Suicide And The Believer

By Timothy P. Hadley

The term “suicide” was coined in 1651 from the Latin words sui, signifying “one’s self,” and cide or its variations, meaning “to kill.” Simply then, suicide is to purposefully take one’s own life, and this is out of a misdirected self-love.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death globally. Worldwide, the suicide rate has gone up by 60% over the last five decades – mainly in industrialized nations. According to the World Health Organization, approximately one million people commit suicide each year, that is about one death every 32 seconds or 2,740 per day. Globally, suicide’s mortality rate is 16 per 100,000 people. For each individual who takes his or her own life, at least 20 attempt to do so.

In the United States, according to the Center For Disease Control, there were 44,965 suicides in 2016, compared to 19,000 murders and 13,000 AIDS related deaths. It is the third leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 15 to 25 years, but in 2016 the highest suicide rate was among adults between 45 and 54. The second highest rate occurred in those 85 years or older. Younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults.

Females are more likely to attempt suicide, however males are four times more likely to successfully commit suicide. In the USA, firearms accounted for 51% of all suicides in 2016, and many of the total, 16.5%, were alcohol-related. Individuals who are misusing drugs are 10 to 20 times more likely to take their own lives than the rest of the population.

Hope For A Hurting World
What is behind suicide? It is a loss of hope. People can live without food for a long time. We can live without water for less time, but we cannot live without hope. Once hope is gone, men and women look for ways to end their lives. This is a work of the enemy, Satan – the Devil and the destroyer! In Psalm 42:5 we read: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (NKJV). Similarly, Psalm 42:11 and 43:5 say, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” In difficult days – for every day – there is hope for the follower of Jesus Christ. It is a hope that is anchored in heaven – sure and steadfast – and promised by a God who cannot lie (Heb. 6:13-18).

Accounts In Scripture
The Bible tells us that Satan tempted the Lord Jesus to commit suicide (Mt. 4:5-6; Lk. 4:9-11). The Philippian jailor, wrongly thinking his prisoners had escaped, was about to commit suicide, but he was stopped and led to Christ (Acts 16:27-34). Some of the servants of the Lord became so frustrated in their service that they asked God to kill them, including Moses (Num. 11:10–15), Elijah (1 Ki. 19:1-4), and Jonah (Jon. 4:1–11). Many will attempt suicide during the great tribulation, but will be unable to find death (Rev. 9:6).

The Bible mentions at least six people who committed suicide: Abimelech (Jud. 9:54), Saul (1 Sam. 31:4), Saul’s armor-bearer (vv.4-6), Ahithophel (2 Sam. 17:23), Zimri (1 Ki. 16:18) and Judas (Mt. 27:5). Five of these men were noted for their wickedness, the excepton is Saul’s armor-bearer as nothing is said of his character. Some think Samson committed suicide because he knew his actions would lead to his death (Jud. 16:26–31), but Samson’s goal was to kill Philistines, not himself.

A Biblical Perspective
The Bible views suicide as equal to murder, which is what it is: the murder of self. God is the only one who is to decide when and how a person should die. We, instead, should say with the psalmist, “My times are in your hands” (Ps. 31:15). God is the giver of life – He gives and He takes away (Job 1:21). Suicide, the taking of one’s own life, is ungodly because it rejects God’s gift of life. No man or woman should presume to take God’s authority to himself or herself and end his or her own life!

Certainly there were those in the Bible who felt deep despair in life. We have already mentioned how Elijah was fearful and depressed, yearning to die (1 Ki. 19:4), and Jonah’s anger at God, wishing for death (Jon. 4:8). To them we can add Solomon who in his pursuit of pleasure reached a point where he “hated life” (Eccl. 2:17). The apostle Paul, too, at one time declared, “We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired of life” (2 Cor. 1:8). However, none of these men committed suicide. Solomon learned to “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Eccl. 12:13). Elijah was comforted by an angel, allowed to rest, and given a new commission. Jonah received admonition and rebuke from the LORD. Paul learned that, although the pressure he faced was beyond his ability to endure, the Lord bears all things: “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:9).

A Sin That Leads To Hell?
Suicide is a sin, but it is not the “greatest” sin. It is no worse than other evils in terms of how God sees it, and it does not determine a person’s eternal destiny. However, suicide definitely has a deep and lasting impact on those left behind; the painful scars left by a suicide do not heal easily. May God grant His grace to each one who is facing trials today (Ps. 67:1), and may each of us take hope in His promise, “Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

Scripture teaches that from the moment we truly believe in Christ we are guaranteed eternal life (Jn. 3:16). According to the Bible, Christians can know beyond any doubt that they possess this life (1 Jn. 5:13). Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39), not even a Christian who commits suicide can be separated from God. Jesus died for all of our sins; if a true Christian, in a time of spiritual attack and weakness, commits suicide, his sin is still covered by the blood of Christ.

Suicide is not what determines whether a person gains entrance into heaven. If an unsaved person commits suicide he has done nothing but expedite, or hasten, his journey to hell. That person will ultimately be in hell for rejecting salvation through Christ – not because he committed suicide (see Jn. 3:18). We should also point out that no one truly knows what was happening in a person’s heart in the moments before death. Some people have deathbed conversions and accept Christ in their last portion of time in this world. It is possible that a person who commits suicide could have a last-second change of heart and cry out for God’s mercy. We leave such judgments to God, the One who “looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7).

The suicide of a believer is evidence that anyone can struggle with despair and that our enemy, Satan, is “a murderer from the beginning” (Jn. 8:44). Suicide is still a serious sin against God: murder. It is always wrong. Christians are called to live their lives for God, and the decision of when to die is God’s and God’s alone. Put your hope in God!

Five Simple Truths
What we have seen so far can give us a firm biblical foundation, but let’s consider these five simple truths.

1. The people of God sometimes feel so bad that they want to die.
Moses was under tremendous pressure from the people of Israel to take them back to Egypt. They were dissatisfied with his leadership, and their complaints stirred the Lord to send fire against them. Moses eventually said, “I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now – if I have found favor in Your sight – and do not let me see my wretchedness” (Num. 11:14-15).

Elijah, in his days, endured the incredible strain of single-handedly opposing 450 prophets of Baal, the people of Israel and the king. God vindicated Elijah’s faith, and he ran exuberantly for miles, faster than the king’s chariot. Then he heard that the king’s wife, Jezebel, vowed to kill him. In his fear and exhaustion the prophet went into the wilderness, sat down under a broom tree and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Ki. 19:4).

The prophet Jonah displayed one of the most selfish attitudes of all the prophets, being irritated that God had mercy on the pagan city of Nineveh. Therefore, God rebuked him with a desert wind: “When the sun arose … God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live’” (Jon. 4:8).

Like these three men of God, sometimes we lose sight of the hope we have, and discouragement becomes depression, depression turns into despair, and despair leads to thoughts of giving up.

2. It is sin to fulfill that desire by taking your own life.
Committing suicide is sin for at least three reasons. First, it is disobedience to the command of God, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). Disobedience to God’s commands is sin.

Second, it is sin to intrude on God’s sovereign right to give and take life. God alone can create a human person, and therefore personhood belongs to God. We have no right to dispose of ourselves or others as we please. The Lord has sole rights over what he has made. Murder and suicide intrude on the sacred ground where God alone is the giver and taker.

Third, it is failure to trust in God for the help needed to survive and cope. The Bible says that whatever is not from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). If a Christian takes one’s own life, he or she will give an account for this before the Lord. It is not the fault of those left behind!

Truly, we are on firm biblical ground when we say, “It is sin to take your own life.”

3. Faith can be so weak at times that the heart gives way to grievous sin.
Romans 7 describes how Christians struggle with the remaining corruption in our lives: “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (v.15).

First John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

But this does not mean that the saving relationship with Christ goes in and out of existence with each of our sins. When a believer yields to temptation his faith in Christ is weak, and the enticements of sin and the power of Satan get the upper hand. But there is a great difference between Satan getting a temporary upper hand and Satan being the lord of your life, between yielding with resistance to an evil that I hate to do and doing that evil as part of a usual pattern.

Believers may take their eyes off of the Lord and lose hope, but the Lord never takes His eye off of them. Nothing can pluck us out of His hand (Jn. 10:27-29).

4. The only way sin can be forgiven is in our relationship to Jesus Christ by faith.
People’s last decisions do not define their lives or determine their eternal destinies. Our destinies depend on whether or not we are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Every one of us is a sinner. The Bible tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). It also says, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:23).

Read what the Bible says in Ephesians 2: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (vv.1-9). This is why the Lord Jesus came to die on the cross!

In Isaiah we read: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (53:4-6).

Jesus Christ came into the world to give His life as a ransom – to pay the price for our sin – that we might have the forgiveness! Therefore the question for every one is: Do you have a relationship of faith with Jesus Christ and are your sins are forgiven? It is the most precious gift in the world. The shed blood of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is the only way for a sinner to get to God.

5. Do not let the suicide of someone be in vain.
We may never understand an individual’s suicide, no matter how long we ask “how” or “why” this could happen; but let us not let such a death be in vain. A believer has a hope that is beyond this world. He may temporarily lose sight of his Hope – the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1:1) – but his Hope will not lose sight of him.

The Bible tells us that before Christ we were without hope and without God (Eph. 2:12), but when we confessed with our mouths the Lord Jesus and believed in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead we were saved. “With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10).

Having put our faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, “there is … now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus” (8:1). “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vv.38-39).

Where do you stand? The psalmist said, “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps” (Ps. 40:1-2). This is what the Lord can do for each one reading this article.

For the believer who feels that they are in a pit of discouragement or despair, cry out to Him, don’t lose heart! To the person who has no hope, cry out to Him! He is able to pull you out of the pit you are in. There is no pit so deep that His love cannot reach you and pull you out. There is no problem too big or sin too strong from which the Lord Jesus cannot rescue you. Just cry out to Him today! Cry out to Him now!

Several Points About Trials

By Hamilton Smith (adapted)

In Psalm 118:5-21 the Holy Spirit used the experiences of a delivered individual as representative of God’s way of intervention on behalf of the nation of Israel. A godly man called upon the LORD in his distress, and the LORD answered and brought him into a large place, which speaks of much blessing. He thus learned in his distress that the LORD was on his side, and the LORD being for him who could be against him? (Rom. 8:31). He asked, “What can man do unto me?” (Ps. 118:6 NKJV). The man learned moreover that it is better to trust in the LORD than in man or the great people of the earth.
The psalmist then wrote about the trials through which he had passed and the LORD‘s dealings to bring about his deliverance. First, all the nations had surrounded him, but in the name of the LORD they were destroyed (vv.10-12).

Second, the enemy of his soul, the Devil, was the one who had energized the nations (Rev. 12:15-17) and pushed him violently; but the LORD intervened to his help and had become his “strength,” “song” and “salvation” (Ps. 118:13-14). As a result, the song was heard in the dwelling of the righteous, the strength was seen in the right hand of the LORD and the salvation in deliverance from death (vv.15-17).

Third, behind the opposition of the nations and the power of Satan there was, in these trials, the chastening, or disciplining, from the LORD. The enemy had sought his fall (v.13), but in those struggles the LORD had chastened him “severely” for his good (v.18). The enemy would oppose him to bring him into death; the LORD chastened him to save him from death. The LORD chastened only to remove all that was contrary to Himself, in order to open a righteous way into His presence to be there for His praise.

The Devil is behind the outward enemies of God’s people, but the Lord is above the power of the Devil, and there is no one above the Lord. “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (v.1).

Some Thoughts On The Epistle To Titus

By Alan H. Crsoby

Paul began this letter with a reminder that as an apostle he had been sent with the message of eternal life – a blessing God had planned for mankind even before the “ages began” (Ti. 1:2 ESV). This was similar to what he told the Ephesians: “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:3-4). In Titus, Paul pointed out that his preaching of this fact is something with which he was “entrusted by the command of God our Savior” (Ti. 1:3). To Paul, Titus was his “true child in a common faith” (v.4).

Point Out Elders
The apostle left Titus in Crete “to set right what remained unordered” (JND) and to point out (Greek: cheirotoneo) “elders in every town” (v.5 ESV). Paul described those who were to be pointed out as elders, particularly those who should serve as overseers, or bishops (KJV): They should be “above reproach” (ESV), be “discreet” (JND) and “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that [they might] be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (vv.7-9 ESV).
We should note that the words “appoint,” “ordain,” “minister,” “bishop” and a few others reveal the theological bias of the translators. “Appoint” and “ordain,” for instance, do not mean creating elders but merely recognizing “those who had already been raised up and qualified by the Holy Spirit and had given evidence of this in their life and service” (Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p.67).

Elders who would serve as overseers were to have some spiritual leadership abilities. These leaders would be men who could see what needed to be done and do it, possibly with the help of others. Therefore those who were gifted in “helping [and] administering” (1 Cor. 12:28) would be involved.

Rebuke The Judaizers
Titus was to “silence” those of the “circumcision party” – presumably Judaizers – and those who would “turn [people] away from the truth” (Ti. 1:10-13). Judaizers do not believe God’s Word about salvation being by grace alone (Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 2:16). They errantly think we must do or practice certain things like Jews otherwise we cannot be saved. The work of Judaizers has resulted in today’s church altars, special clothing and positions for those who are called ”clergy” (consider the priests in Ex. 28:1-40), and in “questions of food or drink, or with regard to a festival [“holiday,” KJV] or a Sabbath” (Col. 2:16).

There are Christians who have set up a “church calendar” which involves the commemoration of various aspects of Christ’s life – particularly His birth, death and resurrection. These are not found as festivals or holy days in Scripture; instead we find the “breaking of bread” (Acts 20:7; Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:23-25). Our Lord asked us to remember Him in this very special way. In remembering Him each week, the bread leads us to think on His becoming flesh (the focus of Christmas), and the wine leads us to think on His death and resurrection (what Easter celebrates). Paul said that by remembering Him in the manner in which He instructed, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” for us (v.26). By contrast, the Galatians were rebuked for observing “days and months and seasons and years” (Gal. 4:10) as part of a church calendar.

Beware Of Those Seeing Nonexistent Evil
Paul said, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their minds and their consciences are defiled” (Ti. 1:15). In other words, these “defiled and unbelieving” assign the worst possible interpretation to motives and actions. They will be very persuasive. We should never allow ourselves to be ruffled by their talk until we investigate for ourselves and obtain the facts in their true light.

Teach According To Sound Doctrine
Paul wrote to Titus, which we can also apply to ourselves: “Teach what accords with sound doctrine” (2:1). Such teaching will be full of truth and wisdom yet differing according to the maturity of the hearers. Older men were to be taught “to be [serious], dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and steadfastness” (v.2). Younger men were “to be self-controlled,” and Titus was to teach them as a model to “show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned” (vv.6-8). Older women were “to be reverent in behavior,” not destroying or harming the reputation of others, but teaching the younger women (vv.3-4). The younger women were to be taught “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands” (vv.4-5, italics added) – but this does not mean wives were to be servants to their husbands! “Bondservants,” or what we might call “employees,” were “to be submissive to their own masters in everything; … well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering” (vv.9-10). They were not to call in sick just to take a day off or extend a bathroom break beyond what was necessary, for example.

In every case the guiding principle is to be: “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus (Col. 3:17). In this way we will “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Ti. 2:10).

Be Ready To Do Good Work
We are to be submissive and obedient to the “governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1). It is very difficult to do good works with your income when you have to pay it to the government as fines, or in your home when you are confined in jail! In short, conduct your life so you are always “ready for every good work” (3:1).

We are warned against speaking evil of people (v.2). Here, the Bible uses the Greek word blasphemeo, from which we get our English word “blaspheme.” Therefore we notice that we can “blaspheme” – speak evil of or irreverently of – people as well as God. This sin is not uncommon among believers, including those who are well-versed in Scripture and sound in doctrine. A colleague of mine once described his Bible-believing relatives: they emphasized avoiding “worldly things” but they would speak badly of others in their absence. As a consequence, one was afraid to leave the group even for a brief period for fear of what they would say of him or her.

We are not prohibited from passing on news about the comings and goings of others, but we are to avoid giving accounts of people’s doings that make the talk evil. Scripture tells us, “Whatever is commendable … if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). Talk that fits these descriptions would encourage good works in others.

We are also told to avoid “controversies” and “quarrels” (Ti. 3:9). Our religious flesh gets ego-pleasing pleasure from gathering followers, especially if we get them to follow us into a division. Those who do this are called “heretics.” Paul wrote: “quarrels about the law … are unprofitable and worthless” (v.9); “the law is holy … and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). Thus a person who uses “truth” to cause dissensions and quarrels is ”warped and sinful” (Ti. 3:11).

Live In The Grace Of God
The grace of God is both an impressive fact and an extraordinary person, namely “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2:13). In coming into this world to die in our place He made salvation available to everybody. This salvation brings not only deliverance from eternal punishment but also the power “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (v.12)

Meanwhile, we are to be living as though we are expecting the Lord Jesus to appear on this earth in glory (v.13). This is what the devout Jews were looking for when Christ came the first time, but they did not realize that the Christ would have to suffer death and be resurrected before He would “enter into His glory” (Lk. 24:26). We, now, “being justified by His grace we … become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Ti. 3:7). Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works” (2:14),

In closing, Paul made the simple request, “Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works … and not be unfruitful” (3:14). We become unfruitful by allowing foolish controversies and dissensions to stir up divisions. The Lord earnestly desires us to be one (Jn. 17:22), but nowhere does Scripture tell us that our purpose in this world is to be a “representation of His one true Church.” Instead, are we not told to “be careful to devote [ourselves] to good works” (Ti. 3:8)? We are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

What Is At The Bottom Of Our Troubles?

People have always struggled with this age-old question: What is at the bottom of our troubles?

No matter how hard we try, education and money never seem to erase our troubles. Instead, they seem to increase our awareness of them. The poorest as well as the richest are affected.

An inner voice keeps telling us something is missing. We feel out of tune with the Almighty God to whom we are accountable.

The Real Cause
Our troubles are only symptoms. The real cause is sin, or rebellion against God’s will. Self-will rises up against God and His sovereign rights over us.

Sin in the heart works itself out in the life in different degrees and ways; but the results are the same – wrong doing because of wrong choosing.

Sin not only offends God, but it also harms the sinner: “He who sins … wrongs his own soul” (Proverbs 8:36 NKJV). We are warned that “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). The effects of sin are sure, both here and in the hereafter.

Death No Cure
Men would like to think that all their troubles end when they die; but death is no cure for sin, nor does it end the misery of the sinner. According to Revelation 21:8, all unrepentant sinners “shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

We know men suffer now because of sin. But consider what sin will mean in the hereafter, when all this world’s interests, excitements and illusions are over, and the unrepentant soul experiences the dread reality of God’s judgment for sin!

We cannot save ourselves – our soul’s enemy is too strong for us. There is no remedy for sin in political changes, environmental changes, physical and mental changes or scientific advances. Codes of honor or ethics do not work either.

The Only Cure
Only the One whom we have sinned against can save us from the burden and penalty of our sin: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven … by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Only the death of Jesus Christ could pay the overwhelming debt of sin and secure for us divine forgiveness: “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Christ is eager to save you: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

The Choice Is Yours
Do you want to be free from the guilt and power of sin? Then come to the Lord Jesus now and confess your sins to Him, believing that He suffered and died to take them away. He promised, “The one who comes to me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).

Won’t you come to Him right now? We can tell you how.

“Is the Christian faith a ‘blind’ faith?”

Answered by Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.

QUESTION:Is the Christian faith a “blind” faith?

ANSWER: The Christian faith is not another religion among the thousands of religions in this world. Instead, it is essentially a relationship with the One who proclaims Himself to be the Light of the World and promises that anyone who follows Him will not walk in darkness. “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12 NKJV). He was “the True Light … which, coming into the world, is light to every man” (1:9 footnote, JND). Here we can fittingly apply the words of David in Psalm 36:9: “In Thy light shall we see light.”

“Light” is one of the key words in the Gospel of John, along with “life” and “love.” Throughout its chapters we see again and again the battle between light and darkness. Religious leaders were stumbling in darkness in chapter 1 and trying to pin down John the Baptist as to who he was. John pointed to One whom they did not know but was coming. A few verses after this answer, the Light came onto the scene. When John proclaimed Him to be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (v.29) and “the Lamb of God” (v.36), the bystanders seemingly paid no attention to Him.

But two of John’s disciples, having heard his declarations, followed Him. When the Lord inquired what they were seeking, they answered, “Where are You staying” (v.38 NKJV). He replied, “Come and see” (v.39). These disciples then gave the same invitation to others to bring them to Jesus. Throughout this gospel, in one personal encounter after another, we hear this invitation repeated:

  • Philip to Nathanael – “Come and see” (v.46),
  • The Samaritan woman to the men of her city – “Come, see a Man who told me …” (4:29), and
  • Jesus to His listeners – “… comes to Me …” (6:35,37, 7:37).

In John 9 we see a man born blind become seeing. Initially there was obedience to the word of the Lord. Then, as he was questioned by the enemies of the Lord, we see him growing in his understanding of who the Lord is until finally the Lord revealed Himself to him, and he is found worshiping Him. The Lord built on this at the very end of John 9 and into chapter 10, showing that coming into relationship with Him is a pathway of increasing light, while walking according to the traditions of the religious teachers is a matter of following blind leaders.

Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead in John 11, came out of the cave where he had been buried, bound hand and foot with grave clothes and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus commanded that he be loosed from all these impediments. He could then walk intelligently, and consequently in John 12 we find him sitting at the table with Jesus, but he was also then an object of the enmity of the spiritually blind religious leaders.

John 13 through 17 present us with the final hours of the day before the Lord’s crucifixion. We see the Lord occupied with His followers, first showing them His loving concern by cleansing and refreshing them, then pointing out their weaknesses when they are self-confident. He went on to tell them about the dwelling places in the Father’s house He was about to prepare for them and continued from there to tell them about the Holy Spirit who would take His (Christ’s) place in guiding and aiding them in His absence. He told them too of the Father, who loved them, who pruned them to make them fruitful, and to whom they could come in His name with their petitions and needs. He warned them that they, like He, will encounter the world’s hatred and enmity, but they heard Him praying for them and expressing His appreciation for them as He prayed to the Father.

A little later that night Jesus was arrested and given a completely unrighteous trial by the Jewish Sanhedrin and then in the morning by the Roman governor. He was crucified, buried and rose again – appearing to different ones of His own. His final words in this gospel are “You follow Me” (21:22).

No, the Christian faith is not a blind faith. It is an intelligent walk with the Lord Jesus Christ – a pathway of joy and satisfaction while sharing the reproach and rejection of the One who came as light into this world, which lays in deep darkness. “Follow Me!” is something He still says to His own. You will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. In the words of King Solomon in Proverbs 4:18, ”The path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.”

2 Thessalonians

By Leslie M. Grant

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.” — 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NKJV

Second Thessalonians, like 1 Thessalonians, is pastoral in character. It deals with those subtle influences that so soon threatened to rob this young assembly of its fresh, ardent affection for the Lord, as well as its vigorous faith and endurance of persecution. Faithfully the apostle warns of the future coming of the Antichrist, but even at that time, the “mystery of lawlessness” (2:7) was at work to undermine what was of God. Therefore added to the refreshing encouragement of the first epistle are faithful admonitions, the seasoning of salt, to preserve the testimony of God.

Letters supposed to have come from Paul had told the Thessalonians that the Day of the Lord (not “of Christ”) had come. These letters were a crafty deceit of the enemy by which he sought to undermine their confidence as to Christ’s coming first for the Church (the rapture) before the awesome day of His judgment of the world. Paul corrected this, and chapter 2 is a most striking prophetic Scripture about the Day of the Lord, which cannot take place until the Church has been removed to heaven.

In contrast to the evil works and words of Antichrist, who will sit in the future temple as god (v.4), the saints are encouraged to be established in every good work and word. Second Thessalonians is a book therefore to give us spiritual discernment and firmness regarding those things that would tend to lower Christian testimony. Again, the Lord’s coming is prominent in every chapter.


I just finished reading the magazine and was blessed by every article. Be assured, I am praying for everyone of you and this literature ministry always. – Nigeria

I am very glad for the July / August 2017 magazine, and want to thank God for using you and your ministry as a blessing to me. – South Africa

Just last week my nephew told me that he is encouraged by your magazine. He wants to let you know. I want you to know that many people have been blessed by it. “Be steadfast … your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58 NKJV) – Myanmar

Why Did Jesus Come? Part Three: He Came To Call Sinners

By Shereen Ghobrial

And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” —Mark 2:17 ESV

“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” —Luke 5:32

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” —Matthew 9:13

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” —Luke 19:10

Biel/Bienne* is a city in Switzerland that is very much associated with precision and micro mechanics, especially in the watch making industry. Many watch-making companies started in this city, including big names such as Swatch, Omega SA and Rolex. A number of other cities in Switzerland are involved in watch making, but most of them get their “movement” parts from Biel/Bienne.

I have not visited Biel/Bienne, but I imagine the people there to be very punctual and neat. They are probably overall precise and accurate in their communication and manner of life. How am I making such a conclusion? By knowing what they produce and what they are good at doing. Their personality and style of life are reflected in the industry in which they excel.

Why would a watch company be picky regarding the precision of the movement parts of its watches? The main goal and function of a watch is to give the time in a very precise way. Imagine having a watch that is made of gold and looks very nice, but it advances one extra minute every hour. That means by the end of the day your watch will be ahead by 24 minutes, and after two days it will be ahead by nearly one hour. If you get such a watch from a reputable company you would consider the watch to be no good and seek a replacement. In spite of the beautiful looks of the watch, it would be considered defective for it does not meet the purpose for which it was made.

Now let us consider man instead of the watch, and use the word “sin” instead of “defective.”

What Is Sin?
God created man in His image to rule the world and reflect the moral glories of God; for example, to be intelligent, loving and holy. By reflecting God’s glories, or displaying His attributes, man would glorify God. However, man missed that goal, deciding to seek his own desires instead. The result is every one of us was diverted to a different path.

The Bible says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way” (Isa. 53:6). By going my own way, I have missed the main goal for which I was created, and that is what the Bible calls “sin.” “Sin is lawlessness” (1 Jn. 3:4), which means I do not abide by any law, but by my own desire and will instead.

The Result Of Sin
God warned Adam regarding the result of sin when He told him, “[From] the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Because Adam sinned, mankind was put under the judgment of death in all aspects of life: physically, spiritually and eternally.

When a child is born, he immediately starts experiencing death in his or her body. Old cells die; germs and viruses attack the weak human body, and the body ages. In time, signs of death creep into the wrinkled skin and the gray hair. Finally, “it is appointed for man to die once” (Heb. 9:27). This is the physical death which is a result of sin, “for the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

Another type of death is spiritual or moral death, which resulted from the separation from God. When man sinned he lost his open communication with his Creator, and as a result he lost the enjoyment and privilege of reflecting God’s moral attributes. This is the reason we see evil in the whole world, because we have people who are spiritually dead.

Paul gave a good description of them in Romans 3:13-18: “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” These are whom the Lord Jesus referred to when He said, “Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead” (Mt. 8:22). He was saying to let the spiritually dead bury their own relatives that are physically dead.

The third type of death is eternal death in the lake of fire. The apostle John wrote: “Then I saw a great white throne … And I saw the dead, great and the small, standing before the throne … and they were judged, each one of them according, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11-14). After living a life marked with spiritual death and ending with physical death, the unrepentant sinner will end up in eternal death by suffering judgment in the lake of fire.

Going back to our watch analogy, think of the watch that advances one extra minute every hour. Is the watch defective because of what is does, or does the watch advance one extra minute every hour because it is defective? It is the latter option. The fact the watch is malfunctioning is a mere symptom of the internal defectiveness of the watch. For mankind, our physical, moral and eternal death is the natural result and divine punishment for our internal defectiveness, meaning our sinful nature. It is the nature we acquired because of Adam’s sin and not because God made us this way.

Who are sinners? The Bible gives a clear, but hard answer: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). This includes you and me – all human beings with the one exception being the heavenly Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. That means we are under the judgment of:

  • Physical death – suffering from diseases, aging and bodily death,
  • Spiritual death – immorality and bad habits, and
  • Eternal death – in the lake of fire.

Can Religion Help Me To Escape Death?
Although people associate religion with God, the Bible clearly indicates it was man who invented religion, not God. This is seen in the first religious man, Cain, when he tried to approach God by his human effort and in his own way (Gen. 4:1-5). Man uses religion to give himself a false feeling of security.

In the Old Testament, God had given the children of Israel a great privilege, which was His law. He gave them instructions to regulate their relationship with Him and among themselves. That worship included sacrifices, a tabernacle, a temple and, most importantly, the Levites and priests. In all the instructions and regulations, God was always looking for worshipers, not the worship itself.

For example, the tabernacle had many pieces that would be disassembled and carried during the desert journey. Most, but not all, of those pieces could have been carried on carriages. However, the pieces in the Holy and Holiest of Holy had to be carried by the men of a certain family of a particular tribe; not on horses, carriages or any other means. It was one of God’s ways to communicate His desire to have this intimate relationship with the worshipers. He even declared His ownership over them, saying, “The Levites shall be Mine” (Num. 3:12).

We may ask, “How about sacrifices, singing and praise, and other rituals that were practiced in the tabernacle and the temple?” They were only needed to express what was in the worshiper’s heart. A sacrifice is an expression of a repenting heart; a prayer is an expression of a needy heart, and praise is an expression of a heart in awe and delight. David realized this truth when he said, “For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:16-17).

The Lord Jesus clearly indicated that point in His discussion with the Samaritan woman. When she asked Him about the required details of worship, He answered her question and added, “The Father is seeking such people to worship Him” (Jn. 4:23). He did not say the Father is seeking “such worship,” but “such people to worship Him.” The Darby translation says, “The Father seeks such as His worshippers.”

Religion cannot help because it provides mere rituals, which is what Cain offered and was rejected. God is seeking a repentant and broken heart, one that realizes the total uselessness of self-effort and work, for “we have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isa. 64:6 ESV). Repentance is the first step to escape death, but it is not enough.

He Came To Call Sinners
Jesus came to call sinners (Mk. 2:17). He is the only One who can make that confident call – a call to come to Him. Once we realize our inability to escape from death, we see our need of the Savior. Jesus is the Savior, having paid the debt of our sin by His death on the cross. God considered Jesus the ultimate sin offering, and because He offered Himself He can call on every sinner to escape from death.

God is calling everyone, but it is our individual responsibility to accept this call. The Bible clearly states that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). However, He respects our wills. Sin is our own responsibility if we do not accept His call and invitation.

Are you a sinner? Jesus came to call you! Now is the right time to accept Him into your life.

* Biel is the German name of the city and Bienne is its French name. Since 2005, the city’s official name has been “Biel/Bienne.”

What Is Your Attitude Toward Your Household?

By H. A. Ironside (adapted from “Addresses On The Book Of Joshua,” pp.32-34)

“And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. ” —Joshua 2:13 KJV

In this request Rahab showed a remarkable understanding of the desire of the God of Israel, for all through Scripture we see it is the purpose of God: His desire and will is to save His people in families, in households. If He shows mercy to one person in a household it is an indication that He wants to save every member of that family. Speaking of the coming judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, God said of Abraham, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? … For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him” (Gen. 18:17,19).
Oh, Christian fathers and mothers, what about your attitude toward your households? Have you recognized your responsibility? Are you acting for God in the home to command your children after you? I know we live in a day of self-expression when we are taught that we should not quell the natural desires of our children, and most of us have given way to this teaching. As a result we have unconverted children in our homes, whose ways are the expression of their vile, wicked, corrupt natures. Scripture says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15).

Mrs. William Booth, wife of the first general of the Salvation Army, who reared a large family of eight children, claimed every one of them for God before they were born. She used to say, “I refuse to bring any child into the world to be damned in hell at last” (See 2 Th. 2:12). In their early days some of those children thought their mother was rather stern and hard because she would not allow them to go into the things of the world like other children, but the day came when every one of them thanked their mother for standing between them and the world, and all grew up to preach Christ and seek to bring others to Him.

A tremendous responsibility rests on parents in these matters. Too many parents say, “I will let my child go just so far in the ways of the world, and I hope eventually he will come to God,” only to learn that later on he does not desire to know God at all. Your child may rebel against your correction, but he will thank you for it later on when he has come to know the Lord. Your child may look upon you as old-fashioned, but when at last he has turned to Christ for salvation then he will indeed thank you for ever having sought to lead him in the way of righteousness.

Rahab was a poor woman who had gone down into the depth of sin, but now had turned to God, and her heart cried out for the deliverance of her loved ones; so she pleaded for her household.

In the New Testament we read of the Philippian jailor who came thinking only of himself. He cried out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Apparently his family was gathered about him, and Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:30-31). That night there was great rejoicing in that house. The whole household was brought to faith in Christ and they confessed His name in baptism.

If you are the only saved member in your household, lay hold of God and in faith cry to Him for salvation for the other members of your family. Live Christ before them and look to God to bring them all to Himself. In this we may closely emulate the faith of Rahab.