There is audio from Grace Assembly Church services.
Saturday, October 3, 2020
There is audio from Grace Assembly Church services.
“Ye…took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” – Heb. 10:34.
Overcomers of all ages have experienced such as we have recorded in Hebrews ten. In fact all believers have suffered some losses, but not all have been able to take them joyfully. I believe this is mainly because they focused their attention and affections on the temporal instead of the eternal (II Cor. 4:16-18).
The scriptures give us many examples of those focused on either the material or spiritual wealth. We read in Genesis thirteen that there came a separation between Abram and Lot. “And Lot lifted up his eyes and beheld all the plain of Jordan…Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan…and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.
By way of contrast we find Abram allowing God to focus his attention, direct his path, and chose his inheritance. It seems that God was comforting him when He told Abram to lift up his eyes and look from the place that he was. Abram could have been very severely pained by the separation as well as greatly releaved.
In genesis fourteen we read of a war wherein Lot’s property was plundered or “goods spoiled.” Lot had gone away farther, after having pitched toward Sodom, he now dwelt with the losers of this battle, and was thus taken captive. Can we not see the sequel among God’s people today?
“And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there…” and their enemies took all their goods and victuals, and went their way. “And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods and departed” – Gen. 14:10-12. We next see a real overcoming attitude manifested in Abram. When he heard that Lot was taken captive he went to war, won the victory, and brought back all the plundered goods, even Lot and his goods.
When the king of Sodom went out to meet Abram, the victor and to reward him, Melchizedek king of Salem got there first with bread and wine, and blessed him, saying, “Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” Abram is here identified as belonging to God who owns it all, and Abram proved it by his actions. He was surrendered to God, he had solemnly promised by the uplifted hand what he would do when victorious. Therefore when the king of Sodom approached him with the suggestion, “take the goods to thyself” Abram proved that he was indeed living by faith, for he refused his offer. Living by faith in God keeps us from becoming indebted to or dependant upon man.
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me…” Gen. 15:1-2.
Abram seemed to need comfort and assurance after such marvelous victories. The possessor of heaven says, “fear not.” Oh, thank God for His fear nots! To our hearts. What better protection could we find, than to have the “I AM” as our shield. And what greater possession than to have the “I AM” as our reward. I believe he manifested an earnest faith, and sincere interest in God’s promise, when he asked, “what will thou give me?”
Faith cannot refuse such an offer. Doesn’t Jesus still offer Himself to believing hearts today as the Prize of the high calling? Oh, how foolish we would be to refuse such an offer, He is worth everything. May our love abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that we may (be able) to approve things that are excellent; that we may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ (Phil. 1:9-10).
“Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred” – Acts 7:14. Joseph had been thrown into the pit by his brothers. Then he was sold into slavery and put in prison. Eventually he came to the palace, and advanced to a place of rulership. We know that He was placed there by God to be instrumental in his brother’s deliverance. He eventually told his brothers, “God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (Gen. 45:7). He had been told to tell his father and bothren, “Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.” V. 20.
It seems that our heavenly Father and our lovely Lord, who was beautifully typified by Joseph, speaks thus to us; about our stuff and the goods of our heavenly homeland, and promised inheritance. Don’t place such high value on that which you all one day leave behind, so as to allow it to hold you back, hinder your progress, but come on, come on, forget those things you have left behind, reach forth to that which I have set before you.
MERCY, COMPASSION, AND FORGIVENESS
Anita Clark – Pastor Carbondale, Kansas
These traits are what the Lord Jesus Christ manifested when He was here on the earth. We, who are born again have the life of Christ in us. As we walk in the new life, we will manifest the characteristics of the Lord Jesus.
Titus, a follower of Christ through Paul’s ministry was admonished to manifest Christ in his life toward others in Titus 3:1-5. Verse 1 says, “...be ready for every good work.” Verse 2, says, “...speak evil of no man, to be no brawler [i.e. to be peaceable], but gentle, showing all meekness to all men.” Paul says in Vs. 3. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” Vs. 4 tells us what changed us, “But after the kindness and love of God our Savior toward men appeared...according to His mercy He saved us...”. A wonderful change took place.
A good definition of the word “mercy” in the New Testament is “compassion or sympathy, tenderness or tender heartedness, or pity.” Remember, Jesus was asked by poor miserable people to have compassion on them. Some examples come to mind from Christ’s time here on the earth - many times when He showed compassion or mercy.
In Luke 10:30-37, Jesus told the story of the “Good Samaritan.” If you haven’t read this story, do read it. The poor man had been left to die, wounded and bleeding beside the road. A certain priest came by, but he could not help the man because he couldn’t touch a dead person. That would never do, he just couldn’t risk his career as a priest of the temple. After all there were rules to follow. Second, a Levite, a man of the chosen tribe, very religious, who had to keep his life holy came by. What if this man was dead, this Levite would have to go through a big cleansing process before he could even enter the temple, much less work there. Notice, “They passed on the other side.”
Then, came along a Samaritan. Jesus calls him. “A certain Samaritan.” God has “certain” people who show mercy on the helpless and the needy. This Samaritan didn’t hesitate and think, “Now, is this man a moral man or immoral, is he a man who obeys God or not.” No! The Samaritan had compassion.
Another illustration that Jesus used was the story of the “lost son,” found in Luke 15:11-32. Vs. 20 says, “And he arose, and came unto his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed.” The word “compassion” means “to be moved inside our inner being, to feel sympathy, to pity.” Where would we be without the compassion that our Father God has for us.
Jesus had compassion on the great multitude of people which came out to hear the Word from Him. (Mark 8:1-3). Vs. 2 says, “I have compassion on the multitude because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat...”. He saw not just their spiritual needs, but their natural needs. What a good example. We too must be willing in ministering to others to meet natural needs if there are some. Not only showing compassion for their rescue from sin’s hold, but also for their natural needs. Sometimes, when we meet the natural needs there is opportunity to share the gospel with them and bring them into the spiritual light of God’s uttermost compassion for their souls.
Another word to study is “forgiveness.” This word means, “to send forth, lay aside, let go, put away, pardon a sin or offence.” Sometimes someone hurts us so badly that we think we can never forgive them. That’s a lie the devil tells us. God’s word teaches us that we must forgive others. This is not only when they ask us to forgive them, but in any circumstance where there’s been a break between persons.
There’s not a one of us who hasn’t experienced a situation where someone hurt us, or went against the truth of the Word, or some other offense. We often just break fellowship and leave them alone. Sometimes there’s nothing we can do except to pray for them and commit them unto God.
Paul says in Ephesians 4:30-32, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” These descriptive words show exactly what happens when a person is angry at another, and just lets go of all control. This is truly the fleshly nature being manifested. How sad that believers sometimes let go and speak in hateful words like this!
Our God is such a wonderful loving God who forgives all our trespasses. We are human and sometimes we go through very hard things to overcome, but God wants us to enter into forgiveness toward those who have hurt us. Yes, even when they don’t ask for forgiveness. Jesus said, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44.)
Who To Trust?
“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.” Psalms 146:3
God’s Word is very clear about not trusting in ourselves or in other men to solve our problems. It is certainly vain to expect help from man for the problems that are a result of the sin of mankind.
“Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.” Psalms 62:8-9
God does not give us reason to trust in one person over another. It matters not how they are thought of by the world, God reminds us that we can only trust in Him. No one can move the balance against God.
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” Psalms 118:8-9
We put our trust in God, not the “right” leader or the “best” choice of men. All of those in power are there by God’s choosing; ALL of them. Let us be content to rest in the mighty power of our God, and in His sovereign choice of those that will carry out His will to bring about His purposes in these last days.
In Matthew 25 Jesus is still answering the questions that His disciples asked Him in chapter 24:3. “…Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” We know this by the Words “Then” – Vs. 1, and the word “When” – V. 31. Jesus spoke parables to illustrate the separation of saint and saint, Vs. 1-13; the separation of servant and servant, Vs. 14-30; the separation of nations, Vs. 31-46. These parables are prophecy of that future judgment.
THE TEN VIRGINS
Vs. 1-13 - “Then (at that time) shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out (or going out). But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not ( or recognize you not). Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
I added the Greek meaning of some words. The Lord appears as the Bridegroom gathering the guests for the marriage supper. Rev. 19:9, “Blessed are they which are called (or invited) unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Some have an invitation to grace the wedding, they are not the Bride, but the guests. It is plainly evident that the 10 virgins are believers. A virgin signifies their separation from the world, especially the defiling religious condition of the end. God never likens the ungodly to a virgin, which speaks of chastity and purity. All the virgins have lamps speaking of the Word of God, illuminated by the Spirit of God.
There is a fundamental contrast between the ten, five were wise and five were foolish. The wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps, the foolish took their lamps with out any extra supply of oil. They were not prepared to go out to meet the Bridegroom, their lambs were going out. They all slumbered and slept as the dark night advanced and while the Bridegroom tarried. They were passive as to the truth and witnessing for Christ in those dark days, hiding their light, in fear.
There is a change, a cry is heard. “Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him.” It could be the result of the catching away of the overcomers. All the virgins are aroused and all trimmed their lamps, they are now stirred with the fact of the coming of the Lord. Their witness for Christ is revived. But the foolish have no oil to replenish their lamps, their light is dim, compared to those who have oil in their vessels. This is a lesson even for us today. We may have a good enough light, but no active faith in the Bridegroom’s coming.
The foolish now want the oil, the full measure of the Holy Spirit. They appeal to the wise for oil, but it is too late. The wise instruct them to go and buy for themselves. Isa. 55:1, “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.” Buying tell us that one must thirst, no longer indifferent and slothful. While they went to buy, the Bridegroom came and they that were ready went in with Him to the marriage and the door was shut to the banqueting chamber, not the door of salvation for sinners. For that gateway will never close until the end of time.
This parable and all other parables, illustrate some principles of divine truths by natural events or natural things. As here there is the figure of the wedding with invited and uninvited guests, to point out an important fact connected with God’s Kingdom. The foolish having gone to get oil that they might shine assures us they are saints. The wise who have oil, having received the Holy Spirit are ready for translation. The door for translation of the Church is over, the door is shut.
There is a due time, but the foolish did not qualify to attend the wedding. They will remain on the earth, as God’s witnesses, for God must have a witness for Himself upon the earth. They are the last rank of the Church. They will constitute the feet of the body of Christ that will stand on Mt. Olivet (Zach. 14:4).
The wise virgins figure no doubt the 144,000 that we read of in Revelation of the tribes of the children of Israel. They are mentioned being sealed while on the earth with the Holy Spirit – Chapter 7:3,4. They are seen in heaven – Ch.14:1-5. “They are virgins,” (V. 4) and follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
There is positive proof in God’s Word that the end of the Church, and her translation will be gradual. There will be a time of transition of God’s dealings with the heavenly to the earthly people, just as there was in the beginning of this Church Age (the first 9 chapters of the book of Acts). Israel was the connecting link at the first and they will be at the end. They (the Church) are translated at different times, the first rank overcomers are seen in heaven Revelation chapters 4 and 5 before tribulation. The great multitude of the Church are translated, coming out of tribulation days, chapter 7:13-17. The I44,000 are seen in heaven, chapter 14.
May we learn from this portion to be ready, watching expectantly for our Lord’s return. discerning the signs of the times. We are children of light, of the day, let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be ready. For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ - I Thess. 5:5-9. His appearance to call up the First rank could be any moment now. “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout…the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive… shall be caught up together with them… to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord - I Thess. 4:16-17.
Debra Isenbletter, PastorSpringfield, Missouri
Ch. 1:11 - “Then said they unto him; What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? For the sea wrought and was tempestuous.”
This verse is about a question, and it is a question for the prophet not the man. It is the prophet who will give them an answer and although Jonah may think his answer is his idea or his way of escape, it is neither. The God who created and controls the sea will use what Jonah says to these men to test their faith and to test Jonah’s faith. We see the Prophet and the Problem (which is the prophet). They Consult the Prophet: “Then said they unto him…” They said this to Jonah the prophet. The word “said” expresses an urgency, it can mean “to demand” such as Do Something! Or it can mean “to desire” as in Please do something! They are speaking “unto him,” unto Jonah. Unto the “Hebrew.” Unto the one who knew “the God of heaven.” Unto the one who knew the God that “made the sea and the dry land.” Unto the one who “fled from the presence of the Lord.” They believe that Jonah knew God and could speak to God.
They Consult the Prophet who is the Problem: “What shall we do unto thee.” The Question is: “What shall we do?” They know that they need to do something but they did not know what to do. The Quandary is: “unto thee” because they know that Jonah is the problem but he is also the solution. This is not the first time the question of “What shall we do?” has been asked and whenever it has been asked there is both desperation and faith behind the question. When it is asked in faith, despite or because of the desperation, there will always be an answer.
Manoah asked this question of the Lord concerning Samson and how they should raise him. “O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.” (Judges 13:8). They were given an answer; a detailed answer and they followed those instructions faithfully. Those that are willing to ask: “What shall I do,” must be willing to do whatever they are told to do, even if they do not fully understand. That is faith. The Philistines asked this question concerning the ark (1Sam.6:2-3) and obeyed without question.
John the Baptist was asked the question “What shall we do” by the people (Luk.3:10); by the publicans (Luk.3:12); by the soldiers (Luk.3:14). John gave an answer to each group, and they could choose to do or not do what John told them.
Jesus was asked the question: “What shall we do?” (Joh.6:28-29) by those who had a sincere desire to please and serve God. Jesus told them what to do by telling them what to believe.
The crowd at Pentecost asked Peter, “What shall we do?” (Act.2:37). Their conviction was real, their desire was real and the answer was simple. It was to believe on the Lord Jesus, to show that belief by repenting and being baptized and to take the added step of faith by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Council at Jerusalem asked the question; “What shall we do to these men?” (Act.4:16). They were talking about the apostles, their preaching, their miracles. They asked this question but they did not really want to hear the answer. It would have been the same answer that was given by Peter on Pentecost. Simply believe.
These men asked Jonah what they should do because they did not know what to do. They know what the problem is, it is the sea. They even tell Jonah what the solution to the problem is: “that the sea may be calm unto us?” They know Jonah is the source of the problem, so they believe Jonah will have the solution to the problem. It was the sea that threatened the ship and threatened their lives. If the sea could just “be calm” then everything would be fine. They believed that Jonah’s God (who made the sea) could also calm the sea and since this was Jonah’s God, Jonah would have to ask his God to do this. They saw the danger: “for the sea wrought and was tempestuous.” They could not ignore it, they could not escape it, they could not stop it.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
A Pattern Prayer
By Dr. Vicky Moots
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” Matt. 6:9-13.
“Which art in heaven:” This phrase separates him from our earthly father. He is our Heavenly Father. A father is a protector and a provider. Earthly fathers are not always capable of doing that. They may lack the strength or the resources, but our Heavenly Father is more than able to meet our needs physically and spiritually. He even knows our needs ahead of time. “…your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matt. 6:8). But He wants us to come into His presence and ask.
How does He supply our needs? Paul tells us how in Phil. 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Not only can He but He shall. It is His obligation as our Father. (Not all our wants, but our needs.) And He will do it according to His riches in glory. Do you think that is sufficient? Will His supply ever run out? He has abundant riches in glory! They are inexhaustible! And how does He do this? It is by Christ Jesus. In Jesus we find everything that we need. Our Heavenly Father supplies everything that we need through His Son. When we accept Jesus as Saviour we have access to all our Father’s riches. If we reject His Son, then we cannot call Him our Father, and He has no obligation to take care of us.
“Hallowed be thy name:” His name is holy and not to be cursed or used lightly. Many people say, “Oh, my God!” When they are upset or use the initials “OMG” on social media. It is irreverent to use God’s name in this manner. They are obviously not considering God’s name to be holy for they are using it as a byword. When we come before His presence in prayer, we must acknowledge His holiness and give honor to His name. But this should also be true in our daily conversation with others. If we are taught to honor our earthly mother and father, how much more honor should we give to our Heavenly Father? We read in Mal. 1:6, “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour?” We give Him honor by recognizing His holiness and the authority and power in His name. Then we will be willing to obey Him and live a life that will bring glory and honor to His name instead of disgrace.
Verse 10: “Thy kingdom come:” Jesus likely prayed this too. “Thy kingdom come” meant to Him that He would have to go to the cross to die to fulfill God’s plan. He was in full agreement with God’s plan and we must be also and be willing to submit to it, even as Jesus did when He prayed, “Not my will but thine be done.” We certainly do not agree with the things that are happening in today’s world, but we know that they are in fulfillment of prophecy so we pray in agreement with God’s plan, “Thy kingdom come” and are looking for Jesus’ soon return. We also acknowledge that God is not only our Heavenly Father but a King and has a kingdom. He is ruler of the universe but wants to be King of our lives and set up His kingdom in our hearts. We submit to His authority as Father, God and King and let Him reign over us now. Instead of looking to an earthly ruler or president to bring peace, we need to look to the Lord to give us peace in our hearts. Matt. 6:33 instructs us: “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…”. Letting Him reign as King in our lives now prepares us to reign as kings one day in Heaven with Him.
Verse 10 “…Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven:” Jesus was our example when He prayed to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion in Luke 22:42: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.” This was spoken by Jesus personally two years after He had given us the pattern prayer in Matt. 6. Jesus submitted to God’s will in Heaven to be done in earth, and so He went to the cross. Are we also willing to bear our cross that is given to us in this life in order that God’s will be done in us? Could God have set up His kingdom on this earth without Jesus going to the cross? He could have, but He had a greater plan. He wanted us to be His sons. God had to sacrifice his Son in order that we could have our sins forgiven and be born again to become sons of God. God could have created us to serve him automatically even as the angels do, but he wanted a family. He wanted us to serve Him out of love. If we love Him, we will trust Him in all things and submit to His will in our lives.
Jesus was the Son of God in Heaven but came to earth in a body of clay. He was then part of the earth as well as Heaven. He wanted God’s will to be done in His earthly body, in earth, as it was in Heaven. Are we willing to do the same, in our earthly body, to submit to God’s will no matter the cost? Can we sincerely pray with Jesus, “not my will but thine be done”? Think about that the next time you pray this prayer.
WALK IN LOVE
Gary Giddings – Pastor, Sand Lake, Michigan
Ephesians 5:1-2 “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor.”
We are called to “Walk in love.” Another way of saying this is, “Live your life in love.” Our primary focus is God: we are called to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are also called to love our neighbor as ourselves. What does this look like, especially when we don’t agree about some things? As born-again, Spirit-filled Christians, we may not always agree. So how do we get along without resenting or offending each other? We are learning to “walk in love,” that is, we are learning to “live our lives in love.” We are “followers of God, as dear children.” We are learning to share the love that God has shown to us. Notice the word “therefore.” What is it THERE FOR? Why should we be “followers of God”?
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Because we have been forgiven by God, we can forgive others! We don’t have to be caught up with strife, contention and offenses. We can hold on to them if we want, but why? It only brings us down! We can forgive because we have been forgiven. We are free to know and to enjoy God, so why do we hold on to things that hinders our relationship with Him? We want to be like Jesus, loving and helping others to be free. We are free to enjoy the blessings of God. We have liberty in Christ, no longer in bondage to sin and shame.
John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” What does this LOVE look like? How is it shown? John 15:12-13 “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.” 1 John 3:16 “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
It is easier to “lay down our lives” for the sake of others when we look at things the same way and want to do things the same way. But what if we have a difference of opinion? What if we don’t agree on matters of what we think God allows or disallows? Can we still show love to each other? Romans 14:1-2 “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.”
It is so easy for us to take a topic, an issue, a situation and take sides: “THIS is right, THAT is wrong.” If God shows us in the Bible that something is wrong, then it is wrong. For example, stealing is wrong, adultery is wrong, murder is wrong. But what about eating meat? Someone may think that eating meat is wrong for them for whatever reason. But we tend to label an action “wrong” if it is different than what we would do. Sometimes we want rules because it seems to make things clearer and simpler for us, but Christianity isn’t about “following the rules.” If you are more interested in rule keeping, then you would be more comfortable with being an Israelite in the Old Testament. Not only was Israel given the 10 Commandments written on tables of stone, but according to Jewish tradition, Israel was given 613 commandments! There were rules for everything! For example, there were rules for what the people of Israel were allowed to eat and what they were allowed to wear for clothing.
Christianity isn’t about “rule keeping.” It is about loving God and loving each other. There are certain things that should be done or not be done, but the focus is LOVE. Romans 13:8-10 tells us that “love is the fulfilling of the Law.” Romans 14:3-4 “Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”
We could point to the Scriptures that tell us that eating meat is allowable by God. But does that mean that we are to beat someone over the head with it? Maybe a believer comes from a family background that didn’t allow the eating of meat for whatever reason. But we are not to despise or look down on those who don’t do things exactly as we would.
Romans 14:5-6 “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” Whatever your practice is, do it as unto the Lord. Live according to your conscience, but make sure that your conscience is informed by the Word of God. In all things, let us show love towards another, not forcing others to act like us. Let the Holy Spirit do His work to shape another’s conscience.
Romans 14:22-23 “Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned [condemned] if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” According to Scripture, we need to have a good conscience in whatever we do. The Apostle Paul declared that he had “lived in all good conscience before God” (Acts 23:1). He also said that he trained himself “to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16).
The Apostle Paul also told Timothy the importance of a good conscience: 1 Timothy 1:5 “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:” V. 19 “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:”
In 1 Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul addressed another questionable situation: the eating of food offered in sacrifice to idols. Paul agreed with those who said that an idol is nothing and that there is only one God. But Paul was also aware of those who couldn’t eat meat offered to idols with a good conscience. Paul wrote, “But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” (1 Cor. 8:8-9).
According to Paul, for one to flaunt his liberty before a brother or sister who doesn’t have it, this is a sin against the brethren and against Christ! So Paul made his stand and declared, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Cor. 8:13).
What is the present day application to this? One thing that comes to mind in this COVID-19 era is the wearing of masks. We may have different opinions of whether masks are needed or not. There are rules in places of business that varies from state to state in our nation. But what about our church buildings? Should we require that everyone wear a mask at church? It may be your opinion that either masks are necessary or that masks are useless or harmful. But the point here is that we should not let this issue divide us Christians. Can we disagree and still get along? Do we insist on our liberty to NOT wear a mask or can we wear the mask for the sake of others who perhaps are physically vulnerable to the coronavirus?
1 John 4:19-21 “We love Him, because He first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” We can walk in love because of the love that God gives to us. Love doesn’t originate in us but we can “pass it on” to others. When in doubt about what to do, show love.