to God by faith in Christ, they are regenerated, given a new life, by the Spirit, and by the Spirit are baptized into the Church, the Body of Christ.
Every one of us should ask himself: “Have I been baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ?” If not, trust Christ as your Savior and become a member of the one true Bible Church. Then associate yourself with some local assembly where Christ is honored and the Bible taught, “rightly divided.”
“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17).
We know that God forgives the sins of His people, but does Heforget them? It would seem so. Our text suggests that He “will not remember” the sins committed against Him by His children (Isa. 43:25). Believers have always found a great deal of comfort in this blessed thought.
But then God calls upon us to likewise forgive others “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). Doesn’t this suggest that we too should forgive and forget? Perhaps you are thinking, “But Pastor, you don’t know what they did to me!” True, but was it more than what was done to God when men crucified His Son?
Remember, God’s vow to forgive and forget the sins of His people includes even the brutal murder of His only begotten Son. We are tempted to think, “Well, it’s easy for God to forget,” but such is not the case. God says of the sins of unbelievers that He “will NEVER forget ANY of their works” (Amos 8:7). How then can this God of “total recall” forget our sins? Does His memory have a convenient “on/off ” switch that makes it easy for Him to forgive and forget? If so, then we who do not have such a switch would have an excuse for forgiving but not forgetting. But if God has such a switch, would He not also have to erase His memory of Calvary, or else forever wonder why His Son had to die? But it cannot be that God could forget the Cross, for Revelation 5:6 joins John 20:27 to reveal that the Lord’s resurrection body will forever bear the scars of the Cross, making it impossible for God—or us—to ever forget His sacrifice for our sins.
What then is the answer to our question? Can God forget our sins? Perhaps the reader has noticed that we never read that God willforget the sins of His people, but rather that He “will not remember” them. By a deliberate act of His “will” He chooses to act toward us AS IF He has forgotten our sins, on the basis of the blood of the Cross. That’s how fully and completely He has forgiven our sins. And if we are to forgive others “as” God forgave us, then we too must choose to act toward others as if we have so fully forgiven their transgressions against us that we have forgotten them--also on the basis of Christ’s shed blood. This and this alone is complete forgiveness of others, and it is high spiritual ground indeed.
May God help us to live with a slate wiped clean of “all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking… with all malice” (Eph. 4:31)
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight…”
It is strange that so many sincere people can so misunderstand God’s written Word as to suppose that He gave the Law “to help us to be good” or “as a rule of life.” The Law was not given to help us to be good, but rather to show us that we are sinners and need a Savior. Rom. 3:22,23 says that “there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” How foolish, then, to look to the Law for help. Though the Law provides for just trial it does not help the criminal; it condemns him. Thus the Bible teaches that the Law was given:
“That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought in guilty before God” (Rom. 3:19).
“For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20).
“The law entered that the offense might abound” (Rom. 5:20).
“That sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful” (Rom. 7:13).
“It was added because of transgressions” (Gal. 3:19).
This leads us to St. Paul’s great conclusion:
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20).
This makes sense, for doing a few “good” things cannot right the wrongs we have done. Good is what we should do, hence we should not expect to be rewarded for it.
But, thank God, “Christ died for our sins” (I Cor. 15:3) and “by Him all who believe are justified” (Acts 13:39).
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Ask the average believer what the Bible word “grace” means, and he will doubtless reply, “unmerited favor”.
Actually, however, grace is much more than this.
Subjectively, it is that loving attitude, or disposition, on God’s part, from which all His kindness toward us flows.
Objectively, it is all the kindness that flows from His love toward us.
Thus we read in Ephesians 2:2-6 that we were “the children of disobedience” and therefore “by nature the children of wrath, even as others”.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Note: This passage begins with those who were “children of disobedience” and “children of wrath” and, saving them “by grace,” gives them a position in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus!
God’s grace to us as sinners was great indeed, for:
“In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS [God's] GRACE.”
But now, having given us a position in His beloved Son, God’s grace goes out to us in still greater measure.
Ephesians 1:6 declares that God has “made us accepted [Lit., ‘engraced us'] in the Beloved”.
Beholding us in Christ, God loves us and delights in us more than any father ever delighted in his son, or any grandfather in that precious grandchild.
Thus, while in Ephesians 1:7 we read that we have “redemption… the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”, in Ephesians 2:7 we see these riches of grace increased to us “exceedingly”, now that we occupy a position “in the Beloved”:
“That in the ages to come He might show THE EXCEEDING RICHES OF HIS GRACE…”
“…in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus”!
What a prospect! Through the ages of eternity God will lavish His loving kindness upon us to demonstrate to all the universe “the exceeding riches of His grace”!
“What a prospect, child of glory,
Doth the future hold in store!
By the wildest flights of fancy
Thou couldst never ask for more.
Heir of God; joint heir forever
With His own beloved Son
God could not to you have promised
More of bliss than He has done!”
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.”
– Matthew 6:7,8
Religious leaders love to have their people recite the Lord’s Prayer. It’s been the religious thing to do for centuries. The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most beautiful, meaningful, and touching prayers in the Prophetic Scriptures, but those who recite it today are committing two major blunders. First, the Lord warned the disciples that they were not to pray this prayer, or any prayer for that matter, repetitiously (Matt. 6:5-7). Prayer is not a religious exercise, but rather communication with God; therefore, it should always be spoken from the heart. Second, the Disciples Prayer, which is the correct connotation for this prayer, was given as a model for those who would be called upon to endure the Tribulation. Since the Body of Christ is delivered from the wrath to come, this prayer does not apply to us in this dispensation (I Thes. 5:9).
The Disciples’ Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. The reference here to “our Father” is to the God and Father of Israel — the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In prophecy, heaven was His throne and earth His footstool. His name was so holy that the Jews feared they might inadvertently speak it in vain, consequently they changed it from Yahweh to Adonai — Master, Ruler (Deut. 5:11; Isa. 66:1; Matt. 15:31; Luke 1:68).
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. The hope of every Israelite was the establishment of the Davidic Kingdom. God’s will for the earth is to overthrow the kingdoms of this world and establish the millennial kingdom of His dear Son (II Sam. 7:8-17; Luke 1:68-72; Rev. 11:15; 20:6).
Give us this day our daily bread. In the future Tribulation, God will set a table in the wilderness for His people, as He did in time past. The saints in that day will find it necessary to pray for their daily provision of food, since they will be unable to buy or sell without the Mark of the Beast. Subsequently, God will supernaturally nourish the chosen nation (Rev. 12:14 cf. Rev. 13:13-18).
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Today we are to forgive others, even as God for Christs sake has forgiven us, but under the kingdom gospel, forgiveness was based upon a like-spirit (Matt. 18:21-35 cf. Eph. 4:32).
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil [Gr. noun: evil one]. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. The sense here is, “Lord lead us not into the Great Tribulation, but deliver us from Satan, who brings death and destruction in his wake” (Rev. 6:7-11; 12:12; 13:1-10).
The Bible will always have first place in the life of the spiritual Christian.
It is of utmost importance that we understand this, for some who feel themselves quite spiritual give much time to prayer, but little, if any, to the study of the Word. Such have actually fallen for the subtle trick of the adversary to play upon their natural human pride and cause them to exalt self and push God into the background.
In saying this we do not for one moment minimize the importance of prayer; we only stress the supreme importance of the holy Word of God. In this we are surely Scriptural, for David says, by inspiration:
“For Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy name” (Psa. 138:2).
Of those who would still object and place first emphasis upon prayer rather than upon the Word, we would ask one simple question: Which is the more important, what we have to say to God or what He has to say to us? There can be but one answer to this question, for obviously what God has to say to us is infinitely more important than anything we might have to say to Him. Our prayers are as fraught with failure as we are, but the Word of God is infallible, immutable and eternal.
Yet some, having fallen for one of Satan’s “devices” and feeling quite spiritual about it, are like the talkative person to whom one listens and listens, occasionally nodding his head, but receiving little or no opportunity to “get a word in edgewise.” They do all the talking, but give little time listening to what God has to say to them.
Would you like to have the knowledge, the assurance and the joy of sins forgiven? Would you like to be sure of heaven?
Well, the first step to heaven is to realize that you cannot get there by trying. You can’t walk there. You can’t climb there. You can’t fly there. Only God can take you there. Many try to earn heaven. They try to climb there on a ladder of good works. They talk about “adding another rung.” But look out for that good works ladder! It’s not anchored at the top and the higher you climb the farther you will fall.
God’s Word says that salvation is “the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9). He is not going to have boasters in heaven — there are enough of them on earth and nobody likes them.
All of us should realize that even the best of us are not good enough for heaven, for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), but in this same statement the Apostle Paul declares that believers in Christ, who died for our sins, are “justified freely by His [God's] grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
So, friend, it is not by trying, or crying, or praying, or paying, or doing anything that you will reach heaven: it is only by believing. God says He loves sinners, and that Christ died for our sins. Will you believe this and trust Christ as your Savior? The terms are stated very plainly in John 3:35,36:
“The Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into His hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
There are three misconceptions that most people entertain about the law of God and its Ten Commandments:
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought in guilty before God.”
But most important of all: Few people realize that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins to deliver us from the just condemnation of the law. This is taught in the following Scriptures:
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…” (Gal.3:13).
“For God hath made Him to be sin for us, [Christ] who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (IICor.5:21).
“For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are NOT UNDER THE LAW, BUT UNDER GRACE” (Rom.6:14).