Our True, Glorious Freedom in Christ

“I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” So goes the classic song written by Sara Evans in 2014, and it is so appropriate for us during this COVID Christmas! Today, many people are complaining that their freedom to travel to be with family on Christmas is ruining the holiday for them. I appreciate the oft-repeated phrase, “Christmas has not been cancelled!” But are you wondering how to celebrate and then close out 2020, to finish the year without discouragement about the ranging pandemic? First, I suggest considering the freedom we have in Christ in every circumstance. Then, you might google “best nature photos of 2020,” go for a long walk or hike to appreciate God’s creation, or journal about what you’ve learned about God, yourself, and the world this year. An excellent way to study Scripture is to consider what God is teaching us about himself, the world, and ourselves in the context for the original audience. The Bible offers us freedom from our human intellectual and emotional constraints that keep us bound to the past and inferior perspectives. God also gives us a completely different view on what true freedom is and how we can have it regardless of life’s trials or entrapments. I have been writing about the fruits of the Spirit this year to expand our views of what is possible for us who have the indwelling Holy Spirit—to think and live freely in Christ. Once again, our fathers of the Faith have wise words to appreciate that “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

I recommend reading all of Galatians 5 right now since this conclusion for the year’s blog series brings us full circle to the context of Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit we have from Christ. Christ has freed us from slavery to sin, and the Spirit produces fruit for our gospel witness. This season, it is my goal to enjoy my freedom in Christ through godly living and loving,  fruitful works. In Philip Ryken’s commentary on Galatians, he writes: “…the only kind of theology that interested Paul was practical theology, so his epistle ends with ethics. Beginning with chapter 5, the apostle takes the good news of the cross and the empty tomb and applies it to daily life. The theme of these chapters is announced in the very first verse: ‘For freedom Christ has set us free’…What many Americans [and others] want these days…is not freedom of religion, but freedom from religion…Freedom from religion is not freedom at all, of course; it is another form of bondage…The best and truest freedom is the kind described by John Stott: ‘freedom from my silly little self, in order to live responsibly in love for God and others…Our former state is portrayed as a slavery, Jesus Christ as a liberator, conversion as an act of emancipation and the Christian life as a life of freedom.’”


“The obligation that is gone for the Christian is the obligation to obey the law to be saved, which is impossible to achieve. But now that we are saved wholly and freely by grace we are, if anything, more obligated to obey the law! Why? Because we have more reason to love God than we ever did before. Love arises from gospel faith and hope (vs. 5-6), and overflows into loving and serving our neighbors, rather than using them to serve ourselves. And loving our neighbor is ‘the entire law … summed up in a single command’ (v. 14). (2) Paul writes, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:13-15) Paul’s strong language is necessary since we try to justify ourselves by disparaging or condemning others’ reputations and character to appear superior or righteous. “We are born in sin, and thus we are evil by nature. We are destined to die, having been made mortal by God’s curse against Adam’s sin. Finally, we are tormented by the devil, who tempts us to sin and seeks to drag us down to the very pit of hell. True freedom, therefore, is not self-fulfillment. It is not merely political independence or social equality.  It is not the kind of liberty that leads to license, the freedom to do whatever we want or believe whatever we choose.” (3)

“True freedom means liberation from sin, death, and the devil. And by the grace of God, this is exactly the kind of liberation Christ has come to provide. First, Jesus set us free from sin, and especially from its guilt…Second, Christ has set us free from death…Third, Christ has set us free from the devil. There is nothing I have to do to win God’s acceptance. Now that God has accepted me through Jesus Christ, I am free in him. And this freedom is the key to gospel holiness. The old Princeton theologian Archibald Alexander (1772–1851) asked a question that continues to trouble thoughtful Christians today. He wanted to know why ‘Christians commonly are of so diminutive a stature and such feeble strength in their religion.’ There are many answers to this question, but here is the one that Alexander emphasized: ‘There is a defect in our belief in the freeness of divine grace.’” (4) 

“[Galatians] Verse 1 is the summary of the last two chapters of the book (and, in a sense, of the whole of the book). First, Paul tells us that we have a profound freedom in Christ. He literally says: ‘For freedom Christ freed you’. Both the noun and the verb are the word “freedom”; freedom is both the means and the end of the Christian life! Everything about the Christian gospel is freedom. Jesus’ whole mission was an operation of liberation…Yet second, he warns that this freedom we have in the gospel can be lost. It is important that Paul mentions this, because the emphatic, triumphant declaration of the first half of verse 1 might lead us to believe this gospel freedom is so great and strong that it can’t be lost…Paul says, though, that despite its divine source, our freedom is fragile and can slip from our grasp…In short, despite the fact that we already have been saved by Christ, we must be continually diligent to remember, preserve, rejoice in and live in accord with our salvation. We cannot lose our salvation, but we can lose our freedom from enslavement to fear…So this is a critical passage. Paul wants to show us that gospel freedom from fear and condemnation leads us to obey God, not to please ourselves.” (5)

“Believers…are very pertinently exhorted to stand fast, in consequence and consideration of their character; that is, they should highly prize and esteem it, as men do their civil liberty; and maintain it and defend it, at all hazards; abide by the doctrine of it without wavering, and with intrepidity; not giving up anyone part of it…and keep up the practice of it, by obeying from the heart the doctrine of it, by becoming the servants of righteousness, by frequent attendance at the throne of grace, and continual observance of the ordinances of Christ.” (6) All this we do through and because of our love for God, which the Spirit renews in us day by day, not as a set of rules or to-do checklist. Christ has freed us from slavery to sin, including the sin of self-sufficiency and independence. The Spirit produces fruit for our gospel witness continually as we enjoy our freedom in Christ through the godly living and loving, fruitful works. “The gospel does free you to live any way you want. But if you truly understand through the gospel who Jesus is and what He has done for you, then you will ask: How can I live for Him? And the answer will be—look at the will of God expressed in the law. The gospel frees us from the law, for the law. It does away with our old, selfishly motivated and unloving law-obedience. And it motivates us to obey the law out of love.” (7)

What is your perspective this Christmas? Are you thankful for the freedom you have in Christ or begrudging the civil liberties you lack? We have an excellent opportunity to put the Spirit’s fruit to work right now. “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord…who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:7-14) Are you at home with Christ this Christmas?

  1. Ryken, Phillip Graham, “Galatians-Reformed Expository Commentary, Galatians 1:1-16, P & R Publishing, 2005.
  2. Keller, Tim, “Galatians For You,” Galatians 5:1-16, The Good Book Company, United Kingdom, 2013.
  3. Ryken, Ibid.
  4. Ryken, Ibid.
  5. Keller, Ibid. 
  6. Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible,” Galatians 5:1, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/galatians -5.html
  7. Keller, Ibid.

2021 Note: My topic for devotions will be “Repentance,” starting with the next one on January 1, 2021. I hope you’ll be as passionate as I am to understand biblical repentance and exercise it in a world desperately needing this gift from Christ for salvation and sanctification. 

Related Scripture: Psalm 51:10-11; John 8:31-32; Acts 15:10-11; Romans 8:5; Galatians 2:4-6; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Philippians 1:27; 4:1.

December 24, 2020

Biblical Self-Control For a COVID Christmas

We are in the height of the Christmas season and COVID is raging. Christmas music is playing everywhere, lights are up, and packages are arriving. But people are tired of all the restrictions, which are increasing even as vaccinations are underway. This is the perfect time to meditate on godly self-control, while masks and self-isolation are strongly encouraged, and gathering is unwise. People who ignore this advice, leaving themselves vulnerable to the COVID virus, which may be OK with them, but they are also potentially causing others to become sick by association. In Proverbs 25:28, Solomon profoundly says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” His wise saying starts with a single man lacking self-control but then compares him to an entire city that becomes vulnerable. Such is the case with COVID. “Self-control relates to the passions (such as anger or love), the appetites (for food, sex, and the will (as illustrated by impulsive decisions). The lack of self-control is a mark of a fool. He is like a city left without walls, that is, with no means of defense against enemies.” (1) COVID is an enemy today. Our attitudes, beliefs, values, priorities, morals, and convictions are on display as we react to the virus’s danger, spread, and vaccination. Our self-control is vital for wise decisions rather than fearful or compulsive behavior or adamant disregard for others’ well-being. 

The Bible is the authority for believers; we want to be self-controlled in a world where personal freedom and liberty are highly valued. Today’s passage is 2 Peter 1:3-8 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are self-controlled because of our faith, primarily, but also as a result of Christ’s virtue granted for believers, and our knowledge of God and his commands. Through our self-control, we are steadfast in the exercise of our faith, godly affection, and loving conduct toward others. “Now the Gospel, and the precious promises, being graciously bestowed and powerfully applied, have an influence on purity of heart and conversation, and teach men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly; such are the powerful effects of Gospel promises, under divine influence, as to make men inwardly partakers of the divine nature, and outwardly to abstain from and avoid the prevailing corruptions and vices of the times.” (2) God gives us steadfast godliness, virtue, self-control, and love for others through our knowledge of Christ. We are to exercise our faith in and knowledge of Christ with pragmatic virtue, resolute godliness, and affection for others. 

We are no longer slaves to “the corrupt manners of the world, or those corruptions and vices which, are prevalent in the world, and under the power and dominion of which the world lies.” (3) But, we struggle to remember that our identity lies in Christ, and only through his power can we somewhat successfully live as new creatures in him. All believers struggle with sin, even our great Fathers of the Faith. Paul writes, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:14-25)

John Gill addresses the conflict in his commentaries son Proverbs 25 and 2 Peter 1: “There is a knowledge of Christ which is barren and fruitless…He that hath no rule over his own spirit…His affections and passions, puts no restraint, unto them, as the word signifies; no guard against them, no fence about them, to curb his curiosity, to check his pride and vanity, to restrain his wrath and anger and revenge, and keep within due bounds his ambition and itch of vainglory…but there is a knowledge of him that is spiritual and experimental, by which a soul not only approves of Christ, but places its trust and confidence in him, and appropriates him to himself, and practically observes his commands and ordinances in the faith of him; and in love to him he performs the above duties, and exercises the above graces…he is not like the barren fig tree, or the earth that bears briers and thorns, and is nigh to cursing and burning, but like a tree planted by a river of water, and is green, flourishing, and fruitful.” (4) Our relationships with Christ yield steadfast godliness, virtue, self-control, and love for others, in opposition to our ungodly tendencies. As we continue to exercise our faith in Christ with pragmatic virtue, committed godliness, and loving affection for others, our knowledge of him also increases.

Commenting on Romans 7, James Boice writes, “What I want to commend to you as we face the fact of the war within us is what J. I. Packer calls ‘spiritual realism.’ He talks about it toward the end of his study of the various Christian views of holiness, ‘Keep in Step with the Spirit.’ As Packer defines it, ‘Realism has to do with our willingness or lack of willingness to face unpalatable truths about ourselves and to start making necessary changes.’ In light of Romans 7:14–24, I want to suggest four statements with which this spiritual realism should start.

  1. “When God called us to be Christian people, he called us to lifetime struggles against sin.
  2. Although we are called to a lifetime struggle against sin, we are nevertheless never going to achieve victory by ourselves.
  3. Even when we triumph over sin by the power of the Holy Spirit, which should be often, we are still unprofitable servants.
  4. And yet, we are to go on fighting and struggling against sin, and we are to do so with the tools made available to us, chiefly prayer, Bible study, Christian fellowship, service to others, and the sacraments.”

“We are never to quit in this great battle against sin. We are to fight it with every ounce of energy in our bodies and with our final breath. Only then, when we have finished the race, having kept the course, may we rest from warfare.” (5) According to Scripture, self-control is not a single act of resisting temptation, but an aspect of our sanctified life in Christ, as we oppose what opposes God, love what he loves, and do what pleases him. How? “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:10-13) How will you remember this Christmas—as one of restrictions or one when you and others trusted in the Lord with self-control?

Related Passages: Psalm 1; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 4:8; Titus 3:14; James 1:3; Hebrews 13:1; 2 Peter 2:18-22

  1. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Proverbs 25:28, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
  2. Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible,” 2 Peter 1:4, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2peter-1.html
  3. Gill, Ibid.
  4. Gill, Ibid.
  5. Gill, Ibid, Proverbs 25:28; 2 Peter 1:8.
  6. Boice, James, Boice Expositional Commentary Series, Romans 7:14-24, Baker Books, Software version, 1998.

December 18, 2020

God’s Training For Self-Control

The pandemic is teaching us much about ourselves. Singles may be learning more about our need for quiet to function at a higher level or our need for companionship to not slip into discouragement or depression. Couples who are spending more time together are (hopefully) learning how to live together 24/7. Family members working and learning at home together are getting to know each other in entirely new ways. Parents see the fruit of their training as children either embrace virtual learning or fail miserably (most probably falling somewhere in-between.) Online learning is challenging, even for those who are technically gifted. It requires effective time-management, writing and communication skills, and greater focus than in-person classroom instruction. Parents are either setting up the environment for their children, or children are taking responsibility for making the most of their time and energy during the COVID pandemic. In the former group, obedience to parental instructions is crucial. But, older students may have already learned to be self-disciplined—to be more self-controlled about distractions, moods, and hindrances to their concentration. These challenging times and all our earthly trials provide the means to learn essential life-skills. God provides just such difficulties for our spiritual maturity and training in godliness. 

Self-control is essential to our faithfulness. Having been regenerated, given new hearts, we begin to live for and with Christ through the work of the Spirit and his gifts. We cannot separate the purity we have from Christ from the work of sanctification. We cannot become more holy until Christ has imputed his righteousness to us, making us a particular people for himself. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who 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.” (Titus 2:11-14) This passage begins and ends with a proclamation of gospel truth—Christ saves by redeeming a people for his possession (vs. 11, 14). “Paul gives the theological basis for the lifestyles he has described in vs. 1–10…One cannot truly claim to be a recipient of saving grace without also being a pupil of “training grace.” This change in lifestyle is rooted in the atonement (v. 14) and the expectation of Christ’s return (v. 13).” (1) Christ died to purify and train his particular people for godly living, longing for his return.

If taken wrongly, out of context, one might think verse 11 teaches universal salvation. However, neither Paul, other New nor Old Testament writers, nor Jesus ever proclaimed that all people would be saved. Therefore my devotions and Paul’s proclamation are primarily for those given to Christ by God, the Father. (See John 6:37, 44, 65) “Now these people, for whom Christ has given himself, and whom he has redeemed and purifies, are a “peculiar people”; for whom Christ has a peculiar love, in whom he takes a peculiar delight, and to whom he grants peculiar nearness to himself, and bestows peculiar blessings on them, and makes peculiar provisions for them, both for time and eternity; these are Christ’s own, his possession, his substance, what he has a special right to by his Father’s gift, his own purchase, and the conquest of his grace…they are his peculiar treasure, his jewels, whom, as such, he values and takes care of…And they who are redeemed and purified by Christ, through the power of his grace upon them, become a people ‘zealous of good works’… [performing] them from principles of truth and love, and with a zeal for the glory of God, and the honour of his Gospel; and with an holy emulation of one another, striving to go before, and excel each other in the performance of them.” (2) “Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon in 1883 describing a weather-beaten sailor with mahogany colored skin, who looks like an aged oak, because he has been on the seas. No one looks that way by staying on the shore. Those who have developed the biblical spiritual fruit show it in a way that others don’t. They are recognized by others who also have mature fruit, developed through the work of God in the experiences of life. It is not about being old, but being mature.” (3) Since Christ died to purify and train us, his particular people for godly living, longing for his return, should we not embrace God’s plan for our training in holiness, godliness, and good works, even self-control?

Ah, but first we need training “…to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…” (v. 12). In the previous verse, Paul brought out the Old Testament view of a people for God’s own possession (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6). Now we see how the law of God for obedience to him is directly related to gospel salvation of us, his “treasured possession.” “What I must decide is whether or not I will agree with my Lord and Master that my body will indeed be His temple. Once I agree, all the rules, regulations, and requirements of the law concerning the body are summed up for me in this revealed truth-my body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit.” (4) We cannot divorce the law of God from the gospel work of God. For self-control to become the norm, one must be happily under the mastery and control of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. “…[the] lesson of self-denial, or of the denial of sinful self, the Gospel teaches, and urges upon the most powerful motives and arguments; and when attended by the Spirit of God, does it effectually.” (5) As the Spirit trains us in godly, self-disciplined living, he gives us a desire to be progressively more intimate with our Savior, which increases our desire to be like him, letting nothing separate us from our fellowship with God. 

When we long for intimacy with Jesus, we find ourselves “…waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…” (v. 13) “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.” (Galatians 5:5) “The Greek for waiting often carries a connotation of eagerness. Eagerly expecting the return of Christ is the way grace trains Christians to renounce sin and live in a godly way (see vs. 11–12). Setting one’s mind on the truth of Christ’s return impels a person to holiness (see 1 John 3:2–3).” (6) Our training in godly living begins with our salvation and continues through our fellowship with Christ, longing for even more fellowship—I can’t seem to say this enough!. As we embrace him, our ability to be self-controlled increases exponentially. We all know that we become like those we spend time with, how others’ character influences us. It is even more so with Christ since he lives in us through his Spirit, who not only trains us but empowers us to live for him in holiness and good works. No wonder James could confidently say, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27) The apostle knew the power of communing with Christ, who works all things for good for those who are called by God and love him (Romans 8:28). 

Related Scripture: Exodus 19:5-6a; Ezekiel 37:23; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Timothy 5:22; Titus 3:4-7; James 1:27; 2 Peter 3:11-14; 1 John 2:16-17.

  1. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Titus 2:11-14, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
  2. Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible,” Titus 2:14 https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/titus-2.html
  3. Spurgeon, Charles, “What Saith the Scripture?” http://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Text.Only/pdfs/Sermons_Spurgeon_Text.pdf
  4. Chambers, Oswald, “The Temple of the Holy Spirit,” December 5 devotion, https//utmost.org/the-temple-of-the-holy-spirit/
  5. Gill, Ibid, Titus 2:12.
  6. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Ibid.

December 11, 2020

Self-Control— Supernatural Fruit of the Spirit

When I adopted my dog in June and started walking him multiple times each day, an exciting thing happened—I started losing weight, and I haven’t stopped. I went from being sedentary (with one walk a day) to being very active. I haven’t dieted; I am eating desserts every day. I haven’t had to resist anything, only do what is appropriate as an apartment dweller for my high-energy puppy. When people remark on my significant weight loss, I merely say, “It’s my dog!” I can’t take credit for practicing any self-control around food,  although most people assume that I am practicing super self-discipline, which is the way most of us think of self-control. But I’m just taking care of my dog and enjoying it. The secular definition of self-control goes something like this: “the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.” (1) But biblical self-control is the fruit of our regeneration, not something we work up on our own to fight ungodly pressures. Didn’t Jesus Christ practice the most remarkable human self-restraint and submission to God’s plan when he came to us in the form of a newborn? Didn’t he show the most incredible patience and humility when he was mocked, rejected, abused, and crucified? He is our Savior but also our perfect example to follow, to submit ourselves entirely to God’s desires, will, and plans over this season, as well as any other. Is the spiritual fruit of “self” control contradictory? No, because God aligns our hearts with his heart and mind, our desires are his, and we control our behavior based on those, putting aside our opposing desires or resistance to the Lord, as Jesus did. Jesus quietly suffered and died for our life with him, with full confidence in his Father’s plan. When we choose to emulate Christ, we will practice self-discipline as the fruit of our salvation. Our mental, emotional, and physical self-control gives us full confidence and delight in God’s plans by the Spirit’s power. It is my intention, over December, to help us redefine and embrace biblical self-control.

It is true that self-control reminds us that we do have a continual battle for our new nature to take precedence over our old sin nature. “Fundamental to the Christian view of self-control is that it is a gift. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…self-control’ (Galatians 5:22-23)… And how does the Spirit produce this fruit of self-control in us? By instructing us in the superior preciousness of grace, and enabling us to see and savor (that is, ‘trust’) all that God is for us in Jesus. ‘The grace of God has appeared… training us to renounce…worldly passions…in the present age’ (Titus 2:11–12). When we really see and believe what God is for us by grace through Jesus Christ, the power of wrong desires is broken. Therefore, the fight for self-control is a fight of faith. ‘Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called’ (1 Timothy 6:12).” (2) We will dive into the great fight for our new nature in future devotions. 

Every fruit of the Spirit is from God, which is why I always start with a meditation on God’s  character—even self-control. Jesus had human desires and was tempted in every way but did not yield to temptation. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) The fruits of the Spirit are one way that the Lord shares his communicable attributes with us. “When we speak of God’s communicable attributes, we are referring primarily to His moral attributes such as love, goodness, and kindness. In one sense, we must not forget that there is a basic incommunicability of even these attributes, for insofar as such things as the love and goodness of God are infinite, we cannot imitate them. Nevertheless, because we bear God’s image, there is a manner in which we exhibit these attributes by way of analogy. For example, the kind of love we have as creatures is not identical to the kind of love our Creator possesses. However, at the same time, our love is not wholly dissimilar, such that there is no point of contact whatsoever with the love of God. Our Creator loves truly that which is lovely. As regenerate people, we possess the capacity to do the same.” (3) It makes sense to think of God’s love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, and kindness. Self-control falls into the same category, I suppose, as faithfulness and gentleness—these are behavioral characteristics of human beings more than of our heavenly Father. We are to look to Jesus during his incarnation to see how he lived out these fruits entirely as the Son of Man. 

Jesus didn’t respond with vengeance, fear, or resistance when so many mocked, rejected, and abused him, “but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” I believe that our Lord, Jesus Christ, never had to force himself to stop doing something, but by his power as the Son of God (as well as the Son of Man), simply did what was divine. We are blessed when we choose holiness and devotion to him over our worldly ways, with our thoughts, attitudes, desires, words, and actions consecrated to God. I believe this is our antidote to the burden of personal self-control as the world defines it. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:21-23) Peter emphasizes Christ’s willingness to suffer for the sake of his people—past, present, and future—and his perfect, active obedience to God’s law and will. Because of his eager submission to his Father’s plan, Jesus was entirely committed to doing whatever would be in accord with it.

Jesus didn’t respond with vengeance, fear, or resistance when so many mocked, rejected, and abused him, “but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” “…the affirmation of the sinlessness of Christ is significant as coming from a man who lived so closely to Him for so long and observed intimately His behaviour in times of terrible stress. It is mentioned to show that His suffering was innocent, as that of Christians must be if their patient endurance of punishment is to be valuable in God’s sight or effective testimony before men. Similarly, the silence of the Sufferer is a pattern for copying.” (4) I assume that our Lord, Jesus Christ, never had to force himself to stop doing something, but by his innate power as the Son of God (as well as the Son of Man), simply did what was divine. We are blessed when we choose holiness and devotion to him over our worldly ways, with our thoughts, attitudes, desires, words, and actions consecrated to God. I believe this is our antidote to the burden of personal self-control as the world defines it. 

The Greek word “Egkrateia [means] self-control, the ability to pursue the important over the urgent, rather than to be always impulsive or uncontrolled. The slightly surprising counterfeit is a willpower which is based on pride, the need to feel in control.” (5) Matthew writes, “And the high priest stood up and said, ‘Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?’ But Jesus remained silent…when the chief priests and elders accused him, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?’ But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.” (Matthew 26:62-63; 27:12-14; Mark 14:60-61; 15:2-5; John 19:9-11a) Rather than demonstrating self-control as we normally view it, Jesus’s behavior was consistent with his character and calling. When the Spirit indwells us, we live in unity with God, consistent with his attributes and our calling as new creatures in Christ. Knowing this takes the pressure off to live legalistically, by following arbitrary rules, even during a pandemic. Why do we wear masks and isolate ourselves? Is it because we are told to or because we love our neighbors so much that we want to protect them from unnecessary suffering? Did not God put people in charge who are currently begging us to wear them? Do we accept the responsibility to behave differently than those who are yet unregenerate and pray for them? Will you do so because you are being self-controlled for the world, or because you trust our sovereign Father? (7) “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Related Scripture: Matthew 11:29-30; Hebrews 4:16; 12:3-15.

  1. Oxford languages on www.google.com
  2. Piper, John, “The Fierce Fruit of Self-Control,” https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-fierce-fruit-of-self-control
  3. “God’s Communicable Attributes,” Ligonier, https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/gods-communicable-attributes/
  4. Zondervan on 1 Peter 2:21-23
  5. Ryken, Phillip Graham, “Galatians-Reformed Expository Commentary,” 1 Peter 5:16-25 “Gospel Character,” P & R Publishing, 2005.
  6. Yes, as a 70-year-old woman who is high risk for respiratory infections I am taking a stand on this issue. Thank you for thinking of others even more vulnerable than me when you put on your mask. 

December 4, 2020

Guarded for Gentleness and Thanksgiving

Do you like fences? Do you have one around your house to keep your young children inside the yard, keep the dog confined, or the deer out? Some people like fences for privacy and some for security. Fences protect, restrict, reduce unwanted noises, warn against intrusion, define boundaries, and may provide a retreat. I appreciate barriers because I have found that there is usually a good reason for them, even if it’s just to keep me from intruding on some else’s space. I especially love the fences around dog parks because they allow my pooch to run and play off-leash while I can relax and enjoy myself. Spiritually, the Holy Spirit protects me from my sinful inclinations, as if standing guard at the threshold of my mind and my heart, helping me to enjoy life. “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Timothy 1:12) In the same chapter of, two verses later, Paul instructs Timothy, and us to guard ourselves. “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” (1:14) The process of sanctification, by which the fruits of the Spirit come to maturity in us, is one of cooperation with God’s Spirit. It is… “confidence in God that prevents Paul from being ashamed. His boldness arises not from self-confidence but from God-confidence.” (1) We are to define, protect, and secure our faith in Jesus Christ, our free inheritance, with confidence in the Lord. We guard against intruders and distractions from the world, Satan, and our old sin nature. By protecting our faith, we can maintain our peacefulness, humility, and gentleness. 

In the letter to the Philippians, Paul instructs his fellow believers and us to rejoice in the Lord. One aspect of spiritual joy is the peace we share with God and others. Let this passage encourage us as we consider the fruit of gentleness one more time: “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7) The peace of God is the cause of our reasonableness, translated gentleness, or moderation in some Bibles. We can be calm rather than anxious, able to take all our cares to God who guards us before we act. Yet, Paul reminds us that we have even greater protection in three ways, through our practice of reasonableness, calmness, and prayer. These three verses also contain three imperatives for believers: let your reasonableness be known; do not be anxious; and make your requests known to God (in prayer, supplication, thanksgiving). Finally, he gives three descriptions of the Spirit’s work in us: gentleness, relief from anxiety, and accord with him. The Lord is close, peaceful, and watchful. God’s loving and instructive imminence safeguards our gentleness, calmness, and desire to pray with thanksgiving. Won’t we put God’s peace to work through our gentleness, calm, and thankful prayers?

Although the first imperative sounds passive, we have to work at doing it in a high-strung, social media-driven culture. “Let your reasonableness [forbearance, moderation, gentleness] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand…” (v. 5) It is good news that God gives us reasonableness through the Spirit. Our challenge is to demonstrate it in our relationships. John Gill’s list of possibilities for this “modesty” include: “giving up strict and proper right…and not rigidly insisting on it; putting up with affronts and injuries, and bearing them with patience; and interpreting things in the best sense, and putting the best constructions on words and actions they will bear…exercised towards ‘all men’; not only to believers, the members of the church, by ruling with gentleness, by bearing the infirmities of the weak, and by forgiving offences.” (2) As with all our verbal and non-verbal witnessing, the effect sought is the glory of God, maturity in Christ, and salvation of the elect. “Reasonableness is crucial for maintaining community; it is the disposition that seeks what is best for everyone and not just for oneself. The Lord is at hand emphasizes the fact that Jesus will surely return as judge and will hold people responsible for their deeds (James 5:9).” (3)

I’m sure none of us object to Paul’s teaching. However, putting it into practice is another matter. But he offers the help we need in the next verse: “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (v. 6) “Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:25–34) that believers are not to be anxious but are to entrust themselves into the hands of their loving heavenly Father, whose peace will guard them in Christ Jesus.” (4) As we pray, we enter communion with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, who unite our wills with God’s. “[And] we must join thanksgivings with prayers and supplications; not only seek supplies of good, but own the mercies we have received. God needs not to be told our wants or desires; he knows them better than we do; but he will have us show that we value the mercy, and feel our dependence on him.” (5) Through our prayers, God’s peace can inhabit us so that gentleness and calmness reign where fear, doubts, fretting, worry, or anxiety were overtaking our minds and hearts. On our American Thanksgiving Holiday today, what could be more appropriate than focusing on thankfulness and prayers of thanksgiving to God.

Putting God’s peace to work through our thankful prayers for ourselves and in our intercession as a priority will yield remarkable gentleness and reasonableness. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (v. 7) “The peace of God, the comfortable sense of being reconciled to God, and having a part in his favor, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm with inward satisfaction.” (6) Our holiness is crucial to our witness, so we must not detach verse 7 from verse 5, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” As a result of our spiritual maturity, the fruit we bear should attract others who want to know more about us, and hopefully, our faith. The Lord did not redeem us for our comfort and relaxation. He saved us for his glory, best demonstrated in our witness for Christ.

If you’re like me, witnessing is one skill that takes constant improvement. Bridging the interests of others to that of Christ is a skill Jesus demonstrated frequently. He spoke of God’s presence when Nicodemus asked him how he knew God and instructed the Samaritan woman about living water at the well. (7) In this sense, Jesus “fenced” the conversations to focus on his divine nature gently before confronting their erroneous understanding of true religion. We need to learn how to do this since we tend to shrink, avoiding what might become uncomfortable. “When we are equipped by God’s word for every good work, the other people in our life get to enjoy the fruit…When the truth of the gospel is firmly entrenched in our minds, we’ll look for opportunities to share Christ with them.” (8) The more we practice calmly, trusting that God has given us the reasonableness and calmness that we need, the easier it will become. Do I have a teachable spirit, to become more gentle with unbelievers about Christ? Am I repentant of my fear and impatience that leads to harshness? Do I trust the Spirit to work in me to be considerate, generous, and fair in my dealings with others, or am I rigid, exacting, and demanding? Lord, help us to remember that your peace safeguards our gentleness, calmness, and thanksgiving. “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick?…the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:13-16) May there be many prayers of thanksgiving today!

Related Scripture: Psalm 145:18; Proverbs 16:3; Isaiah 26:3-4; Matthew 6:25; John 14:27; Colossians 3:15;James 5:8-9.

  1. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, 1 Timothy 1:12, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
  2. Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible,” Philippians 4:5, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/philippians-4.html
  3. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Philippians 4:5, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
  4. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Philippians 4:6-7, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
  5. Henry, Matthew, “Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible, Philippians 4:2-9, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/philippians-4.html
  6. Matthew Henry, Ibid.
  7. Arthur, Kay, “The Gospel of John, Part 1, Lesson 7,” Precepts Video Series, https://shop.precept.org/products/john-part-1-dvd-lectures-kay.
  8. Marshall, Glenna, “Everyday Faithfulness,” page 43, Crossway (TGC), 2020.

November 27, 2020

Unhurried, Thoughtful Gentleness

Speed—coveted by the young and ambitious, rejected by the elderly and meditative. One of the most significant challenges of aging is the inability to hurry, rush, or multitask—the body can’t do it. I used to practice a lot of multitasking at work and home; these days, I do one or two things at a time and love the simplicity. Our world has gone from a speedy race for information and activity to a grinding halt due to COVID. The faster you were going, the more dramatic the change. God interrupted life as we know it, and what Christian doubts that the Lord has a grand purpose for this plague-like slow-down, though we can’t discern it? “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’” (Romans 11:33-34) Rather than trying to decipher the Lord’s desires for the world, our work is to slow down. It’s what he has forced us to do. (“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” Psalms 23:2). As we seek God’s wisdom for using these slower, quieter days, the Spirit gives counsels us with the Word of God. What an excellent time to think about biblical gentleness and sharing the gospel lovingly and humbly, letting the Spirit work in our relationships. 

Most of us don’t take the time to prepare ourselves spiritually as we should, despite the Bible’s frequent admonitions to do so. Today we will consider 1 Peter 3:15-16. “…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” Whenever God brings a crisis, we can either wait for it to be over, praying for minimal discomfort, or use the time to glorify God in it. It takes time and quietness to be prepared to share about Christ gently and with respect in a culture of adamant opinion-sharing, criticism, fear, illness, and death. “It is a bitter season. And God ordained it. God governs it. He will end it. No part of it is outside his sway. Life and death are in his hand…In the presence of God, no one has a right to life. Every breath we take is a gift of grace. Every heartbeat, undeserved. Life and death are finally in the hands of God…” (1) This counter-cultural viewpoint on life and God’s mercy should lead us to want to defend our faith gently. 

1 Peter 3:15 is weighty. Peter tells us to honor Christ in our hearts as the holy Lord, to be prepared to defend our faith gently and respectfully—with whoever asks. But we cannot do this perfunctorily; it is a work of the Spirit in our hearts and minds. “Sinners must not grasp the means of grace as if conversion could be produced mechanically by human power. Nor should the preacher think that he can induce conversion…the word of law and gospel does not have this power in itself, nor from the preacher, but only from the “glorious sovereignty” of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is sovereign over the word, the soul, and the times of conviction and conversion.” (2) Honoring Christ the Lord as holy in our hearts takes time and deep fellowship with him, receiving his truth with our limitations to expand our view of Christ. It also takes living a life that evidences our love and devotion to Him. We must be fully convinced that Christ’s Lordship is unquestionable to attract others who are overcome with distress about the COVID pandemic’s increasing reach, and respond gently and respectfully, “That person is in a sad condition on whom sin and suffering meet: sin makes suffering extreme, comfortless, and destructive.” (3) If we want others to know Christ, the source of our hope, we must prepare ourselves to gently offer the comfort only God can give through his grace and mercy—a balm to the soul. 

We’re instructed to have “a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:16) Have you ever been maligned? Has anyone ever slandered or insulted you, attacking your reputation? The more open and proactive we are about our faith in Jesus Christ, the more likely we will be reviled and mocked. But having a good conscience allows us to stay calm, steady, and objective, rather than reacting emotionally and vindictively. “Two features of the method of self-defense are stressed. It must be done with gentleness and respect. Peter seems particularly anxious to restrain them from the sharp retort. Further, their answer is to be backed by a good conscience, so that the accusers rather than the accused may be put to shame.” (4) Paul gave similar advice to Timothy. “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” (2 Timothy 2:24) Some years ago, after being blamed for many problems in a particular program over which I had no control as the administrator, I adopted a new practice of responding with the gospel, instead of trying to defend myself or listening to professing Christians ranting with nonsensical criticisms. I started telling my critic that I was much worse than they could know; the evil and sin in my heart and mind goes deep, which is why I need Christ and his forgiveness. I recommend this, reminding others why we need a Savior. Isn’t that what God wants, for us to run to the cross in all our trials? Proclaiming the gospel gently, with myself in view, shows respect for the other person’s stated beliefs. At the very least, he or she may walk away confused by the unemotional tone and truth of our reply, considering it further.

During these rocky, anxious days of COVID, we need Christ’s steadiness, peace, reasonableness, and love. If we are to be prepared to defend our faith gently in a culture of mockery, then we must cooperate with God’s sanctification. (5) In his book, “Coronavirus and Christ,” John Piper gives us six things God is definitely doing through the pandemic. But first, he states, “God is not silent about what he is doing in this world. He has given us the Scriptures.” So what is God doing that will prepare us to respond gently to people? “God is giving the world…a physical picture of the moral horror and spiritual ugliness of God-belittling sin…Some people will be infected with the coronavirus as a specific judgment from God because of their sinful attitudes and actions…The coronavirus is a God-given wake-up call to be ready for the second coming of Christ…The coronavirus is God’s thunderclap call for all of us to repent and realign our lives with the infinite worth of Christ…The coronavirus is God’s call to his people to overcome self-pity and fear, and with courageous joy, to do the good works of love that glorify God…[Finally] God is loosening the roots of settled Christians, all over the world, to make them free for something new and radical and to send them with the gospel of Christ to the unreached peoples of the world.” (6) Thanks to my friend for recommending this book and for Piper, who dedicated his pandemic time to help us prepare to answer our hope in Christ. We’ll look back and probably think of many ways we could have used our time more productively and more worshipfully for the cause of Christ during the COVID outbreak. But God’s Word says to us as God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) May God’s gentleness be ours to give to others.

Related Scripture: Romans 12:18-21; 2 Corinthians 10:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8; Titus 3:1-2; 1 Peter 2:19-23; 3:9.

  1. Piper, John, “Coronavirus and Christ,” Crossway, Kindle Edition, 2020.
  2. “A Puritan Theology, Chapter 28—Puritan Preparatory Grace,” Beeke, Joel R. and Jones, Mark, Reformation Heritage Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2012.
  3. Henry, Matthew, “Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible,” 1 Peter 3:14-22, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/1-peter-3.html.
  4. Zondervan Bible Commentary, F. F. Bruce, General Editor, 1 Peter 3:15-16, One-Volume Illustrated Digital Edition.
  5. Piper, John, Ibid.
  6. Piper, Ibid. (There is a separate chapter for each one of these six reasons.)

November 20, 2020

The Truth About Gentleness

My 2020 devotions are about understanding, embracing, and applying the fruits of the Spirit to our daily lives. But our world has a very different view of living out what you believe. An internet search for applying what we believe in our daily lives generated a website that states: “There’s something magical that happens when you live in alignment with the Truth. Most of us live for ourselves—lying to ourselves and/or others in order to satisfy our immediate needs and assuage our petty fears. But when you dedicate yourself to the Truth, you synchronize yourself with something more expansive—a force that is greater than yourself, existed before you were born, and will continue after you pass away.” (1) Here is the insidious integration of New Age philosophy in modern thinking. New Age philosophy should alarm us; it is just another of Satan’s tools to keep people opposed to God and his Word. Is this useful in a time of such heated, verbal, and judgmental controversy? We instead are to look to the Bible for the real Truth about all things. And I think we have much to learn about true gentleness. Knowing that the Holy Spirit’s gentleness is powerful in our relationships when we humble ourselves will lead us to embrace humility through his power. We do not need to work at “unleashing our full potential,” since we have none of our own but all of God’s grace in Christ applied to our hearts through the Spirit.

Jesus Christ is the prime example of humility and gentleness yielding greatness. His willingness to submit to his incarnation and crucifixion resulted in the world’s most powerful event in all history for all time. Many others have imitated his meekness in the power of the Spirit. Today we will consider how David expressed gentleness toward Saul, living out the truth that Paul expounds in the New Testament. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) Hundreds of years before that, David wrote, “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great.” (2 Samuel 22:32-35; Psalm 18:31-35)

After David had been anointed by Samuel as the next king of Israel, while Saul was still king, Saul became jealous of David and hunted him down. Saul’s murderous behavior was a clear violation of God’s commandments and will. But David consistently refused to kill Saul when given the opportunity. “‘ The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go.’ So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.” (1 Samuel 26:11-12) God’s gentleness had made David merciful. Gentleness from the Spirit makes us able to do more than resist temptations; we will do great acts of mercy and righteousness if we humble ourselves. 

When we read Paul’s admonition in Galatians 6:1, we mistakenly assume that it only refers to a direct confrontation with anyone who is sinning habitually. Let’s reconsider how much more Galatians 6:1 teaches as we apply the “spirit of gentleness” after our self-examination. “The absence of self-centeredness, of pre-occupation with my own dignity and standing, is to be balanced by that true concern which places myself in the position of another, and acts to that other as I would then wish others to act towards myself. Yet this forgetfulness of self, this unselfconscious thought for others, can be expected only of one who has learned to live with himself; to accept his own abilities and calling, and the niche in which his own inherent gifts must place him. Only in this way can a man attain the quiet assurance and confidence of a responsibility taken and conscientiously fulfilled.” (2) We have a tender-hearted guide who knows how to transform us into gentler people.

Tenderness is a demonstration of love. Biblical gentleness is an outflow of God’s love, resulting in submission to him and appropriate submission to others—a balance possible only with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are usually gentle with people and valuable possessions: a newborn baby, someone who is very ill, or a frail, older person or a little animal, even an antique vase or a treasured old photograph. Not only do we not want to cause harm, but we want to preserve or add value. Gospel kind-heartedness like David’s is possible with people who oppose us and those we might consider enemies of Christ. Jesus modeled this behavior with the Jewish and Roman leaders; and with Judas, treating him like a brother, with love and respect despite his betrayal. During Jesus’s ministry, some came to faith, leaving their habitually sinful rebellious ways behind them. Others were confronted to the point of wanting to kill Jesus, as Saul wanted to kill David because righteous conduct exposed (confronted) their sinfulness. 

There are times when we do need to be more direct. But, “If someone is caught in a sin,” conceited superiority would drive us to look down on them, be glad we are not like them, and feel righteous in ourselves. Pointing out their sin would merely be to underline how good we look by comparison. Conceited inferiority would cause us either to envy the life they are leading, however sinful; or to crave their approval so much that we won’t risk pointing out their failure to live in line with the gospel. What will a ‘brother’, who knows they are a son of God, do? Paul says we will not ignore a situation when we see someone “caught” in a sin. This does not mean that we are to confront anyone we see sinning in any way. ‘Love covers over a multitude of sins’ (1 Peter 4:8)—we are not to be quick to criticize and tell people about their faults (see also 1 Corinthians 13:5, 7). But we must not overlook someone’ caught’—overtaken—by a sin…Christians need to be neither quick to criticize nor afraid to confront…This responsibility belongs to anyone who is trying to live a Christian life at all. What will our aim be? To ‘restore him gently.'” The Greek translated ‘restore’ here is katartizdo. This was the term used for setting a dislocated bone back into place. A dislocated bone is extremely painful, because it is not in its designed, natural relationship to the other parts of the body. To put a bone back in place will inevitably inflict pain, but it is a healing pain.” (3) The Holy Spirit is our great physician whose gentleness is powerful. 

“For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless…You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great.” (2 Samuel 22:32-35; Psalm 18:31-35) David was a little shepherd boy whom God raised to the throne of Israel. His humility showed up many times while he struggled with Saul and was on the throne. The psalms prove that he was consciously aware of God’s providential goodness, which here he calls gentleness that made him “great.” Later in his life, David’s failings do not diminish God’s righteousness, compassion, or patience, just as our weaknesses and failings do not decrease the Lord’s gentleness with us. Like David, when we embrace the humility of our origins and God’s goodness, we are more able to express the Spirit’s gentleness in our relationships through his power. We might ask ourselves, Am I becoming increasingly compassionate and kind, or crusty and inflexible as I mature in Christ? Am I becoming more or less patient with those who seem to oppose God or me? The psalms have much to offer us in the way of instruction, but Jesus’s tenderness and love is the greatest source of gentleness for all time. Isaiah expressed it well. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Related Scripture: Psalm 141:5; Habakkuk 3:17-19; Romans 15:1-3; 1 Corinthians 4:21; 2 Corinthians 2:5-8; Galatians 5:25-26; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; James 5:19-20

  1. ”The Tools,” An excerpt from “Coming Alive,” https://www.thetoolsbook.com/blog/3-principles-for-living-the-truth
  2. Zondervan Bible Commentary, F. F. Bruce General Editor, Galatians 5:26-6:10, One-Volume Illustrated Digital Edition.
  3. Keller, Timothy, “Galatians For You, Helping our Brothers,” Galatians 6:1, ebook Edition, The Good Book Company, 2013.

November 13, 2020

Christ’s Gentleness

“On August 18, 1988, George H. W. Bush received his party’s nomination for president of the United States. In his acceptance speech, he calls for a ‘kinder, gentler nation.’” Today, some people may wonder if the American public and the electoral college are voting between a hot-headed president who enjoys controversy and a quieter, more diplomatic president. Of course, there are many political, social, and economic issues and platforms, but the candidates personalities are in view. On a more personal level, I find that the more unexpected things pop up in my day or complex issues that surface, the less gentle and peaceful I am, even if they are small or meant by God to redirect my attention. Fortunately, our King of kings who reigns above all presidents and rulers is both gentle and victorious, above all questioning, doubts, and criticism. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the Lion of Judah, and the Lamb of God. He is the Messiah who gently and victoriously ministers to the world through the gospel. As we begin to consider the spiritual fruit of gentleness from Galatians 5:23, the Lord’s humility comes first, since he is the source and picture of gentleness that we receive through the Spirit, for all circumstances in this life. Matthew recognized Jesus as the promised humble servant described by Isaiah after a controversial healing on the Sabbath. “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.” (Isaiah 42:1-4; Matthew 12:18-21)

“The Jews of Christ’s day wanted a Messiah who would drive out the Romans and establish a revived Jewish state. The disciples themselves had such thoughts even after the resurrection (see Acts 1:6). Jesus went about his work quietly, teaching and at last dying for his people. ‘What is pictured is a ministry so gentle and compassionate that the weak are not trampled on and crushed till justice, the full righteousness of God, triumphs,’ as it certainly will in the end.” (1) “[Isaiah 42] begins with a prophecy concerning the Messiah, under the character of the servant of the Lord, and his elect, whom he supported, and was well pleased with; whose work is pointed at, and for which he was well qualified with the Spirit without measure, and is described by his humility and meekness, by his tenderness to weak and ignorant persons, and by his courage and resolution…[having the Holy Spirit] not on him as a divine Person, as such he needed him not; but as man, with which he was filled without measure at his incarnation, and which rested upon him, and qualified him for his work and office, as Prophet, Priest, and King.” (2) Isaiah, through the Spirit, states that Jesus brings justice to victory on the earth to all people three times in these four verses. He “…will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. (v. 1); “…brings justice to victory…” (v. 3); and will establish “…justice in the earth; and the coastlands [that] wait for his law.” (v. 4)Christ does this is through His humility and submission to crucifixion.The Savior gently and victoriously ministers to the world through the gospel. He calls us to submit to the gospel gently in response to others’ felt and real needs—whether for justice, comfort, spiritual or physical needs. 

Also significant is what the Messiah won’t do through the work of the Spirit. “He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench…” (vs. 2-3). There are five significant ways that Christ humbled himself as he ministered on earth. “He shall not cry…he shall bring no complaints, or enter an action against any, but rather suffer wrong, as he advises his followers. [Matthew 5:41 “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”]…he sometimes preached in the street, as in many other public places, but not in a clamorous contentious way; not in an opprobrious and menacing manner; nor in a way of ostentation, boasting of himself, his doctrines, and miracles, but behaved with great humility and meekness; his kingdom was without pomp and noise.” (3) Concerning those who are weak in faith, Matthew Henry comments, “He is tender of those oppressed with doubts and fears, as a bruised reed; those who are as smoking flax, as the wick of a lamp newly lighted, which is ready to go out again. He will not despise them, nor lay upon them more work or more suffering than they can bear…Let us with cheerful confidence commit our souls to so kind and faithful a Friend. Far from breaking, he will strengthen the bruised reed; far from quenching the smoking flax, or wick nearly out, he will rather blow it up into a flame. Let us lay aside contentious and angry debates; let us receive one another as Christ receives us. And while encouraged by the gracious kindness of our Lord, we should pray that his Spirit may rest upon us, and make us able to copy his example.” (4) This is the gentleness that we all need and is readily available through the Spirit’s application of God’s Word in our hearts, minds, and lives, for ourselves and others with whom we engage. 

Christ supplies the justice we long for, unavailable from anyone on earth, and does so with great loving-kindness and gentleness. He will continue to work quietly and with determination beyond our comprehension. “He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.” (Isaiah 42:1-4) We rarely speak of determination and gentleness in the same sentence or regarding the same person. Resolve calls up pictures of assertiveness, skillful speech, and charisma. Gentleness probably makes us think of an easy-going, uncontroversial person who avoids conflict. However, God makes it clear in this passage that these characteristics are not in opposition but complement each other. Most importantly, “The servant is unweakened by the demands of his mission.” (5) I confess that sometimes I think I have to be a different kind of person to accomplish some things in my ministry—more proactive, more challenging, or more assertive—even when I am submitting to the Lord for his direction. But, this may be in direct opposition to Jesus’s call to the gospel in Matthew 11:28-30, where he describes himself and his person and gospel as restful, gentle, humble in heart, easy, and light. What will it take to gently submit to Christ’s gospel in response to others’ felt and real needs? Even the need for political stability or change?

Paul writes in Galatians, “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26) God’s Word is always relevant and is needed during this tumultuous time in America and all over the world. Coupled with Jesus’s own words, we are assured that the gospel’s quiet, gentle, victorious work in us will produce the fruit of the Spirit. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44) “The product of a true, growing, gospel-centered nature is often gentleness.” (6)

Related Passages: Isaiah 49:8–10; 50:4–9; 52:13–53:12; 61:1; Matthew 5:41; 11:28-30

  1. Boice, James, Boice Expositional Commentary Series, Matthew 12:1-22, Baker Books, Software version, 1998.
  2. Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible,” Isaiah 42:1-4,  https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-42.html
  3. Gill, Ibid.
  4. Henry, Matthew “Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible,” Isaiah 42:1-4, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/isaiah-42.html
  5. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Isaiah 42:1-4, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
  6. Keller, Timothy, Tweet on 11/4/20–@timkellernyc 

November 6, 2020   

God’s Tests for More Faithfulness

How has the Covid pandemic tested you? Are you someone who loves being at home and has gotten so comfortable there that you have stopped visiting with your friends, even on your phone? Or, has staying home caused you anxiety and stress, interrupting your sleep and affecting your relationships? One way or the other, we have all been tested for far longer than we imagined. But some of us have been weathered longer periods in different ways, with chronic pain, relationship conflicts, work issues, or economic difficulties, to name a few problems. For us, an eight-month pandemic may add to our challenges or stimulate us to invoke familiar coping mechanisms. But, tests of faithfulness in Christ are different, in that the only coping strategy is to lean on him, trusting his plans and the Spirit’s guidance. For this last devotion on the spiritual fruit of faithfulness, I will concentrate on the way God tests our faithfulness to strengthen it, bring others to faith, and glorify himself. May we willingly submit to God’s trials to strengthen our faith in Christ, for his glory and the benefit of others.

The passage today is very familiar to Christians and many who have only skimmed the Bible. However, the story of Jesus’s raising of Lazarus can be confusing for those who do not know the heart of God in Jesus Christ. After receiving the message that Lazarus was seriously ill from women that he loved dearly, Jesus chose to remain in Bethany for two days. Let’s focus on the three elements in the account: when Jesus received a message but chose to wait, when he spoke to his disciples about waiting, and when he told Martha to move the stone from Lazarus’s tomb. Jesus received a message that Lazarus was very ill. “But when Jesus heard it he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was… Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him…Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb…Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’” (John 11:4-6, 14-15, 38-40) “[Jesus] was glad because he knew that he would raise Lazarus. He was glad because he knew that the resurrection would result in a strengthening of the faith of many…The faith of the disciples was to be strengthened…The faith of Martha and Mary was to be strengthened…Indeed, many who at that time did not even have faith were to come to it as a result of this dramatic resurrection.” (1)

“…when Jesus…said, ‘This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it…’” we would expect him to find Lazarus recovering. But instead, Lazarus was dead and buried in his tomb by the time Jesus met Mary and Martha. However, we who know the end of the story know that Lazarus was dead for only a short period. By his supernatural physical resurrection, Jesus was most certainly glorified. (2) Then he made this bold statement to his disciples, apparently after the two-day wait, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” And it seems that he may have waited to tell them this after the two-day wait (see v. 14). What a test of faith this must have been for his disciples! They questioned him and seemed to believe that Lazarus was in a coma of some type. (See vs. 12-13.) Wouldn’t we think the same if our mentor said the man wouldn’t die and then said he did die? (And how did Jesus know that he died? Did he receive a message or use his omniscience?) Putting ourselves in the disciples’ place, wouldn’t we also question Jesus’s love for Lazarus, Mary, and Martha? 

James Boice brings us a biblical viewpoint on Jesus’s delay. “Christ’s delays are the delays of love, then they are not the delays of indifference. He does not delay because he does not care…they are [also] not the product of a preoccupation on Christ’s part. That is, he does not delay his answer because he is too busy to deal with our problem…His delays are purposeful. Love has a purpose. Therefore, we are right to seek purposes in God’s delays…For instance, one of the goals reached by God through his delays is that of molding our errant wills to conform to his perfect will. When God answers us immediately, it often is the case that we then rush on to formulate our own plans for whatever comes next. When God delays, by contrast, we are forced to ask, ‘Am I right in what I am trying to do? Do I have the will of the Lord on this matter? Does he have more to teach or tell me than I have heard?’…Another of God’s purposes in delays is to strengthen faith. Our faith does not grow much if we always get an immediate response…rather, our faith grows when we are forced to wait, trusting that God knows what he is doing and that he will fulfill his promises toward us eventually and in the proper time.” (3)

Having all of Scripture in our arsenal, we can appreciate Boice’s comments that “Death could not exist in the presence of Jesus. There is no indication anywhere in Scripture that Jesus ever met a dead person and failed to raise him…Jesus never met a funeral that he did not stop. In fact, I would be willing to state that he never came across an illness of any kind without making the situation right. So he was always glad. As here, he could rejoice at the outcome.” (4) But, that was when Jesus was proving his identity as the Son of God through these signs, so we cannot assume that Jesus will continue to heal everyone physically today. However, he does heal spiritually, through reconciliation with God, when he calls us to have faith in him. Our faithfulness is the fruit of this regeneration and grows as we mature. God tests us to strengthen it and bring others to faith, as he did with his disciples, Martha, Mary, most certainly Lazarus, along with “Many of the Jews…who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, [and] believed in him.” (John 11:45) When we submit to God’s trials and tests, when our faith is strengthened to trust him in unfamiliar circumstances, he is glorified, and others are spiritually affected. 

Perhaps we have serious doubts about God doing the impossible. Maybe we are like Martha, who  said, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” (John 11:39) Although we know Christ as the sovereign God of all creation, our trust in him is shaky. Oswald Chambers wrote: “Every time you venture out in your life of faith, you will find something in your circumstances that, from a commonsense standpoint, will flatly contradict your faith. But common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense. In fact, they are as different as the natural life and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him?…When my strength runs dry and my vision is blinded, will I endure this trial of my faith victoriously or will I turn back in defeat? Faith must be tested, because it can only become your intimate possession through conflict. What is challenging your faith right now? The test will either prove your faith right, or it will kill it…There is continual testing in the life of faith up to the point of our physical death, which is the last great test.” (5) “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’” (Hebrews 3:14-15)

  1. Boice, James, Boice Expositional Commentary Series, John 11:38-44, Baker Books, Software version, 1998.
  2. Boice, Ibid—For further study of how Jesus was glorified through Lazarus’s resurrection, see Boice’s commentary on John 11:4, titled “A Sickness Not Unto Death.”
  3. Boice, Ibid.
  4. Boice, Ibid.
  5. Chambers, Oswald, “My Utmost for His Highest: The Unsurpassed Intimacy of Tested Faith,” 8/29, https://utmost.org

October 30, 2020     

Faithfully Persevering

Many modern-day movies, especially those with an implied moral aspect, have biblical elements from the most unlikely characters. In the “Hunger Games 2012,” President Snow, the main antagonist, whose demeanor hides a sadistic and psychopathic mind, and claims he only kills for a purpose, promises Katniss he will always tell her the truth. He says to her, “Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear.” But then he goes on to add: “A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.” (1) While the first part of his statement may be right, about hope overcoming fear (especially regarding our hope in Christ), the rest is garbage. For Christians, having a lot of hope in Christ is our assurance of salvation and the ability to persevere for a lifetime on earth. God’s promise of our acquittal from final judgment stimulates our hope. It reminds us that with his help, we will persevere faithfully and patiently until Christ’s return or our death because of Christ’s propitiation and the Spirit’s power. So let’s consider Revelation 3:10-11 today for our encouragement. “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.” The key idea is the Philadelphia church’s ability to keep God’s commands and God’s preserving them to gain their crown. When we think of a crown, we might consult these three other NT passages: 2 Timothy 4:8—the crown of righteousness; James 1:12—the crown of life; and 1 Peter 5:4—the unfading crown of glory. All speak of the glorious future we have with Christ after persevering this life, on the other side of physical death. “The Hunger Games” and other secular, futuristic stories are usually the fruit of a deceived mind. We do well to avoid ingesting their rubbish and turn to the true, hopeful, encouraging Word of God to stimulate our faithful perseverance. 

“[Our] patience…bears a resemblance to [Christ’s], in enduring afflictions, reproaches, persecutions, desertions, and temptations, and in waiting for his kingdom and glory…professors of the word have need of patience, and should exercise it in like manner as Christ did…and will believe the promise of Christ’s personal coming, and patiently wait for it.” (2) When the Bible speaks of “waiting” for the return of Christ, God never intends that we become lazy, like the church in Sardis, described as being dead and is exhorted to “wake up” (Revelation 3:1-3). But our gracious, kind-hearted, omniscient God doesn’t want us to treat his commands like dutiful rules. He wants us to love him so much that his advice takes root deep in our souls, resulting in affectionate, covenantal devotion. Before giving the Philadelphia believers an exhortation, the Spirit through John provides a primary reason why they will persevere. “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon” (Rev. 3:10b-11a). Most commentators that I consult view this hour of trial for Philadelphia as their last struggle against the Roman empire, which Daniel also mentions. Of course, as with all prophecy, there is also a future “hour of trial.” It will come for all people when Christ returns, linking verse 10 with verse 11. “Christ will now have his fan in his hand, and purge his floor of all his formal professors and hypocrites; and it will be known who are his true churches, and pure members; and these he will keep close to himself, and preserve safe amidst all the distress and confusion the world will be in.” (3) The ESV Study Bible notes, “Jesus does not promise to spare believers from suffering or martyrdom but to shield them from his wrath and to transform martyrdom into triumph (Rev. 6:10–11; 12:11).” (4) Nothing in this world, no philosophies, ideas, or charismatic movie characters can transform suffering into triumph. But God’s Word and his specific promise of acquittal from the final judgment can stimulate our spiritual perseverance in trials.

Unfortunately, we often hold onto ideas, mindsets, and false beliefs without even realizing it. We have traditions and superstitions that are deeply rooted in our subconscious from our upbringing or cultural influences. I admit that I have a weakness for movies, especially those with a theme of good vs. evil, where the good wins. It has taken me decades to train myself to resist popular movies that include so much other ungodly dialogue, scenes, or plots. The Spirit tells us and the Philadelphia believers, “Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown” (v. 11b). What they had, to hold fast to, was “either her grace in the exercise of it, as her faith, patience, &c. or rather the doctrines of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, which she had received, as delivered by Christ and his apostles: and which she had held in the truth and purity of them, and is now exhorted to hold them fast, since this hour of temptation would be a trying time to her faith, patience, integrity, and constancy.” (5) “One way in which Christ would empower the gospel in the midst of rebellion and judgment is by keeping his faithful people safe…Notice that it is Christ who keeps his people safe, and that this safety takes place through a living and persevering faith. Christians are kept eternally secure by God’s sovereign will and power, yet this security is experienced by an active, striving faith by which Christ’s people conquer in this world (see 1 Peter 1:4-5).” (6)

Oswald Chambers describes the enduring faith of the Philadelphians and all Christians. “Perseverance means more than endurance— more than simply holding on until the end. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, but our Lord continues to stretch and strain, and every once in a while the saint says, ‘I can’t take any more.’ Yet God pays no attention; He goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight, and then He lets the arrow fly. Entrust yourself to God’s hands. Is there something in your life for which you need perseverance right now? Maintain your intimate relationship with Jesus Christ through the perseverance of faith. Proclaim as Job did, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him’ (Job 13:15)…There are areas in our lives where that faith has not worked in us as yet— places still untouched by the life of God.” (7)

In Job 13:15, some believe Job expects to die very soon and wants to argue his case rather than die (“yet I will argue my ways to his face”). Others interpret it to mean that Job will trust in God, live, and have his day in court with the Lord to justify himself, as if God is accusing him of sin. But we know that God is testing Job as a righteous man. Yet, he needs to widen and deepen his knowledge and perception of God. (See Job 38:1-40:2.) I venture to say that Job’s faith and hope will increase as his view of God becomes more accurate.  We also become impatient and should take the advice of Matthew Henry, commenting on the verse. “We should be well pleased with God as a Friend, even when he seems against us as an enemy. We must believe that all shall work for good to us, even when all seems to make against us. We must cleave to God, yea, though we cannot for the present find comfort in him. In a dying hour, we must derive from him living comforts; and this is to trust in him, though he slay us.” (8) Perhaps, like Job later declares, we should also say, “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come. You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands” (Job 14:14-15). Did Job’s hope of acquittal from final judgment stimulate his perseverance? I would think so. May we also persevere faithfully and patiently until Christ’s return or our death. “Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.” (Revelation 2:25-28)

Related Scripture Passages: Genesis 26:4-5; Joshua 22:1-6; 2 Samuel 22:21-25; 2 Kings 18:1-8; Job 14:14-15; 38:1-40:2; Psalm 66:8-9; John 17:12; 2 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:4; 5:4; 2 Peter 2:9-10; Revelation 2:10; 6:10; 7:14; 8:13; 13:7-8; 22:7; 12, 19-20

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunger_Games_(film)
  2. Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible,” Revelation 3:10, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-3.html
  3. Gill, Ibid.
  4. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Revelation 3:10, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
  5. Gill, Ibid (Rev. 3:11)
  6. Phillips, Richard D., Revelation—Reformed Expository Commentary, Revelation 3:11, P & R Publishing, 2017.
  7. Chambers, Oswald, “The Faith to Persevere,” My Utmost for His Highesthttps://utmost.org/the-faith-to-persevere/
  8. Henry, Matthew “Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible,” Job 13:15, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/job-13.html

October 23, 2020