“Life” And “Death”

By Clifford H. Brown, (adapted from a message shared at the editor’s great-grandmother’s funeral on June 3, 1952).

Here are two words: “life” and “death.” One is heart-rending and stirring the world everywhere – that is “death.” Wherever we go we find those who have been face to face with death, as death has been there before us. The Bible says that death came because our forefather Adam disobeyed God and sinned (Rom. 5:12).

Unbelieving men and women “through fear of death [are] all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:15 KJV). This is felt the world over. Death is a fearful thing. People try to explain it; doctors work to stop it.

The very breath that we draw is from the hand of God, yet we find people everywhere rebelling against the One who gave them their breath! Every man and woman will have to meet God, against whom they have sinned, for after death comes judgment (9:27).

The one who has the power of death (2:14), Satan, uses it to fill the hearts of mankind with dread and fear; but God offers everlasting life. The Lord Jesus came, sent by the Father, and spoke words of life. He said, “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life” (Jn. 5:24). The blessed Lord Jesus came down from heaven and bore our penalty that we might have eternal life rather than eternal death. Christ died for sinners (Rom. 5:8); He died for me.

The last audible words of one believer, who spoke many other words during her 86 years, were, “I am going to Jesus!” A Christian lady who was 90 years old said, as she breathed her last, “Peace, perfect peace.” The Bible declares, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God” (v.1). Death has no terror for the person who is saved. Last words are often considered to be of special importance, and those of another were, “I am going to see mother and sister, but I want to see Jesus first of all.” Could you say that? If you have taken the Lord Jesus as your Savior, you can.

Each sinner is an enemy of God by wicked works. My sin was against a holy God, but He loved me and gave His Son to die for me.

Two men behind bars were asked, “Do you know anyone who loves you enough to die for you?” They said, “No.” But I am here to tell you that there is One. It is the One who created the universe and now upholds it by the word of His power: Jesus. He died for you. I can say that He died for me and I have everlasting life, because the Bible says so (Jn. 3:36, 5:24).

Death is called the “king of terrors,” but for the believer it is not a fearful thing. “We know we have passed from death unto life” (5:24). Life – life everlasting – belongs to the believer. We will be forever with the Lord (1 Th. 4:17-18). He said, “I will not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands” (Isa. 49:15-16).

The Christian can say, as expressed by Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778):

Things future, nor things that are now, nor all things below or above,

Can make Him His purpose forego, or sever our souls from His love.

Our names from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase:

Impressed on His heart they remain in marks of indelible grace.

What about you? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). Read more


Thank you for renewing my subscription. I particularly enjoyed the article in the July/August 2017 issue about being an idol worshiper. The 12 questions were very thought provoking and made me really think about some of the choices I have been making. – USA

How could Jesus Christ be made perfect?

QUESTION: If Jesus Christ is the eternal God and He is perfect before the foundation of the world, how can He be “made perfect” (Heb 5:9 KJV)?

By Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.

ANSWER: As God, the Lord Jesus Christ is, and ever was, perfect. Scripture does not, however, speak of Him as the Lord Jesus Christ before He came into this world, was born as a baby and laid in a manger in Bethlehem. In the early verses of John’s gospel He is called “the Word.” Indeed, this gospel opens with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1 NKJV). Several verses later we read: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory” (v.14).

In Luke 1:31 the angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.” Sometime later the angel of the Lord spoke to Mary’s intended spouse1 in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:20-21).

We conclude from these passages that the holy Son of God was given the name “Jesus” when He entered manhood. “Christ” is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” The angel told the shepherds that this baby was “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:11).

Before Jesus grew up, He was first called a “Babe” (v.12), then a “Child” (v.17). Just as Scripture makes absolutely clear that He is God – God the Son – it is equally clear that having been born into this world of a woman, He is true Man. God’s Word gives Him many marvelous titles, but the most prevalent term He used to refer to Himself was “Son of Man.” We are on holy ground when we speak of the wonderful mystery of His unique person.

In Hebrews 5 we are still in the portion of this book that sets forth our Lord Jesus as High Priest. As God in eternity past, He was not High Priest. He “did not glorify Himself to become High Priest (v.5), but was given this high honor by God. It was “in the days of His flesh” that “He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (vv.7-8). He was, and is, always morally perfect, for being who He is, the Holy One of God, He could not be otherwise. But obedience was something new for Him here on earth. He “humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8 JND).

Hebrews 2:10 says that “it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (NKJV). A helpful footnote in the Darby translation2 points out that the expression “to make perfect” in the book of Hebrews is used in the sense of fitting one for an office. After the Lord Jesus had suffered and died, God glorified Him so that “He became author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (5:9-10 NKJV).

Thus the expression “made perfect” (KJV) in Hebrews 5:9 in no way refers to or conflicts with the divine perfection which is intrinsic to our Lord Jesus Christ as God. It indicates, rather, how His sufferings while here on earth fitted Him for the glorious position of High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek to which God has now called Him.

1. We would speak of Joseph and Mary as engaged; but by Jewish custom they are referred to as husband and wife, although the marriage had not yet been consummated. An engagement was held to be sacred just as if it was a marriage.
2. Footnote “g” on the expression “to make perfect” in Hebrews 2:10 reads: “‘Make perfect’ in Hebrews has the force of doing all required to initiate into an office, to make a person fit to be installed in the office. It is sometimes translated ‘consecrate.’ ”

His Own Servants

“If any one serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there also shall be My servant.” — John 12:26 JND

By Robert J. Costen

Everyone who has experienced a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ is His servant, and if we desire to serve Him, we must follow Him! He was God’s perfect Servant, and if we wish to serve acceptably then let us trace His service in the Gospels as He went about doing good. Consider some of His traits:

  1. He waited on God’s time (Mk. 1:14-15).
  2. He started serving where He had been brought up (Lk. 4:16).
  3. He identified Himself with others (Mk. 1:16-20).
  4. He taught with authority (vv.21-27).
  5. He spoke gracious words, yet with power (Lk. 4:22,32).
  6. He made Himself accessible to all people (Mk. 1:32-34).
  7. He moved in the circle of those who loved Him (vv.29-31).
  8. He was dependent upon God in prayer (v.35).
  9. He refused popularity and did not seek His own glory (vv.37-38).
  10. He had compassion and personal contact with those who were in need (vv.40-42).

How good that Christ has left us an example; we should follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21). Once we were servants of sin, but now, being His own, we are His servants and servants of God, devoted to do His will. The Lord is coming soon. Let us be good and faithful servants!

Be Thou the object bright and fair to fill and satisfy the heart;
My hope to meet Thee in the air, and nevermore from Thee to part;
That I may undistracted be to follow, serve, and wait for Thee.

—George W. Frazer (1830-1896)


“Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” — Colossians 1:12-13 NKJV

By Leslie M. Grant

Colossians, meaning “monstrosities,” has much in common with Ephesians. However, it does not present the saints as seated in heavenly places, but considers them as still walking through a wilderness world. Provision for the journey is heavenly, and the blessed fullness of this provision in the person of Christ is beautifully seen. “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (2:9).

In connection with this fullness, the word “all” is constantly used. This was needful in warning them against the dangers of philosophy on the one hand and religious mysticism on the other. The first appeals merely to intellect; the other insults the intellect. Though often found curiously intermixed, the dangers presented a monstrosity indeed – with two heads in contradiction. The preeminent headship of Christ is the blessed answer to this situation.

Christ is seen as Head of all creation and as Head of the body, the Church. He will reconcile all things in earth and heaven, but He has now reconciled all believers. He has provided both the ministry of the gospel and of the Church through the apostle Paul. In all of this there is double provision: what is toward the world and that which is for His saints.

Nourishing, heavenly food is found in this book. Such food will preserve us from evil even in its most refined forms.

In The Hands Of The LORD Of Hosts In Shiloh

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” —2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

By Scott Cassell

One key to understanding any section of the Bible is to clearly grasp how our Lord related to His people in the particular passage. In 1 Samuel 1:3, God’s title is given as “The LORD of hosts in Shiloh.” “Hosts” means “armies of heaven.” As the LORD of Hosts, God seeks to bless His own – us – with portions from Himself. He delights to use heavenly resources to bring us into practical possession of spiritual things. The Lord desires that we conquer spiritual ground and occupy it by what we do – and He will use the entire complement of His hosts that we might be blessed in this way.

Our enemies seek to occupy that heavenly ground, but it is intended for the saints. When Elisha’s servant was distressed by the surrounding army from Syria, the prophet prayed that his servant’s eyes would be opened to see the Lord’s hosts standing nearby (2 Ki. 6:15-19). Elisha’s prayer was answered, and the servant then saw “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about.”

A Few Points From Joshua
The whole book of Joshua is very encouraging. In chapter 18 we read of the children of Israel assembling at Shiloh. Shiloh means “peaceful tranquility.” It was the proper place for His people, having journeyed out of Egypt, to begin their battles; and it was the place to return for solace later. There, Israel set up the tent of meeting, and we read the land of Canaan “was subdued before them” (v.1).

At this juncture in Israel’s journey, seven of the twelve tribes had yet to have their inheritance allocated. The New Testament book of Colossians was written to saints in much the same position. The passage in Joshua pictures believers who have been delivered from the world and placed in the presence of God’s victories. Yet, there was still more land to occupy than what had been already gained. It may be well to recognize that we are always in such a position of having more spiritual ground yet to be occupied than what has been already gained.

Lessons From Scripture
First and Second Samuel encourage us by telling about the Lord’s people’s passing through deep exercise while He, the Lord of Hosts, blessed them richly. The blessings are from the Lord’s own hand, matching the specific needs of the individual. Hannah, for example, initially was sorely troubled and deeply vexed, but then she gave birth to the prophet Samuel, who would be a blessing for God’s people. She described herself as “a woman of sorrowful spirit … [that] out of the abundance of my grief and provocation have I spoken hitherto” (1 Sam. 1:15-16 JND). Hannah was deeply hurt and richly blessed. We still read these many years later of her faith and the godly grace that our God worked in her life. Let’s consider a few Old Testament individuals with a little more detail.

Elkanah: During the time in which these saints lived it would seem obvious that many considered it a reproach, or point of shame, for a married couple to be childless. Perhaps it was regarded as a sign that God was not blessing them. Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, seemed to do several things correctly, including taking his entire family each year to the proper location to worship and sacrifice. However, his family was divided by strife. Hannah’s response to this conflict was prayer. Elkanah, by taking a second wife so he could have children, missed the rich blessing that Hannah experienced later.

It is not God’s plan for a man to have more than one wife, yet Elkanah used natural means to remove a reproach and solve his perceived problem. By contrast, Isaac prayed for his wife, Rebekah, and God gave them children (see Gen. 25:21). Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (KJV). It is clearly stated that Elkanah loved Hannah, but it would appear that he fell short in the daily giving of himself for her benefit. This is where the rich and honest feelings of being a husband are experienced.

In 1 Samuel 1:8 Elkanah asked Hannah, “Am not I better to thee than ten sons?” Perhaps he believed, just like many men today, that the love he felt for his wife was the solution to her problems. It is clear in this chapter that such was not the case, as Hannah continued to suffer. This married couple should have passed together through the deep exercise of not having children. Such a trial would have drawn the two closer to one another. If they had acted in unity regarding Hannah’s being childless, then today we would see the prophet Samuel as the son of this godly couple rather than the son for which Hannah alone prayed. Elkanah’s actions, however, in taking a second wife greatly contributed to Hannah’s suffering. This is a sobering message to all married men. How good it is to keep the great example of our Lord and how much He gave for His bride always before us.

Eli the priest: This man is set before us as the complete anti-type to the grace that the Lord of Hosts worked in Hannah. Eli lacked discernment, as his eyes were dim. We may recall others from Scripture who were blind, Samson (Jud. 16:21) physically, and Hezekiah (Isa. 38:14) and the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:17) spiritually.

In 1 Samuel 2, a man of God came to Eli and told him that he, Eli, honored his sons more than he did the LORD. Eli wanted to enjoy the things of this world through his two young sons. They were sinfully taking food from those who came to sacrifice and using it to enrich themselves. Eli took part in the same and became fat – heavy, sitting on a stool. Sadly, it appears this father simply saw his children as ones through whom he could benefit for his own pleasure.

By the contrasts presented, a lesson the Lord teaches us in these early verses of 1 Samuel 1-2 is how He would have us to view our dear children. After the Lord had worked deeply in Hannah’s soul, she came to see her child as a “vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21). This is the crux, the best way to view having offspring.

Eve: Perhaps an often-overlooked teaching on parenting and the home is the topic of the wife ruling the house. Let me first introduce a measure of background truth. The man Adam was placed into the garden of Eden, and “thus the heavens and the earth … were finished” (Gen. 2:1). All the animals of the air, sea and land had already been created. But unlike the animals, man initially had no mate. Adam must have known he was the only human on earth and that this whole creation was new. Then we read what the LORD God said: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (v.18). God was preparing Adam for what he was about to receive. Remember Adam was in innocence. The LORD God made Eve from a rib of Adam, having said, “I will make him an help meet for him” (v.18). The “help” is the answer to the problem of his being alone – a provision of greater worth than simply what is sufficient. The next phrase is what I am seeking to bring before us and consider: “meet for him.” It means his equal.

God had created an entire universe. Of the creatures he had made for earth, Adam was at the top. Eve occupied that same place in the order of creation. It is a pleasant thing to accept the simplicity of what God has established. The wife was God’s answer to man’s loneliness, and this required that she be like him. Keep in mind that, as students of Scripture, we know that the order of the home and the public place taken by men and by women is very specific, placing men as the head of the wife (1 Cor. 11:3). Yet they both take their role so as to exhibit God’s order, that their lives will say, “We believe God is right.”

Now consider 1 Timothy 5:14: “So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households …” (ESV). In the Darby translation the phrase “manage their households” is translated as “rule the house.” This is not rule over her husband, but over the children and the everyday tasks of keeping things in order. Managing a household takes much work, especially one including children. It is a grand task and the stakes are enormous. Therefore, it is folly for a man to expect his wife to have a job outside the home and still effectively manage their household. The society we live in may not value the role of a young married woman staying home to manage the house and its many associated tasks, but in God’s eyes it is of utmost importance.

Hannah: The persecution that Hannah suffered was most intense at the time of going to Shiloh to offer sacrifice. It was then that her adversary provoked her year after year. Likewise, Satan certainly reserves his most subtle wiles, or tricks, for when we plan to attend a Bible study or prayer meeting.

Hannah needed a change in her perspective. Initially she simply wanted children, but the Lord had shut up her womb – yes, this was the Lord’s doing. The LORD performed a deep work in her life, such that she came to see the needs of God’s people. Hannah saw the circumstances in Israel as personified by Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. She then asked the LORD for a man child – not just a baby, but a prophet who could turn the hearts of His people toward God. His children need to be in submission and obedience – the great healing principle of humanity.

As to her son, Hannah initially said that she would “give him unto the LORD all the days of his life” (1 Sam. 1:11 KJV). Later she changed this to “as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD” (v.28). In both statements it was for his entire life. Once her son was born to her, she came to understand that you always have your children; and when they hurt, you hurt. For grandchildren, you hurt double: first for your grandchild and second for your son or daughter. It never ends. She came to realize that she would always be attached to him.

This believing mother expected her son to grow in the Lord. She made him a little coat each year (2:19), bigger than the year before. Looking at Hannah I am reminded: What would we do without our mothers?

“And Jehovah appeared again at Shiloh; for Jehovah revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of Jehovah … And what Samuel had said happened to all Israel” (1 Sam. 3:21, 4:1 JND). It appears from these two verses that Hannah’s suffering was greatly rewarded. Once the Lord had Samuel walking before Him, then the Lord of Hosts could support his growth with all of His heavenly resources.

Consider one other example. When David was fleeing from King Saul he could count on these same resources. A large number of miraculous things happened along the way as David acted in faith. On the other hand, when he greatly sinned, everything worked against him (2 Sam. 24); and his own attempt to bless Mephibosheth ran into confusion thanks to the lies and trickery of Ziba (16:1-4, 19:24-29).

May we learn to live in full dependence on our Lord and Savior – the LORD of Hosts! We will rest in a peaceful tranquility as we trust Him and lean on His grace.

The Tempted Stone

By Michael and Dolly Makary (adapted from “The Lord Is My Rock,” Rivers of Waters Literature Ministry)

The Lord Jesus Christ was often tempted, and that by many different people: scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers and others. Once, a lawyer asked Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Mt. 22:36 NKJV). Shortly before that question, a Pharisee said to the Lord, “ ‘Tell us … what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?’ ” (vv.17-18).

The Lord Revealed When Tempted By The Devil
About three years earlier, the Lord Jesus was tempted by the Devil. After Jesus had been without food for 40 days and nights and was very hungry, the Devil challenged Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (4:3). What we know, however, is that the Lord Jesus is both the “Bread of Life” and the “living Stone” (Jn. 6:35; 1 Pet. 2:4). The Devil would have known this as well, for what the LORD “spoke … was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Ps. 33:9). Therefore the Lord answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ ” (Mt. 4:4).

The Devil then took Jesus to the Holy City, Jerusalem, “and said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: “He shall give His angels charge over you,” and, “In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone” ’ ” (v.6). However, the Devil knew very well that the Lord is the Rock: “Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock” (Isa. 44:8). The Lord Jesus is also the “Head of the corner” (Mt. 21:42 KJV), of whom is it written: “Whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder” (v.44 NKJV). In response to this temptation, Jesus said, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’ ” (4:7).

“Again, the Devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You fall down and worship me’ ” (vv.8-9). The Devil is the ruler of this world (Jn. 16:11), but it will soon pass away (1 Jn. 2:17). For our comfort, remember what the Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). Therefore, “God … has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Phil. 2:9-10). The Lord’s response to this third temptation was: “Away with you Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’ ” (Mt. 4:10).

The Lord Revealed As The Last Adam
The Devil had succeeded when tempting the first Adam (Gen. 3), but he had no success when tempting the last Adam, who is described as “a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). Of Christ, it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily” (Isa. 28:16, see Mt. 21:42). The Stone is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Daniel 2:45 we read of Him as “the Stone … cut out of the mountain without hands, and that broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold.” This was the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzer’s dream about the kingdoms which would rule the world. The materials of the image he saw in his dream were “crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors: the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the Stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (v.35). In Revelation 19:16, we read of this Stone as having “on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

He could truly say, “All authority [power, KJV] has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Mt. 28:18). Of Him it is written: “The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory … put all things under His feet” (Eph. 1:17-22). Jesus, the Stone “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15), “is able to aid those who are tempted” (2:18).

The Lord Revealed To You
Our Lord and Savior at times in His life on earth was hungry, thirsty, poor and tired. He faced high winds and powerful waves; and He can help you in the difficult circumstances of life. He can sympathize and help, having been the One of whom it is written: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Lk. 9:58).

Jesus rejoiced with them that rejoiced, as at the wedding at Cana in Galilee (Jn. 2:1-10); and He wept with those who wept, such as when Lazarus died (Jn. 11:32-36). He it is who gave living water to the woman of Samaria – the woman who “had five husbands” and was then with another man (Jn. 4:4-30,39-42).

The hour came as appointed by God when the Lord gave Himself as the supreme Sacrifice on the cross. It was then when He could say, “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me” (Ps. 22:14). “Christ … suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18).

The Lord Jesus is still calling, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). By contrast, anyone who does not do so, whose name is “not found written in the Book of Life [will be] cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

“Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the LORD: Look to the Rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug” (Isa. 51:1). However, let us not be described as what we read in Deuteronomy 32:18, which says, “Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, and have forgotten the God who fathered you.”

May we remember the many ways in which this Rock has been revealed and the blessed love and care we enjoy through Him, who has been tested in all things. He, the tempted Stone, is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Why Did Jesus Come?

Part One: The Origin Of His Mission

They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” —John 6:42 ESV

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” —John 6:38

“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” —John 5:43

By Shereen Ghobrial

A big portion of the population in the country in which I live is made up of immigrants. Some boast about their country of origin while others try to hide that fact, depending on that nation’s history and fame. Think about your friends at school or your colleagues at work. How would you feel if one of them came and told you he did not immigrate from Sudan, Italy or any other country, but from heaven? Would you believe him; or would you reject his claim, thinking he was lying or insane?

What would it take to make you believe such an assertion from a friend whom you know very well? You would probably need two conditions met:

  1. Witnesses – that person must be very special, and there must be trustworthy witnesses who testify of his being special (or confirm his claim).
  2. Faith – you would want to hear some of those testimonies, and by believing them you could put your trust in that person and his claims for being special.

In John 6:35-40, Jesus presented Himself as the bread of life that came from heaven. This was a big shock to the Jews who were acquainted with His whole family, including Mary, His mother, and Joseph, His legal father.

The Lord Jesus did not come without witnesses, but He had many witnesses confirming He is the Son of God who came from heaven. The testimonies of those witnesses are recorded in the Bible and spread all over the world. What is left for you and me is to believe what was written: Jesus is theChrist, the Son of God, and through believing we may have life in His name (20:31).

Witnesses That Jesus Is The Son Of God
The Father Mt. 3:17, 17:5; Mk. 1:11, 9:7; Lk. 3:22, 9:35; 2 Pet. 1:17
The Holy Spirit Mk. 1:1
Jesus Himself Jn. 9:35-38, 10:36; Rev. 2:18
Scripture Jn. 5:39
His works Jn. 10:37-38
His disciples Mt. 14:33, 16:16; Jn. 1:34,49, 11:27
His enemies Mk. 5:7, 15:39; Mt. 27:54

As a heavenly Man, Jesus came with a heavenly mission, commissioned by the Father Himself. The plan of this mission was made in eternity past and executed in the fullness of time. As a Man on a mission, the Lord Jesus was in complete compliance, following the orders of His Top Commander, the Father; that is why it was right for Him to say, “not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” (6:38). His mission, the will of the Father, has two aspects:

  1. God’s responsibility: The Lord said, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the last day” (v.39). The Father gave the Son specific people, and the Lord will ensure their safety and salvation.
  2. Man’s responsibility – the expected response: The Lord said in the following verse: “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (v.40). The Father’s will is for the Son to be presented to everyone and that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.*

These aspects must not be separated into two different missions, as to do so may lead us to wrong conclusions. For example, if we stress only God’s responsibility we can reach the conclusion that because God has chosen people to be saved, He has chosen others to go to hell. The Bible teaches us that all men have sinned and they deserve hell, but God has chosen some for great salvation and glories (2 Th. 2:13; Rom. 9:23). The Bible does not teach us that God has chosen anyone for hell; rather, individuals have prepared themselves to destruction through their sinful life (v.22).

On the other side, if we stress man’s responsibility we can reach the wrong conclusion that we are saved only because of something we have done, which would eliminate the value of God’s grace. The Bible, however, stresses the goal of our calling and salvation is “to the praise of His glorious grace” (Eph. 1:5-6,12).

When we consider this two-fold mission in its entirety, it has great value for us. It is a mission planned in heaven, in eternity past, to send a heavenly Man to earth to save sinful humans and change them by giving them eternal life to be heavenly beings.

* The expression “eternal life” in the Bible is not just describing a life that would last forever; in fact, all human spirits will last forever. In essence, the expression “eternal life” refers to God’s life, which was revealed and displayed in the Lord Jesus. This eternal life is granted by the Holy Spirit to those who believe in the Lord Jesus, at the time of their new birth.

Look for part 2 next month.


Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour Thou, with joy we worship Thee,

We know Thou hast redeemed us, by dying on the tree.

We know the love that brought Thee down, down from that bliss on high;

To meet our ruined souls in need, on Calvary’s cross to die.

Our Saviour Jesus — Lord Thou art, eternal is Thy love;

Eternal, too, our songs of praise, when with Thee, Lord, above.
—Thomas E. Purdom (1852-1942)

The Righteousness Of God In Romans

By Alfred Bouter

After beginning the letter with a brief introduction (Rom. 1:1-15), the apostle Paul presented his major thesis to his readers in Rome. It is about God’s message of good news and His power for salvation (vv.16-17). Paul wrote: “The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (v.17 NKJV). This short but important statement says something about God, His spoken and written Word, and how individuals receive them.

The message Paul was called to pass along implies that God is always right,1 or just, whether in His person what He is in Himself, the triune God or in what He says and does. In other words, in God’s plans, actions, governmental dealings and communications, He is 100% right. Therefore when God declares the sinner guilty and to be condemned, He is right. As the Creator, He set the rules and is perfectly just in His demands; and He is uniquely qualified to judge.

In his speech to the Greek leaders in Athens (Acts 17:22-31), the apostle showed that the only true God is:

  • The Creator,
  • Sustainer,
  • Ruler of the universe (even in control of human history),
  • The Savior-God, and
  • The supreme Judge.

This passage, which I suggest that you read, addresses man’s need to believe in response to what God says. It implies the necessity of faith and confidence in Him. All these matters, and more, are discussed in detail in the book of Romans, an epistle that can be called “a treatise2 about God and His righteousness.”

Some Background
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, describes God’s magnificent creation and man’s special relationship with God (Gen. 1-2). Soon afterwards, much was destroyed by Satan’s successful attack with subtle lies, as well as through Adam and Eve’s disobedience and subsequent fall into sin (Gen. 3). This had consequences for the entire human race and its immediate and ultimate history, but God was not without resources. He brought a sacrifice, an innocent substitute that took Adam and Eve’s place. They both believed God, who, before driving them out of the garden in His righteous judgment (v.24), clothed them with the skins of the innocent animal sacrifice (v.21), which was a picture of “the garments of salvation … [and] robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10).

Summary Of Romans
Writing over 4,000 years after the fall, Paul showed that God is right in His verdict that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). However, when someone of fallen humankind turns to God in true repentance and God declares him or her “just,” or “righteous,” God is still right!

Paul developed the theme of righteousness as follows. The entire human race descended from Noah’s three sons, Ham, Japheth and Shem (Gen. 9), and Paul showed that they knew the truth but soon suppressed it in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18-20). This was not long after God had revealed Himself as the righteous Judge in Noah’s flood. The descendents of Ham (Gen. 10:6-20) are described in Romans 1:21-32, of Japheth (Gen. 10:2-5) in Romans 2:1-16, and of Shem (Gen. 10:21-30; 11:10-32) in Romans 2:17-3:20.

The more one has received, the more responsible he is before God. This principle is demonstrated in the indictment that all are under God’s judgment and condemned, but the harshest terms are used for the Jews, who had descended from Shem. The Jews, as we know from Scripture, were given, or had, the most light.

Here is a brief outline of Romans, besides the preface (1:1-17), the postscript (16:17-24), and the doxology (16:25-27):

  1. Sinful humans need God’s righteousness (1:18-3:20).
  2. God has provided righteousness through Christ’s sacrifice (3:21-26).
  3. Righteousness is received through faith (3:27-4:25).
  4. Righteousness is experienced in the soul (5:1-8:17).
  5. Righteousness is guaranteed in bringing permanent blessing (8:18-39).
  6. Righteousness is seen in God’s sovereignty and ways, without setting aside Israel and human responsibility. This includes God’s dispensational dealings, with important lessons for us (Rom. 9-11).
  7. Righteousness is displayed in transformed lives (Rom. 12-16).

Despite Opposition – A Response Towards God
God’s thoughts are contested by man, and for this reason the apostle introduced rhetorical questions with the words, “What shall we say then?” The answer is obvious each of the seven times (Rom. 3:5, 4:1, 6:1, 7:7, 8:31, 9:14,30).

Paul described the ministry he received from God as an apostle (Rom. 11), but he was also a bondman, an evangelist, a teacher and a priest with respect to those who accept the gospel and get saved. Through him, sinners were led back to God and saved, becoming true worshipers now and for eternity (15:8-21).

This amazing epistle shows God’s righteousness in condemning guilty humans and providing salvation for those who repent, including a work of God to ensure such a response. We should note that God works:

  • For the salvation of the lost in setting them free from the guilt of sin through the blood of Christ (3:20-5:11); from the power of sin and death through Christ’s death and resurrection, through a work of the Holy Spirit (5:12-8:10); and from the presence of sin (8:11-39);
  • In those saved and restored to God – there is a formation and sanctification of those set apart for Him. This is illustrated in Israel’s story, past, present and future (9:1-11:36); and
  • With the redeemed ones that they would be instruments of blessing now and forever (Rom. 12-16). The redeemed ones are transformed through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their relationship to God, themselves, each other, earthly governments, believers with different convictions and unbelievers.

In all these details we see God’s saving, sanctifying and transforming power as displayed in those who were “in Adam” and who are now “in Christ.” They become instruments to be used by God for His glory and the benefit of others, always according to God’s righteousness. Those who reject God’s offer of salvation are under condemnation and will suffer eternal damnation, forced to bow the knee (Phil. 2:10); whereas the redeemed ones bow the knee as willing worshipers.

Romans 8
We should pay special attention to this chapter. In seven points we recognize for the believer:

  1. A new position, freedom from judgment – no condemnation (vv.1-4);
  2. A new life, freedom from defeat – victory (vv.5-12);
  3. A new relationship, freedom from fear – liberty of sons (vv.13-17);
  4. A new hope, freedom from despair – living in hope (vv.18-25);
  5. A new help, freedom from helplessness – helped by the Holy Spirit (vv.26-27);
  6. A new knowledge, freedom from adversity – confidence in God (vv.28-30); and
  7. A new assurance, freedom from worry – no separation (vv.31-39).

These verses contain very much. Meditation of every verse brings us to admire the wisdom of our God, His love and compassion – especially the gift of His beloved Son (8:32).

In Romans, Paul was an evangelist, missionary, teacher, prophet and priest. As a prophet, he spoke on God’s behalf to bring people back to Him. Paul’s ministry still brings fruit for God, as many souls are accepting God’s message of salvation even today (15:15-29). In priestly service, through his letter, Paul leads believers to glorify God (Rom. 8:31-39, 11:33-36, 15:9-13, 16:25-27). Are you glorifying Him? GT

1. Romans has many references to God’s “righteousness.” Various terms such as “justification,” the “declaration of righteousness,” “to justify,” “righteous” or “just,” and “justly,” plus words with the opposite meaning like “unrighteous,” “unjust,” and similar ones – are all from the same Greek root. We count 77 occurrences (or references) of words derived from this root in Romans, much more than in any other book of the New Testament.
2. Treatise is defined as “a formal and systematic exposition in writing of the principles of a subject, generally longer and more detailed than an essay” (Dictionary.com).