"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" The Seal On The Foundation (2:19)


The Seal On The Foundation (2:19)


1. People don't like confusion, they want certainty...
   a. Especially in religious matters
   b. False religions and false teachers make it difficult

2. Yet there is a seal on the Lord's solid foundation - cf. 2Ti 2:19
   a. Paul likely has reference to the Lord's church
   b. Commonly pictured as a building erected on a solid foundation
      - cf. Ep 2:20-21; 1Co 3:9-10
   c. The word "seal" refers to an inscription, in which it was
      customary to inscribe the name and design of the edifice on the
      cornerstone - Barnes

3. Regarding the Lord's church, then, there is a twofold inscription on
   the foundation...
   a. First, a statement of comfort
   b. Second, a statement of caution

[This "seal" on the foundation provides both encouragement and warning
for all who would be members of the Lord's church as revealed in the
Bible.  Note the first half of the inscription...]


      1. There are many religions, many churches
         a. Many profess to know the Lord, most are sincere
         b. Which church is the true church?
      2. Who are truly saved?
         a. Not the majority - Mt 7:13-14
         b. Not the devout, necessarily - Ac 10:1-2; 11:14
         c. Not all who profess to know the Lord - Mt 7:21-23

      1. The Lord is building His church (called out ones) 
          - Mt 16:18; 1Th 2:12
         a. He is calling people through the gospel - 2Th 2:13-14
         b. He is adding to His church those who respond - Ac 2:41,47
      2. The gospel message is clearly proclaimed in the scriptures
         a. Calling for faith and baptism - Mk 16:15-16; Mt 28:18-20
         b. Calling for repentance and baptism - Ac 2:38
         c. Calling for baptism immediately - Ac 8:35-38; 10:47-48;22:16
            1) For the remission of sins - Ac 2:38
            2) For dying with Christ and rising to walk in newness of
               life - Ro 6:3-7
            3) For putting on Christ - Ga 3:27

[If you desire religious certainty in a religiously confused world, the
first step is to let the Lord add you to His church by responding to the
gospel of Christ.  Now consider the second half of the inscription...]


      1. Division existed in the Lord's church in the beginning
         a. In Antioch, over circumcision and keeping the Law - Ac 15:
         b. At Corinth, over preacher-itis - 1Co 1:10-13; 3:3
         c. Among churches in Asia, due to the influence of false
            teachers - Re 2:14-15,20
      2. Division will always exist in the Lord's church
         a. Foretold by Jesus in His parable of the tares- Mt 13:24-30
         b. Foretold by Paul in his discourse to the elders - Ac 20:
         c. Foretold by Peter in his warning about false teachers 
             - 2 Pe  2:1-3

      1. The solution is heeding apostolic authority
         a. Which the Lord gave to His apostles - Jn 13:20; Mt 28:20
         b. Which characterized faithful disciples in the early church
            - Ac 2:42; 1Th 2:13
         c. Which will characterize all the faithful today - 2Th 2:15;
            1Jn 4:6
      2. Our duty is to depart from iniquity
         a. From iniquity in our own lives - 2Co 7:1; Col 3:5-8
         b. From those who in continue in iniquity - 2Th 3:6,14
         c. From those who teach contrary to the apostles - 1Ti 6:5;
            2Ti 3:1-5


1. Whenever you are troubled by religious confusion...
   a. Take comfort in knowing that the Lord knows who you are
      1) Assuming that you have properly responded to the gospel
      2) Have you responded to the gospel of Christ?
   b. Take caution in making sure that you departing from iniquity
      1) Assuming that you let the apostles of Christ define what is
      2) Are you continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine?

2. With this seal we have both encouragement and warning...
   a. If you are saved, the Lord certainly knows it
   b. If you are saved, then act like it

As we look forward to the coming of Christ, we know the Lord is faithful
(cf. 1Th 5:23-24); but remember that we must do our part as well 
(cf. 1Th 5:21-22)...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Question & Answer: Faith a Gift from God? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Question & Answer: Faith a Gift from God?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Does Ephesians 2:8-9 teach that faith is a gift from God?
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
For centuries, various Bible commentators have differed on the precise reference of the pronoun “that” in Ephesians 2:8. Does “that” (touto) refer to faith, as many have stated (e.g., Augustine, Chrysostom, Lenski, et al.), or, does “that” refer to salvation from sin? Is faith the “gift of God,” or is this gift salvation by grace through faith?
Admittedly, from a cursory reading of the passage in Ephesians 2:8, it may appear that the relative pronoun that has faith as its grammatical antecedent. Those who advocate the view that faith itself is a gift (i.e., a miraculous imposition) from God, often point out that in this verse, “faith” is the nearest antecedent of “that” (“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; itis the gift of God”).
However, when one examines Ephesians 2:8 in the language in which it was originally written (Greek), he learns that the pronoun that (touto) is neuter in gender, while the word faith (pistis) is feminine. Since the general rule in Greek grammar is for the gender and number of a relative pronoun to be the same as its antecedent (Mounce, 1993, p. 111), then some extenuating linguistic circumstance, special idiomatic use, or other similarly mitigating factor would need to be demonstrated to justify linking “that” to “faith.” If such reasonable justification cannot be made, then one is compelled to continue studying the passage in order to know assuredly what “that” gift of God is.
When no clear antecedent is found within a text, Greek scholar William Mounce wisely recommends that the Bible student study the context of the passage in question in order to help determine to what the relative pronoun (like “that”) is referring (1993, p. 111). The overall context of the first three chapters of Ephesians is man’s salvation found in Christ. Examine, for example, the following passages from the remainder of the book.
  • “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (1:7).
  • The heavenly “inheritance” is found in Christ (1:11).
  • After believing in, and acting upon, the good news of salvation through Christ, the Christians in Ephesus were “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (1:13).
  • Sinners are made “alive with Christ,” and are saved “by grace” (2:5).
  • Sinners are brought near to God “by the blood of Christ” (2:13).
  • Paul became a servant of Christ “according to the gift of the grace of God...by the effective working of His power” (3:7).
Not only is the theme of salvation the overall context of the first three chapters of the book of Ephesians, but the immediate context of Ephesians 2:8-9 is salvation, not faith. These two verses thoroughly document how a person is saved, not how a person believes.
  • Salvation is by grace.
  • Salvation is through faith.
  • Salvation is not of yourselves.
  • Salvation is the gift of God.
  • Salvation is not of works.
Paul was not providing an exposition on faith in his epistle to the Ephesians. Rather salvation was his focus. Faith is mentioned as the mode by which salvation is accepted. Salvation is through faith. Just as water is received into a house in twenty-first-century America through a pipeline, a sinner receives salvation through obedient faith (cf. Romans 1:5; 16:26). The main focus of Paul’s message in Ephesians 2:8-9 was salvation (i.e., the living “water that springs up into everlasting life”—cf. John 4:14), not the mode of salvation.
Admittedly, faith might be categorized as a gift from God in the broad sense in which all things come from God (e.g., the bread for which we work is an indirect gift from God—cf. Matthew 6:9-13), but faith is not a direct gift from God given to some and not to others. As Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Rome, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Faith in Christ as the Son of God is found only in those who have first heard the Word of God, and then believed (cf. John 20:31).


Mounce, William D. (1993), Basics of Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

Query from a Reader by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Query from a Reader

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

We recently received the following e-mail from a reader of the Apologetics Press Web site who lives in California:
I came upon your website due to the referral of a Christian brother who provided me a link to your article on John Quincy Adams’ views on Islam. Loved the article and will share it with others.... When checking into your beliefs I noted the following at this link under “What We Believe:” “Salvation is by means of obedience to the Gospel system, involving faith in God and Christ, repentance from sin, confession of faith, and immersion in water for remission of past sins, coupled with a life of growing consecration and dedication.”
In all honesty, when I read Scripture I do not get that “salvation” has anything whatsoever to do with a “Gospel system” or “obedience” thereof. Surely you cannot mean that our deeds and works can make us righteous or clean in the eyes of a perfect and entirely Holy God? Moreover, we cannot follow any kind of a “system” or formula, regardless of how good it may be. Only Christ and His completed sacrifice, once for all, can save those who believe in Him, His Word and His Resurrection. I think the most simple and direct quotes on how Salvation is “achieved” (really awarded is the better and most accurate word) is from Romans 10:17 and Acts 10:34-46….
In light of these verses, why would you take the stance you do in the above noted quote from your website? Put another way, why do you believe salvation is had by any other way than as noted in the above quoted sections of Romans, Acts and any number of other examples, throughout Scripture, of persons being saved?
                                                                             P.L., Palm Desert, CA
Dear P.L.:
Thank you for your interest in our work, and your willingness to study God’s Word, and write us. You are to be commended for your desire to think through what the Bible teaches on the extremely important matter of salvation. Here are some thoughts for you to consider:
It is true that the New Testament does not use the phrase “Gospel system,” but the concept is certainly biblical, even as we speak of the “Christian system” or the “Christian religion.” In Romans, the Gospel/Grace system is contrasted with a strictly legal/law system. The point of Romans is that the Jews could not depend on their ethnic heritage (their genetic connection to Abraham with the covenant symbol of circumcision) or the Law of Moses to save them—because (1) genetic connection is fleshly and avails nothing, and (2) they did not keep the Law of Moses given to them. No one can be saved by law alone, since everyone has violated God’s law and therefore stands condemned. We needed a different approach to the sin problem, specifically, the Gospel (the good news that God inhabited human flesh in the person of His Son to atone for sin). The Gospel has law that we must obey, just like the Law of Moses, but it also has the means of ultimate atonement which the Law of Moses did not technically have (cf. Hebrews 10:4). Yes, the orchestration of that means of forgiveness is wholly God’s doing which we do not deserve. There is absolutely nothing we can do to atone for our own sin.
However, it by no means follows that there is nothing that God requires of us before He will freely cleanse us. You, yourself, agree that a person must believe. So there is something that humans must do to be saved—without assuming they earn or deserve their salvation. They must believe—an act of human effort, called a “work” in John 6:29, i.e., a work that God requires humans to perform (see Methodist lexicographer Joseph Thayer who defines “works” in John 6 as “the works required and approved by God” [1901, p. 248]). But what does it mean to believe? It is not merely a mental act of accepting Jesus (as much of Christendom incessantly maintains), since Paul defined the “faith” of Romans as an “obedient faith” (hupakoain pisteos) in 1:5 and 16:26. Romans uses forms of the word “obey” and “obedience” 10 times, and forthrightly declares that a person will be judged “according to his deeds” (2:6), and that “eternal life” will be given to “those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality,” while those who “do not obey the truth” will receive “indignation and wrath” (2:7-8). Romans 6:16 indicates that obedience precedes righteousness.
So, yes, humans must perform deeds to be pleasing to God. The point that the Bible makes regarding those deeds is that they do not earn salvation for the individual—they do not wash away sin—since only the blood of Christ can do that. Christ’s blood is the cleansing agent. But when does God apply Christ’s blood to our sin-stained spirits? Answer: when a person “obey[s] the Gospel” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). How does one obey the Gospel? Acts is the “book of conversions” that gives example after example of instances wherein people obeyed the Gospel to become Christians. Please access the free pdf book at http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/wtbsatcoc.pdf and scroll to page 21 where you will see a chart that records only the explicitly stated actions that occurred in 10 cases of conversion to Christianity in the book of Acts—actions that preceded salvation.
Romans was not actually intended to detail the conditions of salvation; rather, Romans explains the grounds or basis of salvation—the blood of Christ. Nevertheless, in passing, Romans happens to mention every single one of the prerequisite conditions of salvation with which humans must comply before God will grant forgiveness as a free, undeserved gift. Romans 10:17, as you note, indicates that a person must first hear the Gospel/Word of God, which is designed to create faith within. But Romans 10:9-10 makes clear that faith is not the only prerequisite to forgiveness. Oral confession with the mouth is also enjoined. Romans 2:4 indicates that repentance is necessary before God will forgive. And Romans 6:1-4 indicates that water immersion precedes salvation, since it is the contact point for the blood of Christ which was shed in His death. We must be baptized “into His death” to contact that blood. That is the point at which sin is washed away by the blood of Christ. No wonder, then, that Ananias told Saul/Paul to “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). When does a person achieve “calling on the Lord”? When the believing, repenting, confessing person submits to water immersion (Acts 22:16). That explains why Peter declared that baptism “now saves us” (1 Peter 3:21)—in the sense that Christ’s blood saves us at the point of our baptism; and that is why that same Peter impressed upon those present in Acts 10 that the reception of Holy Spirit baptism directly from God upon the Gentiles was proof positive that Gentiles had the right to become Christians just as much as the Jews. Once their eligibility for conversion was demonstrated by that miraculous act direct from God, Peter then pressed for their obedience in the words, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized...?” (Acts 10:47). Why even bring up water at that moment if water immersion was not prerequisite to their forgiveness?
So faith, repentance, confession, and baptism are all indicated to precede remission of sin. We must obey these acts—not to atone for our sin, for only Jesus can do that—but to comply with God’s stated conditions. Those pre-conditions to salvation were authored by Him (not us), and He enjoined them upon all who wish to be saved. That is why the Hebrews writer stated forthrightly that Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9, emp. added). It is interesting that you quote Acts 10:34-35 which indicates that before a person is acceptable to Christ, that person must “fear Him and work righteousness” (vs. 35). In other words, believe and obey—actions that humans must perform in order to receive the free gift of salvation available only in Christ.
Denominationalism manifests a persistent inability and/or unwillingness to distinguish between the grounds of salvation and the conditions of salvation—the difference between Christ’s atonement and man’s obedience. Yet, the Bible from beginning to end demonstrates this distinction. Indeed, Jesus Himself said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Or as Paul expressed to the Galatians: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). The Galatians had become sons of God through faith when they were baptized in water.


Thayer, J.H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).

Proving Your Faith by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Proving Your Faith

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

How do we know that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God? Is our faith based merely upon tradition? Is faith the result of religious fanaticism? No, genuine faith stands firmly upon evidence.
After the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, the newly appointed apostle entered the Jewish synagogues and “proclaimed Jesus, that he is the son of God” (Acts 9:20). His message continually amazed those who heard it. It seemed incredible that one who had so opposed the Christian Way could now be one of its most zealous advocates. The historian Luke informed his readers that Saul increased in strength, and he “confounded the Jews that lived in Damascus, proving that this is the Christ” (Acts 9:22).
Of interest in this passage is the term “proving.” It is a translation of the Greek word sumbibazon. It is a present tense participle form, which suggests that Paul's preaching was characterized consistently by a demonstrative line of argumentation. The original term, from an etymological viewpoint means “to bring together,” as when, for example, parts of the body are brought together (i.e., tied together) by sinew, ligament, etc. (see Ephesians 4:16).
In the context of Acts 9:22, the word connotes bringing together pieces of information from which a logical conclusion is drawn. In “proving” to the Jews that Jesus is the “Christ” (i.e., the promised Old Testament Messiah), Paul would have: (1) introduced specific Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming Messiah; (2) compared those predictions with factual data that pertained to Jesus of Nazareth; and, (3) from the preceding, he would have drawn irresistible conclusions that no rational and honest person could deny.
The critic who alleges that Christianity is merely emotional, and not intellectual, simply does not know the facts.

Pre-Babel Confusion? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Pre-Babel Confusion?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

I am amazed (and troubled) at how far some will go to appease the vast ages of time associated with evolutionary geology. It seems that the decisive factor for many “Bible believers” in interpreting God’s Word is no longer, “What does the Bible say?,” but rather “What do evolutionary dating methods indicate?” Sadly, for many people the deceptive evolutionary geologic timetable has become the father of modern biblical exegesis. Instead of the Universe and everything in it being created in six days (Genesis 1-2; Exodus 20:11), we are told it actually took billions of years, which can be “found” in “gaps” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 or between each of the creation days. And even though the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 match up remarkably with the genealogy recorded in Luke 3, and although Jude confirms through inspiration that Enoch was indeed the seventh from Adam (Jude 14—just as Genesis 5 tells us), we are informed that many thousands (or millions!) of years could be inserted (and should be, according to many religious evolutionary sympathizers) between Adam and Abraham.
As if we had not “heard it all,” some now are teaching that there was a great gap of time between Genesis chapters 10 and 11. Supposedly, since Moses recorded that the descendents of Shem, Ham, and Japheth spoke different languages in Genesis 10 (vss. 5,20,31), and since Genesis 11:1 states that “the whole earth had one language and one speech,” there must have been a gap between Genesis 10:32 and 11:1! It is alleged that enough time must have passed in order for the descendents of Shem, Ham, and Japheth to the begin speaking one language.
If you have ever read Genesis 6-11, you likely have questioned why the order of events seemed to indicate that the Earth’s population went from speaking one language (by the eight persons on the ark), to speaking a variety of languages and dialects (10:5,20,31), to then speaking one language again (11:1). It may be that you have asked the same question that I heard asked recently: “How can there not be a gap between Genesis 10 and 11?”
The reason that no gap of time exists between Genesis 10 and 11 is because the events recorded in these two chapters were not written chronologically. As Victor Hamilton stated in his commentary on Genesis: “We have here the unusual order of effect (ch. 10) before cause (ch. 11), or result preceding explanation” (1990, p. 347).
The simple fact is, Bible writers did not always record information in a strictly chronological sequence. Genesis 2:5-25 does not pick up where chapter one left off, rather it provides more detailed information about some of the events mentioned in chapter one. Several of the events in Genesis 38 involving Judah and Tamar occurred while the things recorded in chapter 39 and following took place. Making the assumption that the entire Bible was written chronologically hinders the trustworthiness of the text. How will one explain the differences in the arrangement of the temptations of Jesus recorded by Matthew (4:1-11) and Luke (4:1-13) if we always must conclude that things are written in sequential order? If Jesus only cleansed the temple once, how does a person explain why John mentioned this event as having occurred early in Jesus’ ministry while the other gospel writers placed it later in His ministry (John 2:12-17; cf. Matthew 21:12-17)? Obviously, the gospel accounts were not arranged to be a strict chronology of Jesus’ life. Similarly, Moses jumps ahead of himself at times, inserting parenthetical material like that found in Genesis 10.
Aside from the languages mentioned in Genesis 10, there is another “clue” in the text that reveals the events recorded in chapter 11 occurred before the descendents of Noah began speaking different languages and spreading throughout the Earth. In 10:25, it mentions a man named Peleg (meaning “division”) who received such a name because “in his days the earth was divided.” This is a clear reference to the confusion of languages at the tower of Babel described in chapter 11. The “earth” (i.e., people; cf. 11:1) divided when God confused the languages (11:7-8). Thus, the division in Peleg’s day is linked contextually to the linguistic segregation at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).
When Genesis 10 and 11 are read with the understanding that not all events are recorded chronologically, one clearly sees how the events revealed in these chapters are entwined tightly with one another—so tightly in fact that those who seek to place a gap of time between them are doomed to fail. Linguistically speaking there was no pre-Babel confusion!


Hamilton, Victor P. (1990), The Book of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

"The Briar Patch" by Trevor Bowen


"The Briar Patch"

The other day at work I mentioned to a co-worker that he was caught up in a "tar baby". It never occurred to me that he, being from Pakistan, had never heard of Uncle Remus, Brer Bear, Brer Fox, Brer Rabbit, the briar patch, or even the "tar baby". Well, after a little education on the finer points of Southern culture, he came to realize that he was in a whopper of a predicament.
Just like Brer Rabbit, most folks today don't realize what kind of mess they've gotten themselves into, until it's too late. But unlike Brer Rabbit, the briar patch is not our hope of salvation. Instead, it represents what may be our undoing. Please recall the following Old Testament illustration:
Upon entering the land of Canaan, the Lord commanded the Israelites to drive out the idolatrous inhabitants of their new land. God even promised to help them, but they were still ultimately responsible for the initiative (Exodus 23:27-33). He even warned them that if they failed to complete their task, then "those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell" (Numbers 33:55). However, their punishment would exceed this, for He added, "Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them" (Numbers 33:56). You would think with that kind of promise and warning that the Israelites would have been highly motivated to follow through on their mission. Unfortunately, that is not how history unfolded. After dominating most of Canaan, the book of Judges records multiple unfinished "loose ends" (Judges 1:17-36). Following the recitation of these remaining inhabitants, Judges records this message from God:
"I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, 'I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.' But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.' " (Judges 2:1-3)
Although the Israelites were initially zealous, when met with resistance, their zeal waned, and they tried to become comfortable in the "briar patch". Instead of peace, they found constant irritation, but possibly even more detrimental, they made themselves vulnerable to temptation:
"Thus the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods. So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs." (Judges 3:5-7)
Not unlike the Israelites, we have found ourselves in the "briar patch" of the world. But, it is not a place of security. If we cozy up too close, we may find ourselves like the seed that sprang up, but was choked out by the briars, thorns, thistles, cares, worries, and love of this world (Matthew 13:22I John 2:15-17). The question for us is, "Are we gonna' get caught up in this her' tar baby?" Or, are we going to instead, "lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and … run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1II Timothy 2:3-4)? If we fail to do so, we should not be surprised when the briar patch entangles and overcomes us, just like it did the Israelites (II Peter 2:20-22).
 Trevor Bowen

James (Part 11) There is Always Tomorrow, or is There? by Ben Fronczek


James (Part 11) There is always tomorrow, or is there?

James  (Part 11)    There is Always Tomorrow, or is There?
In the past I have had the pleasure of conducting Bible studies and sharing the Good News about Jesus with a number of different people. And in doing so I have to admit it is a joyous occasion when the light bulb came on in a person head. They began to understand who Jesus is; the fact that He died for their sin, that they can be forgiven and become God’s child, and have the hope of heaven. They come to believe that if they accept Jesus as their personal Savior, do their best to turn from their sin, confess Him as the new Lord of their life, and then allow Jesus to remove those sins in the watery grave of baptism, they will be set free from all their sin and have the hope of heaven.
What I find extremely sad is when someone learns the true about Jesus and how to be saved, and really believes it all, but then outright refuses to do what they know that they should do, and they put it all off to another day in the future when they think that they can be a better Christian.
Many years ago when I worked with the Saratoga Church, my partner and I had a Bible study with a middle aged lady. She loved the Bible study and learning about Jesus and really understood not only how to become a Christian but also what it meant to be a Christian. But after it was all said and done, she told us that even though she understood it all she did not want to become a Christian at that time because there were some things in her life she did not want to give up doing. She said that maybe sometime later she would become a Chrisitian.
It seemed like only a month later we got a call and we found out that this lady got sick with some weird disease and died suddenly. If I remember correctly both my partner and I shed some tears that day because she had turned her back on Jesus thinking that she had more time.
In James 4:13-16 he write, 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”
Ten years ago Thursday my dad died suddenly. He was out working in the greenhouse and came in for his morning break and told my mom his stomach felt upset. My mom, brother, and son when back out to work while he stayed in the house.
My mom came back to the house a little while later she found my dad’s lifeless body on the floor. We were told that he died of a massive Aortic Aneurism. One of the main arteries going to his heart had a blowout and he died almost instantly.
It was a couple days before Easter and in the greenhouse it was one of the busiest times of the year. It was a time to make some money after a long slow winter season.  I think about what James wrote the man said, “Today or tomorrow we will  carry on business and make money.” And God responds by saying  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
We work, and drive our self crazy trying to get ahead and make more money. We worry, we fret, we are afraid about what is going to happen tomorrow yet there is a good possibly you may not even live to see another day.
You may think, ‘Ah that won’t happen to me.’  That’s what my dad thought. He thought he was healthy and had plans for his future. Many die suddenly everyday thinking they have more time; probably more than you realize!
Did you know that in the USA about 33,000 people die each year in car accidents. That breaks down to about 90 people per day. It could suddenly happen to any one of us this very day.
Here is a statistic you may not know about: an estimated 325,000 people die each year, or about 9300 people per day from (SCA) Sudden Cardiac Arrest. It is a leading cause of death in the United States where people suddenly die because their heart stops. 9300 people per day that expected to live longer.
And then those who die of Aneurysm which is a sudden killer as my dad found out:
– Aortic Aneurysms about 15000 people die of them per year
– Abdominal Aneurysm about 15000 people die of them per year
– And Brain Aneurysms claim about 20000/year, all without a warning.  So that’s almost another 1000 per week who die suddenly from aneurysms
As James put it, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”         
Now I did not set out to scare you today, rather…
#1.  I want you to face the reality that we may not have a tomorrow, or another month, or another year. Life is frail, Like a mist that’s there one moment and gone another.
And #2.  James makes his whole point by stating, 15 Instead, we ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”    In other words, it’s all about God’s will not ours. Our life is truly in God’s hands.
What went wrong with the man in James story? In the middle of all his plans he left out God. He forgot to seek the face of the One who created Him. He forgot to determine the will of the One who sustains him. He forgot to seek His blessing as he went off to work.
How many times do we do that? In all of your plans do you asked God if what you are planning is ok with Him and something He will bless? As we plan for the future of this Church, are we asking what God’s plans for us are?
When you look at verse 13, there was nothing wrong with the man planning on going to a city. There was nothing wrong with planning on staying there for a year. There was nothing wrong with planning on starting a business there. There wasn’t even anything wrong with planning on making some money from that business. So what was wrong with the man’s plans? He left God out. He thought he was going to do all that on his own. He forgot that without the Lord, he’s really nothing.
He forgot that even if all of his business plans worked out, his life was but a vapor. He could be the most successful businessman on earth, but that didn’t really matter if God decided his life should end.
He should have  considered making God a partner as he made his plans.
What about you? When you make your plans do you considering God and His will in light of what you want to do?
Have you laid your plan before Him in prayer? And when you pray do you listen and watch for His response? Or do you just push ahead like a raging bull no matter what anyone else thinks, including God.
As I see it, inquiring of God shows how important He is in our everyday life, not just on Sundays.
I personally believe that God is not only concerned about our soul’s eternal destiny; I believe He is also concerned about our everyday affairs and how we conduct our lives in His kingdom. And I also believe He wants to bless us, but He have to put Him and His will first.
And to do that we not only have to seek to learn and understand what He wants of us  in His written word and through the promptings of His Spirit in us, we also have to be do our best to accept and do His will as we live and work in His kingdom..
We have no promise that we will have tomorrow and so we should live like this day is the most important of all; as another day to bring glory to our Father. .
 And if you make any plans, ask God about them. Ask for His approval and blessing. Even consider the advice of other godly men and women you consider wise in the kingdom.  And if it is not God’s will, pray that He will slam the door shut and make it real obvious to you.
Every day that God gives you and me, every day He allows us to live is a gift. Its another day to live, and enjoy our families. It’s another day to be creative or  do something good. It’s another day to show mercy and express love. It’s another day to enjoy what God has created for us in nature.   We can either enjoy those things and use the day to His glory or focus more on our own selfish will and desires; like the man in James’ story.
It’s ok to make plans, work hard, to try to earn and good living in what little time we do have. But if we are to learn anything from this text I hope that you will learn to partner with God in all that you do.
Also realize that you probably should not put of to tomorrow what you should do today.
And if you have not become a Christian thinking that tomorrow will be a better day remember what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 6:2 where he wrote, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
Each time I drive past the cemetery in back of the Target and Staples stores in Saratoga I remember that lady I studied with who is now buried there. Like when we buried her, I still remember what she said, “I don’t want to become a Christian now; maybe later.”  Later never came for her!
Do not put off doing God’s will, and do not forget to seek His will out for your life.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566

Just Do It by Alfred Shannon Jr.


The shortest and best sermon one can ever preach is, “Just Do It!”. What God commands we must do, deviating neither to the right hand nor to the left. A servant of God is one who hears the Word of God, and does it. Stop the debate, don’t hesitate, be strong and of good courage, and Just Do It!
Prov 4:27; Deut 5:32; Jn 2:5; 1 Chron 28:20; 2 Chron 19:7; 2 Chron 25:8; Ezra 7:10; Lk 8:21; 1 Pet 4:11