Trust an Unchanging God

God is an immutable being (James 1:17), which means He does not have the ability to change. God not only does not change, He doesn’t have the ability to change.

“To say that God is immutable is to say that He never differs from Himself. The concept of a growing or developing God is not found in the Scriptures…For a moral being to change it would be necessary that the change be in one of three directions. He must go from better to worse or from worse to better; or granted that the moral quality remain stable, he must change within himself, as from immature to mature or from one order of being to another. It should be clear that God can move in none of these directions. His perfections forever rule out any such possibility. God cannot change for the better. Since He is perfectly holy, He has never been less holy than He is now and can never be holier than He is and has always been. A deterioration within the unspeakably holy nature of God is impossible. Indeed I believe it impossible even to think of such a thing, for the moment we attempt to do so, the object about which we are thinking is no longer God but something else and someone less than He.”—A.W.Tozer

Read the verses below to see what the Bible reveals about the immutability of God:

  • Psalm 119:89―God is changeless in His person. (Cf.Heb.13:8)
  • Isaiah 46:9-10―God is changeless in His purposes. (Cf.Ps.33:11; Mal.3:6)
  • Numbers 23:19―God is changeless in His promises. (Cf.1 Sam.15:2)

God will never change who He is, His plan, nor what He has guaranteed to do, be, and give to His beloved. Will you trust Him today?

The Christian’s Love

 

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Christ rightly known is most surely Christ beloved.”[1] In other words, when a man really knows Christ personally, he will love Him deeply. You show me what a person loves and I can tell you who they are.

False Marks of Love for Christ

Donald Whitney points out five characteristics of people who have a false assurance of salvation:

  1. They are either unconcerned or angry when warned about false assurance.
  2. They are either legalistic or loose with spiritual disciplines and duties.
  3. They are either very weak in or very confident of their Bible knowledge.
  4. They have either a vicarious Christianity or an overly independent
  5. They may be constantly resisting the truth or never able to come to the truth (2 Thess.2:10; 2 Tim.3:7).[2]

 Marks of a True Love for Christ

  • A sign of true love for Christ is the dedication of ourselves and all that we have and are to the Lord. (John 12:25-26)
  • A sign of true love for Christ is a carefulness and sensitivity to avoid anything that would offend Him. (Jer.32:40; Ez.36:27)
  • A sign of true love for Christ is a universal obedience to all of His known commands. What Jesus means in John 14:15 is that obedience to Him is based upon a prior love.
  • A sign of true love for Christ is a willingness to defend His honor against His enemies. (Ps.139:21-22)
  • A sign of true love for Christ is a desire to promote His cause in the world. Love for Christ cannot sit still while others perish. It influences the true Christian in such a way that he acts to spread His name both far and near.

Tests of Love for Christ

Would you be able to enjoy heaven if Christ were not there?
Would you be willing to go to hell itself if you might have Him?
Do you feel drawn out to Him in service?
Do you do things that you certainly would not do, except for His sake?
Are you glad to hear of Him in sermons or conversation?
Is there a warm feeling rising to Him at the mention of His name?
Does it cause you pain to hear evil spoken of Him?
Do you feel sorrow that you do not love Him more?

Questions to Consider

Do you share the intimacies of the Christian life with other believers? (1 John 6-7)
Do you have a deep awareness of your sin against the Word and love for God? (1 John 1:8, 10)
Do you live in conscious obedience to the Word of God? (1 John 2:2-5)
Do you despise the world and its ways? (1 John 2:15)
Do you long for the return of Jesus Christ and to be made like Him? (1 John 3:2-3)
Do you habitually do what is right more and sin less? (1 John 3:7-8, 10)
Do you sacrificially love other Christians and want to be with them? (1 John 3:14)
Do you discern the presence of the Holy Spirit within you? (1 John 3:24; 4:13)
Do you enjoy learning the doctrines taught by the Apostles of Jesus? (1 John 4:6)
Do you believe what the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ? (1 John 5:1)

 

[1] Charles Spurgeon, The Saint and His Savior

[2] Donald S. Whitney, How Can I Be Sure I’m a Christian?

Pursuing What Matters Most

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

 

In Ecclesiastes chapter 12, Solomon seems to imply that if you are truly wise, you will consider four pieces of advice:

First, plan for the time when God calls you home.

How do we wisely plan for the time when God calls us home? Solomon uses the word twice in this closing chapter, “Remember also your Creator…Remember Him…” (vv.1, 6).

I believe what Solomon is saying here is life has no meaning without God, so get your priorities on track early. Make Him the center of your life. When you are about to meet God face-to-face, the one thing you will desire more than anything else is that you knew better the One you’re about to meet!

Second, age works against you, not for you.

In verses 2-5, Solomon highlights the stark reality of aging.

As we get older, we don’t get stronger, we actually get weaker. Therefore, if you are waiting until you have finished whatever it is you say you want to do before you sell out for God, you are fooling yourself!

Third, the real substance of life is not accumulated knowledge, but intimacy with God.

In verses 9-12, Solomon confesses that he was an academician, but none of his reading and writing made life more satisfying. Rather, he was less satisfied.

It is possible to always learn and never know. Paul spoke of men like this in the last days that are “…always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…” (2 Tim.3:7).

It is not enough for us just to know stuff. Yes, the mind is the primary vehicle that sends truth to the heart and life, but we must experience the truth and life we know, not just have it explained to us.

Finally, remember God before it’s too late; the time to walk with God is now.

Solomon offers us some bottom-line advice: fear God and keep His commandments.

What hindered Solomon from doing these two things?

  • First, He took God’s Word too casually. He disobeyed direct instructions from God regarding marriage and the accumulation of riches. (Cf. 1 Kings 11:1-6; Deut.17:14-17)
  • Second, He refused to have human accountability. (Cf. Deut.17:18)
  • Finally, Solomon turned his focus from God Himself to the gifts of God.

Fear God. What does it mean to fear God? A simple acrostic will help us to remember:

Faith begins the relationship of a proper fear of God.
Experience His grace by surrendering your heart.
Awe flows out of a spiritual glimpse of His majesty in the face of Christ.
Resolve to stay within the boundaries.

 

How to Avoid the Sin of Ingratitude

“While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.’”—Luke 17:11-19

This account suggests that of those who are blessed by God, only one in ten will stop to give God praise for it. Here we discover that:

  • Not all who truly believe sincerely praise
  • Not all who diligently pray praise equally
  • Not all who readily obey always praise

Like these nine lepers, we are content to enjoy the gift, but are prone to forget the Giver. We are quick to pray, but slow to praise.

The Cause of Ingratitude

Why did the nine refuse to return to give glory to God? Perhaps the reason was:

  • Callousness―underestimating the benefit of thanksgiving
  • Pride―perhaps thinking they were only getting what they deserved, seeing leprosy as an injustice and good health as their right
  • Selfishness―having received new life from Jesus, perhaps fearing He might demand their loyalty
  • Thoughtlessness―not reflecting on the gift, only enjoying the benefit
  • Cowardice―wondering if a grateful response would involve a deeper discipleship
  • Calculation―willing only to do it if others will, but not otherwise
  • Procrastination―putting it off until later, although sometimes until it is too late
  • Worldliness―forgetting Christ for the sake of other loves

The Penalty of Ingratitude

To refuse to be thankful or to nurse an attitude of ingratitude is a sign of a weak moral and spiritual condition (Rom.1:21). The penalty for ingratitude is that it closes the door to deeper blessings in life.

What is the blessing of a grateful heart? A greater blessing (Luke 17:19)! Every child of God should cultivate the grace of gratitude. Why? It opens the heart for greater blessings and it glorifies God.

Bishop Thorold once said, “He who forgets to be thankful, may one day find himself with nothing to be thankful for.”

Luke 17:17-18 shows us that the Son of God values gratitude and misses it when it is not expressed.

Dealing With Doubt

The people who are perplexed and wrestle with doubt, in my opinion, are the most intellectually honest people in the world. They are men and women who cannot rest on unthoughtful traditions or flattering words; they must get to the bottom of things. Even a light survey of the Gospels reveals that Christ was fond of these kinds of people.

How did Jesus deal with doubters?

Jesus never failed to distinguish between doubt and unbelief. Doubt says, “I can’t see it.” Unbelief says, “I won’t see it.”

  • Doubt is honest; unbelief is obstinacy.
  • Doubt is looking for light; unbelief is content with darkness.

Christ attacked the unbelief of the Pharisees and scribes, but He was generous and tolerant of the doubters like Peter (Matt.14:28-33), Thomas (John 14:5-6; 20:19-28), Philip (John 14:8-9), and even the Pharisee, Nicodemus (John 3:1-16).

How did Jesus deal with their doubts?

The church said, “Burn him” or “Brand him,” but Christ says, “I’ll teach him.” When Thomas doubted His resurrection, Jesus did not give him a tongue lashing―He gave him facts! Jesus said, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27). The great lesson of the New Testament way of looking at doubt is not to brand people, but to lovingly and wisely teach them. Faith is never opposed to facts or reason, it is opposed to sight.

How are we to deal with doubt in those to whom we minister?

  • First, we must make all the concessions to them that we can.
  • Second, we must challenge them to set aside, by an act of will, all unsolved problems. Problems like evil, the Trinity, and the relationship between human will and predestination. These are questions that the biggest brains in the world have wrestled with and have never solved completely.
  • Third, remember that talking about difficult or unresolved theological issues only aggravates the doubter.
  • Fourth—and this is a very important point—turn away as soon as you can from the reasoning and the feelings and go to the man’s moral life. By this I mean leave the great perplexing issues and deal with whether he is doing any good or is wasting his life. Shift him from thinking about things to doing things. In other words, what is he doing with his life? Is he making any difference? Any good that has happened in the world came from doing and not just thinking. At this point you are in a perfect position to show him Christ and point him to what He has done.

How are we to deal with doubt in ourselves?

  1. Ask God and believe that He is not reluctant to give you wisdom. (James 1:2-5)

  2. Intend to obey His will before He reveals it. (John 7:17)

  3. Don’t lean on your own common sense, but acknowledge His right to rule in your life and bow your reason to His majesty. (Prov.3:5-6)

  4. Look to the facts of the Word of God to show you how to live each day. (Ps.119:105)

  5. Always doubt your doubts, never doubt you faith. (2 Tim.1:12)

 

Abounding in the Work of the Lord

1 Corinthians 15:58“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

Paul places three principles before us to consider in the work of the Lord:

The first principle is that our labor must be steadfast. The two words “steadfast” (firmly seated) and “immovable” (unshaken) combine to urge us to “let nothing move you.” Two things are desirable in every good soldier: steadiness under fire and enthusiasm during a charge. The Holy Spirit is very specific in His counsel and never wastes words, so He uses both words. In essence, He tells us to be firmly faithful. Instead of being thermometers that register temperature, we are to be thermostats that regulate it!

The second principle is that our labor must be wholehearted. The statement “…always abounding in the work of the Lord” is Paul’s way of saying, “always give yourselves fully” to the work of God. Under the first principle, the charge was to be firmly faithful, but here we are called to be abundantly fruitful. The word “abound” pictures something flowing over the edges on all sides. We should not do as little as we can for Christ, but as much as we can. He abounded in work for us; we should abound in work for Him. Most of us find it difficult to abound in our works for the Lord, but we have no problem abounding in our efforts to make money or to satisfy our dreams and desires. Why should the work of God suffer? We must turn from half-hearted token expressions of service to Christ! Superficial service is wasted service. The diligent servant is the one most ready to meet his Lord.

The third principle is that we must do our labor in an expectant manner—“…knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” This statement is in the present tense rather than the future tense, and by putting it this way, Paul teaches us that the reality of the future shapes and motivates how we live in the present. We do not labor for a dead Savior, but a living Lord who shall remember the work you have done in His name. It would be vain if Christ had not risen, but because of the resurrection, your labor is not empty. I admire the man who labors when nobody praises him, who presses on although fruit is lacking but the promise is clear.

 

The Motivation for Soul Winning

2 Corinthians 5:11-15

  1. The first motive for soul winning that the Apostle gives to us is “the fear of the Lord” (v.11). “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord…”
    By “the fear of the Lord,” the Apostle does not mean the divine terror of an angry Judge, which the unsaved will experience when they stand before the Lord. No, no, here the Apostle speaks of that reverential awe. He speaks of the fear that the Lord, by His own person, produces in the Christian—a godly fear, a worshipful fear toward God. This fear is a pious reverence that Paul had of Christ as His divine assessor and future judge.
  2. The second motive is for the glory of God and good of the church or concern for people (v.13). “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.”
    To be “beside ourselves” literally means to be out of one’s mind. Paul says, “Oh no, I’m not crazy. I am in full possession of my mental faculties.”But this is the world’s conclusion about those who are dogmatic and zealous about the truth. Both Jesus and John were accused of possessing a demon (John 8:48; 7:20; 8:52; 10:20). After Paul gave his dramatic testimony before King Agrippa, the Roman governor Festus “…said in a loud voice, ‘Paul you are out of your mind! Your learning is driving you mad’” (Acts 26:24). But Paul said, no, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth” (v.25). The issue for Paul was not about what people thought of him. His motivation was to be pleasing to God for the sake of the church. Is this the case with you?
  3. The third motive for soul winning is the love of Christ (vv.14-15). “For the love of Christ controls us…”
    The Apostle says that the love of Christ led him to conclude, “…that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”

    One died—all died: This speaks of the Christian’s union with Christ.
    One died—all die: This speaks of the Christian’s imitation of Christ.
    One died—all live: This speaks of the Christian’s devotion to Christ.

    Only a risen Savior has the power to communicate His saving grace to those for whom He died. And, my friends, what the New Testament seeks to teach us by the resurrection is that the same Jesus who died is loose and at large in the world, working, rescuing, saving all whom He died to save.

Christian Liberty: Discovering and Enjoying the Freedom Christ Purchased for Us

We must always understand Christian liberty as that which Christ has purchased and obtained through His death and resurrection for those who believe (Eph.1:3): it cannot be earned, bargained for, or purchased by us.

Liberty is “the fullest opportunity for man to be and do the very best that is possible for him.” Christian liberty simply speaks of those things that the Christian is free from and free for. In other words, Christian liberty is freedom from those things that threaten or enslave, and freedom for or to those things that God desires and commands. The opposite of liberty is bondage, and the only bondage that the Christian is called to be enslaved to is the yoke of Christ (Matt.11:28-30). Therefore, anything that does not “yoke” us to Christ in His present and effectual grace is not liberty.

The Christian is free from five spiritual enemies:

  1. The wrath of God (Rom.5:9; 8:1; John 3:36; Eph.2:3)
  2. The curse of the Law (Gal.3:10, 13; Rom.6:14)
  3. The bondage of sin (Rom.3:9; 6:6, 11, 18, 22)
  4. The terror of death (Rom.5:14ff; 1 Cor.15:55-57; Heb.2:15)
  5. The captivity of Satan (2 Tim.2:26; 1 John 5:19)

The Christian is free for or to do five spiritual privileges:

  1. To enjoy the liberty of sonship (Gal.4:1-7)
  2. To experience the liberty of Truth (John 8:32)
  3. To enter the liberty of approaching God (Heb.10:19-22; 4:16)
  4. To express the liberty of service to others (Gal.5:13)
  5. To experience growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Pet.3:18)

How can we attain this liberty?

Galatians 5:13—“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

  1. We must understand that Christian liberty does not mean we are free from temptation.
  2. We must know that our liberty in Christ is freedom to do right, not freedom to do what our old nature desires and dictates.
  3. We must be convinced that liberty in the Lord is not a license to sin.
  4. Whenever Christian liberty is used to serve self and not the highest need and the greatest good of others (love), we are abusing our privileges.
  5. Living in liberty does not mean renouncing our rights, but being willing to forego the use of them for the sake of others.
  6. The constraining principle and power in the Christian’s life is love (2 Cor.5:14), and love will make us less self-centered and more considerate of others.
  7. The remedy from self-centeredness or desiring to please our flesh is to walk in the Spirit (Gal.5:16). The greatest motivation for holiness is the regenerating work of the Spirit when He writes on our heart the Law of God (puts His life as a rule of life in us which awakens and determines desire). The strength for expressing this holiness is never produced by our own strength—it is only produced by the Spirit of God as we abide in Christ’s Word (choose to believe His Word).

How to Avoid a Home Like Eli’s

1 Samuel 2:22-36

The story of Eli is the saga of a careless father and toothless leader. It is the sober account of the tragic consequences of failing to seek true conversion and sound character in those who are closest to you. Scripture places Eli before us as a man divinely chosen and privileged by God, yet one fatal flaw destroyed many faithful works, including causing obscurity in his lineage.

Eli’s conduct with his sons is chiefly in view here (vv.22-26). Scripture mentions the age of Eli to perhaps make us aware of the infirmities that come with old age. Although Eli was “very old” (v.22), his age was no excuse or justification for his failure to lead. To the profanity and greed described in verses 12-17 is added immorality. Not just any immorality, but sexual sin with women who were supposed to be dedicated to religious services (v.22; Ex.38:8). Whether this was some type of cultic prostitution practiced in Canannite religions or simply fornication is unimportant. The point is that the depth of their sin was willful, flagrant, and appalling.

Where did Eli fail? How did he sin against the Lord? What was the root of his sin?

  • His sin was rooted in his depth of his character.
  • His sin was a reflection of his moral weakness and light esteem of God.

After a long time of forbearance, here we discover that special privileges bestowed by God’s favor involve serious responsibility. When a person does not carry out that responsibility in faithfulness, the effects are devastating. God reminded him of a grace spurned and abused (vv.28-29). Eli’s punishment would consist of:

  • The depriving of strength (v.31)
  • The shortening of life (vv.32-33)
  • The loss of prosperity and the infliction of misery (vv.33-34)

The fulfillment of the death of Eli’s two sons is recorded in 1 Samuel 4:17-22. It is one of the saddest in the record of Holy Scripture. In later years, Saul killed one of Eli’s descendants (1 Sam.22:17-20); and later Solomon replaced Eli’s family with the family of Zadok (1 Kin.2:26-27, 35). In 1 Samuel 2:35, the “faithful priest” refers immediately to Samuel, but ultimately to the Lord Jesus Christ (Cf. Heb.3:1ff).

Eli’s story reveals the consequences of our lack of parental forethought, prayer, and wisdom. Often our severe tones of asserting authority, our lack of discipline to check wrong tendencies, and our avoidance of the essential truths of the Gospel inflame a silent resistance to true religion in the heart. We must keep dealing with matters of the heart with our children. The power of early habit plays an important role in the formation of character, and it is likely that if a child is trained up in the way he should go, he will not depart from it when he is old (Prov.22:6). Prayer, the Word of God, and example are the best tools to do this essential work.

False Teaching

John Owen, the eminent Puritan pastor and theologian who served as a chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, once said, “If we would defend ourselves against apostasy, we must first of all be concerned for the glory of God…pray continually…contend for the faith (Jude 3)…keep careful watch over our hearts (Prov.4:23)…beware of trusting in the outward privileges of the church…and test to see if we are benefiting from the ordinances of the gospel.[1]

Seven characters of false teachers:

  1. False teachers are men-pleasers. (Jer.5:30-31)
  1. False teachers are notable in casting dirt, scorn, and reproach upon the persons, name, and credits of Christ’s most faithful ambassadors. (Num.16:3; 1 Kin.22:10-26; Matt.27:62-63)
  1. False teachers are inventors of the devices and visions of their own heads and hearts. (Jer.14:14)
  1. False teachers easily pass over the great and weighty things both of Law and Gospel and stand most upon those things that are of the least concern to the souls of men. (Matt.23:2-3; 1 Tim.6:3-5)
  1. False teachers cover and color their dangerous principles and soul impostures with fair speeches and plausible pretenses. (Num.24:17)
  1. False teachers strive more to win over men to their opinion than to better them in their conversations. (Matt.23:15)
  1. False teachers make merchandise of their followers. (2 Pet.2:1-3)[2]

What are the dangers of false teaching?
False teaching is dangerous for many reasons. Paul identifies several serious dangers.

 

  • It promotes and provokes controversy rather than faith in Christ. (1 Tim.1:3-4)

 

  • It leads to spiritual shipwreck and moral catastrophe like that of King Saul, Judas, and Demas. (1 Tim.1:19ff)

 

  • It leads to apostasy and falling victim to demonic activity. (1 Tim.4:1-4)

 

  • It engenders greed and discontentment, and ultimately results in ruin and destruction. (1 Tim.6:6-10)

 

  • It results in shallowness of character, emptiness, and false knowledge. (1 Tim.6:20-21)

 

  • It possesses a gangrene-like effect that multiplies and spreads throughout the whole body, destroying vital tissue, leading to division, decline, and, finally, death in a church. (2 Tim.2:17ff)

 

  • It corrupts the mind and defiles the conscience, so that one’s decisions and attitudes are no longer a reliable guide to faith and purity. (Titus 1:13-16)

How do you guard yourself from false teaching?

  1. Be sure that you possess true, genuine, saving faith. In other words, make sure that you have been truly converted. The unconverted mind is unwilling to submit to sound doctrine (Phil.3:18; Titus 1:16; 1 Cor.2:6-7, 14; 2 Cor.4:4-6; Rom.6:17; 2 Tim.4:3-5).

 

  1. Be intent on doing God’s will as it is revealed to you in Scripture (John 7:17). A true understanding of doctrine will not come unless one is inwardly yielded to the truth he hears.

 

  1. Be mindful and diligent in giving God your best, so that when you meet God’s inspection, you will stand the test and be approved, having no need for shame because of faulty workmanship (2 Tim.2:15).

 

 

 

 

[1] Apostasy from the Gospel, John Owen, Puritan Paperbacks, Banner of Truth Trust

 

[2] Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, pp.230-234