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"The Old Paths"

Sunday, November 07, 2021

                   Jeremiah 6:16 is a verse that holds a special place in my heart. Besides being the verse that serves as inspiration for the name of the bulletin I have been writing since 1994, it also stands as a final plea from God to His people and a pattern for all preaching that God wants done. This passage states succinctly: “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk therein.’”

                   When we read Jeremiah 6:16, we read about four appeals that Jeremiah made. First, he appealed to the authority of God when he said, “Thus saith the Lord.” What Jeremiah said did not come from the mind of man. This is not what Jeremiah thought would be a good idea. This is what the Lord said to do! Remember, God had told Jeremiah in chapter one that He would put His words in Jeremiah’s mouth, and this is but one example of God doing it. Jeremiah’s appeal was to God’s authority.

                   Second, we see an appeal to investigation. Calling on these people to “stand … and see” means God wanted them to investigate and understand. The term “see” in this text is used in the way we use it when we ask people, “Do you see what I am saying?” The word “see” here does not mean what is accepted by the light reflected into your eyeballs! “See” in this verse means to perceive or understand. God’s word is written in such a way that it can be understood (Eph. 3:4, 5:17). Therefore, let us “Stand … and see” what God wants.

                   Next is an appeal to obedience. God, through Jeremiah, told the people to ask for the old paths, so they could “walk therein.” This means they were going to be obedient to the things they had heard and understood. It makes no sense to appeal to people to investigate and ask for the truth if they would not, in turn, obey the truth that they discovered! God has always wanted His people to obey. Thus, they needed to “walk” in the old paths that they had found!

                   Finally, there is an appeal to what is to come in Jeremiah 6:16. He said, “Ye shall find rest for your souls.” Isn’t this the ultimate goal of man? We want to find that rest and comfort. Specifically, we find true rest with God (Heb. 4:9-11). God’s intention is not to have men waste time with “busy work” while on earth! Instead, the things men do are to lead him to that blessed rest. At the same time, there will be no rest for him if he refuses, but an eternity being separated from the God of Heaven (Matt. 25:31-46)!

                   The people responded by saying they would not do it! How tragic! Sadly, it had been a steady digression for these people for years. The generation who entered Canaan declaring that they would serve and worship God was no more (Josh. 24:18, 20, 22, 24). In their place was a group of people who, after years of sin, wicked rulers, wicked prophets, and the like, had declared openly and clearly that they would not do what God wanted! Indeed, they did this and didn’t “blush” (Jer. 6:15)!

                   The application to us should be clear (Rom. 15:4). When we hear the preaching of the gospel today, it needs to make these same appeals! Let everyone claiming to preach the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16) preach according to the authority of Christ (Col. 3:17; I Pet. 4:11). Let those preaching appeal to men to investigate (“stand … and see”) and appeal to obedience to the Lord (Heb. 5:9). In such preaching, let preachers also appeal to what is to come! As a result of our choices, we will either spend eternity with God in Heaven or eternity away from God in Hell! The choice is ours to make right now, but we better choose wisely! God’s word has been given to us, and it reveals that truth quite clearly.

                   Finally, it will be up to us. Friend, are you going to tell God, or tell God “no” as those rebellious people did in Jeremiah’s day? Or, will you make the wise decision and follow the Lord? Ultimately, you must weigh the evidence and make your own decision, but remember, you will live (and die) with the consequences of your choices! Choose wisely! “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Neither Could They Blush"

Saturday, November 06, 2021

            Yesterday’s study focused on Jeremiah 6:14. This article continues the thought and theme by looking into verse 15. After condemning those who cried, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14), God’s words continue. “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed; neither could they blush. Therefore, they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord” (Jer. 6:15).

            God’s words were quite powerful in this verse. Those who preached falsely about peace were so arrogant they were not ashamed when confronted with their error. God said they could not even “blush”! The word “blush” in this verse means the same as we use it today. It has to do with one being hurt or ashamed of what one has done. Godly sorrow will produce “blushing” when we are genuinely hurt and ashamed of the sins we have committed before God. One who “blushes” over his sin will make a genuine effort to repent and leave that action in the past (II Cor. 7:10). In the context of Jeremiah 6, the people had preached falsely, and they didn’t care about that. They were confronted with the truth, and they did not allow it to affect them. They weren’t embarrassed at all! The apostle Paul said he knew some whose “end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. ” (Phil. 3:19, ESV). That kind of sounds like the people Jeremiah faced. Can you blush?

            Have you ever been told that you ought to be ashamed of yourself because of something you have done or said? If not, then this is part of the problem we face today - just like Jeremiah’s generation faced! Friend, there are actions we do and words we speak that should cause shame in our lives. The apostle Paul said that after folks had become Christians, they then looked back on their former lives with shame (Rom. 6:20-23). This is normal and right to be embarrassed over sins we have committed. Now, is this us? Can you blush?

            Just like in Jeremiah’s time, we have raised a generation of people who do not blush over sin and wrongdoing. There is an older generation telling the younger ones to “accept your truth,” whatever that means.  There is an older generation telling our young ones not to worry about sin because “no one has the right to judge you” and “do what you feel is right.” Since people listen to this, then they have no concept of what is right or wrong. When the truth is preached, they do not blush. They are not ashamed. They simply parrot their mentors and ask, “Who are you to judge me?” Or they tell the one who loves them and exposes the truth (Eph. 4:15, 5:11) that he needs to “clean up your own yard and stay out of mine.” Can you blush?

            If we can’t blush, if we do not feel shame and hurt over our sins, how will we ever repent of our sins before Christ (Lk. 13:3; Acts 2:38)? Truly, those folks in Jeremiah’s time stood in rebellion against God (Jer. 6:14-15), as do we if we will not stop and consider the seriousness of our sins before a sinless God (Rom. 3:23)! Can you blush?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Peace. Peace"

Friday, November 05, 2021

            “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). God had to deal with false teachers in this time, trying to assure the people of “peace and safety” when no such thing was coming. Not in the immediate future, anyway! Jeremiah would face the false teacher, Hananiah, in Jeremiah 28, who claimed God would return the people from Babylon in “two full years” rather than the actual 70 years God had said (Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10; Dan. 9:2)! Again, here is a man trying to proclaim “Peace” and “Everything will be all right” (NET) when that wasn’t the case at all.

            Why might men like Hananiah and others want to tell people such falsehoods as “peace peace”? Could it be they thought men might pay them more to hear the pleasant message? Maybe they thought they would be more popular with the people? We know a message of victory and winning is much more popular than a message saying that we will lose! Jeremiah had the unenviable task of telling Judah that the best thing for them to do is give up and accept the punishment and be patient for 70 years (Jer. 27:1-11)! Who wants to have that job?

            Jeremiah had an unpopular job, but it was for the best. His message was from God (Jer. 28:9, 15-17); the others’ messages were not. In like manner, we face an uphill battle because “Peace, peace” is the more popular message! Just as in Jeremiah’s day, Paul warned of people who would “not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4). Does this sound like the attitude we see among people today? Yes, it is alive well today, just as it was in days gone by!

            We must make a choice. Will we listen to those who call and cry for “peace” when there is no peace? Yes, we ought to strive for peace with God and peace among others (Matt. 5:9). Yet, remember that Christ said His kingdom would bring a “sword” among the closest of family (Matt. 10:21-22, 34-39). There is no “peace” to be had between God and Satan. They are diametrically opposed, as are their teachings (II Cor. 6:14-17). Let us stop trying to be a friend of God and a friend of the world when this is impossible (Jas. 4:4). It is high time we spoke the message of the Lord, that will hurt some, but bring healing to all in the end, as Paul did on the ship (Acts 27:10). At Ephesus, Paul said he spent three years preaching “all the counsel of God” and warning people, “night and day with tears” (Acts 20:27, 31). I wonder why Paul was crying? I wonder if he made those listening cry sometimes? What if it was a little of both? Why would Paul preach a message that caused people to “cry,” that made people “tremble” (Acts 24:25), and that caused some to run him out of town (Acts 17:10-15)? Wouldn’t it have been easier just to tell people, “peace, peace”? We could ask Jeremiah the same question. Isn’t it easier to just say, “peace, peace”?

            We know what is easier to say, but it does not mean it is a better message. The best message is the message that comes from the Lord (Jn. 17:17). The best message is the one that has not been diluted by men’s thoughts and feelings (Gal. 1:6-10). The best message is the message that tells us what to do to be saved and then encourages us to continue to be faithful to God (Acts 2:37-38; I Cor. 15:58; Matt. 7:13-14)!

            “Peace, peace” is, in our vernacular, sugar-coating the truth! As a friend of mine says, if you want sugar-coating, eat a doughnut! If you want the truth, listen to the Lord’s words (I Pet. 4:11; Jn. 17:17), and be ready to repent and to obey (Jas. 1:22-25)! Jeremiah preached the truth, but people didn’t want to hear this and were destroyed. You and I have a chance to listen to God’s word and obey (Ecc. 12:13). What will you do? Now is the time to decide!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"The God of the Old Testament"

Thursday, November 04, 2021

            When we listen to some speak about Jehovah, we hear folks voice an opinion that says that the God described in the Old Testament is vengeful, petty, harmful, and seemed to have taken delight in looking for ways to punish His creation. In contrast, these same people seem to think that the God of the New Testament is a different person or different character. We are told that the New Testament God is patient, loving, kind, full of mercy, etc., and supposedly stands in contrast with the God of the first 39 books of the Bible.

            Is this true? While it is undeniable that God exacted punishment against sinners at times. We also know that He called for His people to go to war with the wicked and other things because Israel lived under a theocracy for 1500 years. However, does this mean He was strictly a vengeful God? Did He never show mercy? While we can choose to focus on only one aspect of God’s character, this is not fair to God nor the text of Scripture!

            One great example of God’s mercy is seen in Jeremiah 3. Notice the words spoken by God to His people, and see God’s patience and forgiveness! After naming the people’s sins and their consequences, God told them (through Jeremiah), “turn thou unto me” (Jer. 3:7). Again, God says, “Return, thou backsliding Israel … and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever” (Jer. 3:12). He called for the people to “turn” and He would bring them back to their former glory and more (Jer. 3:14-18). Add to this Psalm 136, and we see that, yes, God is gracious and forgiving. This nature has never changed (Mal. 3:6). Friends, these statements are not contradictory but agree with the image of God described in Acts 17:30-31, I Timothy 2:4, James 4:7-8, II Peter 3:9, John 3:16, and numerous other New Testament passages.

            “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (Rom. 11:22). I believe this passage sums up God very well. There is severity, but there is also goodness. There is mercy, and there is also judgment (Matt. 7:21-23). Let us appreciate this truth about God. Let us be thankful we have a God who loves us, and at the same time, will not allow sin to go unpunished.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“My Words In Thy Mouth.”

Monday, November 01, 2021

                   God chose Jeremiah to be His prophet at a young age. He would go on to speak God’s word for the next forty years! When he began this work. God told Jeremiah not to use his age as an excuse for not doing the work (Jer. 1:7). God then said something that had great significance. He told Jeremiah, “whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak” and “I have put my words in thy mouth” (Jer. 1:7, 9). The NET Bible says it slightly different, using the words, “say whatever I tell you” and “I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me.” In this same chapter, God would again tell Jeremiah that He was giving him the words to say when He declared, “I will utter my judgments” and “speak unto them all that I command thee” (Jer. 1:16-17). The NET renders verse 17 as, “Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say.”

                   In either version, the point is abundantly clear. When the prophets of God spoke, they were speaking via verbal inspiration. Some are under the impression that when God inspired the writers of the Old and New Testaments, He only inspired a thought or a theme, and then the writers were to do their best in interpreting and expressing God’s teaching in their own words. A reading of Jeremiah shows us that this is not the case. Please note that God did not tell Jeremiah He would put the “thought in his head.” Instead, the “word” was going to be in His “mouth” (Jer. 1:9)! He was expected to say what God commanded (Jer. 1:17)!

This Biblical description matches the definition of “inspiration,” because in II Timothy 3:16-17, “inspiration of God” comes from the original term, “theopneustos.” This term means “divinely breathed.” Some have shortened this to “God-breathed,” which is the same idea. For God to “breathe out” His will is similar to us breathing out our wills when we speak. Yes, God actually spoke to Jeremiah and the other Biblical writers and prophets, and they, in turn, told the people what God had said (ex: Jer. 1:11-14, 2:1-2; etc.).

                   Jesus said something similar when He first sent the apostles on what has been called the “limited commission.” Jesus told those men not to worry about what they might say when confronted by others. He told them, “take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matt. 10:19-20). Jesus also respected the words from the Father, for He stated that while on earth, He was speaking what God wanted to be told to the world (Jn. 12:49-50). Paul declared, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (I Cor. 14:37).

                   When we read the Bible, we are not reading the words of men who had random thoughts concerning God’s teaching that needed to be interpreted and set forth to us in the best way they could. Instead, these words in the Bible are the inspired (God-breathed) words from the Holy Spirit (II Pet. 1:20-21). These words were given so we might know the mind of God (I Cor. 2:9-11), believe the truth, and obey it (Heb. 5:9)! This was God’s intention when He gave Jeremiah and every other inspired person the words to speak to a lost and dying world. 

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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