Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Ephesians 4:4-6
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” When writing to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul reminded the Christians to “keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). In this letter, he did not merely tell them to be united, but by inspiration (I Cor. 14:37), he showed them (and us) the true “platform for unity” in the Lord’s church. If we are to be united, we need to respect the seven “one’s” (body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, and God) that needs to be among God’s people. These simple words are packed with meaning and truth that deserve more attention than we can devote in this short article. Just understand that when we remember the basis or foundation of religious unity, we will be able to withstand anything that Satan will throw at us! Satan tries to “divide and conquer” in order to get us away from Christ and devour us (I Pet. 5:8). Yet, in Christ, we have unity (Gal. 3:28) and victory (I Cor. 15:57)! Let us be active and fulfill Ephesians 4:3 by living Ephesians 4:4-6!
– Jarrod Jacobs
What Does The Empty Tomb Mean To Us?
Almost 2000 years ago, Jesus was crucified between two thieves. When He died, His body was laid in a new tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea (Mk. 15:43-47), there to await His resurrection on the third day. The account of the women and the apostles finding Jesus’ tomb empty is found in Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-10.
The empty tomb means something to Christians. It is important and has great value to all those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. What does the empty tomb mean?
The empty tomb means that death is conquered! Jesus became the “firstfruits of them that slept” (I Cor. 15:20). Colossians 1:18 declares that Christ’s resurrection gives Him the preeminence in all things. Hebrews 2:9 shows us that Christ tasted death for every man. Therefore, Christians have nothing to fear in death.
In writing on the subject of death and the resurrection of all mankind, Paul said, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:54-57). Why not look into the tomb, and see the victory that Christ has given to all since He arose from the dead?
The empty tomb means salvation for all! Before Christ, Jewish people were considered the chosen nation, and they labored to keep the Old Testament (Mosaic) Law. They offered animal sacrifices to atone for their sins, but this was not enough (Heb. 10:1-4). Seeing that Jesus gave His life, shed His blood, and arose from the dead, He offers salvation to everyone (Matt. 11:28-30). In Mark 16:15, Jesus instructed His apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” In Colossians 1:5-6, 23, we read that this command was carried out! Paul declared that “every creature which is under heaven” heard the gospel. Jesus wanted no one to be ignorant of His will, and neither should we.
The empty tomb means Jesus told the truth! Throughout Jesus’ preaching, He prophesied of His death, burial, and resurrection, and that He is the Son of God. A few passages that declare this are: Matthew 12:38-40; Matthew 16:21; John 8:24, 58-59; John 10:30-36; and John 18:36-37. That empty tomb tells mankind that the Son of God walked this earth, told us the truth about all things, that He loves us and wants to save us!
If we can believe that Jesus told us the truth on these things, why do we not believe Him on the other things He teaches in His word? There has been much dispute over certain parts of the Bible for many years. Obviously, Jesus did not teach two or more conflicting doctrines, but spoke the Truth consistently. Knowing this and knowing that He told us the truth about His death, burial, and resurrection; why do we not believe His teachings on other subjects? Why do we not do the things He requires?
Friend, the stone wasn’t rolled back so Jesus could escape. It was rolled back so we could look in! Have you looked with the eye of faith into that empty tomb? I pray that we might all come to a better understanding of what the empty tomb means.
Shoplifting A Bible
It came to my attention a while back that the most shoplifted book in the world is the Bible! Whether this is true or an “urban myth,” just think of the irony of a Bible being stolen!
It is ironic because there are many Bible passages which tell us not to steal (Ex. 20:15; Lev. 19:11, 13; Deut. 5:19; Eph. 4:28). Imagine someone stealing something that plainly states, “don’t steal.” Too, we are told in this same book that someone who is guilty of stealing will be lost in Hell (I Cor. 6:10)!
How ironic that a book saying, “don’t steal, and if you do, you endanger your eternal soul,” is stolen so frequently! Yet, this got me to thinking about human nature in general. Is it not true that often, the very things we are told not to do are the things we do?
From the beginning, man has been tempted by Satan to contradict the will of God (Gen. 2:16-17, 3:1-6). Sadly, man contradicts God’s will more than he obeys it (Rom. 3:23; Ecc. 7:29). Yet, this is not because he has no choice. In fact, it is the opposite (Jas. 1:14-15)! Due to man’s free moral agency, he has often chosen to turn from God’s will and walk in his own selfish way.
In addition to not stealing, we are also told throughout Scripture:
- Do not murder (Ex. 20:13; Rom. 13:9; I Jn. 3:15; Rev. 21:8)
- Do not lie (Ex. 20:16; Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25; Rev. 21:8)
- Do not lust after others (Matt. 5:28; Job 31:1; II Pet. 2:14-15)
- Do not be lazy (II Thess. 3:10; Prov. 24:30-34)
- Worship God only (Matt. 4:10; Jn. 4:24)
- Be baptized (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38, 8:35-38, 10:48)
- Live faithfully (II Tim. 4:6-8; Rev. 2:10; I Cor. 15:58)
- Treat others kindly (Eph. 4:32; I Cor. 13:4; Matt. 7:12; II Pet. 1:17)
- Love God (Matt. 22:37; I Jn. 5:2-3)
- Love our neighbors (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39; Jas. 2:8; Gal. 5:14; Rom. 13:9)
This is just a partial list! In observing the items on our list, can we not also think of folks (perhaps us) who blatantly contradict these commands, too? Why are we surprised, then, when we read of someone (or many people) shoplifting a Bible?
Some might reason, “If a person stole a Bible, it might turn out good because he might then read that Bible and learn the truth.” The response that comes to my mind is the apostle Paul’s statement where he denied the doctrine of: “Let us do evil, that good may come” (Rom. 3:8). He said it was “slanderously reported” that they taught a doctrine that has come to be known as “situation ethics”. So also today, we do not justify a wicked act by trying to find some supposed “good” that can come from it.
More can be said about this, but the point is that we as God’s creatures have to decide to do what is right, and then continue daily to decide to do what is right (Jas. 1:27; Matt. 7:13-14; Lk. 9:23; Rev. 2:10; etc.). When we decide that we will not do what the Lord says, in spite of His clear statements in the Bible, then we are setting ourselves up for spiritual ruin and an eternity in a devil’s Hell. Should the Bible be the most shoplifted book, then let man repent of this sin (as well as all others) and live for the Lord while we still have the time and opportunity to do so (II Cor. 6:2).
A Lack Of Information Or Application?
The Bible is a unique book, to be sure. While it is not a science book, it is scientifically accurate. Though it is not a geography book, it is geographically accurate. It is historically true and is obviously a spiritually-focused book. Within the pages of inspiration, we learn that God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (II Pet. 1:3). The inspired Scriptures are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16-17). The word Christ spoke ought to take first place in our lives because it is this word that will judge us one day (Jn. 12:48). Knowing these things are true, is it any wonder that Peter would, by inspiration, write to Christians and say, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (I Pet. 4:11)?
I cite the passages above to make it clear that God has provided all the information necessary for us to get from earth to Heaven! The Bible has been written; the word is true (Jn. 17:17); and the gospel will save us (Rom. 1:16). The question now is whether or not we will apply the information to our lives! James wrote that a man who hears and does is considered a “blessed man” (Jas. 1:25). He further writes that “faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2:17, 20, 26). Jesus said the ones who will see Heaven are those who “do the will of my father which is in Heaven” (Matt. 7:21). In other words, when it comes to pleasing God, we do not lack the information, but we often lack the application!
Throughout history, this fact is what has separated God’s children from the world! Many people have heard God’s word in various ways. In the book of Exodus, we see Pharaoh heard God’s word, but he “hardened his heart” (Ex. 7:14, 22, 8:15, 19, 32, 9:7, etc.) and was punished as a result of his pride. Others who knew the truth but refused to obey were many of the “chief rulers” in Christ’s day. They knew who Christ was, but refused to confess Him because they feared what the Pharisees would say (Jn. 12:42-43). Another person who knew the truth was Agrippa. He knew the truth, but would not confess Christ, nor be baptized (Acts 26:27-28). This list could be extended, but the point is that God did not leave them ignorant of the truth! Yet, they were condemned because they did not act upon what they knew!
What about us? We have the Bible at our fingertips. Yes, some know more than others, but is this really what is stopping us from being what God would have us to be? Is this really what is stopping us from obeying the Lord and living as He wants us to live? I suggest that it is not so much a matter of information, but it is a matter of application! We do not want to do those things Christ has said! Shame on us for being that way! Let us listen to the Lord, who tells us to be obedient to Him (Jn. 14:15; I Jn. 5:3) and prepare ourselves for Heaven by applying the information God has revealed! In so doing, we will be a blessed people! (Jas. 1:25)
Lying Lips Are An Abomination
Abraham Lincoln once said, “No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.” George Washington was quoted as saying, “I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” In a time in which lying to one another (and to ourselves) seems to be in epidemic proportions, let us see what God says about lying.
God consistently condemns lying. Looking to the Old Testament we read, “Let the lying lips be put to silence…” (Ps. 31:18). David prayed that God would consume those who sinned by lying and cursing with their mouth (Ps. 59:12). Proverbs 6:17 reveals that God hates a “lying tongue.” Solomon said, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD…” (Prov. 12:22). The righteous man will hate lying (Prov. 13:5). Jeremiah says that “lying words” are words which “cannot profit” (Jer. 7:8).
Looking to the New Testament, we learn we must put away, “lying” and “speak truth” (Eph. 4:25). In Colossians 3:9, the apostle Paul says to “lie not.” Could a Scripture be any plainer than this? In Acts 5, we read of Ananias and Sapphira who lied to God (Acts 5:1-11). As a result of their deception, and lying to God, they were struck dead (v. 3-5, 10)! Jesus spoke of, “all liars” and said they, “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). What else needs to be said to get people to understand that God demands honesty?
Why talk about dishonesty? Perhaps we can answer this question by considering our advocate, Jesus Christ (I Jn. 2:1) and our adversary, Satan (I Pet. 5:8). Our Lord Jesus is “the truth” and God’s word is truth (Jn. 14:6, 17:17). Satan, on the other hand, is the father of lies (Jn. 8:44). He introduced lies into the world (Gen. 3:4), and has been lying ever since. Therefore, when we are dishonest, who are we following? When we are honest, who are we following? Answer those questions, and we will see why honesty is imperative with God!
“The truth hurts” is an accurate statement at times. But, isn’t greater damage done when we lie to others (or to ourselves)? Isn’t it a far worse thing to be found out as a liar and a dishonest person than if you’d just told the truth in the first place? This world encourages us to lie “a little bit,” or “bend the truth” (?) at times. However, isn’t it better, and so much easier, to always tell the truth? As Mr. Lincoln said, “No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.” Make no mistake, “your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). If it doesn’t come in this life, it will come on the Day of Judgment (II Cor. 5:10; Ecc. 12:13-14). What then, friend? Consider the consequences of your choices before it is too late. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Are you ready for the Judgment Day? Can you honestly say that you have obeyed Christ and are a Christian (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16)? Or, have you been lying to yourself all this time? The truth is that Jesus Christ is “the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him” (Heb. 5:9). Don’t deceive yourself by thinking that simply hearing His word is enough. You must obey His will today (Jas. 1:22-25).