The Internet: A Blessing Or A Curse?

By Shereen Ghobrial

What is the Internet to you? Is it your morning newspaper, your recipe book of savory dishes for your family, or a social media portal for sharing news with your friends? Or, is it a monster trying to steal your soul? There are many myths about the Internet due to lack of information and because of personal assumptions developed through the opinions and experiences of others. Let us ask our first question again from a different perspective. What is the Internet to you, as a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ? How do you see the Internet revolution from the Biblical perspective? How can you avoid some of the dangers of the Internet? These are some of the questions that we will try to answer together.

How Can The Internet Help Me Grow Spiritually?• Affordable And Accessible Resources. We all learn through different ways. Some prefer to read; others prefer to listen or watch a lecture (or a ministry). The Internet has a wealth of spiritual contents for all of us. Online, you can read books, listen to audio books or spiritual songs, or watch Biblically sound lectures. Most of that material is completely free, which eliminates the cost hindrance of accessing Christian material that can build you up spiritually.

In addition to reducing or eliminating the cost hindrance, the Internet has made that material easily accessible. Gone are the days where you cannot get a book because it is out of print or the bookstore has it on backorder. You can find a book that you like on Amazon, order it with one click, and it will appear on your tablet after a couple of minutes. For those of us who would prefer regular hard copy books, the Internet still makes it easy to find the book you are looking for and order it online.

Another aspect that is very useful is the portability of all this material. With smart phones and tablets accessing the Internet, you can have access anywhere to volumes of books that won’t fit in your normal suitcase. This can become very handy when you are commuting in a train and need to read the Bible, or if you are having a discussion with friends about a specific verse and want to consult your favorite commentary or Bible dictionary.

• Fellowship. Have you attended a virtual meeting? There are conferences and ministry meetings being streamed live on the Internet. Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo, has enabled all of us to share photos and news over the Internet. This includes meditations that touched us, invitations to gospel or revival meetings, and prayer requests. Many Christians use these social media tools for tighter fellowship across continents and for edification of saints in remote areas of the earth.

• Gospel Outreach. Brother Andrew from the Netherlands was known as “God’s smuggler” for his great service in bringing Bibles across the Eastern European border, which was then known as the “Iron Curtain.” Near the end of the last century the Iron Curtain disappeared and the Berlin Wall was destroyed. However, there are other walls and curtains, metaphorically speaking, existing around the world, especially in the Muslim world. Some of these walls are now falling apart because the gospel is reaching people across the Internet. Governments have devised different rules and controls to limit the spread of the outreach websites, but the technology is allowing everyone to access anything on the Internet (this can be bad in some cases!).

• Bible Study Tools. Computer technology has provided numerous tools to help personal and group Bible studies. Many of those Bible study tools are available on the Internet for easy access. For example, provides Bible translations in dozens of languages, with search functions, audio Bibles, devotionals and reading plans. provides similar functions with more coverage for mobile devices. This means you can do a topical word search in your smart phone for a specific word or phrase, look up a verse in another Bible translation, and even find the original meaning in Hebrew or Greek using a Bible dictionary. Many of those tools, such as, link a given Bible text to various Bible commentaries available online for you for free or for a small cost.

All these tools save time, but they do not eliminate the effort. A Bible study that would have taken Christians many hours 20 years ago, can now be done in less than an hour. That said, we still need the motivation and desire to study the Scriptures and dig for ourselves. The time saving should encourage us to do more, frequent and deeper personal Bible studies for our building up and for the edification of our brothers and sisters in Christ. How Can The Internet Cause Danger To My Spiritual Life?• Personal Relationships. The introduction of social media had irreversible impact on our social life that will last and grow in the next generations. Like a true social club, joining a group or being a friend or follower to another person has its own impact on human behavior. According to a study conducted by the universities of Birmingham, Edinburgh and the West of England,1 over-sharing photography on social media causes negative effects on real life relationships. This is due to the fact we do not anticipate who will look at our photos or news and how they will react. According to another study,2 social media websites are now contributing factors in divorces. Research indicates that one in seven married individuals “have considered divorce because of their spouse’s postings of Facebook or other online sites.”

As fallen human beings, we strive to get our self-worth from what people think of us. The larger number of “likes” we get for a posted picture gives confidence that we are loved or at least “liked” by many. But what happens if we do not get enough “likes”? That might cause us to feel alienated and isolated. As Christians we are reminded by the Lord to “stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (Isa. 2:22 ESV). Our true worth is not coming from people who love us, but from the Mighty God who created us and gave His Son to redeem us.

Another danger of social media is the fact not everyone is using it. You might start a conversation or an event in a social media website and assume everyone will check it out and get informed. However, by doing that you have already left out many of your brothers and sisters in Christ who might not have access to that website, and hence, they will be alienated. One can argue that in this age everyone should have access to the Internet and social media. For that argument we have the admonition of Paul to the Ephesians: “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).

The dangers of social media alienation can also apply to email discussions or blogging websites. We have to remember three things:

  • These are just tools for us to use,
  • Our value is drawn from the Lord, and
  • We need to be inclusive of all our brothers and sisters.

• Addiction. Did you meet anyone with IAD? With the invasion of the Internet, we now have individuals diagnosed with Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), also known as Problematic Internet Use or Compulsive Internet Use (CIU). According to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery,3 Internet addiction is an impulse control disorder caused by emotional attachment similar to pathological gambling. Here are some of the symptoms of Internet addiction:

  • Occupied with the Internet all the time (thinking about past and future Internet experiences; such as blogging, chatting and browsing).
  • A gradual increase of time spent on the Internet, and that usually leads to staying online longer than originally planned.
  • Failed attempted to stop or cut back on Internet usage.
  • Withdrawal symptoms (discomfort, moody, irritation) when not using the Internet for a long time.
  • Willing to risk relationships, career or educational opportunities because of Internet use. This may include lying or hiding facts about personal use of the Internet.
  • The Internet becomes the friend or outlet to relieve stress and escape from problems.

Naturally, the results of Internet addiction can be severe on personal relationships, careers, finances and health. The Bible is very clear: “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12). If I become a slave to the Internet, then I should seek freedom from that new master by seeking the freedom I have in Christ. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36).

The best way to avoid Internet addiction is to ensure that you are getting your full satisfaction and pleasure from the Lord and fellowship with His people. The Internet will then be just a tool, not a virtual world for satisfaction. We have a responsibility toward our children and youth to create healthy environments in our families and churches to foster strong Christian relationships and spiritually nourish the younger generations.

If someone falls into the trap of Internet addiction, the first step to recovery is to admit the failure. Then one must seek help from the Lord and, quite possibly, an addiction professional.

• Laziness. With the abundance of spiritual resources on the Internet, one can be tempted to be lazy. Why would you memorize verses if you can easily search for them online? Why would you dig into and study the Bible by yourself if there are abundant Bible commentaries online? Even worse, why would you go to a meeting if you can hear a sermon online? These are snares that come with the privileges of the Internet.

The wise man said, “Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence [idleness] the house leaks” (Eccl. 10:18). This is also true for spiritual growth. If we do not invest enough effort and time in our spiritual growth, we will not reap any results. The Lord’s plan for our lives is not about gaining information. Rather, it is about changing our hearts and characters to be more like Him. This will happen by memorizing verses (Col. 3:16) – not by simply searching for them online. This will happen by personal Bible study (1 Tim. 4:13), instead of just reading about the Bible. This will happen by personally attending and participating, as is appropriate, in assembly meetings – not just by filling our minds with good spiritual thoughts. What is the use of spiritual food if it does not lead us to congregational worship with the local saints!

Paul was clear to the Galatians when he said, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:7-8). The Internet is a good tool to enrich our spiritual life, but it has to be complemented with personal effort and time.

• Wasting Time. It was mentioned before that one of the symptoms of Internet addiction is the amount of time spent online and how it is usually more than originally planned. Even if going online is not an addiction for you, think of the amount of time you spend doing emails, checking Facebook pages or just browsing for a new gadget you want to buy.

According to some statistics,4 teenagers spend more than a day per week online – 27 hours to be exact. Think about how many church meetings they could have attended or how many Bible chapters and spiritual books they could have read during that time. It is time that is gone with no return.

With that said, we have to be careful to distinguish between “spent” and “wasted.” If our priorities are correct and we use our time wisely on the Internet, we should have no wasted time even if we spend many hours online. The trick is to apply Paul’s hints in assessing “things,” including the Internet. First, is it helpful? “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up” (1 Cor. 10:23). There are many activities that we can do online that are helpful to us and to the saints of God. This is not a wasted time because it is used for building up. Second, is it addictive? “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything” (6:12). If going online starts to dominate my behavior and occupy my thoughts, I am falling under addiction and I should stop this time-wasting activity.

• Easier Exposure To Sin. This is the most commonly realized danger of the Internet. With the benefits of having many spiritual resources free and accessible comes the danger of also having dangerous materials free and accessible. The most dangerous of all is Internet pornography, which is a $3 billion per year industry. In spite of its clear danger, statistics among Christians are very alarming. According to CovenantEyes,5 64% of Christian men indicated they watch porn once a month. The danger on our youth is unprecedented. Nine out of ten boys and six of every ten girls are exposed to it before the age of 18. We can try to build cages to protect our children and youth, but that alone won’t work since 70% of them acquire their online behavior from their parents! The danger is there and it is real; what can we do to protect ourselves and our children?

First, we have to realize that watching porn is a sin. It is an act of adultery (Mt. 5:28) and an unnatural way to attain sexual excitement (2 Tim. 3:4). Hence, the Bible instructs us to stay away from it (Eph. 5:3). Watching porn causes wrong excitement and that messes with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Th. 4:4). As a sin, it grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and it does not bring glory to God (Col. 3:17).

Second, we have to understand its dangers. Because it generates a special addiction it has severe results, including a continuous feeling of guilt, the loss of self-respect, the failure to have a healthy relationship with the opposite sex, and the destruction of one’s marriage. Also, addiction leads to escalation, which may lead to violence and criminal behavior.

Third and most important, we need to be occupied with the Lord. We all know that “one who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet” (Prov. 27:7). If we are satisfied and occupied with the Lord, we won’t go hunting for cheap pleasures from the enemy.

For our children, there are many tools on the Internet that can help provide parental control. But they are only tools that can help. The best assistance we can give them is to plant the Word of God in their hearts richly so they can experience Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonians: “Test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Th. 5:21-22).

• Are You Digitally Sanctified? The Internet has already invaded our lives and we have three options on how to react to this invasion. The first option is “ignoring it.” We can avoid using emails and social media, pretending the Internet is a completely evil thing. This approach might work for a short period, but it will cause a big gap with the younger generations. The second option is to completely embrace it. This means we jump on every new app, check every new website and post every detail of our lives on social media for the whole world to know. This approach will negatively impact our time, security and spiritual life. The third, and my recommended approach, is to “harness it.” This means we use the Internet in a controlled fashion. Instead of letting the Internet control our time and heart, we should control it to get the best benefit while avoiding its dangers.

As was mentioned, the Internet is a tool that we can use for good or bad. We should consider all aspects of our life, including the use of the Internet, as ways to honor and glorify God: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). GT

1. See British Telegraph 12 Aug 2013, link:
2. See British MailOnline, 29 April, 2015, link:
3. For more information, check:
4. The Telegraph. For more details, see:
5. For more statistics, you can visit their website:

Not To Ourselves We Owe

Not to ourselves we owe
That we, O God, are Thine;
Jesus the Lord, our night broke through,
And gave us light divine.

The Father’s grace and love
This blessed mercy gave,
And Jesus left the throne above,
His wandering sheep to save.

No more the heirs of wrath –
Thy sovereign love we see;
And Father, in confiding faith
We cast our souls on Thee.

Our hearts look up to see
The glory Thou hast given,
In spirit dwell where we shall be
With Christ, Thine heirs, in heaven.

With the adopted band
Soon shall we see Him there:
With them and Him in glory stand,
And in His honours share.

By Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778)

We May Forget

By Paul Alberts

“So are the paths of all who forget God; and the hope of the hypocrite shall perish.”

—Job 8:13 NKJV

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”

—Psalm 9:17

“Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.”

—Psalm 50:22

Getting people to forget God is one of the goals of the Devil. Unbelievers, deceived or distracted by Satan as to their need of the Savior, face eternity in hell. Is that your future? What about someone close to you? We cannot stress enough how important it is to accept God’s offer of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Believers do not face the prospect of hell, but there is significant loss resulting from missed opportunities to honor God at those times when we forget Him. Regarding our lives, all that is worthless in His eyes will be burned (1 Cor. 3:13-15). Yet by His grace we will be saved, having been indwelt by the Holy Spirit who sealed us as the guarantee of our inheritance in heaven (Eph. 1:13; 1 Pet. 1:3-5).

The dangers of today’s electronic age are quite significant, and many are very subtle. Therefore the Feature articles this month consider that subject. The Lord, who knows about all the perils we face, gives warning to keep us from stumbling. We thank God that there are many valuable uses for electronic tools and the Internet, which our writers this month also point out.

It is God’s will that we keep Him before us day by day. Birds are often singing during many of my early morning walks. High in the tree branches, it is as if they can see the sunshine of the coming day, and they rejoice anticipating God’s provision (Ps. 104:10-18; Mt. 6:26). How good it is to think about our God day and night, communing with Him in prayer (Ps. 1:2; 1 Tim 5:5). Like birds together in a tree, God has shown that collectively we should be singing His praises while remembering the Lord on the first day of the week, proclaiming His death until He comes (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

Why do we need to be reminded to remember the Lord our God? Because there are times when we may forget.

The Mercy Of God

By Timothy P. Hadley

God’s mercy is a major theme in Scripture. The English word appears 341 times in the Bible while the four Hebrew and three Greek words associated with it appear a total of 454 times. They are also translated as “kindness,” “loving-kindness,” “goodness,” “favor,” “compassion” and “pity.” Of the 66 books in the Bible, only 16 do not use one of these words for mercy.

We often think that justice and judgment characterize the God of Israel while grace and mercy belong to the Lord of the Church. However, the Old Testament has more than four times as much to say about mercy than the New Testament. Exodus 33:19 and 34:6-7 show us that mercy is the very nature of who God is:

  • “Then He said, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’” (NKJV).
  • “And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.’”

While mercy is an important concept, it is somewhat difficult to define, especially since “grace” is often closely coupled with it and the two are frequently confused. These words may appear together many times, but they do not have the same meaning. “Grace” is most often associated with the sovereign dispensing of totally undeserved favor, and it is specifically connected to salvation. “Mercy” is more often connected to the withholding of judgment: “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (Jas. 2:13).

Psalm 136 repeats the theme “For His mercy endures forever” in each of the 26 verses listing incomparable aspects of God’s loving-kindness to Israel. No less than four times do we read “Give thanks to the Lord … for His mercy endures forever” (vv.1,3) or “Give thanks to the God … for His mercy endures forever” (vv.2,26). Not only does His mercy endure forever, but we are told His mercy is “great” (1 Ki. 3:6), “abundant” (Ps. 86:5; 1 Pet. 1:3), “tender” (Lk. 1:78), “from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him” (Ps. 103:17) and “manifold,” or having many features (Neh. 9:19). We can join with the psalmist and say, “I will sing aloud of Your mercy” (Ps. 59:16).

Three Aspects
As we study the Scriptures carefully concerning the mercy of God we will see that there are three parts to it:

  1. The general mercy of God. This is extended not only to all men – believers and unbelievers alike – but to the entire creation. “The LORD is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works” (Ps. 145:9). “He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25).
  2. The special mercy of God. It is exercised toward the children of men, helping them and giving them all the necessities of life. “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt. 5:45).
  3. The sovereign mercy of God. This is reserved for the heirs of salvation and is communicated to them in a covenant way through the Mediator.

Just to explain the difference between the second and third types a bit more, the mercies of God that the wicked enjoy are only temporary – they are for the present. There will be no mercy extended to them beyond the grave. Isaiah 27:11 says, “For it is a people of no understanding; therefore He who made them will not have mercy on them, and He who formed them will show them no favor.” God can never cease to be merciful because that is the nature of who He is: “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful” (Ps. 116:5). But the exercise of His mercy is regulated by His sovereign will. It is pure sovereign grace alone which determines the activity of divine mercy. Paul brings this out in Romans 9:15: “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy” (see Ex. 33:19).

God’s Mercy With Sinners
The connection between the mercy and grace of God in His dealings with sinners is seen in Scriptures such as Ephesians 2:4-8: “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.” Titus 3:3-7 adds, “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

It is through or because of the tender mercy of our God that Christ was sent here to His people (Lk. 1:78). The merits of the Lord Jesus and His finished work on the cross make it possible for God to righteously show mercy to us. If God gave us what we deserve we would all be, right now, condemned for eternity. David cried out, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Ps. 51:1-2). A plea to God for mercy is asking Him to withhold the judgment we deserve and instead grant to us the forgiveness we in no way earned. God shows mercy to the truly repentant soul!

We deserve nothing from God. God does not owe us anything. Whatever good we experience is a result of the grace of God (Eph. 2:5). God favors – He gives us good things that we do not deserve and could never earn. Mercy and grace are best illustrated in the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. We deserve judgment, but if we receive Jesus Christ as Savior we obtain mercy from God and are delivered from judgment. By grace we receive salvation, forgiveness of sins and an abundant life which begins here as we enjoy a relationship with God as our Father, looking forward to eternity in heaven with Him.

Our Response Toward The God Of Mercy
Because of the mercy and grace of God we fall on our knees in worship and thanksgiving. We remember that “through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23). Micah said, “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity … because He delights in mercy … He will … have compassion on us, and He will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:18-19). It’s good to recall that “the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children” (Ps. 103:17).

Because He is the “King eternal, immortal, invisible … God who alone is wise” (1 Tim. 1:17) and “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (6:15), we should therefore “give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever” (Ps. 136:3).

Mercy Is Still Available Today
There are three specific examples given in Psalm 136 of God’s sovereign provision:

  • He protects and shelters during the “wilderness” (v.16) journey of His people,
  • He makes possible victories over great “enemies” (v.24), and
  • He gives “food to all flesh” (v.25).

The details of God’s provision and the many examples in Scripture are inexhaustible. Yet in these three areas we find hope for any situation. Hebrews 4:16 declares, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” The apostle Paul reminds us that our God is “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Mercy originates from Him, and as we experience His mercy and comfort we should share them with others.

Mercy On Display
Mercy is to be seen in the life of every believer. A great example of such mercy is found in Luke 10:25-37, where we read about a traveler who helped a man who had been beaten and robbed. As the Good Samaritan bound up the wounds of the poor victim, he showed him mercy. When he took him to the nearest inn and paid for his lodging until he was well, he showed grace. His mercy relieved the pain and his grace provided for the healing!

Likewise, the most obvious way we can show mercy is through physical acts. As the Lord Jesus specifically commanded, we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned and give practical help where we can. In Matthew 5:7 the Lord said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Showing mercy is not only a New Testament idea – look at what Deuteronomy 15:7-8 has to say about it: “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.”

We are to show mercy to those who seem to be our enemies, according to Luke 6:27-36. Paul wrote: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Col. 3:12-13).

We recognize from these verses that mercy is to be shown by our attitude as well as our actions. Mercy does not hold a grudge, harbor resentment, capitalize on another’s failures or weaknesses, nor publicize another’s sin.

Mercy shows pity as the Lord Jesus did from the cross when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Lk. 23:34). To the repentant thief on the cross mercy could say, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (v.43).

Mercy should be seen in the way we correct one another: “… in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25). Jude 21-23 picks up on the same thought: “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”

The Lord Jesus told a parable about an unforgiving servant. One servant owed his master a great debt that he could not pay and he begged his master to be patient with him. He begged for mercy! But once forgiven, he went to someone who owed him far less by comparison. Demanding every cent be repaid, he had this debtor thrown into prison. When the master heard the story he “called him [and] said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’” (Mt. 18:32-33).

As we have seen we have been shown unlimited mercy, cancelling our debt of sin that we are unable to repay. We continue to be shown mercy each and every day. How can we then refuse to show mercy to those we meet in our lives? Not only does this include praying for one another, but we should also show mercy in reaching out to the lost.

Let us remind ourselves again of Jeremiah’s words: “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).

“Drop Your Bucket!”

Many years ago a sailing ship set out from Europe toward a South American port. Due to the misfortune of storms and other difficulties, the voyage was prolonged to the point that the ship’s water supply was running low. In spite of careful conservation, the crew eventually found themselves with no drinking water.

A few days later as they were in a quiet sea under suffocating heat they were overjoyed and greatly relieved to encounter another ship. As they approached they raised their message flags announcing their desperate situation: “We are dying for lack of water!”

The crew was shocked at the response, which appeared to mock their plight: “The water is all around you; drop your bucket!” They had no idea that in that moment they were crossing the powerful ocean current of the Amazon; all around them was sweet, fresh water, even though they were far from land. You see, the Amazon River sends so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that it makes several miles of the ocean completely drinkable.

Like the crew without water, perhaps you find yourself in a similar, difficult situation – without any hope. You may exclaim, “What must I do to be saved?” – not realizing that the current of God’s love flows powerfully in the ocean of your life all around you. Drop your bucket! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 NKJV ).

“‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:8-9).

It is a simple thing, and very much within your reach. The Lord has made it all possible to you. He paid the very high price for your sins on the cross in order that you might quench your burning thirst for life and cancel your eternal death. In the words of the Bible that you just read is the key to your eternal blessing and joy. Read them again, aloud.

You may never have had so near to you the opportunity for salvation. Avail yourself of God’s promise and drink to the full now!

“Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn. 4:14).

“Jesus said, ‘… he who believes in Me shall never thirst’” (6:35).

“He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb [Jesus] … Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:1,17).

If you really want to, you can pray something like this: “Lord Jesus, I confess that you are Lord and that you took the punishment for my sins. I believe with all my heart that God raised you from the dead. Please save me. Thank you for doing this for me. Amen.” We can tell you more.


By Leslie M. Grant

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” –Matthew 11:29-30 NKJV

Matthew, meaning “gift of Jehovah,” the first book of the New Testament, is written from a Jewish point of view and preserves continuity with the Old Testament. It presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the long sought Messiah of Israel, their King. His genealogy, which is that of Joseph, is traced to David and Abraham, and it establishes Christ’s official title to the throne of David.

Matthew is the only book of Scripture that uses the phrase “the kingdom of heaven.” This shows us that, while under the law of Moses, the authority of the kingdom of Jehovah had been committed to the Jews. Jerusalem had been its headquarters, but because of Israel’s utter failure God was revoking this, headquartering His kingdom now in heaven. He had once spoken on earth among the Jews; now He was speaking from heaven. For this reason the book of Matthew often speaks of the kingdom of God as “the kingdom of heaven.” It marks a most striking and complete change in the dispensational ways of God, for the Christ, the true King, has come and has returned to heaven.

Consistent with this, Matthew insisted on thorough subjection and obedience to the sovereign authority of the Lord Jesus – not to law, but to One higher than law. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me.” Emphasis therefore is placed on works of faith because authority (not grace, as in Luke) is Matthew’s great subject. How good if such lessons implant themselves deeply in our hearts.

Using The Sword Of The Spirit

By Eugene P Vedder, Jr. (adapted from the “Prayer Calendar,” November 2015)

It has often been pointed out that the sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon on the list of the pieces of the Christian’s armor given us in Ephesians 6. In ancient times armies had many different weapons, a number of which are mentioned in the Bible. A sword, like a bayonet today, could be used at close range for both defense and offense. Likewise, God’s Word is our weapon against the enemy.

How should we use God’s Word against the enemy? God’s Word is not meant to be used as a club for the flesh. It goes without saying that we should not use our Bibles to physically hit someone. Swords are seldom used in warfare today, but fencing is still a skilled sport in the Olympics and otherwise. Using God’s Word against the enemy of our souls is not a light matter. It involves being able to use the right specific texts against our foe. God wants us to know His Word and use it with skill, but not with mere human skill. The Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible is willing and desires to aid us in how we use it.

As always, the Lord Jesus is our great example here. After His baptism He spent 40 days without food in the wilderness tempted by the Devil. Three of the temptations are recorded for us in both Matthew and Luke.

To resist Satan, our Lord, who repeatedly refers to Himself as “the Son of Man,” did not make use of His divine power as Son of God. Rather, He was here as the dependent Man, the Holy One of God, not doing His own will. According to Isaiah 50:4, He was guided by God the Father’s direction morning by morning in every word and deed. He countered each temptation by quoting a verse of Scripture refuting that temptation. He was thoroughly acquainted with even what we might think of as obscure Scripture passages. “It is written” was how He warded off every thrust of the enemy.

As we study the Acts and Epistles we find the apostles often quoting from the Old Testament in their messages and writings. Those who know Greek tell us that some of these quotations are from the Septuagint, a translation into Greek of the Old Testament that had been made more than 200 years earlier. Other quotations are very literal translations from the Hebrew, and some are very free renderings of or allusions to the passage referred to in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles in all that they said or wrote. We appreciate too that the Holy Spirit led the New Testament writers, thereby providing us with an absolutely accurate record of the apostles’ teaching.

We also know, but often do not bear in mind, that in scriptural times every copy of any portion of God’s Word was written by hand. Scrolls were bulky and costly, and very few people would have possessed their own copies of such books. Printing was not invented until the mid-1400’s. We are enormously blessed to have in our language personal copies of the Bible that we can read and carry with us wherever we go! We can even store the entire Bible on a cell phone.

In the days of the Lord and His apostles many people were illiterate, a problem that even today has not been completely overcome. To be able to use the sword of the Spirit meant that a person had paid careful attention when hearing the Word read, had taken it in, digested it and, in all likelihood, memorized portions of it. Likewise we are to hide God’s Word in our hearts, the center of our beings. This is more than just having an intellectual knowledge of the Word.

Memorization is something that many of our educational systems no longer promote. We can understand this in terms of the things of this world. All sorts of information is readily available to us with a few clicks of the fingers on the internet. God’s Word, however, is not just for the mind.

Technology has made it easy to count how many times a word or phrase occurs in the Bible or in a portion of it, whether in our own language or in the original Hebrew or Greek in which God’s Word was written. But what does this mean to our heart? How do we grow in our appreciation of the preciousness of the Lord Jesus or of the privilege of being a member of the body of Christ? How do we grow in our longing to please Him and to make Him known? Such joys and desires are matters of the heart rather than merely of the mind!

One way we give assent to the value of memorization is by having our children learn verses and recite them in Sunday School. Yet we tend to be rather half-hearted in this. Often we commend a child who stumbles through or even reads a single verse that he began to learn a few minutes earlier, and which he will in all likelihood forget before the end of the day. We seldom explain the meanings of words and concepts which the child does not understand, and we most often expect the verses to be memorized in an antiquated translation to which children have difficulty relating. We would help our children and new Christians better to hide God’s Word in their hearts if they would be taught the meanings of the verses they learn. In Nehemiah’s day God’s earthly people rejoiced “because they had understood the words that were declared unto them” (Neh. 8:12), not simply because they had been at a big, unusually important meeting. Following this meeting they were interested in learning more of what God had to say to them!

Hiding God’s Word in our hearts is more than merely memorizing Scripture. God has given most of our children excellent minds. It is amazing how much they can take in and how well they can learn! God gives them credit for wanting to learn too, and He tells parents to answer their questions. One of our biggest mistakes in teaching our children the Word is to ask school age children to learn only one verse a week. Most are capable of learning longer passages, far more than we usually expect them to do. It pays to take time to answer their questions, encourage and challenge them to learn to use and become proficient in the use of the sword of the Spirit. How greatly we can help them by taking time to read God’s Word to them and with them, teaching them to understand what God says and helping them to hide these things in their hearts. We too will be helped as we help them! God’s Word is a rich mine of treasure. There is no limit to how much we can enjoy it and be benefited by seeking to understand and hide it in our hearts, making it part of our inmost being.

By Eugene P Vedder, Jr. (adapted from the “Prayer Calendar,” November 2015)


Thanks for sending bulk copies of the magazine to our book room in Tenali. We are personally blessed through the magazine while we pass copies out to other believers in Bombay. – India

Thank you so much for all the good work you have been doing in the vineyard of our Lord. Thank you for all the precious articles you have been writing to win souls for Him and strengthen those who are already in His hands. – Germany

I just want to testify that your magazines are like spiritual medication to my Christian life. Whenever I read your articles I feel like a dose of medication has been administered on me. As a result, I gain new insight into the major topic discussed, which prompts me to share the new lessons with the students in my class. I always look forward to receiving the next edition. – Nigeria

You continue to produce an excellent magazine. It is not only God centered, it is easy to understand – yet with deep, rich truths. – USA

I am so glad and blessed to receive your magazine. I translate some topics and make summaries to share with my brothers and sisters. You are a torch of the Truth in a world so filled with lies. I pray that you might be blessed and provided for in every aspect, spiritually and materially. – Cuba

QUESTION: People make wide claims of their experience in heaven when near death. Considering 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, what should we believe? “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows – how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” –2 Corinthians 12:2-4 NKJV

ANSWER: We do well not to be deceived by claims of near-death experiences made outside of the Word of God. When we read this Scripture passage in its setting we see how carefully the apostle speaks of this near-death or after-death experience. Going back to the previous chapter we find Paul defending his ministry against the attacks of “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (11:13) who were seeking to discredit him and his ministry. He does not want to boast about himself, but led by the Holy Spirit, he spoke about what he had suffered for the Lord’s sake up to that point – a list of sufferings at which we marvel.

Paul went on to say, “If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity” (v.30). He spoke first of the humiliation of having had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the wall of Damascus to escape arrest. Then he came to the subject of visions and revelations of the Lord. He spoke very carefully, referring to himself simply as “a man in Christ.” Fourteen years earlier, probably at Lystra where he had been stoned (v.25; Acts 14:8-20), he had had the marvelous experience mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12. He could not say whether he had been in the body or out of the body – God knew; but this man in Christ had been caught up to the third heaven – the abode, or dwelling place, of God. There he “heard unspeakable things said which it is not allowed to man to utter” (JND).

Unlike those who today claim to have had wonderful near-death experiences, we do not find the apostle Paul mentioning his experience until 14 years later. Contrary to such claimants, what this “man in Christ” heard he was neither able nor was he allowed to express in words. In fact, to keep him from being puffed up by his experiences, he says he was given “a thorn in the flesh” to buffet him (v.7). This was evidently a painful humbling physical ailment or weakness of some kind, the nature of which is not told us. It was from Satan, but Satan can only go as far as God permits him to go against God’s people. It may well have been one of the things others pointed to as they attacked Paul, seeking to belittle him.

Paul wrote that he had prayed three times, pleading with the Lord that it might depart from him. The Lord did not take the problem away. Instead He had told His suffering servant, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (v.9 NKJV). This the apostle found precious. As a result he said he would gladly boast in his infirmities that the power of Christ would rest upon him. He went on to say, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (v.10).

Paul’s experience when caught up to the third heaven was not a cause for boastfulness on his part. What he experienced there he was not able or allowed to speak about. Has God changed His ways or His principles since then? Should we now accept the claims of those who profess to have made beautiful near-death experiences? Are they believers? We cannot deny that God is able to give His children wonderful experiences, but for what purpose: to boast, make money, write books about heaven or surpass the apostle Paul?

In these chapters in 2 Corinthians Paul pointed out that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light and that Satan’s servants similarly try to pass as ministers of righteousness. When unsaved people make claims about their near-death experiences, these experiences are usually presented as wonderful scenes of light, beauty and serenity. God’s Word does not speak of such scenes as the future of the unsaved. These experiences doubtless come from another source altogether, from the father of lies who transforms himself into an angel of light.

We have little understanding of how great his power of deception is, but God’s Word makes plain that Satan’s power surpasses our understanding. Our Lord Jesus defeated the Devil at Calvary, but this Evil One still has power in this world. Only God can set the limits beyond which he cannot go. Let’s remember too that God forbade His earthly people Israel to have anything to do with the realm of spirits. Such things are dangerous for Christians as well.

Again, Paul did not seek to capitalize on his experience. He was humbled by it and the consequences which God saw necessary to keep him from prideful exaltation thereafter. But he also gained the precious experience of learning that God’s strength was made perfect in his weakness. God has placed this experience of the apostle Paul in His Word that we might learn from it and be kept from getting occupied with satanic deceptions – no matter how alluring they may appear to be.

Answered by Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.

The Millennium

By Brian Reynolds

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection … they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” —Revelation 20:6 NKJV

It is a curious fact that there are many Christians who adamantly oppose the thought that there will be such a thing as a millennial reign of Christ over the earth. But the Holy Scriptures are unmistakably clear as to both the certainty and the character of the future kingdom of Christ.

The word “millennium” comes from the Latin and simply means “a thousand years.” Six times in Revelation 20 we find a period of time described as “a thousand years” (vv.2-7). This age follows the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ but precedes the “new heaven” and “new earth” (21:1-4). The “thousand years” is to be understood as a literal period of time. We have no divine warrant to spiritualize it into something other than an actual age of 1,000 years.

There are various terms that the Bible uses to describe the coming millennium. The Epistle of Hebrews calls it the “world to come” (Heb. 2:5). In several passages it is simply called “the kingdom” (Acts 1:6; Lk. 19:11). The Lord said the righteous will shine forth in “the kingdom of their Father” (Mt. 13:43) and called it “the regeneration” (19:28). Peter called it “the times of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). Paul described it as “the glorious liberty”1 (Rom. 8:21) and also as “the dispensation of the fullness of the times” (Eph. 1:10). In both Testaments it is called, “the day of the LORD” (Joel 2:1; compare with 1 Th. 5:2).

The millennium will be a blessed time in which believers “shall reign” with Christ (Rev. 20:6). The promise to believers is that we are to have “power over the nations” (2:26 KJV) and we will sit with Christ on His throne (3:21). Today is training time, but then it will be reigning time!

The Millennial Kingdom Will Not Happen Until After The Second Coming Of Christ
“Because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.” —Luke 19:11 NKJV

As the Lord Jesus neared Jerusalem, His disciples were in great anticipation. They sensed something “big” was about to take place: Was the Lord Jesus about to restore the kingdom to Israel and deliver them from the yoke of Gentile rule (24:21)? They were already arguing among themselves which of them should “be greatest” in the coming kingdom (22:24)! In response the Lord told them a parable of a man going into “a far country” to receive “a kingdom” (19:12), meaning that a visible millennial kingdom on earth would not happen any time soon.

Only a few days prior to this the Lord had told the Pharisees that the kingdom of God was not going to come “with observation” (17:20). It would come, rather, in a more “invisible” form because the King would be rejected on earth and return to heaven; thus the kingdom in Matthew is called the “kingdom of the heavens” (Mt. 13:11 JND). Christ’s kingdom will appear in visible display and power, but only in the “times or seasons” that the Father has determined (Acts 1:6-7 NKJV).

Although the millennial kingdom will not come with “observation” until a future time, this does not mean that the kingdom of God is irrelevant for us today. God has delivered us from Satan’s power and “conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). We were conveyed or translated into this kingdom when we were saved! The “kingdom of the Son of His love” continues during the period that the Son sits upon the Father’s throne (Rev. 3:21). Although not yet visible in display to the world, the “kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). It now is the believer’s privilege and challenge to walk in the good of these things by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Restoration Of All Things
“Jesus Christ … whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began.” —Acts 3:20-21

Heaven has received the Lord Jesus, and He is seated at God’s right hand until the time comes when His enemies are “made His footstool” (Heb. 10:12-13). Then, at His second coming2 He will introduce the “times of refreshing” which the prophets spoke of since time began (Acts 3:19). This is where Peter called this coming age “the times of restoration of all things” (3:21). It will be a restoration, literally meaning “to set in order again,” because it will be an age of healing and renewal for the earth.

Creation itself looks forward to that day of deliverance, for it presently “groans and labors with birth pangs” (Rom. 8:22). There will be remarkable changes in the physical creation when this world experiences deliverance from much of its suffering and is brought into “the glorious liberty” (v.21).

Our passage in Acts 3 teaches that all the prophets have spoken of the coming millennial age and its effects on men, the nations and the animal kingdom. But the books of Ezekiel and Isaiah give the most detailed portrait of that glorious day. Ezekiel tells of waters issuing forth from the millennial temple (Ezek. 47:1-11). These healing waters divide into two rivers, one eastward into the Dead Sea and the other westward into the Mediterranean, and ultimately to the world’s oceans (see Zech. 14:8-9). The waters will bring healing and recovery to the fish stocks of the salty, lifeless Dead Sea as well as to the oceans of the world decimated during the Tribulation (Rev. 8:9, 16:3). Isaiah declares, “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad … and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Isa. 35:1-2). Healing, restoration and life will characterize the millennial earth. What a relief for this sad world!

Peace On The Earth
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” —Isaiah 2:4

In a park situated on the east side of the United Nations Headquarters in New York is a stone monument donated in 1959 by the former Soviet Union. Carved into the monument are the words, “Let us beat swords into plowshares.” This quotation is based on the great prophecy of Isaiah 2.

However, it will not be the United Nations or any other institution of man that will bring peace to our world. The prophecy makes it very clear that this will “come to pass in the latter days” (v.2), only after the glory and majesty of the Lord humbles “the lofty looks of man” in the “day of the Lord” (vv.10-12). The Prince of Peace will judge the nations at His coming in glory first, and then He will establish His glorious kingdom, resulting in the end of all war. Families will never again have to grieve the loss of their sons, nor will innocent civilians have to face the horrors and suffering of war in their lands.

Not only will there be a cessation of war, but the armaments of war will be changed for the production of food. The King, Jesus of Nazareth, will completely dismantle the world’s military industrial complex (see Ps. 46:9). The prophecy states that the nations will not “learn war anymore.” How much of man’s time, energy, wealth and science are spent on weapons research and production – not to mention the maintaining of armies and waging wars. The world spends US$1.6 trillion per year on military budgets. This money is more than enough to feed the world’s poor! The focus will be turned from war to agriculture in the millennium. The true Psalmist has announced that “there shall be abundance of grain in the earth” (72:16) A New Heaven And New Earth
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” —Revelation 21:1

The apostle John saw a “new heaven and a new earth” that will come at the end of the millennium. This eternal state is an entirely new creation, whereas the millennium is a renewal or restoration of the first creation. It is important to see this distinction because some deny that there is a millennial reign of Christ and confuse the prophecies that speak of it with the new heaven and new earth.

The millennium will be a time period in which righteousness “shall reign” (Isa. 32:1; Ps. 72:7). Sin and evil will still exist, but they will be greatly restrained and quickly judged (101:8). The righteous reign of Messiah will extend “from the river unto the ends of the earth” (72:8). But in the eternal state, or “the day of God,” righteousness will “dwell” because sin and evil will be entirely eradicated (2 Pet. 3:12-13). There will be no need for righteousness to “reign” because there will be no need for government as such. It will be God’s eternal Sabbath when sorrow, crying, pain and death will no longer exist (Rev. 21:3-4).

In the millennium death will occur, although it will be rare (Isa. 65:20). But at the end of the 1,000 years “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and all the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10; consider Rev. 21:1), then will come the new creation, and God shall be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).

The millennium will be for the vindication of God’s character, which has been maligned in the present evil age. But the eternal state will be for the satisfaction of His nature in which the glorified saints of all the ages will dwell with Him, and He with them (Rev. 21:3). They shall “be His people” and He “their God” forever! ENDNOTES
1. Or “the liberty of the glory” (JND).
2. First comes the rapture of the church which will be followed by seven years of “great tribulation”; then will come Christ’s appearing in glory.

Under Christ’s reign there will be a righteous government, lacking for so long in this world (Isa. 11:3-5). Creation will be set free, not groaning anymore (Rom. 8:19-22). The wolf and the lamb will dwell together (Isa. 11:6-8). The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord (v.9). Satan will be bound in the abyss (Rev. 20:1-2), unable to seduce men. Finally, the Prince of Peace will reign (Isa. 9:6). His reign will be a literal one on this earth with Israel re-gathered, fulfilling prophecy (Jer. 31:10, 32:37; Isa. 11, 24:23). These promises are not fulfilled in a spiritual way in the Church (see Acts 3:19-21; Rom. 8:19-23; 1 Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20; Phil. 2:9-11). Written after Pentecost, these passages show that this future blessing is still to come.
During His reign:
• Christ will be honored and vindicated in the scene where He was rejected (Isa. 52:14-15; Phil. 2:8-11).
• God’s plan with this earth will be fulfilled, namely that a man should have dominion over creation (Gen. 1:28). Man failed and creation was plunged into the greatest misery, but the true Son of Man will fill that place (Ps. 8:6-8).
• God will keep His promises to His people Israel to bring them back into the land from where they had been driven out and scattered, and that Messiah would reign over them there.