Magazine March 2017


Emphasis: His Work In Our Lives -Paul Alberts
Worship: Psalm 57
Feature: A Longing For Justice -Roger Penney
Feature: A Cave, Crutches And A Captain -Timothy P. Hadley
Feature: A Refuge In Distress -Alfred Bouter
Uplook: Features Of A True Disciple Of Christ -Timothy P. Hadley
YouAsked: Responses -Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
Response: We translate some of your articles.
Discover: Discover Questions -Alan Groth
Family: Resolving Family Conflicts -Emmanuel V. John
Overview: Zephaniah -Leslie M. Grant
Series: A Few Thoughts On Prophecy -Alfred Bouter
GoodNews: He Lost His Treasure!
Full Magazine PDF: Magazine PDF

He Lost His Treasure!

Beneath the gleaming sun a passenger ship slipped smoothly through the tranquil sea. Very near to the railing a passenger amused himself by repeatedly tossing an object into the air and catching it – an object that sparkled with an extraordinary brilliance as the sun’s rays touched it. The man’s attention was riveted on this shining object each time he tossed it into the air. Another passenger who watched approached him and asked:

“What is this that you toss into the air and catch so carelessly?

“It’s a diamond. Here, look at it.”

“Is it worth much?”

“Yes, it is extremely valuable. Look at its color and size. Actually, everything I own in the world I have invested in this diamond. I’m headed to a new country in search of a fortune. I sold everything I owned and invested the money in this diamond in order to carry it easily.”

“If it is as valuable as you say, doesn’t it seem risky to toss it into the air so near the railing?” asked the other passenger.

“No, there’s no risk. I’ve been doing this for half an hour.”

“But there could come the moment when you toss it for the final time,” said the other.

The man smiled and continued tossing and catching it. Once more he tossed it – the extremely precious stone sparkled dazzlingly as the sun’s rays embraced it – but this time it fell just out of his reach. The man reached out his hand as far as he was able over the railing, but he could not grasp it. A small plop on the surface of the water momentarily marked the spot where it fell. The diamond’s owner, after a stunned moment, cried out in anguish, “I’ve lost it! I’ve lost it! I’ve lost it! I’ve lost everything I had in this world!”

You might say that no one is so foolish, that this story cannot be real. But yes, it is real – and it is quite possible that it is your own story. The sea is time, and the destiny toward which you travel is eternity. The boat in which you travel is this life. The diamond is your soul with which you are carelessly playing. Permit me to repeat the story like this:

“Friend, what is that you have in your hand with which you are playing so carelessly?”

“It’s my soul.”

“Is it worth much?”

“More than everything else.”

“Don’t you think you are running a huge risk of losing your soul?”

“Oh, no!” you say, and you continue to toss your soul up over the ocean of time. But the moment will come when you can no longer catch it. No matter how hard you try, it will be impossible to rescue it. Your soul will have been submerged in the depths of desperation and you will exclaim: “I’m lost! I’m lost! I’m lost!”

Such will be your cry one day, perhaps very soon, unless you put your soul in a secure place: in the care of the Son of God.

“What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mt. 16:26 NKJV).

Why not surrender your soul to the Lord Jesus Christ right now? We can tell you how.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (Jn. 10:28).

A Few Thoughts On PROPHECY / Part Three

By Alfred Bouter

Prophecy Is Reliable And Precise
Some researchers list hundreds of specific prophecies about Christ in the Bible, many of which have been fulfilled, and others are still to be fulfilled. There are no mistakes in these prophecies, even though we cannot always understand and explain all their facets.

The statistical impossibility, according to the mathematical laws of probability, that all these prophecies in connection with one and the same Person be fulfilled by chance, confirm in an indirect way that God is the Author and Executor of them. Recognizing this leads us to worship Him (Rom. 11:36; Rev. 4:11), which is proper in view of His greatness.

Mathematical Probability And Messianic Prophecy 
Prophecy clearly indicates the divine authorship of the Scriptures and testifies to the trustworthiness of its message. Anyone can make predictions, which is quite simple to do. However, writing detailed prophecies and having them fulfilled is vastly different. In fact, the more statements made about the future and more details given reduce the chances of a precise fulfillment. For instance, what is the probability of a person about 3,000 years ago being able to predict the exact city in which the birth of a future leader would take place? This is what the prophet Micah did 700 years before the Messiah was born. What is the likelihood of predicting the precise manner of death that a new, unknown religious leader would experience a thousand years from now, a manner of death presently unknown and to remain unknown for hundreds of years? Yet, this is indeed what David did in about 1000 BC in Psalm 22. Again, what is the probability of predicting the specific date of the appearance of some great future leader hundreds of years in advance? This is what Daniel did over 500 years before Christ came.

If one were to picture 50 specific prophecies about a person in the future, one he never met, just what is the likelihood that this person would fulfill all 50 of the predictions? How much less would this possibility be if 25 of these predictions were about what other people would do to him, and were completely beyond his control?

For example, how does someone “arrange” to be born in a specific family? How does one “arrange” to be born in a certain city – and that in which his parents do not actually live? How does one “arrange” his own death – specifically by crucifixion with two others – and then “arrange” to have his executioners gamble for his clothing? How does one “arrange” to be betrayed in advance? How does one “arrange” to have the executioners carry out the regular practice of breaking the legs of the two victims on either side, but not his own? Finally, how does one “arrange” to be God? How does one escape from a grave and appear to people after having been killed?

Indeed, it may be possible for someone to fake one or two of the Messianic prophecies, but it would be impossible for any one person to arrange and fulfill all of these prophecies. How true it must be that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah since 456 identifying characteristics about Him were mentioned well in advance and He fulfilled them all!

What does the science of probability make of this? It attempts to determine the chance that a given event will occur. The value and accuracy of the science of probability has been well established and can be summarized as follows: Anyone rejecting Christ as the Son of God rejects a fact proven perhaps more absolutely than any other in the world.

Interpreting The Biblical Prophecies 
We may discern four groups of prophecies about Messiah’s coming: 

  1. The first coming only (such as Mic. 5:2);
  2. The second coming only (seen in Isa. 63:1-6);
  3. Both the first and second coming (consider Zech. 9:9-10; Isa. 11, 61); and
  4. His whole career: both comings and His glorious reign (an example in Ps. 110). 

The Lord Himself is the great Interpreter of prophecy, as we see in His discussion with the two disciples who were on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13-35). Our risen Lord Jesus showed them from the three divisions of the Hebrew Bible (the Tenach) the things concerning Himself (24:27,44-46). He quoted from Moses’ writings (the Torah), from the early and latter prophets (the Naviim) and from the Writings (the Chetuvim). The word Tenach refers to the complete Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) and is composed from these three terms (TeNaCh). Jesus presented the Scriptures, showing these disciples God’s program:

  • Messiah’s first coming and His sufferings; and
  • Messiah’s coming in glory – “the glories to follow” (Lk. 24:26; 1 Pet. 1:11).

The Lord opened the understanding of the disciples (Lk. 24:45). As exalted, He still does so through His Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10-16) whom He sent from heaven. The Holy Spirit has dwelt in the believers since the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:2), and He will teach and guide us in all truth, now and forever (Jn. 14-16; Rom. 8). 

The Dispensation Of The Fullness Of The Times 
God’s purpose (Eph. 1:10) implies that He has a plan for the Lord Jesus and His Church (Assembly) – a plan already revealed in mystery form in Genesis 1-2 with Adam and Eve (Eph. 5:31-32). It is to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under the leadership of Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who is the Son of Man and Ancient of Days (Ps. 8, 80; Dan. 7). He is the God-Man whose wondrous Person will remain a mystery, as we learn from the New Testament (1 Tim. 3:16; Jn. 1:14). These and other passages present to us the blessed wonders of Christ’s person, as God found fit to reveal them (see for example Jn. 1:1-18, 20:31; Eph. 1:10-23; Col. 1:1-2:6; Heb. 1:2-3; Rev. 1:1-18, 4:1-5:14). Still, His Person – God and Man in One – remains forever a mystery beyond our understanding, as is true also of the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The term “fullness of the times” (Eph. 1:10) refers to Christ’s soon-coming public reign when all things will be subjected to Him – not only in principle as is the case now (Mt. 28:18), but also in the actual display of His power and blessings. He will reign as the promised Messiah (Ps. 2) and as the King of the nations from sea to sea and to the ends of the earth (Ps. 72; Isa. 2:2, 9:6-7, 11:1-9, 65-66; Zech. 14). The various dispensations1 before that glorious reign, despite man’s failures, already contain elements that point to this wonderful rule. The fact that God could give such foreshadows is in itself an amazing thing.

Psalm 8 succinctly summarizes the Messiah’s rule of the world to come. Part of the psalm is quoted in Hebrews 2, emphasizing the present glories of Christ as the Son of Man in heaven, yet linked with the believers on earth (Heb. 2:8-17). The psalm is also quoted in Ephesians 1 to show that the Church will not be put under Messiah’s feet (Eph. 1:20-23), but that He, glorified at God’s right hand, is given to the Church already, before His glorious reign starts. We also find that Paul quoted Psalm 8 in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 to indicate that, even though Christ will reign over the universe, the Son2 Himself will be subject to God who has subjected everything to Him (1 Cor. 15:27). Therefore, in the eternal state God will be all in all3 (v.28).

Praise God!

1. This term is derived from the Greek compound word oikonomia (Eph. 1:10), which literally means “law [or rule] of the house.” A dispensation refers to a period of time during which God puts man to the test in respect to obedience of God’s revealed will. A good translation of the term oikonomia, as related to the world to come, is “administration” (Eph. 1:10 JND) signifying the coming millennial reign of the Messiah over heaven and earth. 
2. As to the Son, it is not possible for us to fully distinguish between His divinity and humanity (see the beginning of Mt. 11:27). 
3. Today, the eternal state is morally displayed in those who belong to the new creation while living in the context of the old, in a fallen world (Col. 3:10-11). This is a great privilege and a great challenge.


By Leslie M. Grant

“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” ——Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV

The name Zephaniah means “treasured of Jehovah.” He prophesied in the days of Josiah, a godly king whose faith and energy had produced a marked revival in Israel. But this book takes no notice of this revival. Instead, it launches immediately into a declaration of the sweeping judgment of God, when He utterly consumes everything in the land. The apparent revival was outward only, that is, the actual condition of the nation at heart remained the same as before. This became evident immediately after Josiah died. Whatever seeming improvement developed, God had already ruled that His judgment would go out in every direction, with Judah and Jerusalem being the center of it.

However, the book also dwells on the effects of these judgments in producing great blessing in a coming day. The people will be turned to a pure language, and the Lord God will save that afflicted nation. He will be in the midst of the once guilty city, quieting it in His love and rejoicing over her. His long labor with her will be finished. The mourning of His heart over her will be turned to exultant, or triumphant, singing.

Attention to this prophecy will surely preserve us from the prevalent error that present-day, occasional revivals may forestall the judgment of God on professed Christianity. No! The coming of the Lord for His Church is imminent, and His judgments on the earth will quickly follow.

Resolving Family Conflicts / Part Eight

God established the family, and the home is the place where the family’s deepest needs are to be met. Therefore every home should be built on the Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. The family should have priority above business, pleasure and friends. It should be highly valued and loved, and not treated like a restaurant or gas station where one fills up and leaves. As conflicts emerge, every effort should be made to resolve each one on the same day that it occurs so no one goes to bed angry. The apostle Paul declared, “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph. 4:26 NKJV). Knowing the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the key to unlock and resolve conflicts.

Three Marital Relationships 
Scholars have presented different concepts of the family, including “open and closed families,” “functional and dysfunctional families” and “normal and abnormal families.” However, based on my own experiences and listening to Christian ministry, I find three:

1. The immature marital relationship. By “immature” I mean the relationship is laden with conflicts, discomfort, distress, resentment, anger and shame because of child-like behavior and apparent lack of a sense of responsibility by one or both spouses. For example, although the husband, wife and children are living in the same house, there is no display of headship. The husband fails to take his God-given role as head of the family (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23), and the wife doesn’t assist him with his leadership role. The importance of this is seen in nature: any organism without a head is dead. As a result, each one in the family does that which is right in his or her own eyes, ignoring the needs of the others.

2. The mediocre marital relationship. In this relationship a moderate value is placed on the family system and some conflicts are resolved, but there is confusion about the roles in the relationship. This relationship has two heads, so there is a constant power struggle between husband and wife as to the leadership role. Any organism with two heads leads to confusion. While it is often stated that “two heads are better than one,” that is only true if they are functioning together in unity. In the mediocre family relationship the husband and the wife both assume the role as head, and sometimes the oldest child will do the same over the other siblings. Hence, the leadership in the family is confusing and conflicting. This results in significant problems and a tendency to ignore or cover them up.

3. The matured marital relationship. Here we see each partner lavishing genuine love on the other. There is structure with open and honest communication. Peace and joy exist within the home, and when conflicts surface they are recognized and resolved in a loving and healing manner. The husband is the head of the family, and as head he leads in a humble way – providing, protecting and pursuing realistic family goals. He does not think he is superior and his wife is inferior, but he simply accepts his role from God – that “the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church” (Eph. 5:23). Therefore he loves and cherishes his wife who in turn recognizes his role and submits to him in love. The harmony displayed in the marital relationship becomes a model for the children, whose needs are also met within the family system. For this family, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). Real happiness does not depend on having much to live on, but having much for which to live.

The Families’ Desire 
There is a heart cry for more “mature” family relationships in which peace, joy, contentment and love govern expressions and actions. Many families desire a happier family life and a closer relationship with God.

We translate some of your articles

The Grace & Truth Magazine has been a great blessing for us. I’m also delighted to say that we translate some of your articles into our mother tongue, Telugu, for our magazine. – India

I want to take a chance to tell you how much I appreciate the free/donated subscription you have given me. Our ladies devotional club has truly enjoyed it. Our most favorite article recently was on “prayer,” as we learned how much we have held onto from our past – even back to childhood. We thank you for your time, consideration, generosity and most of all – service to the Lord. – USA

Thank you so much for your magazine. The article, “Get My Mother In” (May ’16) is most challenging, preaching straightforward to bring unsaved souls to the feet of our Lord. May God bless you for your untiring work for the glory of His kingdom. – India

I thank the Lord for your excellent articles in the Grace & Truth Magazine. Every lesson has touched my heart. They give us power to proceed in Jesus by working and in practice – Myanmar


By Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.

The Grace & Truth Magazine has been a great blessing for us. I’m also delighted to say that we translate some of your articles into our mother tongue, Telugu, for our magazine. – India

I want to take a chance to tell you how much I appreciate the free/donated subscription you have given me. Our ladies devotional club has truly enjoyed it. Our most favorite article recently was on “prayer,” as we learned how much we have held onto from our past – even back to childhood. We thank you for your time, consideration, generosity and most of all – service to the Lord. – USA

Thank you so much for your magazine. The article, “Get My Mother In” (May ’16) is most challenging, preaching straightforward to bring unsaved souls to the feet of our Lord. May God bless you for your untiring work for the glory of His kingdom. – India

I thank the Lord for your excellent articles in the Grace & Truth Magazine. Every lesson has touched my heart. They give us power to proceed in Jesus by working and in practice – Myanmar

Features Of A True Disciple Of Christ

By Timothy P. Hadley

A Disciple Is A Learner 
In the Bible we usually find a disciple with his teacher – living with him, following his every move and serving him however he could. The Lord Jesus had many disciples. Some were with Him only until things got tough, while others were true converts (Jn. 6:60-69). From His large group of followers, the Lord Jesus chose twelve who were also called “apostles” (Mk. 3:13-19; Mt. 10:1-2). An apostle is one who is sent with a commission or charge.

Qualifications for a man to be an apostle of Jesus Christ included having seen the risen Christ (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor. 9:1) and being specifically chosen by the Lord Jesus (Eph. 4:11). The apostles fellowshiped with the Lord until He was taken up into glory (Acts 1:21-22) – Paul was the only exception. In the strictest sense of the word, we do not have apostles today because no one can meet these qualifications.

Paul saw the risen Christ and became an eyewitness “as by one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:5-8 NKJV). Christ taught him for 31/2 years in Arabia (Gal. 1:15-17). This apostle was personally chosen – a calling “not from men, nor through man” (vv.1,12).

Matthew 28:19-20, known as “the great commission,” records what the Lord Jesus told His disciples before He ascended to heaven: “Make disciples of all nations.” By that time He had already taught His apostles (10:1-15). He also gave instruction for future disciples (vv.16-23) and present-day disciples (vv.24-42). This includes specific direction for all who desire to follow Christ today. The Lord set forth the essence of Christian dedication – the features and cost of being a real disciple of Christ.

A Disciple Of Christ Imitates Christ 
Read Matthew 10:24-25: “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!” A true disciple becomes like his teacher in just about every way. First John 2:6 reminds us that “he who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” There are several passages in the gospel of John where the Lord gave insight into this:

  • “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (8:31).
  • “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (13:34-35).
  • “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples … No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (15:8,15-16).

John 15 goes on to say that as we bear fruit as His disciples the world will hate us because it hated Him. This ties with what He said in Matthew 10:25, that if we are like the Lord Jesus we will begin to suffer as He did in this world. However, we should not fear while we suffer (v.26).

A Disciple Of Christ Does Not Fear The World 
The Lord Jesus reminds us three times in Matthew 10:26-31 not to fear. This is a vital key to true discipleship, challenging us with the question, “Do we fear man or reverence God?” Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” As followers of Christ we have been given the love of God which was poured out in our hearts (Rom. 5:5), and Paul told Timothy “that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). This perfect love, we are told, casts out fear (1 Jn. 4:18). So when we are enjoying His love and all that He has brought us into because of it, we receive moral courage to speak for Him in a world where He was rejected (Mt. 10:26-27). He instructs us to proclaim publicly whatever He tells us in private.

The secret to this courage is to be built up and fortified on the inside by what He whispers in our ear. As His servants our ears need to be open! In Isaiah 50 we read of the perfect servant, the Lord Jesus. He also was the perfect disciple in the sense of having “the tongue of the learned” (v.4), to speak a word in season. Notice it was not only His tongue that was affected, but His ear was open to be instructed (v.5). Moral courage comes from being in the Word of God and from the Word of God being in us!

Having moral courage leads us to physical courage. The Lord said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10:28). This is what gives many the strength to endure persecution and suffering. There is a cost to discipleship – a price to be paid! But the person who fears, or reverences, God alone never needs to fear man. The fear of God is the fear that cancels all other fear.

Spiritual courage (vv.29-33), a third type of courage, is taking God at His word and laying everything on the line for Him. This courage is developed by being in the Word of God – listening with open ears and having our eyes looking for the greatness of the glory of Christ on its every page.

This courage is what Stephen had in Acts 7. He was so occupied with the person of Christ that he began speaking of the God of Glory, and he ended up seeing the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ. Stephen was occupied with Christ to such an extent that he had the physical courage to give His life for Him. He also had the spiritual courage to be like Christ, saying, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (v.60). Stephen imitated his Master and entered His presence.

A Disciple Is Valued, Cared For And Protected By God 
We saw this in the life of Stephen and see it was taught by the Lord in Matthew 10:29-31. The Lord emphasized the value of His disciples: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.” In Luke 12:6 we read: “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.” The point is very clear: The Lord takes notice of each one. How much more valuable are the followers of Christ! He loves us and will provide and care for us (see Mt. 6:25-26). We do not need to worry or fear.

A Disciple Confesses The Lord And Is Evaluated By Him 
There has been much confusion over Matthew 10:32-33. It is important to remember that this section is about service rather than salvation. Some people profess to be followers of Christ, but when trials come, they run. Others are false prophets and actually deny the Lord, bringing destruction on themselves (2 Pet. 2:1-2).

To confess Christ is much more than lip service; it is life service. He takes note if we live in a way that acknowledges Him. One day the Lord will evaluate each act of our service as by fire. What was truly done for the glory of Christ will be revealed (1 Cor. 3:12-15), and rewards for service will be distributed (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10). But if we have denied Him we will suffer loss.

A Disciple Gives Christ The Pre-eminent Place 
As we continue in Matthew 10 we hear the Lord say something that might sound very strange to us, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (vv.34-37). People in Christ’s day were looking for the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6; Ps. 72). They did not realize that before the glory, the Lord must be rejected and suffer on the cross (1 Pet. 1:11). The Lord began to prepare His followers early for the conflict that He would endure and which they would not be able to escape.

We must remind ourselves that the context here is about service and that the Lord is expressing the need for His disciples to give Him first place in their lives. It is also helpful for us to realize that there is a new relationship that has been established through His finished work on the cross. The Lord emphasized this in Mark 3:35: “Whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”

The Lord Jesus was teaching that if we are going to be His disciples He must be the priority in our lives. It has often been said, “In many believers’ lives He is present. In some believers’ lives He is prominent. But the real question is this: ‘Is He pre-eminent in my life?’” All other relationships are to take second place. This really is the idea of sanctification.

“Sanctify” means to set apart or separate for a purpose. The Lord said that He “did not come to bring peace but a sword.” The sword is something that separates (Heb. 4:12). Also, one family member would be against another: “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” The word translated “against,” which is only used here, means “to cut in two.” It has the thought of complete and often permanent separation. No one can half-heartedly serve the Lord. The Lord cannot have disciples who have a divided commitment. He said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:57-62). 

A Disciple Offers His Own Life 
The disciple of Christ must put his love (Mt. 10:32-36) and his life (vv.38-39) on the altar. The love for Christ in verse 37 is the motivation for verse 38. For one to take up the cross, speaking of death, is to abandon oneself without reservation to the lordship of Christ. The Lord expanded on this thought in Matthew 16:24-25, tying it with His own cross (v.21).

For the follower of Christ, the cross is the willing sacrifice of everything one has, including life, for the sake of Christ. There is no middle ground – either we spare our lives or sacrifice them. If we protect our own interests we will be the losers; if we live for His interests we will be the winners. This might be what Paul had in mind when he wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).

A Disciple Is A Blessing To Others 
A true follower of Jesus Christ is a blessing to others. This comes out in the remaining verses of Matthew 10: “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward” (vv.40-42). A person who receives the Lord’s servants also receives the Lord Jesus and the Father who sent Him (Jn. 13:20).

We learn here that anyone who receives one of the Lord’s spokesmen receives a reward. This is the unlimited grace of God. He not only rewards the prophet for his faithfulness, but He rewards anyone who receives a prophet – even giving him a prophet’s reward. He goes on to say that anyone who accepts a believer for Christ’s sake receives a reward. The Lord goes even further by saying there is a reward for “whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple” (Mt. 10:42). This term “little ones” has the thought of those who are seemingly insignificant and unimportant (consider Mt. 18:1-3, 25:31-46). 

As followers of Christ we are His ambassadors to bring others to the Lord Jesus: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:18-21).

God loves to give. He gave the greatest gift of all: His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus! He continues to give by blessing those who have received His Son, blessing them with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). In fact, “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17). In a coming day the Lord Jesus will reward the faithfulness of all those who served Him and had His interests at heart. 

It is good to remind ourselves once again that this portion in Matthew 10 is speaking of discipleship, not sonship – service rather than salvation. We become children of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are His disciples as we faithfully follow and obey Him. Sonship never changes, but how we serve as disciples may. There is a great need for true and faithful disciples. Will you be among those who learn from Christ and live for Him? 

How Are Disciples Made Today? 
I have been struck by the fact that the word “disciple” is never used beyond the book of Acts. In the Epistles we see the followers of Christ referred to as Christians, brothers, saints, believers and the Church, but never as disciples. The “great commission” is never repeated in the Epistles either, although there is the command to preach the gospel (2 Tim. 4:2).

We see Paul making disciples in Acts 14:21: “And after they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.” But Paul never instructed, commanded or exhorted anyone else to do so. Why not? Consider how these disciples were made. It was a direct result of Paul and Barnabas preaching the gospel, teaching God’s Word. In Acts this was done through a variety of ways, including discussions, debates and conversations with unbelievers. It is good to keep in mind that not all preaching and teaching is done from a pulpit. 

Teaching is emphasized repeatedly in the Epistles. Followers of Christ must be taught the Word of God – they must be learners. When Paul returned to the cities where he had preached and made disciples he appointed elders who would continue to teach the believers.

The task of an elder is crucial in the local assembly, and being able to teach is one qualification (1 Tim. 3:2). He must “hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may able by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict” (Ti. 1:9). As Paul was leaving Ephesus he exhorted the elders, saying, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves … So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:28-32). This warning describes the Church today. 

May the Lord raise up those with the features of true disciples as well as individuals in the local assembly to teach and strengthen the flock of God.

A Refuge In Distress

By Alfred Bouter

Thinking of the history of Israel, we know that God, using a series of miracles, delivered the nation from bondage in Egypt. Then He had Moses lead the people through the wilderness before they conquered the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership. We read in the book of Judges that failures followed after Joshua’s death – that book closing with solemn words: “In those days there was no king in Israel, everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (17:6, 21:25 NKJV). During those many decades of general failure, and notably under Eli’s leadership, the Philistines captured the ark and “the glory … departed from Israel” (read 1 Sam. 4).

In those days of failure God prepared one who would serve Him: Samuel. This faithful prophet led the people to repent. Yet, after that revival the leaders asked for a king according to their ideas, rejecting Samuel as well as the LORD God always has events and things in His hand, and His thoughts are higher than ours. Therefore He gave the people their choice in the person of Saul, from the tribe of Benjamin. After some initial victories, it soon became evident that this man was not really God’s choice, and God confirmed this twice when Saul refused to obey (1 Sam. 13:1-14, 15:1-29).

In between these two chapters about failures, we read about Jonathan’s great victory. By faith, together with his armor bearer, the two men made a surprise attack against the Philistines and won. It is a beautiful object lesson for us now just as it was for Saul then. Sadly, even in this story Saul failed several times because of his lack of faith.

After Saul failed the final test, because of his disobedience, the LORD sent Samuel the prophet to Bethlehem on a secret mission. It was to anoint a young man, David, to be the future king of Israel in place of Saul. Shortly thereafter, this lad had an amazing victory over Goliath (1 Sam. 17). But soon King Saul began to persecute David. Even though the king had given David a high-ranking position in the army and in his court, Saul became suspicious and jealous and tried to kill him several times.

The situation became so bad that Saul tried to kill Samuel the prophet and even his own son Jonathan (19:18-22, 20:30-33). Saul had 85 priests of the LORD killed, claiming that they had joined with David in a plot against himself (22:6-19). Thus David, even though he was son-in-law to the king, was forced to leave Saul’s service and flee. As he had no safe place in Israel, David went to the Philistines, of all people. Even outside Saul’s territory, in Gath, the city of Goliath, David was in extreme danger, and it was from there he fled to the cave of Adullam.1

A Center Of Attraction And Of Formation
It was humiliating for the king, whom God described as “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22), to have to flee from his family, friends and favorite places to a cave. Yet this cave2 became a God-appointed center of attraction and formation – the school of God for David and many others while providing numerous lessons for us today. The cave of Adullam was not something David had prearranged on his road to kingship, but it was part of what our all-wise God had planned – a refuge in the whirlwind of events over which He had full control.

First Samuel 22:1-2 recaps David’s escape from the fierce anger of King Saul. No one was safe from this king’s unpredictable wrath, including David’s close relatives. They all “went down” to stay with David in the cave at Adullam. Many other people escaped3 to him too. He became their leader, companion and closest friend, he himself being close to the Lord as we learn from two psalms he composed there: Psalms 57 and 142. At least three of David’s relatives, sons of his half-sister Zeruiah, became devoted helpers. All who joined David had been discouraged by Saul’s harsh rule, and they were now, if not before, facing the threat of death.

Their situation reminds us of the words of our Lord Jesus after the leaders of His people had rejected Him: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). The rejected Lord became an abode of refuge for those who had fled from all kinds of difficulties, having been oppressed by the many burdens the religious leaders had put on them.

A remarkable parallel exists between the rejected Lord Jesus and David in his rejection.4 David’s close relatives were in danger under Saul’s rule and sought him. Others, too, came to him in their distress, anguish, trouble and adversity. The Holy Spirit emphasized the word “everyone.” “Everyone in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone of embittered5 spirit” (1 Sam. 22:2 JND) – in whatever difficulty, they came to David.

We note however that Jonathan, the crown prince and David’s closest friend, whose life was in danger as well, did not go to the cave. After David’s victory over Goliath, Jonathan had given David his complete armor (18:4), except his shoes. This is significant since it indicated, at least in a symbolic way, that Jonathan would not accompany David as a fugitive. Jonathan was not indifferent to his friend’s situation, and he later visited him at a secret location, but he returned to the palace rather than going with David (23:16-18).

The Center Of Gathering And The Captain
With amazing precision, using two keywords, the Holy Spirit illustrated the important concepts of gathering and leadership. Those who joined David “gathered” (NKJV) themselves – they were collected or assembled together – and were drawn to him. This reminds us of what the Lord Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20). The Lord Jesus is in heaven, crowned with glory and honor (Heb. 2:9). From there He sent the Holy Spirit to this earth, who is doing the gathering to bring us together around the true David, our Lord Jesus Christ. We are attracted to His wonderful person and name.

As to leadership we read that David “became captain over them” (1 Sam. 22:2). “Captain” is often translated “prince”; and one of Messiah’s, or Christ’s, names is “Prince of Peace” (Hebrew: Sar-shalom, Isa. 9:6). The beautiful qualities David displayed attracted many people who wanted to join and stay with him – about 400 men at the cave of Adullam (1 Sam. 22:2). The end of the same chapter describes how Abiathar the priest came to David, who said to the priest, “Stay with me, do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life; for you are safe with me” (1 Sam. 22:23 NASB). Our Lord Jesus has made a similar promise for the believers today: “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:5-6 NKJV).

It is striking to notice that the same chapter about the rejected king, David (1 Sam. 22:1-2), mentions God’s prophet, Gad (v.5), and the (high) priest Abiathar (vv.22-23). Gad and Abiathar clearly identified with the rejected and persecuted king. Israel under Saul’s reign rejected David as the leaders did with Jesus about 1,000 years later. Even though the nation of Israel, apart from a small remnant, still rejects the Messiah, the Lord Jesus is the true King, Prophet and Priest.

Sadly in the history of the Church other forms of rejection have occurred. For example, we know of one who claims to be the holy Father, the vicar of Christ and taking the Lord’s place on earth. Also, organized religion has taken over the role of the Holy Spirit.

The Ark Of God
Under Saul’s leadership no one cared for the ark of God or sought its presence (1 Chr. 13:3). It is therefore an important point that from his early days David had it in his heart to find and prepare a place for the ark (read Ps. 132).

The ark has many different names just as the Lord Jesus has, and it is a beautiful type of Him and of His work on the cross. It is also a picture of the unique God-Man who dwells among His people here even though He is in heaven. The real challenge for us is: “Do we care for Him? Do we recognize His greatness? Do we prepare a place for Him in our hearts and lives, and give Him His rightful place as we gather to His name with other believers?”

To our shame all kinds of things are often considered more important than to be in His presence, enjoying Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. The instructions in the New Testament for this practice remain valid, and they will be until He comes (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

Overcomers Needed Today
King Saul was always looking for valiant men to engage the occupying Philistines in battle (1 Sam. 14:52). Ultimately, he tragically died fighting them (1 Sam. 28-31).

In contrast, David learned to trust the LORD and to put His interests first. With His help, David often became an overcomer6 against all odds, defeating the enemies. What is so beautiful with David, as we saw in 1 Samuel 22, is that he formed the people who were attracted to him to become true warriors who put God’s interests and that of their leader before anything else. The New Testament calls this kind of engagement “first love,” and we look at David and his heroes as true “overcomers.”

Let’s consider an incident from history: “Then three of the thirty chief men went down at harvest time and came to David at the cave of Adullam. And the troop of Philistines encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem” (2 Sam. 23:13). We do not know when exactly this occurred, but it is possible that it happened in the days when Saul persecuted David. This would mean that David and his men were facing two tremendous dangers: the Philistines on the one side and their own king on the other. Likewise, we are surrounded by great dangers, like giants, in the professing Church. There are pretend “Christians” like the Philistines who occupied part of the Promised Land, claiming for themselves part of the blessing from God for His people. At the same time there are so-called Christian leaders who are acting like Saul and persecuting the true followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Even with the threats before them, David’s mighty men showed a remarkable zeal and commitment to David. Because of love for him, they overcame tremendous opposition to bring satisfaction to their beloved leader – specifically water from Bethlehem’s well, which was in the occupied territory. David had not commanded or even asked for some of that water; he simply had expressed a desire (v.15) like the Lord Jesus did much later, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

“David said with longing, ‘Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!’ So the three mighty men broke through7 the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD. And he said, ‘Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?’ Therefore he would not drink it. These things were done by the three mighty men” (2 Sam. 23:15-17 NKJV; see 1 Chr. 11:15-18). David’s men had honored their rejected king at the risk of their lives.8 He honored them and God by pouring out the cherished water as a drink offering to God.

This story shows how Adullam, in a land of danger, became a place of worship of the true and living God. Many believers today face all kinds of fierce opposition, but true love of God and of the Lord Jesus motivates them to become real overcomers, doing anything that has value for Him despite seeming impossibilities. What a lesson for us!

1. Adullam, probably meaning “justice of the people,” was near David’s hometown of Bethlehem. Jacob’s son Judah had a friend who was from Adullam (Gen. 38). Much later the Lord Jesus was born at Bethlehem (Lk. 2:1-20). In the future the “glory of Israel” shall arrive in that same area (Mic. 1:15). This helps us to understand that David’s experiences also have a prophetic bearing, for the rejected King will be manifested as “the glory of Israel.”
2. In Hebrew the word “cave” is possibly linked to the word “naked,” indicating that from a human perspective there was nothing to gain. However, it was here where God would use David to form and lead a band of loyal warriors. God is sovereign; He formed Moses at Pharaoh’s court and palace before He led him to God’s school in the wilderness. As to David, the cave became a place of formation for him and his men; God used it to train them. A complex network of caves existed in the area, and David may have been familiar with them from his youth. In some of those caves one could comfortably walk, rest, hide or stay overnight.
3. Literally, “they went down thither to him” (JND).
4. The Lord Jesus indicated this parallel in Matthew 12:1-8. In His rebuke of those leaders the Lord mentioned seven specific charges against them (Mt. 23). Like King Saul, they caused the people to be in debt and in distress.
5. The NKJV renders this term with the word “discontented,” but its root is “bitter,” establishing a link with other occasions and future prophetic events where the same term is used. The same root is in “Mara,” the name that Naomi adopted (Ruth 1:20). Depending on the context, the same word is often translated “myrrh,” which is a symbol of sufferings.
6. This is a term the New Testament uses for believers who commit themselves to serve the Lord wholeheartedly, instead of being backsliders and following the world’s influence: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 Jn. 2:15-17).
7. This is an amazing achievement. It shows that these men were true overcomers, breaking through tremendous danger and opposition because of a genuine love of their leader.
8. Compare this story with a New Testament example: Aquila and Priscilla, who risked their lives for the apostle Paul (Rom. 16:4).

A Cave, Crutches And A Captain

By Tim Headly

I remember visiting Carlsbad Caverns, in the American Southwest, when I was a boy. The caverns were very cold and damp. There were lighted paths to walk on, but at one point when we were deep in the cave, a tour guide shut off all the lights. The underground chamber was pitch black! It was so dark that I could not see my hand in front of my face. They left the lights off for only a short time, but it was long enough to get a very uncomfortable feeling. It can be fun to explore a cave when it is safe to do so, yet it is not a place where I think most people would want to live for any length of time.

In 1 Samuel 22 we see that David did just that when he was running from King Saul. While there the LORD used the cave of Adullam to break David down in order to build him up again and use him to strengthen others. The LORD would fulfill His purposes in David’s life. Likewise, it is sometimes in the darkest caves of our lives when God does His deepest work in us so He can use us much more.

The Pathway To The Cave Of Adullam
David went from obscurity to prominence when the prophet Samuel came to David’s home and anointed him as the next king of Israel. David’s fame grew greatly after he defeated Goliath. That victory gave David a place in the palace of King Saul, where the king kept a close eye on him. David became a very successful commander and his name was well-known (1 Sam. 18:30). His best friend was the king’s son Jonathan. He even married one of Saul’s daughters. David’s success and popularity caused Saul to become very jealous – even to the point of trying to kill David.

David fled for his life. Of all places, he went to Gath, the city of the people he had defeated when he killed the Philistine giant Goliath. Because of fear, David pretended to be insane. This was a very low point in David’s life, and it was a time when he lost everything that meant anything to him.

The Crutches Removed
In fleeing from Saul, David lost his relationships – at least for a time – with his wife Michal and his family. His job as a commander in Saul’s army was gone. Samuel, a spiritual counselor who meant much to David, died while David was on the run from Saul. He also lost his best friend Jonathan, his self-respect and his security. David found himself alone, discouraged and scared.

The LORD had removed everyone and everything that David leaned upon so He could begin to work in His servant. David didn’t realize when he ran into the cave of Adullam that he was running into the school of God, where He teaches His own.

At one point David called the cave a “prison” (Ps. 142:7 KJV), but the Lord used it as a closet of prayer for David (see Mt. 6:6). Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), a respected British preacher, wrote: “Had David prayed as much in his palace as he did in his cave, he might never have fallen into the acts which brought such misery upon his latter days.”

The Closet Of Prayer Precedes The Chamber Of Praise
God allowed David to experience difficult days of discouragement and despair to draw him to Himself. While David was going through the experiences of the cave he wrote at least two psalms: Psalms 142 and 57. Psalm 142 seems to be the first for it is filled with a sense of despair. Psalm 57 was likely written second as it contains more hope and confidence.

David had already been anointed king, but we may wonder why it took so long for him to take the throne? Scripture teaches us in the life of our Lord Jesus, whom David pictures, that suffering comes before glory (1 Pet. 1:10-12). Before the crown there had to be the cross! So it is in our lives: Before God can use us He must prepare and teach us to rely on Him.

David ran to Adullam, which means “justice,” “a testimony” or “a refuge.” But God had to teach David that, instead of the cave, He was his refuge – the place of protection, security and secrecy. We read: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, and will say ‘Destroy!’” (Dt. 33:27 NKJV). This is what David had to learn.

The Cries From The Cave
Like us, David got discouraged. What did David do in his despair? He cried out to the LORD! Looking at Psalm 142 we see that this cave was for him one of:

  • Complaint (v.2). David poured out his heart to the LORD, begging Him for help and deliverance.
  • Trouble (v.2). His heart was full of anxiety and distress, but he was talking to the LORD in prayer!
  • Fainting (v.3). The word here for “overwhelmed” means “fainting.” David was ready to give up, and he had nowhere else to turn.
  • Snares (v.3). When we feel trapped in a corner there are many snares that wait for us. But the Lord has promised a way out for us if we trust Him (1 Cor. 10:13).
  • Loneliness (v.4). David felt all alone – like no one understood his situation.
  • Despair (v.6). David said that he is brought very low, discouraged and depressed.
  • Bondage (v.7). He described his feelings as being in prison.

Who hasn’t experienced caves like this in their own lives? Maybe you are experiencing one right now. Although he felt that he was alone, David was not – and neither are you. David hurt enough to admit his need before God, and he was honest and humble enough to cry for help and learn from Him. The Lord allows us to get to such a point in order to transform us, and then we can fulfill His plan.

Lessons Learned Alone With God In The Cave
The Lord is glorified when we trust Him in the darkest hours of our lives. It is then that we begin to learn and enjoy:

  • Intimacy with the Lord. David verbally communicated with the LORD during this dark time in his life. We too have access into the Lord’s presence to cast our cares upon Him (Heb. 4:14-16; 1 Pet. 5:7).
  • His sufficiency. David had lost everything, but as he poured out his heart to the LORD he learned that He was his portion (Ps. 142:5). Prophetically, this is what the Lord Jesus said in Psalm 16:5: “O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.” When we realize that all our resources and all that sustains us are found in Him, we actually begin to act the way the Lord Jesus did when He was on earth as a man – when God the Father was His portion. He is not only our resource for life, He is our life (Col. 3:4) and our portion. He is enough!
  • His Character. David began to learn what God was like and who He was, and he praised Him (Ps. 142:7). David’s focus was no longer on who or what was lost, but it was on the LORD! This point comes out even clearer in Psalm 57. There we see David as one whom the LORD strengthened and prepared for what was next.

The LORD had changed David’s heart from being discouraged to one encouraged by His presence and power. Let’s look briefly at Psalm 57 to learn more about David’s heart:

  • A Humble Heart (v.1). Having humbled himself in the presence of the LORD, David’s perspective became totally different. He saw the LORDas the One who is full of mercy and completely trustworthy. David had learned that the Lord was willing to take him under His wings, being a refuge until calamities pass.
  • A Prayerful Heart (v.2). He was willing to depend on the One who is above all others in His person and power.
  • A Realistic Heart (vv.4,6). Without denying the difficulties, David acknowledged that God was greater than all his problems.
  • A Trusting Heart (vv.5,7-11). David gave the LORD all the praise and emphasized again that his God was above everything else.

Having learned total dependence upon God while in the cave of Adullam, David was ready to be used by the LORD.

From Isolated To An Insulator
Discouraged, David had gone alone to hide in the cave. The LORD worked in David, and David learned to trust Him fully. Having been prepared by the LORD, He sent people to him who needed to be encouraged. David’s family arrived first, even his brothers who once called him prideful (1 Sam. 17:28).

We are told the number and type of men who came to David in the cave: 400 who were in distress, in debt and discontent. This word “distress” has the idea of “those under pressure.” It reminds us that before we came to Christ we were under the burden of sin, but coming to our “David,” the Lord Jesus Christ, the burden was lifted. “Everyone who was in debt” has the thought of “having many creditors.” We were bankrupt and owed more than we could ever repay, but we came to the One who has paid it in full. “Everyone who was discontent” means “to be in bitterness of soul.” This reminds us that nothing could ever fill the God-shaped vacuum that was in each of our lives before we came to Christ.

The Captain Of The Cave
These 400 men were unhappy with Saul, the man after the flesh, and sought out David, the man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). They left Saul and the city and went out to David. Here we have a beautiful picture of Christ and the Church. We are told to go “forth to Him outside the camp” and that He is “the Captain of [our] salvation” (Heb. 13:13, 2:10). Flesh of any kind cannot satisfy, no matter if it is sinful flesh or religious flesh. Only Christ can meet the needs of the human heart!

We learn from 2 Samuel 23 that these men came from all over Israel. Some were from Benjamin, which was Saul’s tribe. Others came to David from the tribes of Judah, Dan and Ephraim – and some were even Gentiles. This reminds us that the Lord Jesus will have those around Him who are “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).

These men came to David just as they were, and the LORD satisfied them through the man after His own heart. They came to David when he was rejected and in exile, but he had won their hearts. Later, their aim in life would be to please their captain and to fulfill his every desire, as we see in 2 Samuel 23:8-23. This ought to be our aim today. The apostle Paul stated this in 2 Corinthians 5:9, “Therefore we make it our aim … to be well pleasing to Him.”

The cave of Adullam became a place of training for David and his mighty men. Everyone experiences cave-like circumstances in life. Your cave can be a dark, cold and lonely place – or it can be a classroom in the school of God where you learn that He is your refuge and all you need!

By Timothy P. Hadley