Holy Spirit

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“His Banner … Is Love.”

Thursday, October 15, 2020

            In Song of Solomon 2:4, the Shulammite declares that her beloved has placed a banner over her; and this banner is love. In context, we see a woman who was considered beautiful by this future husband, so he brought her before friends and others (1:12, 2:4a). She demurely says she is but the Rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys, or lily among thorns (2:1-2). She sees herself as a sunburnt maiden (1:5-6) but is reassured when her future husband compliments her true beauty (1:8-10, 15-17) and puts his banner of love over her (2:4).

            Oh, the beauty of true love! True love looks deeper than the skin. True love looks within the person. It reminds me of the statements made about God. For example, “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (I Sam. 16:7). The Holy Spirit said, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). When we remember that “God is love” (I Jn. 4:8), then we understand even more how God has the ability to look upon the inward person.

            What causes two people to live a life together for decades? Love (Eph. 5:22-33)! What is the motivation for a person to stay with another despite disease, disability, dementia, until separated by death? Love! True love causes us to see beyond the flesh, beyond the coif, beyond the “painted up and powdered up” person at work or on a date. True love says I will accept this person regardless of what the outward “package” looks like or what might happen to it through the years! Ladies, there is a reason God wants “the hidden man of the heart” to be revealed to others, and part of the reason is that “the hidden man of the heart” is “of great price” in God’s sight (I Pet. 3:4). Ladies, this what your spouse truly loves and not what the outside looks like!

Long after the world has dismissed someone, the one who truly loves is still there! Matthew 22:39 means much more to us when we realize this passage applies in our homes, among those we have known for years, as well as among the strangers we meet for a few seconds one day and never see again. Love looks deeper than the skin. How “deeply” do you look at a person?

Look again at Song of Solomon 2:4 for a spiritual application. The “banner” over the Shulammite was love because this man loved his future bride. He loved her so deeply that his loved wrapped or covered her! Thus it is with God! His love surrounds us, as well. Think about it -- All of us have sinned and have been stained by it (Rom. 3:23; Isa. 1:18-19). Yet, when God looks upon us, He looks in love (Jn. 3:16). Because He loves us, He made a way by which we can be free from sin (Rom. 5:6-8; Matt. 20:28, 26:28; Acts 2:38).

At the same time, love cannot be forced! The Shulammite and her beloved loved each other freely. Thus it is with God. He loves us freely and wants us to do the same (Matt. 11:18-20; Rev. 22:14; etc.). His banner of love covers us; will we accept it? Will we tell others about this love? Indeed, “the greatest” is love (I Cor. 13:13), and this passage gives us a glimpse as to why!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"You Must Take A Stand"

Monday, August 10, 2020

            In the context of II John 11, we learn that whoever teaches false doctrine does not have fellowship with God (II Jn. 9). At the same time, it is not right for those who hear the false doctrine to accept the person and act as if nothing is wrong (II John 10). If someone bids “Godspeed” (KJV) or “Greets” (ASV, Darby, ESV, NET, RV, etc.) the false teacher, this person is just as guilty in the eyes of God. Other Bible versions use the terms, “participates,” or “sharing” for “partaker” in II John 11. I think this helps us understand what John was teaching. Not only is it wrong to teach false doctrine, but it is also wrong for those hearing false doctrine to stand by and allow it to be taught without opposition (II Jn. 10-11)!

            The apostle Paul showed us the right response when he said that when Judaizers came in to “spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus,” they gave place “no, not for an hour” (Gal. 2:4-5)! Later, Paul would withstand Peter “to the face, because he was to be blamed” for the hypocrisy he perpetuated (Gal. 2:11). Paul would also write (by inspiration) a warning similar to John’s to the Romans. After listing the sins the Gentiles had committed through the years, he ends chapter one by saying, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:32). In other words, not only did the people committing the sins deserve death (Jas. 1:15), but those who approve of what is done (applaud, ISV; consent, ASV; delight, Darby) deserve the same punishment! This sounds like John’s warning in II John 11.

            The stand taken by Paul and John while they lived, and encouraged in their epistles (Rom. 1:32; II Jn. 9-11), serves at least two purposes. One purpose is obvious, and that is to save those who are affected by false doctrine, including myself! Remember, to bid “Godspeed” means I am also partaking (II Jn. 11)! If I do not take a stand, or if I bid “Godspeed” to a deceiver, then many more will be deceived. The second purpose is closely linked to the first. This is that by standing, we are also trying to win the soul of the false teacher. When we stand opposed to someone because of his false teaching, we need to make sure and check our attitude. Is our response motivated by hatred of the person or the doctrine? There is a difference! If I am trying to win an argument, I very well may lose the soul. If I am trying to win someone’s soul, I will win the argument by default. What John shows me is that I not allow what some call “love” to silence my tongue! I must speak! I must warn!

            Sadly, we live in a time when men are afraid of confrontation. We have a society that recoils at the thought of standing for the truth, but ironically is quick to criticize and belittle anyone who does! We are told that retreat is courageous. This is wrong. Christians in our time who claim to wear the armor of Christ (Eph. 6:11-19), tend to forget about the sword. Yet, the sword is a part of our armor! The sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:18) is not a defensive but an offensive weapon. With it, we take the fight to the enemy (II Cor. 10:3-5; I Tim. 6:12)! The sword is not for cleaning your fingernails, or picking your teeth! With the sword of the Spirit, we stand against “the wiles of the devil” and do not give submission, “no, not for an hour”!

When we read II John, we learn that we do not give “Godspeed” (greet, participate, or share) with false teachers as if to “go along and get along.” Remember, souls are at stake, and they are too precious to leave to the “wolves” (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-31)! At the same time, standing against the wolves who teach false doctrines may open their eyes to the truth. This is our goal -- to bring lost souls to the Father (Jas. 5:19-20). When we do not partake or share with false teachers, we will cause them to stop and consider what they are doing. No, not everyone repents at this, but folks need to know where we stand. Let them be warned in love and truth (Eph. 4:15, 5:11). Let us stand with a pure conscious, knowing that false teachers will face God in judgment, having at least been warned. Who knows, but you are in the kingdom “for such a time as this,” and your warning might save a soul from death? One thing is certain: silence in the face of false teaching and pretending nothing is wrong will do nothing to remedy the situation, nor will it save a soul. It only makes things worse!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"The Apostles' Commands"

Friday, July 24, 2020

            I can remember not long after I started in my first “full-time” work, I encountered a few brethren who took the position that the “red letters” in the Bible were more important than the “black letters.” In other words, we ought to give greater emphasis to the words Christ spoke on earth than to anything else in the New Testament. To them, the epistles, etc., were of lesser value than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Perhaps you have heard of people who have taken such a position. Until that time, I had not heard of such a belief. This may seem to have a noble aspect because people wish to place greater emphasis on Christ’s words, but the noble intention has many glaring errors.

First of all, it is a strange position to hold because red-letter Bibles were not published until 1901! What about the people from the 1800s and back to the second century? Were they unable to determine the “important words” because their Bibles weren’t typed with red letters? Second, if the words of Christ (in red letters) have a greater impact than what the apostles said, what about the fact that Christ told them He was not able to tell them everything because they weren’t ready? He then promised the Holy Spirit to come and “guide” them into “all truth” (Jn. 16:12-13)? So, the apostles didn’t have all the truth when Christ was on earth, speaking in “red letters”! They did get all of it later (Acts 2:1-5; Gal. 1:12; etc.), yet somehow their words are not as important as what Christ said? This is a strange doctrine, indeed.

            Not only is it a strange doctrine, but it also contradicts passages like II Peter 3:2. Peter told his readers that he wanted them to “be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior.” He would also later condemn people for twisting Paul’s words and put Paul’s words on an equal plain with “the other Scriptures,” i.e., the Old Testament Scriptures (II Pet. 3:16). This sounds nothing like what I was told about the importance of the “red letters”! Based on the truth Peter taught, let me ask a few questions.

  • Jesus said the words He spoke were the words given to Him by the Father (Jn. 12:49-50). Do we now discount the words of Christ as “lesser” than the Father’s?
  • The job of the apostles was to speak the words of Christ to the world (Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15; Jn. 14:26). When they did so, how were these words of lesser importance than Christ’s? They were Christ’s!
  • Since the words of the apostles are equated with the words of the prophets of God (II Pet. 3:2), how can we say they are of lesser value or lesser importance than Christ’s?
  • Please supply book, chapter, and verse where Jesus (while on earth) gave us: instructions on how to worship, instructions on the organization of the church, instructions on the work of the church, instructions on matters of faith vs. matters of opinion, insight into the conflict between the Jews and the Gentiles and how to be at peace, the meaning of His cross, etc. (Maybe I am seeing some people’s motivation for dismissing the “black-letters”! When we dismiss them, we dismiss all of these things as well!)
  • Since Deity is actually behind the entire Bible (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:20-21), shouldn’t the whole Bible be “red-letter”?

            Personally, I find the “red letter” Bibles distracting. I mainly preach out of Bibles that have only black letters. Friends, let us not ignore the words of the apostles, but realize that since these men were Christ’s ambassadors (II Cor. 5:20; Eph. 6:20), their words are as authoritative as Christ’s when it comes to doctrine and truth! Peter said we need to be listening to the commands of the apostles, and so let’s do that and be blessed (II Pet. 3:2)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"No Private Interpretation"

Saturday, July 11, 2020

                   The first chapter of II Peter ends the argument he started in verse 16 by reminding his readers that “no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation” (v. 20). He maintains, “the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (v. 21).

                   These last verses in II Peter 1 maintain that Peter and the apostles have not been following myths or fairy tales (v. 16). They had been eyewitnesses of Christ on earth (v. 17-18), and if you don’t believe their words, trust the very word that has come from God (v. 19). Why can I trust God’s word above all else? The answer is in II Peter 1:20-21.

                   God’s prophecy is not of any “private interpretation.” What does this mean? Through the years, I have heard men say that this means there cannot be a “private interpretation” of the Scriptures themselves. This is not what Peter was saying! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to listen and observe people and see many who have twisted the Scriptures and now teach their own “private interpretation” of the Bible. Peter warned of it happening in the first century, and it continues today (II Pet. 3:16).

                   What does “no private interpretation” mean? Remember the context of this chapter! Peter was declaring, “No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination” (NET). To borrow from brother Clinton Hamilton, “the meaning of Scripture is not under view, but the origin of Scripture is the issue” (Truth Commentaries, II Peter, p. 98). Thus, the reason why Peter could say that God’s revelation is more “sure” than an eyewitness (v. 19), is because the Scripture originated with God Himself (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:20-21)!

                   The Bible you hold in your hands is more precious than any other writing on earth. What are you doing with it? Do you know it? Do you read it? Do you study it? Do you obey what you have learned? If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” you are wasting precious time! Get your nose in The Book and learn, believe, and obey (Eph. 3:4; Rom. 10:17; Heb. 5:9, 11:6)!

                   Peter thought it necessary to remind the brethren of the inspired word so long as he lived (II Pet. 1:12-15). Now, we know why! Could there be anything greater than God’s word in our minds? How often is our Bible open in a day? Why are we depriving ourselves of the source of God’s wisdom (Ps. 119:98-100)? The prophets didn’t make this stuff up (II Pet. 1:20)! The Holy Spirit told them what to say or write, and they responded to that call (II Pet. 1:21)! What will we do with the Divine truth given us

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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