The Spirit Of This Season

It was December 24 in Southern California. A judge in his robes sat on the bench that morning in a crowded courtroom. The first case came before him. He pronounced judgment – a fine and a jail sentence – and then said, “I am in the spirit of this season and so I’m going to suspend it all. That’s it! Next case.” And he went through all the cases that morning the same way.

The word soon spread. Attorneys called friends who had cases coming up soon, and they rushed to have those cases put on the docket. At two o’clock that judge saw that he couldn’t possibly get done that day. He just forgave them all, because he was “in the spirit of the season.”

He said to the clerk, “Mark all of those that are here, and I will now pronounce judgment for all of them.” The same thing: “Forgiven – suspended.” But he wasn’t just! There was no justice at all!

Suspended Sentence
On the same day, the same morning, a judge was on the bench in Tucson, Arizona. He was doing justice, honoring the law. In the middle of the morning he called the case of a man who had been in court 30 days before, a man who had received an extension of 30 days to raise the money for his fine. The man didn’t answer. The judge said, “I’ll set it aside till the end of the court.”

Later in the day that man came in. He was an immigrant, an old man, and he walked right up to the bench. He was embracing an old, dirty milk bottle. The judge, remembering the last time he was there, immediately called for the interpreter.

Through the interpreter the man said to the judge that he was sorry for being late and he asked for forgiveness. Then he said, “Judge, I know you gave me 30 days to raise the money to pay this fine, and I walked all last night to get here. I’m sorry I’m late.” Finally with shaking hands he took the milk container and set it down before them. “Judge, this is all I could raise from all my friends and from everything I could sell, and I don’t think it’s enough.”

The judge said to the clerk and the bailiff, “Count it quickly,” and they dumped all those coins out and counted them while the judge waited. The fine was $300.00, and the money they counted out totaled approximately $240.00. It was not enough.

Told what it was, the old man said, “Judge, please, just a little time, and I’ll be back with all the rest.”

That judge had tears in his eyes. He told the people in the courtroom, “I haven’t seen anything like this in all the time I’ve been on the bench. This man walked all the way, all night, and brought what he could. Now he’s begging for time to pay the rest!”

Then the judge said, “Because of your spirit, because of the way you repented and are sorry, I’m going to suspend the rest of the sentence. You go free!”

We feel better about that, don’t we? But still it wasn’t justice! The judge overlooked the judgment and the penalty that should have been paid.

Genuine Justice
But God is just when He justifies a sinner, because He doesn’t overlook one sin. Not one!

Christ on the cross in those three hours of darkness bore the penalty for all my sins – He didn’t overlook one.

Isn’t it wonderful to be free from judgment, the load gone, at peace with God and on your way to heaven? That is what is offered you through the gospel.

“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1 KJV).

“God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (vv.8-9). Read more.

2 Timothy

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.” — 2 Timothy 1:8 NKJV

By Leslie M. Grant

Like First Timothy, Second Timothy deals with individual responsibility in connection with the Church or Assembly – two English words used to translate the same Greek word. Paul wrote this letter from prison. It was his last epistle, written knowing that he was about to be put to death for his witness for the Lord. Here he no longer spoke of the house of God, but of “a great house” (2:20). That which had once been God’s house in some measure of purity and truth had degenerated to the point of allowing gross error and vessels to dishonor. Also, all in Asia had turned away from Paul (1:15), no longer desiring his teaching.

But he was not discouraged. Indeed, with a rejoicing heart he encouraged this young man to strengthen him against his own natural timidity. Timothy was to be unashamed of the testimony of the Lord, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2:15) and making full use of all its blessed truth, acting with firmness and decision for God. He was not to neglect any of it, whether in the work of an evangelist or in ministry to the people of God. Second Timothy 2 shows the believer in eight important aspects of life and is excellent for any believer who honestly desires to serve the Lord today.

During days of departure and spiritual carelessness, this book holds grand encouragement for the upright heart. It declares the blessedness of God’s provision in view of His foreknowledge of present conditions. Thus, whatever may be the dishonor done to God’s name in professing Christendom, one may yet be true to the meaning of Timothy’s name: “honoring God.”

Avoid Abortions

By Emmanuel V. John

People from every culture and custom, including Christians, are faced with making significant choices concerning life. We can never go wrong in doing what is right, by making the choice to believe God and obey His Word. The Bible is the Master Manual for life and daily living.

Our Awesome God
God knows us absolutely, or wholly. God even knew us before we were born. This is expressed in the words spoken by Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5 NKJV). When we were still in our embryonic beginnings in the womb, He knew our very thoughts. “You understand my thought afar off,” David pointed out, “… For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made … Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139:2,13-14,16).

An Appeal To Christians
Avoid even thinking about abortion, nor yield to personal, family, political or social pressure as to it. Every person has a free will, but we must yield to God’s will! Satan said, in effect, “My will, not God’s will”: “For you [Lucifer] have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation” (Isa. 14:13). But the Lord Jesus lived out “Not My will, but God’s will.” “He [Jesus] … prayed saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Mt. 26:39). Likewise, the apostle Paul exchanged the self-life for the Christ-life, and said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

We too must follow God’s will and know that children are gifts from God to be loved, treasured and trained for Him. “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is His reward” (Ps. 127:3).

God’s Amazing Grace
We discover more of His amazing grace when we believe Him in the midst of difficulties. My family told me that before I was born my dad was working on a crane along the coast. While at work, a telephone pole unhooked and struck him on his shoulder with a great force, which threw him into the sea. He was rescued, but his left shoulder and hand were severely injured, leaving only one living vein in his hand. Dad was hospitalized. At one point he was in critical condition, and the doctor gave no hope of his survival. However, he was a true believer, and in quietness God gave my dad this message: “[You] shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD” (Ps. 118:17).

Soon after, even though he was in pain, my mother brought him home, where she cared for him. Three years later, with six children in the family, a sick husband, and no significant source of support, my mother discovered that she was pregnant with her seventh child. She believed God in spite of the odds, knowing that the baby could be born with various defects. But God honored her faith in Him and gave her a healthy baby boy. That child is the one who is now writing this appeal to you. Thank God for godly parents, for all seven children and the grandchildren are in the family of God. I am now 72 years of age, serving the Lord.

An Assurance
I want you to know that there is hope, help and healing in our precious Lord Jesus. If you have had abortions and are haunted by the ghost of guilt, please know that God’s grace is greater than your sin. God says, “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Rom. 5:20). Do not cover your sins, but confess them to the Lord and receive His forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). Now that you are forgiven when you confess your sins, you do not want to ever, by God’s grace, have another abortion. Conquer sins by walking in the light of God’s Word and having fellowship with Him (1 Jn. 1:7). Thus, say “NO” to abortion and “YES” in your allegiance to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

How can I tell which social organizations are okay to join and which are not?

By Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.

Let me begin by asking you two questions:

  • If the Lord Jesus, your Savior and Lord, were here on earth in person right now, which lodge do you think would invite Him to join?
  • Which social organizations, if any, would He feel free to join?

I hesitate even to ask to what extent He would feel free to get involved in a social organization.

When we consider His life on earth 2,000 years ago we can be sure He was faced with somewhat similar questions. We are not specifically told of social organizations in the Gospels, but we find some respected and some not-so respected religious societies at that time. None of these give any indication that they would have welcomed Him as a member. Rather, while they were quite different, the one thing they had in common was that they all displayed enmity, or hostility, against Him.

History tells us that the Pharisees were a relatively small, elite, much-respected organization. The apostle Paul, before he was converted, had been a Pharisee (Phil. 3:5). In Matthew 23:2 Jesus told the crowds and His disciples that the Pharisees and the scribes sat in Moses’ seat. Back in Exodus 18:13-16 we see what this meant: Moses daily sat and judged the people, teaching them God’s statutes and laws.

“Whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do,” Jesus told those who were listening. But He added, “Do not do according to their works, for they say and do not do” (Mt. 23:3 NKJV). He then gave examples of their lifestyle; it was a lifestyle that came far short of what they were teaching. In Matthew 15 He called them “hypocrites” (v.7) because by their traditions they were making the commandments of God of no effect.

Several times we find the Lord accepting an invitation from a Pharisee to dine at his house. But when we look more closely we see that they invited Him in order to watch Him and find fault in His talk. But He knew exactly what needed to be said to the conscience of His host. He always was Master of each situation.

Interestingly, we never find the Lord in the home of a Sadducee. Most of the priests at that time were Sadducees. They were known for not believing in all that God’s Word taught: “For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection – and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both” (Acts 23:8). The Lord could have no fellowship with persons who went through all the forms and ceremonies of religion and yet did not believe basic elements of its teaching. A delegation of these Sadducees once asked Jesus a question that they felt clearly ridiculed Scripture, but He confounded them with His answer (Mt. 22:23-34, quoted on the next page in this magazine).

In this chapter the Pharisees even teamed up with the Herodians (v.16), a politically-oriented group of that day, to try to trap the Lord with a question about the tribute payment to Caesar. If He would answer one way, the answer would be seditious, or rebellious against the government. They felt if He were to answer the opposite way, He would lose His popularity with the people. However, He astounded them with the wisdom of His answer: “Render … to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (v.21).

Many social organizations have some project of doing good as one of their purposes. Peter told Cornelius and those gathered at his house that Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). The Church – the organism rather than the organization, though often erroneously called that – has done and is doing a tremendous amount of good. And friend, as an individual you can easily find many ways of doing good and helping others! There is no shortage of needs in this world, and no shortage of opportunities to help meet them.

A very well-known passage of Scripture speaking on this subject begins with 2 Corinthians 6:14, which says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” After pointing out the incongruity, or inappropriateness, of such a yoke, the passage concludes: “Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (vv.17-18).

Social organizations offer opportunities to socialize with others who have similar interests. This often involves eating and drinking together, and the drinking may well involve alcoholic beverages. While these have their uses in moderation, as 1 Timothy 5:23 shows us, there are numerous passages in God’s Word warning us against overindulgence in them. A person might abstain from drinking, but one is known by the company he keeps. No man can serve two masters, our Lord has clearly stated (Mt. 6:24), and the attempt to do so inevitably has bad results.

Some of the foregoing statements can also be applied to professional organizations, of which a worker is obliged to be a member in order to practice a trade or earn a living. We are not under law but must use the wisdom God so freely offers to give us. May our aim be to please Him, and may we ever weigh carefully before Him every invitation and inclination!

The Importance Of God’s Written Word

By Alfred Bouter

Sometime after the Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Lk. 2:1-20), a group of wise men from the East arrived in Jerusalem. They came with an important mission: “Where is He who has been born King1 of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Mt. 2:2 NKJV). How was it that they had come from so far away and yet knew what had just occurred?

In the days of the prophet Daniel, God used him to graciously and miraculously save the lives of many wise men. Nebuchadnezzar then placed Daniel, whom he called Belteshazzar, as head over them (Dan. 1:7, 2:48).2 These wise men and their following generations had come to possess a book written by Daniel which described future events (see 9:24-27, 10:1-12:13). Around the time indicated in Daniel 9, the wise men of a later generation (Mt. 2) noticed miraculous things in the skies and, having been intrigued about them and based on what they knew and observed, traveled to Jerusalem. Once there, they must have been surprised to find that the leaders were not prepared for the arrival of this King – and not interested either.

The reigning king, Herod “the great,” summoned the Jewish religious leaders to find out where this birth had happened, pretending that he wanted to go and worship Him. In reality, Herod was planning to kill this One whom he thought would seek his throne. The scribes quoted Micah (5:2-4) to confirm that Bethlehem of Judea was the place where the Messiah must be born, but they showed no desire to go and worship Him. Herod’s sinister plans were nullified by God’s intervention (Mt. 2:7-15) even though He allowed the slaughter of the innocent babes and infants (vv.16-18).

These details show us that faith and love for Him and His Word are needed to accept “as it is written” – a phrase repeated often in Scripture – and to act accordingly, with the right motives and intentions. Especially in our days of decline and departure, it is essential to hold fast to God’s written Word. Therefore the apostle Paul encouraged his young co-worker, Timothy, to continue in the things he had learned from him and known from the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:14-17). All believers are encouraged to follow Paul’s example and teaching (1 Cor. 11:1), which are still valid and relevant today.

God Made Known His Thoughts
God made His thoughts for His chosen people known through Moses in Genesis through Deuteronomy. Joshua, Moses successor, communicated God’s commandment to the people to build a special altar, “as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses” (Josh. 8:31). The fourth generation and those that followed departed from God’s thoughts, causing much failure during the days of the judges, as “every one did what was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 21:25). In time, God brought the rule of David, the king after His heart, to implement His thoughts (Ps. 132). David passed this reign on to his son Solomon, whom God had adopted as son (2 Sam. 12:24-25), despite David’s own failures.

The plan was that Solomon would, as David exhorted him, “Keep the charge of the LORD your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn” (1 Ki. 2:3). After his initial obedience, sadly Solomon failed, for his heart was turned to various idols while he officially served God (11:1-11). This led to the division of the kingdom.

In later generations mention was made and practice was observed of the instructions God had given “according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses” (2 Ki. 14:6). Much later, in the days of Jeremiah, after things had gone very bad, especially under Manasseh, God worked a great revival through King Josiah. During that time there was much emphasis on the Word of God, which had been found in the temple by the high priest Hilkiah (22:8). Josiah then “commanded all the people, saying, ‘Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant’” (23:21). Remember, these events happened and were written as lessons for us today (1 Cor. 10:1-13).

Because of Israel’s ongoing unfaithfulness, God sent the Ten Tribes of northern Israel into captivity (2 Ki. 17), during the days of several Assyrian kings. Most of these tribes are still scattered among the nations, and they will be until their future restoration takes place (Ezek. 20).

The Two Tribes – Judah and Benjamin with a remnant of the Levites as well as some belonging to the other tribes – experienced the great revival under King Josiah, yet many of them were sent into the Babylonian captivity, in three successive phases, because of the disobedience of the kings after Josiah (Jer. 24; 2 Chr. 36). When the 70 years of captivity had passed (Jer. 29:10), a remnant returned to Jerusalem, also in three phases, and started to rebuild the temple and restore the city. However, after the 400 “silent years” following the last prophet, Malachi, the remaining Two Tribes were still not ready for God and His King. Then God sent John the Baptist “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk. 1:17; see also Mk. 1:1-13; Jn. 1; Mt. 3; Lk. 3).

The Word Of God Keeps Its Relevance
Even though there was so much departure and failure among what remained of God’s people, it is striking to read seven times in 2 Chronicles that things were done according to what was written.2 The Chronicles were probably written by Ezra the scribe many years after a remnant had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. Second Chronicles in particular describes remnant conditions and faithfulness to the Word during the days before the captivity, despite the prevailing unfaithfulness. Following is a brief overview of those seven passages in 2 Chronicles.

  1. “Jehoiada appointed the oversight of the house of the LORD to the hand of the priests, the Levites, whom David had assigned in the house of the LORD, to offer the burnt offerings of the Lord, as it is written in the Law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was established by David” (23:18).
  2. Amaziah “did not put their children to death, but did as it is written in the law in the book of Moses, which the LORD commanded, saying, ‘Fathers shall not be put to death for sons, nor sons be put to death for fathers, but each shall be put to death for his own sin’” (25:4 NASB).
  3. “They decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem, for they had not kept it as often as prescribed (30:5 ESV).
  4. “A majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, May the good LORD pardon everyone” (v.18). This shows God’s grace for His failing people who had the desire to please Him.
  5. “The king also appointed a portion of his possessions for the burnt offerings: for the morning and evening burnt offerings, the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and the New Moons and the set feasts, as it is written in the Law of the LORD” (31:3 NKJV).
  6. “Then they removed the burnt offerings that they might give them to the sections of the fathers’ households of the lay people to present to the LORD, as it is written in the book of Moses. They did this also with the bulls” (35:12 NASB).
  7. “Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and his goodness, according to what was written in the Law of the LORD, and his deeds from first to last, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah (vv.26-27 NKJV).

The remnant that returned to Jerusalem, to the place of God’s dwelling, was characterized by the fact that they did things according to what is written in God’s Word (Ezra 3:2,4; Neh. 8:15, 10:34,36), and they maintained God’s interests in accordance with it.

Gradually, however, despite all good intentions, a system developed where traditions were placed above God’s Word. Malachi challenged the priests and the people belonging to this remnant because they were in their position according to God’s thoughts, but their spiritual condition was not right in God’s eyes. When the Lord Jesus came to fulfill God’s promises, He challenged the leaders for keeping the letter of the law but not fulfilling God’s thoughts. In other words, they acted according to what is written, but did so only in a formal way, not with love to the Lord and His people.

The Lord Jesus often challenged them on this issue, see for instance Matthew 23. In Matthew 5, the Lord said five times, “You have heard that it was said” referring to those traditions. It may be of value to note that “five” in Scripture is a number that speaks of responsibility, like the five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. He followed each with, “But I say…”,4 and then He referred to the unchanging and unchangeable Word of God.

May we learn from these examples to put into practice what is written (Jas. 1:22). Today, this implies acting in accordance with the New Testament teachings – because we are not under the law of Moses – and doing so with the right motives and intentions, for His honor and glory until He comes! God is not only interested that we keep and respect His written Word, but He wants us to do this from the heart, rather than outwardly in self-righteousness by keeping the letter.

You have heard it said … But I say to you …
“You shall not murder, and whoever murders
will be in danger of the judgment” (v.21).
Read verses 22-26.
“You shall not commit adultery …
Whoever divorces his wife” (v.27,31).
Read verses 28-32.
“You shall not swear falsely, but shall
perform your oaths to the Lord” (v.33).
Read verses 34-37.
“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (v.38). Read verses 39-42.
“You shall love your neighbor
and hate your enemy” (v. 43).
Read verses 44-48.

1. When a baby boy is born into a royal family he is called a prince, but when the Lord Jesus was born He was immediately called King!
2. To know how their lives had been saved, please read Daniel 2. The position Daniel received (2:47) does not imply that he practiced the same things as the wise men, but his special God-given abilities to interpret dreams caused the king to place him over the whole group.
3. The Hebrew text has 16 times a compound word that can be translated “as it is written” (Josh. 8:31; 1 Ki. 2:3; 2 Ki. 14:6, 23:21; 2 Chr. 23:18, 25:4, 30:5,18, 31:3, 35:12,26; Ezra 3:2,4; Neh. 8:15,10:34,36). The same Hebrew term, which occurs seven times in 2 Chronicles, is sometimes translated “as prescribed” or in other ways.
4. “But I say to you” is in Matthew 5 six times (vv.22,28,32,34,39,44). Interestingly, the same Greek word appears a seventh time in Ephesians 5:32.


I read the magazine and then as the Lord leads I use the entire booklet as a tract, leaving them in strategic places and giving them to people. I get as much use of them as possible. – USA

I wish to state that I really derived a lot of spiritual blessings from the publications, especially this year. My prayer is that the whole world shall be for Christ. I thank you for your consistency and commitment. May God bless you. – Nigeria

Thank you for our magazine subscription. The Series on “Dispensations” (Oct. ’17 – Jan. ’18) was especially appreciated. Please renew our subscription. – Kenya

I received the November 2017 edition today. Its topic of “Prayer” is one emphasized frequently during preaching in our church. God bless you all for preparing us for heaven. –Nigeria

We appreciate your support to the men in this prison. Those who read the magazine express their gratitude for your unconditional love. Thanks. – USA

Magazine December 2018


Emphasis: Is This Child Special To You? -Paul Alberts
Worship: The Savior Of The World -William Y. Fullerton
Feature: The Lords Character As Light -Alfred Bouter
Feature: God’s Illuminating Light -Stephen Campbell
Feature: And God Said, Let There Be Light. -Roger Penney
Series: Why Did Jesus Come? -Shereen Ghobrial
Response: Responses
Discover: Discover Questions -Alan Groth
Uplook: The Importance Of Gods Written Word -Alfred Bouter
YouAsked: How can I tell which social organizations are okay to join and which are not? -Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
Issues: Avoid Abortions -Emmanual V. John
Overview: 2 Timothy -Leslie M. Grant
GoodNews: The Spirit Of This Season
Full Magazine PDF: Magazine PDF

Why Did Jesus Come?

Part Five: He Came To Give Us Life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” —John 10:10 ESV

By Shereen Ghobrial

I think one of the funniest Sherlock Holmes stories is about a time when he and Dr. Watson were camping. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional investigator, appearing first in 1887 in British writing, and later with his friend Dr. Watson. As the story goes, after pitching their tent under the skies, they went to sleep. A few hours later Holmes woke Dr. Watson and asked, “Watson, look above and tell me what you see.”

Watson said, “I see the sky full of stars.”

Holmes then asked, “And what do you conclude from this?”

Watson answered, “If you are asking astronomically, then I see we have millions of stars; meteorologically, I see we will have a cloudy day tomorrow; time-wise, I see it is about four o’clock in the morning; and theologically, I see we are a tiny particle in big universe created by a great God. But, why do you ask?”

Holmes replied, “Don’t you see that someone has stolen our tent!”

The moral of this story is we tend to focus on the peripheral, or relatively minor, meanings of life, missing its main meaning and purpose. So, what is the meaning of life?

The Meaning Of Life
The meaning of life is a philosophical question concerning the purpose of our existence as human beings. Many theories have been provided based on assorted ideological and cultural ideas, but we need to turn to the Bible to seek the divine and real meaning of life.

In Genesis 1:26-27 we find the creation of man narrated as follows: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Notice two thoughts in these verses. First, men and women are created in God’s image. That means they have a shadow of His moral attributes, such as intelligence, holiness, love and will. Second, God gave them dominion over all other creatures on earth. You are not equal to the tree outside your home or pets and other animals; you are superior, created by your Designer for a higher purpose.

Look at another passage of the Bible: “… Everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made” (Isa. 43:7). In this verse God clearly indicates the purpose of creating man: “for My glory.” What does glory mean? Glory is a reflection of greatness. The glory of a king is reflected in his wealth, personality and scope of his dominion. The glory of God is reflected in the greatness of His attributes, such as holiness, intelligence, justice, mercy and wisdom. Hence, the purpose of creating mankind is for God to manifest His attributes by exhibiting and exercising them in men and women.

For example, when we see the magnificence of human intelligence it gives us a glimpse of the wisdom of the Divine Creator. When we see the strong or the rich showing mercy to the weak or the poor, that reflects the glory of God, who abounds with mercy (Ps. 103:8). Alternatively, God exercises His mercy on the sinner by waiting patiently for him to repent. If he does not repent, God will manifest His judgment by sending the sinner to hell. In either case, God will be glorified.

In summary, the Bible reveals to us that the purpose and meaning of life is to glorify God by reflecting His attributes. Did Adam achieve this purpose in his life? How about his descendants?

The Lost Purpose
The Word of God declares clearly that all mankind have missed the goal of their creation and the purpose of their life. This is the definition of “sin.” Paul confirmed this when he wrote: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Notice the contradictory relationship between “sin” and “the glory of God.” The essence of sin is not so much about hurting others or breaking God’s moral laws as it is about not glorifying God in your life. This is a much wider and more inclusive definition because glorifying God would include, for example, being holy, honest, merciful, faithful and loving. When you fail to exhibit one of God’s moral attributes you are sinning, and “the wages of sin is death” (6:23).

The important thought to stress here is the contrast between death and life. This may seem obvious, but many people are looking for the meaning of their life while they are still dead in their sins. As a creature you have lost your life because of your sinful nature. This means there is no reason to look for a meaning of life, since there is no life in you anyway. Now you may wonder, “Is there any hope?”

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Did Jesus come to restore to us the innocent life that Adam had? Is this the life that Jesus meant? Or was He talking about a different kind of life?

Abundant Life
God had a great plan for us. It was for the Church – the individuals called by the grace of God – to have a new type of life similar in nature to the life of Jesus Himself. The life in Adam was given from the Creator to His creature. The new life that Jesus is offering is given from God the Father to His sons.

In Genesis 2, God “breathed into his [man’s] nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (v.7). After His resurrection the Lord Jesus “breathed on them [His disciples] and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (Jn. 20:22). God breathed into Adam to give him life; Jesus breathed into His disciples to give them God Himself: the Holy Spirit.

Every human being receives life through birth. A baby carries the attributes of his parents in terms of physical, mental and behavioral attributes. For the abundant life, a person needs to be born again; only a true Christian has the new life. The Holy Spirit does this work, using the Word of God, the Bible. Similar to natural birth, in the second birth the newly born believer carries the moral and spiritual attributes of his Father – God.

Peter built on this fact when he wrote: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). What Jesus had in mind was not to improve some individuals, but to create a completely new race. The purpose and meaning of life is still the same: to reflect God’s glory, proclaiming His excellencies.

The major difference is the power that we have to achieve that purpose. In Adam, we have life from God, yet we separated ourselves from Him and the result is death. In Jesus, we have God Himself living in us by the Holy Spirit. He has the power to lead us in the victorious life that reflects the glories and attributes of our Father.

And God Said, “Let There Be Light”

By Roger Penney

The above words, found in Genesis 1:3 (KJV), are the first recorded spoken ones of God, and as such they are highly significant concerning God’s plans for the world and His people. They also tell of the nature and character of God, as seen in what John wrote: “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn. 1:5).

The Nature Of God
Light is the very essence of God’s being. It is difficult for us to imagine the Supreme Being, who has the purest, uncreated and infinite energy, but the Bible says God is precisely that One. There is no darkness in Him; He is all pure light, just and holy, yet gracious. The book of Hebrews tells us, “It is impossible for God to lie” (6:18). He, the Lord Jesus, is the ultimate and final Truth, and He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6). This One who “cannot lie” (Ti. 1:2) also said, “I am the light of the world: He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).

“God is light” is an absolute and unconditional statement, and the verses we quoted in John show quite clearly that the Lord Jesus is God. God, remember, is a trinity – often referred to as “the Godhead.” Later in the New Testament, Paul stated that the Lord Jesus has and is the fullness of God (Col. 1:19, 2:9).

In our present situation and bodies of humiliation it would be impossible for us to exist in God’s presence, for such is the intensity of the light of God. We are in fragile and sinful bodies, but one day soon these bodies of ours are to be transformed. In heaven we will have glorious bodies, “like unto His glorious body” (Phil. 3:21).

The Effects Of The Light
His true light will be revealed, yet at present that light is shining in the darkness of human hearts and minds, dispelling ignorance and vice. Such is the work of Him who is the true Light.

At the beginning of John’s gospel we are told that the “light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended [overcame] it not” (Jn. 1:5). The prophetic words of the Lord Jesus just prior to the healing of the blind man are significant concerning His task then and now. He told His disciples, “I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no one can work” (9:4-5).

Then, after His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit, the light continued to shine in the hearts and minds of men, dispelling the confusion, dissatisfaction and lies. This has been done by the gospel and the power of the Spirit of God. “But if our gospel is hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3-4).

Just as God decreed that there be light in creation, dispelling the primeval darkness and chaos, so the same process occurs in the human hearts and minds by the gospel. Paul explained to the Corinthians, “For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (v.6).

The face of Moses shone after being with God on the mountain (Ex. 34:29), but the Lord Jesus is the actual Light, shining all the time since He is God and is ever with God the Father (2 Pet. 1:19). Now, as a result of our learning about the Lord Jesus and getting to know Him, we shine as lights in this dark world (Phil. 2:15).

The Dominance Of The Light
The light is universal and dispels all the satanically imposed darkness. John stated that we are of God, but this world is under the control of Satan: the Wicked One (1 Jn. 5:19).* The apostle continued, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (v.20).

Isaiah described how the Lord Jesus conquers the satanic darkness of this world. It is by shining His light and causing it to reflect from His people, who have experienced living in the darkness and are now set free. “Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation [distress], when at first He lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Napthali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined” (Isa. 9:1-2).

“The people” were of Galilee. The Pharisees and other learned men despised them, saying with contempt, “This people who knoweth not the law are cursed” (Jn. 7:49). Nicodemus argued with the educated men, but then they taunted him, suggesting that he too was a Galilean. Compounding their display of ignorance, they declared that no prophet ever arose from Galilee (v.52). Clearly they did not count John the Baptist as a prophet, although he was, as well as the Lord Jesus – both of whom had come from Galilee.

The Lord spent much time with the people of that region. They were specially privileged and chosen to be the bearers of the light to the nations after His resurrection. He taught in their synagogues, performed miracles in their towns and villages, and instructed them by the lakeside. Note that we carry the same light as has been done by generation after generation of the Lord’s people.

We see later that men of Galilee and others of despised occupations, such as a tax collector, were to take the gospel all over the world. Faithful men and women are still engaged in this work worldwide. These dear servants of the Lord Jesus are seldom from the upper classes of society, but they fulfil the means God uses according to His will. Paul explained to the Corinthians, “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 the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and 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: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

The Lord Jesus is the Light of the World. This great message was first entrusted to the men of Galilee, then after to those who heard it. Now, when the world is in darkness spiritually, the same message is committed to us. The Lord said to His disciples “Ye are the light of the world” (Mt. 5:14). It is only a reflected light, but nevertheless a reflection of the true Light.

The Darkness And A False Light
Isaiah told about a world without light. It is a world where all the peoples are shrouded in gross darkness, but where there is hope for the true Light. He wrote: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall arise upon thee. And the Gentiles [nations] shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isa. 60:1-3). This prophecy is a call to the faithful remnant of Israel to shine for the Lord Jesus, for He also is about to arise and shine to defeat forever the darkness and its power. It is also a prophecy that has as its fulfillment all peoples at all times who are called to be witnesses for Him.

At this present time Satan is mustering his forces for the takeover of this world by the Antichrist. The Devil even has some success in confusing and leading astray God’s people. He does this by changing himself into the appearance of an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). We are not ignorant of his devices, yet we need to be reminded. Therefore Paul warned the Corinthians about false apostles and deceitful workers who were then and are now “transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ … Therefore it is no great thing if his [Satan’s] ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:13,15).

God is at work, so Satan also puts his servants to work to subvert things and the Word of God. However, we have all the resources of God through the Holy Spirit and the power of the Lord Jesus. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (4:6).

Evil And The Evil Ones To Be Destroyed By The Light
One day soon the forces of darkness and evil are to be burned up. “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 4:1, see Zech. 14:12). The Antichrist himself shall be burned up by the very brightness of the Lord’s presence. “Rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God; and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Th. 1:7-9). In the following chapter of Paul’s letter we read that not just the forces of evil are to be destroyed, but the very person who has ruled the world blasphemously as Satan’s representative is also to be destroyed. “And then shall the Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Th. 2:8; See also Mal. 3:2; Rev. 19:15).

Just And Righteous Judgment By The Just And Righteous Judge
In Revelation the Lord Jesus is depicted having “eyes … as a flame of fire” (1:14). John’s vision began with his being suddenly confronted by such a wonderful and majestic personage that he was led to write: “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead” (v.17). His description includes “His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars; and out of His mouth went a two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (vv.15-16). This describes the Lord Jesus when He will come to judge the nations. “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen!” (v.7). The sword is that of the warrior who is bringing judgment to His enemies. The “eyes … as a flame of fire” tell us that He sees all things, including the secrets of the heart and the thoughts of intellects bound and perverted by Satan and the demon hordes.

We see in the prophets the Messiah coming in power, but in the New Testament the fact of the Lord Jesus as the Judge of all is clearly explained. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father” (Jn. 5:22-23). This is stressed time and again in this passage. It goes on to say, “Verily, verily [Truly, truly], I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father has life in Himself: so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man” (vv.25-27). The Lord Jesus went on to say, “As I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not My own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me” (v.30).

We see in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that the Lord Jesus will judge the works of His people and reward them, or not, accordingly (3:10-15). Later, the promise to the world is that all men will be judged according to how they have responded to God’s message. Paul told the people of Athens, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained whereof He has given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

The Lord Jesus will rule the world in righteousness as well as conduct the final tribunal. That terrible event is again prophesied in Revelation where John described it in all its terror and despair: “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 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, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death“ (20:11-14).

In view of these things, may we truly ponder God’s first recorded words: “Let there be light.”

* The term “wickedness,” as found at the end of this verse in some Bibles, is not an accurate translation of the Greek.