The darkness doesn’t comprehend the light

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1-5

Who was already there in the very beginning when God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)? Who was with God the Father in the beginning? and with God the Spirit as He moved upon the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2)? Who created all things that were made? Who formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, giving man life, both physical and spiritual – making Adam a living creature who loved God, trusted in Him and served Him whole-heartedly (Genesis 2:7)?

It is the Word – God’s Son, Jesus Christ! In the beginning, God the Son was already there! He was with God and He was and always has been God! Christ Jesus, before taking on human flesh, created man and all things! Without Him nothing was created that has been made! Cf. Hebrews 1:1-3. And, in time, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He came into this world to die in our stead – as our sacrifice – and redeem us (cf. John 1:29; Galatians 4:4-5).

Man’s life originated in God the Son, and this life was man’s light. But now this Light of life shines in our sin-darkened world, and man does not understand Him or receive Him! How tragic! How blinded we are by our sin not to recognize our own God and Creator come into this world a true man to redeem us and give us back the life in Him we lost by our disobedience!

John writes of Christ Jesus, God the Son (John 1:10-13): “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Dear Lord Jesus, our God and Lord, open our eyes that we may see You and the life You have won for all by Your holy life and Your innocent sufferings and death for us upon the cross; and breathe into us Your Spirit that we may be made alive, enlightened and take hold of You by faith. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

God dwells with us and keeps us

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” John 14:23

What a comfort to know that Jesus did not abandon us and leave us to our own devices after He suffered and died on the cross for our sins and rose again. As He promised in Matthew 28:20, He is with us always, even to the end of this world, and He and the Father dwell with us and in us by the Holy Spirit.

A few verses before our text, Jesus said (John 14:15-18): “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” Jesus promised His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to abide with them forever. Then Jesus said: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

In John 14:23, Jesus said: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Thus, we see that, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son also take up residence with us and in us! We are indeed the temple of God (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22).

Is the Holy Spirit given to us because of our love for Jesus? No! Rather, we love God as a fruit of faith in Christ, which is the gracious work of God’s Holy Spirit through the hearing of God’s Word (Rom. 10:17; Eph. 1:13-14; Gal. 5:22). Through the hearing of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit moves us to repent, trust in Christ Jesus and be baptized in His name for the remission of all our sins. And God graciously gives to us the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38-39; Eph. 1:13-14; Tit. 3:4-7). As a fruit of God-given faith in Christ, we love Him and desire to walk in his ways, and He gives us the Holy Spirit to strengthen and keep us in the true and saving faith unto life eternal.

As Jesus said, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (v. 26). The Holy Spirit, working through the Word, enlightens us and reveals to us Christ Jesus and His great love and mercy toward us (cf. John 15:26). The Spirit assures us of forgiveness and life in Jesus’ name and teaches us the truth, preserving us in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting (cf. 1 John 2:27).

Come and dwell in our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, O God, and strengthen and preserve us in faith in Christ Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

How did God create man?

We’ve looked briefly at the Bible’s teaching regarding the creation of the heavens and the earth, and here we look at how the LORD God created mankind. Crucial to the Christian Faith is the Biblical doctrine regarding the creation of man; for, if God did not create man, mankind is not accountable to God and the Bible’s doctrine about sin, judgment, and atonement through the shed blood of God’s only-begotten Son topples as well. And, I might add, crucial to the arguments against same-sex marriage and all other sexual behavior which deviates from traditional marriage between a man and a woman is the Biblical doctrine regarding the creation of woman and the institution of marriage recorded in Genesis 2.

How did God create man?

The Bible answers that question for us when it says in Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

It further explains how the first man was created in Genesis 2:7: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Of the creation of woman, God’s Word says in Genesis 2:18-25: “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’ Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

The first man and woman were created in the image of God, with His likeness. This does not mean they looked like God, for God is a spirit. It means they were like God in that they knew God and His will and gladly and willingly lived for God in accord with His will and purpose in creating them (See Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24; and Ephesians 2:10). They knew God, loved Him, trusted Him and were of one heart and mind with Him in all their thoughts, desires, words and deeds.

We learn from the Scriptures that God formed the body of Adam (Adam means man) from the dust of the ground and breathed life into him, making Adam a living being. He was given life, both physical and spiritual. He was made alive to God.

We learn that the first woman was created from the first man and for the man to be a helper and companion to him who was like him and fitting for him. She was indeed flesh of his flesh.

Though many in our time would deny it, this is also the reason for marriage between a man and a woman. God created the woman for the man, brought her to the man and the two became one flesh. Any sexual union outside of marriage between a man and a woman is contrary to God’s purpose and design in creation.

Though we may think we exist only as the natural result of the sexual union between a man and a woman, the Scriptures teach us that we are no accident. God created each of us in the womb of our mother and gave us life. Not only did He bless man and woman with the ability to have children (Genesis 1:28), He creates and forms each of us in our mother’s womb.

The Bible says in Psalm 139:13-16: “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

How, when did God create the heavens, the earth?

In the previous chapter, I pointed out how important the Biblical doctrine regarding creation is to the Christian Faith — really, so important that a denial of the Bible’s teaching regarding creation overthrows the Christian Faith or makes it (as it is in so many churches today) a religion of subjective moral lessons and examples and devoid of the Bible’s core teaching of sin and redemption through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. In the last chapter, I pointed out the Bible’s teaching in regard to the Creator of the heavens and earth and all life. In this lesson, the focus is on how and when the God of the Bible created all things.

How did God create the heavens and the earth?

Again, the Bible says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light…” (Genesis 1:1-3; Read all of Genesis 1 and 2).

The Hebrew word for “created” in verse one is bara (ברא) and indicates that God created all out of nothing. He called it into existence by saying, “Let there be,” and “there was.”

The Scriptures echo this truth throughout.

Psalm 33:6 says: “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”

Hebrews 11:3 says: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

These words teach us the truth that God created all things and sustains them by the power of His word.

The Bible says of the Son of God, in Hebrews 1:2-3: “Whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power….”

So, what has God done? He created all things out of nothing. He created and called all into being by His all-powerful word. And, it is by that same creating word that all continues to exist.

It is as Nehemiah wrote (9:6): “You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.”

When did God create the heavens and the earth?

Again, the Bible answers that question for us when it says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1).

Though some would attempt to extend the six days of creation into long periods of time and others would introduce a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 with the claim that the angels were a part of an earlier failed creation, the Bible is quite clear that the six days are literally six days: “So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5), with the same parameters mentioned of each day. “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

The Bible also makes clear that all things were created within the six days when it says: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11). “You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You” (Nehemiah 9:6).

When did the six days of creation occur? While it would be a mistake to make a doctrinal issue out of a specific date or year, the Bible’s genealogical records indicate that creation occurred approximately 4,000 years before Christ, or approximately 6,000 years ago – numbers which can be calculated based on the ages of the patriarchs when sons were born to them, the lengths of kings’ reigns and other dates or events in the Bible such as the exile and destruction of the temple (e.g., Genesis 5 and 11; 1 and 2 Kings; 1 and 2 Chronicles.).

Though the Bible contradicts modern “scientific” theory regarding the age of the earth, there is no contradiction with the true evidence which suggests a young earth and a catastrophic and universal flood (Genesis 6-8). Believers accept the accuracy of God’s account of creation which is recorded for them in the pages of the Bible.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Do you fear God or men?

Jesus said in Luke 12:4-5: “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”

Few, however, take these words to heart. Instead of honoring God and fearing His judgment upon us if we turn aside from following Him and His Word, most fear man and are willing to compromise the Word of God recorded in the Bible to escape the disapproval and displeasure of man.

It happens again and again. Rather than face persecution, even of the mildest sort, those who claim to be followers of Christ are all too quick to yield on matters of Biblical doctrine or to allow sin and false doctrine to stand unrebuked.

And politicians of our day are unwilling to take a stand for what is right and to condemn what is wrong out of fear of political reprisals. Thus, though they may be personally opposed to abortion or same-sex marriage, for the sake of political expediency they tolerate the evils and do nothing to stop them.

Don’t people realize that the LORD God who created us and gave us life can take it away? And, not only that, He has the authority to cast people into hell!

Our rulers ought to consider Jesus’ words and realize that God raised them up that they might stand for the truth, and God will hold them accountable for all they do and do not do. Instead of fearing the political fallout for taking a stand against immorality and sin, they ought consider the eternal consequences of compromising the truth and failing to use their offices for the promotion of what is good and right and for the punishment of what is evil.

And what about the rest of us who hold no public office? Are we excused? Not at all! We ought to be doing all in our power to address the evils in our land and to stop them. To do nothing out of fear of what people might do to us or say about us is exactly what Jesus warns against. He would have us proclaim the truth, stand for the truth and, if necessary, give our lives for the truth.

We proclaim the truth God has revealed in His Word even when it is unpopular to do so. We call sin sin and warn of the impending judgment of God upon sinners. And we proclaim one way of pardon and forgiveness: through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross.

And when governments command what God has forbidden and forbid what God has commanded, who do we honor and obey? Like Peter and the apostles, we fear God and obey Him rather than men (cf. Acts 5:29). Yes, that could bring persecution. It could even bring death. But, as Jesus said, we fear, first and foremost, God, who not only has power to kill but the power to cast into the eternal fires of hell!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Paul’s Prayer for the Saints

“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:15-23

What does the apostle Paul pray that the Ephesian Christians, and all of us who have heard the Gospel and come to faith in Christ, would know? He lists three things.

The apostle prayed that the Holy Spirit, who had brought them to faith in Christ through the preaching of the Gospel would open the eyes of their understanding and enlighten them that they might better know Christ Jesus and know: 1. the hope of His calling; 2. the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints; and 3. the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.

What hope do we have as His called? Consider the words of Romans 5:1-2 and Romans 8:28-30. The Bible also teaches us that “our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

What are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints? Read Ephesians 2:4-7; Romans 8:15ff.; Revelation 21:1ff.; 22:1ff. God will create a new heavens and earth. The curse will be removed. There will be no more sin, no more sorrow, no more death. We will dwell in the presence of God – in perfect communion with Him – forever. It’s beyond our imagination what He has prepared for us!

What is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe? Our text tells us it is the same power which was at work in Christ when God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him to the right hand of God the Father, above all things. That is the power at work in you and me whom God has raised us up from spiritual darkness and death and brought to faith in Christ as our Savior. Consider John 5:25ff.; Ephesians 2:1ff. It is the same power which continues to work in us (Philippians 1:6; John 10:11,27-29; Romans 8:28ff.; 2 Timothy 4:18).

Think about it. The apostle Paul prayed that God’s Spirit would enlighten us and make us know the hope we have in Christ Jesus, the glory which shall be revealed in us and the great power at work in us to create, strengthen and preserve saving faith in our hearts and keep us unto life everlasting. As Christ was raised from the dead, we shall be raised up; and, as Christ ascended into heaven and was glorified, so we shall ascend and be glorified (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff.). He keeps us and preserves us unto life everlasting!

Dear Lord Jesus, as You have ascended, raise us up and make us to know the glory that awaits us for the sake of You and Your cross. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

How did life and all things begin? Who is the Creator

The Biblical doctrine regarding creation is a crucial to the Christian Faith. Though there are many who claim to be Christian who no longer believe the Genesis account, I would have to question why they would even lay claim to being Christian. If God did not create the heavens and the earth as described in the first two chapters of Genesis, then why would one place his or her faith in Christ Jesus, God the Son and Maker of all who came into this world to redeem us from sin and the judgment of God upon us by dying on a cross? If God did not create us, what authority would He have to give us commandments and be our judge? And, if God will not be our judge, why do we need Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for sin?

If God is not our Creator and Judge, Jesus becomes nothing more than a great moral teacher who might be able to guide people into making this world in which we live by chance existence a better place — and Jesus really becomes no better than any other moral teacher or religious faith. And, sad to say, that is exactly what so many churches are teaching these days. For them, being a Christian is nothing more than following the benevolent teachings and example of Jesus to make this world a little bit better.

Being Christian, however, is so much more than looking to Jesus as an example and teacher of love and charity. Being a Christian is to believe what He says in His Word about creation, sin, judgment and the atoning sacrifice He provided. It is to acknowledge our utter sinfulness and guilt before the God who created us and will be our judge; and it is to trust that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God made man, fulfilled God’s righteous demands in our place and suffered, in our stead, the just punishment we deserved when He died on the cross and then rose again on the third day.

Therefore, we look at the Bible’s teaching about creation.

How did life and all things begin?

How is it that this world and the universe came to be? How did life begin and why does it go on? Is it all the result of chance over extreme lengths of time? Or is it the result of an intelligent creator who wisely designed and created all things?

While many have speculated and theorized, there is one eye-witness account of how all came to be and who is behind it.

Many scoff and criticize this account and offer alternative theories with no foundation in truth in an attempt to escape the accountability which goes with the creation account, but wisdom calls upon us to seek the truth and accept it, along with any accountability which accompanies that truth.

That one eye-witness account is recorded for all to know in the first two chapters of Genesis. It is the account of the Creator Himself, recorded by Moses for all to read and know the truth.

That account begins in Genesis 1:1-3: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”

Who is the Creator?

Who is the Creator? The Bible, which is God’s inspired account, tells us that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

And, who is this God? The Hebrew word, Elohim, which is the plural form of God, is the descriptor used to describe the Creator (cf. Genesis 1:26-27). He is also called by the name Jehovah, often translated LORD. “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:4).

The Bible further defines God, when it says in 1 Corinthians 8:6: “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” Thus we see that all things were created by God the Father through Jesus Christ.

God’s creation account also tells us that, in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). Thus we see that the Holy Spirit, too, was active in the creation of all things.

The opening verses of John’s Gospel (John 1:1-4) tell us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Thus we see that the Word, Jesus Christ, identified in v. 14 as God Himself in the flesh and the only begotten Son of the Father, created all things and is the giver of life, both physical and spiritual.

In St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians (Colossians 1:15-17), the inspired Scriptures say of Christ Jesus, that “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”

So, who is the Creator? It is God, the God the Scriptures identify for us as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Though God is one – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4) – God is also three – thus, the command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). This is why the God of the Bible is often called the Triune (three/one) God, because He is one God and yet three distinct Persons. Thus, the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Yet, there are not three Gods, but one God.

The Bible tells us in 1 John 5:7: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”

Though beyond our ability to comprehend, this is how God has revealed Himself to us – it is His account and His word. And it is this God who has created all things and has given us life.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

How Should We Pray?

“Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed….” Luke 7:6-7 (Read Luke 7:1-10)

How should we come to God in prayer? Do we come to God and expect Him to grant our prayers because of our works and worthiness? Many would tell us that we should come to God “in faith” and demand that He grant our petitions, and some would even accuse us of a lack of faith if our petitions are not granted in the way or manner we asked of God. But who does Jesus hold up as an example of one praying in faith? He holds up a Roman centurion.

The elders of the Jews came to Jesus with the petition of the centurion for his sick servant, urging Jesus to come because the centurion was worthy. He loved the Jewish people and had even built a synagogue for the Jews.

And when Jesus went with them, what happened? The centurion sent word to Jesus, saying, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

The centurion, though accustomed to giving orders, did not count himself worthy to come to Jesus or demand that Jesus come and lay hands on his sick servant and heal him. Rather, he acknowledged that he was unworthy to ask anything of Jesus or to have Jesus come under the roof of his home. But he did have faith in Jesus as the Son of God. He knew and believed it was not necessary for Jesus to come to his house. Jesus could just say the word and His servant would be healed.

Jesus “marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, ‘I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!’”

What does this teach us about how we come to God in prayer? Are we worthy because of our works and service? Not at all! When we do serve the Lord Jesus, we are only humble servants doing the will of our Master. Can we come to the Lord Jesus with our prayers? Most certainly! He won for us that right and privilege when He died on the cross for our sins and rose again (cf. 1 John 5:14-15; Galatians 3:26ff.; Romans 8:14-17; Hebrews 10:19ff.).

Can Jesus answer our prayers without coming visibly into our homes and lives? Yes! He is the Son of God and can just say the word, and it will be done (cf. Genesis 1; Jeremiah 32:17). He is still the Son of God who urges us to pray and promises to answer (cf. Matthew 7:7ff.; 28:20; John 14:8-11,13-14; James 1:5ff.; 4:2ff.).

Does He desire to grant our petitions? Yes, He healed the centurion’s servant (v. 10); and, a few verses later, raised the dead son of a widow woman at Nain even before she asked. God’s Word tells us in Isaiah 65:24: “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”

Dear Lord Jesus, grant us humbleness and faith to trust You for life and salvation and to come to You in prayer, for the sake of Your cross. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Will God judge America?

God does not wish to bring judgment upon America, but He will. God does not wish to condemn anyone to hell, but he will. Why do I say this? Because God Himself says it.

I’ve been reading in Isaiah of late and comparing the burden of the LORD against the nations which were neighbors to Old Testament Israel and Judah and then comparing that to the fulfillment of those prophecies in history. In some cases world powers were overthrown and wiped out in a single night. Nations and kingdoms which were the envy of the civilized world were reduced to rubble and ashes. Again and again, accounts from secular history show the fulfillment of the warnings recorded by the prophets.

And, of course, the warnings of impending judgment for wickedness and pride did not stop with Israel’s surrounding nations and peoples. God warned His own people of the judgment which would come upon them because of their rejection of Him and His Word, for their turning aside into the ways of the world around them. Again, God’s Word was fulfilled. Not only did the neighboring nations harass and threaten God’s people, the Assyrians destroyed Israel and much of Judah and carried away those not killed as captives. And though God spared Jerusalem and Judah from utter destruction under the Assyrians, He sent the Babylonians to conquer and destroy God’s people and carry away a remnant as captives and slaves.

Why? They disobeyed God’s law and rejected His Word. Instead of trusting in the LORD God who gave them the land, they neglected His Word and walked in the ways of the ungodly nations around them. Did God wish to judge and destroy them? No. He warned them repeatedly and called upon them again and again to repent and return unto Him. Did God judge them? Yes, because they rejected Him and lived according to their own morals and values.

God commanded Ezekiel to say to them (33:11): “‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’”

Through Isaiah, God said (1:18-20): “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword’; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

God did not desire to judge and condemn His people. He desired that His people repent and return to Him for mercy and forgiveness and then live in accord with His Word. Why did He then judge? Because, ultimately, the people did not repent and return to Him.

Does God desire to judge America? No, His first and primary desire is that the American people repent and return to Him and the truths of His Word. Will He judge America? Yes. He is a just God who punishes iniquity, transgression and sin (Ex. 20:5; 34:7). How could He not judge America for turning aside from Him and from the Bible and placing trust in our nation’s greatness and military might? How could He overlook the abominations our government protects — the killing of millions of unborn and the perversion of marriage and sexuality? How could He not punish a nation which calls good evil and evil good? Unless America and its people repent, judgment is coming and it may be swift and without mercy!

Does God wish to condemn you or anyone else to hell? The answer, of course, is no. When speaking of God’s delay in judging this world, the apostle Peter wrote: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Did you get that? God is allowing this sinful and evil world to go on a little longer — He suffers it long — because it is not His will that anyone suffer eternal death and punishment in hell but that all repent and look to Him for mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus, who suffered and died for the sins of all and rose again on the third day. God does not desire to judge and condemn you to the fires of hell. He desires that you repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Will God judge and condemn people to hell? If you listen to many of today’s preachers, you might think no one will be condemned and hell will be an empty place. But that’s not what Jesus said. According to Jesus, “He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matt. 25:41). The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that the “Lord Jesus [will be] revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9). Will people be condemned to the fires of hell? Most definitely!

Since God’s first and primary will is for our salvation, He sent His Son to redeem us and He is giving to each of us and to every other human being living in this world opportunity to consider His Word, repent and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and for life everlasting in Christ’s heavenly kingdom. But, yes, if we do not repent and look to the Lord Jesus Christ and His cross for mercy and forgiveness, we will be condemned to the eternal fires of hell!

To quote the words of Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (cf. John 3:18,36).

By Randy Moll, pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rogers. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Upon what do you build your life?

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49

Upon what have you built your life? Is it built upon Jesus Christ and His Word? Or is it built upon some earthly foundation? Jesus told this parable because of those who addressed Him as “Lord” and listened to His teaching but did not do what He taught. They heard Jesus’ words with their ears and called upon Him with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him (cf. Matt. 15:8). They did not trust in Jesus for salvation or seek to live their lives as He commanded.

The first man in Jesus’ parable, the man who dug down deep and laid the foundation of his house upon the rock, is like the one who hears Jesus’ Word and then trusts in Him and His redemptive work for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. As a child of God through faith in Christ’s shed blood, he then seeks to live his life for his Lord and Savior by hearing and doing His Word. When floods of trouble, suffering and persecution come his way, he is not moved because his faith and life are built upon Jesus Christ and His eternal Word.

The second man, who built his house upon the earth without a foundation, is like the man who hears Jesus’ Word and even calls himself a Christian; but he does not trust in Christ alone for forgiveness of sins and eternal life, nor does he truly seek and desire to live in obedience to the Word of God. His life is not built upon Christ, but upon the earth and its vain philosophies. When trouble, suffering or death come his way, his life crumbles because all that his life was built upon washes away.

Upon what have you built your life? Is it built upon Christ and His Word? or upon the unstable sands of this world? If you live your life according to the ways and standards of this world, both you and your works will not stand in God’s judgment. But if you build your life upon Christ and His Word, you will be “as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever” (Psalm 125:1). Hear Christ’s Word and build upon it!

In faith, Lord, let me serve Thee; tho’ persecution, grief, and pain should seek to overwhelm me, let me a steadfast trust retain; and then at my departure take Thou me home to Thee and let me there inherit all Thou hast promised me. In life and death, Lord, keep me until Thy heav’n I gain, where I by Thy great mercy the end of faith attain. Amen. (TLH, Hymn #381, Verse 3)

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]