Reposted from 20 November 2017
by Roland W. Keith
In his reply to Bildad’s charges in the Book of Job, Job asked, “But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living” (Job 28:12-13). He would go on to tell his friend, “God understands the way to it, and He knows its place… And He said to man, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding” (Job 28:23, 28). Many years later King Solomon wrote, “then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of His saints” (Proverbs 2:5-8).
The “fear of the Lord” spoken of in scripture contains a measure of actual fear of God’s power and what He can do to us, as Jesus counseled, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28), however, its focus is on having a sense of “profound reverence and awe toward God” (Miriam-Webster Dictionary). In large measure this sort of fear is both learned and earned. A small child fears his parents. Why? If they are doing their jobs well it is because they are raising their child in a balanced and fair environment of love, understanding, nurturing, and discipline. To the child the parent is this big, powerful, wonderful, and (somewhat) fearful giant who loves and takes care of them. Parents are a source of protection, caring, instruction, and again, discipline. Through their efforts the child learns about the world, their place in it, their responsibilities to others, and they learn what it means to be loved and to love another. A child of such parents has reverence for them, and at least for a time a certain awe of them. This respect is both taught and earned. In comparison, as much as a parent deserves a child’s respect God deserves ours even more. As our Creator and Savior, it is His due. So where do we learn of this wisdom?
To gain this wisdom we must learn of God and come to place our faith in Him. As Paul wrote, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). We can add to this not only hearing, but reading and studying the word, and validating its truth, as well. Of the Bereans, Luke noted, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). As Christians if we want to grow in our knowledge and understanding we must not only hear and study the word, but we must also test it. As John instructed his readers, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1; also, I Thessalonians 5:21).
There are many in the world who claim a relationship with God, yet their real goal is to take advantage of and misguide those who seek after the truth. In regard to this Peter wrote, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity” (II Peter 3:17-18). In addition to testing the word we hear, we study it to come to a right understanding. The word was written to draw us to God and to guide us in a life devoted to Him as Paul explained to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17; also, I Corinthians 10:11).
As Followers of Christ determined to do His will in our lives and one day enter into the kingdom of God, we must continually meditate on His word. If we do not we are prone to forget and fall into error, and to remain unskilled laborers in His service, a situation that is untenable before the Lord (Hebrews 5:12-14; 6:1). Every football player on team does his best to memorize the play book and know his part in each play. A singer memorizes an entire catalogue of songs to sing on tour, Doctors study the latest discoveries and methods of treatment to stay current as health care providers. Why do Christians have such a hard time memorizing verses, or at least devising a quick reference system to put questions others may ask at an instance recall (II Timothy 4:2)? As Paul admonished his young protégé, Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).
We must come to a thorough knowledge of the scriptures. As a skilled craftsman knows the secrets of his craft the servant of God understands the mysteries of God’s word, and knowing its power he is able to wield it with confidence as he puts God’s plan into action ((James 1:21-22). As members of the church we are to band together as a family (Hebrews 10:24-25), and as fellow soldiers in His army. We must be willing and able to put on the armor of God, prepared to fight against the forces of Satan (I Timothy 6:12; Ephesians 6:13). To come to the kind of wisdom and understanding that Job had we must come to know God, and to know God we must know His word. As the Psalmist wrote, “I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:101-105).
Wisdom, then, it not something that is gained by intellectual ability. Many a man with a high IQ have failed to achieve anything close to wisdom. To get wisdom one must come to know God, and to understand His word which leads to a right understanding of good and evil. Knowing these things, the one who has achieved wisdom will use that knowledge in the fear of the Lord, turning away from the evil that surrounds him in the world.
Reposted from October 2017
By Roland W. Keith
What is God’s plan to save man? And, why bother saving him at all, considering his attitude and actions? The answer to the second question is answered by Jesus in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (also, Romans 5:8, ESV). The Father sent His Son to earth to redeem mankind, and the Son came to do His Fathers bidding, of His Own free will. He came to earth to fulfill the Law and Prophets, to live a life of perfect obedience to His Father and then at the appropriate time to lay His perfect life down in propitiation for the sins of imperfect man.
When Christ rose from the grave in victory He made it possible for man to be reconciled to God through His blood. As Paul told the Colossians, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14; also, Acts 20:28). His victory over death made it possible for God to put into action the rest of His plan to save man. A plan that is based on the gospel.
Paul told the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16; also, James 1:21). The power of God’s plan is based on the truth of the gospel, which is the story of Jesus— Who He is, what He accomplished, and what must be done for man to find reconciliation with God. In the gospel accounts Jesus made it clear that the offer of salvation has been extended to all men, saying, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30; also Romans 1:16; Revelation 22:17). To be saved we must believe the gospel and come to Christ.
As Paul explained to the Romans:
For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10: 13-15, 17).
To ensure that men everywhere would hear the gospel and be given a chance to accept Christ Jesus gave His followers directions that have become known as the Great Commission. In Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-16). We, as Christians, have been tasked with carrying God’s word out into the world and giving our fellow man the opportunity of knowing Jesus Christ. Those who hear the word and accept it are likened to a wise man, those who reject God’s word are likened to a foolish man (Matthew 7:24-27). When we hear the word of God each of us must decide for ourselves what we will do with it.
Many will believe, but many others will reject the truth. However, even among those who believe, not all will have the faith they need to do the will of God. Under Moses the Israelites knew God existed, but demonstrated unbelief in not trusting Him to fulfill His promises (Hebrews 3:7-15). To receive the reward of heaven we must trust God. As Paul wrote, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6; also, John 20:30-31). Once we have determined that the gospel is true we must be willing to confess Christ as Savior: “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10; also Matthew 10:32-33).
After we have confessed Christ we must also repent of, or turn away from, our sins, as Jesus said, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3; also Acts 3:19; 17:30). Upon confession we must then submit to baptism. This step is a point of contention for many who seek God, however, in response to the crowd’s question on the Day of Pentecost: “Brothers what shall we do?” Peter response is definitive: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). This is the same instruction that Ananias gave to Paul, who had sat and prayed for three days without having his sins forgiven or being saved: “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16; also Mark 16:16; I Peter 3:21). So, what is the result of both believing and being baptized? Luke wrote, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41, also 2:47).
To be saved we must hear the word of God. We must believe it and respond to it by coming forward to confess Christ before man (Matthew 10:32-33). We must repent of our sins and turn from our sinful lives. We must submit to baptism to have our sins forgiven. At this point we are added to the body of Christ (Acts 2:41; Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; I Corinthians 12:13). After all this there is something more we must do— we must remain faithful to the end (Matthew 10:22; also, Revelation 2:10). For those who are faithful throughout life there is the reward of a place in heaven (Colossians 3:24; Hebrews 10:35; II Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).
Repost from 10/16/2017
by Roland W. Keith
Are you a moral person? Most of us certainly think of ourselves as such. But on what do we base that opinion? Various nations, cultures, religious groups, and social organizations throughout history have had quite different ideas on what a moral person looks like. Principles of right and wrong have varied widely, and standards of right behavior seem to shift as often as the wind. On what is your doctrine or basic law of moral conduct, that is acceptable behavior, based? Is it the writings of an elitist eighteenth-century philosopher? The latest and greatest self-help guru? The present day what-ever-makes-me-feel-good, what-ever-appeals-to-me philosophy? Or is it something more substantial? More stable, time tested and true?
For the Christian morality is based on sound doctrine. And, sound doctrine is the immutable word of God. As the apostle Paul wrote his young protégé, Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16, 17). Our morality, properly understood, is based on the righteousness of God, to be clearly distinguished from the self-righteousness often exhibited by those who try to persuade us to compromise our values to accommodate their behavior. To them we are wise to reply according to the words of Solomon: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
This understanding, then, requires the one who would follow Christ to turn away from previous held philosophies and behaviors in order to conform to the will of God, as Paul wrote the Ephesians:
"Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:17-32).
According to Paul this sound doctrine requires us to be sober-minded, self-controlled, sound in faith, love, and steadfastness. Additionally, Christians are to be reverent, truthful, kind, and pure. Moreover, we are to be involved in the proper instruction of our young, modeling good works, integrity and dignity (Titus 2:1-7). Not only are we to model right behavior among one another, but we are to be an example to all around us (Matthew 5:16). We must also practice what we preach in truth and fairness, not unduly burdening those who are subject to our authority (Matthew 23:2-4). And, always we are to be not only fair in authority, but honest when we are in subjection to another (Titus 2:9, 10).
For the Christian a moral life, based on the Bible, is an imperative driven by the promises God has made to man by His grace (Ephesians 2:8, 10), and made sure through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. As Paul stated:
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works" (Titus 2:11-14).
Through the teaching of, and adherence to, the doctrine of God we are taught to: “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Titus 2:12, 14). Jesus warned:
"Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, “My master is delayed,” and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 24:42-51).
By comprehending God’s truth, we come to a state of vigilance in which we are determined to obey the commands of our King in upright living, always prepared for and awaiting His return (Matthew 25:1-13). Unlike that of the world’s, the moral base for the Christian is certain, immutable, established in perfect equality, reason, justice, and truth. And that truth is established in this one fact: “that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (I John 5:20).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.