by Roland W. Keith
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:5-6).
Paul’s words to the Corinthians are at the heart of Christian service. As Christians we do not work for nor proclaim ourselves, but rather Christ crucified and His gospel. By teaching His word we light up the world with the knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Moreover, our work is for the Lord, not for man, meaning our allegiance is to God, not to any man or institution, but to God and His word alone; and for our faithful service we receive the promised inheritance as children of God (Colossians 3:23-25).
It is important in serving the Lord to understand that no man is expected to do it all. Each of us has abilities that we can use to serve in different capacities. We are one team, and while our works may overlap, we each have unique roles to play, as Peter wrote, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever” (I Peter 4:10-11; see also I Corinthians 3:8-9).
In addition to assessing our talents each of us must also make an honest assessment of ourselves— that is, of our commitment. There is no halfway with the Lord. If we commit, we must give God our best. We cannot look back at the world. If we are not willing to renounce what the world stands for we have no hope of succeeding in following Christ (Luke 9:57-62; 14:27-33). Someone in the business world once said, “It takes money to make money.” There is a cost to being successful, not only in money, but in time and effort, and in dedication and faith. The Christian may live in the world, but he cannot be worldly. He or she must leave the ways of the world behind to take the Christian path to salvation.
Christ often spoke of what it takes to be a true disciple of His. We must love one another as He loved us (John 13:34-35). Even as we love one another as brothers and sisters, we must love the world as our neighbors showing compassion for their situation and giving of ourselves to care for their needs (Luke 10:29-36). Though we separate ourselves from the world in our behavior we still have a responsibility toward our fellow man. In fact, when we become Christians that responsibility only grows, taking on a spiritual dimension not previously considered or understood. Fortunately, we do not stand alone. As we are in Christ, being a part of His spiritual body, He works in and through us (John 15:4-5).
As previously mentioned, the dedication and commitment of the Christian must be absolute. Each of us must be faithful, understanding that we cannot serve the master of this world and our heavenly master at the same time (Luke 16:10-13). In fact, we cannot have two masters— therefore we must choose who we will follow. Consider Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34-38, “And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
Clearly, we must decide who our loyalty belongs to. If, on the day of judgment, we want the Lord to proudly proclaim us as one of His before His Father, then we must proudly proclaim Him before the world while we are here. Paul told the Philippians to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” “holding fast to the word of life” (Philippians 2:12-16). The key to our success, as Paul understood, is in our obedience to God. The word fear, as most often used in connection with our relationship to God, denotes honoring one with proper and due respect. We must respect God’s sovereignty in our lives and show that respect by obeying His commands— submitting our will to His.
One of the things God expects from us is selfless service, as Paul told the Philippians, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:3-8). God expects us to emulate His Son. If Jesus could humble Himself to the point of humiliation and death on the cross, what should we be willing to endure for His sake, and the sake of our own souls?
The Bible contains many scriptures describing how we are to look to the interests of others, a few of which are: to serve one another (John 13:14), to live in peace with one another (Mark 9:50), to love one another (John 13:34-35), to honor one another (Romans 12:10), to comfort one another (II Corinthians 13:11), to encourage one another (I Thessalonians 4:18), and to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). However, one of the most difficult things we can do for another, it seems, is to forgive them and help restore them when they fall. Forgiveness often becomes a test for Christians, as Paul wrote, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:1-10).
We are to do good to everyone, something we often find difficult to do. Just as difficult for some of us is to test our own works or actions to see if they measure up. Are we taking every opportunity to do all we can? When we look at ourselves how Christ-like are we? How spiritually and mentally tough are we? Remember what Paul wrote in II Corinthians 4:7-14: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence.”
God has not chosen those wise in the ways of the world, the richest among us, nor those of high birth to do His work. They are not excluded, but not many answer the call (I Corinthians 1:26-29). God chose the weak and the foolish (according to the judgment of the world) to accomplish His will, demonstrating His might through them. Thankfully, while one plants and another waters it is God Who works to ensure the increase. As long as we are working according to His blueprint we will not fail. We need only answer His call in obedience. That does not mean that the work will be easy. Nor does it mean that there will not be danger and persecution. It means that God is with us, and His will is being done. The world will resist God’s word. We have already been warned about that. There will be hard times, discomfort, and persecution. There may be danger and death. But for those who fight to the end there will also be eternal victory. What we fight for is not earthly gain, but heavenly treasure.
The one who enlists for Christian service labors and fights for a kingdom not of this world. And we serve a King Who is above all other kings. One before Whom all of humanity will one day bow, confessing His name and submitting to His judgment. Unlike many others on that day the one who has remained faithful to their King will bow be before Him in joyful anticipation of righteous judgment and the promise of His grace.
by Roland W. Keith
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:34).
Let’s face it, most of us at some point in our lives have thought a little more of ourselves than we ought to have. At one time or another we have been infected with the ‘big head’. And for some of us the cure was a bit painful, even humbling. Being brought back to the reality of our limitations can be like that.
It is interesting that in the above quote Paul equated humility (“not to think of himself more highly than he ought”) with sober thought. To think soberly is to be thoughtful in demeanor, even-keeled or temperate in judgment, to be serious-minded or lacking in excessive emotion or prejudice. Such a person accurately assesses their own abilities, as well as those of others and gives deference or preference where due. They are not a respecter of persons, yet honor those put in authority over them.
Micah once wrote, “He [God] has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). Humility for the Christian is to be fair to all, kind to all, and to act in obedience to God. If honor does come to us it should be as a result of that humble obedience, not through self-promotion (Proverbs 15:33). In fact, Jesus compared Christian humility to that of a child. Children who are well-raised respect and show deference to their parents and other adults, which bodes well for their future, as is true for the Christian who humbles himself before the Lord (Matthew 18:3-4).
On the other hand, those who exalt themselves will ultimately be humbled (Luke 14:11). James echoed this understanding in his letter: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:6-8; see also I Peter 5:5-6). Those who resist God are opposed by Him, those who resist the devil, and humbly turn to God are accepted by Him.
Those who turn to God in humility are recognizable by their compassion, patience, willingness to listen, and their love for humanity (Colossians 3:11-14). They see no difference between themselves and their fellow sojourner. However, it is important to understand that a humble person does not necessarily possess a milquetoast personality. Two of the most aggressive and toughest people in the Bible were Peter and Paul, both of whom were humbled by their experiences. Paul especially was brought low by the Lord before he was raised up as an apostle; even then he was given a “thorn in the side” to help manage any tendency toward conceit he might have had (II Corinthians 12:7).
Paul was not one to shrink back as an example to others (II Corinthians 11:21-30), yet he honestly wrote, “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house” (Acts 20:18-20). The point is the type of humility we are talking about is not synonymous with the word wimpy. Christians have to be tough-minded and durable.
Peter and Paul are just two examples of humble servants in the Bible, but the greatest example of tough-minded determination and humility in scriptures is that of Jesus Christ. As Philip wrote, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
Those few verses describe the most profound example of humility ever recorded. No one has ever given up more, nor submitted to greater apparent degradation for the benefit of others than our Lord did. We cannot begin to repay our Lord for what He did for us, but we can do our best to emulate Him by how we treat one another and by what we are willing to sacrifice for others (Romans 12:10-11; John 15:13).
It turns out that true humility is not for the faint-hearted or weak. It takes courage and personal fortitude to be humble. The follower of Christ is humble, but firm in his convictions, not willing to compromise the truth. The man and woman of God must view all as someone just as worthy in God’s eyes as they are, yet be determined not to yield to the world in its error, standing for the truth against all odds.
by Roland W. Keith
Jackie and I are unexpectedly on the road, but I wanted to get this post on the board. In October 2016 Pastor Andrew Brunson was arrested in Turkey for having a Christian Church meeting in his home. The charge was for the action of terrorism. Last week after two years of trials and imprisonment Andrew Brunson was set free and allowed to return to the U.S., thanks to the efforts of President Trump and Jay Sekulow. Considering his ordeal, endured in the name of God, it seems appropriate to repost a blog originally published on 25 September 2017. I t deals with the need for all of us to have courage when faced with persecution in the name of God, just as Mr. Brunson did, and as Joshua did centuries before. So here it is.
“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8).
When the time came for the Jews to go in and possess the Promised Land only two of the original generation were allowed to enter in— Caleb and Joshua (Numbers 14:29-30; 26:65). Due to the nation’s unbelief (failure to trust God), the Jews who came out of Egypt were not allowed to take possession of the land promised to them; even Moses and Aaron faltered in their belief, and were excluded from the land (Numbers 20:6-13, 24). Certainly, after all they had been through, the Jews, and their two leaders, knew that God existed. Their unbelief, then, was of another nature. They did not trust God because they had given into, or developed, a lack of moral (or mental) strength. In Aaron’s and Moses’ case they failed to obey God’s explicit instructions and sanctify Him before the people, demonstrating a failure in moral courage in obeying the Lord and leading His people. As for the people themselves, when faced with the prospect of defeating the nations in the land, their courage left them altogether and they rebelled against God (Numbers 14). Later, when told of God’s judgment against them, they sought to enter the land only to be defeated (Numbers 14:39-45).
When Moses passed the mantle of leadership to Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:1-8) he admonished him to have courage, saying “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” He repeated his need for courage (as quoted above), in the very next verse. With that courage Joshua was able to lead the Israelites into the land promised them, and to take possession of it. As Christians, we too need to heed Moses words of encouragement given to Joshua. We should not dread the world or its dark ruler, knowing that God is with us, and because of His presence and protection we are fully capable of defeating our enemy. We also know that in times of trial we can call on the Lord for instruction and strength, as the Psalmist wrote, “Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries… Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:11-12, 14)!
Many years later David would offer the same advice to His son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished” (I Chronicles 28:20).
Again, as Christians, we are wise to heed these words. God has given us a work to do in His house, His kingdom, and we will not fail, if we take our strength and courage from Him. As Paul told the Corinthians, we must “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (I Corinthians 16:13). In defining that courage, we must use it to emulate our Lord in all our actions, as Paul wrote the Philippians, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
If we want to avoid being excluded from the heavenly Promised Land awaiting us we must have the courage to enter in and take possession of it. This means we must be willing to stand up for Christ against His enemies without concern for the consequences in this life. We find a prime example of what our behavior should be in the account of the apostles before the Sanhedrin, recorded in Acts 5:27-33, 41:
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them… Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.
Another great example of perseverance is that of Paul, in Acts 20:22-27:
And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.
Even in the face of imprisonment, persecution, and ultimately death, Paul refused to shrink back from the name of the Lord. How many of us will stand firm when persecution comes? We must if we want to please our King. We must stand firm, always willing to step in, shoulder-to-shoulder, to share in the burden, strengthening one another. When Paul was in chains, enroute to Rome, He was able to take courage from those who came to see him along the way (Acts 28:15-16).
In considering these examples we must understand that a day may be approaching when we will be called upon to suffer for the name of the Lord. As Jesus informed His apostles:
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for My sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops” (Matthew 10:16-27).
Here in the U.S. we may often read these accounts in the Bible as historically remote examples, but even today Christians around the world are being persecuted, and the tide is turning against us in this country. The day may be fast approaching when Paul’s words to Timothy come home to us: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (II Timothy 3:12-14). If such days do in fact come upon us let us take comfort in Peter’s words:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1:3-9).
I pray that all Christians everywhere will stand tall and persevere in the face of persecution and that we will all share in the inexpressible joy that Peter wrote of on the day that our salvation is made sure.
by Roland W. Keith
In his first letter John wrote, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure (I John 3:1-3). How is it that we, as humans, do not know our Creator?
When we survey all the gods out there that men have worshipped we find a wild assortment from the fantastic to the cartoonish, to the natural, to the unnatural, to the ones who are just like we are. Passing by the cartoonish, the natural and unnatural as not worthy of our attention let us focus on the pantheon of “divine personages,” that is, those supernatural beings who are like us. Beings such as Zeus or Mercury. When we look at them we find that the problem with their divinity, or, lack thereof is that they are, in fact, just like us. Prone to lying and cheating, with outbursts of uncontrolled and unjustified anger or rage, or petty jealousies. Etc. The problem is they are a bit too human. Too fallible. Too ordinary. They are clearly creations of our own imaginations with all of our attributes, both good and bad.
Now let’s compare them to the apostle Paul’s “unknown God” (Acts 17:16-34). Where the false gods are petty, fallible and ordinary Paul’s God is perfect. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. He is not like us. Where the false gods reflect us in all our glory the one true God is glory divine. He does not have all of our attributes, but rather He created us in His own image, and when He did that we were a perfect being. We reflected His image. But then we sinned and His image within us became almost infinitely dimmer. We took on unholy attributes that we cannot attribute to our Creator. But the image of the Creator within us was not completely extinguished, nor was His love for us.
If I understand the Bible correctly God’s greatest attribute is love. God is love (I John 4:8, 16). It is His perfect, infinite love that led Him to extend His grace to His fallen creation (John 3:16), and to determine to exercise another of His amazing and unbounded attributes— forgiveness. The difference between all the gods with little “g’s” and the one true God is that I don’t think man has it in him to have conceived of the God of the Bible on his own. If God had not revealed Himself to us in His handiwork and His word He would have remained the “unknown God,” beyond man’s imagination. As it is many in the world do not see God’s signature in His creation and reject His word out-of-hand. However, for those whose hearts are open to the truth God’s word is a revelation.
God’s nature was and is known to man through His creation and has been since the beginning of time. Moreover, it was made specifically manifest in these last times when His Son was born into the world as a man. According to Peter’s account, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (I Peter 1:20-21). Those of us who put our faith and hope in God become His children and seek to emulate His purity in our lives (I John 3:1-3).
Those who seek God through His word must be more than a casual or curious seeker, however, as James wrote, “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25). Paul was perhaps a little blunter when he warned, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8). God’s divine nature is one of both mercy and justice.
In addition to James and Paul another inspired writer, John, wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (I John 2:15-17). Those who truly seek to know God will at some point have to make a choice: to follow the desires of the flesh or let them go to do the will of God. Peter compared the Christian to one who is only passing through a foreign land on his way home, writing: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation (I Peter 2:11-12).
Those who come to comprehend, even in a small measure, the divine nature of God should be demonstrably grateful for all that He has done, and for the kingdom He has established for His followers (Hebrews 12:28-29). So grateful that we not only devote ourselves to His worship but to living our lives developing the attributes He has set before us to exercise (II Peter 1:5-7). As Peter went on to say about forging these traits within ourselves, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (II Peter 1:10). Those who come to God and live in obedience to His will become members of a very special kingdom as Peter noted in his first letter: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (I Peter 2:9-10).
God is love. God is truth. God is just. God is merciful. God is faithful. Who does not seek these things? The divine nature of God, which He has revealed to us, should draw us to Him. So, why do so many resist His will for their lives? Pride? Selfishness? Guilt? The amazing thing is God will help us overcome these things. In fact, He will help us overcome any obstacle if we will but seek His will for our lives. God will punish the disobedient, make no mistake, justice is a part of His nature, but it is also in His nature to love us and to call us to Himself. As Paul wrote to Timothy, God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4).
I will leave you with two thoughts from King David: “The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God" (Psalm 14:2). God’s desire is for us to seek and find Him. David sought the Lord and found Him, asking one thing of Him: “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). If you call upon Him, He will answer— it’s in His nature.
by Roland W. Keith
To discuss the divine nature of God it is best to first define what we mean by the word nature in this context. According to the Miriam-Webster dictionary nature is “the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing.” In other words, it is the essence of the person— what makes him, him or her, her.
According to the Bible God is love (John 3:16), He is righteous (John 17:25; Acts 3:14; Romans 1:17), He is just (Luke 18:7-8), and He is forgiving (Ephesians 4:32). All of these attributes of God, among others, we find in man also, but only because God made us in His image. However, where man often falls short in exercising these qualities God’s actions always perfectly reflect His nature. It is because of the fallen condition of man that we often fail to recognize these Godly qualities for what they are, and perhaps more accurately, why we resist them.
According to John: “He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God (John 1:11-12). When God manifested Himself as a man, one of perfect character, those literally trained in the word of God failed to discern Who He was. In fact, many claimed He had a demon (John 8:48-49, 52; 10:20-21), and sought to kill Him (Matthew 26:4). Yet, for those who did believe in Him a great honor was in store, as Paul wrote: “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:26-29; see also I John 3:1-3).
For those who trust in God comes the privilege of being seen as righteous in the sight of God, as innocent on the day of judgment, through the blood of His Son. Even so, for those who reject God His judgment will come down upon them in all its holy wrath (II Peter 2:4-6).
In order for man to be seen as righteous Jesus lowered Himself from His exalted position, taking on the form of man to pay the debt of sin all men have incurred (Hebrews 2:9-10). It is through His actions and sacrifice that all who will come to Him and confess His name (Romans 10:9), will be saved. We will, in fact, be allowed to share in His divine nature.
We were ransomed with the blood of Christ, and those of us who conduct ourselves in the fear of God and are obedient to the truth, and who model ourselves, as best we can, after the divine nature will be given a place in His eternal kingdom (I Peter 1:17-23). In his second letter Peter wrote, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (II Peter 1:3-4).
When one believes that Jesus is the Christ and suffered on the cross for us how can that person not determine to live according to the will of God (I Peter 4:1-2)? As Paul told Timothy we should be willing to suffer as a good soldier for the cause of Christ, not only to honor God, but also, on a personal level, to receive the promises He has made to those who obey Him (II Timothy 2:3-7). Since sending His Son to earth two thousand years ago God has exercised great patience toward mankind (II Peter 3:8-9), but He will not always strive with man (Genesis 6:3). Each of us has an appointed day to die and thereafter to face judgment (II Corinthians 5:10).
For those of us who study the word of God with open hearts we discover the prophecies concerning these things to be well-confirmed. Undeniably so. Reaching all the way back to Old Testament times we find God’s word to be the attested truth, born out over many centuries by many proofs and the eyewitness accounts of some forty men (II Peter 1:19-21). The Old Testament accounts led us to Jesus and His gospel, which leads us to God’s grace, to faith, and to salvation as set forth in the New Testament (I Peter 2:22-23).
It is in the gospel and the other inspired scriptures that we learn of God’s plan to redeem us through His Son. It is an amazing story of redemptive love and grace wherein mankind is touched by the divine and allowed henceforth to dwell within His light as members of His body.
Please join me next week as we continue our study of the divine nature of God and how each of us can experience and share in it.
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.