A 54 Sermon Unpublished Book of Wonderful and Very Thought Provoking Lessons in Faith
- WHAT IS THE TEMPERATURE OF YOUR HEART? – Rev 3:15-16 (12th/ Trinity)
- THE LORD’S BANK IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS – Prov 19:17 (13th S. after Trinity)
- IS LIFE LIKE A LOTTERY? – Proverbs 16:33 (14th Sunday after Trinity)
- JUDGE BETWEEN THE LORD AND HIS VINEYARD – Isaiah 5:3-4 (15/Trinity)
- A GREAT SHADOW PASSED OVER THE OLD TESTAMENT – Col 2:16-17
- HOW WATER TURNED TO BLOOD FOR DAVID – 2Sam 23:17 (17th/Trinity)
- THE LORD’S LAMP FOR LIFE’S DARKNESS – Psalm 119:105 (18th/Trinity)
- THE BOOK OF LIFE IS THE BOOK OF BOOKS – Phil 4:3 (19th after Trinity)
- ARE WE INTERESTED IN ETERNAL GARMENTS? – Isaiah 61:10 (20th/Trinity)
- THE TESTIMONY OF A COFFIN IN EGYPT – Gen 50:24-26 (21st after Trinity)
- PAUL’S GREAT I.O.U. TO THE WORLD – Romans 1:14 (22nd Sunday/Trinity)
- WHO IS THE ANGEL WITH THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL? Rev14:6 (23Trinity)
- THOU CROWNEST THE YEAR WITH THY GOODNESS Ps. 65:11 (24Trinity)
- WHO ARE THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE? Rev 6:1-8 (25th)
WHAT IS THE TEMPERATURE OF YOUR HEART?
Rev 3:15-16 “l know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold or hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”
Thermometers are useful instruments in our modern living. Automobiles have water temperature indicators to warn us when the motor is not being cooled properly. Thermostats help us maintain an ideal degree of heat in our homes. Hospital attendants constantly check the body temperatures with a thermometer. The weather reports invariably give us the present air temperatures. There are many other uses for this instrument which are too numerous to mention.
Out text refers to the different degrees of heat and cold of the heart of man. Our eternal destiny is decided by the temperature and condition of the heart. Would it not be wise, then, for us to pause and check the temperature of this most important organ?
A word of caution is in order, we must never judge another person, we are not capable of reading anyone’s heart. We are to take our own temperature. Only you and God know the condition of your own heart.
WHAT IS THE TEMPERATURE OF YOUR HEART?
- IS IT AN ICY COLD HEART?
Heat is molecular action and cold is the absence or lack cf this movement. Temperature, then,, is simply the measure of the amount of action in the molecules of matter. It is only natural that cold would be associated with lifelessness and death.
Who are they whose hearts are in a state of coldness? It is rather obvious; these are not even professing Christians. They are icy cold to every appeal to repent and accept the salvation offered to us through faith in Jesus, the only Savior of the world. They are the untouchables as far as God, Christ, judgment, eternity, heaven, and hell are concerned. These are the cold and spiritually dead. Such are the unbelievers, the infidels, and the children of this world. All of them are outside the holy Christian Church.
These cold people fight the idea of God because they do not want God, to whom they must some day give an answer for their life on earth. They wish to live for this world alone, they do not care to consider death and the future life. They care nothing for the Christian faith, nor do they pay any attention to it. These are the living dead, because they have icy hearts.
If this description of the cold people does not bother you in the least, you are one of them. If, however, you are concerned and troubled, you are not dead, there is hope for you.
Jesus certainly does not want us to be in a state of coldness. But He prefers this open, and at least honest, rejection of salvation rather than the lukewarm condition which pretends to be warm, and is not. Jesus abhors hypocrisy. “I would thou wert cold or hot.”
Surely this description of the icy heart does not fit you. We pray that it is not so.
- IS IT A LUKEWARM HEART?
We know how lukewarm water tastes, it turns the stomach. Instinctively we want to spew it out of the mouth.
Our text is a part of the letter written to the church at Laodicea. The city itself was a wealthy trading and manufacturing center and the citizens enjoyed great prosperity. No doubt, this had an evil effect upon the church in that city. There were many lukewarm members of that church, members who wished to be of the world and of the Church. This cannot be. The lukewarm are the hypocrites in the church. They made a show of religion, but they did not really love Jesus, nor accept Him by faith.
Jesus, quoting the prophet Isaiah (Matt 15:8), gives this description of the lukewarm or hypocrites, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” The lukewarm are those who pretend to be touched by the gospel of Christ crucified, but are not. Jesus says that He will spew them out of His mouth. He abhors such pretenders of religion. This is the most dangerous condition of the heart because the lukewarm feels that he is secure and is not.
Lukewarmness is not only self-destroying, it destroys others. Many an ardent and devoted member of the church has been cooled by the lukewarm. They see the lukewarm and begin to think that it is not necessary to take Jesus and His salvation too seriously. Soon this condition, of cooling off, spreads throughout the congregation. This is what happened at Laodicea, it can happen here.
Think not that this is too harsh a judgment to call the lukewarm, hypocrites. How then can we explain the words of Jesus “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth”? There is no middle road, there are only two classes of people. Jesus, in another place, said (Matt 12:30),”He that is not with me is against me.”
We dare not call anyone a hypocrite for we cannot read another person1s heart. We must assume that all who profess to be of Christ are true believers. But Jesus can read the heart, and He does. So can the individual read his own heart and soul, and know whether he is a true believer or not.
Are we lukewarm? We believe there are many in the churches today who want to be considered full members, and they want all the church privileges, but they have no true love for Jesus, nor do they wish to serve Him willingly or cheerfully.
We are all in danger of becoming lukewarm. How often does not the voice of Jesus go unheeded among us? Do not the words of Jesus to the church at Ephesus apply to us also (Rev 2:4>) “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love”? We pray the Lord to keep us all from falling from the saving faith.
- OR DOES IT HAVE A LIVING WARMTH?
What does Jesus mean by “hot”? These are the true children of God whose hearts have been converted by the Holy Ghost, and they accept Jesus as the only Savior and Redeemer. They put their trust for salvation in the blood of the Lamb shed on the cross for all sins. The Gospel warms them and sets their hearts aglow. They burn in their zeal to serve the Lord and His holy Church. Thank the Lord, we have many such people in our congregations. These are the hearts which are “hot.”
We must make a careful distinction between lukewarm hearts and weak Christians. As stated before, the lukewarm are not believers. The weak Christians are believers in every sense of the word, but they have many weaknesses which often cause them to act contrary to the will of God. We must bear with each other’s weaknesses.
We should all feel as the Emmaus disciples did, who said (Luke 24:32), “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way?” May we all join the society of the burning hearts.
May the cold heart be warmed by the sweet message of salvation through faith in Jesus. May the lukewarm repent and come to Jesus for forgiveness and newness of life. Let the weak Christians find new strength in the glow of the Gospel. May the warmed hearts become warmer with the help of the Holy Spirit.
What does the heart-thermometer say? What is the reading? No doubt, we shall all find our hearts cooler than they ought to be. There is a cure for all coolness offered to us by the Spirit of God, to whom we pray (hymn 231), “Thou sacred Love, grace on us bestow, Set our hearts with heavenly fire aglow.”
PRAYER. Dear Lord, forgive us all our past sins of indifference and coolness. Awaken in us a new and burning love and zeal for Thy Kingdom. Help us to carry out Thy will to spread Thy Truth among men. Do not cast us away, help us in our weakness and frailties. We love Thee, Lord Jesus, Thou hast redeemed us, Thou Lamb of God. O Holy Spirit, kindle in us a new warmth and desire to serve Thee all our days. O blessed Trinity, to Thee be all glory and praise, now, and in all eternity.
THE LORD’S BANK IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
Proverbs 19:17 “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”
A bank accepts deposits from the people of the community at a low rate of interest and then re-loans or invests the money at a much higher rate of interest. The difference between the interest paid the depositors and the rates received on loans is the bank’s profit, after deducting expenses. Our banking system is good and by it our nation has prospered and become strong financially. In fact, the word bank has become a symbol for security and safety.
But there is a much, much better system of banking. This bank gives a far greater return for our investment and has the greatest security possible. Should we not investigate and look into this matter?
THE LORD’S BANK IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
- HE WILL ACCEPT LOANS FROM US.
Our text speaks only to those who hear and read the Word of God, to those who know and trust in their Savior, to those who are washed pure and white in the blood of the Lamb. These are the only people who care to do business with the Lord, and they are the ones with whom the Lord will do business. To such he makes the business proposition in our text, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord.”
Love is the first and finest fruit of faith in Christ. Paul makes this clear to us in 1 Cor 13,”Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor……and have not charity (love), it profiteth me nothing.” When our text speaks of “pity upon the poor it means that the “pity” must come from true faith and love to the Savior and from genuine love toward one another, otherwise it means nothing and “profiteth nothing.” If we believe in Jesus we will have much fruit, for without Him we can “do nothing.”
God’s children cannot be like the priest and Levite who did not help a poor and dying man. We must have pity upon the poor and needy as did the good Samaritan. Our poorer people of today need not go around begging for help as did the poor of old, for we have arranged to do works of charity through our State and local governments. But there still are areas for us to bestow our love upon the needy because our church has homes for orphans
and the aged and the mentally retarded, and they are supported entirely by our contributions and gifts. We cannot pass by these poor people, we must help them as good Samaritans should.
We cannot really loan anything to the Lord, He has given us everything we have. But the Lord is so pleased with our works of charity that He says in effect, “You have loaned that gift to Me, you and I are doing business together.” Jesus said the same thing (Matt 25),”Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Lending to the Lord is the most exciting business in all the world.
Surely we ought to be glad to lend to the Lord at anytime. Is that not a new experience, the Lord is indebted to us, He owes us something? What a unique business! We should have a long line of people waiting at the bank window who are anxious to do the Lord’s business.
- HE WILL REPAY THE LOANS TO US
Our investment is in a safe place where it can never deteriorate or go lost, and the Lord Himself is the Bookkeeper. Our loan is in safe hands and is given a very high and marvelous rate of interest by the Lord of all. Can there ever be a better bank than this one?
When a bank has made a reasonably safe loan to a large and strong corporation, the bank does not press for repayment, for the money would only have to be reloaned again somewhere else. As long as the interest is paid regularly the bank is not anxious for repayment. That is the method of its business.
We should take the same attitude toward the Lord, we are not in a hurry for repayment. He has promised us in our text, “And that which he hath given will he pay him again,” but we will never tell the Lord when or how to repay us. We leave it entirely in His hands, perhaps later on, when we are sick or in trouble, if He then wishes to help us in His mercy, we shall be very grateful indeed. The Lord’s promise is good enough for us.
In these matters let us heed the advice of Jesus (Matt 6:33), “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things (bodily needs) shall be added unto you.” Our chief concern in life is the soul and we want it to be washed pure and white in the blood of Jesus.
Although the Lord has promised us great returns for our deeds of charity, yet the repayment should not be the motive for doing good works. The Lord is only trying to encourage us by promising us so much. The God-pleasing motive for charity is that we thereby show our thanks to Christ for what He has done for us on the cross, good works should flow from our faith. To do works of love with the thought of returns and self-benefits is wrong and comes from a selfish motive. We want to follow the footsteps of Jesus in this matter and help the poor and destitute out of an unselfish love. “Love one another” is the Savior’s wish. We can never repay the Lord for what He has done for us, but it pleases Him to feel indebted to us when we show love to one another.
What has been said of “pity upon the poor” applies to all our good works which flow from faith and love to our Savior. All our contributions for the church and mission work, etc., have the same values in the eyes of the Holy Trinity as do the works of charity.
We cannot take our treasures with us when we leave this world, but we can send them on ahead. Jesus tells us to do just that (Matt 6:20),”Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” The Lord’s bank is always open for business.
We Christians are often foolish to pass up the blessings which the Lord wants to give us. Why are we so anxious to do business with the world, and so reluctant to take up the Lord’s work? Why do we not have more love for the poor and for the kingdom of the Lord, especially since He tries to encourage us as He does in our text?
Our lifelong concern should be to make more deposits in the Lord’s bank, to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. There are no banking hours in this business, it is always open to us, and it is the world’s best banking business. Our guiding thought for life should be the words of Jesus, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” AMEN.
PRAYER. O Holy Trinity, Thy goodness and kindness dost make our cold hearts burn with shame and remorse at our lack of love for our fellowman. Dear Savior, may Thy example of love and mercy be ever before our eyes and hearts. Holy Spirit, change our hearts into one that is filled with trust in our Redeemer, and more love to thee and all the poor who need our help. Hear us for the sake of our only Savior. AMEM.
IS LIFE LIKE A LOTTERY?
Proverbs 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.”
Gambling can become an obsession which rules, and often ruins, a man’s life. The lure of getting rich quick, without the tedious struggle of labor, is, for many, hard to resist.
One can always satisfy the urge to gamble, for there are many gambling establishments, some of them world-famous. How many fortunes have changed hands by the throw of the dice, the spin of the wheel, or the turn of a card?
It has often been said, “Life itself is but a gamble.” Is there any truth to that statement? Do we live in a world governed by blind chance?
IS LIFE LIKE A LOTTERY?
- IT OFTEN APPEARS TO BE SO
“The lot is cast into the lap.” No doubt, these words refer to the custom of the Israelites to cast lots in an important matter of uncertainty. Stones, or some other objects with certain markings, were shaken up in the garments of the lap, and one or more withdrawn without seeing the objects. The prearranged markings would decide the issue, one way or the other. Seemingly then, the matter was decided by blind chance.
The future of the lives of the ten lepers was completely changed when they met Jesus. This meeting seemed to be a coincidence, or a result of chance.
There are many events in our lives which also appear to be the result of pure chance. What control did we have over our birth, or the land of our birth? Consider marriage, a sudden decision to go here or there, a brief glance at someone, and often the choice of a spouse is made. Our life’s work is often determined by the local opportunities around us. Who can control death, or the manner of death? Look at the number of people killed each year on the highways, many of them pure accidents. Does it not seem strange that the failure of a tire can send us into eternity?
“Life is but a gamble.” There are other considerations to support this thought. Where is God? Why does He remain unseen? He seems to have withdrawn from the world and has let things take their own course. The nations are at each other’s throats, much blood is shed, many innocent suffer, and God seems to be disinterested and far away.
In fact, this is the philosophy of the present world, everything developed and evolved by itself, chance set the stage, and after millions of years the world came forth of itself. The world and everything in it stands before us as the direct product of chance, so we are told.
Contrary to all appearances, life is not like a lottery, or a game of chance. Nor does the Bible, or our text, teach that doctrine.
- BUT THE LORD RULES THE WORLD
Our text does say, “The lot is cast into the lap,” however, these words follow immediately, “but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.”
The children of God in the Old Testament used the casting of lots sparingly, and only then when they wished for the guidance of God in their decisions. Prayer usually preceded the casting of lots, so they did not intend to decide the issues by blind chance, but were asking the Lord to show them His will through the casting of lots. Thus Palestine was divided among the twelve tribes by lot because the Lord Himself directed them to do it in that manner.
When the Apostles wanted to chose a man to replace Judas, they prayed, cast lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the other Apostles (Acts 1:23-26).
Casting of lots was actually an act of faith in the guidance of the Lord in their lives. Our text does not speak of blind chance, just the very opposite.
There are many passages which tell us that the Lord is not a disinterested bystander in the affairs of the world. He rules the world, He sets up the rulers of the nations, He feeds and cares for all living things, He controls the weather, etc.
Man has a will of his own, in fact, the will is an essential part of man. God chose to create him so. After the fall of man into sin, man still retained his will. But sinful man has a free will only in external things of life, but not in the spiritual realm, not in the choice of good.
The Lord rules the world, and guides the events in the life of an individual, to try to bring all men to the knowledge of the Truth. That God does not always succeed is the fault of man and his perverse will, because man has the power to resist the Spirit of God and so reject the salvation in Christ.
It is somewhat like the training of our children. We never want to destroy their wills, but we show them the dangers and guide them in the right paths with the hope that they will follow our guidance and instructions of their own free will. If parents have done all they could for their children, and they still turn to evil, it is not the fault of the parents. So it is with God ruling the world, He rules to try to save all men. It is not His fault if He fails, it is entirely the fault of man who can resist God and His Holy Spirit.
Consider the case of a believer in Christ. God, through the operation of the Holy Spirit on his heart, converted him, turned him, changed or altered his will to accept the fact of salvation in Jesus. Luther rightly states according to the Bible, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, nor come to him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”
Jesus told us the will of God toward the world, “This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).
A true believer in Christ subdues his will to conform to the will of the Father, and he prays, “Thy will be done” and “The Lord is my shepherd.”
Life is not like a lottery, life is not ruled by blind chance, the Lord has the reins in His hands. God’s children in Christ are not taking “chances” in life, they are in the safe and guiding hands of the Lord.
If life were really ruled by chance, we would be driven to despair. How unthinkable, that the world came of itself, or that God made the world and then withdrew from it, to let things run their own course, guided by chance. All history cries out against this absurd idea. Paul said to the people of Athens (Acts 17: 26-28), “And God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, though he be not far from every one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being.”
“My times are in thy hands, “(Ps. 31:15). What a comforting statement! All the seemingly little things in life take on a new meaning for us. The Lord orders our lives, He guided and altered our wills, He brought us to our Savior Jesus Christ, and He will take us to heaven. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”(Phil.2:13).
No true believer, no true child of God, can make the claim, nor would he want to make the claim, that he is a self-made man. The Lord is our Savior and our salvation. “The whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.”
It is no surprise to us, then, who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus, that we shall be spending all eternity singing with the saints and angels this song, “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever”(Rev.7:12). AMEN.
PRAYER. We thank Thee, 0 Lord, that Thou hast chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Thou didst guide our lives, bring us to faith, and hast kept us until this present moment. Thou art our Guide and Shepherd, we follow Thee through life. With the greatest confidence we place our days into Thy hands, we fear not the future, we are confident that no one can pluck us out of Thy hands. To Thee be all honor and glory, 0 Holy and blessed Trinity, ever one God, world without end. AMEN.
JUDGE BETWEEN THE LORD AND HIS VINEYARD
Isaiah 5:3-4 “And now, 0 inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?”
Now let me sing to my Well-beloved
A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:
My Well-beloved has a vineyard
On a very fruitful hill.
2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst,
And also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes.
3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard.
4 What more could have been done to My vineyard
That I have not done in it?
Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes,
Did it bring forth wild grapes?
5 And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned;
And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
6 I will lay it waste;
It shall not be pruned or dug,
But there shall come up briers and thorns.
I will also command the clouds
That they rain no rain on it.”
7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,
And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.
He looked for justice, but behold, oppression;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.
When David sinned with Bathsheba, he ordered Uriah, her husband, killed in order to cover up his sin of adultery. For these crimes David remained unrepentant for some time.
The Lord sent Nathan the prophet to David and he told him the parable of the ewe lamb, how a rich man stole the one, little pet lamb of his poor neighbor and killed and ate it. David was so angry when he heard this story that he said he would have the rich man killed for his pitiless deed. Nathan said to David, “Thou art the man.” David condemned himself in his judgment of the rich man. Often we are blind to our own faults.
The Lord, in our text, is doing to us what Nathan did to David. He wants us to pass judgment on something He has done for us. The Lord says, “And now, 0 inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.”
These words certainly apply to us also, so —
JUDGE BETWEEN THE LORD AND HIS VINEYARD
- WHAT MORE COULD THE LORD HAVE DONE?
“My well beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill,” Isaiah 5:1. The Lord planted His vineyard in a choice location where the sun and rain could be had in abundance.
“And he fenced it,” Isaiah 5:2. The ground was worked and perhaps trenched. The stones were gathered and placed in heaps or used to build walls. The choicest vines were selected and planted.
An observation tower was built to watch for thieves and marauders, and a winepress was made to receive the fruits of the vineyard.
Can we add anything to these preparations, or suggest any improvements anywhere? Has something been left undone? What more could the Lord have done? Remember, too, He is the perfect Husbandman.
Surely the Lord can not be faulted when He expected a harvest after all this careful planning. “And he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.” The result of all this work is almost unbelievable; wild, worthless grapes were on the vines. What a great disappointment for the Lord.
The failure of the vineyard seems almost impossible in the realm of nature, but it is rather common in the kingdom of the Lord. Remember, the Lord is speaking of His people, His children, to whom He promised the Savior from sin.
Look at the history of God’s people. The world before the great flood was somewhat like this vineyard. God made a wonderful world in which man could live. He placed all things into the hands of man, and made him the king of creation. He filled the world with marvelous foods for man’s sustenance. Even after man sinned and corrupted himself, God promised a Savior who would restore eternal life to man again. What were the results of all this labor on the part of the Lord? Things got progressively worse until we read statements like this, “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth”(Gen.6:12). That is a description of the wild grapes which the Lord found in the old world.
What about the people of Israel to whom our text was especially directed? The Lord gave them the land of Palestine, the land of Milk and honey. To them alone He entrusted His precious Word, the Old Testament. In His Word the Lord again and again repeated His promise to send the Messiah who would redeem the world. Periodically the Lord sent His prophets unto them. Did the Lord find grapes this time? “For the vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry”(v7). More wild grapes!
Is the New Testament Church any better? The Lord planted this Church all over the world and gave Her the full revelation of His will. He gave Her the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified for the sins of the world. He blessed this Church with an extra measure of His Holy Spirit. Here the Lord concentrated the greatest blessings of all times. Are the results in this vineyard as expected? Is the Lord satisfied and pleased? Or does the Lord see too many wild grapes in this vineyard also?
Let us judge honestly and fairly between the Lord and His vineyard. As we do, our eyes begin to fall downward, and our heads begin to sink upon our breasts, being convicted by our own consciences. We are compelled to say with the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner,”(Luke 18:13).
- WHAT NOW SHOULD THE LORD DO?
In the verses following our text the Lord states what He will do with His vineyard. He will take away the hedges and walls, and let everything revert to a wilderness, and permit the animals to eat everything up, and trample down His vineyard.
Is the Lord being unjust? Has He acted too hastily? Can any honest person blame the Lord?
This statement of intention on the part of the Lord is not just so many idle or threatening words. He is, indeed, patient and longsuffering, but He means every word when He speaks.
Look again at the old world which was corrupted. What happened? The Lord sent a great flood which utterly destroyed the whole world. Only Noah and his family found grace in the eyes of the Lord. See what happened to the children of Israel. Jerusalem was completely destroyed in 70 A.D. and the Israelites were scattered over the face of the earth.
No one, except the Lord, can state what will happen to the Church of these latter times. Even here we see many things that have happened to nations which had the Gospel and then rejected it. Many of these nations have been ravaged by war and destruction. Who knows what the Lord will do if He finds too many wild grapes in His vineyard?
We are brought to our knees, and we confess with David, “I have sinned against the Lord”(2Sam 12:13). We further confess with Daniel the prophet, “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets”(Daniel 9:5-6).
We throw ourselves entirely upon the mercy of God in Jesus Christ our only Savior who died for us on the cross. We further plead with Daniel,”0 Lord, hear; 0 Lord, forgive: 0 Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, 0 my God; for thy city and thy people are called by thy name” (Daniel 9:19).
Jesus has already given us an answer to our confession, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”(John 6:37). He also gives us this invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”(Matt.11:28). Whosoever trusts in the blood of Jesus for forgiveness of sins shall receive it. Through faith in the crucified Savior we have the promise that the Lord will take us with Him to heaven.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing,” says our Savior in John 15:5. Clinging to Him, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, we can produce good grapes, good fruit, good works. Good works do not take us to heaven, but they are a necessary fruit of a true faith in Christ. We promise the Lord, with the help of the Holy Ghost to amend our sinful lives. We beseech Him to let the vineyard stand just a little longer, so that He may find some fruits among us also.
Judging between the Lord and His vineyard, we have again learned that the Lord is righteous in all His dealings with the children of men. When He comes to judge us on the last day, may we be found worthy to enter with Him into eternal glory, washed pure and white in the blood of the Lamb that once was slain.
PRAYER. Unto Thee, 0 Lord, do we confess all our sins and iniquities. We have not bore the fruit which Thou didst expect from us. We ask Thee, for Jesus’ sake, to again forgive us all our sins. We promise Thee, 0 Lord, with the help of Thy Holy Spirit, to amend our sinful lives. Help us walk closer with Thee, that we ever be with Thee in eternal glory in heaven. Hear us for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. AMEN.
A GREAT SHADOW PASSED OVER THE OLD TESTAMENT
Colossians 2:16-17 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
Shadow-pictures is an interesting and enjoyable game to play at parties. A flashlight and a white sheet are all the equipment necessary. After the room is darkened someone steps behind the sheet, and when the light is momentarily flashed on, the rest of the people are expected to identify the person outlined by the shadow on the sheet.
The same thing takes place in nature on a grander scale. When our earth passes between the sun and the moon, our earth reveals its outline by its shadow on the face of the moon. The earth always casts a curved shadow, entering or leaving the surface of the moon, and this shadow alone led the ancients to believe that the earth was a huge sphere. Only a ball will cast a curved shadow in any position.
Our text also speaks of a shadow made by a body. This shadow extended itself over the whole Old Testament, and revealed the outline of the body which created the shadow.
A GREAT SHADOW PASSED OVER THE OLD TESTAMENT
- THE MEANING OF THE, SHADOW
Our text states that certain laws and observances of the Old Testament “are a shadow of things to come.” All the shadows are not mentioned in our text as that would make up too long a list. But the laws concerning unclean animals, concerning food and drink; also the yearly, monthly, and weakly festivals are all mentioned as shadows in the Old Testament of the Bible.
To these we may add the Passover lamb, the burning of incense, the sacrifices of the animals, the sprinkling of blood upon the people, the Sabbath which means “rest,” and many other observances given by God. There were many shadows which made up one great shadow.
Certainly the Lord did not give His people all manner of laws and rituals and ordinances merely to give them something to do. The laws were given with a reason and a purpose, they were given to teach and enlighten His people of old. Just as the shadow of the earth on the moon reveals the shape of the earth, so the Old Testament shadow gave an outline of someone who was coming.
Add to these shadows all the prophecies concerning the promised Savior and the outline becomes sharp and clear. Think of the wonderful chapter of Isaiah (53) > “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” and “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
We know that a shadow is not as clear as the real thing, but it does give a good, general outline of a person or object, and can serve a useful purpose for a time.
To sum up, the shadow in the Old Testament was a general outline and description of the coming Messiah, or Savior from sin. The only way anyone in the Old Testament was saved and went heaven, was by faith in the coming One fore shadowed by the ceremonies.
This was the central doctrine of the whole Old Testament. Every true Israelite believed this with his whole heart.
- THE END OF THE SHADOW
Christ our Lord kept every law of the Old testament, He never sinned or broke a single commandment of God. He kept the moral and ceremonial laws in our stead and thereby freed us from the law. For this reason Paul could write to the Romans and say (10:4), “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”
“But the body is of Christ,” states our text. Christ is the body which cast the shadow over the whole Old Testament . Many of the ceremonies, rituals, and laws of the children of God were outlining the coming of the Savior, and gave them a good picture of what He would be like and what He would do.
To us in the New Testament, the picture is clear. We see Christ the Lamb of God carrying His cross, suffering and being crucified, we see Him dying and rising again for the sins of the whole world. We are told He did this to pay for our sins.
Eternal life is promised everyone who believes and trusts in this offering by the Son of God. The Israelites were saved because they believed in the coming “body” outlined for them in a shadow, we are saved by faith in the “body” which has arrived and paid for our salvation on the cross.
Of course, now that the body has arrived, the shadow is ended, gone forever. When Christ died on the cross, the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom by the hand of God to show that the Old Testament with its shadow had passed away forever.
It is true that the Apostles still kept many customs and ordinances of the Israelites during the transitional period of the early Church, in order to gain them for Christ. The Apostles would go to the synagogues on the Sabbath day since that was the day when the people gathered for worship. But the Apostles did that only as a matter of “custom” not of necessity. The inspired Disciples of the Lord knew that the day part of the third commandment was no longer binding on the children of God in Christ.
As it became more and more evident that the Israelites as a whole were rejecting the gospel of Christ, the Apostles turned to the Gentiles. They also changed the day of meeting for worship. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead on the first day of the week was such an overwhelming and outstanding event, that the early Church and the Apostles began meeting on the first day of the week for worship in memory of the Lord’s resurrection. We are told in Acts 20:7,”And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.” Paul advised the Corinthians (1Cor 16:2), “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” The first day of the week became known very early as “the Lord’s day”(Rev 1:10) . We also speak of the Lord’s prayer and the Lord’s Supper. Sunday is the Lord Jesus’ great day.
And let us not forget our clear and emphatic text, “Let no man therefore judge you in respect of the Sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come.” Who wants to live in a shadow when the “body” has arrived? The Sabbath foreshadowed our eternal rest from sin and evil in Christ our Savior.
Since we, in the New Testament, are freed of all Old Testament rules and ordinances, the admonition of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians especially applies to us (5:1), “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” We should always guard our precious Christian liberty.
But we should not go to the other extreme and misuse our liberty (1 Peter 2:16), “As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” Guided by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we will know how to properly use our liberty.
Our lives should be one of thanks, thanks for the salvation which is by faith in Christ our Lord, and thanks that we are privileged to serve Him in liberty all the days of our lives. We are truly grateful that the great shadow over the Old Testament has passed away forever.
PRAYER. We thank Thee, heavenly Father, that we are children of
the glorious liberty of the New Testament. Give us a special measure of Thy Holy Spirit that our lives may reflect this thanks and gratitude. We are the children of Thy full revelation, and we clearly see our Savior and His salvation for us. To Thee, 0 blessed Trinity, be honor and glory and praise now and throughout all eternity. Accept our thanks, for Jesus’ sake. AMEN.
HOW WATER TURNED TO BLOOD FOR DAVID
2 Samuel 23:17 “And David said, Be it far from me, 0 Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that vent in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.”
13 Then three of the thirty chief men went down at harvest time and came to David at the cave of Adullam. And the troop of Philistines encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. 15 And David said with longing, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” 16 So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord. 17 And he said, “Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it.
Knighthood and chivalry are practically synonymous. From our school books we remember the tales of the noble and brave deeds done by the knights of old. They upheld a high code of honor and their deeds excite our admiration and respect.
But there is no tale of love and devotion among the knights of old that can compare with the story in our text. We have before us a deed which is like a beautiful flower found on the side of a rugged cliff. This heroic act of three men changed the water into blood in David’s eyes.
HOW WATER TURNED TO BLOOD FOR DAVID
- IT WAS INTENDED FOR DRINKING
David was fighting the Philistines who had invaded the land and had captured Bethlehem. It was at the time of harvest and very hot. Perhaps David even had a slight fever at this time, who can say? Naturally David happened to think of the sweet, cool waters of the well at Bethlehem. As a shepherd he had often paused with his flocks by this well to drink of the refreshing waters. David spoke his thoughts out loud as all of us do at times, and he said, “Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” All David meant was what we would have said in a similar situation, “What would I not give for a cool glass of water right now.” With this remark David set off a chain of events which had a surprising ending.
Three of David’s mighty men of war overheard his remark, and after a quick decision among themselves, they determined to get some water from the well to please David. These men were willing to risk their lives to satisfy a mere wish of their leader! There was other water available, David was only stating a preference for the cool water by the gate of Bethlehem.
We are not told of the narrow escapes they had. Perhaps their story might have sounded like that of a football player making a long and weaving run with the ball to the goal line. Their story would surely leave us breathless with fascination as on and on they went through the enemy lines and drew water from the well and returned safely to their camp. What fierce devotion!
These three men who voluntarily risked their lives to show their daring devotion to their beloved leader, really excite our admiration and respect. Surely David must have been encouraged by their act. “If they will do that for me, they will do anything in battle, how can I lose the victory with men like these?” were perhaps his thoughts at the moment. The deed of these three men was like a cool, refreshing drink of water to the parched soul of David.
If only we had such devotion to the Lord Jesus and His cause. These men were willing to fling away their lives for a drink of water, would they be willing to do the same thing for the Lord? Would we? We do not want to minimize their noble deed, we only hope that more of such devotion among us will be directed in a different channel. Oh that the Lord’s slightest wish would become our greatest desire in life! May we ever be ready to risk all to keep the Water of Life with us always.
- IT BECAME TOO PRECIOUS TO DRINK
David was deeply touched by their devotion. The water before him suddenly assumed a new value because it was obtained at such a terrible risk. David could not drink the water now as it became the color of blood in his eyes. He said, “Is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives?” We have heard of a little Bible in the vest pocket of a soldier which stopped a bullet and saved the man’s life. How precious did not that little book become in the eyes of the soldier. Similarly, the water which David held in his hand acquired a new value and made the water too precious to drink. Something more worthy must be done with this precious water.
The nobleness of the three heroes awakened in David a kindred nobleness. It was noble of the men to get the water, it would not have been noble for David to drink it. Instead, David “poured it out unto the Lord.” It had become indeed water befitting an offering to the Lord. In effect David was saying, “l am not worthy of such honor and devotion, but Thou, 0 Lord, art worthy of this precious water. To Thee do I dedicate it.”
The three men watched David pour out the water to the Lord and they received a far greater satisfaction from their brave deed than they would have had, had David poured it down his throat. All that they risked was raised to a new height. And David could not be happy to drink such water, his whole being would have rebelled against the thought of such a drink. It would be like drinking the blood of his men. Had he drunk the water, in a few hours he would have been thirsty again; but now he had this satisfaction all the rest of his days. What a beautiful soul-touching story. What love and devotion!
If we had a deeper sense of love and devotion to our Lord and Savior, then many of the things which the Lord has given us would be too precious to be used for our own pleasure, and we would return them to the Lord for much better use in His kingdom. We are altogether too selfish in the use of our earthly possessions, we are often poor stewards of the wonderful things which the Savior has given us. We could be a little more daring when it comes to the kingdom of the Lord.
The noble deed of these three men brings to mind the wonderful act of devotion of the poor widow who gave everything she had to the Lord. Of her Jesus said, “She of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had” (Luke 21:4).
We are also reminded of Mary’s act of love to Jesus when she anointed his feet with the very costly ointment (John 12:3).
Paul’s words keep coming into our memory (Acts 21:13),”What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Whatever we offer to the Lord, He makes it still more precious, because He regards it as a loan to be repaid, or else He regards it as having been done to Him personally. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” will be His attitude on the last day (Matt.25:40).
The greatest act of love is, of course, the offering which Jesus Christ made for us on the cross and by it has taken away the sins of the whole world. We are saved by faith and trust in His bitter sufferings and death. Our thanks to Jesus ought to inspire us to greater sacrifices for His kingdom.
May the beautiful double offering of our text inspire us to greater love and devotion to the cause of Jesus, and may it also arouse in us greater love toward one another. We need more zeal and devotion for the work of Jesus on this earth. AMEN.
PRAYER. Lord Jesus, Thou art our Water of Life. Thou wast offered up for our sins, Thy life was poured out so that we might never thirst eternally. May our hearts overflow with gratitude for what Thou hast done for us. May we be filled with a new and fuller devotion to Thee and Thy kingdom so that no sacrifice might seem too great in Thy service. Help us, dear Savior, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. AMEN
THE LORD’S LAMP FOR LIFE’S DARKNESS
Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Brave men have descended many miles down into the abyss of the ocean in specially designed equipment. There is a point in the ocean depths where there is a total absence of light, a world of eternal darkness. What an awful place, how terrifying and mysterious those tremendous pressures and depths.
When travelers visit the great Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and descend hundreds of feet into the bowels of the earth, the Ranger tells everyone to remain motionless for one minute. During that moment the lights are turned off and absolute darkness prevails. The darkness is frightening and oppressive, and only the thought that it is just a little experiment keeps a person from panic.
What a strange and unreal world the moon must be. Due to the absence of an atmosphere there is no diffusion of light, no gradual change from light to darkness. If we were on the moon, and would step out of the intolerably bright sunlight, and go behind a rock or crater, we would be immediately in absolute darkness. Light and darkness are divided instantly on our satellite for it is a world of sharp contrasts.
The world we live in is in absolute spiritual darkness and, in this respect, is like the moon. That thought should startle us. However, our text tells us of a light for our spiritually dark world.
THE LORD’S LAMP FOR LIFE’S DARKNESS
- WITHOUT THIS LAMP WE ARE LOST
Man darkened his own world by sinning and disobeying God.
From that time on man’s mind has been darkened and spiritual blackness has ruled in the world. We are told of this condition, “and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not,” (John 1:5). Without this Lamp of God man simply gropes about in this world, not knowing where he is going, or why he is in the world. He can only travel in circles.
Imagine if you can a world of blind people who carry their own darkness with them. How awful, how hopeless. How could they ever find any path for life? Jesus said, “Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (Luke 6:39) Yet this is the true spiritual picture of man on earth.
Long ago, travelers in the East, overtaken by night, would simply sit still and wait for the morning to arrive with its welcome light. It was hopeless to go on without light. This is the setting of our text, and the implication is that without that lamp we cannot continue our journey through life.
Think of the pitfalls, the holes, the rocks, the cliffs, the wild animals, the terrors of the dark. At best we could only wander helplessly in the blackness. The end of such a journey of darkness can only lead to eternal darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Has this picture of the world been painted too darkly? Not at all. Other passages give us the same hopeless condition of man. “The ungodly are not so: but ate like the chaff which the wind driveth away,” (Ps 1:4).
Look at the children of this world, do they have a goal in life, do they ever talk of God, of the next life, of judgment, of eternity? They flee from one theory of the creation of the world to another, they constantly grope in darkness.
“Lost” is a frightening word. See the little children when they have been separated from their parents. How terrified they are, how the tears flow. This is the true condition of the children of this world, and the really sad part of it all is, they do not know that they are lost, not do they care.
We can move, but never get anywhere in life without a light. The situation is not hopeless, for God has supplied us with a Lamp.
- WITH THIS LAMP WE ARE SAFE
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.” God the Holy Ghost created this Lamp. “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, “(2Pet 1: 21) . God gives only good things to us, and this Lamp is one of His most precious gifts to man in his darkened life.
When we speak of lamps, candles, and torches, we are projected into the past. Today we would speak of flashlights and other modern means of illumination. The source of light is not important, God’s holy Word is light for a dark world.
From this Lamp of God we see Jesus as the only path to heaven. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” says Jesus (John 14:6). Jesus died and paid for all our sins on the cross. We are assured by the Lord Himself , that if we put our trust and faith in our Savior, we shall surely get to eternal life.
All our fears are dispelled, now we see the way clearly with the light and Lamp of the Word. No more groping about, no more uncertainty, now we know our way through life, now we can travel in safety to eternal life.
We may not always see very far ahead with the Lamp of God, we may not see all the dangers and pitfalls in the far distance, but we can see far enough in advance to guide us safely and to circumvent many disaster areas. With this Lamp we find advice for every problem, we receive comfort for every trouble, we are offered guidance in all doubt.
It is even better travelling through life in a group, a church group. There is always someone ahead who is holding up the Light for others to follow. In a group, the chances of getting lost are much lessened.
A goal is implied in our text. All paths have a purpose and aim. There is no path which leads nowhere. Without a goal or purpose life makes no sense at all. If we were created, only to exist on this world for a few years, and then to pass on into non-existence forever, life would have no reason or logic. Our Lamp shows us the path and goal of life, to be with God forever through faith in our Redeemer. Saved by grace, saved by faith, is the song of the redeemed in Christ.
Many people cannot see where they are going. They go around in circles in life, stumbling and falling, constantly hurting themselves. There is a light for these people, let them use it.
Is the way perhaps uncertain and not always clear? Brother, take that Lamp and look where you are going.
Do we sometimes trip and fall, or bruise ourselves on a rock? Lift up that Lamp and there will be little trouble to see the way. The more we use the Word of God, the brighter will the path of life be shown in our darkness.
This Lamp of God shows us Him who is also “the light of the world,” Jesus our only Savior. He alone can bring us to that realm where we shall need no more lamps, for we shall be basking forever in the everlasting light of the glory of God. AMEN
PRAYER. O holy Lord, how often have we fallen and lost our way in life. Thy Lamp has always saved us and brought us back again upon the one true way. Thy Lamp has shown us the “Light of the world.” May Thy Lamp be held high above our heads that we finally reach the aim and purpose of our time on earth, to be with Thee, 0 holy Trinity in everlasting light. Thou wilt surely hear our prayers for the sake of Jesus who died for us. AMEN
THE BOOK OF LIFE IS THE BOOK OF BOOKS
Phil 4:3 “Whose names are in the book of life.”
Even in Solomon1 s day, when books were laboriously written by hand on scrolls, it could be said, “Of making many books there is no end,”(Ecc 12:12).
Today the number of books in the world is fantastic. We can find many volumes on almost any subject which we wish to study. There are few small towns or villages where there is no library. It would be difficult, indeed, to estimate the number of books in the largest libraries of the world. It is truer than ever today, “Of making many books there is no end.”
Were we given the assignment to find the one most important book of all, the book of books, could we ever carry out our task? Would a lifetime be long enough to just read the titles of all the books in existence?
However, there is a golden book, a writing far more valuable than all the other books combined. Our text tells of that book.
THE BOOK OF LIFE IS THE BOOK OF BOOKS
- THE KEEPER OF THE BOOK
There are many registers with lists of names, such as the city directories, telephone books, birth and marriage records, etc. But the great volume in the hands of the Lord has the most important list of names.
This roll of names is mentioned several times in the Old and New Testament. For example, Moses said, “And if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written,” (Ex 32:32). And the Lord Jesus said, “l will not blot out his name out of the book of life,”(Rev 3:5).
God is the Keeper of this wonderful scroll. He is errorless and infallible, He has the perfect memory. His word is final, there is no appeal from His decisions. God has entered the list of names in eternity. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”(Eph 1:4-5).
The Lord told St. Paul to continue to preach in Corinth, “for I have much people in this city,”(Acts 18:10). Many names of the Corinthians were written in the book of life, and Paul was to preach the Gospel of Christ crucified to them, and so bring the elect of God in the city to faith and salvation.
Truly, since God is the Master of the Rolls, and does the recording of the names, this book, then, is the book of books.
- THE NAMES IN THE BOOK
Paul states in our text, “And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life.” Only the names of the true believers in Christ will be found in the divine record. The unbelievers are certainly not listed in the book of life, their names are in the book of death.
God’s scroll separates the world into two, and only two, classes of people: God’s children in Christ and the children of Satan; the children of life and the children of death. There are no other divisions of the human race in the eyes of the Lord.
It should be the serious concern of every person that his name be listed in this most important register. How can we know, how can we be certain that our names are inscribed in this book of books? If we put our trust and faith in Jesus as our only Savior and Redeemer, then we know that we are born again of the Holy Spirit and God is our Father in Christ.
This is positive proof that our names are recorded in the golden book. God is sincere and earnest, He does not call us, and convert us, with the idea of dropping us again. “God our Savior will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of truth,”(1Tim 2:4) When we were baptized we became God’s Children by faith in Christ. We also have this assurance, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,”(Phil 1: 6). Of His sheep (believers) Jesus says, “No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand,”(John 10:29).
Of course, no Christian should ever become indifferent, careless, or live in false security, for it is possible to lose our salvation through our own folly. Hence the admonition of Jesus, “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown,”(Rev 3:11). In that sense, our names can be blotted out of the book of life. What a warning for us all. Even the great Apostle Paul was deeply concerned, “Lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway,” (1Cor 9:27). This is also what Paul means in this same letter to the Philippians, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Phil 2:12). Were there no danger of falling from faith, we would not need to pray every day, “And lead us not into temptation.”
- THE OPENING OF THE. BOOK
The holy record will decide every man’s eternal destiny when it is opened. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books,”(Rev 20:12).
What will happen to those whose names are not written in the Master’s rolls? “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire,”(Rev 20:15). Those whose names are written in the heavenly scrolls will inherit life, eternal life with God in glory in the new heaven and new earth. Washed pure and white in the blood of the Lamb that once was slain, they will serve God in His temple night and day.
There is another book which is often called the book of books. This holy Scripture was given to us by inspiration of God and is errorless and infallible. The Word of God was given to us to bring us to faith in Jesus and thereby save us. In that sense, the Bible, which is also called the Book of Books, serves the book of life.
May we all diligently use the inspired Scriptures to strengthen our faith, increase our love and hope, and prepare us for the great and final day. “When the roll is called up yonder,” may we hear our names read from the Book of Books. AMEN
PRAYER. 0 Lord, Thou Keeper of the Book of eternity, we thank Thee that Thou hast entered our names in Thy marvelous book, and hast brought us to faith in our dear Savior. Keep us from false security and temptations, that we lose not our precious inheritance. Keep us faithful unto death that we may receive the crown of life in Jesus. Bless our mission endeavors, bring in the lost, gather Thy people unto Thee. We ask Thy blessings upon all our work, for Jesus’ sake. AMEN.
ARE WE INTERESTED IN ETERNAL GARMENTS?
Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”
It has often been said, “Clothes make the man,” and there is some truth in that statement since the outward appearance is very important.
Business men and housewives, soldiers and sailors, policemen and firemen, kings and laborers, young and old are all easily recognized by their attire.
Clothing wears out, needs replacing, or becomes out-of-date, and this creates a problem in nearly every family because it is not a minor item in the budget.
Then are we interested in hearing about clothing which, once obtained, is good forever?
ARE WE INTERESTED IN ETERNAL GARMENTS?
- PRODUCING THESE GARMENTS.
“HE hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; HE hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”
After Adam and Eve sinned and corrupted their minds and senses, God clothed them, Gen. 3:21. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” At the same time God made another garment for them. The Lord gave them this promise, Gen 3:15, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” God gave Adam and Eve coats of skin and also garments of salvation in this first promise of the Savior.
Jesus is “the garments of salvation and robe of righteousness.” In Adam we all sinned, and that is why Jesus became a man, to be our substitute. By suffering and dying on the cross He paid for the sins of the whole world. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). His vicarious sacrifice took away the guilt and punishment of sin for all men. This offering is pictured here, and in other parts of Scriptures, as a garment or robe, which when put on, covers up all our sins. God sees us as dressed in the righteousness of Jesus and He looks at us as redeemed and holy people. We sing of this in the well-known hymn “Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress; Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head.
So the Lord Himself produced these garments of salvation for us by sending and giving His Son into this world for our iniquity. “He hath clothed me,” it was His idea and way of salvation.
- OBTAINING THESE GARMENTS
In buying clothing for our families and ourselves, price is always a factor because of the expense.
What would we expect to pay for these precious, eternal garments? Be prepared for the greatest surprise in all the world — these priceless garments have no price, they are absolutely free and without cost. Speaking of all spiritual blessings and salvation our Prophet says, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat: yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” Isaiah 55:1. St. Paul, Romans 5:15-18, calls the righteousness of Christ the “free gift”. Speaking of salvation he further states in Eph 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
There never is a price mentioned in the Bible when these garments and robes are offered and given to man. The only words found are such as these, “believe”, and “accept”; and these are not prices but the means whereby we hold out our hands to receive the free gift.
A price was paid for these garments, but not by us. 1 Pet 1:18-19 “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…….but with the precious blood of Christ.” Jesus paid a terrible price beyond human comprehension and God does not expect or want another payment. Not only are the garments absolutely free, it will make the Lord happy if we accept them from Him as His gift of love for us. How can anyone ever hope to understand the depths of His love to us?
The importance of this garment cannot be over-emphasized in any way, and if we refuse the Lord’s free gift, it will mean the difference between eternal happiness and everlasting weeping. In the parable of the marriage of the king’s son we read in Matt 22:11-14 “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how earnest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to his servants, Bind him hand and feet, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Obviously, this wedding garment is identical with the garments of salvation and robe of righteousness mentioned in our text. As we value our souls and eternity let us be sure we are clothed with the garments of the Lord.
- WEARING THESE GARMENTS
“He hath clothed me…covered me.” These garments are remarkably different than any others on earth. They are always pleasing to God, they never get out of style, they never need be removed, they never need mending, nor do they ever need cleaning or pressing, “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Eph 5:27). Wearing these garments gives us a good conscience and peace with God. No more do we fear God, or death, or judgment, or eternity, for God is now our Father and we are His dear children.
We have these precious, priceless garments and we should never forget their infinite value. Carelessness, indifference, lack of appreciation can cause us to lose these robes and with them our eternal welfare. They are invisible to our eyes, yet they should become visible to all men by our lives of faith and good works. The Lord expects us to show our gratitude for His free gift by a life pleasing to Him that abounds in faith and works of love. Then men will be able to see by our good deeds that we are truly “clothed with the garments of salvation.”
The robes and garments of the Lord which we put on in this life will be our attire in all eternity. Rev 7:9 “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” Again Rev 19:8 “And to her (the church) was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Clothes may make the man but these clothes make the eternal man.
Having these garments is a cause for great joy and happiness, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God.” It is a soul-satisfying thought to know that no matter when the Lord looks at us, He sees us covered with the robe of righteousness in Jesus. Surely we can all say, “Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head.”
We might add, “And be joyful with the Lord forever more.”
PRAYER. We thank Thee, dear Lord, for giving us Thy garments of salvation which is in Christ our Lord. With Thy Holy Spirit help us to retain the robe of righteousness which Thou hast freely given us. Thou hast gladdened our hearts with Thy marvelous grace and mercy and love. Help us to show our gratitude by dedicating all our days to Thy glory and showing our thanks to Thee in our daily life. We laud and praise Thy holy Name, 0 blessed Trinity, ever one God, world without end.
THE TESTIMONY OF A COFFIN IN EGYPT
Gen 50:24-26 “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he swore to Abraham……. and ye shall carry up my bones from thence. So Joseph died…. and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”
Sermons are not always preached by human beings. We are told that the heavens declare, preach, or proclaim the glory of God. Jesus referred to the fowl of the air and the lilies of the valley as a lesson on the providence of God. When a lamb was sacrificed in the Old Testament it was a sermon on and picture of the coming Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.
Today a coffin in Egypt, which held the body of Joseph, is going to preach a wonderful sermon to us.
THE TESTIMONY OF A COFFIN IN EGYPT
- IT TELLS OF OUR FAITH.
The first casual glance at the coffin impresses us with the vanity of man and life. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Vanity of vanity, saith the preacher; all is vanity,” Eccl 12:7-8. Here lies a great man in Egypt who is now but dust and ashes. There is no indispensable man, none of us are so important that the world will stop when we stop.
Joseph married an Egyptian and lived among these people most of his life, yet his heart was set on a different land. He was, as his forefathers, but a stranger and pilgrim on earth.
No doubt, the brethren of Joseph would have gladly carried the bones of Joseph up to the cave of Machpelah in Canaan as they did with Jacob when he died. But Joseph wished to remain in their midst in the coffin as a constant reminder of their hope of entering the promised land. He wanted his coffin to testify of his faith and hope to his people who were remaining in this strange land.
We all know of Joseph and his wonderful life of faith and trust in the Lord. His was a life full of ups and downs, a life of sunshine and shadows, yet he always remained faithful to the Lord. Many of our children are disappointed when they learn that the Messiah did not come from Joseph, but from Judah. However, Joseph firmly believed in the coming Messiah, the “Seed of the woman”, who would crush the serpent’s head. It was because of his faith that he chose to be buried in the cave with his forefathers, rather than to be buried with the great and mighty of Egypt. Like Moses, he chose God’s people instead of the Egyptians. Hebrews 11:12 states, “By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.”
This description of Joseph fits every true child of God in the Old and New Testament. We have become children of God by faith in the Redeemer, either that He will come, or that He has come. Through faith in the Savior we have forgiveness of sins and we are promised eternal life in Him. We are, therefore, people of hope, we live in hope, and we die in hope.
- IT SPEAKS OF OUR HOPE
Why was Joseph not immediately buried and why did he want his bones to remain in Egypt? He wanted to tell the Egyptians by his ever present coffin that his faith and hope were different than their heathen views on this subject. The coffin spoke of confidence in the resurrection of the body and for that reason he wanted, eventually, to be buried with his own people. The coffin also said, “I am positive that God will keep all the promises which He made to our fathers.” God had promised the Holy Land to the seed of Abraham, and Joseph never doubted that pledge of the Lord. But there was much more to it than just the promise of a piece of land, the children of God should settle in it and worship the Lord there. From their seed the Lord would send the Messiah who would redeem the world. All who put their trust in the coming Savior would be blessed by the Lord, not only in this life, but also in the life to come. Joseph did not merely wish to be buried in the promised land, he hoped to be raised up from the dead and then be gathered around the throne of God forever. These were the promises and hopes which the coffin preached to the children of God so long ago.
There is some more hope attached to the sarcophagus of Joseph. This is just about the last sermon which the children of Israel would hear through all those long years of slavery, and when sad and dark days would come upon them the coffin could cheer them with the message of hope. In trying times the coffin could say, “Remember Joseph and his faith and trust as he accepted the promises of God for a better land to come. God will keep His word and someday we shall be delivered from this bondage, and shall march to the promised land together.” The coffin could continue to comfort them with this thought, “Just be patient under afflictions; remember I, too, am waiting to go out of this land.” The day finally came when Joseph’s bones were carried out of Egypt and his faith and hope were fulfilled. Now those same bones await in hope the great resurrection day when we shall see Joseph on the right hand of the Messiah, to be glorified forever. What a powerful sermon preached by that silent coffin in Egypt!
It is evident that the Bible has only one saving faith and only one hope. As stated before, the people of God in the Old Testament did not have a different faith than we have, the sole difference is in point of time, they believed in the coming Savior, we believe that He has come. Saved by faith in Christ, saved by grace is the song of the Old and New Testament.
The faith of Joseph is even more remarkable when we consider what little revelation he had compared to ours. It was hundreds of years later when Moses wrote the first books of the Bible, but what Joseph lacked in revelation he made up by an outstanding faith and trust in his Savior and Redeemer.
Some day we shall all be lying in a coffin. What will our coffin say or preach to those left behind? Will it say, “Here lies a person who rejected the grace of God in Christ and is now awaiting the final judgment of the lost?” Or will our coffin say, “Here lies a true child of God who put his trust in Jesus Christ the Savior and now awaits the great day when he shall see his dear Lord face to face forever in glory?” If the latter is the case, then our friends and relatives can say of us as they lower us into the grave — “This body in the grave we lay, there to await that solemn Day, when God Himself shall bid it rise; to mount triumphant to the skies,” (hymn 598). AMEN.
PRAYER. 0 holy and blessed Trinity, we thank Thee that Thou hast given us the faith of our fathers. Be with us as Thou wast with them and leave us not not forsake us not. Keep us trusting in the Rock of Ages that when our time of departure arrives, we may close our eyes with the brightest of hopes. Let us live and dwell with Thee and all Thy holy saints and angels forever and ever. Hear us, for the Redeemer’s sake.
PAUL’S GREAT I.O.U. TO THE WORLD
Romans 1:14 “l am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians, both to the wise, and to the unwise.”
We seem to be surrounded by an ocean of debts and we often wonder whether they will ever be paid. Our government has greater debts than ever before in our history, our churches are deeply indebted, our families have many bills to pay.
The debts we owe to our parents, and especially those we owe to God for creation and salvation, can never be repaid.
Debts, like the poor, we have always had with us. In Matthew 18 we learn of a servant who owed his king the staggering sum of ten thousand talents, but the king forgave him the entire debt. The same servant found a fellow man who owed him a small debt, and because he could not immediately repay, he had him thrown into prison. This story illustrates what Jesus meant in the Lord’s Prayer by, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” (Matt.6) .
Paul, in our text, speaks of another debt which he owes, an unusual and different kind of a debt. What does he mean?
PAUL’S GREAT I.O.U. TO THE WORLD
- A DIFFERENT KIND OF A DEBT
“I am debtor,” says Paul. But it is not a debt of real estate, or of services rendered, or of education. Nor does he have social or political debts in mind. What then does the Apostle mean? What can he give or bring to Rome, the richest and most glorious city of his day? Paul is writing to people whom he has never seen, and yet he tells them that he owes them something. Paul is a Hebrew, writing in Greek, to Latin people, which shows that what Paul has, is for all the world, and for all people. The Apostle has a heart full of mercy and love for the lost world and he is anxious to tell them how God loved the world and gave His Son to die on the cross so that all men can be saved by faith in the Savior. Paul feels deeply obligated to preach this Gospel to them by virtue of his call by Jesus to be the apostle to the Gentiles. “I.O.U. the Gospel because I love you and because Jesus loves you and died for all of you,” are his thoughts in our text.
It is true, there is a difference between Paul and us in this respect for he was called directly by Jesus to be an apostle to the Gentiles and he felt a personal obligation toward them. But we also owe the world the gospel by virtue of the command and instructions given us by our Lord, “Preach the gospel to every creature”—“Teach all nations”—“Go into all the world.” The moment we are converted we assume the responsibility to preach the saving truth to the rest of the world. So all of us have our own little I.O.U.s to pay, as did the Apostle Paul.
Sometimes we think we have all bills paid and then one turns up which we overlooked. Did we overlook this one, too? Remember, it is a debt which Jesus placed upon us and He expects us to assume it in all seriousness. How are we ever going to make good on this great debt? What can we do?
- A DIFFERENT KIND OF A PAYMENT
Our text continues, “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.” Paul finally arrived at the city of Rome, but as a prisoner. What could this Hebrew, coming with empty hands, give to this great city? The world has had many liberal givers and benefactors, but none can compare with Paul who carried no earthly treasures with him. Nevertheless, he had something to give which is more precious than all the gold and silver in the world, he had something which all the treasures of the world could not buy.
Paul brought eternal life with him for the Romans and the world. His treasure was the gospel which is free to all. God is not angry with us, He gave His Son to die in our stead, He paid for all sins. Heaven is free, without cost, there is nothing to pay or buy.”Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”(Acts 16) was the way he cancelled his debt to the world. What a gift Paul brought to the city of Rome!
The Apostle was burning with such zeal and love for Christ and the lost world that he could hardly wait to arrive in the great metropolis. When he did get there in chains he still preached to all who would listen to him. Naturally, one man could not tell everyone and be everywhere, but Paul did his utmost, and the Lord does not expect more than that. “As much as in me is,” was Paul’s only limitation. He was faithful in the use of his talents and gifts which the Lord had given him. “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” 1 Cor 4:2.
0 that we had some of the zeal and love for Jesus which this energetic man had. Are we doing all in our power to spread the saving gospel throughout the world? Was it necessary for the Christians to take so long to bring the message of salvation to every nation? Just a few Pauls in every century might have accomplished the task and paid off the debt long, long ago.
Are we all taking this debt seriously? When we buy a house most of us cannot pay cash for it. Usually the cost of the house is so large and the debt so great that it takes a period of many years before we can finally burn the mortgage .
The same thing holds true for the huge mission debt which we owe to the world and our Savior. Like a house, this large debt cannot be wiped out at once, it will take many years to do so. The only way it can be done is to make regular installments every week in our mission envelopes. The debt will not be paid with miserably small installments, but only with honest and liberal payments. We fear that many of our church members are actually preventing missionaries from going to far away places because they contribute little or nothing for the work of missions. And we must continue to pay off on our mission debt all the days of our lives. It is a privilege and an honor for us that the Lord entrusts us with this great and blessed work.
One of the best ways to pay off our mission debt is by prayer. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest, “(Matt 9:38). Daily we pray, “Thy kingdom come.”
Personal mission work in our community is still another way to please the Savior and help pay off our I.O.U.s. Are there no more neighbors to invite to come to worship with us? Are there no more children to be gained for Jesus?
We can reach out into the world the farthest through our Synod and the Church at large with its far-flung mission fields. Let us gladly support this mission program with our prayers and our gifts.
God, for Jesus’ sake, is willing to forgive all our debts of sin and remember them no more, but He is not willing to cancel this debt of love which we owe the lost people throughout the world. Brethren, if we feel our obligations, if we love our Savior, if we have any love for lost souls, then we will do all in our power, as Paul did, to pay our I.O.U. to the world. To this end, help us, dear Lord. AMEN.
PRAYER. 0 heavenly Father, as Thou dost daily forgive all our debts for Jesus’ sake, help us by Thy Holy Spirit to forgive all who are indebted to us. By the same Spirit give us some of Paul’s zeal and love for lost souls that we may strive with greater might to bring the Gospel unto the ends of the earth. Hear us, for the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. AMEN.
WHO IS THE ANGEL WITH THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL?
Rev 14:6 “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth.”
The celestial spirits of the invisible world are called “angels”, or “messengers.” But the term is also used in a different sense to denote pastors or preachers. Thus in the second and third chapter of The Revelation, Jesus directs His letters to the “angel of the church”, namely, the pastor or bishop.
Our text also speaks of an “angel, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth.” This description should fit every true preacher of God’s Word. What else should a pastor tell his people? What other message is there, except the sweet story of the love of God which gave His only-begotten Son to die for the sins of the world? There is only one message that can save us, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” (Acts 16:31).
However, it is evident that our text refers to an outstanding preacher at a time of great importance. Who is this angelic preacher? We shall endeavor to answer that question.
WHO IS THE ANGEL WITH THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL?
- THE LABOR OF MOSES IS PORTRAYED
Moses was born in trying times and was hid, for a while, on the Nile river until discovered by Pharaoh‘s daughter. Because she adopted him, he spent the first forty years of his life in the courts of the Egyptians. His future was very secure and he may have become the next ruler of the land.
But there came a day of decision when he had to choose between God’s people and the Egyptians. He chose his own people and fled from Egypt and spent the next forty years caring for sheep. At the age of eighty years the Lord appeared to him in a burning bush and called him to be the leader of the Israelites. He was called about 1500 B.C.
The Lord often deals with us in a strange way. God permitted Moses to be schooled in the camp of his future opponents, and then called him to be one of the greatest men of the Old Testament. Moses gave us the first revelation of God for he wrote the first five books of the Bible. Although he might have been a great man in the courts of Egypt, God gave him a far greater role in his new calling.
There are two main reasons why Moses was such a great man of God. First, by giving us the law he showed us our sins and wickedness and thereby showed us the need of a Savior. Secondly, he gave us the first promise of the Savior to come, the “Seed of the woman.” Even the Passover, instituted by Moses under God’s direction, was a picture of the “Lamb of God” to come. Moses was great in the eyes of the Lord because of his teachings on sin and grace, he taught that we are saved by grace, by faith in the coming Redeemer. Being saved by grace through faith in the Messiah, Moses taught that we should show our thanks by our good works, and, like Enoch, we should “walk with God.”
Now about 1500 years later we find a. strange parallel to the life of Moses in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. He, too, was called from bondage to freedom.
- THE MINISTRY OF PAUL IS DESCRIBED
Paul, like Moses, was also raised in the camp of his future opponents, for he was born and raised as a strict Pharisee. He was taught that a person could be self-righteous and holy, that a Savior from sin was unnecessary. The energetic Paul was not satisfied to be a mere member of the Pharisees, he became their leader. Had he remained with them he would have reached even greater heights, no doubt. He was the guiding spirit of his sect and traveled to far away Damascus to arrest the Christians in that city.
As the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush, so Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus and converted him from bondage to freedom. Jesus said of Paul that he was to be “a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel”(Acts 9:15). From that time on Paul worked and fought for Jesus with an amazing zeal and energy. He is perhaps the most famous man of all time and stands at the head of the New Testament, as Moses stands at the head of the Old Testament. Paul wrote more of the New Testament than any other Apostle and he is the chief teacher of the Church until the end of time.
The real greatness of Paul, like Moses, can be summed up in Paul’s words to Timothy, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners: of whom I am chief”(1Tim 1:15). Saved by grace, saved by faith is the chief teaching of the Apostle which he emphasizes in Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Does Paul teach that the law is of no more use or benefit? He rejects that thought in the last verse of Romans 3, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.”
1 Cor 2:2 expresses Paul’s guiding theme of life, “I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” This is what we mean when we say that Paul was called from bondage to freedom. Paul was under the bondage of the law as a Pharisee, but when he was converted by grace he became free to serve his Lord and Savior. May the life of this great man of God inspire us all to greater faith and love and zeal.
Who is the angel with the everlasting gospel sent to preach unto them that dwell on the earth? This description especially fits another man whom the Lord used in His kingdom.
- THE REFORMATION BY LUTHER IS FORETOLD
Martin Luther was born about 1500 years after Paul. Moses and Paul and Luther are, oddly enough, about 1500 years apart in history. As Moses and Paul, so Luther was reared and schooled in the camp of his future opponents. Luther, like Moses and Paul, gave his heart and soul to his work, and was so zealous that he was given the title of “Doctor” by the church of his day and became a professor at one of the universities. Who knows to what heights this man might have risen had he remained with the church of his birth? In any case, he was a leader of the Roman church.
Through the study of the Bible, and in particular the writings of Paul, Luther began to see the hopelessness of ever making satisfaction to God for sin and wickedness by one’s own deeds and works. With what wonder and amazement did he not read of the love of God to fallen sinners, and how sins are freely forgiven through faith in the dear Savior. John 3:16 suddenly took on a new and glorious meaning for Luther. He, too, passed from bondage to freedom.
Like Moses and Paul, Luther’s greatness was in his teachings on sin and grace. There is, perhaps, no more beautiful sentence in any language, written by an uninspired man, than Luther’s explanation to the second article of the Apostle’s Creed. It beautifully sums up the whole teachings of Moses and Paul on sin and grace and the Savior. Truly our text prophesies of the Reformation of the Church by Luther. These three men were great in the eyes of the Lord and the Church because they glorified Jesus Christ as the only “Way, Truth, and Life” for our lost world.
Every true child of God confesses with Paul, “I am the chief of sinners.” Every true child of God accepts what Jesus says in John 6:40,”This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Every true child of God believes what Jesus says in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.” If this is our description then we have the same faith as Moses and Paul and Luther, then we also have been called and converted from bondage to the glorious freedom of God. Then we can also say with firm conviction and joy—
Moses’ and Paul’s and Luther’s doctrine pure, Shall to all eternity endure. Hallelujah! AMEN.
PRAYER. 0 holy and blessed Trinity, we thank Thee again for having given us the pure Gospel through Thy servant Luther. We truly marvel at Thy grace and mercy to us in these last days of the world. May the saving Gospel of our crucified Savior be our most precious possession and help us to spread Thy Truth throughout all nations so that many more blood-bought souls might be converted from the bondage of sin to the freedom of the Gospel. Hear us, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our only Savior and Redeemer. AMEN.
THOU CROWNEST THE YEAR WITH THY GOODNESS
Psalm 65:11 “Thou crownest the year with thy goodness.”
Man is the crown of God’s visible creation, and the Lord put everything into the hands of man, saying, “Have dominion over every living thing that moveth upon the earth,” (Gen.1:28). The Psalmist was amazed at his own creation and said ( Ps 139:14) , “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Luther describes this “wonderfully made” in his explanation to the first article of the Apostle’s Creed with these words, “I believe that God has made me with all creatures, giving me my body and soul, eyes, ears and all my members, my reason and all my faculties.” The more we study the human body, the more we marvel at the love and goodness of the Creator.
In order to sustain and preserve man, the king and crown of creation, the Lord crowns and surrounds the year with His goodness and mercy. Even those who have no religious convictions can see this coronation take place every year.
THOU CROWNEST THE YEAR WITH THY GOODNESS
- WE SEE THIS CROWN IN THE CALENDAR YEAR
In the springtime the world is aroused from sleep and puts on a beautiful green coat. The milk and butter are richest when the grass is tender. A multitude of fruits and vegetables begin to make their appearance at this pleasant time of the year. We are told how the Lord does all this, “Thou makest it soft with showers.” (Ps 65:10) The results of this watering and showering are told us in v.3, “The pastures are clothed with flocks: the valleys are also covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.”
Following spring, the warm and pleasant days of summer arrive. Each day and each week bring with it some new food, some new joy, some new pleasure. An endless line of fruits and vegetables pass before our eyes. Each day seems to vie with the last in giving us a better display of the goodness and kindness of the Provider. After summer is past, the harvest days take their turn in glorifying the Preserver of all things, as our barns and storehouses begin to fill up and our arms become overloaded with another great harvest. This is an appropriate time to celebrate Thanksgiving and the Harvest Festival, to remind us of the wonderful blessings of our God, to remind us that “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing,” (Ps 145:16)
Beautiful and invigorating winter! In this season water is stored up for the spring growth as nature takes a rest. “Thou crownest the year with thy goodness.”
To the wonderful seasons of the year we must add the many luxuries and inventions which the Lord has given us in these last days of the world. We have automobiles, telephones, radios, television, electricity, household appliances, rubber, steel, coal, gas and oil; a list that is almost limitless. Consider also our wonderful hospitals and the marvelous advances of medicine. Forget not our good government and our freedom of religion. The Lord crowns our lives and years with such goodness and mercy that we burst forth in thanksgiving and say with the Psalmist (107), “0 give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever.”
- WE SEE THIS CROWN IN THE CHURCH YEAR
Our Psalm not only speaks of the material gifts of the Lord, but also refers to the spiritual blessings, for we read in v.3, “Iniquities prevail against me; as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.” The whole church year is built upon the foundation that we receive forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ who suffered and died and paid for all our sins. The church year tells of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of our Savior whom the Father sent into this world to redeem us from all iniquity.
What Christian would ever want to give up the joyous Christmas Season, which proclaims the love of the Father in sending His Son into this world to redeem us that we might be rich forever?
After hearing of the price which Jesus paid to save us during the solemn season of Lent, the glorious and joyous Easter season suddenly arrives with its message of the greatest hope. Easter proclaims the good news that Jesus rose from the dead, and that we also shall be raised from the grave to be with Him in glory.
How could we think of omitting the season of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost and the revival of our faith? On this birthday of the Christian Church we receive a new and burning zeal to do the Lord’s work and spread the Gospel of salvation unto the ends of the earth.
In the Trinity season the miracles and parables of our Lord pass before our eyes. Would we care to give up any part of it? The church year is a recital of the love of the blessed Trinity to us fallen sinners. Salvation by faith in the offering of Jesus on the cross is the theme and crown of the church year.
Added to all the other blessings which the Lord has given us, we have the pure truth and doctrines of His Holy Word. As a Church our prayer has always been in the words of 1 Kings 8:57, “The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us.” He has answered our prayer. Truly we should raise our voices in thanks and praise to Him from whom all blessings flow.
“Thou crownest the year with thy goodness.” What effect should this have upon us? Rom 2:4 tells us, “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” God’s kindness and mercy are so overwhelming that our cold hearts are melted and thawed, and we humbly thank Him for all His goodness. The older we get, the more the blessings pile up. The more years we live, the more we have to be thankful for. Every birthday should be a reminder of another year crowned with the goodness and forgiveness of our God, every birthday should be a day of thanks.
Some gifts of the Lord are of far more value to us than others. For example, Jesus says (Matt 16:26), “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Our Savior also told us which gifts should concern us most (Matt 6:33), “Seek ye first the kingdom of God (things of the church year) and his righteousness; and all these things (things of the calendar year) shall be added unto you.” Let that be the chief concern of our lives, the salvation of our souls through faith in our Savior, and the Lord has solemnly promised us that He will care for all of our bodily needs.
Why does our Lord crown the year with so much goodness and mercy? Why did the Father permit His Son to wear a crown of thorns and bear the cross? Why did He make man the crown of creation? He did all this because He wants to give a crown of eternal life to His children. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life”(Rev 2:10) . Our lives, too, should be crowned with thankfulness and praise to Him from whom all blessings flow.
PRAYER. 0 holy Trinity, forgive our sins of unthankfulness and ingratitude. Thou art truly wonderful and gracious and plenteous in mercy. 0 Lord, do not let Thine anger burn against us, although we have richly deserved it. Remember our sins no more, forgive us for Jesus’ sake who died for us. Accept our humble thanks for all Thy mercies. To Thee, 0 Holy Trinty, be praise and glory, now and forevermore. AMEN.
WHO ARE THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE?
Rev 6:1-8 “And I saw, and behold a, white horse ….. and there went out another horse that was red… and I beheld, and lo a black horse… and I looked and behold a pale horse… and Hell followed with him…
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
If we listen carefully we can almost hear the hoofbeats of these four horses pounding upon the earth. They never get tired or are in need of sleep and their riders have been riding since the beginning of the world and will continue to do so until the end of time. These varied colored horses and their riders strike terror in our hearts, they frighten us. They are riding now and trampling upon us. Who are these fearful horsemen and what are they going to do? With trembling voices we ask the question…
WHO ARE THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE?
- THE RED HORSE AND RIDER
WHO IS HE
Our text says, “And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; and there was given unto him a great sword.” War! Bloodshed! The red horse is splattered and dripping with blood. O horrible rider, how you strike terror into our hearts. Concerning the red horse Jesus said, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of war — for nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom,” Matt 24:6-7.
WHAT DOES HE DO?
You can hear the rumble of his hoofbeats all over the world. Only God alone knows how many millions of people have met a violent death, directly or indirectly, because of the red rider. He has been riding since the fall of man into sin and has greater power and might today than ever before in history. No peace conference can stop him, he takes peace from the earth because his sword is great enough to reach unto the ends of the earth. He turns men into brutal beasts that are at each other’s throats and behind him he leaves a trail of weeping, misery, arid destruction. Pick up your newspaper, Somewhere, somehow, the red horseman is riding on the face of the earth.
2.THE BLACK HORSE AND RIDER
WHO IS HE?
Again we read, “And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and, see thou hurt not the oil and wine.” Famine, blackness, despair. This rider usually follows in the steps of the red horseman. When a war is in progress, or is past, it is the black riders turn to torment and torture man. Jesus clearly foretold all this in Matt 24:7, “There shall be famines and pestilences.” Hunger and disease usually go hand in hand.
WHAT DOES HE DO?
The black horse of famine wrecks the food supply so that it takes a day’s wages for enough food to hold body and soul together. The rich can still afford their luxuries of oil and wine for in a famine the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. There are hordes of people at the present time who are dying of starvation. The black horse leaves a trail of pain, sickness, destitution, despair, weakness, misery, and blackness. Thank the dear Lord, America has been spared from this terrible rider and may He in His grace keep him always from our shores.
If you think the red and black riders are terrible, look at the next rider, the King of Terrors.
- THE PALE HORSE AND RIDER
WHO IS HE?
With trembling voice we read, “And I looked and behold a pale horse; and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” Pale and lifeless death! We tremble at thy hoofbeats. Death is riding, not creeping or walking; he is full of courage and power. 0 pale and bloodless rider, what the other horsemen miss, you get. Scientists and doctors have tried to stop the king of terrors, but none can escape his pale and bloodless eyes.
WHAT DOES HE DO?
From Abel down to the present time he has trampled all beneath his feet. The pale horse crushes the little flowers and those in full bloom beneath his hoofs. He rides and rides, who knows when our turn will come to be trampled to death?
The greatest horror of all is hell riding with death, for they are like companions. Hell is waiting to engulf all who are trampled by the pale horse and comparatively few are spared that indescribable torment end dread. The pale horse leaves behind him a trail of coffins, graves, tombstones, and cemeteries.
When we think of the world in the light of these horsemen, we begin to despair and cry out, “Is there no hope or help?” Wait, wait, there is hope for we have forgotten the most important rider of all. By all means let us now consider…
- THE WHITE HORSE AND RIDER
WHO IS HE?
“And I saw, behold a white horses and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him; and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” The rider on the white horse is JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD! He rides in purity and holiness and has a bow that shoots arrows which can penetrate the hardest of hearts. He has a crown for he is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
WHAT DOES HE DO?
“He went forth conquering and to conquer.”
The church with Christ at the head has conquered throughout all ages among men. By the preaching of the law the church shows the need of a Savior and “by the sweet Gospel the hearts of men are converted and turned to Jesus as the only Savior. His army is an army of volunteers and Christ rides confidently before them, assured of victory. All who believe that they washed in His blood are saved and have joined the ranks behind the white horseman. His followers love mission work for it the means of “conquering, and to conquer.” The church tries to plant the Gospel of Jesus from shore to shore, and He is the only hope for man in life and death. Jesus also told us of His conquering in Matt 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
Let the bloody rider come, let the black horse take away all our earthly goods and possessions, we still have our treasures in heaven. Let the pale rider come and hell come on, Christ has overcome them, and we can cry out in triumph, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Through Him on the white horse we conquer all enemies.
The hoofbeats of these horses are getting louder and louder, but above the rumble we hear the white horse. All ye nations believe in Him and be saved for He is our only hope now and forever. Christians, follow Him, fight for Him, and conquer with Him. With powerful voices we sing, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.” Hallelujah! AMEN.
0 King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we believe in Thee, we trust Thee, we love Thee, we follow Thee, we fight for Thee. Keep us ever as Thy good soldiers of the cross, dearest Savior, ever fighting Thy battles and conquering in Thy name. “We fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless.” Praise be to Thee O holy Conqueror, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. AMEN