The Abiding Word of God

2016-10-06-opened-bibleThe Word of God is instrumental in conversion and sanctification. As to our conversion, Peter says you “have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet 1:23). While we may not know all of the Word of God, we at least know what is necessary for salvation when we first believe.

Thereafter, we find that the Word continues to work in us for our sanctification. The author of Hebrews states, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). Our thoughts and intentions are shown to us for better or worse as we internalize the Word of God.

The apostle John speaks of the Word of God abiding within an individual in the midst of statements of being spiritually strong and overcoming Satan: “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:14). It would seem that the Word within an individual plays a part in strengthening him to overcome sin. Perhaps this concept is in David’s words as well: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps 119:11; see also Ps 37:31).

Once we are born again through God’s Word, we are commanded to let it abide or remain within us. In so doing, we abide in God and Christ and have eternal life. Speaking of the Word as what was heard by his readers, John states, “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24; cf. 2:25).

As we obey the command to let God’s Word abide in us (to keep on believing it), we find that, as we pray according to God’s will, our prayers will be answered. Christ states, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).

From this small handful of passages, we see the importance of God’s Word. We are born again through the Word and then grow by increasing in our knowledge and application of the Word thereafter. The Word is also vital to our prayers and spiritual protection. May we truly know it and store it in our hearts so that we might not sin but rather grow in knowledge and grace of God.

Have You Been Anointed by the Spirit?

2016-09-28-hildesheim-germany-673419_1920In contrast to antichrists who deny essential truths about Jesus Christ (1 John 2:18–19; cf.2:22; 4:3; 2 John 7), the readers of 1 John are told, “But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge” (1 John 2:20), literally translated, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.”

That the anointing is from the Holy One is that it is from Jesus Christ. John later states that “the anointing” was something his readers “received from him” (1 John 2:27), the same “him” who whose “coming” is mentioned in 1 John 2:28 (“his coming”), indicating the “him” in 2:27 is Jesus, the One who is coming again (cf. Rev 22:7). Jesus is called the Holy One in other texts as well (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; John 6:69; Acts 2:27; 3:14; Rev 3:7).

The anointing itself is something that “abides in you” and “teaches you about everything” (1 John 2:27). Paul elsewhere states that “God…has anointed us,” which is to say that He “has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor 1:21–22). Paul’s focus is on God’s giving of the Spirit as a seal and guarantee of redemption (cf. Eph 1:13–14; 4:30). John’s focus is Jesus’ giving of the Spirit to an individual to teach him about the gospel in a way that involves the individual’s acceptance of it. (It could be said that either God or Christ anoints―the Father and the Son give the Spirit together. Cf. John 14:26; 15:16.)

What John teaches in 1 John 2:20, 27 about accepting truth is taught by Paul in 1 Cor 2:14–15. Speaking of an unbeliever’s rejection of God’s revealed truth, Paul states, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14). In contrast, the believer does accept God’s truth: “The spiritual person judges all things” (1 Cor 2:15). The unbeliever does not have the Spirit and rejects truth, and the believer does have the Spirit and accepts truth (cf. 1 Cor 2:12–13).

The Spirit’s anointing is not something that imparts truth. The unbelievers in 1 John 2:19 had to have known the objective content of the gospel as did John’s readers; they were once among the readers and eventually left the church (1 John 2:19). Rather, anointing is the Spirit’s work in someone that enables the individual to savingly accept the truth that he already knows. Theologically, this anointing necessarily comes at the point of one’s conversion.

Summarizing the above, every believer is anointed with the Spirit at conversion. This anointing entails the Spirit’s abiding presence, ensuring the believer of his future redemption. As it did first at his conversion, this anointing also helps him to continually learn, understand, and accept the truth of God.

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 7:1–8)

Passage Summary 

After the judgment of the sixth seal, an “interlude” takes place. Four angels protect the earth from further judgment until another angel went about to seal 144,000 Jews (7:1–3), perhaps won to the gospel through the witness of the two prophets (cf. 11:3). These 144,000 would tell the world about Jesus and die as martyrs for their testimony (cf. 12:13, 17; 14:1–5). Each of the twelve tribes listed would have 12,000 men sealed, 144,000 in all (7:5–8). This group was only a portion of those who would be saved during the Tribulation (cf. 7:9–14), and as martyrs, not a part of the third of Israel saved at the end of the Tribulation (cf. Zech 13:1, 8–9).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
7:1 Isa 11:12; Jer 49:36; Ezek 7:2; 37:9; Dan 7:2; Zech 6:5 Whether corners or winds, the idea of totality in geography is dominant.


7:3 Ezek 9:4–6 The mark of God protects His people from judgment.
7:4–8 Ezek 48:31–34 In comparison to 18 other lists in the OT, this one matches in names, though not order.

A Parting Thought

Even in the midst of this age’s conclusive wrath, God will temporarily relieve His judgment in order for tens of thousands of Jews to be saved. In all likelihood, these evangelists would be part of the means whereby the great multitude of the Tribulation would hear the gospel and be saved. Even in wrath, God is a God of mercy!


Biblical Illustrations of Loving the World

2016-09-21-globe-brainWorldliness in 1 John 2:15–17 could be described as valuing what is temporary more than what is eternal. It is living primarily to satisfy the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes. It could also be placing one’s confidence in what this present life offers rather than placing one’s confidence in God (i.e., the pride of life). Scripture gives us some examples of what it is to be tempted with or engage in worldliness.

First, Eve was tempted with the desires of her flesh―she “saw that the tree was good for food” (Gen 3:6). She was also tempted with the desires of her eyes―she “saw…that it was a delight to the eyes” (Gen 3:6). She was similarly tempted with the pride of life―she knew that eating from the tree would “make one wise” (Gen 3:6) in that she would “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5). Unfortunately, true likeness to God was not to be found, and it was by evil that she came to experience its difference from what is good. She valued food, what her eyes saw, and possessing God-like qualities in the present rather than doing God’s will and abiding with Him forever.

Likewise, Jesus was tempted by the desires of His flesh―He was tempted to turn stones into bread to feed His bodily hunger at the command of Satan and not His heavenly Father (Matt 4:3–4). He was also tempted by the desires of His eyes―He was shown “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” and tempted to act upon the desire rule over all that He saw (Matt 4:8). Finally, Jesus was tempted with the pride of life―He was tempted to throw Himself from the temple and thus force His Father to protect Him with angels, implying He could force the Father to do what He as the Son desired (Matt 4:9–10). Jesus resisted and overcame the temptation to value food, what He saw, and (theoretically) being more powerful than the Father. Instead, in each instance, He valued doing the Father’s will so that He could abide with Him forever.

Perhaps another illustration could be the rich fool in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 12:13–21. The occasion for Jesus to tell the parable was in response to what we can assume a man saw, provoking the desires of his eyes―an inheritance that his brother would not divide with him (Luke 12:13). Jesus then told him about a rich fool who valued his abundant goods because they would allow him to “relax, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). The rich fool’s pride of life was evident in his confidence in his possessions, and he anticipated how they would also fulfill the desires of his flesh. Unfortunately, after reflecting upon his riches in this way, he was shown to be a fool for giving no thought to the brevity of life and preparing for the life to come―he died that night, leaving his possessions to others (Luke 12:20). The man without an inheritance likewise had a misplaced confidence in his brother’s possessions and assumed they would bring him satisfaction. Moreover, he saw Jesus as his means to an earthly end rather than following Him and thus doing the will of the Father. What Jesus said of the rich fool was true of the man without an inheritance: “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

Rather than seeking to satisfy our earthly desires, let us be heavenly minded and order our lives around what is eternal. Let us not treasure this present world but do the will of the Father so we may find ourselves rich towards Him!

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 6:9–17)

Passage Summary

 The breaking of the fifth seal brings about a call from martyrs to God to avenge the persecutors who killed them (6:9–10). Given robes and told to rest, their number would increase for a time until judgment came their killers in full (6:11). The breaking of the sixth seal brings about previously prophesied cosmic and astronomical phenomena (6:12–14), sending those who dwell on the earth into caves, fearful of the wrath of the Father and the Lamb (6:15–17).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
6:12 Isa 50:3 The heavens will become black.
6:13 Isa 34:4 The stars shall fall.
6:14 Isa 34:4; Nah 1:5 The skies will be rolled up as a scroll.
6:15 Ps 48:4–6; Isa 34:12 Those of high rank cannot escape God’s judgment.
6:16 Isa 2:10–12, 19; Hos 10:8 Mankind hides in caves to escape God’s judgment.
6:17 Ps 76:7; Jer 30:7; Nah 1:6; Zeph 1:14–18; Mal 3:2 The eschatological wrath of God will come, and the rhetorical question indicates that no one can withstand it once it has begun. Cf. also Isa 13:10-13; 24:1–6, 19–23; Ezek 32:6–8; Joel 2:10–11, 30–31; 3:15-16; Jer 4:23–28; Amos 8:8–9.

A Parting Thought 

There is no mistaking when this judgment begins―all will see what happens on the earth and in the heavens. There are also no exceptions to who shall suffer. And yet, the promise of martyrs to come thereafter means that some would yet be saved. While God is gracious to save some during this time, be ready and persevere so that you can know its coming is not for you (cf. Rev 3:10–11)!


What Does It Mean to Love the World?

2016-09-21-planet_love1 John 2:15–17 commands us to love neither the world nor the things in it, such as the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life. To have these desires or this pride would characterize one as being of the world or worldly by virtue of loving the world and what is in it. What are these two desires, and what is this pride?

The Desires of the Flesh
John uses the word flesh (sarkos) 23 times in 18 verses. Flesh can simply refer to the physical component of a person or animal (John 1:13, 14; 3:6; 6:63; 8:15; 17:2; Rev 17:16; 19:18, 5x; 19:21). John’s use of flesh also refers to the physical body of Jesus, which shows that the term does not inherently involve the aspect of sin (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7; cf. John 6:51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56).

This being said, the desires of the flesh in 1 John 2:16 are not necessarily evil, but, insomuch as they are of this world, they are only temporary and shall pass away along with the world itself (cf. 1 John 2:16–17).1 We become worldly when our love is not for God but for satisfying these desires for flesh. One could satisfy the desires of his flesh with no thought to God, satisfy his natural desires with too much of a good thing and thus have inordinate desires, or simply satisfy his fleshly desires in sinful ways. In each scenario, his love is for the world and how the world can satisfy the desires of his flesh instead of loving God and seeking to do His will (cf. 1 John 2:17).

The Desires of the Eyes

Similarly, the desires of the eyes in 1 John 2:16 are desires for what is seen in this world, visible things which will pass away. To see and desire something in a way that opposes the will of God is to love and yearn for what is visibly seen and value it more than doing the will of God and having a greater value for Him, His will, and thus the life to come (cf. 1 John 2:17).

The Pride of Life

The pride of life can be understood by seeing its unique terms used elsewhere. The term for pride (alazoneia) is used only twice in the NT and refers elsewhere to the arrogance of the boasting of those who make plans with no thought to God (James 4:16; cf. 4:13–17). The term for life (bios) is used only twice by John and has to do with one’s earthly goods as opposed to the animating principle of one’s being. The same word is used to speak of the world’s goods that one should give to those in need in 1 John 3:17.

The pride of life, then, could be described as an arrogant pride that one places in one’s possessions or overall situation in this present life. It is a satisfaction in temporary possessions and the benefits they afford instead of satisfaction in knowing, loving, and obeying God (cf. 1 John 2:17).

Noting John’s words above, John would call someone worldly if he loved the things of this world more than doing the will of the Father. May we be careful to identify as worldly that which is truly worldly and not only that which is obviously sinful.

  1. Karen H. Jobes, 1, 2, 3 John (Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 112–13. 

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 6:1–8)

Passage Summary

When the Lamb breaks each of the first four seals, the four living creatures take turns to command a horse and its rider to “Come!” (6:1–8). The first is a white horse whose rider has a crown and a bow, likely symbolizing the Antichrist who rises to power in the first half of the Tribulation (6:1–2). The second is a red horse whose rider has a sword, symbolizing the war that plagues this earth in this time (6:3–4). The third is a black horse whose rider has scales in his hand, symbolizing how food would be carefully weighed due to its scarcity from famine (6:5). The voice of the Father or Lamb tempered the severity of the famine so that a day’s worth of wages could win a day’s worth of food (6:6). That the oil and wine would remain unharmed may symbolize that better food was still available to some (6:6). The fourth is a corpse-colored horse whose rider is named Death, followed by Hades (perhaps a second rider), symbolizing what is immediately explained thereafter, that a fourth of the earth’s population would die by war, famine, disease, or wild beasts (6:7–8).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
6:2, 4, 5 Zech 1:8–9; 6:2–3 John and Zechariah have visions that involve four horses of various colors. Common colors are red, white, and black.
6:8 Jer 15:2–3; 24:10; 29:17; Ezek 14:19–21 John echoes Jeremiah’s prophecies of pestilence, the sword, and famine, as well as Ezekiel prophecy of wild beasts.
6:8 Hos 13:14 Death takes one to Sheol (OT) or Hades (NT), the realm of the dead.

A Parting Thought

What a miserable time it shall be for those who suffer the wrath of the Father and the Lamb at the end of this age! Thank God for what Christ through the Spirit promised to the churches: “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth” (Rev 3:10).


Do You Spend Daily Time with the Lord?

A simple question for a simple post today, but the difficulty is in the doing of it, is it not?

Jesus regularly arose early in the morning to pray (e.g., Mark 1:35). The blessed man finds that “but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps 1:2; cf. 1:1). Daniel prayed three times a day (Dan 6:10).

Do you regularly take time each day to spend time with the Lord in Bible study and prayer? A look at the examples above and other passages in Scripture offers us some practical suggestions on how we can spend time with the Lord.

First, set a regular time (or times) to study and pray. Whether in the morning, evening, in the middle of the day, or some combination of the above, discipline yourself to keep this time each day.

Second, no one is too busy to spend time with the Lord. Jesus was busier than we can imagine. Daniel had great responsibility in Babylon. Whatever their responsibilities were, they knew how to set them aside to spend time with the Father.

Third, there was a great desire for this time. The psalmist delighted in God’s law and thus sought to meditate upon it multiple times in the day. Daniel prayed three times a day, even when faced with death as a consequence. Jesus could have simply filled His time with healings, but He prioritized time with the Father.

Fourth, have a regular place you go each day to spend time with the Lord. Daniel went to the upper chamber where there were windows. Jesus got away from everyone else. Whether it is at your table or in your easy chair, let the location be part of your habit.

Fifth, get rid of any distractions. Silence the smartphone, turn off the radio, and check your email later. A location that allows for thoughtful time with the Lord is helpful along these lines.

These are just a handful of suggestions to which many more could be added. If you don’t spend time with the Lord, there is only so much that you will be able to “grow in grace and the in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18).  But if you were to put your mind to intentionally doing so as a habitual time each day, you could grow all the more.

Grow in grace and knowledge by spending time with the Lord!

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 5:9–14)

Passage Summary

Responding to the Lamb’s taking the scroll, the four creatures and twenty-four elders (cf. 5:8) sing a new song to ascribe worth to the Lamb for having ransomed a people with His blood (5:9). A diverse people, they are a kingdom of priests to God to reign upon the earth (5:9–10). Innumerable angels join the four and twenty-four and claim the Lamb worthy for all that is His to exercise and enjoy for having been slain (5:11–12). All creatures left in creation join these two groups, ascribing blessing, honor, glory, and might to the Enthroned and the Lamb (5:13). The elders “amen” and fall to worship before the judgment begins (5:14).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
5:9 Ps 40:3; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa 42:10 The psalmists and Isaiah exhort or example singing a new song to the Lord.
5:9 Dan 5:19 The various peoples God gave to Nebuchadnezzar are parallel in diversity to those ransomed by Christ to be a kingdom.
5:10 Exod 19:6; Isa 61:6; Dan 7:22b, 27a As Israel was characterized by its priesthood, so also the church shall reign with its entire constituency being a priesthood.
5:11 Dan 7:10 Each throne scene enjoys the presence of innumerable heavenly beings.
5:12 Chr 29:11–12; Dan 2:20 Blessing, wisdom, might, and glory are ascribed to the Recipient forever and ever.
5:13 Exod 20:11; Neh 9:6; Ps 146:6 Whatever creatures God created anywhere―all worship Him and will praise the Lamb.

 A Parting Thought

The great crescendo of voices and its confirming “Amen” brings a sobering worship of the Father and Son who soon are seen in wrath. What God has created would soon be seen by John to be ruled in full. Let us likewise praise God for His creation, rule, and judgment and anticipate the fullness of His kingdom to come!


Moses, Reproach, and Suffering for Christ

2016-09-07-moses_and_pharaoh_5608036782What does it mean that Moses “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb 11:26)? Did Moses understand who Christ was and thus knowledgeably suffer His reproach? Or does “the reproach of Christ” mean something else? Consider three options below suggested by others.

First, and dodging these questions altogether, some see this passage as being translated to refer not Christ but to Israel as God’s “anointed.” This translation and interpretation is similar to how the psalmist refers to Israel as “your anointed” in Ps 89:51. Thus, Moses takes the reproach of the nation upon himself as God uses him to rescue Israel from Egypt. Christ is not in view in this translation or interpretation.

Second, following the standard translation (Christ, not Israel as the “anointed” people), some see Moses as being cognizant of Christ and knowledgeably suffering His reproach in Egypt. Since Christ was the rock in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4), Moses would have known of Him then and chose to take on His reproach instead of enjoying what Egypt could offer. This choice would be similar to how Paul thought of his gain as something to be “counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Phil 3:7).

Third, some see Moses as being described in terms of the readers for the sake of encouraging the readers to persevere by faith like Moses. In this sense, just as the readers suffered reproach for Christ, so also Moses suffered a similar kind of reproach. How much Moses understood about Christ is not directly in view. Because the author of Hebrews speaks of reproach in this way elsewhere (cf. Heb 10:32–33; 13:13), this interpretation is most likely.

To clarify, Moses did know quite a bit about Christ. For example, Moses’ writings indicate he knew the Seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15) and that He would come from Israel (Num 24:17) and specifically from Judah’s tribe (Gen 49:10). His coming was future (Num 24:17), and He would be the greater Prophet to come (Deut 18:15–18).

What is not likely is that he understood Christ as well as the NT authors (cf. 1 Pet 1:10–12). It could at least be said that many things recorded by Moses certainly provide the background for understanding Christ better today: 1) the blessings of Abraham are through Christ (Gen 12:1–3, 7; 22:18; Gal 3:1); 2) Christ is a priest like Melchizedek (Gen 14; Heb 7); 3) Jesus is God the Son who was also the I AM who spoke to Moses (Exod 3:15; John 8:58); 4) Jesus is our Passover (Exod 12; 1 Cor 5:7); 5) Jesus is our great High Priest who atoned for our sins (Lev 17; Heb 8–10).