Where Could I Go But To The Lord?
A song I grew up singing had the above title. In every verse, after naming various things we might see and enjoy in this life, the writer declares that when we face difficulties in life, we must ask, “Where could I go but to the Lord?” This is a good question that demands a response from all of us. Where could I go but to the Lord? Truly, there is no one else who loves us like He does. There is no one else who is interested in saving us from sin. There is no one else who cares for us (I Pet. 5:8). Where could I go but to the Lord?
Sadly, some folks turn to others for the solutions to life’s problems, and they are disappointed. Jesus Christ does not disappoint! Thankfully, Peter recognized he could not go to anyone else. In John 6, we see that after Jesus told the people things that they did not really want to hear, the Bible says, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (Jn. 6:66). When the people left, Jesus asked His disciples if they were also going to leave Him (Jn. 6:67). Peter responded: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68). In this, we see the answer to our needs as well! To whom shall we go? There is no one else that has the words of eternal life. There is no one else who loves us as Christ does. There is no one else who would so willingly sacrifice for those who are so unworthy (Matt. 20:28; Rom. 5:8; I Pet. 1:18-19). Where could I go but to the Lord?
In Psalm 73:25, David expressed a similar thought: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” David reveals something that ought to be true in each one of us. Our true desire upon earth ought to be for Christ and for pleasing Him. Like the deer that pants for the water (Ps. 42:1), we need to long for the Lord! To whom can we turn except to the Lord? No one has control in this life (Prov. 27:1). Therefore, let us cling tightly to the Lord for our strength and refuge (Ps. 46:1). In addition to this, no one is prepared for death and eternity if we have turned our backs upon the Lord! We are told that “now is the accepted time” and “now is the day of salvation” for a reason (II Cor. 6:2). Yet, who is it that will save us? There is only One who can save us, and this is the One who said He came to give His life a “ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Where could I go but to the Lord?
Let us take a moment for self-examination. Have we become so self-sufficient that we think we can handle all problems, and solve all difficulties? James 5:13 reminds us that we need to turn to the Lord and lean upon Him. It says, “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.” Regardless of our outward circumstances, whether in joy or in heaviness, we need to be leaning upon Christ. Sing to Him! Pray to Him! In all things, lean upon Him! Where could I go but to the Lord? Christ deserves our praise and thanks when times are good. He deserves our trust and faithfulness when times are bad. Let us say with David, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4). May we never become so self-sufficient that we take no comfort in the things of the Lord!
Where can we go but to the Lord? Do we trust Him? Are we living a life to His honor and glory (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10)? Our pilgrimage in this life is short (Jas. 4:14; I Pet. 2:11), and it demands that we place Christ first in our lives. When we do not, we are setting ourselves up for many problems. Are you in the Lord (Gal. 3:27)? Where else can we go?
Getting An Answer You Don’t Want
An old saying often repeated is: “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” In like manner, be careful when asking a question, you just might get an answer that you do not want! Is this not what happened when the rich young ruler came to Jesus asking what to do to inherit eternal life (Matt. 19:16)? Jesus answered him, but the man received an answer he did not want, and so he abandoned Jesus (Matt. 19:22).
What about us? Do we sometimes get an answer from God’s word that we do not want? How do we react when we learn that a thing we have been doing (or would like to do) is not authorized of God in the Bible? Do we become defiant, saying, “I’m going to do it anyway”? Do we get mad, or sad? Do we say, “That doesn’t make sense to me”? Such responses do not change what God said. Getting mad, sad, protesting, or substituting our ideas for God’s does not change what has been written. Let us take a moment and examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5). How do we react to God when His answers are not what we want?
For example, some do not like God’s answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” The Lord’s answer is to have faith in Christ, repent of sin, confess our faith in Christ, and be baptized (Heb. 11:6; Acts 17:30; Rom. 10:10; I Pet. 3:21; Acts 2:22-38; etc.). Will you accept God’s answer to this important question, or will you turn away like the man in Matthew 19?
Some ask, “What kind of music does God accept in worship?” God’s answer is vocal music (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 13:15; Jas. 5:13; etc.). Yet, this is not the answer men give to us! Therefore, whose answer will we accept? God’s or man’s?
Others ask, “Did Christ really establish one church?” The answer from Scripture is that Christ promised to establish a church (Matt. 16:18), and this church began on the Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2:41, 47). Before Acts 2, the church was spoken of in promise, but after Acts 2, the church was spoken of as being in existence on earth. This church belongs to Him and not man (Rom. 16:16; Acts 20:28). This is the Lord’s answer. However, is this the answer we want, or the one we have been taught? When was your church established?
Another common question asked is whether or not the kingdom is in existence. Jesus said the kingdom was “at hand” when He was on earth (Matt. 4:17). He promised some would not “taste of death” until they saw the “kingdom of God come with power” (Mk. 9:1). He equated the kingdom with the church in Matthew 16:19. Thus, the kingdom was brought into existence in Acts 2 when folks heard the gospel, believed, obeyed it and were saved (Acts 2:36-41). As further proof of the kingdom’s existence, the apostle Paul said folks who are saved are “transplanted” into this kingdom (Col. 1:13). The apostle John said he was in the kingdom (Rev. 1:9).
These and many other questions are answered by God in the Bible. Therefore, what is the proper response when we get an answer from God’s word that we do not want? The answer is to be honest, and accept what the Lord says (Jer. 10:23; Col. 3:17). There are times when God’s answers do not make “sense” to us, but this does not give us license to change the answer (Rom. 3:4). Let us submit our will to God’s, and let us be ready to accept what He says always (I Pet. 4:11), knowing that God’s ways are best (Isa. 55:8-9; I Cor. 1:20-31).
The Bible Touches Men’s Lives
I continue to be amazed at how “up-to-date” the Bible is. Though it was completed some 2000 years ago, it is still as relevant as ever! Please consider a few examples in the Bible that touch our lives to this day.
First, consider the fact that sin has been with man since Genesis 3. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned against God (v. 6), sin has been in this world and harming men and women, physically and spiritually. The Bible addresses the problem of sin as well as its remedy. The Bible describes sin as a transgression, or an omission of God’s law (I Jn. 3:4; Jas. 4:17). James reminds us that sin occurs as a result of man yielding to temptation (Jas. 1:14-15). John adds another “layer” to our study when he reminds us that a person who yields to temptations through the lusts of the flesh or eyes, or the pride of life has succumbed to sin, just as Adam and Eve did (Gen. 3:6). This sin then leads to spiritual death (separation from God, Rom. 3:23).
Therefore, does sin still exist today? And if so, is there a remedy for sin? If we answer “Yes”, then we must admit to the relevancy of the Bible because the Bible describes both sin and its remedy in great detail (Rom. 6:23, 6:3-6, 16-18).
It is the Bible that describes God’s plan for salvation in sending His Son to this earth for the remission of sins (Jn. 3:16; Matt. 20:28; Lk. 19:10). Not only this, but God also describes how one can meet the requirements for accepting Christ’s salvation. This is done through faith in Christ, repentance of sins, confession of Christ as the Son of God, and being baptized for the remission of sins (Heb. 11:6; Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Acts 17:30; Rom. 10:10; I Pet. 3:21; Acts 2:36-38). Then, as a child of God, we need to be faithful (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10), avoid temptation and the pitfalls of sin (I Cor. 10:13; Jas. 4:7-8), and pray for forgiveness when we fall (Acts 8:22; I Jn. 1:9), so that we can have a home in Heaven one day.
It is high time we were honest and admitted the true place the Bible has in the lives of men in the 21st century. It touches us. It is relevant and furnishes us completely for every good work (II Tim. 3:17).
Long ago, God made a promise to Abraham. He called Abraham to be the father of many nations, and that his seed would be like the sand of the sea and the stars of heaven (Gen. 13:16, 15:5, 22:17). As we study the life of Abraham, there is no question that God fulfilled His promise to Abraham physically. Yet, in our study, we see something else. Namely, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham spiritually!
What do we mean? Let the Bible answer. In Galatians 3:26-27, it says that baptism makes us children of God by faith. Paul also says, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). Did you see that? In addition to being Christ’s when baptized, the Bible also connects us with Abraham when we are baptized!
Every time someone becomes a Christian, the promise God made to Abraham that his seed would be like the “sand,” and “stars” in multitude is fulfilled. Abraham has a family that increases daily because of God’s promise. Yes, the Bible touches our lives because Christians are recipients of a blessing that God had promised in the days of Abraham! How amazing is that? Yes, the Bible touches our lives daily!!
Are You Feeling Pressure?
I have observed that when I talk with certain people about the Bible, one reaction to our discussion will be the following. They will say, “Don’t pressure me.” Perhaps you have heard those teaching the Bible say to those listening, “This is not to pressure you, but ...”. The point being that there are times when the Bible is read or taught that the folks listening feel pressure (guilt?), and do not like the feeling. Therefore, they want the person to quit talking! Let me begin by saying it is certainly not anyone’s intention to coerce a person into obeying the Lord. It does no spiritual good to force people into doing something that they do not wish to do. God does not coerce, or force people into obeying Him. He wants willing servants to obey Him. He does not want “forced labor” (Ex. 35:29; Isa. 1:18-19; II Cor. 8:12; I Tim. 6:17-18; I Pet. 5:2)!
At the same time, pressure can be a good thing. We know physically that pressure is a warning sent by the nerves to the brain that some part of the body is in stress or trauma. This is something given to us by God to protect us from further harm. (Ex: The boy felt great pressure in his hand, so he pulled it from the vise. Or, the girl experienced great pressure after her arm was broken. Sometimes, those experiencing cardiac arrest feel pressure in the chest, etc.) In other words, pressure can be a good thing when applied correctly. One feeling pressure physically will take measures to prevent further harm to his body if this is possible.
Spiritually, we feel pressure at times. If someone wishes to speak to you about the Bible, and you feel “pressure,” perhaps it is because you’re in the wrong! Instead of fighting against this, why not take steps to get yourself out of spiritual jeopardy (i.e., repent), and prevent further spiritual damage by returning to the Lord now while you can (II Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:7-8).
Sometimes pressure is felt spiritually when we know the truth but refuse to speak it. We often feel guilty afterward, saying, “I know what is right, but I said nothing.” The “antidote” for this is to speak the truth next time, and each time after that. Too, there may be some feeling pressure because they do not know the Bible as well as they should. The “antidote” for this is to spend time in God’s word and learn the truth so that we are no longer ignorant (Eph. 3:4, 5:17; II Tim. 2:15). In both cases, the “pressure” one feels can result in something positive if we listen and make changes. This would not have been possible had that person not experienced spiritual pressure in the first place!
There is something to be said for pressure being applied in the right way. The apostle Paul did this with Philemon when he told him to accept Onesimus back (Phile. 8-22). Pressure was applied in the right way when Peter and the apostles told the Jews to “repent and be baptized … for the remission of sins” and then “with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, save yourselves from this crooked generation” (Acts 2:38, 40).
How will we respond to God’s pressure? Will we reject it or will we accept and change as needed? This is a serious question, because the way we respond to spiritual pressure can determine where we spend eternity!
Thinking You Are Offering God Service
Jesus warned the eleven: “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me” (Jn. 16:1-3). This is an eye-opening statement to me. Jesus told His apostles that there were some people who were quite zealous and adamant about their beliefs, yet they were wrong! Jesus warned of folks killing the apostles, and in so doing, thinking they were serving God! How wrong can people get?
Execution for preaching Christ was not limited to the apostles. In his younger days, Saul of Tarsus consented to the death of Stephen (Acts 8:1). In later years, he said, “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth…. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:9-11). How could someone brought up at the feet of Gamaliel and “educated … according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers”; a man “zealous for God” (Acts 22:3), do these things? I think a key point in Paul’s case was his admission in Acts 26:9. Somewhere in his life he went off-track, and began acting selfishly rather than selflessly following the pure will of God!
How do I know this is what happened? It is because if he had followed the will of God, he would have accepted Christ rather than rejected Him! Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad” (Jn. 8:56)! Moses wrote about Christ also (Jn. 5:46)! Therefore, if he (or any of the Jews who had rejected Christ and Christians in the first century) was following the pure will of God, he would have listened to the words of Abraham and Moses and would have accepted Christ. Those who accepted the truth from the inspired words of Abraham, Moses and other prophets followed Christ! Yet, because folks like Saul and others were following the whims and wishes of men, they were taught to kill Christ and Christians, and in so doing, they would “offer God service.” How tragic!
What can we learn from this? We can learn that just because I think something is “good” or “holy” or “righteous” does not make it so. The inspired word of God equips us for “every good work” (II Tim. 3:16-17). Therefore, if what I am doing does not have authority from the Scriptures, it is not a good work! It is time we examined our lives (II Cor. 13:5) and made sure what we are doing is what has been authorized by God in His Scriptures. If we find we are following the will of man instead of God, then we need to repent or be guilty of the same thing those Jews were guilty of in the first century. Specifically, doing something sinful, and saying it is “offering service to God.”
Woe to people who exchange their “think so’s” for God’s word and then claim they are following the Lord (Isa. 5:20)! If we are guilty of this, beware, for we fool ourselves into thinking we are “doing God service” when in actuality, we are harming the Lord’s cause. We end up working for Satan by default and destroying the very thing we claim to be building. “Test everything, hold fast what is good” (I Thess. 5:21). Follow God’s will only, and forsake man’s will. Let us not be guilty of sinning while claiming we are “doing God service”!