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We Are Free Moral Agents

Saturday, April 08, 2017

We Are Free Moral Agents

Jarrod Jacobs

                   What does this title mean? Put simply, it means that we, as humans, have the ability to choose how we will live our lives. Though all things are created by God, God gave man the ability to do something that plants and animals cannot do. Men have the ability to obey or disobey God and then face the consequences. Man is the only one in God’s creation that can tell God “no.”

                   In the beginning of the Bible, we read about Adam and Eve’s creation, and God’s command to them to not eat of the tree bearing the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. We also read about the consequences if they disobeyed (Gen. 2:16-17, 3:3). They abstained for a period of time, but there came a day when Satan tempted Eve to partake of this tree. She ate and then gave it to her husband and he ate of it too (Gen. 3:6). After this, the man and woman were cursed and driven from the garden (Gen. 3:16-24). Notice please that at one point in time, they both could have chosen not to eat of the fruit. It could have been that Eve ate and Adam did not, or vice versa. Each person had the ability to choose and then had to face the consequences of their independent decision.

                   Free will was not lost to this world just because Adam and Eve sinned. In fact, we see men all through Scriptures faced with the opportunity to choose good or evil. For example:

  • “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deut. 30:19).
  • “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me” (Ps. 119:30).
  • “… Mary has chosen that good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Lk. 10:42).

                   As the apostle Paul recounted his meeting Christ on the road to Damascus and the words Christ told him; he told Agrippa, “Therefore, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). This statement lets us know that Paul had the option to choose obedience or disobedience to Christ even while on the road to Damascus. How grateful are we that he chose the right thing!

                   So it is with us. We stand before God as free moral agents. Will we choose to obey or disobey? Yes, the choice is ours, but so are the consequences that follow (Matt. 7:13-14)! The Bible was written to encourage, and exhort us to choose the right things. God will not force anyone to obey, but He does present the consequences of obedience and disobedience for anyone who will listen. God wants us to willingly follow Him. What will you choose?

Do You Know My Friend?

Friday, April 07, 2017

Do You Know My Friend?

Jarrod Jacobs

  • I have a friend who is interested in my spiritual welfare and has been even at times when I have not been.
  • I have a friend who wants the best for me, even at times when I did not want what was the best for me.
  • I have a friend who loves me and has loved me at times when I was his enemy.
  • I have a friend who will forgive me of my sins when I repent and return to him. He does this consistently.
  • I have a friend who does not fail, and who can comfort and help me when no one else cares for me.

                   Who is my friend? My friend is the Lord Jesus Christ. How do I know He is my friend? I know this because He said to the apostles (and by application to me), “You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn. 15:14-15). He loves me and I love Him (I Jn. 4:19; Jn. 14:15).

                   That this love did not begin with me first loving God, but with God first loving me is a beautiful, and humbling truth (I Jn. 4:10, 19; Rom. 5:8; Jn. 3:16; Eph. 2:4-5; Titus 2:3-5). He did not demand that I first do something so as to be found “worthy” of love. Instead, because God loved me, He sent His Son into the world. This Son, because He loved me, died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins (I Jn. 2:2; I Tim. 2:6; Matt. 20:28; Jn. 1:29)!

                   Therefore, for those who belong to Christ, having submitted to the Lord’s plan for salvation (Acts 2:38), and continuing in His word (Jn. 8:31; Rev. 2:10b), we have a friend that will never fail. We have an “Advocate” who is always on our side (I Jn. 2:1). We have a “High Priest” who “always lives to make intercession” for us (Heb. 3:1, 7:25-28). We have a “Mediator” between us and God (I Tim. 2:5). Yes, we have Someone who truly cares for us when the world turns its back on us!

                   Do you know my friend? Is He your friend? If not, why not? Make Him your friend by following the Lord’s plan of salvation (Mk. 16:16). Then, live for Him all of your life (I Cor. 15:58). You’ll be blessed by having such a friend!

The Extent Of God's Authority

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Extent Of God’s Authority

Jarrod Jacobs

                   When we consider God’s authority, many will pay lip-service to it, but few seem to realize just how far God’s authority extends. We live in a time when men wish to have some authority “for themselves.” They want to be able to “call the shots” and run their own lives. This is just not possible. The sooner we recognize the extent of God’s authority over us, the better off we will be. What is the extent of God’s authority over man?

                   1) He directs us - Jeremiah 10:23 says, “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” If it is not in man to direct his steps, who will direct him? The Lord God!

                   2) He has told us how to worship Him - John 4:24 states, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Therefore, our worship is not a “do as you please” kind of thing. Nor is our worship geared toward what makes people feel good, but what pleases God!

                   Our worship to God consists of singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16); prayers, teaching, partaking of the Lord’s Supper, and giving of our means (Acts 2:42, 20:7; I Cor. 16:1-2). Why? Because this is what God has told us to do!

                   3) He has told us to be morally pure - I Timothy 5:22 reveals, “keep yourself free from sin.” Ephesians 4:25-5:4 list several things we need to avoid because they are sinful practices. Among these sins are: lying, sinning in anger, stealing, gossiping, acting like the world, telling “dirty” jokes, cursing, etc. These ought not be a part of our lives. Why? It is because God rules. He has the authority over us and expects us to be better than that!

                   4) Whatever we do and say must have sanction from God - Colossians 3:17 reminds us, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

                   In truth, when we study these passages of Scripture, we find that there is NO part of our lives over which God does not have authority. God rules completely, and it is high time we respected this. God “sees in secret” (Matt. 6:4, 6, 18). He knows our thoughts, words, and deeds. And, He will judge our thoughts, words, and deeds one day by His Son (Jn. 5:22, 27; II Cor. 5:10). Therefore, why fight against God? Let us surrender our lives and wills to the Almighty! Let us determine that we will submit to God’s rule. If not, there will be a day in which we will kneel, and confess, and acknowledge God’s power over the universe, but then it will be too late (Rom. 14:11-12; Phil. 2:10-11; II Cor. 5:10). Don’t wait until it is too late! Live a worthwhile and fulfilled life by submitting wholeheartedly to the authority of God!

The Wisdom Of God

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

What We Can Learn From The Wisdom Of God

Jarrod Jacobs

                   One thing that is lacking in this world is the wisdom of God. What can one study, or read to obtain God’s wisdom? Please read the verses listed below carefully and be ready to make some applications.

  • “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
  • “I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word” (Psalm 119:16).
  • “Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart” (Psalm 119:34).
  • “May my heart be blameless in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame” (Psalm 119:80).
  • “O how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies: for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.” (Psalm 119:97-100).
  • “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

                   After reading these six verses, it ought to be apparent that God’s wisdom has been revealed to us in the written word. Further, if we wish to have God’s wisdom, then it needs to be remembered daily. In the verses above, we see that David realized that the wisdom that God gives us needs to be remembered at all times (Ps. 119:11, 16). In fact, the first psalm shows that the righteous will gladly meditate in God’s law at all times (Ps. 1:2). The plea to remember God’s wisdom is not a man-made thing, for Jesus showed us that by remembering God’s word, we can defeat Satan (Matt. 4:1-11; I Pet. 2:21-22).

                   Further, David understood that he was not to be ashamed of the wisdom of God (Ps. 119:80). Sadly, there are folks in this world who make it seem like a shameful thing to have knowledge of the word of God. Why do some act like this? God’s word does not produce shame in our lives. God teaches us that we should not be ashamed of knowing His word and applying His word to our lives (Ps. 119:80; II Tim. 2:15).

                   In reading those six passages above, please notice that it is not enough simply to “know” God’s wisdom, but it is necessary to APPLY what we learn. In other words, we need to obey God’s wisdom. Jesus taught that the wise man not only hears His word but OBEYS it as well (Matt. 7:24-27). What a tragedy to see people who know what to do to please God, and refuse to do it! Let us decide that we will meditate and study God’s wisdom, and then make applications to our lives.

                   Finally, God’s word has the ability to make man wise when we learn and obey. Regardless of the wisdom the world may proclaim, God’s wisdom makes us wiser than the world (Ps. 119:97-100; Isa. 55:8-9). God looks on the world’s wisdom as foolishness that passes away (I Cor. 1:18-21; II Jn. 2:17). What interests us – man’s wisdom or God’s? Let us take heed to God’s wisdom as long as we live!

"... According To All The Lord Commanded"

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

…According To All The Lord Commanded”

Jarrod Jacobs

                   God has always required obedience from His people. To prove this, let us read three passages in the Old Testament that teach us about obedience. “Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses; so they did” (Ex. 39:32). In the book of Numbers, we read, “Thus did the people of Israel; they did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses” (Num. 1:54). After dividing into 4 segments and camping around the tabernacle, Numbers 2:34 says, “Thus did the people of Israel. According to all that the LORD commanded Moses....” These three passages set the tone for our study. It is important that we understand their obedience because God demands no less of us today. Let us study three things that are required in order to live “according to all that the Lord commanded.”

                   First of all, please note that the people took action! In these three passages we cited, this is made very clear. If we ever plan on pleasing God, we must be active in His work! We will never please God without action. Only a fool would think that God does not want us to be active in His work. I do not say this lightly, for Jesus taught that action was the difference between the wise and the foolish in Matthew 7:24-27 (also Lk. 6:46-49). James also made a distinction between the hearer and the doer. The hearer deceived himself, while the doer was “blessed in his deed” (Jas. 1:22-25). Paul said, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). We do this by obeying “all that the Lord commanded.”

                   The next thing that we note is that these people did, “according to all the Lord commanded....” In other words, they obeyed the right source of authority – “the Lord”! God demands no less of us today. He commands us to “speak as the oracles of God” (I Pet. 4:11). Paul tells us, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17). This means that everything we do must be done by His authority! When we obey the truth in these two passages, we will have learned a lesson that most of the world has not! Let us never go by what “seems” right (Prov. 14:12; Jer. 10:23). Let us always ask, “What saith the Scripture?” and then follow it (Rom. 4:3). This is what pleases God!

                   Finally, we see that these people obeyed completely! They left nothing out. In Exodus and Numbers, we see that the people did “all” God told them! Today, God demands our complete obedience as well. Jesus said only those who “do” the will of the Father will go to Heaven (Matt. 7:21; Rev. 22:14). He also promised eternal life to those who are obedient in John 8:51. In truth, one cannot be the friend of Christ without obedience (Jn. 14:15). As we continue to study, we see that Hebrews 11 lists those faith heroes who were obedient to God. Do we see the necessity of obedience, then? The apostle John teaches that fellowship with God will not come unless we are “abiding” in Christ’s doctrine (II Jn. 9). Therefore, let us remember that we must obey God’s word completely in order to have a home in Heaven!

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