Where did the people come from that brought God’s word in Bible days? Did they come from Jerusalem? Did they come from Samaria? How about Dan or Beersheba? In truth, they come from those places and many more. Some came from small villages on the edge of Philistia (Micah 1:1, 14)! Some came from obscure places like Tishbe (I Kings 17:1), while still others come from far-flung villages like Nazareth (Matt. 2:23)! It may surprise you where the men come from who preach the gospel of Christ today! Some come from large cities or even foreign countries, while still others were born and raised in small communities you might never see or visit in your life. A dear friend of mine told me he grew up in a town that does not exist! I have been to the area where he grew up and can attest that his words were true. The town does not exist!
Why say these things? I write as a reminder that the power of the gospel does not rest with men. It does not rest in the towns where men live, nor does it rest in the things that provide “comfort” or “familiarity” to us. Instead, the gospel has its own power. The gospel saves us (Rom. 1:16-17) and does so by its own intrinsic power. When someone is saved from his sin through faith, repentance, and baptism (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16), it is the result of that person hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel (Rom. 10:13-16; Heb. 5:9, 11:6). It is not because of the eloquence of a man’s voice (I Cor. 2:1-5), nor is it because the one teaching came from the “right area,” the “well-known” part of the world, he attended the “right college,” or was raised in the “right” family according to men’s standards.
God “hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence” (I Cor. 1:27-29). When we read in the Bible about Morasheth, Tishbe, Dan, Gilead, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Samaria, and even Nazareth, let us not be distracted by those places (or even their pronunciation in some cases!). Instead, let us focus on the fact that a messenger of God came from there, and it is the message of God to which we need to give heed (Micah 1:1)! Had folks done this in Micah’s day, perhaps even more would have been saved. If people focused on the message from the Man from Nazareth instead of worrying about His pedigree (Jn. 1:46, 7:41-42; Lk. 4:22), perhaps even more could have been saved! Today it is no different. We need to listen to the message rather than focusing on the outward appearance of the messenger (Rom. 1:16; II Tim. 4:2)! Is his message from God’s word (I Pet. 4:11)? Then accept and obey it, not because a certain man said it but because the message is from God! If it is not from God, reject the message and rebuke the messenger (Eph. 5:11; II Jn. 9-11)! Not because the man was from the “wrong place,” but because the message is false (II Pet. 2:1-3)!
It is fun to know people’s origins or “backstories,” isn’t it? Likewise, it is exciting to think of a person’s life in a remote or “exotic” location. However, let us not become so distracted by things like these that we do not focus on what is important. Micah the Morasthite spoke a message from the Lord, and people needed to listen (then and today, Rom. 15:4)! Likewise, Jesus of Nazareth has a message for us (Heb. 1:2), and we need to listen so that we will save ourselves and save those we teach as we strive toward Heaven (I Tim. 4:16)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The book of Micah begins with the statement, “The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem” (Mic. 1:1). The phrase “the word of the Lord” is a powerful one. This statement affirms that a person is not speaking by his own authority, or merely speaking his feelings, or expressing an opinion. When someone in the Bible declares “the word of the Lord” has been given, this means he is speaking the very words of God and letting people know exactly what is on the mind of God!
Not only is this message something to which the listeners must take heed with caution, but it is also a great burden to the speaker! He had to get it right. He had to speak this word without expressing fear or favor toward any man, even if those listening didn’t like it! Since this is the case, I do not find it surprising that nine of the twelve “minor” prophets use this phrase in their writings. It is found 242 times in the Old Testament and 255 times in the entire Bible.
One “application” I see in this is that the same Author speaking the word to Micah and the other writers is the same Author who has spoken to me today through His Son (Heb. 1:2)! His word is just as powerful, just as accurate, and just as needed today as it ever was. The very words of God were spoken by Micah and 39 other Bible writers (II Pet. 1:20-21), and it behooves me to listen and obey! This inspired word (II Tim. 3:16-17) equips me for every good work, and it supplies all who will “read and heed”!
Another application is that just as it was Micah’s responsibility to speak only what God had told him, we have that same responsibility today. We have a responsibility to “preach the word” (II Tim. 4:2). We have a command to “speak as the oracles of God” (I Pet. 4:11). We cannot add to or take from the Word without dreadful and dire consequences (Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18-19). Thus, we need to simply speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent. This is the way we respect “the word of the Lord.”
Take a moment to examine yourself (II Cor. 13:5). Do you respect the word of the Lord as you ought? Is this word on your lips and in your life? This is what God wants! Micah (and all other authors, prophets, teachers, etc.) were fearless in making sure “the word of the Lord” survived them and came down to us intact. What will we do with the message? I pray we do not hide it (Matt. 5:15), but instead shout this saving message from the rooftops that others might be saved from Hell (II Tim. 2:2).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Mark 2:3-12 records the miracle of the lame man “borne of four” and lowered through the roof to be healed by Jesus. I’m very impressed with this miracle and impressed with the lesson behind it (v. 9-10). However, have you ever considered why the men lowered their friend through the roof? They had to do this because they couldn’t get their friend through the front door (v. 2, 4)! Prior to them bringing their friend to meet Jesus and be healed, Jesus had entered the house in Capernaum, and when He taught the people, they filled the house, so there was no more room in the house for anyone else (v. 1-2).
As I thought about the full house, it brought to mind two lessons:
- What Jesus brought to the people. Jesus didn’t come to Capernaum with bags of gold. He didn’t offer people freedom from enemies or some scheme for getting rich quick. He came to Galilee, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mk. 1:14). I’m impressed with the book of Mark and how it emphasizes the word of Christ. Twenty-two times in sixteen chapters, we read about Christ’s work in spreading God’s truth. Some of the words used to describe Christ’s work include: “Taught” (9x); “preached” (2x); “preach” (1x); “teach” (4x); “teaching” (2x); and “doctrine” (4x). Jesus brought the people the truth (Jn. 17:17)! He made a point of telling as many people as possible about the “gospel of the kingdom.” May we learn a lesson from Christ in this. What’s on our lips? Do we take the time to tell someone about the Lord? If not, why not? Only through Christ will any man have salvation (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12)!
- What interest do we show in Christ’s teaching? I’m also impressed when I read passages like Mark 2:1-2 because I see a generation of people who took a genuine interest in the truth taught. I hear about similar responses in foreign countries like the Philippines, Colombia, China, and other places today, and for this, I am thankful. Yet, being a citizen of America, I wonder about those of us in the USA! What interest are we showing in God’s word? As Christians, is God’s word still our “first love”? Are we hungering and thirsting for the truth (Matt. 5:6)? If not, why not? Only the doctrine of Christ will bring salvation (Rom. 1:16; Mk. 16:15)! Only the doctrine of Christ tells us from whence we’ve come, why we’re here, and where we’re going when this life is over! There’s no other sustenance for the soul (I Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:12-14). Is there any wonder folks in the first century flooded the house where Jesus was? They wanted nourishment! Do we appreciate God’s spiritual nourishment?
Having considered the above carefully, there is only one thing left to do: apply what we have learned! You see, these two elements go together like a hand in a glove. First, what are we teaching people? Do we know God’s word well enough to tell it to others? It’s high time we woke from our sleep and got busy learning the word so we can tell the truth to others (Heb. 5:12-14)! I am convinced there are people in the good ol’ “U.S. of A.” that want to hear the truth. Their problem is that they don’t know where to look! Too many groups calling themselves “churches” and claiming to love the Lord and His word talk about everything else but what is most important! Unfortunately, even some of my brethren are more concerned about social events, or whether or not the community thinks well of them, rather than focusing on the one thing that will save!
Have we ever thought about the fact that if we got focused again on the most important thing - the truth - we would attract people now as Christ did then! The gospel has the same power it has always had. Could it be, though, that we have lost faith in it?
Let’s remember what Christ brought the people and the people’s interest. These things are inseparable! Paul encouraged the same thing when he taught Timothy to “preach the word” (II Tim 4:2)! Are we willing to follow in the Lord’s footsteps? I’m convinced we haven’t worn out the Lord’s way yet! Let’s go back to that and see the blessings that come when we do things the Lord’s way!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth” (II Jn. 1). This is how the letter of II John begins. III John starts with the greeting, “The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius whom I love in the truth” (III Jn. 1). As I thought about this statement, it became apparent that truth is more than just a concept. It is an objective reality. When John said he loved the “elect lady and her children” and Gaius “in the truth” (or “in truth” as some versions say), he was speaking about a relationship! Truth is the reason John loved them.
The word “in” in II John 1 and III John 1 does not mean “inside,” like one would go “in” (inside) a house. Instead, it was love “in connection with” the truth, just like the language of John 4:24. We worship God “in connection with” spirit and “in connection with” the truth, not “inside” spirit and truth (Jn. 4:24). John loved these people as a result of their connection with the truth that had been taught and the truth these people (and John) obeyed (II Jn. 4; III Jn. 4).
John loved all men and cared for their souls (Matt. 22:39). However, there is a special bond that develops when we are connected with one another in the truth. Have we ever noticed the feeling and the camaraderie that takes place when we meet people of “like precious faith” (II Pet. 1:1)? It is like no other relationship. I have had the blessing of being able to preach in gospel meetings across this great country. I have gone to places where I knew no one and had people ask me, “How did you end up here?” What brought us together was the truth, and by the end of the gospel meeting, I had developed a life-long bond with them. Why was this? It was because of the truth! Similarly, I have been preaching in a “full-time” capacity over 26 years, and the connections I have made with the brethren I see day-in-and-day-out can never be strained, either. Even now, there are brethren I knew from some of my first years of preaching that I keep up with, and rejoice to hear news about them and their families (Prov. 25:25) Yes, there are many that I, like John, can say I love “in the truth”! Can you say the same? I hope so.
Perhaps we have not thought about the truth in this manner, but go back and consider what John says in II John and III John about his love for the brethren and how it is connected with truth. You will be amazed at what you find! Truth is not an abstract concept. It is real. It is objective. It helps cultivate strong bonds between people as we see one another standing for the truth (Eph. 6:11-14), fighting for the truth (II Cor. 10:3-5; I Tim. 6:12; II Tim. 4:7), and obeying that precious truth that saves our souls (I Pet. 1:22; Rom. 6:17-18)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
I have been blessed with opportunities to preach on the radio throughout my life. I love radio work and am thankful I have been able to do this! Several years back, I was preaching on a radio station where the DJ/Owner was a Baptist and believed intensely in the “once-saved-always-saved” false doctrine. We had talked about this and other subjects in the past, but seemingly to no avail. On a day I will never forget, I was in the studio and began my program. The study included II Peter 3:17, which I read without comment. “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” As I finished, I looked up from my Bible and saw this man literally shaking in his seat. In a moment, he composed himself walked out of the studio, leaving me alone to preach. I was impressed with the fact that the power is not in me, but in the word to change hearts (Rom. 1:16; Heb. 4:12)! What I was unable to do in months of talking, God’s word did in one sentence! He felt the power of those words and could see that what Peter wrote contradicted his belief.
What did Peter teach? Hopefully, as we have studied II Peter, we have seen his concern for the brethren. He wanted the people to be strong and add to their faith (ch. 1:5-10). He wanted to remind the brethren of “the present truth” so long as he lived (1:12-15) and to remain grounded as they prepared for the false teachers (ch. 2). An example of false teaching they faced was those who said the Lord would not return, and there is no judgment (ch. 3). Peter showed that these people were impatient and wrong and that the Lord doesn’t count time as we do (3:9). Finally, we read the warning, “Beware”! Beware that you are not “led away” and “fall from your own stedfastness” (3:17)!
The word “beware” is important. The original word (phulasso) suggests, “keep on your guard, avoid, or keep yourself from something” (Strong’s). We use this word in a similar way in English. To us, “beware” means there is danger to life and limb. Therefore, we need to stay away. Peter warns his readers to beware of being led away by the error of the wicked. Being led away is not harmless fun. It is not a minor infraction. We are in danger of losing our souls when we go with the wicked. Beware!
Notice Peter is telling Christians (1:1), not lost people, that they can fall from their own stedfastness. When people say that a Christian can’t fall away, don’t forget to show them this passage and I Timothy 4:1. Peter (by inspiration) was so concerned about Christians falling away that he wrote an entire book dedicated to keeping folks saved! This was the same motivation of the writer of Hebrews and the apostle Paul in his letters. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we can become Christians, and then after this, we can never fall. That is not taught in the Scriptures at all.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs