The Wrath of God.
The Books to be opened on Judgement Day.
The Wrath of God.
The Wrath of God.
The Books to be opened on Judgement Day.
THE WRATH OF GOD.
Nahum ch 1 v 2-8. Rom ch 1 v 18- ch 2 v 11. Luke ch 19 v 41 – 47. Rev ch 16.
When there is actually more in the Bible about the wrath of God than the love of God, why should there be endless talk in Churches about the love of God and almost nothing about the wrath of God? One reason is the popular – but wrong – concept that that the Old Testament is about an angry God who punishes and the New Testament is about Jesus, who reveals the love of God to man. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible is consistent throughout in its message that God always comes to man with a word of judgement and a word of mercy. The Bible labours the point that, just as God is good to those who trust Him, He is terrible to those who do not. Actually Jesus spoke more about Hell than all the Old Testament prophets put together. The good news is only good, when received in light of the bad news – that man has sinned and deserved death. Rebellious human beings deserve nothing but condemnation from God. Yet God is a merciful God to those who are seeking mercy.
Another reason why there is so little talk about the wrath of God is that, for many, the fear of man is greater than the fear of God. God is not pleased with much of what human beings do. The chief aim of man is to worship God. To worship someone or something other than God displeases Him. In fact, it makes Him downright angry. Many preachers and speakers are afraid that, if they preach about the wrath of God, they will empty their Churches. And so they will. And some do. Men like to hear things, which make them feel good. So, rather than tell the people the truth about the wrath of God, they concentrate on the love of God. But the good news is only good when received in light of the bad news. When a man hears an ambulance coming along the road it is not good news – unless he is lying there with a broken leg – and then it is good news. The good news that Jesus died on the cross is only good, when man comes to a real, deep awareness of his rebellion against God and knows that the death that Jesus died, was the death he should have died. That is really good news. Then he appreciates what he has been saved from. Does a man really appreciate what Jesus has done for him?
What is meant by wrath? Perhaps it conjures up a picture of darkness and frightening judgement. The dictionary describes it as “deep, intense anger and indignation.” Anger is caused by a sense of injury or insult. Indignation is “righteous anger aroused by injustice and baseness.” The subject of divine wrath has become taboo in modern society. Wrath is an attribute of God. The Bible is full of portrayals of divine retribution. The prophets felt no inhibitions about declaring His wrath. Why is it a problem to modern man? Is it that he feels the idea is unworthy of God?
“God’s wrath arises from His eternal self-consistency. All that opposes Him, He resists with a total and final commitment. Wrath is the holy revulsion of God’s being against that, which is the contradiction of His holiness.” – J. Murray. Without His wrath, God would cease to be truly holy and His love would degenerate into sentimentality. Nor is His wrath arbitrary or fitful or subject to emotion as in man. It is working itself out in history as men reap the moral and spiritual harvest for rejecting God’s revelation.
In Nahum ch 1 v 6 is found the word “indignation.”
“Who can stand before His indignation?” The nation of Assyria had risen in the Middle East and been a great empire. God had been the source of its blessing. Indeed, the people had known about God, because God had sent His prophet Jonah to tell the people about God and the people, as a nation, had repented and acknowledged God. However, the repentance had not been thorough and the nation had plunged into sinful ways again, denying the grace of God. God sent the prophet Nahum to tell the nation that their time was up. They had had their day and God was bringing their empire crashing down. Ch 3 v 5, God says: “I am against you.” “Your wound is too deep to heal.” They had gone over the score. There was no way back. God had washed His hands of this people. His wrath was about to engulf them. History records that the nation was overrun and wiped out. Just one of the 23 empires of the World, which have risen – and fallen. Britain is empire number 23. It is falling apart and will suffer the same wrath of God, unless there is a turning to God.
Imagine being the proud parent of a lovely child. The parent waited a long time to have the child. He is out for a walk and the child is slightly behind looking at something. As the parent watches, a young man careers round the corner in a car, one arm out of the window, music blaring and paying more attention to the young ladies on the pavement than the traffic. He mounts the pavement and crashes into the child. The child is seriously injured and maimed for life. Now there are three consequences. 1. The child has lost something very precious – his health – which cannot be replaced. Money can never make up for a maimed body. 2. The relationship with that young man is broken. It will never be the same again. 3. The parent is angry. He has every right to be angry. The young man has destroyed something very precious to him.
That is just a little picture of the wrath of God, when He is confronted by sin. The relationship with man is ruined and can never be the same again. Something very precious to God has been destroyed. God designed man for fellowship with Him and for praise and worship. Is God not entitled to be angry, when He looks at the state of the World, which He has created? Rom ch 1 v 18f. When God sees mankind pollute the World, when He watches as children are maimed by warring adults, when he sees children, He has created, starving, while others dump food in the sea to keep the price up, when He watches idol worship, is He not entitled to be angry? Rom ch 1 v 22 and v 28. Humans can rightly be angry at the plight of the World in the day of her pollution.
Somehow the idea has come across that it is wrong or sinful to be angry and that God could never be angry. Wrath suggests a loss of self-control like an outburst of temper, which is irrational. People do not like to think of God like that. Nor should they. That is not what wrath means. There are two types of anger. Righteous anger as when man is angry on behalf of another whose life has been unfairly damaged, like the parent of the child. Unrighteous anger is when man’s pride is wounded, when someone points out that his behaviour is wrong and he feels angry at having been found out. Jesus displayed righteous anger when He found that the Temple – the place where God was to be worshipped – was being used as a place for the money-makers to do their business and He drove them out in righteous anger. He was upset on His Father’s behalf.
Wrath is an essential aspect or part of the character of God. What sort of God would He be, if He was not angry, when children whom He has created are allowed to die of starvation? Would a God, who did not react adversely to evil in His World, be morally perfect? If God was not angry about sin and evil He would be nothing but a sloppy sentimental Santa Claus – which is exactly what many relegate God to, if they picture Him as other than deeply concerned for His people. But God is deeply concerned for His children as any good father is.
Part of the trouble is that man projects onto God his own shortcomings and assumes that God is like him. That is the essential error in religion that its gods are scaled down to a size, which the human mind can accommodate and its demands encourage the idea that man’s religious practices contribute to his own salvation. Man assumes his own ideas of God, instead of finding out from God’s own Word just what kind of person God really is. When people say things like: “Well, I think God would be like this or would act in this way,” they are revealing that they have never studied the Scriptures and have at best a hazy idea of what God would do in any given situation. They are assuming that God would behave as they would. They are assuming that God would overlook their behaviour. But in Jesus is seen the very image of God. Jesus said that those who had seen Him had seen the Father, since they are two of a kind. Jesus also said: “I only do what I see my Father doing.” When He overturned the tables in the Temple, Jesus knew how distressed His Father was at what was going on in the Temple.
A further part of the trouble is that man ascribes to God his own fitful outbursts. He assumes that God acts in an unreasonable way, sort of zapping a man for wrongdoing, often unfairly. This is particularly so in relation to aids. Listen to people talking on the media. They say: “God is not like that.” He would never punish man. He is the God of love. But the God who reveals Himself on the pages of the Scriptures does punish those who rebel against Him. Israel in particular was punished.
Wrath is the outworking of God’s hostility to sin. Sin is a personal affront to God – an insult. He would not be almighty God if He were willing to just overlook wrong. Paul in Romans ch 1 v 18 explains that sinful actions inevitably lead to painful consequences on the very bodies of the wrongdoers. God’s wrath is not random but it is always judicial – that means that God has to punish wrongdoing in order to be true to His own nature. The law of gravity tells that, if a man jumps out of a window without a parachute, he will descend to the ground. It is equally true that, if a man does wrong, there will be a moral judgement upon him. It is the moral law of God. It may take time to show itself, but it will – sooner or later. Every person will stand before the judgement seat of God at the end of his life to give an account to God for what he or she has done in the body. The Bible tells man that all are sinners and all deserve to be punished. There is only one way to escape that punishment and that is to seek the mercy of God through the death of Jesus Christ. Otherwise punishment is absolutely inevitable. That is a good thing. Who would want to live in a Universe where murderers were not punished or where there was no justice for a man, if a loved one was killed – where a cheat could pass the exams and the one who had worked hard got nothing?
The Bible also makes it very clear that the wrath of God is something, which men choose for themselves. Because man has a conscience – an awareness of God and of right and wrong – he knows about justice and wrongdoing. Daily at a football match, in politics or when someone queue-jumps the complaint is heard: “That’s not fair.” Man knows about famine and massacres, about bullying and cheating, about the Holocaust and torture. When he ignores his conscience, he is choosing to be punished for his wrongdoing. As man scans the pages of history there is evidence of the bowls of wrath poured out on mankind. The essence of God’s action in wrath is to give to men what they have chosen. The Scriptures show God’s resolute action in punishing sin. One frightening point emerges from Revelation and that is, towards the end of time the bowls of wrath become intensified. The scale of wars and disease, of environmental disasters, of spiritual rebellion and demonic behaviour will rise to a crescendo.
What actually happens at the point of conversion of a person?
First. The angels rejoice.
Second. The sins up to that date are forgiven and never brought up again.
Third. The man is viewed by God just as if he had never sinned. The righteousness of Christ is imputed into that person.
Fourth. The Holy Spirit of God is given to the person so that he can communicate with God.
Fifth. The person is sealed by the blood of Christ and will never be abandoned by God.
Sixth. The wrath of God no longer rests upon that person but has been averted. Jesus, by His death, turned aside the anger, which God had for man as a result of his personal insult of Him. Instead of being bound to punish man for his wrongdoing, God forgave him. The sentence against him was cancelled. The word for that process is “propitiation.” 1 Thes ch 1 v 10.
Many see the wrath of God as a negative thing. This is not so. The wrath of God is a positive thing. God is slow to anger. When He is angry, it is only after much forbearance. He is patient and gives mankind time to repent and seek Him. When He does reveal His wrath to others, it is also with a view to bringing the wayward ones to heel. When man sees another being punished he should take care that it does not happen to him. When he sees someone in prison or unemployed or backslidden or in bondage to drugs or drink he should rejoice that he has the privilege of seeing or feeling the wrath of God before it is too late.
When a storm arrives the rains do not come on suddenly out of the blue sky. Rather the storm clouds gather and for quite a time it is advisable to take cover. The gathering clouds give an opportunity to be prepared for the rain. So it is with the wrath of God. As a nation begins to fall away from God’s grace and rejects God’s love for it, so the problems begin to pile up like gathering storm clouds – a rise in crime – unemployment – physical disasters – breakdown in marriage and family relationships. The warnings are clear to the nation. God is giving the people time to do something about it and be ready for the day of judgement.
As God’s children believers ought to appreciate how angry He is about sin and how concerned He is for justice. Do they share their Father’s concerns?
Does God pour out His wrath on believers? Yes. Look at Israel. Hebrews ch 6. There is a great danger in turning back. Freed from demonic control or just blessed with the gift of eternal life, a believer can throw away the enjoyment of God’s blessings by not keeping in close touch with Him.
In his sin man encounters God’s resistance and opposition.
Gen ch 3 v 24. Mat ch 3 v 7. Rom ch 1 v 18. 1 Thes ch 1 v 10.
Beside the wrath of God all other human fears and dreads are mere bad dreams. The wrath of God is a solemn Biblical reality.
Ex ch 22 v 24. Ps 78 v 31. Hosea ch 5 v 10. Luke ch 3 v 7.
Jn ch 3 v 36. At the cross man is delivered from the wrath of God. Wrath gives way to grace. Hell is a reality of unspeakable solemnity. John ch 3 v 18-20 and v 36. Those who resist God will face His wrath in Hell. Wrath is God’s permanent attitude to sin and evil. It is a personal reaction by one who is outraged by the consequences of sin. It is not spasmodic but it is consistent and permanent. Consider Sodom and Gomorrah and Nineveh. Wrath is always tempered by mercy, especially for the Jews. Jesus averts God’s wrath on sinners.
The Bible’s teaching is seriously misrepresented when reconciliation is confined to man’s side of the relationship, as though it were simply man’s attitude that needs changing. The cross marks a change from wrath to grace. Propitiation is the averting of the wrath of God by the sacrifice of Jesus. Christ is none other than God Himself taking upon His own holy and eternal heart the implications of His own wrath. This is an impenetrable mystery. Expiation is no more than placating an angry God. Propitiation is more than expiation. It is removing the hostility to sin and renewing the relationship. Wrath has given way to grace. The basic theme of the Old Testament was propitiation for sin. Christ’s death was also a substitutory death. His death was a substitute for the death man ought to have experienced because of his own personal rebellion against God. Jesus was not man’s representative in that he did not put Him forward on his behalf. Jesus chose to go as man’s substitute.
The terrible idea of eternal punishment is reflected clearly in a number of texts. Mat ch 5 v 29f. Mark ch 9 v 43. Rev ch 14 v 11. The teaching of the Bible is quite unambiguous and of awesome seriousness. Those who do not repent and who reject His Word and His authority will face the wrath of God. God’s wrath is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing which human anger so often is. His is righteous indignation. Would a God who did not react adversely to evil in His World be morally perfect?
In the Bible God’s wrath is always judicial, dealing with justice. Sinful man deserves punishment. Wrath is the consequence of sinful actions. If man claims justice, he deserves Hell. If he claims mercy, he will go to Heaven. Rom ch 2 v 5f. God will render to every man according to his deeds. Luke ch 12 v 47f. Jesus taught that the servant who did not know his master would be beaten.
In the Bible God’s wrath is something, which a man chooses for himself. John ch 3 v 18f. Men choose darkness. By rejecting the offer of salvation men choose punishment. Jesus spoke more about Hell than any other prophet. In Genesis chapter 3, Adam chose to hide from God. The same principle applies throughout the Bible.
Mankind punishes sin through the courts. Those who are punished deserve it. There is an outcry if a guilty person gets off free. There is in the human heart a desire for justice. The wrath of God is simply His resolute action to punish sin. Rebellious behaviour simply brings down the punishment upon those who rebel. Rom ch 1 v 18. The wrath of God is constantly being revealed against all ungodliness. It imprints itself on the conscience of mankind. God gives them up to uncleanness. Look around and see what men are doing. It is as bad today as ever it has been.
1 Thes ch 1 v 10. Jesus delivers man from the wrath of God to come. God detests sin. Ponder on its seriousness and God’s abhorrence of it. God is a consuming fire.
There are 5 reasons why it is positive to preach about the wrath of God.
1. Jesus is slow to anger. That is good news and a positive aspect of the character of Jesus. He gives man time to realise the seriousness of the situation into which his sin has led him. Like a storm approaching giving advance warning of the change in the weather, God’s coming wrath affords man an opportunity to repent. It does not catch him unawares. Noah’s ark
2. God’s love is not sloppy or sentimental but acts to protect those whom He loves. God does not want children aborted or led to covet the wealth of others. God is angry towards those who lead children to go astray. Jesus spoke of having a millstone round their necks. Mark ch 9 v 42. A loving God who was like Santa Claus and was not concerned for those He had created would be powerless and lacking in concern.
3. God is angry about the mess men are making of this wonderful world. He is angry that the fish are being fished out of the seas. He challenges man to be a good steward for his own good. That is positive. Isaiah ch 24. The prophets warn man.
Ezra ch 10 v 14. Something must be done to avert the fierce anger of God.
Hosea ch 5 v 10. Hosea described God’s wrath upon Judah like dry rot to the House of Judah. It simply eats them up. They are wasting away.
Habakkuk ch 3 v 2. “In your wrath remember mercy”
4. God must punish wrongdoing in His own time. 1 Pet ch 2 v 23. Jesus left it to God to judge those who rejected Him. This reassures man that there is justice in the World. At times it seems as if the evil men get away with it. The shoplifters are not caught. The wrath of God reassures man that every deed shall be brought out into the open in the throne room of Heaven and each person shall be judged for what he has done in the body on his time on Earth. That is a positive message. The wrath of God assures man that there will be justice for all men. Murderers will be punished even though not brought before a court on Earth. Those who have a friend or family member murdered and the offender is not found can rest on the wrath of God to bring them justice and then they can get on with their life. How positive. Man does not need to wear himself out trying to get even.
5. God is true to His own nature. A man can rely on His acting in certain ways, which he can see from history. The record of His dealings with mankind, especially the Jewish people, are well documented in the Bible. A man need not be in ignorance. That is a positive message.
THE BOOKS. Rev ch 20 v 12. Dan ch 7 v 10.
Jesus is coming back to Planet Earth one day – many believers think it will be quite soon. When mankind loses sight of the Second Coming of Jesus nations as well as individuals slide downhill morally and spiritually. The first time Jesus came to Earth it was to save souls. The second time He is coming as judge of all the Earth. Do men believe that? Most people in the World do not believe that. It is obvious by the way they are living. The killing of lives created by God for His pleasure, whether individually or collectively under the name of abortion, lying, cheating on their taxes, or on their wife or walking out on their children and in other ways.
God is a God of justice and will bring everything under His justice in the fullness of time, whether during the life of an individual or at the end of that life. At the end of time every human being who has ever lived will stand before the throne of God to face judgement for what he or she has done during the days on Earth, including the great and the insignificant ones. Kings, emperors, scientists and religious leaders will not be exempt. No one will be absent, even those, whose bodies were lost at sea and which bodies were never found and buried. God loses sight of no one. The Lake of fire and Hell was created for the Devil and his demons. It was not God’s intention to punish man in this way, but when a man chooses by free will to surrender his life to the Devil and the ways of the World, then he forces God to send such a soul to join the Devil in Hell.
Consider the lengths to which God has gone to bring man to a saving knowledge of Himself. He sent His holy Son to die to pay the price for man’s sins. He sent the Disciples throughout the World to preach the Gospel. Many were martyred for their faith. He has warned mankind through trumpets and bowls of wrath calling mankind back to God. He has placed a conscience within man. Man sees terrible darkness in wars and disease and still refuses to call out to God for help. Man soaks up God’s grace and fails to give God any thanks. So it will be at the end of time each human being will face judgement for what He has done. The principal book is the Book of life. It contains a list of those who may enter Heaven. If a man’s name is not there, then he is barred from Heaven and the only other destination is Hell. But then comes the judgement based on what man has done in his life, however long or short. This applies to believers and unbelievers alike. In 2 Cor ch 5 v 10 Paul was speaking to believers. Man reaps what he sows. There will be some very serious questions asked on the day of judgement. One might well be “In your life on Earth, did you do your best? If not why not?”
The book of LIFE. Exod ch 32 v 32-33. Dan ch 12 v 1. Phil ch 4 v 3. Rev ch 3 v 5. Rev ch 13 v 8. There is a single entry for each person born again by the Spirit of God who has received the gift of eternal life. It is not complicated. A man’s name is either there or it is not there. If it is not there, then Hell awaits. There should be no room for doubt. Assurance is a bye-product of faith. If a person gives a man a gift, he will know that he has it. If God has truly given the gift of eternal life, the person should not be in any doubt that he has received it. In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 John is given a message to the 7 Churches. Each message ends with a promise of a prize to those who overcome the World, the flesh and the Devil. Those who overcome will have their names in the Book of Life.
If a man is buying a business, he wants to see the books of the business to know whether it is profitable or not and which sections of the business are profitable. When there is a general election the first thing the incoming government does is to examine the books of the country. How much is being spent on education, defence, health etc. Can the new government afford to carry out their election promises? God is running a Kingdom and it is logical that He keeps accurate records of everyone in the World. With space ships looking down from above able to read what a man is reading out of doors and massive computers, which can store enormous amounts of information it is easier to understand that God keeps records on every human being. What books does God keep? Revelation ch 20 v 12 and Dan ch 7 v 10 both speak of the time when the books – plural – are opened. What are the other books, which will be opened, apart from the book of life?
1. The book of the WARS OF GOD. Num ch 21 v 14. A clear picture is given in this chapter. As soon as God freed His people and they set out on a journey the enemy came against them. This is so for every believer. God is involved in spiritual warfare and expects His children to engage in warfare against the enemy. Jesus sent His Disciples out to cast out demons. In physical warfare people are promoted by their commitment to the cause and their competence in dealing with the enemy. Since God is engaged in warfare, He should expect to be able to count on His children to join Him in the fight. Dan ch 10 v 13. Dan ch 10 v 21. The angel had to fight his way past the prince of Greece and the prince of Persia in order to reach Daniel. Eph ch 6 v 12. Believers are fighting against principalities and powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness. In each of the letters to the seven Churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 Jesus offers a special prize for those who overcome their sins, the flesh, the World and Satan.
Dr Lloyd Jones said: “In a World of collapsing institutions, moral chaos and increasing violence, never was it more important to trace the hand of “the prince of the power of the air”. If man cannot discern the chief cause of his ills, how can he cure them?” Satan is relentless in his war against mankind, especially against believers. He is described as the one who comes to rob, steal and destroy. Believers are engaged in warfare, whether they like it or not. Rev ch 12 v 7. Warfare arose in Heaven between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. J. I. Packer said: “Everything, which happens in the physical, seen World is a manifestation of what is happening the spiritual, unseen World.” The stories of Israel’s wars with the neighbouring people is a physical picture to teach the spiritual truth that there is an enemy who wages war on believers. The 7 spiritual giants in Deut ch 7 v 7 are the spiritual giants who are out to destroy believers, unless they take up the sword of truth and fight against the enemy. When one of God’s children is in trouble, God expects His other children to enter the fight to help him. That is one of the purposes of prayer and deliverance. Rev ch 20 v 7. Satan is let loose and given more power to work – still under the control of God. God uses Satan as His instrument of punishment on those who rebel against Him.
2. The book of REMEMBRANCE of those who feared the Lord’s name, thinking on His name. Mal ch 3 v 16. God speaks of such people as being a special possession on the day when He acts. Man should count his blessings and testify to the goodness of the Lord. The people who feared (respected) the Lord spoke to one another about the Lord, remembering the grace of God to them. Their testimony pleased the Lord and He recorded what they had said about Him. Luke ch 22 v 19. “Do this in remembrance of me.” It is important to God and to man to remember the saving work of Christ. 1 Cor ch 11 v 24.
Deut ch 7 v 18 – 21. “Remember what the Lord has done for you.” Esther ch 9 v 28. The Feast of Purim was established to remember that the Lord had saved the Jewish people from the evil schemes of Haman the Amalekite, who sought to wipe out the whole Jewish people. To omit to remember the occasions when God has intervened in a man’s life to rescue him from difficulties, devalues the saving grace of God. “There but for the grace of God go I,” was once in common usage.
It is an accepted practice that when someone famous dies – often in tragic circumstances – there is a book of remembrance of the deceased placed in a public place and many go specially to write their name or a message in the book of remembrance. This is done so as not to lose the record of the impact of that person on society. This is precious to the surviving family members who can browse through the book at a later date and see the names of the people who have remembered their loved one. Is it any different with the Lord? God has such a book for those who remember Him. God remembers His children and there is never a moment when His divine eye is not on them. Is it too much for His children to remember Him?
Isaiah ch 49 v 15. Even if a mother forgets her child God will not forget His children.
Exodus ch 3 v 15. “God is to be remembered throughout all generations.” This is a command.
Psalm 56 v 8. “You have recorded every one in your book.”
Eccles ch 12 v 1. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” So much heartache could have been avoided in so many lives if people had paid attention to the advice of God in the Scriptures. It is all about the grace of God and remembering His goodness to undeserving sinners.
Rev ch 12 v 11. The believers conquered Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the by the word of their testimony. Testimony is so important. Keep it up to date. Never forget that “I was once lost and am now found.” Good tradesmen rely on the testimony by word of mouth of their satisfied customers. This is better than advertising. Testimony. Keep it up to date. Never forget that “I was once lost and now found.”
God looks after His own in times of trouble. In Exodus the Hebrews were warned to paint the door-posts with the blood of the lamb, so that the angel of death would pass them by. Isaiah ch 26 v 20-21 gives the same instruction to believers to hide themselves in God when the wrath of God is poured out against the people of the Earth in judgement.
1 Pet ch 2 v 9. “Keep away from the evil pleasures of this World.” Believers need to walk with wisdom, watching out for the snares and wiles of the enemy.
Jesus said that He would send the Holy Spirit to bring to remembrance all that He had said. Clearly the Holy Spirit is in the business of memory. Often things, which have been forgotten are brought into the mind as if from nowhere. Thank the Holy Spirit for His assistance! When Jonah was in sheol he remembered the Lord. Jonah ch 2 v 7. Jonah was resurrected.
There is a severe warning in Psalm 83 v 4. The enemies of Israel said they would destroy the nation of Israel so that the name of Israel would not be remembered any more. The World is in debt to the Jewish people who have faithfully brought the Word or oracles of God to the World.
Remember the exodus from the South followed by the exodus from the North. Do it again.
Communion – “Remember me until I come.”
A believer should remember what God has done for him – every day man experiences God’s grace.
How often does man remember God? The number of times will be entered in the Book of Remembrance.
3. The book of the GENERATIONS OF ADAM. Gen ch 5 v 1. The roll of the descendants of Adam shows that each individual human being is a personal creation of God. Every person ever born has an entry in the book of the generations of Adam. Adam was a real person and not just the name for man. Mankind did not begin in Africa but in the Garden of Eden. There is a record of every human being and his genealogy. From the three sons of Noah every human being is descended. Gen ch 9 v 19. The book of Adam may seem trivial. Not at all. Every human being is related to every other one however distant the relationship. Understanding this fact means that there should no longer be any division between black and white, brown and yellow. It puts an end to tribal conflicts, ethnic disputes and national divisions. God chose that each person would be born black or white, in this land or that and to particular parents.
The Bible contains many genealogies, including the genealogy of Jesus. Every human being is no accident but the careful and deliberate decision of God to create him and bring him to birth in the body of a particular woman, chosen by God at a particular time. That is why it is so serious when a person rebels against his parents. It is tantamount to rejecting the provision of God for that person. It amounts to a complaint to God: “You should have done better by me.” A man’s father may have been a drunkard but God knew that when He created the child. If a man’s mother was raped by a soldier and no one knows who the father is, God knows. God permitted it. Such a man should not accept the shame over his life. Satan takes delight in placing shame over the lives of certain people to rob them of the full joy in life. It is not the man’s responsibility. There are no illegitimate children – only illegitimate parents. No child ever chose to be born illegitimate. It was not his fault and he should not accept the shame or guilt Satan attempts to lay on his life.
Jesus referred to Psalm 22 on the Cross and said that future generations would speak about Him. The past determines a man’s present situation and what he does today determines his future. Today is the day of salvation. It is a serious comment of any nation that they do not plan for the future generation but live only for the present. In many countries of the World no long-term provision is being made for the next generation. It brings a curse on any nation where mothers kill their own children with the approval and assistance of the government. Children are a gift from God and the parents have a duty to provide for their future.
God is working out His great plan of salvation. Each person is a part of that plan. In the same was as God provided for Adam, so he makes provision for each human being. What God plans in eternity He carries out in time. He does not make any mistakes. 1 Cor ch 15 v 45. The first man Adam became a living being. He was a real man and not an idea or representative. The perfect obedience of Jesus to the moral law of God is contrasted with the disobedience of Adam. Adam had everything and needed for nothing. Yet he chose to disobey God. Just as the extended family is important in Africa so it is to God.
This book contradicts the theory of evolution. Man is not a cosmic accident, living in this World by chance. Each person has been planned and personally created by a loving God. In a World teeming with people it is good to know that God has everything under control. Each man’s name will be in the Book of the Generations of Adam whether he believes that or not.
4. The book of WORDS. Deut ch 18 v 19.
Matthew ch 12 v 36 – 37. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. On the day of judgement men will render account for every careless word they have uttered. “By your words you will be justified and by your words you shall be condemned.” There will be a time for man to give account for everything he has said in this life.
As with any passage it is important to find out who is speaking, to whom he is speaking, what prompted the words spoken and what was the intention of the speaker. Jesus had been going about His Father’s business teaching the Disciples and healing the sick, when He was challenged by some religious men, controlled by a religious spirit. They challenged the authority of Jesus to do what He had been doing. Jesus spoke these words to the religious men in the presence of the Disciples and others in order to establish His authority. There may well have been a hint of anger in His voice and He may even have pointed at them with His finger. He was making it clear that while they could say what they liked now – for they had free choice – one day they would stand before Him on the day of judgement to give account for what they had just said.
The first question is this – did Jesus mean man to take these words literally or is it hyperbole? Are they a mere figure of speech? When Jesus said that, if the eye caused man to sin, he should gouge it out, He was clearly using a figure of speech to show how serious sin really is. Does Jesus mean by these words – ” Be careful what you say – it may matter ” or is He saying that every word will be recorded against man?
Jesus does not want man going round checking on every word he utters before he speaks. He does want man to enjoy life to the full. However, He also wants others to enjoy life to the full and words can spoil that enjoyment for others, if man is careless and hurtful in the words, which he uses in their hearing. Jesus also wants man to realise the importance of the words, which he speaks.
The second question is this – how important are the words which man speaks? On the day of judgement men will render account for every careless word they utter.
There will be a day of judgement for every human being. Eccles ch 12 v 7. Mortal bodies will die, unless Jesus comes back first. The dust will return to the dust, as it was, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it by infusing it into the little foetus within the womb of the mother, knitting together the physical and spiritual bodies. The writer of Ecclesiastes came to the conclusion at the end of his book in ch 12 v 13 – 14 that God will judge everything man does, including every hidden thing. Others may not know the hidden things, which a man does, and the thoughts, which he has, but God does. Man may well excuse them away due to circumstances, pressures, hurts etc, but God will bring them all to judgement.
Jesus speaks a lot about judgement. When He sent His Disciples out He said this to them in Mat ch 10 v 14 – 15. He said the same thing later about two Israeli towns Bethsaida and Chorazin. Mat ch 11 v 22 – 24. John also speaks about it in 1 John ch 4 v 17. Fear has to do with judgement. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, they hid from Him as He approached them. “I was afraid.” Fear and guilt go hand in hand. Perfect love casts out fear. If man really loves the Lord, then he will have no need to fear the day of judgement. But he still has to be very aware that it is coming. 2 Pet ch 2 v 4 – 9. 2 Pet ch 3 v 9 – 10.
Acts ch 17 v 30 – 31. God has fixed a day when He will ask Jesus to be judge. The first time Jesus came to save people from their sins. The next time He comes it will be to judge all the Earth. Romans ch 2 v 1 – 16. In verse 6 it states quite unambiguously that God will render to every man according to his works – what he has done. Those who have never heard about Jesus will be judged according to their lives in response to their consciences. As Paul explains no man ever lives up to the standard of his conscience. Every man does things, which he knows to be wrong. How is that known? Every person proves that by condemning others, who do the same thing. Listen to the people as they speak. Words of condemnation spill from their lips. They criticise politicians, employers, employees, neighbours, etc. There is little reluctance to criticise others. There is simply no scripture, which gives the unevangelised a second chance. The belief that men without Christ are lost has always been a motive for missionary outreach.
So there is a day coming when all men will stand before the judgement seat of God. One thing is clear from the Scriptures. Jesus will be perfectly fair in His judgement. There will be no right of appeal, nor any need for an appeal. There is no one higher to whom an appeal could be addressed. There will be no mistakes and no ambiguity in the sentences passed. Psalm 9 v 7 – 8. God has said it. On the day of judgement men will render account for every careless word they have uttered. That is what Jesus said and that is what He meant.
Picture the scene in Heaven – where all men shall be gathered before the throne of God. Romans ch 14 v 10. All shall stand before the judgement seat of God. It is like a scene from a court. There is a sense of solemnity and expectation. There is a concern for the unknown. What is going to happen? They will all bow the knee to Jesus. Isaiah ch 45 v 23. “To me every knee shall bow.” Some in adoration – others in fear and terror – but they shall all bow the knee. Phil ch 2 v 9 -11. Not only shall every knee bow but every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord of all. It would be comforting to think that only those who had openly rejected Jesus will face judgement. But Paul destroys that idea in 2 Cor ch 5 v 9 – 10. After all he is writing to believers. Believers also will have to render account on that day. 1 Cor ch 3 v 13.
That day may seem a long way ahead, especially for the young ones. But there is no time in Heaven. Therefore everyone will be there at the same time, regardless of the time on Earth when they died. This is difficult to grasp, since man has only ever experienced living in time. So when he arrives, those who died last year have not been there for a year and those who died 4,000 years ago have not been waiting for 4,000 years for him to arrive. Those who die after will also arrive at the same time. Everyone leaving the time zone on Earth will arrive at the same time – only there will be no time. It is happening right now. There are vast numbers, which stagger the imagination. The biggest crowd ever experienced will be eclipsed. After Jesus rose, He appeared and then disappeared – and then re-appeared. Where was He in between appearances? He was out of time – in Heaven. He left Heaven in order to step into time and then left again. At death, man will simply step outside of time into eternity – into the presence of God.
How important are the words a man speaks? It is by a man’s words he is justified and by his words he is condemned. It is an awesome thought. Is it true? God says that it is true. It bears some examination. Just how important are the words a man speaks.
Gen ch 1 v 3. God said: “Let there be light” and there was light. God spoke some words and the situation changed. “Let us make man in our image.” Man was created because God spoke. Man was put in charge of the animals. He named the animals. Whatever he called the animals, that was their name. Words have power. When parents name a child, the child has to live with that name for evermore.
Exodus ch 20 v 7 it is forbidden to take the name of the Lord in vain. Speaking the name of the Lord in vain brings judgement and punishment. Deut ch 28 v 15f. Moses lists the curses, which follow disobedience to the spoken words. A curse is simply speaking harm against another. If man tells lies about another person or passes on information about another person, whether true or false, he makes life difficult for that person. In that way he brings about a curse or a problem. God gives good advice through the Proverbs as follows.
Proverbs ch 15 v 23. “Everyone enjoys giving good advice, and how wonderful it is to be able to say the right thing at the right time.”
Proverbs ch 16 v 24. “Kind words are like honey – enjoyable and healthy.”
Proverbs ch 21 v 23. “Keep your mouth closed and you will stay out of trouble.”
Proverbs ch 10 v 23. “Do not talk so much. Every time you open your mouth, you put your foot in it. Be sensible and turn off the flow. If you have nothing to say, say nothing.”
Psalm 141 v 3. “Help me, Lord, to keep my mouth shut and my lips sealed.”
James ch 1 v 26. “Anyone who says he is a believer but does not control his sharp tongue is just fooling himself, and his religion is not worth much. There are too many words.”
Mat ch 21 v 19. Jesus was walking past a fig tree and He cursed the fig tree and it withered. Jesus was talking to the tree. His Disciples heard Him. Jesus encouraged them to speak to the mountain. Here Jesus is speaking about saying and not praying. Faith is taking God at His Word. Doubt is the very opposite. When man doubts he is deciding not to take God at His Word. God’s way is to believe and then see. Man’s way is to see and then to believe. Man says: “Prove to me that Jesus is alive and I will trust Him.” Jesus would say: “Trust me and you will know that I am alive.” John ch 21 v 29. Blessed are they that have not seen but have believed. Faith is not acting on feelings. If man says he feels that this is going to happen, it is not faith and it will not happen because of his feelings. It may happen anyway. But if he has faith that it will happen, then it will – indeed it must happen. Feelings are something, which happen to man and not something, which he decides in advance. Faith is a matter of the will.
Fear. In ch 3 Job said: “That which I feared has come upon me.” Remarks bring about the very thing of which the person was afraid. Fear. 2 Tim ch 1 v 7. “God has not given me the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” In Eph ch 4 v 29 Paul gives this advice.”Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to and what will give them a blessing.” If man would not say the words if the person was present, then he ought not to be saying them. That is a very simple test of whether or not to utter the words.
Are words really the key to what happens in this World? Romans ch 10 v 9 – 10. Man declares his allegiance to Jesus by publicly declaring it before men. He speaks salvation to himself by his words. It is not enough to believe in the heart. Man must speak out the words of belief and in that way he speaks salvation to himself. Confessing faith in Christ at such as baptism is a positive declaration that man belongs to God. To waiver in any way is to do what James says in ch 1 v 6 – 8. “Without assurance you will be tossed like a ship in the sea.” Mat ch 10 v 32. Jesus makes it clear that, if man acknowledges Him before men, He will acknowledge that man before His Father. Likewise, if he denies Jesus by his words, He will deny that man before His Father. God does not send any person to Hell. Man sends himself to Hell by denying the Saviour. By saying “No” to Jesus a person rejects God’s provision of a saviour.
Luke ch 16 v 19 – 31. What a man says is what he gets. If he listens to negative words, he will never achieve anything worthwhile. The World say: “I cannot.” The Scriptures Phil ch 4 v 13 says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” These positive words bring about a positive result.
Man’s prosperity depends on his response to the Word of God. Mal ch 3 v 10. Bring in the tithes and God will pour out His blessings. A positive response from man will bring forth a positive response from God. He has promised to do it. He even encourages man to try it. This is the key to blessing. Man wants to see the blessings first and then he may respond. Faith means believing the Word of God and seeing the results later. Faith is the assurance of what is hoped for- the certainty of what is unseen. If man is stingy with God, He will be stingy with man. Many are dry, barren and empty in their spiritual lives. Why? Because they have been stingy with God. They are paying for their disobedience in spiritual leanness. God cannot go back on His word. Why does God’s Word bless some and not others? They had the same message. Heb ch 4 v 2 explains. The word preached did not profit them, because it was not mixed with faith. They decided to consider it later.
How many are healed and lose their healing, because they doubt what has happened? If there is a word from God that man is healed, he should not let doubt rob him of the promise of God. Believe it. If he believes it, he will do something positive, like cancelling a hospital appointment.
This little tongue is a thing of great power. It can do much harm or much good. It can deny the Lord Jesus and consign a person to a lost eternity or it can be an instrument of blessing to a man and to those he meets on his walk through life. Peter recognised that Jesus alone had the words of eternal life. John spoke of Jesus as the Word, who had become flesh. Jesus knew the importance of the words man speaks. He taught His Disciples just how careful they must be with the words they utter. He would teach man also that he should be careful with the words, which he utters, for on the day of judgement he will render account for every careless word he utters.
5. The book of ACTIONS. James ch 2 v 26. Faith without works is dead. True faith in God leads a man into works of service to God and his fellow man. What a man does is the evidence of his faith. Paul speaking of faith is teaching the theology of faith. James is looking at the practical effect of faith in God. Everything a man does will be judged. 2 Cor ch 5 v 10. Paul is speaking to believers when he says that man will be judged (or assessed) according to everything he has done while here on Earth in his body. Eph ch 6 v 8. “Remember the Lord will pay man for each good thing he does.” The righteous man is the man who does what is right. To live a righteous life is to do the right thing on every occasion. Noah built an ark because he believed that God had told him to do that. Abraham left his home in Ur because he believed that God had told him to do that. Both of them did the right thing. In order to know what is the right thing to do, a man has to know the Word of God, which tells what is right and what is wrong. The opposite situation is found in Judges ch 21 v 25. Judges ch 17 v 6. This is one of the saddest verses of the Bible. “In those days there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The people justified themselves by what they did. The Word of God was scarce and the people did not pay any attention to it but did whatever they thought was right. God’s word tells what is right and what pleases Him. Man must not rely on his own understanding. Jesus often said that it was not those who heard His words but those who did them who were His followers.
1 Sam ch 2 v 3. The Lord is a God of knowledge. By Him actions are weighed. Eccles ch 12 v 14. “The Lord will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Mat ch 16 v 27. Jesus will repay every man for what he has done.
Deut ch 6 v 25. Obeying the commands of God is doing the right thing. Psalm 45 v 7. God loves righteousness and justice. Psalm 89 v 14. This gives a picture for man’s mind of God’s throne, which has four legs. They are righteousness, justice, love and faithfulness. God always does the right thing. He never makes a mistake.
Proverbs are wise sayings to encourage people to make the right choices in life, when making a decision – Godly choices. Which one will please God? Prov ch 10 v 4. Laziness causes poverty. Diligence or hard work leads to wealth. Righteousness affects a nation. Prov ch 14 v 34. “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.” Leaders who pass laws according to God’s laws bring blessings to a nation and lead them in the ways of righteousness.
Isaiah ch 61 v 3 speaks of men being oaks of righteousness – strong men able to stand the storms of life – knowing what is the right thing to do in difficult circumstances. Mat ch 5 v 20. Jesus said that His followers should exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. Rom ch 6 v 18. Paul speaks of being a slave of righteousness. 2 Tim ch 3 v 16. The Scriptures are for training in righteousness. They inform as to what is the right thing to do in each decision in life. To do the right thing pleases God. Jesus said in John ch 8 v 29: “I only do what pleases my Father.”
1 Tim ch 3 v 7. Leaders in the Church must be well thought of by those outside the Church. If they do not do the right thing, they will lose the respect of the community.
Children must be trained to do the right thing. Children learn by watching what parents do more than by listening to what their parents tell them. Prov ch 22 v 6 tells parents to train their children in the right ways of God.
Noah was declared to be a righteous man. Gen ch 6 v 9. He was the only truly righteous man living on the Earth at that time. He tried always to conduct his affairs according to God’s will. Why? Because he did the right thing and obeyed God by building an ark. It was God’s will to build the ark. It was a lot of hard work and difficult to understand. But Noah did it.
In contrast God could not find even 10 righteous people in Sodom. He would have spared the city, if He could have found just 10 people who were doing the right thing.
Gen ch 15 v 6. Abraham believed God and God considered him righteous on account of his faith. Abraham left his homeland in obedience to God’s call. He did the right thing and God declared him to be righteous.
Saul recognised that David was more righteous than Saul. Saul said this when David refused to kill Saul. David did the right thing in not raising his hand against the Lord’s appointed king, even though Saul was behaving badly. It was the right thing to do.
1 Cor ch 1 v 30. “Jesus was made our righteousness.” He alone could say that He always did what pleased His Father. John ch 8 v 29. His was a life of total obedience, even to death. Therefore God made Jesus righteousness for those who believe in Him. Those who put their trust in Him are clothed in righteousness. It is a physical picture to teach the spiritual truth. Believers are viewed by God as righteous.
No man is righteous. Rom ch 3 v 10. This quotes Psalm 14 v 1-3. There is no one in himself good enough to enter God’s Heaven. Sadly those who are blessed with a good nature often fall into the trap of declaring themselves good enough, believing that God must be pleased with them. They are self-righteous by their own standards.
Hab ch 2 v 4. The righteous shall live by faith – by trusting in God. Righteousness is linked to what a man does and not what he believes or thinks. James ch 4 v 17. “Be doers of the Word.” James is worth listening to since he must have watched his brother Jesus at His work and in the family home. What is true religion? Ch 1 v 22. “Look after the widows and orphans.” If man is not doing that, what value does all his knowledge have? James must have heard the words of Jesus on many occasions saying that “it is not those who hear my words but those who obey them and do them.”
Deut ch 4 v 8. The laws, which God gave to Israel were righteous laws – to guide the people to do the right thing towards God.
Romans ch 2 v 6. “God will reward man as to what he has done.”
Mat ch 16 v 27. “Jesus will judge believers according to what they have done.”
2 Cor ch 5 v 10. Paul, speaking to believers, says that they – like the unbelievers – will stand before Jesus at the judgement seat and will receive their rewards according to what they have done on Earth. Jas ch 2 v 22. Abraham was justified by his works in offering Isaac for sacrifice.
The Hebrew word for work and the Hebrew word for worship is the same word. Mat ch 24 v 40-41. Two men were working in the field. One was working for his own reward. The other was working for the glory of God. Unbelievers do not see the believers at worship. They see them at their place of work. The question, which challenges believers is this; “Are they working for their own rewards or are they working for the glory of God?” If a man is not paid for what he does will he still do it to the best of his ability or will he leave the job unfinished? Is work something a man does just to earn money or is it a service to God? Does man thank God for having work to do? Does he lay down his work before God as an offering, or is it his main resource?
In this World most people want to be happy and are prepared to be holy in the life to come. But God demands that man is holy in this life and He guarantees that he will be happy in the life to come. To be holy means to be righteous and to do the right thing at all times. God has given man a conscience. Man instinctively knows what is right and Proverbs ch 10 v 7 says that all have happy memories of a righteous man. Others may not feel able to stand with another man but will know that he has done the right thing.
Proverbs ch 12 v 13. The righteous man escapes from trouble. If man does the right thing, he does not have to fear punishment from anyone. He can look others in the eye with a clear conscience.
Satan will always attack man’s weak spots. He comes to rob, steal and destroy. What if a man does not do the right thing before God?
If he is not honest, he will lose his reputation. Satan will take it away.
If he is not loyal to his friends, he will lose them. Satan will steal them.
If he neglects his duties to his family, he will lose his reputation before men.
If he commits a sexual sin, he will experience shame.
If he does not look after his body, he may have disease.
If man does not do the right thing, he becomes open to criticism, guilt, fear of being found out, embarrassment at having let others down, a sense of failure and shame. Shame is a powerful force to hold man back from growing in the Spirit. When man does not do the right thing, Satan is quick to take advantage and to inflict wounds on him. Even if there is a secret sin, which no other person knows about, such as coveting another person’s possessions, there are three people who know about the sin. God knows. Satan knows and the man knows. Man can be sure that Satan will prod the conscience to remind him of his weakness and guilt. He will feel his authority ebbing away. The conscience is a judicial court system, which man carries round with him wherever he goes. It is on duty 24 hours a day.
Mat ch 28 v 18. Ch 10 v 1. Jesus said that all authority in Heaven and on Earth had been given to Him and He gave that authority to His disciples. Authority is a right but it is dependent on obedience. Authority is delegated power. The policeman has authority to stop a lorry – he stops it not by power but by raising his hand in authority. The authority to stop the traffic is given to him by the Police chief. It is delegated to him. But the authority will be taken from him, if he does not do his job properly – if he is late for work or unfair to some drivers or if he acts in an incompetent manner. In the same way, the believer is given delegated authority over evil spirits to act in the name of Jesus. That authority is given only on condition that he does the right thing at all times. If he does not do the right thing in life, he will not be fit to fight. He will lose his confidence and authority. Believers must put on the breastplate of righteousness and make sure that in everything they do, they do the right thing according to the Word of God.
6. The book of the DEEDS of SOLOMON. 1 Kings ch 11 v 41. The Book of Acts does not have an ending. It suggests that each person should go on and write his own chapter as a biography under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Is there a book of the acts of Solomon and a book of deeds for each believer? Jeremiah ch 29 v 11. “I have a plan for you.” This was written to Israel but can be spiritualised to each person. Is there a book of the life of each person recording his story in the great plan of salvation of God for the whole World? Every man has his own personal book with a record of everything in it.
Question. “Am I fulfilling the plan God has for my life? How close is my life to what God intended for me? “
7. The book of THE LAW. The Ten Commandments are initially designed to show man his sins, since man cannot keep the Commandments and therefore falls short of the requirements of the moral law. They show man up as a sinner and show him the need for a saviour to save him from his sins. They also serve to guide believers to live a moral life. “Be perfect.” The Ten Commandments are there to show man how he can live a life pleasing to God. Moses was given Ten Commandments. Jesus reduced them to just two. The first four – love God. The second six – love your neighbour. Without the first four, the second six are impossible. Mat ch 22 v 35-40. Man is to have respect for the property, person and reputation of his neighbour. Communism allows immorality, because it begins by declaring that there is no God. People become like the things or people, which they worship. Martin Luther: “Whatever your heart clings to and relies on is your god.” Mat ch 6 v 33. The purpose of the Ten Commandments is that man may meet God. They reveal the character of God and tell man what God is like. The Ten Commandments are like liberating limits. They tell man how far he can go. They are like fences. Outside of these commandments it is like a minefield.
There are four questions concerning each of the commandments:
1. What does it tell man about the character of God?
2. What does it liberate man from?
3. How is love revealed?
4. What does it protect man from?
The commandments are an expression of the eternal moral nature of God. They were never intended to serve as a basis for man’s self- justification. They contain an indictment against all human righteousness and convey the sentence of death on all, who would use them for the purpose of earning merit.
Idolatry occurs when man places anything before God as the first object of his affection and obedience. The Law of Nature was written on the hearts of men at creation, broken when man fell in Adam, and rewritten on man’s heart at regeneration. When man had miserably defaced the Law of Nature originally written on his heart, so that many of the commandments were no longer legible, it seemed good to the Lord to transcribe that Law into the Scriptures and in the Ten Commandments man has a summary of the moral law. The commandments follow the standard pattern of near-Eastern treaties.
Deut ch 31 v 24 -27. The Book of the Law is a solemn warning against rebellion and sin. Mat ch 5 v 17. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfil it.
The believer is not under the moral law as a means of earning salvation nor as an instrument of condemnation but he is under it as a rule of life and a means of sanctification. The moral law is like a mirror. When man looks in the mirror, he sees the dirt on his face. The Law shows man his sinful life. The commandments are a basic ethical norm applicable to all men in all ages.
1. God manifested Himself in a fearful manner when He gave the Law. The people had an awe of Him. If it was so terrible when He gave the Law, how much more so will it be when He comes as judge?
2. The commandments were uttered by God in an audible voice. As such they were the only parts of the divine revelation so spoken. They are the grand expression of His holiness and the summation of man’s duty.
3. It is a clear expression of God’s character as both the gracious redeemer and righteous Lord of his people.
4. This is the Law, which was given to man at his creation. God will write it on the hearts of men at conversion. Jer ch 31 v 33.
5. In Scripture the number 10 indicates completeness. They correspond to the plagues on Egypt – a complete round of Divine judgements.
6. The first 4 relate to man’s obligations God-ward. The rest relate to man’s obligations man-ward – duties of charity in his social relations. Worship of God is rejected by Him, if man steals or destroy his neighbour’s reputation.
7. The Law is spiritual. It affects the inclination of the heart, rather than just outward acts.
8. The Moral law is like a mirror. Man beholds his impotence – then his iniquity – finally the curse. It restrains the wicked, who though they have no concern for His glory or thought to please Him, yet refrain from outward acts of sin through fear of its terrible penalty. In this way it benefits the community in which the people live.
9. They contain sanctions. Those who obey shall not labour in vain. Those who refuse shall not escape with impunity.
10. The Moral Law extends to all moral actions of a man’s life.
8. The book of the NUMBER OF YEARS. Dan ch 9 v 2. Daniel saw in the book of the number of years what must happen in God’s perfect timing. Psalm 139 v 16. “The days, which were formed for me.” God created time and operates within time. The Earth was created first and then God created the sun and moon to ensure that mankind would live within time – days and nights and seasons and months and years. The day of creation for each person is in the book. Jesus came exactly on time. God alone knows the date when He will send Jesus with His angels to bring the World to an end and put an end to time. God has a date in His diary.
What does man do with time? Some pass it with pass-times. Some fill the time. For some time is money so they work extra hard. Prisoners do time. Believers are called to redeem the time. Materialists try to cram as much of life as possible into their time on Earth – ignorant that eternity is still to come. Man is to redeem the time. Psalm 31 v 15. “My times are in God’s hands.” All the prophecies are fulfilled at a specific point in time. The Scriptures have a clear injunction to redeem the time. Eph ch 5 v 16. What man does with the time at his disposal is all recorded in the book. Gen ch 15 v 13. The Hebrews were to be in Egypt for 400 years. Exodus ch 12 v 40 refers to them there for 430 years. 430 years until the fullness of the iniquity of the Amorites had been reached. The Hebrews were in Egypt all that time. Then the Amorites were wiped out. Their wound was too deep to heal.
Jer ch 29 v 10. God said that the Israelites were to be held captive in Babylon for 70 years. That motivated Daniel to pray and as a result he nearly lost his life in the den of lions. Ezekiel prophesied the return of the state of Israel 2520 years in advance and it happened in 1948. Time is important to God. He has a calendar. There is a time for everything under Heaven. Eccles ch 3. What God plans in eternity He carries out in time and what He does in time He planned in eternity. Jesus started His public ministry when He was 30 years of age – the age when a priest took up his public duties. The destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and by Titus was on exactly the same day in the year. A coincidence? Man does not know the number of years he has but God has them planned.
Britain is the 23rd Empire in the World to go into decline.
Jesus arrived exactly on time just when the Romans had built roads to enable the Gospel message to go out round the Roman Empire.
Esther ch 4 v 14. “Perhaps you have come into the Kingdom for such a time as this.” Born for such a time as this.
Jesus said that His time had come. He knew when to move to Jerusalem. He was to be the Passover Lamb.
The Hittite Empire – the strongest military power in the Middle East – collapsed just at the time the Hebrews came out of Egypt and Joshua led them into the Promised Land. God’s timing is perfect.
Jesus spoke of a time of tribulation such as the World has never known. Mat ch 24 v 21. It could be very close. A number of events including a nuclear attack on Israel could trigger such a time of tribulation.
Rev ch 13 v 18. The Numberer. The Anti-Christ will rise to power at a time God decides. Neither men nor demons can thwart the purposes and timing of God.
9. The book of the COVENANT. Ex ch 24 v 7. 2 Kings ch 23 v 2. Moses read the book of the covenant to the people. The people responded by saying that they would do all that the Lord had commanded. God is a covenant God and He keeps His part of the covenant. He expects His children to keep their part of the covenant. In 2 Kings ch 23 v 2 is the story of when the Temple was being repaired and someone found the book of the Covenant written on parchment by Moses. King Josiah read it and cried out to the Lord: “What shall we do, for we have not been following the instructions of this book?” The nation had been living on traditions and were not seeking God in His Word. Josiah renewed the covenant with God.
Josiah renewed the covenant with God. How vital is it to pay attention to the obligations, which we have to God and to one another?
Does God expect man to keep the promises, which he has made to Him and the promises he has made to his fellow men? If so, does he keep a record of the promises in a book? When man promises to pray for another person and fails to do it, he has broken the covenant. When he promises to write to another person and fails to do it, he has broken his promise. God expects man to keep the promises made on his wedding day – for richer and for poorer – in sickness and in health. When he takes vows before God at a marriage ceremony and files for divorce, he has broken his promise made before God. God hates divorce and describes His relationship with Israel as a husband to them. This why He cannot forsake the Jewish people because He has sworn on His oath to bless them. Mat ch 5 v 33. “You shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn. Let your Yes be yes.” Jesus made a covenant with each believer. He was prepared to die to wipe away the record of their sins. The other part involves obedience to His commandments. “ If you love me you will keep my commandments.”
There are 300 references to Covenant in the Bible. Much of Western society has lost the concept of a covenant in their culture. There is a lack of loyalty. “Each man does what he thinks right in his own eyes.” Judges ch 21 v 25. A covenant involves commitment to one another. Parents promise to bring their children up in the nurture of the Lord. A man released on bail covenants to keep the peace or change his ways. Nations enter into non-aggression treaties. The European Union is in a covenant relationship as is the Eurabia Agreement made between the countries of Europe and the Arab people. A £5 note has a promise on it to pay the bearer of the note an agreed sum of money. Man depends on the covenant promise on the bank note. Partnerships are covenants, as are contracts of employment and contracts in general. The word “hessed” means more than faithfulness. It embraces generosity and loyalty.
The covenant with Jesus involves responsibilities on both sides. The aspects of the Old Covenant are included.
There is an exchange of clothes. Luke ch 24 v 49. Filthy rags are exchanged for being clothed in righteousness.
There is an exchange of armour. Eph ch 6 v 11.
An exchange of resources. God sends His Holy Spirit.
An exchange of weapons. 2 Cor ch 10 v 4. Protection against enemies. David and Goliath. Snakes and poison. “You will walk through fire and not be burned.”
Col ch 2. Water baptism replaces circumcision as a covenant between God and man.
What covenants does man enter into?
Marriage. Bringing up children. Deut ch 4 v 10. Deut ch 6 v 7.
Business contracts of employment.
Jesus said that he must be about His Father’s business. A Jewish boy had his Bar Mitzvah – becoming a man – at the age of 12. He then became a partner in his father’s business.
I promise to pray for you.
The law backs up a party where another breaks his contract.
The Hittite covenant.
God’s covenants – with Noah, David and Abraham.
Make no covenant with the Canaanites. Ex ch 23 v 32.
Jonathan and David made a covenant.
Jesus made a covenant with his blood. Mat h 26 v 28.
Jer ch 31 v 33. God will make “A new covenant with the House of Israel.”
10. The book of TRUTH. One of the ways of describing a believer is a lover of truth. It is truth, which sets man free and shines light into the darkness. God’s Word is truth. Man is encouraged to buy truth at any price. Prov ch 23 v 23. John ch 14 v 6. “I am the truth.” 1 John ch 2 v 4. “If we disobey the commandments the truth is not in us.” Dan ch 11 v 2. The angel came to Daniel to show him the truth.
How is truth defined? Truth is the reality of seeing things as they really are. Jesus revealed that it was sin, which causes all the problems in the World. The problems are not as a result of social conditions or genetic defects, or a throwback from the animal world. Sin separates man from God and man from man and each sin is a personal affront to a holy God. Each sin is an insult to God – personally. By man’s acceptance of this teaching of Jesus, he begins to see things as they really are. An electricity consumer does not see electricity in his house but clearly benefits from its presence. Man cannot see truth but benefits from its presence in his life.
During the trial of Jesus, Pilate asked Jesus one of the best-known questions of all time: ” What is truth? ” But he did not wait for the answer. Time was short and the pressures were rising. The crowds were gathering. The police were looking anxious. Pilate did not have time to buy the truth. Pilate’s main task in Judea was to keep the peace and to ensure secure conditions for trade and business. Did Pilate know that Jesus had stated in public: “I am the truth.” This was one of the most outrageous statements Jesus made. He was not saying that He was truthful and did not tell lies. Of course that was also true. But Jesus claimed to be the embodiment of truth. In Him was found the very truth of the Universe – the explanation of the creation of the World and why the World was in such a mess and what had to be done to put it right. Jesus had just said these words to Pilate: “I came to bring truth to the World. All who love the truth are my followers.” Pilate toyed with the idea of truth, but he was not a student of the subject and he was not in the habit of spending time seeking out the truth. Proverbs ch 23 v 23 advises man to buy truth. Pilate had not taken the time to buy the truth about Jesus. Everyone was talking about Jesus and the miracles He had done. Pilate had not taken the time to find out what sort of a man this was. When the pressure was on Pilate he ran out of time to find the truth about Jesus. Many millions will face Jesus on the day of judgement, who had never taken the time to find out about the man Jesus. Pilate was a pragmatic politician. He looked for a solution, which would be reasonably acceptable to as many people as possible, without causing them to search for a truthful answer or exposing their sins. Most politicians are in this category. Man is sometimes guilty of doing that. He can easily sweep a matter under the carpet for a while, but the dirt does not go away.
There are different ways of expressing what it is to be a Christian. A follower of Jesus. One who has the gift of eternal life – an adopted child of God. One who lives in the Kingdom of God. A disciple of the Lord Jesus. When soldiers go on parade, they parade under banners. These banners represent their allegiance to their regiment or their country. One way of describing a Christian is to say that he is one who parades under the banner of truth. A Christian is a lover of the truth. What is truth? It is a strange commodity. Jesus revealed truth. Isaiah ch 45 v 19. “I, the Lord speak the truth. I declare what is right.” With God, as with Jesus, there are no hidden agendas or innuendoes. He speaks out and He speaks the truth, even when it is unacceptable.
John opens his account of the presence of Jesus as God living amongst men in this way: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” John ch 1 v 14. Jesus had just said these words to Pilate: “I came to bring truth to the World. All who love the truth are my followers.”
It may soon be the time when the Antichrist will manifest himself on the Earth. He will distort the truth. Dan ch 8 v 12 says that the one who is to become the Antichrist – described in Daniel as the little horn – will cast truth to the ground. He will declare right that which is wrong and wrong that which is right. So how is truth defined? Truth is the reality of seeing things as they really are. If man tells a lie, he feels guilty. His conscience pricks him. If someone tells a lie about a man he feels hurt. He wants to protest “That it is not true.” Truth also exposes man. If he does something wrong and the truth come to light, he feels exposed. When Jesus exposed the Pharisees by telling them the truth about themselves, they were hurt and wanted rid of Him. They did not welcome the truth. The Pharisees had told the people that they could earn their salvation by works. They had exchanged the truth for a lie. They could not criticise Jesus because He never committed a sin. Every word He spoke was the truth. All religion teaches that salvation can be earned by man’s own best efforts.
It will be right for two women to have a baby by a donor. It is already right for two men to live as partners and in many parts of the World to have the same benefits as married couples. The Scriptures remind man that the spirit of antichrist is already at work in the World. There are gradual distortions of right and wrong. Human rights are being pressed beyond their limits – at the expense of truth. Single parents are becoming acceptable. It is wrong to discipline children. In the fullness of time, when Antichrist is present on the Earth possessing a human body, it will be acceptable and right even to kill believers. It will be forbidden to preach the Gospel, but right to propagate every other belief. It will be difficult to be a believer in these days. Will believers still have a concern for the truth in these days?
Truth is the test for all men. In court, the witness promises to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is a tall order. The proof of the court case rests on the truth. The court wants to find out the reality of the case – what actually happened. There is even a punishment for anyone found to be telling lies in court – perjury. That is how important it is for the witnesses to tell the truth. The future of the accused or the parties to a civil case depends on the witnesses telling the truth. Prov ch 14 v 25. “A witness saves lives when he tells the truth. When he tells lies he betrays the people.”
1 John ch 2 v 4. John says that the future of every individual appearing before the court of God rests on the response of that person to the truth. A person, who denies that Jesus is God, does not have the truth. The truth is not in that person. Without Christ a human being will spend a lost eternity.
In John ch 8 v 32 it says that the truth will set man free. How does it work? Illusions and delusions actually place people in bondage. Truth is a necessity in spiritual warfare. In Ephesians ch 6 v 14 Paul advises that, if believers are to be the people of God and take a stand against Satan, they must put on the belt of truth. A belt around the waist holds the protective clothing in place and prevents it from falling off. In the spiritual battle against Satan, truth holds the character together. Without truth believers are exposed to Satan’s arrows. If man is living in untruth, he knows it, God knows it and Satan knows it. As a result, man loses his authority and confidence. If untruth is exposed in public, he loses all credibility in the public eye.
Paul explains in Romans ch 1 v 25. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie. Rom ch 1 v 19. The truth about God is known to man instinctively. Man has deliberately chosen to reject the truth about God. The World is living a lie, when it denies that Jesus Christ is God and when they rely on teaching, which is contrary to the teaching of Jesus.
Truth has an eternal dimension. What saves a man’s soul? 2 Thes ch 2 v 10. Speaking about those who are to perish, Paul says – they refused to love the truth and so be saved. If man is concerned for the truth of the Gospel, he can be saved, but, if he refuses to believe it, he will be lost. That means going on being saved and therefore going on loving the truth. Once man stops loving the truth or becomes a stranger to the truth, he will stop the process of salvation. For those who refuse to believe the truth, Paul says that God sends a strong delusion to make them believe what is false, so that all will be condemned, who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
The debate today between Jew and Muslim is a debate between the truth of the Bible and the untruth of the Koran. Islam claims that God has no Son. The Bible declares Jesus as the Son of God. The fact that the Jews are back in the land of Israel testifies to the truth of the Bible. God is the God of truth. If God were ever to lie, the Universe would explode. It is inconceivable. That is why man can trust the Bible 100%.
Communism told a lie when it claimed that there was no God. To cover up the lie, further lies were told. The people were told that they could manage without God. In the fullness of time the lie has been exposed. Dissidents were locked up. Jews and Christians were silenced as far as possible. The Jews in John ch 8 tried to silence Jesus, because the truth had hurt their pride. In the same way Communism tried to silence the name of Jesus. The Russian people have paid a dreadful price for that untruth.
John’s Gospel was written about A. D. 90 largely to counteract certain heresies or untruths, which were circulating. The Gnostics denied the real humanity of Jesus and His divinity. John included passages to show that Jesus was God the Son – truly a human being and yet also truly God. In John ch 8 v 32 it says that the truth will set man free. How does it work? Illusions and delusions actually place people in bondage. A refusal to accept that sin is the cause of suffering in the World forces people to look for other explanations for suffering. It is very obvious that suffering is present in the World. Many people genuinely see a solution to the problem of suffering. Without dealing with sin man cannot put an end to suffering no matter how sincere he is and so man is not free to enjoy life in all its fullness. An attempt to make poverty in Africa history is doomed to failure unless man faces up to sin – especially corruption on the part of the leaders and ignorance about hygiene. All the science fiction films are not the truth. They deceive people and prevent them from knowing the reality of the World in which they live. They are a form of escapism from reality. People who cannot face themselves and their own sin lead a life of pretence. They pretend how they would like to live and how they would like others to perceive them and live it out. But it is not reality. It is not seeing things as they really are.
It is one of the reasons why people end up in mental hospitals. They cannot face up to the decisions, which they are called to make in the World and they withdraw into a little World of their own, becoming detached from the World at large. The Book of Revelation tells that in the last days mental problems will greatly increase.
Truth is scarce in the World. It is a commodity in short supply. The political parties are accusing each other in public of telling lies. It is so serious when there are no leaders with integrity in a country. Who has a monopoly of the truth – the believer? The believer should have, but only if he is living in the truth. Expediency is the opposite of truth. It sacrifices truth for short-term gain. All are guilty of doing that on occasions.
There are several aspects of truth.
1. Truth has a price. The Proverb ch 23 v 23 advises man to buy truth. It is described as a commodity to be purchased. That may sound a strange way of expressing it. “Get the facts at any price.” What is the price of truth? Sometimes it is time. It may take time to find out the truth of a situation – to get to the bottom of it. Sometimes it costs money. Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes it costs pride to admit an error. Sometimes it is personal pride and ambition, which have to be forfeited, if man wants to get to the truth. Sometimes the truth is that a man is not up to the task and someone else is better qualified. How many people hang on to their position, although they are not able for the task or job? The truth is that they are in the wrong job or in the wrong place. Sometimes the truth is that God has not asked a man to do the particular task. He wanted to do it for personal position and prestige. The truth is that man is a sinner and not a good person. The truth is that but, for the grace of God, each man would be a beast. Therefore there is no justification for man being proud of what he has done in his life. The truth may cause man to pay back what he has stolen from others. The little things – like money borrowed and not repaid – fares obtained at half price, when they should have been full price. Fees overcharged but never found out. Money found and never handed in. God tell man in His Word that truth has a price and that man must buy it, whatever the price or he will not be free. If a man does not feel free, perhaps there is an untruth being lived in his life.
2. Truth has practical benefits. Truth is important to a doctor. If he is to prescribe the right medicine he needs to know the truth of what the patient has been doing. In the ministry of divine healing it is also essential to find out the truth. Has there been some darkness in the family’s past or occultic involvement, which needs to be addressed? Satan deals in darkness and hidden things. Jesus brings the hidden things into the light so that they can be dealt with in truth.
3. Truth has consequences. Sometimes it hurts man emotionally. Sometimes when man is truthful about himself, it wounds his pride. If man is a lover of truth, he has to repent and confess his sins to one another. That is both a difficult thing to do emotionally and a dangerous thing to do. Will the other person talk to others? What will others think of him, if they know the truth about him when he takes off his mask – if they know what he is really like?
4. Truth is a necessity in spiritual warfare. In Ephesians ch 6 v 14 Paul advises that, if believers are to be the people of God and take a stand against Satan, they must put on the belt of truth. A belt around the waist holds the protective clothing in place and prevents it from falling off. In the spiritual battle against Satan, truth holds character together. Without truth believers are exposed to Satan’s arrows. If they are living in untruth, they know it, God knows it and Satan knows it and as a result, man loses his authority and confidence. If the untruth is exposed in public, he loses all credibility in the public eye. The Church leader, who runs off with one of the members and is seen to be denying the truth of the Word of God, loses all credibility as a leader.
5. Truth has a future. When Jesus said the words: “I am the truth, the way and the life” in John ch 14 v 6, He was speaking about the most searching question facing mankind. What happens when a man dies? Jesus alone can tell mankind what lies ahead, because He is the only one to have come from Heaven to Earth. He saw Satan cast out of Heaven. Thomas asked: “Where are you going and how can we know the way there?” What was Jesus’ answer? Following the truth will ensure that a man ends up in Heaven with Jesus. That is not an easy answer but it is the truthful answer.
1 John ch 2 v 4. John says that the future of every individual appearing before the court of God rests on the response of that person to the truth. A person, who denies that Jesus is God, does not have the truth. The truth is not in that person. Without Christ a human being will spend a lost eternity. Psalm 15 v 2. Who may dwell with God? He who walks blamelessly and speaks the truth from his heart. On the day of judgement man will be judged for every word he has spoken during his time on Earth. Mat ch 12 v 36. If he has not spoken the truth, he will be guilty of perjury and be punished by God accordingly. When mankind loses sight of the Second Coming of Jesus and the day of judgement, he slides downhill morally. One of the consequences is that truth becomes in short supply.
On occasions Jesus used the words: “Verily, verily I say unto you. Every word Jesus spoke was the truth. But what He was about to say was so hard for the hearers to believe that it was likely to be met with unbelief. He was saying: ” This also is the truth. You will find it hard to believe but it is also true.” The people then as now were living so far from the truth that, when they met it, they could not recognise it. Could this be true also? “Surely not.” But yes it is. Today so few believe in evil spirits and they look for another explanation. They are denying the truth, which Jesus taught to the World. They steadfastly refuse to believe in evil spirits, even when there is absolutely no other explanation. Jesus would have to say to people today: ” Verily, verily I say unto you that this problem and that problem is caused by an evil spirit.” Why will the people not believe this? Paul explains in Romans ch 1 v 25. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie. The World is living a lie, when it denies that Jesus is God and when they rely on teaching contrary to the teaching of Jesus.
The more man loves truth, the more he finds lies distasteful. The more he has a hunger for what is truthful, the less interest he will have in science fiction and untruth. When he watches a film, does it matter to him that it says – “This is based on a true story?” Truth matters. It is reality. Non-truth is unreality. Lies are dangerous, because they distort the truth.
God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. It was not that God prevented Pharaoh from accepting Moses as the servant of God but, in that Pharaoh refused to accept, his heart became hardened against God and God simply allowed it to happen by withdrawing His grace. God let the natural inclination of his heart take control and so the fallen nature within Pharaoh rebelled against God. It is only by grace that man does anything in the spiritual realm. The religions of the World have sprung up on the basis of the rejection of the truth as found in Jesus and His Gospel. So the adherents are deluded by false religion. Of course, Satan is not slow to get in there. There is nothing he likes more than to spread falsehood. It is his nature. He is the father of lies. But the opening for Satan is presented, because man rejects the need for a saviour and chooses to save himself.
6. Truth helps a man live in reality. The Bible invites man to see the reality of himself. Paul says in Rom ch 12 v 3, “be honest in your estimate of yourself, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you” Use sober judgement. A man should see himself as he really is. He is not a super person. But he is not as miserable as he might sometimes think and as Satan would like him to think. Let truth be the yardstick. A man’s real worth to God depends not on physical or emotional strengths but on the amount of faith he has. Only faith pleases God. Man’s value or worth relates to the faith, which he exercises.
7. Truth helps man to keep his promises. If truth is a friend, man can no longer say he is out, when he is in. That is a stock answer in an office, when people are busy. Tell them anything. “Tell them I am out.” It just comes naturally, when it does not suit. It is a lie for a man to say he is not in when he is. It is acceptable to say that he is not free to speak right now, if he is genuinely engaged in dealing with a matter, which requires his concentration. It is essential to cultivate a truthful answer to give and not to be moulded by the standards of the World. It is so easy to say – “I have written, when I know I have not – thinking that I can write the letter before the other person finds out that it had not been written at the time of the question. It is more difficult to say the truth – that “I have been so busy that I have not had time to write it.” Perhaps the other person will not be pleased or think less of the man who does that. Sometimes it is not easy to speak the truth in love. It may cause hurt. But when the truth is suppressed, someone always gets hurt. It is not truthful to make promises you cannot keep. When Pan Am 103 crashed certain people promised to leave no stone unturned to bring the perpetrators to justice. Someone knows very well who planted the bomb but for political reasons the matter has been covered up. It was the same with the death of President Kennedy. Some people know who shot John F. Kennedy but are keeping it hushed up for political reasons. Does man ever promise something he does not intend to do? Politicians are well known for this.
The battle is set. It is a battle between light and darkness – between Heaven and Hell – between God and Satan – between truth and lies. Man is on one side or the other. In practical terms what lies is man guilty of, which ought to be eradicated from his life style. Telling tales about others, without checking out the facts as true. Conveying false impressions. Sometimes man can lie by remaining silent or by a shrug of the shoulders or by raising an eyebrow. Public eulogies, especially at a funeral, can be lies by overemphasising the one side of the character to convey a false impression. Flattering others is a lie. Ps 12 v 2-3. Giving a false impression of in a C.V. Rom ch 12 v 16. Raising false rumours. Ex ch 23 v 1.
The Bible conveys all the necessary truth to lead man into salvation and holiness, all the truth to bring up his family, and all the truth to live a godly and balanced life. Now some will say that there is a little bit of truth in false religions. Yes, there is a little bit of truth in World religions but Jesus claimed to be the embodiment of truth – total truth not just a bit of truth. It is not being narrow or fundamentalist to proclaim Jesus as the only way to God. It is being truthful. That takes time. Other religions do not offer salvation and their adherents have no assurance of their eternal destiny. The death of Jesus is not man’s idea concerning dealing with sin. It was God’s idea. Jesus told the religious Jews: “I did not come of my own accord, but my Father sent me.”
Truth. Is man devoted to truth? Does he have a deep concern for truth? Does he use it as a measuring line in reaching his decisions in life? Man is tested by truth and will be judged according to his truthfulness. Does he love the truth, even when it hurts? A love for Jesus should mean a love for the truth.
11. The book of FINANCE. Mal ch 3 v 10. Bring the tithes into the storehouse. God invites man to put Him to the test. Just as a government needs taxes to run the country, God needs taxes – tithes – to run His Kingdom. The Lord loves a generous giver. In Britain the Inspector of Taxes keeps a record of a man’s contribution to the Exchequer. The contributions determine his pension at the age of retirement. Should it be any different with God? If God can keep records of 6 billion people, can a believer not keep a record of his tithes? Acts ch 20 v 35. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Money is simply a symbol of assets. All wealth is the Lord’s. He created the minerals, the trees and the animals. The question of wealth is at the root of one of the basic questions confronting mankind. Gen ch 4 v 9. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Jesus makes it clear in Mat ch 24 v 33ff that there is an obligation to look after the people in need. James, His brother, confirms it in James ch 1 v 27. True religion is looking after the widows and orphans, who are unable to look after themselves. God is a God of justice. He is not looking for equality but justice. Luke ch 6 v 38. “Give and it will be given to you.” The measure a man gives will be the measure he will be given back. Man can only give away what he has himself. Jesus alone had eternal life to give. Wealth is not a problem to God. What matters is how a man gets it and what he does with it. These are the matters, which will be entered in the book of finance.
Jesus says not to let the right hand know what the left hand is doing. Mat ch 6 v 3. God the Father knows what is done in secret and will reward every man. It will all be entered in the Book of Finance. Money is the only thing in the World, which man has created out of nothing. Man may not be able to do very much in many complex situations but he can give out of his finances.
God gives a physical picture to teach man the spiritual truth. Most people in the Middle East lived outside of the city and only entered the city when an enemy attacked. The ancient city of Beersheba had a storehouse. When the storehouse was full the military could look after the farmers in times of trouble. If it was empty there was little they could do to provide for the needs of the people.
1. The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it. “The silver and gold are mine,” says the Lord. It is all grace. When man gives to the Lord he is only giving back a little of what God has first given to him. If a father gives his son a gift of money and the son buys his father a present, the father is no better off than he was before he made the gift to his son.
2. It is dangerous to talk about money in case God convicts the speaker about his own money. An idol is something or someone, which fills the mind and activity of the person. Money is an idol when people are constantly speaking about it and when making money is the objective of their life.
3. The area of money is the hardest to surrender to God. The way to a man’s conscience is often barred by his wallet. Jesus is not Lord of a man’s life, if He has no access to his wallet or purse.
4. God is a giver and man is a getter. Man is born into a World, which is based on getting and not giving. Giving is done to buy affection or business. To reduce a garment by a penny is not designed to give away a penny but to make the garment cheaper and so to encourage the customer to spend more in that shop. While God has a habit of giving, man has the habit of receiving and getting. It is difficult to break a habit and start a new habit of giving. It is difficult for a man to give assets away during his lifetime.
5. No one respects a mean person. God is generous and He wants man to be generous also. In Jesus is
seen the peak of generosity. “Though He was rich yet for the sakes of mankind He became poor.” Man hates to see mountains of food dumped to keep the price up but man tends to see in others the faults, which he has in himself.
6. God wants to restore man to the image in which He made man. He wants man to share. Materialists try to cram as much of life as possible into their time on Earth – ignorant that eternity is still to come.
7. God wants man to share with others. ” Am I my brother’s keeper? ” Who else was to share with Cain? There were only the two of them? God loves justice and that demands that man shares out what he has with those in need. Man hates to see injustice, especially when he is at the receiving end.
8. Whereas there are to be no lies and no stealing, it is difficult to do without money. So God has made it easy and given a simple rule – give away one tenth. This principle trains man in the habit of giving. God wants man to be looking to give and not always to get. He loves a generous giver.
8. Giving is a decision of the will and not of the emotions.
9. The World – those opposed to God – receives without thanks. Grace at the meal table is dying out.
10. Jesus put Judas in charge of the money – this shows the relevant importance of money to Jesus.
11. The love of money is one of the roots of evil. Putting trust in money steals man’s love for God. There is nothing wrong with money itself. Abraham and Joseph were wealthy, as were some of the friends of Jesus. What matters is man’s attitude to money.
12. Tithing. The principle was established long before the law was given. Melchizedek. Gen ch 14 v 17. Whether does man want 9 tenths with God’s blessing or 10 tenths without His blessing? The tithe should be a tenth of the gross income, and not the net. The taxes, which man pays are for his own benefit e.g. defence of the nation, family allowance, education, health etc. No part goes to God’s work. Tithing teaches regular giving and this trains man’s character to be like His.
13. If man sins by disobeying God in any way he loses his confidence before Him. So it is in the matter of tithing his income. If someone died because man did not share with that person, he would feel guilty. The Western World is guilty in relation to the Developing World.
14. In every aspect of the Christian life obedience brings blessing.
15. Faith without works is dead. Jas ch 2 v 17. Unless man is prepared to put his money where his mouth is he is a hypocrite.
16. Believers are the body of Christ. Jesus can only go where their legs and hands go and can only feed those to whom they give money.
17. If believers are not obedient to what God has revealed, then God will reveal no more to them.
18. The question of tithing is a big stumbling block to believers. It is easy to be obedient in small ways. Tithing is like diving in at the deep end of the swimming pool. But that is a good place to start. It is a severe test of loyalty to God.
Some are in debt and cannot afford to tithe. Who is man’s biggest creditor? God is man’s biggest creditor. Man’s first duty is to God. Tithing is a Scriptural principle. Not just a tenth but all of the money, talent, time, etc is God’s. Should a tithe be out of the gross or net earnings? Which does a man expect God to bless? There is nothing evil in possessions. They are given to man to enjoy. The danger is that the love of possessions can remove from man his values in life. The desire for material possessions focuses on money. The Bible equates man’s ability to handle money with his spiritual maturity. Luke ch 16 v 10. If man is faithful in little things, he will be entrusted with big things but if he is a cheat in little things he will be a cheat in big things.
There are several principles in handling money, which lead to financial freedom.
1. Transfer ownership of all possessions to God. Give Him all the responsibility. It might steal man’s loyalty and affection. “It is all yours, Lord.”
2. The tithe is a regular and methodical way of saying: ” I acknowledge Father your ownership of all my money. Here is one tenth to demonstrate that.” Believers cannot afford not to tithe. Not to do so is to sin in disobeying God. When man obeys God he receives a blessing. A man should remind himself of God’s ownership of all his life by tithing regularly.
3. Believers must develop a sales resistance to the media’s attempt to persuade them that they need things, which they do not need. They must not let themselves be brainwashed. There is a great emphasis on credit, which appeals to covetousness and greed. Bankruptcy is due to an overdose of credit. Before man spends money he should ask himself:
(a) “Do I need it or do I merely want it?”
(b) “Do I have the money to pay for it?”
(c) “Will it make me more spiritually effective?”
(d) “How much will it cost me each time I use it?”
(e) “Is there someone I can ask for outside advice?”
(f) “How much will it depreciate in future years?”
(g) “Am I paying for features I really do not need?”
4. A man should make sure that no one takes from him the money God has given him in any other way than God appoints.
12. The book of the LAW of MOSES. Neh ch 7 v 5. Neh ch 8 v 1. Josh ch 8 v 31.
2 Chron ch 34 v 16. Josiah returned to the Book of the Law when it had been found. Israel has walked away from the Word of God and had lived by traditions of men rather than by the Word of God. Josiah was referring to Deut chs 12-25. Apart from the ceremonial laws, which were rendered obsolete when Jesus offered His own body as the perfect sacrifice, the moral laws are still relevant for all times not only for Jewish people but for those, who have been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel.
Moses gave the people a series of laws and regulations for the protection of society. These include laws relating to leadership of the people, administration of justice, relationships between people, idolatry, holiness, criminal laws, military service, being a good neighbour, sexual relationships, sanitation and health, financial matters, establishing a sound marriage, providing for the poor in society by leaving the gleanings and miscellaneous laws to regulate society. They are all designed to sustain the social order for the good of all in society. That places an obligation on all believers to learn about the laws of Moses and to obey them.
All these matters are recorded in the book of the Law of Moses. How aware is each believer of the practical benefits of these laws?
Deut ch 12 v 1 sets out the statutes and ordinances which man is to be careful to do. The promise of health in Exodus ch 15 v 33 relates to keeping the commandments of God and His statutes. Deut ch 12 v 32. Man is to be careful not to add to the statutes or to take away from them. Deut ch 18 v 9ff commands a separation from the abominable practices of the Canaanites. They were involved in pornography on a large scale.
Deut Chapter 28 closes with a list of the blessings for obedience to the Law of Moses and a list of the curses for disobedience to the Law of Moses. Jesus said that He had not come to do away with a jot or title of the Law of Moses. Moses concludes in chapter 30 v 15ff by setting out clearly that spiritual life is determined by obedience to the laws he has set out in the earlier part of the book. As a result all the laws of Moses will be taken into account when the books are opened, including the Book of the Law of Moses.
13. The book of THOUGHTS. It was because the thoughts and imaginations were only worthless continually that God sent the Flood. Gen ch 6 v 5. He has a record of every thought of the mind and the heart. Job ch 21 v 27. God says that He knows man’s thoughts. “I know your thoughts.” Psalm 94 v 11. The Lord knows the thoughts of man. Mat ch 9 v 4. “Jesus knew their thoughts.” Mat ch 15 v 19. “Out of the heart come evil thoughts – jealousy, greed, hatred, revenge, etc” Gal ch 5 v 19 – 21. Mat ch 12 v 36. 2 Cor ch 10 v 5. “Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” There is a record of every thought of man kept in a book. Prov ch 12 v 5. “The thoughts of the righteous are just.”
Isaiah ch 66 v 18. “I know their works and their thoughts.”
Thoughts originate in the mind. Jesus calls on men to love the Lord their God with all their heart and soul and mind. The mind is like a reception desk of a hotel. All kinds of thoughts come into the mind of man. Some are from God. Some are harmless, but others are from the enemy. It is the duty of man to reject evil thoughts and not to let them dwell in the mind, where they can become strongholds in the mind. Eph ch 4 v 17 speaks of those whose minds are empty.
Col ch 3 v 2 urges man to set his mind on things above. If man gives no thought to God and His Heaven why should he expect to enter Heaven after death? When a man is planning to visit a foreign country he usually spends time thinking about what it is like and what he needs to take with him for the journey. Luke ch 2 v 19. Mary pondered these things about the birth of Jesus in her heart. She thought often about their significance.
Jesus extended responsibility from acts to the very thought of committing the act in the first place. Mat ch 5 v 28. To lust after a woman is also a sin. In the days of Jesus the Pharisees taught that it was only the act of adultery, which was a sin. Jesus confirms that the very thought of committing adultery is also a sin. This is also the case with planning to steal, even if the plan is frustrated. All the moral laws are broken with a thought in the heart. There may be many thoughts, which never develop into action. However God records them. The fact that God takes man’s thoughts into account distinguishes Christianity from all religions. Man cannot hide from God, even in his thoughts.
What thoughts would a man not like others to know? God knows them all and keeps a record in the Book of Thoughts.
The Books will be opened on judgement day and there will be no excuses available to man. Each one will stand alone to hear the judgement. At the day of judgement man can only take with him into eternity his character or integrity. There is not a single other thing which can be taken.
1. The book of the wars of God. Num ch 21 v 14. Are you involved in a fight?
2. The book of remembrance of those who feared the Lord’s name, thinking on His name. Mal ch 3 v 16. Are you remembering God from day to day?
3. The book of the generations of Adam. Gen ch 5 v 1. Do you believe that your name is in the book?
4. The book of words. Mat ch 12 v 36. What are you saying to others?
5. The book of actions. Everything a man does will be judged. 2 Cor ch 5 v 10.
Eph ch 6 v 8. What are you doing with your life?
6. The book of the deeds of Solomon. 1 Kings ch 11 v 41. Are you fulfilling God’s plan for your life?
7. The book of the law. Deut ch 31 v 24 and 26. 2 Kings ch 22 v 8- 10. Deut ch 29 v 20, 21 and 27. 2 Chr ch 34 v 14-16. Josh ch 1 v 8. Are you keeping the law of God?
8. The book of the number of years. Dan ch 9 v 2. Psalm 139 v 16. Are you aware of the urgency of the days in which you live?
9. The book of the Covenant. Ex ch 24 v 7. 2 Kings ch 23 v 2. Do you keep your promises?
10. The book of truth. Dan 10 v 21. Are you telling the truth?
11. The book of finance. Mal ch 3 v 10. Bring the tithes into the storehouse. How are you spending your money?
12. The book of the Law of Moses. Neh ch 7 v 5. Neh ch 8 v 1. Josh ch 8 v 31. Are you being blessed by the Law of Moses?
13. The book of thoughts. Gen ch 6 v 5. What are you thinking about?
Other books? Eccles ch 12 v 12. Of the writing of books there is no end.
Aspects of judgement are throughout the Bible. God’s holiness and majesty are essentially expressed in His righteous judgements. Deut ch 32 v 4. Psalm 99. Isaiah ch 5 v 16. Certain forms of divine judgements were realised through human agents, e.g. Babylon, but final judgement was God’s prerogative.
1. Judging others. This can be negative as in criticism and positive in voting in elections and in choosing leaders in the Church as well as enforcing discipline in the Church. Jesus did not come to judge but by His very presence He brought people to an awareness of sin. By refusing to take part in a lottery draw a man implies that it is wrong and that those taking part are doing wrong. It is not necessary to say anything. A man may pass judgement without speaking a word. He communicates in body language more than 50 % of the time. A shrug of the shoulders or a raised eyebrow can express a view. Rom ch 14 v 10-13.
2. Judging self. Scripture is clear that man should take a good long look his behaviour and attitudes. The Holy Spirit convicts a man of sin. A man should not be too harsh on himself. 1 Cor ch 11 v 29.
3. Judgement in history. God judges mankind because of his sin, always with a view to repentance and restoration of fellowship. Also because He is a just God and sin cannot go unpunished. God’s wrath is the other side of His love. Without passing judgement God would be a soft sentimental person. Psalm 75 v 7. Eccles ch 11 v 9. Examples are
a. Nineveh for her treatment of peoples.
b. The Flood. Noah was a preacher of righteousness
c. Babel for wilful disobedience and rebellion. Gen ch 11.
d. Egypt. Pharaoh’s hardness of heart brought the 10 plagues on Egypt. Gen ch 15 v 14.
e. The Edomites for their hostility to God’s people the Jews. Obadiah.
f. Israel for her sins. Babylon. In A. D. 70 when the Romans banished the Jewish people from the Land.
All these were precursors of the judgement on the Cross. By punishing His own Son on the Cross, God was affirming His eternal, holy revulsion towards sin. Penal substitution has been the centre of evangelical teaching and preaching on the atonement since the Reformation. Wrath is the holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is the contradiction of His holiness. Without it He would cease to be truly holy and His love would degenerate into sentimentality. Nor is His wrath arbitrary, fitful or subject to emotion as in man. God’s wrath is working itself out in history as men reap the moral and spiritual harvest for rejecting God’s revelation. Heb ch 9 v 27. John ch 16 v 8-11.
4. Eternal judgement. Judgement is given to Jesus. “The Son of Man” from Dan ch 7 v 13f is Jesus’ preferred self-designation. The Son of Man is a Heavenly figure coming at the close of history as the Lord and judge of all and inherits the Kingdoms of the World. All men must appear before Jesus at His coming.
5. Judgement in the Court of God followed by punishment. Despite frequent injustices in life, judgement will be utterly just and fair. Jesus spoke more about Hell than all the other prophets. Mat ch 5 v 29f. Mark ch 9 v 43. Rev ch 14 v 11. Hell is a reality of unspeakable solemnity. The teaching of the Bible is quite unambiguous and of awesome seriousness. Those who remain unrepentant when confronted with God’s claim on their life, who reject His will when it is made known to them and who continue through their lives in the blasphemy and rebellion which sin implies, will face God’s just wrath. On that terrible day the mercy of God will reach as far as divine mercy can reach.
6. Believers will also be judged. 2 Cor ch 5 v 10. Their judgement will be in respect of their stewardship of the gifts, talents, opportunities and responsibilities given in this life. It will be a Father’s judgement. The value of the work, which has been done, will be relative to the durability of the work done in obedience.
Judgement asks questions of a man.
1. How should he live? Mat ch 7 v 25. A man should look at himself. He generally sees in others the faults, which he has in himself.
2. What does God expect of each man? Micah ch 6 v 8. Walk humbly before God.
3. Why are others experiencing disaster? If their sins are so serious, is a man involved in the same thing?
4. Is a man playing fair and square and playing by the rules set down by God in the Ten Commandments? Luke ch 6 v 31. Prob ch 31 v 9. The Good Samaritan. Is a man defending the rights of the poor?
5. Is a man seeking God’s mercy? Heb ch 4 v 16. Acts ch 2 v 21.
6. Is a man being merciful to others as God has been merciful to him? Mat ch 18 v 33-34. Mat ch 5 v 7. Mat ch 7 v 32. God has not finished with others yet, so do not be too hard on them.
GOD’S PRINCIPLES OF JUDGEMENT.
Romans Chapter 2. Paul poses a question by a good moral person who challenges Paul by suggesting that these wicked sinful people do not relate to the questioner. Then Paul goes on to answer the question. Religious Jews found ample scope for passing adverse moral judgement on their Gentile neighbours. The Jews were the first people to experience salvation and judgement alike.
1. Judgement will be impartial. Every man will reap what he has sown. Ezekiel ch 18 v 4.
2. Men are held accountable for such knowledge of the truth as was accessible to them, not for what was inaccessible. Jews will be judged on the basis of the written law because they had access to it. Gentiles will be judged by the law of conscience, the distinction between right and wrong, engraved on their hearts. They know that they are doing wrong, when they violate that law. God reveals Himself to all people at some point or points in their total life pilgrimage. When that light is resisted and the heart hardened against it, the light may be removed. The revelation of the light of God’s word stabilises human society by giving a special sanction to the moral law. If the light He gives is extinguished by men, the responsibility for the subsequent darkness remains theirs. Through general revelation God has revealed something of His nature and character and purposes to mankind. Increased knowledge and opportunities imply increased responsibilities. Luke ch 12 v 48.
3. A man knows how he ought to behave towards others, because he knows how he wants others to behave towards him. He wants to be helped when in trouble, so he ought to help others in trouble. He wants to be forgiven, when he makes a mistake or commits wrong and so he must forgive others when they wrong him. A man is quick to point out wrongdoing in others and so, if he does the same thing, he brings judgement on his own head. e.g. tax evasion or cheating at sport or telling an untruth.
4. All men make moral choices every day and so cannot complain or pretend ignorance of what is right and wrong. Judgement is exercised by people all the time. e.g. behaviour as a child, attitudes at work, carelessness on the road, gossip and failure to fulfil promises.
5. God will use the same standard. God’s moral law of the 10 Commandments tells man what is right and wrong. It is the Commandments, which are written on the hearts of men. The rule of do unto others is applied in reverse. People want others to do unto them what they know in their hearts is right and true.
6. The Jews have received the full Law of Moses. They teach others and therefore must do it themselves. A Jew who breaks the law is no better than a Gentile. The sad plight of the Jews in exile caused the Gentiles to speak lightly of their God, imagining that He was unable to help His people. The shortcomings of an unworthy Jew will be shown up by the example of a Gentile who pleases God. Ch 3 v 1 Paul says that there are great advantages in being a Jew and a member of the nation to whom God had revealed Himself. The high honour carried with it great responsibility. Their fall was greater than that of other people.
7. The wrath of God is upon all mankind. Jesus averted the wrath for those who accept Him as Lord. The penalty for sin is death. All live under the law of death in that all shall die physically. When a man accepts Jesus he is declared righteous or innocent instead of being guilty. That affects his standing before God. In himself no one is righteous. Damaging a car leaves the owner having to pay for the cost of repair and also angry at the wrong done to him. Sin costs a penalty and the anger is God’s wrath.
8. There is no favouritism with God. v 11. God makes the sun to shine on the righteous and the unrighteous alike.
9. The consciousness of right and wrong is an additional responsibility for the believer since his conscience is enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
10. God is the moral Governor of the Universe, the judge of all the Earth. How could He exercise that function, which is inseparable from His godhead, if He did not exact retribution for sin?
11. Men are not judged for not having heard of Christ but are judged by their own consciences, and no man lives up to his own conscience. The Law of God is found perfectly in the Scriptures and imperfectly on the human heart. After the fall the conscience was corrupted but not totally erased. The believer has a conscience cleansed of guilt by faith and he maintains a clear conscience by a sincere surrender to God and immediate repentance and confession of any known sin.
12. The nations are judged for their response. There are 40 chapters in the Bible about the judgement of the nations. Joel ch 3 v 2. The charge is dividing up God’s own land of Israel.
2 Pet ch 2. There is no inconsistency in God’s justice. Human judges make their judgements on the basis of the best evidence available. God knows everything. God is perfect in all His ways. He is love and just.
Humans need justice. They demand it for themselves and for others. When a murderer is sentenced, there is a sense that justice has been done. This letter was written in the days of Nero, when there was great injustice in the World. How did society reach that situation? By ignoring the Word of God and truth. Peter gives three examples of God’s justice. Gen ch 6 v 1.
1. There is cosmic justice. God judges the angels.
2. There is earthly justice. God was grieved over the state of the Earth. His wrath boiled over. There was only one righteous man – Noah. The ark was a type of Christ bringing salvation to the Earth.
3. There was local justice. Sodom was judged. Ezekiel ch 16 v 49. A man can be repelled by filth or rats. God is repelled by sin. If God does not judge Britain, He will have to apologise to Sodom and Gomorrah. If Lot was saved – and he does not appear in a good light – what were the rest like? Today tolerance is the big word. Everything is tolerated except sin and salvation. God will deal with it in His own good time.