"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS" Their Faith, Love, And Hope (1:2-3) by Mark Copeland


                  Their Faith, Love, And Hope (1:2-3)


1. As noted in our previous study, the beginning of the church in
   Thessalonica is recorded by Luke in Ac 17:1-10...
   a. On his second missionary journey, Paul and his companions had 
      just left Philippi
   b. Traveling through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they arrived at 
   c. Paul immediately located the synagogue and used their Sabbath 
      gathering as an opportunity for evangelism
   d. For three weeks he reasoned with the Jews, converting some and a 
      number of prominent Gentiles
   e. But unbelieving Jews soon caused a disturbance, forcing Paul to 

2. We also noted that the epistle commonly called 1st Thessalonians...
   a. Was written not long after Paul had left Thessalonica
   b. Probably from Corinth, sometime during 50-52 A.D.

3. What was the church in Thessalonica like?
   a. Without Paul, did the young church survive?
   b. Had persecution discouraged the new converts?
   -- These were some of the concerns that prompted Paul to send 
      Timothy - cf. 1Th 3:1-6

[Timothy brought back news that was certainly encouraging, and in
Paul's opening remarks in this epistle we learn about "Their Faith,
Love, And Hope."  First we notice that Paul is thankful to God for...]


      1. In other words, a faith that was alive! - cf. Jm 2:20,26
      2. Their faith was likely centered in the person of Jesus Christ 
         - cf. Col 1:4
      3. It was likely prompted by love - cf. Ga 5:6; Jn 14:15
      -- In his second letter to them, Paul would remark about how 
         their faith continued to grow exceedingly - 2Th 1:3

      1. Is our faith a living faith?
         a. A faith manifesting itself in obedience to the word of God?
         b. Or are we like some who believe, but do not obey Jesus?
            1) Such as some of the Jewish rulers who believed in Jesus
               - Jn 12:42,43
            2) Such as the demons who believe, but only tremble - Jm 2:19
      2. Is our faith strongly centered in Jesus Christ?
         a. A faith produced by the word of God? - cf. Ro 10:17
         b. A faith that leads to life in Jesus Christ? - cf. Jn 20:
      -- If our faith is like that of the Thessalonians, then it too 
         will "grow exceedingly", evidenced by our faithful service to 
         the Lord!

[Paul was also thankful to hear of...]


      1. A love that was not in word only, but in deed and truth! - cf.
         1Jn 3:18
      2. Their love was likely directed toward their brethren in Christ
         - cf. Col 1:4
      3. Paul would later commend their brotherly love - 1Th 4:9-10
      -- In his second letter, Paul would remark about how their love 
         continued to "abound" - 2Th 1:3

      1. Is our love in word or tongue only, or in deed and truth?
         a. Do we "walk the walk"?
         b. Or do we just "talk the talk"?
      2. Is our love directed toward our brethren in Christ?
         a. Which is a mark of true discipleship - Jn 13:34-35
         b. Which is an indication of spiritual life - 1Jn 3:14,18-19
      -- If our love is like that of the Thessalonians, then it too 
         will "abound", evidenced by serving one another in love - cf.
         Ga 5:13

[Finally, we note Paul's gratitude for...]


      1. A strong hope is that which gives one patience - cf. Ro 8:25
      2. Their hope was likely focused on what was laid up for them in 
         heaven - cf. Col 1:5
      3. Peter referred to this hope as an inheritance "incorruptible 
         and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven 
         for you" - 1Pe 1:3-4
      -- Paul would later encourage them to wear this "hope" as a 
         helmet - 1Th 5:8

      1. Do we have a strong hope?
         a. A hope that comes from reading the Scriptures? - Ro 15:4
         b. A hope that spurs us to be diligent, living holy and godly 
            lives? - cf. 2Pe 3:10-14
         c. A hope that prompts people to wonder why we have it? - cf. 
            1Pe 3:15
      2. Is our hope focused our "inheritance" laid up for us in 
         a. That city whose builder and maker is God? - He 11:10,16; 
         b. The new heavens and new earth, in which righteousness 
            dwells? - 2Pe 3:13
         c. Which is beautifully described by John? - Re 21:1-7
      -- If our hope is like that of the Thessalonians, then we too 
         shall let it be a "helmet" protecting our minds from the 
         distractions of this world which is passing away! 
         - cf. 1Jn 2:17


1. This "triad" of faith, love, and hope is a common refrain of Paul...
   a. He wrote of them in his epistle to the Colossians - Col 1:4-5
   b. Also in his first epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 13:13
   -- But he likely first wrote of them in this epistle to the 

2. While they do not constitute all the graces to be found in 
   Christians (cf. Ga 5:22-23; 2Pe 1:5-8)...
   a. They certainly are among the most important - 1Co 13:13; Col 3:14
   b. Where found, the others will likely follow

May the remarkable faith, love and hope of the church of the
Thessalonians, who were but recent converts, inspire us to grow in our
own faith in Christ, our love for the brethren, and our hope for the
inheritance reserved in heaven!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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“The First Day of the Week” by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


“The First Day of the Week”

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

All four gospel accounts reveal how Jesus rose (and His tomb was found empty) “on the first day of the week” (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1; cf. 20:19). Years later, Paul wrote to the Corinthian church commanding them to make regular contributions “on the first day of the week” (1 Corinthians 16:2; or “on the first day of every week”—NASB, NIV, RSV). Luke recorded in the book of Acts how Paul, while on his third missionary journey, assembled with the Christians in Troas “on the first day of the week” (20:7). The phrase “the first day of the week” appears eight times in the most widely used English translations of the New Testament. Based on this reading of the text, along with various supplemental passages (e.g., Revelation 1:10), Christians assemble to worship God on Sunday. Upon looking at the Greek text, however, some have questioned the integrity of the translation “the first day of the week,” wondering if a better wording would be “the Sabbath day.”
Admittedly, a form of the Greek word for sabbath (sabbaton or sabbatou) does appear in each of the eight passages translated “first day of the week.” For example, in Acts 20:7 this phrase is translated from the Greek mia ton sabbaton. However, sabbaton (or sabbatou) is never translated as “the Sabbath day” in these passages. Why? Because the word is used in these contexts (as Greek scholars overwhelmingly agree) to denote a “week” (Perschbacher, 1990, p. 364), “a period of seven days” (Danker, et al., 2000, p. 910; cf. Thayer, 1962, p. 566). Jesus once used the term “Sabbath” in this sense while teaching about the sinfulness of self-righteousness (Luke 18:9). He told a parable of the sanctimonious Pharisee who prayed: “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess” (18:11-12, emp. added). The phrase “twice a week” comes from the Greek dis tou sabbatou. Obviously Jesus was not saying that the Pharisee boasted of fasting twice on the Sabbath day, but twice (dis) a week (tou sabbatou).
According to R.C.H. Lenski, since “[t]he Jews had no names for the weekdays,” they “designated them with reference to their Sabbath” (1943, p. 1148). Thus, mia ton sabbaton means “the first (day) with reference to the Sabbath,” i.e., the first (day) following the Sabbath (Lenski, p. 1148), or, as we would say in 21st century English, “the first day of the week.”
After spending years examining Jewish writings in the Babylonian Talmud, Hebraist John Lightfoot wrote A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, in which he expounded upon the Hebrew method of counting the days of the week. He noted: “The Jews reckon the days of the week thus; One day (or the first day) of the sabbath: two (or the second day) of the sabbath;” etc. (1859, 2:375, emp. in orig.). Lightfoot then quoted from two different Talmud tractates. Maccoth alludes to those who testify on “the first of the sabbath” about an individual who stole an ox. Judgment was then passed the following day—“on the second day of the sabbath” (Lightfoot, 2:375, emp. in orig.; Maccoth, Chapter 1). Bava Kama describes ten enactments ordained by a man named Ezra, including the public reading of the law “on the second and fifth days of the sabbath,” and the washing of clothes “on the fifth day of the sabbath” (Lightfoot, 2:375; Bava Kama, Chapter 7). In Michael Rodkinson’s 1918 translation of Maccoth and Bava Kama, he accurately translated “the second day of the sabbath” as Monday, “the fifth day of the sabbath” as Thursday, and “the first of the sabbath” as Sunday.
If the word sabbaton in passages such as Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, and Acts 20:7 actually denoted “the Sabbath day,” rather than “a period of seven days,” one would expect some of the foremost Bible translations to translate it thusly. Every major English translation of the Bible, however, translates mia ton sabbaton as “the first day of the week.” Why? Because scholars are aware of the Jewish method of counting the days of the week by using the Sabbath as a reference point.
Finally, consider the difficulty that would arise with Jesus’ resurrection story if sabbaton was translated Sabbath. “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first Sabbath (sabbaton), they came to the tomb when the sun had risen” (emp. added). Such a rending of sabbaton in Mark 16:2 would be nonsensical. The Sabbath was over, and the mia ton sabbaton (“first day of the week”) had begun. The passage is understood properly only when one recognizes the Jewish method of reckoning weekdays.
Just as second century apologists Justin Martyr (ca. A.D. 150) spoke of Jesus as rising from the dead “on the first day after the Sabbath” (Dialogue..., 41), and equated this day with “Sunday” (“First Apology,” 67), so should 21st century Christians. That Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week” (Mark 16:9), and that Christians gathered to worship on this day (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; cf. Justin Martyr, “First Apology,” 67), is an established fact. Sunday is the first day after the Jewish Sabbath—the “first day of the week.”


Danker, Frederick William, William Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich, (2000), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Justin Martyr, (1973 reprint), Dialogue with Trypho, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Justin Martyr (1973 reprint), First Apology, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1943), The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Lightfoot, John (1979 reprint), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Perschbacher, Wesley J., ed. (1990), The New Analytical Greek Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Rodkinson, Michael, trans. (1918), The Babylonian Talmud, [On-line], URL: http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/talmud.htm#t06.
Thayer, Joseph (1962 reprint), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

“Our God is a Consuming Fire” by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


“Our God is a Consuming Fire”

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In an effort to bolster the idea that the punishment of the wicked in the afterlife will be annihilation, proponents of annihilationism frequently have focused on the biblical terms “consume” and “consuming.” Since the Bible does indeed say that “our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29), and since the words “consume” and “consuming” can, and sometimes do, refer to the annihilation of physical matter, then many annihilationists have asserted that God will annihilate the souls of wicked humans. Homer Hailey, in his posthumously published book, God’s Judgements and Punishments, has an entire chapter titled “Our God—A Consuming Fire.” In that chapter, he deals almost entirely with the Old Testament usage of the terms “consume” and “consuming.” Concerning these terms, he remarked:
The word needing a clear definition is “consume” or “consuming.” The English word is translated from so many Hebrew words, and the Hebrew words are translated by so many English words, that it is difficult to find a precise definition for “consume.” It is best therefore to learn its meaning from usage and examples (2003, p. 136).
Hailey then proceeded to the burning bush passage, in which Moses approached the bush that “burned with fire” but “was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2). Hailey concluded: “In this instance, ‘consumed’ meant ‘burned up’ ” (p. 136). He then cited an example of a burnt offering being “consumed” on the altar (Leviticus 9:23-24) as evidence to suggest that “consumed” means to burn up.
After listing these non-human subjects of consumption, Hailey listed several Old Testament examples in which sinful humans are said to have been “consumed”: “Let sinners be consumed out of the earth. And let the wicked be no more” (Psalm 104:35); “But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of Jehovah shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; in smoke shall they consume away” (Psalm 37: 20). Hailey also listed the rebellion of Korah, where God told Moses and Aaron to get away from the rebels “that I may consume them in a moment” (Numbers 16:21). And later in the same context, God sent a plague among the people in which God made the same comment about consuming them as He did concerning the rebels in verse 21.
When it came time to summarize his chapter, Hailey placed two columns at the top of the final page, one titled “What is Said,” and the other titled “What is Not Said.” In the “What is Said” column, he listed Hebrews 12:29, Numbers 16 and Deuteronomy 4:24. Then he listed the “means of consuming,” and recorded the Earth swallowing the rebels with Korah, the plague, and fire arriving from heaven. In the “What is Not Said” column, the entire text under the column is one line that reads: “That they all burn forever” (p. 139). He obviously was attempting to lead the reader to conclude that consume and consuming must mean annihilation.
Is it correct to understand that the biblical use of the words “consume” and “consuming” must entail that the souls of the wicked will be annihilated? Simply put, no. First, in order to conclude that the words imply annihilation, Hailey provided examples like the burning bush and the burning of an offering that do refer to the item being consumed—burned up completely. Conspicuously missing, however, are those examples in which the item that is consumed is not burned up completely. The Hebrew words translated “to consume” can mean any number of things, including: “to eat, devour, slay, to be wasted, to be destroyed, to feed, exterminate, to cause to cease, be accomplished, and exhaust, among others” (see “Akal,” 1999; “Kalah,” 1999). Are there examples in which the terms “consume” and “consuming” do not insinuate total incineration? Certainly. For instance, in Jeremiah 14, the Lord commented that He by no means would accept the idolatrous Israelites, and then stated: “But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence” (14:12). Would their being consumed necessitate that their bodies would be completely burned into nonexistence? The text answered that question when it stated that the bodies of those consumed would “be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; they will have no one to bury them” (14:12). The consuming taking place in Jeremiah obviously did not entail a complete burning up, but instead a punishment of physical death in which the bodies of those who were consumed would still remain for some time to decay in the open streets.
Again, in Genesis 31:15, Rachel and Leah, in their discussion of their father’s behavior, commented: “Are we not considered strangers by him? For he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money.” Did they mean to say that their money had been burned and annihilated into nonexistence? No. Rather, it had been spent or wasted, and thus no longer was of use to them.
Genesis 31:40 serves as a final example of the various ways the word “consumed” can be used. In this text, Jacob describes the hardships he endured during his tenure with Laban.
In that discussion, Jacob stated: “There I was! In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes.” Was Jacob completely burned up or annihilated during the day? Not in any sense. Interestingly, the same Hebrew word is used in Genesis 31:40 that is used in Deuteronomy 4:24—which was cited by Hailey, and from which his Hebrews 12:29 quote is taken. It is evident, then, that the words “consume” and “consuming” do not necessarily connote complete annihilation, but can, and often do, make reference to a state of waste and ruin, or, as in Jacob’s case, pain, suffering and hardship.
It also is interesting to note that, among the examples given by Hailey that supposedly imply the annihilation of those things (or people) which were consumed, are the individuals who were consumed in the rebellion of Korah in Numbers 16. Yet in the New Testament, Jude offered divinely inspired commentary on certain sinful individuals, stating: “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah” (vs. 11). Jude further commented that these sinners were “raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (vs. 13). Therefore, these sinners had “perished in the rebellion of Korah,” and yet their souls were not completely consumed or annihilated, but had a reservation in a place where there was “blackness of darkness forever.” From the New Testament commentary offered by Jude, it is evident that those consumed in the rebellion of Korah did not go out of existence altogether, but that their physical lives were ended and their souls awaited a punishment in darkness forever.
Once again, an appeal to incomplete word studies in an attempt to force the idea of annihilationism on the biblical text is speculative and unfounded, to say the least. The overwhelming evidence of Scripture explicitly states and implicitly teaches that the souls of the wicked will be punished in the fires of hell forever—without respite.


Akal: 398” (1999), Logos Library System: Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Logos Research Systems: Bellingham, WA).
Hailey, Homer (2003), God’s Judgements & Punishments (Las Vegas, NV: Nevada Publications).
Kalahl: 3615” (1999), Logos Library System: Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Logos Research Systems: Bellingham, WA).

“Jesus Didn’t Condemn Homosexuality” by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


“Jesus Didn’t Condemn Homosexuality”

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

By and large, the American culture is aggressively promoting the sinful lifestyle of homosexuality. In the midst of such pressure, many people who call themselves Christians are caving in and accepting this perverted lifestyle in spite of God’s clear teachings against it (Butt, 2003). Just recently, the country singer Carrie Underwood stated that her Christian faith led her to support gay marriage (Nilles, 2012). In truth, the life and teachings of Jesus Christ could never be accurately understood to lead a person to conclude that homosexual marriage is moral (Miller and Harrub, 2004).
One of the most common arguments made in support of homosexuality is that Jesus Christ did not explicitly condemn the practice. Supposedly, since Jesus never stated specifically: “Homosexuality is a sin,” then His failure to denounce the lifestyle can be interpreted to mean that He approved of it. This reasoning is riddled with error.
First, Jesus explained to His followers that He did not have time to teach them everything they needed to know. He told them that the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance all that He had taught, and would include additional teaching that He had not had time to cover. He told His disciples: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12-13). When we look to the inspired writings of the New Testament, we see the authors boldly and specifically condemning the practice based on the revelation they received from the Holy Spirit (Miller and Harrub, 2004). Thus, it is wrong to suggest that only the “words in red” are Jesus’ teachings. On the contrary, He foretold that more teaching would be done after His return to heaven due to the fact that the apostles “could not bear” all of it at the time.
Second, even if Jesus did not explicitly condemn the practice (though He actually did, as will be noted later), that certainly could not be used as evidence that He condoned the practice. For instance, where does Jesus explicitly state that bestiality is wrong? Where in the New Testament does Jesus state that polygamy is wrong? Where are the “words in red” that specifically condemn pedophilia? Are we to suppose that the Son of God condoned using crystal meth because there is not an explicit statement from Jesus’ mouth that says “do not smoke crystal meth?” The idea that silence from Jesus on a subject means He approved of or condoned the practice cannot be substantiated.
Finally, it must be considered that Jesus did, in fact, speak against homosexuality. On numerous occasions, Jesus condemned the sins of adultery (Matthew 19:18), sexual immorality (Matthew 19:9) and fornication (Matthew 15:19). These terms describe any type of sexual intercourse that is not within the confines of a marriage ordained by God. Jesus then proceeded to define exactly what God views as a morally permissible marriage. He stated:
Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:4-6).
By defining marriage as between one male and one female, Jesus effectively condemned all other arrangements, including but not limited to one man and two women, one woman and two men, three men and one woman, three men and three women, one man and one man, one woman and one animal, etc. You can see the overwhelming logic of such. For Jesus to have to explicitly condemn every assortment of genders and numbers would be absurd. When He defined marriage between one man and one woman, He clearly showed that such an arrangement is the only one authorized by God.
Several years ago a man named Cory Moore “legally married his 2004 Cherry ES-335” Gibson guitar (“Man Marries Guitar,” 2007). He said: “The day I got her, I just knew she was the one…. I know it seems weird, but I really love her—like, really love her, with all my heart. I just wanted to make it official” (2007). Are we to conclude that because Jesus never specifically condemned a man marrying his guitar then the Son of God approved of such? To ask is to answer. In 2006, 41-year-old Sharon Tendler married a dolphin (“Woman Marries Dolphin,” 2006). Jesus never said one word explicitly about refraining from marrying a dolphin. Does that mean His “silence” should be viewed as approval? Not in any way.
Homosexuality is a sin. It always has been, and it always will be. The inspired New Testament writers repeatedly teach that to be the case. Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit would bring to the inspired writers information that they could not handle at the time of His departing. In addition, Jesus did explicitly define marriage as being between one man and one woman. The ruse to suggest that Jesus approves of homosexuality because He never expressly condemned it cannot be sustained logically, nor can it be defended on any type of moral grounds. The person who presumes to claim to be a Christian, and yet supports homosexuality, misunderstands the teachings of Christ and needs to repent and stop approving of a perverted, destructive practice that Jesus condemns (Matthew 19:1-9).


Butt, Kyle (2003), “Homosexuality—Sin, or Cultural Bad Habit?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=7&article=1239.
“Man Marries Guitar” (2007), http://www.messandnoise.com/discussions/865688.
Miller, Dave and Brad Harrub (2004), “An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=557.
Nilles, Billy (2012), “Carrie Underwood Reveals She Supports Gay Marriage,” http://www.hollywoodlife.com/2012/06/11/carrie-underwood-supports-gay-marriage-christian/.
“Woman Marries Dolphin” (2006), http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/woman-marries-dolphin/2006/01/01/1136050339590.html.

“I, Not the Lord, Say...” by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


“I, Not the Lord, Say...”

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.


What did the apostle Paul mean by the statement, “But to the rest I, not the Lord, say...” (1 Corinthians 7:12)? Does this phrase indicate that what Paul subsequently wrote was uninspired?


Considering how many times Paul claimed to write and preach by inspiration of God, it is irresponsible to conclude that he was denying inspiration when addressing marriages between Christians and non-Christians (1 Corinthians 7:12-16). Earlier in this letter, Paul noted that while in Corinth, his preaching was “not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (2:4-5). Paul contrasted human wisdom with the wisdom and power of God, and declared that he had the latter. Later, in this same epistle, Paul wrote: “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (14:37, emp. added; cf. 7:40). Paul also claimed inspiration in his other epistles (Galatians 1:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:8,15). Even Peter alluded to Paul’s writings as being a part of Scripture, and thus inspired (2 Peter 3:15-16).
When Paul wrote that he (rather than the Lord) was addressing a particular marriage relationship, he did not mean that he was speaking without authority from God. He simply meant that he was making application of marital truths that the Lord did not specifically expound upon while on Earth. Jesus most certainly was the Master Teacher (cf. Matthew 7:28-29; John 7:46), but He obviously did not specifically address every subject under the Sun. Thankfully, through His inspired apostles and prophets, more specific truths and applications eventually were revealed. Christians have every reason to believe that such truths originated with “the Spirit of truth,” Who guided Paul and the rest of the Bible writers “into all truth” (John 16:13).

Seek First The Kingdom of Heaven by Alfred Shannon, Jr.

Seek First The Kingdom of Heaven


Riches turn to rust, nations crumble and fall, and the earth will be burned up. Don’t waste your time trying to make the world a better place to live. Spend your precious time trying to live in a place better than this world. Jesus didn’t come to this earth to save nations, or even the planet, but those who love him enough to serve Him. The creation belongs to God, but ours is to seek first the kingdom of heaven, and to seek, and save the lost.
Jam 5:1-3; Mt 24:35; 2 Pet 3:10-14; Jn 15:13,14; Isa 66:1; Mt 5:34,35; Job 12:10; Hag 2:8; Mt 6:33; Lk 19:10; 2 Cor 4:3; 2 Tim 4:2-5

A Lesson From A Humble Ant by Ben Fronczek


A Lesson From A Humble Ant

Sermon on the Mount – Part 1 (By Ben Fronczek)
Once upon a time out in a southern prairie, there was this huge colony of ants. In a somewhat isolate place their colony flourished for generations. They had been there so long and worked on their nest for so such a long time that there was a six foot tall mound of dirt on top of the ground and hundreds of feet of caves below. Now whether you realize it or not, most of the eggs that are laid by the queens grow up to become wingless, sterile females who are the “workers”. But every now and then a male comes along. In this particular nest a young male was born, and he was one good looking ant, (at least a lot of the other ants told him that he was). Even though he was small he was strong and was able to do his job quite well, and very fast. Seeing that he was so strong and moved quick, it was decide that he would be sent out of the nest to gather food.  As usual, he did this job very well, and gathered more food than any of the other ants. The other ants also notices that he was a fairly smart ant, and quite wise.
Eventually he thought that he deserved more recognition, he was strong, good looking, he did his job well, so he thought he deserved more.  He went to the foreman ant and demanded better lodging, and a higher position. But the foreman could not do anything for him and told him that he had to speak to someone higher up. So during his free time that ant went from the manager to the supervisor, to the boss, and even to the big boss ant and basically they all told him the same thing, ‘that they never had anyone make such a request and that they could do nothing about what he wanted.  He would have to go to someone higher up’.  So eventually, he made his mind up to go right to the top, he would seek an audience with the queen.  And why not, he was a good looking, hard working, and a somewhat intelligent ant.  Shouldn’t he deserve more?
Well the day finally came, his audience with the queen, his mother. Well, she was actually the mother of all the ants. Mother of thousands upon thousands of ants in that colony. She was very old, and wise, and she was so much larger than the little male ant. She looked like a giant compared to him, and she seem very busy. As the little male ant stated his case before the queen he almost felt that the queen was just too busy, ready to lay even more eggs. She said, “Yes I see that you are a handsome little things, and I heard that you have done very well at your job of collecting food for the colony, and now you say you want something more. Oh my, I’ve never had any other ant ask for more, a promotion per say. All of us ant are born with a
job to do and we simply do it, including me. My job is to bring more and more of you into the world and lay more and more eggs”.
She told him, “I think you need to talk to someone even higher up than me.” And the little male ant asked, “Is there someone with even more power and authority than you?”   And she responded by saying, “Oh yes my dear, you need to talk to our creator and our God. So go forth and find Him and He will help you understand what you need to know.”
As he left the queen and then left the nest, and began to scurry away from the ant mound he wondered where He could find the creator. He decided to go to the highest place he knew, to the top of the big old tree on the plain. It took him two days to climb to the top. After he reached the top he was amazed how far he could see. So much farther than he ever saw before. At the top of the tree, on one of the highest branches, he began to call out to the creator. Almost all day he waited and continued to plead for an audience with God to ask for more. And then at dusk the Lord came to him.
And so the Lord spoke to the little male ant and asked, “Tell me little fellow, what is on your mind.” And so the little ant proceeded to tell the Lord all that was on his mind; how because he was such a good worker, even quicker than most, and because he was so good looking, and even intelligent and wise,  he told the Lord how he thought that he deserved a better position in the colony, better accommodations and more.
And so the Lord God spoke to the ant saying, “So you say you are very intelligent and wise. Since you think this, I would like to show you something.”  And before he even realized it the little ant was began to move through the air somehow feeling like he was being carried by the hand of God. The great field he knew so very well quickly disappeared behind him. All of a sudden he began to see things that he could not even imagine. There were all kinds of huge animals, hundreds even thousands of times bigger than even the queen ant. More than he could ever have imagined. The Lord set me upon the a beautiful yet mighty beast called a horse that stood so very high compared to an ant, and it began to run began to run as fast as the wind.
And then as he moved away from the horse, up and up, all of a sudden he saw large buildings, so big that they boggled his little mind. Building that reached up and touched the sky. He thought that his ant mound was monstrous.  The Lord allowed him for a moment to place his feet on a sky scraper which was over 2500 feet high. He wondered how anyone could build such a monstrosity. And then he saw them for the first time, humans erecting one of those structures and then he began to rise again.
As the Lord lifted him higher and higher into the air all of a sudden he saw a shiny bird moving across the sky coming toward them. The wings did not move yet it traveled faster than any bird he ever saw. As the Lord brought Him closer he saw that it was not a bird but a huge flying machine filled with even more humans. He could barely fathom the size of that machine, not to speak of how they got it off the ground.
And then the Lord began to take him higher and higher now. All of a sudden it turned dark and the stars became brighter than he ever saw them before. He turned his head and looked back to see the planet earth leaving them behind. He never had any idea that he lived on a such beautiful blue ball. They were moving so fast the earth disappeared very, very quickly. He saw that there was more than just one planet, there so many, thousands, millions going around billions of stars. And as they exited out of our galaxy he saw that there were more glaxies, hundreds if not billions of them containing trillions of stars and planets. It was more than the little ant could fathom.
And then the Lord said, “I have shown you only a small portion of my physical creation, now I will show you more.” And then something happen.   He was in a totally different kind of place. I believe it is what one would call the spiritual realm. There was bright light that seem radiate love. And the sound of music and praise resounded everywhere and through everything. He heard many other wonderful sounds that he could not even imagine hearing. And the colors, nothing like he ever saw before. There were large and beautiful winged creatures, everything seemed solid yet transparent. It was sensory overload for the little ant. He saw thing so glorious it would be impossible for any earthly being to put into words, yet here he was. But it was too much. He closed his eyes, and then all of a sudden the music stopped, and when he opened his eyes he was again sitting in a safe place atop that tall tree close to his home.
And then he heard the Lord speak and say, “Now little wise ant let me ask you a few questions. After seeing the other creatures on your world, the animals small and large, and the humans with their building and machines, where were you when I created them? As you left the planet so beautiful and blue seeing the untold number galaxies and stars did your wisdom help me create them? And when I created the unseen spiritual realm with all its wonders, let me ask you, how did I do it? And how do I hold it all together so that everything works with such harmony?  Tell me ol’ wise one, how and why I should honor you?”
The little ant on top of the tree all of a sudden felt very, very, very small. Less than a speck in the universe; small, trivial, and powerless in the presence of the One who created so much. What was he compared to those  beasts of field he saw, or compared to a planet, or stars or a galaxy of stars?
He told the Lord, “I did not know what I was talking about. I feel like less than a speck in the grand scheme of things my Lord. I am so sorry for thinking that I was so important to this world. Surely I spoke of things I did understand, thing to wonderful for me to know. You have shown me great wonders and now I feel like a fool and am sorry for being so arrogant.  I humbly bow before you.”  And then he bowed as low as an ant could bow.
And then the Lord said, “One day My Son stood on a large hill to teach those who would hear Him. He began His lesson by telling them something which is fundamental and needed by anyone who wants to learn more, and become a child in my kingdom. Jesus said,  “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
In other words, it is not the haughty, boastful and proud that will be happy and blessed by Me with true wisdom and life, rather it will be the humble individuals, those who are not puffed up and stuck on themselves.  The only way that the mighty horse that I set you on can be trained and taught is to break his spirit, because he is a proud animal. I hope that this has taught you something.
The ant returned to his home with a totally new perspective. Over time he did get a promotion but it was more because of his hard work and experience in his field. It was not because of his good looks or because of how smart he thought he was.
Another thing he noticed about the other ants in the colony, they all just seem so grateful for what they had. They never sought after more because they were simply thankful for what they had. He also learned to become thankful for what the creator had given him.  In the great scheme of things and considering what the creator had showed him, later he often though,     ‘Who are you little ant to demand anything?’
In Proverbs 16:15 it says, “The LORD detests all the proud of heart.  Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”
Isaiah 2:12 says, “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.” NAS
James 4:6 says “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
In his last letter Paul wrote of the future, it may even be our present time, he wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1-5  “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
From the very beginning of scripture to the end we see God’s intolerance for those who think they are some kind of big shot, those who think they know it all and deserve so much more than others. Rather we see God wants to bless those who are poor in spirit, those who have a humble heart.
And so what can we do to prevent us from falling into this trap.
There are people in this world who are a bit diluted and are trying to convince us that we deserve more. Just watch the ads on your television. You need, even you deserve a new car, and not just any car but rather a expensive designer car. And furniture, and a cruise, and the latest I-Phone, and I-Pad, and the list goes on. You just deserve it.
And don’t settle for what your parent had. Go for the gusto! You deserve it, you are smart, and educated, and good looking. Don’t settle for less. And that line of thinking has led to unrealistic debt and why I think there are so many today going around feeling depressed; because there are too many that don’t have the means to acquire what we are told people should have.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:3   Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
I can’t help but think that in many ways we are like that little ant who did not realize how small and obscure he was in grand scheme of things, compared to all creation, and compared to a God that can create and manipulate it all.
For example, in recent years whith help of the Hubble telescope, scientists have learned much about the universe which we live in. We are all familiar with our solar system and stars, and even a grouping of stars called a galaxy. But did you know this; that the smallest galaxies observed contain over a 10 million stars each? They probably each have their own planets circling them. Our own Milky Way Galaxy has an estimated 200 billion stars. Our closest neighboring Galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy contains an est. one trillion stars. And there are some larger galaxies out there that contain up to 100 trillion stars.  That a lot of stars and solar systems.
Now what really blows my mind is the fact that some scientists estimates that there are possible more than 500 billion Galaxies, and there is a design and order in each and every one of them. And that’s just the physical universe that we can see. What about that unseen spiritual realm, how vast is it? Nobody knows.
I often wonder, ‘Who do we think we are to make demands of God the creator, or even think that we are smart enough to doubt His existence.’
Paul said, Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
Like the ant, God has communicated with mankind and has given us not only glimpses of His glory, but also what He desires from us, because He loves us. And it all begin with a humble heart; one not so full of self that we can’t see beyond our own nose.
Even though we are small compared to the vastness of all creation God has let us know that He love us and wants up to be part of His eternal realm. He loves us so much that He was willing to send His one and only Son to show us what he is like, he also sent him to deal with our impurity and sin, that is  if we would only believe in Him and accept this wonderful gift. But the choice is ours.
So my encouragement is this today: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.   Don’t let yourself become so proud, or arrogant that it blinds you to the truth. Come to appreciate what you have, and don’t worry about what you don’t have. If you are meant to have something down the road, you will get. In the mean time, be thankful and enjoy what you have today!
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566

An Introduction to Calvinism by Trevor Bowen

An Introduction to Calvinism



Very few doctrines are more pervasive in modern churches and theology than Calvinism. Although not modern by any means, this doctrine is recognized by its most successful proponent, John Calvin (1509-1564). A Frenchman and church reformer, Calvin formalized these doctrines in his Institutes of Christian Religion, first published in 1536, at the age of 27. Contemporary with Martin Luther, Calvin's work quickly became associated with many of the reformed churches of his day and remains even today in many of the denominational creeds and confessions of faith, especially the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches.

Calvinism in a Nutshell

Many people have never heard of Calvinism, while some disregard it as an academic subject with little practical relevance. Since many may need an introduction or refresher to the subject, let us first consider the following summary of Calvinism, and in subsequent articles we will more closely examine the components, or tenets that make up Calvinism.
It should first be understood that Calvinism is a highly logical, systematic, and interconnected system of belief that relate to our spiritual nature and ultimately our salvation. It contains many truths that are undisputed by most Christians, but it also contains many statements that would be contested as false by some. Consequently, it is important that we separate the truth from the error, and cling to the truth as shown in the Bible (I Thessalonians 5:21).
The foundation of Calvinism is the complete and total sovereignty of God. According to Calvin, since God is sovereign, He has made all choices and man is, therefore, without choice and free will. Calvin further reasoned that one of these choices, which God made, is that man would sin. This sin, which God forced man to commit, corrupted man's nature making the entire human race totally deprived of good, wholly inclined to evil and sin.
Calvin argued that to save man, God chose certain people to be saved. Since man became depraved and would have been unable accept God's conditions on his own, these elect few were chosen without prerequisite. To bring about man's salvation, the Holy Spirit moves the chosen few toward God, thereby condemning the rest to eternity in hell. These chosen people can not resist God's grace and, therefore, cannot be lost or become lost. The purpose of God's choice was to bring about His own glory.
The results of these beliefs, which teach that man has no free will, is that he has no control over his life and destiny. God has unconditionally chosen some people to be saved, who cannot be lost regardless of their behavior. Those not elected unto salvation are unavoidably sentenced to hell regardless of their behavior.

The Tenets of Calvinism - TULIP

Although Calvin did not arrange his beliefs according to the acronym, TULIP, a prominent denomination did. They used this acronym to outline and identify their beliefs, fundamental to their creed. In following articles, we will study the foundation of Calvinism, the Sovereignty of God; then the tenets of Calvinism, and some summary thoughts as outlined below:
It should be emphasized that all tenets of this doctrine are tightly interconnected. Calvin's system of belief was very logical, which has two implications. First, if one tenet is assumed, the rest will naturally follow. But, if one tenet should be disproved, then the remainder are of necessity disproved and the entire system of belief crumbles.

Why Study Calvinism?

To some this study may seem like an exercise in academics. To others it might be a dogmatic advancement of their denominational creed; however, if the Bible addresses the doctrine or its tenets, then it must be by definition a topic of grave importance and concern to us.
Also, the doctrines of Calvinism are actually the doctrinal foundation of most denominational creeds. It is therefore inherently crucial that we examine the root of these creeds. Since they relate to all of our most basic spiritual beliefs, including free will, the character of God, and even forgiveness of sins, we must therefore, diligently study this subject before we rashly adopt or cling to these beliefs. A falsely drawn conclusion or blindly accepted creed at this point would produce untold doctrinal and moral errors, leading to faith without scriptural foundation or hope.


Calvinism is a set of highly logical and interconnected beliefs that influences many denominational creeds and confessions of faith. It attempts to explain man's basis for salvation through the sovereignty of God and affects almost all aspects of one's beliefs, morals, and behavior. Since it is so far reaching and widely accepted, it is inherently important that we examine this doctrine, even if in brief.

Next: Sovereignty of God Trevor Bowen




This brief piece will be repetitive. It’s abundantly clear to me that God forgave sins from the days of Adam and Eve down to the arrival of Jesus. Forgiveness was always by God’s holy grace and could never be “earned”. God never asked anyone to “earn” it! The NT never doubts that and neither should we. David exults in the truth that there were people whose sins were not credited against them (Psalm 32:1,2 and Romans 4:6-8). But that truth is not what the NT is dealing with!
Abraham’s faith in God was as true and as real as Paul’s faith in God. The faith of believers in ancient times (Hebrews 11) was truly faith in God. The NT never doubts that and neither should we. True believers are true believers no matter in what age they live. But that truth is not what the NT is dealing with!
The obedience of faith that we read about in the OT (in people like Noah, Hannah, Josiah, Moses’ mother Jochebed or Melchizedek) was as real as the obedience that stemmed from faith in believers in Jesus Christ. The faith-filled obedient people are the same kind of people no matter in what age they live (again, note that Hebrews 11 uses ancient worthies as models for NT believers.). But that truth is not what the NT is dealing with!
The New Testament deals with a specific section of God’s unfolding drama. Everything prior to that, while absolutely essential to the drama as a whole, is prelude. The fullness of times (Galatians 4:4) and the “ends of the ages” (1 Corinthians 10:11) only arrived when God became incarnate in and as Jesus of Nazareth who is called the Christ. The NT era is the time that all the ancient worthies had to wait for if they hoped for the completed drama (Hebrews 11:39-40; 12:23).
It doesn’t matter that they didn’t know what the end was to be. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t know all that the end would involve. In trusting to God they were looking for whatever it was that God had in store. Prophets spoke things they didn’t really understand and people hoped for things (as we do) that they didn’t understand. (1 Peter 1:9-12) They even spoke of things they knew were not for them. “Eye hasn’t seen, ear hasn’t heard nor has it entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for them that love him.” (I’m ignoring Paul’s immediate point in 1 Corinthians 2:9.) That is as true today for us as it would have been for ancient believers prior to God’s coming in the flesh.
People enjoyed forgiveness and life with God because God in holy grace granted it to them. But that life with God that they enjoyed occurred within a divine narrative that could never come to fullness in the history of the world as it was then. For the life that God finally intended for the human family when He was creating us wasn’t fulfilled in Genesis 1. That was the beginning of what God had in mind for us but the fullness of what God had in mind for us is revealed in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16) who is the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:47). God gave forgiveness and life in a relationship to Abraham but Abraham would die, as would Moses and Samuel and David and the rest. Death would rob them of embodied life (and a human is not fully a human if not embodied).
Death reigned over the human family even over those that believed in God. Then came Jesus of Nazareth, the death killer! In and by Him death was destroyed (2 Timothy 1:9-10) and a new creation begun. In Him, as a single individual, a new creation actually exists and is experienced by Him now as He exists in a new mode of being (a resurrected and immortal human) and Christians inhabit that new world by faith in Him. They are born again and not of the flesh (1 Peter 1:3; John 3:3-7).
By faith Abraham was as right with God in his day as Christians are right with God by faith in Jesus Christ. But the content of the Christian’s faith is richer and more developed than Abraham’s was. Abraham saw glory ahead but he did not know it took the form of the resurrected and glorified Jesus of Nazareth (John 8:56; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Ephesians 3:1-7).
The shape and truth content of his faith bore witness to God within the parameters and boundaries of his place in God’s developing drama within human history. The shape of a Christian’s faith in God through Jesus Christ is a witness to God’s bringing His creation purposes to completion in Jesus Christ. No one’s faith, prior to Jesus Christ, could bear such a witness precisely because pre-Jesus Christ faith could not proclaim what God has accomplished only in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Christians live at a particular time in the history of the world and have been called to be and function as the “body” of Jesus Christ in the world. Christians as the Body of the Risen Lord are a new creation, a resurrected people (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12; 3:1-4)
The forgiveness in pre-Jesus Christ days was real and experienced but forgiveness in Jesus Christ carries with it a significance that couldn’t be carried before He came. Abraham’s faith-motivated obedience (Genesis 22 and James 2:21-23) was genuine and acceptable with God as righteousness (Romans 4:3). In that respect there is no difference between Abraham’s obedience of faith and the Christian’s. But Abraham’s obedience of faith could not function as a witness that God’s creation purposes has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, because from his perspective they hadn’t been! Israel, was God’s witness (Isaiah 43:10, 12; 44:8) to the truth entrusted to them in their place on the world stage at that time.  Humans can only experience God’s workings in a time continuum but as far as God was concerned it was already a done deal—see Romans 4:17.) Abraham, along with the other ancient worthies in Hebrews 11, had to wait until the Christian era arrived (Hebrews 11:39-40).
The New Covenant people function in their place in human history as God’s witness to Jesus Christ. This form of the people of God began with the coming of Jesus and His faithful doing of the will of God (Galatians 4:4). It has a commission that is in keeping with the direction, timing and plot of the Divine Story. Abraham is not part of that NT People precisely because his place was on stage in a different era. He served well there and died as did Moses and David (Acts 2:29, 34; Hebrews 3:2, 5). They could all be right with God without knowing of the resurrection of Jesus Christ for our justification (Romans 4:25). Abraham knew glory was coming but he did not know that it would be accomplished in Jesus of Nazareth (John 8:56) and he as one of the many righteous men and women had to wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises (Hebrews 11:39-40 with 12:23 (18-24).
Forgiveness and faith and obedience and life with God in pre-Jesus Christ days were real but they did not have the significance that those realities have in and through Jesus Christ. Christian faith proclaims—on the basis of Jesus Christ—that all that the ancient worthies had looked for (though they were not aware of it, certainly not, at any rate, in full awareness)—all that the ancient worthies had looked for has now come. We look now at the Lord Jesus and in Him, the individual, we see God’s creation purposes fulfilled, now!
Jesus is the end of all things. All things have been brought under one head [Ephesians 1:10]; all things have been put in their rightful place under God through Jesus [Colossians 1:15-20]. (This fulfillment that He as a single individual experiences and embodies will be made the personal experience of all that are embraced in His redeeming work. The Lord of All chooses that all that He now has dominion over will continue as it is until He chooses to consummate in a day of His choosing. His reasons are His own!)
Apart from Christians the ancients—whoever they were—could not be made perfect. Forgiveness and faith and life with God all have a different complexion now that Jesus has come. Those glorious realities function with a finality that wasn’t possible for even true faith in pre-Jesus Christ times.
It’s obviously correct to say that there are differences between Paul’s and Abraham’s faith and forgiveness and relationship with God. But the differences have nothing to do with quality or with their reality! But since they lived at different points in the divine drama their faith and life with God contributed to the entire drama in different ways. Only   Christians are “the end time people.” There is no chosen “People of God” (1 Peter 2:9) beyond this era because the People of God in this era are the “Body of Christ” and there is no Lord beyond Him.
Ray McClendon helpfully summarized the matter like this: “For example, the reference to an unfolding drama enables us to ponder Hebrews 11:39-40 in this light: What does it really mean that, though faithful, they didn’t receive what was promised and only together with us are made perfect?
“We could put it this way. At the end of the second act (of, say, a two-act story), all of the actors come out, join hands, and bow. Receiving the accolades of the honor and glory of the completed story they presented. They all occupy (finally and in the end) the same stage; regardless of where their part was in the Story; regardless of whether it came in the first act or the second act and regardless of whether their part was small or large. The actors in the Act 1 didn’t come out after the first act to receive all of the honor and glory because that wasn’t fully revealed or known until the second act! It couldn’t possibly be fully understood or appreciated because the story was still being told and the finale had not yet come. The Abrahams, Melchizedeks, and Rahabs were all in supportive roles; they weren’t the stars nor did they appear in the final and critical stages of the story.
But when the Star appears and the climax plays itself out, all the Act 1 players take their rightful place beside the Act 2 players and together with them receive all the honor and glory (compare Hebrews 11:39-40 and 12:22-24). They’re entitled to share in the glory that comes to the Act 2 players because without them there could be no Act 2 players and no completed drama. In addition, it wasn’t until the whole story was told/known that everyone’s role could be fully understood and appreciated. Nevertheless, everyone’s place in the Story, in his or her own time and circumstances, was crucial and served the will of God who, in every generation, dealt faithfully with all the players that had a place in the drama.”
(Look around at the people with whom you Supper on the Lord’s Day. Who is it that sings along with you, prays with you, reads and listens with you, shares their material blessings along with you and eats and drinks with you in the wondrous Supper that proclaims a wondrous Lord? See them for what they are. Obviously unimpressive it’s true, but then so was their Lord in His earthly ministering period (Isaiah 53:2; Mark 6:1-3) on His way to everlasting glorification as Lord of all. You and your fellow-believers are the visible witness and embodiment of breathtaking realities.)
Believe that! Wonder at that! Rejoice with trembling at that! Purpose by God’s grace to treat one another as that!
(Open our eyes, Holy Father, and so strengthen us by your amazing grace. For the world’s sake as well as our own. This prayer in the Lord Jesus.)

Be with me Lord by Beth Johnson


Be with me Lord
The words to this song were penned by T. O. Chisholm, and the music was composed by L. O. Sanderson. It is particularly meaningful to me because my mother kept on requesting that I sing it to her while she lay dying of leukemia in February and March of 1993. Today, I find it difficult to sing because of that memory, but the prayer is still in my heart.
Be with me, Lord--I cannot live without Thee,
I dare not try to take one step alone.
I cannot bear the loads of life, unaided,
I need Thy strength to lean myself upon.
Be with me, Lord, and then if dangers threaten,
If storms of trial burst above my head,
If lashing seas leap everywhere about me,
They cannot harm, or make my heart afraid.
Be with me, Lord! No other gift or blessing
Thou couldst bestow could with this one compare—
A constant sense of Thy abiding presence,
Where e'er I am, to feel that Thou art near.
Be with me Lord, when loneliness o'er-takes me,
When I must weep amid the fires of pain,
And when shall come the hour of "my departure"
For "worlds unknown," O Lord, be with me then.
Sometimes people who are with us can make us discouraged and make our hearts faint in the work we have to do.
  • Josh 14:8 Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God.
Some people depend upon other people to be with them and forget to depend upon God
  • Judges 4:8-9 And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she (Deborah) said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.
But if the Lord be with us, we, like Joshua, will prevail
  • Josh 14:12 Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.
Jabez prayed that the Lord would be with him to keep him from evil, and the Lord granted his request
  • 1 Chron 4:10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
Even though Job lost everything, he remembered the days when the Lord was with him
  • Job 29:2-7 Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness; As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle; When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me; When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil; When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!
David praised and thanked God because He was with him
  • Ps 13:6 I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
  • Ps 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
  • Ps 42:7-8 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
What will be the result, if the Lord is with us?
  • Jeremiah 20:11-13 But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten. But, O LORD of hosts that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause. Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.
Christ knew the power of having His disciples with him.
  • Matt 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
  • Luke 11:23 He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.
  • Luke 22:28-30 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
  • Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
  • John 16:32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
  • John 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
When Paul was ready to be delivered to death, he knew the power of having a faithful, godly friend with him.
  • 2 Tim 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
  • 2 Tim 4:16-17 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
Finally, we see a glimpse of what it means to be with the Lord.
  • Rev 3:4-5 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
  • Rev 3:20-21 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Being alone in the world can make us vulnerable to the enemy or to the elements.
  • Eccl 4:9-12 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
When we stand for the Lord and his ways, we often must stand alone.
  • Jer 15:17 I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.
  • Lam 3:21-32 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
Jesus knew that he would be left alone in His greatest trial.
  • John 16:32-33 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Paul knew that the faith of some would fail when they were left alone.
  • Romans 11:1-4 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Paul knew the power of God's watchful care.
  • 2 Tim 3:10-12 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
  • 2 Cor 1:8-10 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
Sometimes weak christians doubt that God can save them.
  • Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
  • Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
  • Mark 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
  • Mark 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
Daniel knew the power of God's strength and protection.
  • Dan 6:20-22 And when he (King Darius) came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
The psalmist, David, knew the power of God's strength.
  • Ps 27:12-14 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
  • Ps 84:5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.
Many are the examples of godly men and women, who trusted in the power of His might as they were faced with temptations. They were men and women of faith who overcame and were victorious. (Heb 11:1-40)
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
One of the most poignant accounts in the New Testament of Jesus' protection is recounted in Matthew 14:32, Mark 6:51, and Mark 4:35-41. Here we see His powerful protection and love for the ones who served Him. 35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Moses knew he could never lead the nation of Israel without the presence of the Lord.
  • Ex 33:12-15 And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
Jehoshaphat knew that the Lord's presence was in the temple and that He would hear their cry when troubles came.
  • 2 Chron 20:6-9 And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.
The Psalmist, David, knew where to find fullness of joy and true pleasures.
  • Ps 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
David's sincere prayer was for God's judgment, and sentence to come from His presence.
  • Ps 17:1-3 Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips. Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal. Thou has proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou has tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
David knew that he had to have a clean heart and a right spirit in order to remain in God's presence.
  • Ps 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
David asks who will dwell with God and who will be in His presence?
  • Ps 140:13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.
Isaiah is asking God to come down and tell them more of His truth, like he did on Mt. Sinai and reveal what He has prepared for those that wait on Him. (see also 1 COR 2:9)
  • Isa 64:1-4 Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
Those who yearn to live in the presence of the Lord must meet certain qualifications or be forever cast out.
  • Luke 13:24-27 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
Many were the tests and procedures which my mother had to endure, but when she called us to come home from India, all she said was, "The nights are long, and I am afraid." The last verse of this prayer song seemed to embody what she felt at the prospect of death.
Now would come the questions of what kind of building she had made and what kind of fruits she had borne.
  • 1 Cor 3:10-15 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
  • Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Like Paul, she wanted to be able to say:
  • 2 Tim 4:6-8 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Beth Johnson
Published in The Old Paths Archive