The Glorious Gospel
Monthly Gospel Magazine - Editor - Earlene Davis
Thursday, June 1, 2023
REIGNING IN LIFE
“They which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” Romans 5:17.
ENERGIZING POWER TO PERSEVERE
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” – Phil. 4:13. The Philippian racers were appropriating the same grace as Paul (1:7) to become crown winners. II Cor. 12:9, “And he (the Lord) said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Oh, what encouraging statement of spiritual fact. The Lord had let Paul know more than once that His grace was enough to enable him to bear any trouble, and endure or deal with any problem.
THE POWER PLANT
The secret to the power plant of grace is the same as the peace plan (Phil. 4:6-7) for it is found “in Christ” who strengthens us for all things. I am not speaking of a mechanical thing, but of that which is living and spiritual. As we yield to Him, we are infused by the Spirit with inner strength, thus we are sufficient in Christ’s strength.
The power to persevere, that is, to run constantly, consistently, keep on running, with (excuse the expression) “stickability” is far beyond all human resources. This Christian race takes far more than all I have to finish my course with joy – Acts 20:24, as Paul did.
This is an endurance race therefore we are taught to run with patience, looking unto Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith. Heb. 12:2-3. We must learn that it is by waiting on the Lord that we are enabled to run and not be weary and walk and not faint – Isa. 40:31. Over the long course we are made to realize that there is much human weakness.
Those truly running find it necessary to take hold of the promise by faith of “being strengthened with might by His spirit in the inner man.” And oh, yes it is according to the power that worketh in us – Eph. 3:16. We learn to lean upon Him who “strengthens us with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” – Col. 1:11.
Paul questions some saints that had started well, and had run successfully for a while; “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you” – Gal. 5:7-8. Our adversary’s persuasion is always toward hindrance of any spiritual progress. Paul had made it clear in the preceding verse, that all that avails is of “faith which worketh by love.”
Paul could truthfully say; “NOT US!” But rather, “We desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” – Heb. 6:11-12. On our race we may reign in life over indifference. We read of a wonderful example of Abraham who after he had patiently endured he obtained the promise – V. 15.
“I CAN DO”
Confidence: Paul here expresses the confidence of an experienced runner, a veteran warrior, and is for us an stalwart example of grace at work. Paul speaks of some things that he learned by experience. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” – Phil. 4:11-12.
James wrote, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised them that love him” – Jas. 1:12. Paul told Timothy to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ – II Tim. 2:3.
Contents: Everything included, Paul here expresses the total contents of the contest. Whatever the hurdles, however high the obstacles, or hard the hindrances are to mount over, no matter how steep the climb, or how long the race, or strong the winds of adversity against me, or how swift the winning pace. Let it all be included.
Completeness of Divine Capacity: The demands of this competition are beyond all human resources as Jesus said; “Without me ye can do nothing” – Jn. 15:5. Paul said “When I am weak, then am I strong” - II Cor. 12:10.
“WHICH STRENGTHENETH ME”
Capability to be constant and consistent: The power to persevere, keep on running, making spiritual progress is from Him, personal enablement. “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful” – I Tim. 1:12. He is my peace, He is my power!!
Part 3 – next issue
At Thy Word
Gordon Crook, PastorGrace Assembly, Wichita, Kansas
“And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” Luke 5:5
Try to imagine this scene. Simon Peter is a fisherman by trade, and certainly knows how to catch fish. Jesus is a carpenter who knows carpentry (as far as Simon knows). It seems like Simon might have thought that he knew better than Jesus what to do for catching fish.
This statement “nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net” is a clear indication of Simon’s recognition of Jesus as Lord. He fully trusted that Jesus knew something he didn’t. As if to say, “regardless of what I know or think, I trust you to know best.” It is a statement of yielding to Jesus.
Jesus speaks about this topic when he asks this question: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46. His point here is that, if He is Lord, he deserves obedience. True faith is always followed by action. True reverence (fear of the Lord) will be followed by obedience.
I have been so impressed by this verse. What an example for us to follow. As I meditated on this, I thought about some in the Old Testament that had this similar attitude, and one that needed to be led into this attitude.
Abram was called by God to leave his country and his people and go to a place that he knew nothing about. He did not have the internet to look up all manner of information about the place he was going to. He did not know anyone there, but we read this in Hebrews: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Hebrews 11:8.
Abraham could have chosen to stay with what was already familiar to him, but He would have missed out on God’s great blessing. In Romans we read that he believed God. This attitude of obedience only comes from true faith and trust. We sing a hymn; “Trust and Obey.” This is a good phrase. We will not care to obey God’s Word unless we have come to trust Him. And we will not trust Him completely unless we are reading and studying His Word.
There are others in the Old Testament that are examples to us of obedience, and some that are examples of what not to do. Saul failed to obey in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Samuel. This is what Samuel had to say about that: “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22. God is not expecting some great sacrifice from our personal efforts, he is looking for obedient children.
In 2 Kings 5, we find Naaman looking for a cure for his leprosy. When Elisha told him to go wash in the river Jordan, he was mad and did not want to do it. There were certainly better rivers to go to, and it did not fit his expectation. Fortunately for Naaman, his servant was able to convince him to do as Elisha said. He would have missed out on the blessing and healing had he not obeyed.
There are others: Daniel and his friends chose to obey God even though it did not seem right to the person in charge of their care. Noah built an ark when it seemed like a silly thing to do. From the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, we come to realize that obedience goes hand in hand with faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul tells us that we can bring every thought unto the obedience of Christ. Not just our actions, but even our thoughts. We understand from scripture that our actions originate in our heart, so the only way for our actions to be in obedience to our Lord, we must have our heart in obedience. How do we do that? We yield to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We yield to the life of Christ that dwells in us.
Time in God’s Word will enable us to know what God desires from us, and it is also the means by which the Holy Spirit works in our lives to enable us to be obedient to our Lord. Obeying God’s Word is not a harsh duty, it is a privilege that will bring great blessing and bring glory to Him for eternity.
THE CALLINGS OF GOD
Anita Clark – PastorGrace Chapel, Carbondale, Kansas
Throughout the Old and New Testament, we see God calling individuals to do His work on the earth. In the Old Testament it is recorded that God called Abraham, Moses Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah and many others to come to Him and obey and serve Him. In the New Testament God called John, the Baptist (or baptizer), Paul, the Apostle, the twelve Disciples, and He is still calling people to serve Him in various ways as part of His Body, the Church in these days. The scripture in Romans 11:29 states, “For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance.”
The phrase “without repentance” speak to us in (the amplified version) “For the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. for He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.” This verse speaks in the New Testament of all of the ones God chose: Jesus, the Messiah, John, the Baptist (or baptizer), Paul, the Apostle to the Church Age, the twelve disciples. The calling of God did not change.
In I Corinthians 12:12-14, Apostle Paul speaks about the body of Christ. Verse 12 tells us, “All the members of that one body, being many are one body, so also is Christ (or Christ’s body- the church).” This Scripture says, it does not hinder God’s work whether we are Jew or Gentile. This portion of the Word gives what God says about the individuals of the Body (or Church). Those who are born again and are the “called according to His purpose.” Verses 17-20 tells us that each member of the body of Christ (made up of each believer in Christ) has been placed by God “as it pleases Him” – Vs. 21-27. Verse 28 states, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, second prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” Verse 27 tells us “Now we are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” The word “particular” means in the Gk. “Each part severally and distinct, each with his own place and function.”
In the verse in Romans 11:29, Paul spoke of the “...the gifts and callings of God.” The word “gifts” means “the endowment, religious qualification or miraculous faculty.” The Holy Spirit gives gifts to the believers, and He does not make a mistake in His giving it or in His choice of whom He calls. There was a call to Israel about their Messiah Jesus Christ. They as a whole rejected Him, but some accepted Him, so, He turned to the Gentiles. And the message of salvation is for anyone who will accept Jesus as their Savior.
The call to salvation is still going on today. I Corinthians 1:26-27 says, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And the base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.” There was a call to Israel during the time Jesus was here on the earth. John 1:10-11 says, “He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on His name.” They as a whole rejected Him, but some accepted, such as the disciples, and Paul the Apostle.
The call to salvation is still going on today. So, You believers in Christ are the “Called” and the “Chosen.” Hebrews 3:1 says, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” Note that Apostle Paul said, “partakers” which means in the Greek, “sharers or participants” of the heavenly calling.
Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4:1, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called.” The word “vocation” means “the calling.” God calls us to follow Him and give Him our all. II Timothy 1:9 tells us another precious thing speaking of God, - “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His Own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” We are all called to be saved from our sins and to follow God, but there are particular callings God has for each of us. Romans 12:4-8. Verse 6 through 8 especially show many different callings or ministries, as it says in verse 6, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us... “ Apostle Paul said about his calling of God, “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” In I Timothy 1:6, He speaks to Timothy about his divine calling, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”
It is very important for the believer in Christ to listen to the voice of God, as He calls us to enter into a work that He is calling for us to do. In I Timothy 4:14, Paul admonished Timothy, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee: which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things. Give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.”
One more important portion of Paul’s writing is Philippians 3: 7-15 where he speaks of the race of the believers of this age. In verse 14 he writes, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” This “high calling” is our being called by the Holy Spirit to fully yield to God, by dedicating our bodies as living sacrifices to God, totally for His use. This the highest calling of all! It is the divine call to be yielded and watching and waiting for the coming of our precious Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are ready to this “high calling” will rule and reign with Christ one of these days very soon. The trumpet will sound and the “...dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds. To meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (I Thess. 4:13-18.) Be ready! It will not be long.
LEARNING THE HIDDEN TRUTHS
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing but the honor of kings is to search out a matter” - Prov. 25:2.
OUR THIRD POINT IS “TO SEARCH OUT A MATTER.”
Again, search means “to penetrate, hence to examine intimately, find out or seek out.” How then are we to search out a matter? The Lord has quickened eight ways to me on how this is done:
1) BY THE WORK OF THE PROPHETS.
Read I Peter 1:10-12 and notice – “the prophets…, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you;” and “…When it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ,” And also “…But unto us they did minister the things.” I believe there would be a serious lack without the prophecies, the testimonies, and the ministry of the prophets. These things are very fundamental and necessary to understanding God’s Word. We receive the good from their preaching. II Peter 1:19-21, especially verse 21, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” These prophets spoke by the Holy Spirit, and don’t we need to listen to what the Spirit has to say also? Rom. 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning;” and II Tim. 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. For doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in Righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” We need to understand the work and the ministry of the prophets if we are to learn from them. Their lives can and should profit us. And as we learn from them we are being built up unto a perfect man – the new man – the life of Christ within. Read Rom. 16:25-26, “…according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began. But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.”
2) BY THE MINISTRY OF THE APOSTLES.
Remember in Mark 16:15, Jesus said, go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” And this was a work that the apostles did. This was their responsibility. Certainly others had a part and do have a part, but they laid the foundation. Ephesians 4:11-12, “And He gave to some apostles; and to some, prophets…for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” These have a past in the perfecting work that God is doing in our hearts. Praise God for them! In Eph. 2:20 we see that we “are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” Can we do without this foundation? Not if we are to stand and withstand and come to a place of maturity. The foundation is a very important part of a building. A building is only as good as its foundation. The superstructure depends upon it. If the foundation is weak and crumbles over time, the building will weaken and eventually be ruined. Thank God we have a good, strong foundation that has stood the test of time.
3) BY PAUL’S REVELATION.
Read Col. 1:24-29. God gave Paul the revelation – the interpretation – to these mysteries that had been hidden in ages past. Also consider Gal. 1:11-12. Paul labored and strived according to the grace of God that was at work in him to preach, to warn every man and to teach them so that all who lay hold of their opportunities would be perfect in Christ Jesus. We need Paul’s gospel!
4) BY FAITHFUL MINISTERS, PREACHING GOD’S WORD.
Ephesians 3:2-10, God has given grace to faithful ministers “to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery.” Again in Eph. 4:11-12, “He gave…to some, evangelists and to some, pastors, and to some, teachers; for the perfecting of the saints.” I believe that it is very important to sit under the ministry of the Word. If our heart is right before God, He will quicken something to our heart that will help in that perfecting work He is doing in our lives.
5) BY DAILY STUDY.
Acts 17:11, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” I believe that we need to receive the Word that God is speaking to us with a readiness of mind (in the NIV – “with great eagerness”). But also it is important that we search the scriptures daily ourselves to see whether what we are being taught is true. We need a personal daily study on our own to come to an understanding of God’s Word. Paul told Timothy in II Tim. 2:15 study to show approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We need to know the Word of God for ourselves, in part so that when we are asked questions regarding our faith we can give a scriptural answer. Not what our pastor said, or our teacher said, or an evangelist said; but this is what God’s Word has to say!
6) BY MEDITATION.
I Tim. 4:15-16 “Meditate upon these things, give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” God can and does bless those who meditate on His Word day and night; consider Psalm 1. God promises to make us prosperous, successful, and victorious as we learn to meditate on His Word, Joshua 1:7-9. We need to meditate on what we have heard taught and preached upon and on what we have studied and read.
7) BY PRAYER
Eph. 1:15-19, Paul prayed for the Ephesian saints “that God…may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe.” Paul realized that despite the most gifted ministers preaching under the anointing of the spirit it would not be enough to bring the saints to maturity. Personal study though vital, is not enough. Meditation, though very important, can not bring a child of God to maturity alone. It also takes prayer. We learn to ask God to help our understanding, to quicken His Word to our hearts and to reveal these precious truths to us. If we ask, He will answer. He is faithful to do so. I love the song “My Precious Bible.” Verse five reads; “I love my Bible; may I ne’er consult it but with faith and prayer.”
8) BY THE QUICKENING POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
I Cor. 2:7-12, “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God.” Often as we are reading, studying or listening to the Word given forth, the Spirit will quicken a portion to us, we never saw or noticed before. The Word will become clear and make sense. The scriptures will come together. It is the Holy Spirit that gives this understanding to us.
So we need: 1)the work of the prophets; 2) the ministry of the apostles; these prophets and apostles laid the foundation. We need as well 3) Paul’s revelation; 4) faithful ministers who preach God’s Word; 5) personal daily study; 6) meditation on the Word; 7) prayer to ask God to make His Word clear to our hearts; and certainly we need 8) the quickening power of the Holy Spirit to reveal the Word to our heats. All of these are beneficial in coming to a full knowledge of God. All of these are instrumental in the development of the life of Christ within and to enable us to come to the measure of the stature and fullness of Christ, that the new creation life might be fully developed in us.
We will not come to perfection overnight or to a complete understanding of God’s Word instantly, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” May we be willing to grasp a little here and a little there.
Rev. 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lord is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.” She learned His Word and to do those things that are pleasing in His sight. Praise His name!
Debra Isenbletter, PastorChristian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri
Jonah 4:6— “And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.” In this verse we have the second of four things that God prepared for Jonah. In the first chapter it was the fish, Ch. 4 the gourd, the worm and the wind. I have divided this verse into three parts: Preparation—Protection—Praise.
Preparation: “the Lord God prepared a gourd,” It is the “Lord God, the Eternal One and the Strong One that prepared the gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.” It is the God of Creation, the God of the Covenant who continues to reveal Himself to Jonah.” He “ordained” and “appointed” it for a specific purpose. He looked ahead to what Jonah needed and prepared it for him. He did this at the right time, in the right place. Jonah looked at what he had experienced and was experiencing and understood the Lord was in control. If we see whatever we experience, good and bad, as part of God’s Will, then we are able to pass through those experiences and overcome and not be overcome. The Lord sees everything, knows everything and controls everything. He knew Jonah’s heart and his hurt and even his hate. He knew Jonah would reveal His Word and what Nineveh’s reaction would be and Jonah’s reaction. He knew Jonah would not leave but would remain, that he would build a shelter and that he would need shade. The Lord knows everything. In each of the times that the Lord prepared something, it was specifically for Jonah (1:17; 4:6-8). Each was prepared before time in preparation for the time it was needed. Each was prepared to correct Jonah or to comfort him. So, the Lord prepared “a gourd.” The potential was in the ground waiting to grow. It was there in the exact spot that Jonah sat. The plant was dormant until God gave the command to grow. This word is only found here in the Old Testament. This is a caster-oil plant that grows from 8-10 feet high with large leaves that would provide good shelter.
Protection: The Command: “and made it to come up over Jonah.” The rapid growth of this plant was not natural, it was miraculous. It had the capacity to grow but the Lord accelerated it. We see God’s Power and God’s Purpose because it came up “over Jonah.” It grew where Jonah was and it grew fast. In the natural the plant does grow, but it takes up to three months to mature and reach six feet, and this plant was fully mature. It was waiting for the God’s Command, to Grow! The Covering: “that it might be a shadow over his head,”— this is the purpose of the gourd. It was for Jonah, to make his life bearable, even though he was in a place and position the Lord did not want him to be. The word “shadow” comes from the idea of “hovering over.” It speaks of “shade,” here it is literal shade. It also speaks of “defense.” The head is the most vulnerable to heat. It also pictures the mind. This was a literal shadow but it also is a picture of something that when Jonah saw it and felt it, made him think about it. The shadow can picture several things. God’s attributes that Jonah just mentioned (Jonah 4:2). God’s promises and provisions. The Old Testament promises. In the New Testament Paul tells us about the “shadow of heavenly things” (Heb.8:5) and the “shadow of good things to come” (Heb.10:1)—all of which are found in and fulfilled in Christ. What is interesting is that the shadow of the gourd is greater than the shadow provided by his shelter. The shelter was the work of Jonah’s hands and the gourd was the work of God’s Hands. What the Lord provides is far greater than anything man can make or provide. The Comfort: “to deliver him from his grief.”— to “deliver” Jonah, to “save” and “defend,” to “rescue” and “recover” him. To save Jonah from himself, from the discomfort and suffering that he brought upon himself. And in the saving and delivering through the provision of the gourd, Jonah will be “rescued” and “recovered” so that he can continue to minister as a prophet of God. That is grace! It is not about taking away the danger, it is about showing him the danger. The danger is Jonah’s attitude is self-destructive. Jonah puts himself in a dangerous place. He sits in a shelter, knowing the danger and does not care. He wanted to die, he has given up. God wants to change his attitude. He has lost his purpose and he has lost his way. The Lord God will first show grace and then withdraw it to teach Jonah the value of it, how precious it is and to appreciate it.
Praise: “So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.”— Jonah was not only glad, but “exceeding glad,” he “rejoiced with great joy.” This was a relief because Jonah was experiencing “great” discomfort. This shows that Jonah was miserable, hot and suffering. What Jonah did not yet see is that all this was self-inflicted. God did not tell him to go and sit there and wait, he chose to do that and there were consequences because of that choice. Sometimes we choose to do something and there are consequences, and the result brings greater adversity. It is not that the Lord did that, it is that we did it to ourselves and the Lord allows it so that we might learn. The gourd is a lesson in grace for Jonah. It was provided not because of Jonah’s prayer, but because of Jonah’s need. Did Jonah see the miracle in the plant? Did he acknowledge the One who provided it? Did he think that provision of it meant God approved of what he was doing? Jonah acknowledged the gourd but did he acknowledge God? The gourd is a picture of grace, it is the protection that is provided not by ourselves but by the Lord. Jesus spoke of the protection that He could and would provide to God’s people if they would accept it. He said He would have gathered them under His wings (Mat.23:37) but they refused. Jonah does not refuse grace, he accepts it but does not yet understand it. Without acknowledging that grace it will be taken away so that he might see what it is he has taken for granted. Jonah did not see the grace that provided the gourd? This is what we need to do when we experience the grace of the Lord in our lives, it the little things and the big things. Often if it is a great matter we give thanks, but often if it something little, something small, we take it for granted. Let us see the gourd in our lives, the rejoice not just in it but in the grace that has provided it.
God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8
Pastor Vicky MootsKingman, Kansas
Ecc. 3:8a: “A time to love…” Love actually began before time began, before the foundation of the world, with the love that God had for His Son. God then chose to share that love with His creation, as we read in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Before I go any further, I need to discuss the different types of love that are mentioned in the New Testament. The Greek word “eros,” from which we derive the word “erotic,” referring to a sexual, sensual type of love is not found in the New Testament. There are two other Greek words for love which are used: “phileo” and “agape.”
“Phileo” is often referred to as “brotherly love” and denotes fondness or affection including kissing. This is used to express our natural love for each other, exclusive of sensual love.
“Agape” is the purest form of love. It is selfless, unconditional, committed to the highest good, a self-sacrificial type of love, irrespective of the worthiness of the object and expects nothing in return. It is not possible for us to possess this type of love apart from a relationship with God, as John informs us in I John 4:7-8: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love [agape] is of God; and everyone that loveth of born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
In vs. 9-10, John makes it clear that love [agape] was first sent to us by God in the form of His Son: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [atonement] for our sins.”
As believers, we are commanded “to love’ (“agapao,” the verb form of “agape”) others and God. It is not an option. It is now our “time to love.” Jesus, Himself, gave us this commandment in John 15:12-13.
First of all, in v. 9, He states, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” That means that Jesus loved us with the same quality and intensity of love that His Father loved Him! Now He desires for us to receive the fullness of that divine love and to remain steadfast in it, to continue walking in it day by day.
Then in vs. 12-13, He commands us to love others with the same kind and intensity of love (agape) with which He loved us, a love that caused Him to willingly sacrifice Himself for us: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” That same love also caused Him to lay down His life for His enemies, for we were yet enemies when Christ died for us.
Are we really expected to be able to do that, to love even our enemies? How is that possible? It is not possible if we try to do it on our own. However, anything that we have been commanded to do in the Scripture, we are enabled to do, not by our own efforts, but through the life of Christ in us. Therefore, it is “not I but Christ,” as Paul said in Gal. 2:20.
Agape, divine love, is not based on our emotions; it is the fruit of the Spirit, as Paul tells us in Gal. 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” We read in Rom. 5:5, “…the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost…” but we need to share it.
We can choose to manifest God’s love, in spite of our emotions, by yielding to the Holy Spirit in our lives and allowing the “Christ in us” to love through us. It is only then that we are able to love someone who is undeserving, or someone who has hurt us, with the same kind of love that God showed to sinful mankind. That love was placed in our hearts in the person of Jesus Christ when we were born again.
In I Cor. 13 Paul discusses the necessity of divine love (agape), translated “charity,” and states that we are nothing apart from it, no matter how many good deeds we do. He then lists the characteristics of agape in vs. 4-7: “Charity [agape] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things…endureth all things.”
As you can see, all of these characteristics describe the life of Jesus. They are the exact opposite of human nature, and can only be manifest in our lives through the life of Christ in us, as a new creation, as we walk in the Spirit.
So, when is it our “time to love”? Today, and every day, from now through eternity, for Paul tells us in v. 8 that “Charity [agape] never faileth [comes to an end] …” Paul ends the chapter with v. 13: “And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity [agape].” Why is it greater? Because faith and hope will come to an end when we see Christ face to face, but love will continue for eternity. Why not start sharing God’s love now!