Archive for the ‘hope and peace’ Category

CHRIST, THOUGH KNOWN TO THE JEWS UNDER THE LAW, YET ONLY MANIFESTED UNDER THE GOSPEL

There are three principal heads in this chapter. I. Preparatory to a consideration of the knowledge of Christ, and the benefits procured by him; the 1st and 2nd sections are occupied with the dispensation of this knowledge, which, after the manifestation of Christ in the flesh, was more clearly revealed than under the Law. II. A refutation of the profane dream of Servetus, that the promises are entirely abrogated, sec. 3. Likewise, a refutation of those who do not properly compare the Law with the Gospel, sec. 4. III. A necessary and brief exposition of the ministry of John Baptist, which occupies an intermediate place between the law and the Gospel.

Sections.

1. The holy fathers under the Law saw the day of Christ, though obscurely. He is more fully revealed to us under the Gospel. A reason for this, confirmed by the testimony of Christ and his Apostles.

2.The term Gospel, used in its most extensive sense, comprehends the attestations of mercy which God gave to the fathers. Properly, however, it means the promulgation of grace exhibited in the God-man Jesus Christ.

3. The notion of Servetus, that the promises are entirely abolished, refuted. Why we must still trust to the promises of God. Another reason. Solution of a difficulty.

4. Refutation of those who do not properly compare the Law and the Gospel. Answer to certain questions here occurring. The Law and the Gospel briefly compared.

5. Third part of the chapter. Of the ministry of John the Baptist.

1. SINCE God was pleased (and not in vain) to testify in ancient times by means of expiations and sacrifices that he was a Father, and to set apart for himself a chosen people, he was doubtless known even then in the same character in which he is now fully revealed to us. Accordingly Malachi, having enjoined the Jews to attend to the Law of Moses (because after his death there was to be an interruption of the prophetical office), immediately after declares that the Sun of righteousness should arise (Mal. 4:2); thus intimating, that though the Law had the effect of keeping the pious in expectation of the coming Messiah, there was ground to hope for much greater light on his advent. For this reason, Peter, speaking of the ancient prophets, says, “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,” (1 Pet. 1:12). Not that the prophetical doctrine was useless to the ancient people, or unavailing to the prophets themselves, but that they did not obtain possession of the treasure which God has transmitted to us by their hands. The grace of which they testified is now set familiarly before our eyes. They had only a slight foretaste; to us is given a fuller fruition. Our Saviour, accordingly, while he declares that Moses testified of him, extols the superior measure of grace bestowed upon us (John 5:46). Addressing his disciples, he says, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them,” (Mt. 13:16; Luke 10:23). It is no small commendation of the gospel revelation, that God has preferred us to holy men of old, so much distinguished for piety. There is nothing in this view inconsistent with another passage, in which our Saviour says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad,” (John 8:56). For though the event being remote, his view of it was obscure, he had full assurance that it would one day be accomplished; and hence the joy which the holy patriarch experienced even to his death. Nor does John Baptist, when he says, “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him,” (John 1:18), exclude the pious who had previously died from a participation in the knowledge and light which are manifested in the person of Christ; but comparing their condition with ours, he intimates that the mysteries which they only beheld dimly under shadows are made clear to us; as is well explained by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in these words, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,” (Heb. 1:1, 2). Hence, although this only begotten Son, who is now to us the brightness of his Father’s glory and the express image of his person, was formerly made known to the Jews, as we have elsewhere shown from Paul, that he was the Deliverer under the old dispensation; it is nevertheless true, as Paul himself elsewhere declares, that “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” (2 Cor. 4:6); because, when he appeared in this his image, he in a manner made himself visible, his previous appearance having been shadowy and obscure. More shameful and more detestable, therefore, is the ingratitude of those who walk blindfold in this meridian light. Accordingly, Paul says that “the god of this world has blinded their minds, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them,” (2 Cor. 4:4).

2. By the Gospel, I understand the clear manifestation of the mystery of Christ. I confess, indeed, that inasmuch as the term Gospel is applied by Paul to the doctrine of faith (2 Tim. 4:10), it includes all the promises by which God reconciles men to himself, and which occur throughout the Law. For Paul there opposes faith to those terrors which vex and torment the conscience when salvation is sought by means of works. Hence it follows that Gospel, taken in a large sense, comprehends the evidences of mercy and paternal favour which God bestowed on the Patriarchs. Still, by way of excellence, it is applied to the promulgation of the grace manifested in Christ. This is not only founded on general use, but has the sanction of our Saviour and his Apostles. Hence it is described as one of his peculiar characteristics, that he preached the Gospel of the kingdom (Mt. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14). Mark, in his preface to the Gospel, calls it “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” There is no use of collecting passages to prove what is already perfectly known. Christ at his advent “brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel,” (2 Tim. 1:10). Paul does not mean by these words that the Fathers were plunged in the darkness of death before the Son of God became incarnate; but he claims for the Gospel the honourable distinction of being a new and extraordinary kind of embassy, by which God fulfilled what he had promised, these promises being realised in the person of the Son. For though believers have at all times experienced the truth of Paul’s declaration, that “all the promises of God in him are yea and amen,” inasmuch as these promises were sealed upon their hearts; yet because he has in his flesh completed all the parts of our salvation, this vivid manifestation of realities was justly entitled to this new and special distinction. Accordingly, Christ says, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” For though he seems to allude to the ladder which the Patriarch Jacob saw in vision, he commends the excellence of his advent in this, that it opened the gate of heaven, and gave us familiar access to it.

3. Here we must guard against the diabolical imagination of Servetus, who, from a wish, or at least the pretence of a wish, to extol the greatness of Christ, abolishes the promises entirely, as if they had come to an end at the same time with the Law. He pretends, that by the faith of the Gospel all the promises have been fulfilled; as if there was no distinction between us and Christ. I lately observed that Christ had not left any part of our salvation incomplete; but from this it is erroneously inferred, that we are now put in possession of all the blessings purchased by him; thereby implying, that Paul was incorrect in saying, “We are saved by hope,” (Rom. 3:24). I admit, indeed, that by believing in Christ we pass from death unto life; but we must at the same time remember the words of John, that though we know we are “the sons of God,” “it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is,” (1 John 3:2). Therefore, although Christ offers us in the Gospel a present fulness of spiritual blessings, fruition remains in the keeping of hope, until we are divested of corruptible flesh, and transformed into the glory of him who has gone before us. Meanwhile, in leaning on the promises, we obey the command of the Holy Spirit, whose authority ought to have weight enough with us to silence all the barkings of that impure dog. We have it on the testimony of Paul, that “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” (1 Tim. 4:8); for which reason, he glories in being “an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:1). And he elsewhere reminds us, that we have the same promises which were given to the saints in ancient time (2 Cor. 7:1). In fine, he makes the sum of our felicity consist in being sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Indeed we have no enjoyment of Christ, unless by embracing him as clothed with his own promises. Hence it is that he indeed dwells in our hearts and yet we are as pilgrims in regard to him, because “we walk by faith, not by sight,” (2 Cor. 5:6, 7). There is no inconsistency in the two things—viz. that in Christ we possess every thing pertaining to the perfection of the heavenly life, and yet that faith is only a vision “of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1). Only there is this difference to be observed in the nature or quality of the promises, that the Gospel points with the finger to what the Law shadowed under types.

4. Hence, also, we see the error of those who, in comparing the Law with the Gospel, represent it merely as a comparison between the merit of works, and the gratuitous imputation of righteousness. The contrast thus made is by no means to be rejected, because, by the term Law, Paul frequently understands that rule of holy living in which God exacts what is his due, giving no hope of life unless we obey in every respect; and, on the other hand, denouncing a curse for the slightest failure. This Paul does when showing that we are freely accepted of God, and accounted righteous by being pardoned, because that obedience of the Law to which the reward is promised is nowhere to be found. Hence he appropriately represents the righteousness of the Law and the Gospel as opposed to each other. But the Gospel has not succeeded the whole Law in such a sense as to introduce a different method of salvation. It rather confirms the Law, and proves that every thing which it promised is fulfilled. What was shadow, it has made substance. When Christ says that the Law and the Prophets were until John, he does not consign the fathers to the curse, which, as the slaves of the Law, they could not escape. He intimates that they were only imbued with the rudiments, and remained far beneath the height of the Gospel doctrine. Accordingly Paul, after calling the Gospel “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” shortly after adds, that it was “witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,” (Rom. 1:16; 3:21). And in the end of the same Epistle, though he describes “the preaching of Jesus Christ” as “the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began,” he modifies the expression by adding, that it is “now made manifest” “by the scriptures of the prophets,” (Rom. 16:25, 26). Hence we infer, that when the whole Law is spoken of, the Gospel differs from it only in respect of clearness of manifestation. Still, on account of the inestimable riches of grace set before us in Christ, there is good reason for saying, that by his advent the kingdom of heaven was erected on the earth (Mt. 12:28).

5. John stands between the Law and the Gospel, holding an intermediate office allied to both. For though he gave a summary of the Gospel when he pronounced Christ to be “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world,” yet, inasmuch as he did not unfold the incomparable power and glory which shone forth in his resurrection, Christ says that he was not equal to the Apostles. For this is the meaning of the words: “Among them that are born of woman, there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he,” (Mt. 11:28). He is not there commending the persons of men, but after preferring John to all the Prophets, he gives the first place to the preaching of the Gospel, which is elsewhere designated by the kingdom of heaven. When John himself, in answer to the Jews, says that he is only “a voice,” (John 1:23), as if he were inferior to the Prophets it is not in pretended humility but he means to teach that the proper embassy was not entrusted to him, that he only performed the office of a messenger, as had been foretold by Malachi, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophets before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” (Mal. 4:5). And, indeed, during the whole course of his ministry, he did nothing more than prepare disciples for Christ. He even proves from Isaiah that this was the office to which he was divinely appointed. In this sense, he is said by Christ to have been “a burning and a shining light,” (John 5:35), because full day had not yet appeared. And yet this does not prevent us from classing him among the preachers of the gospel, since he used the same baptism which was afterwards committed to the Apostles. Still, however, he only began that which had freer course under the Apostles, after Christ was taken up into the heavenly glory.

Calvin, J. (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Love Finds a Way

(In which Boaz and Ruth get married, and Naomi finds her

empty heart full of joy and her empty hands full of a baby boy)

The Book of Ruth opens with three funerals but closes with a wedding. There is a good deal of weeping recorded in the first chapter, but the last chapter records an overflowing of joy in the little town of Bethlehem. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Ps. 30:5, KJV). Not all of life’s stories have this kind of happy ending; but this little book reminds us that, for the Christian, God still writes the last chapter. We don’t have to be afraid of the future.

This chapter focuses on three persons: a bridegroom, a bride, and a baby.

1. The bridegroom (Ruth 4:1–10)

The law of the kinsman redeemer is given in Leviticus 25:23–34, and the law governing levirate marriage is found in Deuteronomy 25:5–10. The purpose of these laws was to preserve the name and protect the property of families in Israel. God owned the land and didn’t want it exploited by rich people who would take advantage of poor people and widows. When obeyed, these laws made sure that a dead man’s family name did not die with him and that his property was not sold outside the tribe or clan. The tragedy is that the Jewish rulers didn’t always obey this law, and the prophets had to rebuke them for stealing land from the helpless (1 Kings 21; Isa. 5:8–10; Hab. 2:9–12). The nation’s abuse of the land was one cause for their Captivity (2 Chron. 36:21).

The meaning of redemption. The word redeem means “to set free by paying a price.” In the case of Ruth and Naomi, Elimelech’s property had either been sold or was under some kind of mortgage, and the rights to the land had passed to Ruth’s husband Mahlon when Elimelech died. This explains why Ruth was also involved in the transaction. She was too poor, however, to redeem the land.

When it comes to spiritual redemption, all people are in bondage to sin and Satan (Eph. 2:1–3; John 8:33–34) and are unable to set themselves free. Jesus Christ gave His life as a ransom for sinners (Mark 10:45; Rev. 5:9–10), and faith in Him sets the captive free.

Each time I visit a bookstore, I try to observe what subjects are getting prominent notice; and in recent years, it’s been the theme of deliverance. I see shelves of books about addiction and codependence and how to find freedom. In a world that’s enjoying more political freedom than ever before, millions of people are in bondage to food, sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, work, and dozens of other “masters.” While we thank God for the help counselors and therapists can give, it is Jesus Christ who alone can give freedom to those who are enslaved. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36, NKJV).

The marks of the redeemer. Not everybody could perform the duties of a kinsman redeemer. To begin with, he had to be a near kinsman (Lev. 25:25). This was the major obstacle Boaz had to overcome because another man in Bethlehem was a nearer relative to Ruth than he was (3:12–13). When you see this as a type of Jesus Christ, it reminds you that He had to become related to us before He could redeem us. He became flesh and blood so He could die for us on the cross (Heb. 2:14–15). When He was born into this world in human flesh, He became our “near kinsman”; and He will remain our “kinsman” for all eternity. What matchless love!

In order to qualify, the kinsman redeemer also had to be able to pay the redemption price. Ruth and Naomi were too poor to redeem themselves, but Boaz had all the resources necessary to set them free. When it comes to the redemption of sinners, nobody but Jesus Christ is rich enough to pay the price. Indeed, the payment of money can never set sinners free; it is the shedding of the precious blood of Christ that has accomplished redemption (1 Peter 1:18–19; see Ps. 49:5–9). We have redemption through Christ’s blood (Eph. 1:7), because He gave Himself for us (Titus 2:14) and purchased eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:12).

There was a third qualification: The kinsman redeemer had to be willing to redeem. As we shall see in this chapter, since the nearer kinsman was not willing to redeem Ruth, Boaz was free to purchase both the property and a wife. The nearer kinsman had the money but not the motivation: He was afraid he would jeopardize his own family’s inheritance.

The method of redemption. In ancient times, the city gate was the official court where judicial business was transacted in the presence of the elders (Deut. 21:18–21; 2 Sam. 15:2; Job 29:7ff). When Boaz arrived at the gate, he gathered ten men to witness the transaction. Just then, the nearer kinsman walked by—another evidence of God’s providence—and Boaz hailed him. Now everything was ready for the great transaction that would ultimately involve the coming of the Son of God into the world.

The key theme of this chapter is redemption. The words “redeem,” “buy,” and “purchase” are used at least fifteen times. There can be no redemption without the paying of a price. From our point of view, salvation is free to “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord” (Acts 2:21, KJV); but from God’s point of view, redemption is a very costly thing.

The other kinsman was willing to buy the land until he learned that Ruth was a part of the transaction, and then he backed out. His explanation was that, in marrying Ruth, he would jeopardize his own inheritance. If he had a son by Ruth, and that son were his only surviving heir, Mahlon’s property and part of his own estate would go to Elimelech’s family. The fact that Ruth was a Moabitess may also have been a problem to him. (Both Mahlon and Chilion had married Moabite women and died!)

Boaz was undoubtedly relieved when his relative stepped aside and opened the way for Ruth to become his wife. It’s worth noting that the nearer kinsman tried to protect his name and inheritance; but we don’t even know what his name was or what happened to his family! Boaz took the risk of love and obedience, and his name is written down in Scripture and held in honor. “He who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17, NKJV). This also explains why Orpah’s name is missing in Ruth 4:9–10.

The custom of taking off the shoe probably relates to the divine commandment to walk on the land and take possession (Gen. 13:17; Deut. 11:24; Josh. 1:3). In years to come, the ten witnesses would be able to testify that the transaction had been completed because they saw the kinsman hand his shoe to Boaz. It symbolized the kinsman’s forfeiture of his right to possess the land. Boaz now had the land—and Ruth!

I have mentioned before that Boaz is a picture of Jesus Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer; and this scene is no exception to that. Like Boaz, Jesus wasn’t concerned about jeopardizing His own inheritance; instead, He made us a part of His inheritance (Eph. 1:11, 18). Like Boaz, Jesus made His plans privately, but He paid the price publicly; and like Boaz, Jesus did what He did because of His love for His bride.

However, there are also some contrasts between Boaz and the Lord Jesus Christ. Boaz purchased Ruth by giving out of his wealth, while Jesus purchased His bride by giving Himself on the cross. Boaz didn’t have to suffer and die to get a bride. Boaz had a rival in the other kinsman, but there was no rival to challenge Jesus Christ. Boaz took Ruth that he might raise up the name of the dead (Ruth 4:10), but we Christians glorify the name of the living Christ. There were witnesses on earth to testify that Ruth belonged to Boaz (vv. 9–10), but God’s people have witnesses from heaven, the Spirit, and the Word (1 John 5:9–13).

Five times in Ruth 4:1–2 you find people sitting down. When Jesus Christ finished purchasing His bride, He sat down in heaven (Heb. 1:3; Mark 16:19) because the transaction was completed. “It is finished!”

2. The bride (Ruth 4:11–12)

It’s a wonderful thing when the covenant community sincerely rejoices with the bride and groom because what they are doing is in the will of God. In my pastoral ministry, I’ve participated in a few weddings that were anything but joyful. We felt like grieving instead of celebrating. The popular entertainer George Jessel defined marriage as “a mistake every man should make,” but the last place you want to make a mistake is at the marriage altar. Contrary to what some people believe, marriage is not “a private affair.” This sacred union includes God and God’s people, and every bride and groom should want the blessing of God and God’s people on their marriage.

The people prayed that Ruth would be fruitful in bearing children, for in Israel children were considered a blessing and not a burden (Ps. 127:3–5). Alas, that’s not the attitude in society today. In the United States each year, a million and a half babies are legally destroyed in the womb, and the pieces of their bodies removed as though they were cancerous tumors. A Christian nurse said to me one day, “In one part of our hospital, we’re working day and night to keep little babies alive. In another part, we’re murdering them. What is God going to say?”

It was important that the Jewish wives bear children, not only to perpetuate the nation, but also because it would be through Israel that God would send the Messiah to earth. The Jews abhorred both abortion and the exposing of children to die—practices that were common in other nations. Jacob’s two wives, Leah and Rachel, bore to him eight sons who “built” the nation by founding the leading tribes of Israel (Gen. 29:31–30:24; 35:18). The use of the word Ephrathah in Ruth 4:11 is significant, for the Hebrew word means “fruitful.” The people wanted Ruth to be fruitful and famous and bring honor to their little town. It was the place where Rachel was buried (Gen. 35:19), but more importantly, it would be known as the place where Jesus Christ was born.

The neighbors also wanted the house of Boaz to be like that of Perez (Ruth 4:12; see Matt. 1:3). The family of Perez had settled in Bethlehem (1 Chron. 2:5, 50–54), and Boaz was a descendant of Perez (v. 18). Tamar, the mother of Perez, was not a godly woman; but her name is found in our Lord’s genealogy (Matt. 1:3).

What wonderful changes came into Ruth’s life because she trusted Boaz and let him work on her behalf! She went from loneliness to love, from toil to rest, from poverty to wealth, from worry to assurance, and from despair to hope. She was no longer “Ruth the Moabitess,” for the past was gone, and she was making a new beginning. She was now “Ruth the wife of Boaz,” a name she was proud to bear.

One of the many images of the church in the Bible is “the bride of Christ.” In Ephesians 5:22–33, the emphasis is on Christ’s love for the church as seen in His ministries: He died for the church (past), He cleanses and nourishes the church through the Word (present), and He will one day present the church in glory (future). Christ is preparing a beautiful home for His bride and one day will celebrate His wedding (Rev. 19:1–10; 21–22).

3. The baby (Ruth 4:13–22)

God had been gracious to Ruth back in Moab by giving her the faith to trust Him and be saved. His grace continued when she moved to Bethlehem, for He guided her to the field of Boaz where Boaz fell in love with her. God’s grace continued at the town gate where the nearer kinsman rejected Ruth and Boaz purchased her. After the marriage, God poured out His grace on Ruth and Boaz by giving her conception (Gen. 29:31; 30:1–2; 33:5) and then by giving her the safe delivery of a son, whom they named Obed (“servant”).

God would use this baby to be a source of blessing to many.

Obed was a blessing to Boaz and Ruth. This was no ordinary baby, for it was God’s special gift to Boaz and Ruth; and what a blessing little Obed was to their home! But every baby is a special gift from God and should be treated that way. Every baby deserves a loving home and caring parents who want to raise the child “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4, NKJV). What a great privilege it is to bring new life into the world and then to guide that life so it matures to become all that God has planned!

Obed was also a blessing to Naomi. His grandmother informally “adopted” him as her own son and became his foster mother. The women of Bethlehem shared Naomi’s joy when they said, “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer” (Ruth 4:14, NIV). The reference is to Obed, not Boaz.

Obed was a “restorer of life” to Naomi. Every grandparent can bear witness that grandchildren are better than the Fountain of Youth, for we “get young again” when the grandchildren come to visit. Though not all grandparents agree with it, they all know the saying: “They’re called ‘grandchildren’ because they’re grand when they come and grand when they leave.” There’s no better way to get a new lease on life than to start investing yourself in the younger generation. Every baby that is born into this world is a vote for the future, and grandparents need to focus on the future and not on the past. When you’re holding a baby, you’re holding the future in your arms.

Obed would be a blessing to Naomi in another way: He would one day care for the family that brought him into the world, including his grandmother Naomi. Boaz had redeemed the family inheritance; now Obed would continue the family line, protect the inheritance, and use it to sustain Naomi. He would live up to his name and be a “servant” to Naomi, his “foster mother.”

The guarantee for this ministry would not be the law of the land but the love of Ruth for her mother-in-law. Obed would early learn to love Naomi even as Ruth loved her. Obed was an only son, but his affection for his mother and grandmother would be equal to that of seven sons.

Obed would bring blessing to Bethlehem. The child would bring fame to both the family name and the name of his native town. Elimelech’s name almost disappeared from Israel, but Obed would make that name famous and bring glory to Bethlehem. This happened, of course, through the life and ministry of King David (v. 22) and of David’s greater Son, Jesus Christ. Naomi would have the comfort of knowing that the family name would not perish but increase in fame.

Obed would bring blessing to Israel. Obed was the grandfather of King David, one of Israel’s greatest rulers. When the name of David is mentioned, we usually think of either Goliath or Bathsheba. David did commit a great sin, but he was also a great man of faith whom God used to build the kingdom of Israel. He led the people in overcoming their enemies, expanding their inheritance and, most of all, worshiping their God. He wrote worship songs for the Levites to sing and devised musical instruments for them to play. He spent a lifetime gathering wealth for the building of the temple, and God gave him the plans for the temple so Solomon could do the job. Whether he had in his hand a sling or sword, a harp or hymnal, David was a great servant of God who brought untold blessings to Israel.

Obed would bring blessing to the whole world. The greatest thing God did for David was not to give him victory over his enemies or wealth for the building of the temple. The greatest privilege God gave him was that of being the ancestor of the Messiah. David wanted to build a house for God, but God told him He would build a house (family) for David (2 Sam. 7). David knew that the Messiah would come from the kingly tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:8–10), but nobody knew which family in Judah would be chosen. God chose David’s family, and the Redeemer would be known as “the son of David” (Matt. 1:1).

Little did those Bethlehemites know that God had great plans for that little boy! Obed would have a son named Jesse; and Jesse would have eight sons, the youngest of which would be David the king (1 Sam. 16:6–13). Remember that the next time you behold a baby or a child, that little one might be one for whom God has planned a great future. The medieval teacher who always tipped his hat to his pupils had the right idea, for among them perhaps was a future general or emperor.

The Moabites were not to enter the congregation of the Lord “even to the tenth generation” (Deut. 23:3). But the little Book of Ruth closes with a ten-generation genealogy that climaxes with the name of David!

Never underestimate the power of the grace of God.

Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be committed. An Old Testament study. Ruth and Esther (49–58). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

If I remove life support, am I responsible for the death?

There is no meaningful medical, legal, or ethical difference between withholding life-sustaining technology and withdrawing it, and none of the advance-directive laws delineate between the two. People have a constitutional right to request the withdrawal or withholding of medical treatment, even if doing so will result in death. As a legal matter, the courts are presently distinguishing between physician-assisted suicide, which is illegal virtually everywhere, and withdrawing or withholding life support, which is legal.

Morally, people are not responsible for the death of another if they don’t cause it or intend it. When life support is removed, the illness or injury—not the withdrawal—is the medical cause of death. Nevertheless, withdrawal can be done with the primary intent of bringing on death sooner—i.e., the same problematic intent involved in assisted suicide and euthanasia (see question 15). Or, withdrawal can be done with the praiseworthy intent of allowing a loved one to die without the added burden of a medically prolonged dying process (i.e., when the condition is irreversible and death is imminent; see question 3).

Some people feel guilty after making a decision to withdraw life support because something between the patient and the decision maker was left unresolved or because they had not discussed the patient’s treatment desires prior to an injury that left the patient suddenly unconscious. The quality of our relationships and our ability to communicate have much to do with the difficulty that we have in making and executing end-of-life decisions. How we love one another throughout our lives will determine the way in which we emotionally handle the decisions during the dying and death experience. However, the fact of the matter remains: A decision to terminate end-of-life technology need not be a decision to kill, but rather may be a decision to accept the inappropriateness of continued medical intervention.

Such removal of life support is not playing God. Remember, medical intervention is a human invention, not a divine mandate. Using medical intervention should always benefit the patient; when it is of no use, it should be removed. God has given each of us a certain amount of time on this earth. Because we cannot know the exact time of death, we are responsible to make decisions that honor life and please God. Honoring life and pleasing God includes knowing when efforts to continue life are futile. The Scripture often reminds us of the brevity or fragility of life and the frustration that accompanies it (Ps. 90:10). James tells us that each of our lives is as a “vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14), and Isaiah compares our flesh to grass—though it has a moment of beauty, eventually it withers and fades away (Isa. 40:6–10). As death draws near, we are under no obligation to fight unceasingly as if we could conquer it. We will never overcome death until Christ returns. So until that time, we must use the gift of medical intervention as a tool that sustains life, improves health, and provides comfort.

Stewart, G. P., Cutrer, W. R., Demy, T. J., O’Mathúna, D. P., Cunningham, P. C., Kilner, J. F., & Bevington, L. K. (1998; 2004). Basic Questions on End of Life Decisions (59–61). Kregel Publications.

Over the years I’ve heard people say, “When Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.” While this may work when the accuser of our brethren (Revelation 12:9-11) reminds us of our past sins, what do we do when it is ourselves doing all the reminding? What do we do when our flesh (Romans 7:18 ,Galatians 5:17-26, Romans 8:5-18, 1 Peter 2:11) rises up and rears its ugly head? How do we deal with temptations that stream from our old desires?

The truth is we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). We all struggle with sin and temptations. I will say that a majority of the time we are our own worst enemy. We can blame Satan for our faults, but the truth is we do enough damage all by ourselves because of our sinful nature. I’m not dismissing the power of Satan to tempt us with sin (1 Peter 5:8); I’m just pointing out that we are fully capable to sin without his help. We are born sinners, and we are totally depraved because of this nature. I believe the advice of reminding Satan of his future when he reminds us of our past can keep our eye upon Satan instead of turning to Jesus when we are tempted by sin. Why even talk to Satan when we can go before God Almighty? Why waste the time talking to the father of lies (John 8:44) when we can approach our Father in Heaven?

My advice is very simple and to the point. When we are being tempted by the lusts and desires of our flesh, we need to go before our Father in prayer as soon as we are being tempted with sin. If we have a sin problem that is fed by elements in our environment, I suggest removing ourselves and/or those temptations from our grasp. For some, that means not going down the beer/wine aisle when grocery shopping. For others, that means blocking certain TV channels. For some, that might mean throwing out the home computer. And for others, it may be simply removing yourself from certain people. Since we all are different, we are tempted in different ways because of personal sin. The solution is always the same: go to Jesus in prayer and ask Him to help you. Jesus is faithful and He will never forsake us.

1 John 2:1-2 (NASB)
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

Personally, I do not like the advice of reminding Satan of his future. I believe it’s far better to turn to Jesus when we are being tempted to sin. The time we are wasting telling Satan about his future can be used to go to Jesus, asking Him to deliver us from temptation.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NASB)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,
15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;
16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

When we sin we need to repent instead of making excuses

Romans 12:9-21 (New American Standard Bible)

9 Let love be without hypocrisy Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,

13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute  you; bless and do not curse.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly Do not be wise in your own estimation.

17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The type of love described in Romans 12:9-21 is a love that only the Holy Spirit can manifest in our hearts if we truly seek God’s will in our lives.

These are the things we must cling to in order to overcome evil and be a witness for Jesus Christ:

  • Devoted prayer
  • Bible study
  • Meditate upon God’s Word
  • Encourage each other
  • Help each other and help those in need
  • Love those who hate us
  • Abhor evil
  • Do not be taken captive by the world

Let us walk in a way that reflects the love of Christ(1 Thessalonians 3:11-13). Let us walk in a way that shows we are in the world but are not of the world(1 John 2:14-16). Let us always remember Jesus’s example when He washed the feet of his disciples(John 13:3-17) as we ponder Romans 12:9-21. We must remember that our faith is often reflected in our works(James 2:14-26). Let us always strive to follow Jesus in everything that we do.

25 aFor this reason I say to you, 1do not be bworried about your 2life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26   “aLook at the birds of the 1air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

27   “And who of you by being aworried can badd a single 1hour to his 2life?

28   “And why are you aworried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,

29   yet I say to you that not even aSolomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

30   “But if God so clothes the agrass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? bYou of little faith!

31   “Do not aworry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’

32   “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for ayour heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

33   “But 1seek first 2His kingdom and His righteousness, and aall these things will be 3added to you.

34 “So do not aworry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will 1care for itself. 2Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I’s easy to worry when we face uncertain times. It’s easy to worry when we are jobless and when we have a family to feed. If we seek God first, then He will provide for us through many different methods. The one thing that He did not promise us was riches. The Lord provides us with what we need and not our every want. I believe that the Lord enables people to have more so that they can help people who are in need. If a Christian knows of a another person’s needs and hordes his/her wealth, then that Christian is not doing what God has enabled them to do. The cancer of worry can lead to envy, and envy will lead to greed. The Gentiles Jesus spoke about were always seeking self gain by their own power. When we fall prey to worry, it will lead us to a point where it will rob us of being a cheerful giver 2 Corinthians 9:7 because we are too focused on ourselves instead of focusing on Jesus.

Let us be mindful with all our blessings and always be willing to help our neighbors when they are in need. Let us always seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first; let us always be mindful to the Holy Spirit and how God is working in our lives.

Jesus told us, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” So why worry? Jesus also provided us comfort, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” When we focus on God, then we will see how all our trials are just temporary in the life of eternity. These hardships are overpowered when we see Jesus and His glory. We will praise God for all His blessings and use what God has enabled us with to be a blessing to someone who is in need.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (New International Version)


Generosity Encouraged

1 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.


aMatt 6:25–33: Luke 12:22–31

1Or stop being worried

bMatt 6:27, 28, 31, 34; Luke 10:41; 12:11, 22; Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:7

2Lit soul

aJob 35:11; 38:41; Ps 104:27, 28; Matt 10:29ff; Luke 12:24

1Lit heaven

aMatt 6:25, 28, 31, 34; Luke 10:41; 12:11, 22; Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:7

bPs 39:5

1Lit cubit (approx 18″)

2Or height

aMatt 6:25, 27, 31, 34; Luke 10:41; 12:11, 22; Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:7

a1 Kin 10:4–7; 2 Chr 9:4–6, 20–22

aJames 1:10, 11; 1 Pet 1:24

bMatt 8:26; 14:31; 16:8

aMatt 6:25, 27, 28, 34; Luke 10:41; 12:11, 22; Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:7

aMatt 6:8; Phil 4:19

1Or continually seek

2Or the kingdom

aMatt 19:28; Mark 10:29f; Luke 18:29f; 1 Tim 4:8

3Or provided

aMatt 6:25, 27, 28, 31; Luke 10:41; 12:11, 22; Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:7

1Lit worry about itself

2Lit Sufficient for the day is its evils

My grandmother used to say, “Well, doubting Thomas!” when I would question her as a child when she was giving me instructions. She would laugh and always explain why I should not be doubting her words by showing me that she was right. To most, when we speak of Thomas in the Bible, the image of Doubting Thomas is generally how we remember him and with good reason. Do we ever remember Thomas as Thomas the Believer? Should we remember Thomas as Thomas the Believer? I want to look at a few passages from John and examine the example Jesus left when He was dealing with Thomas’s doubts.

John 14:1-6 (NASB)
14:1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
4 “And you know the way where I am going.”
5 Thomas said* to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”
6 Jesus said* to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

In John 14, Jesus is encouraging His people and preparing them for for His death and resurrection. The question Thomas asked was very reflective of simply being human. The answer that Jesus gave Thomas is perhaps one of the corner stone Scriptures that has been used to show that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Jesus did not turn to Thomas and say, “Did you not listen? I just told you that you must believe in Me, and I will come to get you!” Jesus simply summed up salvation for Thomas by saying, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 20:19-25 (NASB)
20:19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said* to them, “Peace be with you.”
20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said* to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

In this passage Jesus appears to disciples when they are in one of their darkest hours. They are afraid for their lives because they feared the wrath of the Jews coming down upon them. The had just seen Jesus put to death by the Jews who used the Roman Empire to murder Jesus. These men were afraid, and probably wondered what to do. Once again in the Scriptures we see that Jesus never fails and how Jesus came at the right time to encourage His people and to give them peace. I find it interesting that in verse 19, “Jesus came and stood in their midst and said* to them, “Peace be with you.” and then in verse 20, “And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” Do you think one of these men might have asked the same question that Thomas asked if Jesus had not shown them His hands and His side? Have you ever thought about this story from that perspective and wondered if these other disciples might have asked Jesus to see proof that He was who He said He was? Either way, Jesus in His grace and mercy would have comforted them and given them peace.

In verse 25 we see the other disciples going to Thomas to tell the good news that Jesus was risen from the dead. One thing that stands out to me is Thomas’s human nature and how he was in great distress. I do not see Thomas as angry, but I see him as hurt and confused. I see a man who watched his Lord die and a man who had become hard with his emotions, fear, and doubt.

John 20:26-29 (NASB)
20:26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came*, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then He said* to Thomas, “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.”
28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said* to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

What I find interesting is that Jesus appeared to Thomas in the same manner He appeared to the other disciples 8 days earlier. Thomas did not repeat, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” to Jesus. Jesus, in His grace and mercy, knew what Thomas needed and told him, “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.” Jesus gave Thomas exactly what He needed and told Him to believe. Yet again in a passage dealing with Thomas, Jesus gave us another example in verse 29 that we use today to talk about faith and hope.

Thomas knew who Jesus was, but Thomas allowed his human nature to creep in and cause doubt. We are no different than Thomas in many ways in our lives. We all at times doubt and question God in our hearts concerning our needs, our wants, and when we observe the world around us. The story of Thomas is one that shows the grace and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we are in need and full of doubt, Jesus will never fail us. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Jesus will comfort us and encourage us when we seek Him. In this account, doubting Thomas was still with the disciples eight days even after his famous statement in John 20:25, we know this by simply reading John 20:26. So we see Thomas hanging around with fellow believers and these believers hanging around with Thomas. I’m sure these men were trying to encourage Thomas about the risen Lord Jesus Christ as they fellowshipped together. What I see is Thomas not withdrawing back into the world and sinning, but I see a man who had some doubts and needed Jesus to comfort him. What I see is an example of our Lord Jesus Christ coming and comforting His child by giving Him advice about faith and believing in Him. Not only did Jesus comfort Thomas, but He left us with a teaching concerning faith and believing in Him.

When we are doubting God and we are questioning why things are happening to us, let us always continue to seek His wisdom through faith and prayer. Let us uplift each other through fellowship with fellow Christians, and let us always encourage each other that Jesus never fails. When we are in need, let us remember how Jesus dealt with Thomas and reflect upon the grace of God. Let us seek His face and seek His wisdom in all things.

I try to remember Thomas as Thomas the Believer who said, “My Lord and my God!” when Jesus revealed Himself to him. I try to see Thomas in the light of simply being a man who, like myself, is faulty and at times full of doubts. In the end, Thomas’s doubts were laid to rest because Thomas believed in his Lord and His God.