Saint, Why Sayest Thou Nothing? #5

Thursday, January 31, 2013

“Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13 KJV).

You are not alone in being shy about witnessing for Jesus Christ….

Once the Apostle Paul began his ministry, and started preaching the glorious Gospel of the Grace of God (that we are saved by grace through faith without works), legalism (works-religion/Mosaic Law-keeping) contradicted his message and confused and divided Christians (sound familiar?). Two areas where legalism was dominant were Ephesus and Galatia.

Paul instructed Timothy, a church leader in Ephesus, to “charge [command] some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). They have swerved from “godly edifying” and “faith unfeigned [genuine],” and have “turned aside unto vain jangling [useless, foolish talking]; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (verses 6,7).

Sometime later, Paul writes a second epistle to Timothy. It is the Apostle’s final letter. Paul pens that he is “mindful of [Timothy’s] tears” (2 Timothy 1:4). Timothy is very discouraged in the ministry, as evidenced by Paul’s encouragement: “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (verses 6-8).

Timothy is now ashamed of God’s Word and of Paul’s imprisonment. He once courageously proclaimed God’s Word, but now he is craven. The false teachers in Ephesus have intimidated him to silence, lest they have “competition.” Paul instructs Timothy not to fear the lost world. He should endure the suffering that comes with being a Christian. He should speak up about God’s Word! How can he do this? “According to the power of God!” Dear saints, our flesh is weak, but God’s power is more than sufficient to give us boldness to speak His Word to this lost and dying world.

Saint, Why Sayest Thou Nothing? #4

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

“Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13 KJV).

You are not alone in being shy about witnessing for Jesus Christ….

In Mark 14:27 (cf. Matthew 26:31), just before His arrest, the Lord Jesus declared to His disciples, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night.” Peter replied, “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I” (Mark 14:29; cf. Matthew 26:33). When Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him thrice, Peter spake the more vehemently, and all the other disciples affirmed that, to the death, they would never be ashamed of Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:34,35; Mark 14:30,31).

Once the multitude came and bound Jesus, “all the disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56). When thrice asked whether or not he was with Jesus Christ, Peter denied it all three times (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:55-62). “And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). The very men who claimed they were going to die for and with Jesus Christ, were the ones who abandoned Him during the moments leading up to His death!

Our flesh is weak, as the above verses demonstrate. We can say we will do one thing, but end up doing the opposite. Nevertheless, there is hope for them… and us! Many weeks after Calvary’s crosswork, these timid men, “…Prayed, [and] the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness(Acts 4:31). Earlier, on the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter preached a magnificent sermon to Israel (Acts 2:14-40). “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (verse 4).

Notice this stark difference. Christ’s disciples were shy and weak in their own strength. However, when they relied on the power of the Holy Ghost, they boldly proclaimed God’s Word! The same is true with us today. We grow timid and fearful when witnessing because that is our weak flesh. However, God the Holy Spirit is more than willing to speak through us!

Saint, Why Sayest Thou Nothing? #3

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

“Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13 KJV).

You are not alone in being shy about witnessing for Jesus Christ….

In John chapter 9, Jesus Christ heals a man who was blind from birth. Because it is the Saturday Sabbath, the pedantic, “law-keeping” Pharisees are filled with anger (verse 14). They proceed to interrogate and harass the healed man, further hardening their unbelieving hearts. Unless they can ask His parents if he was blind, they will not believe that he was healed. So, they call forth his parents.

Read their “testimony” in John 9:20-23: “His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: but by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.”

Notice why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” They would have to admit that Jesus Christ performed the healing miracle, and this they refuse to do because it would jeopardize their social standing. They would be labeled a “God nut” and they would lose their “friends,” so, they do not dare declare Jesus is Christ/Messiah.

John 12:42,43 summarizes this issue: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

People do not always welcome us with “open arms” when we preach the Gospel of the Grace of God, so we are prone to stay silent, just as these people in the Bible did, lest we are relegated to a “Bible-believing fanatic” status. This should not be so. Thankfully, with God, there is a solution!

Saint, Why Sayest Thou Nothing? #2

Monday, January 28, 2013

“Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13 KJV).

You are not alone in being shy about witnessing for Jesus Christ….

The LORD sends the prophet Jeremiah to warn Judah and Jerusalem of God’s impending judgment, that the Babylonians are coming to take them captive, and to carry them back to Babylon. Once Jeremiah preaches, he learns just how stubborn and wicked the Jews are.

“O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jeremiah 20:7-9).

The Jews, upon hearing God’s Word through Jeremiah, mock him. They do not want to hear what God has to say, so Jeremiah vows never again will he speak in the name of the LORD. Yet, notice, God’s Word had filled the heart of Jeremiah—it was like “a burning fire shut up in [his] bones”—and he could not stay silent for long. Soon, he was preaching God’s Word again! (Later, the Jews want to kill him, Jeremiah 26:8. Years later, he is thrown into a muddy pit and imprisoned, Jeremiah 38:6.)

Jeremiah is just one example in Scripture of God’s people being shy when sharing His Word with others. Sometimes, Jeremiah wanted to say nothing about God; other times, he spoke about God. Why is this? Why do believers not speak about God’s Word all the time? That is, why are we not bold all the time in witnessing? Why do we grow shy at times? One of the reasons is we fear the negative public reaction (see today’s Scripture).

But, there are other, more specific, factors involved, too.

Saint, Why Sayest Thou Nothing? #1

Sunday, January 27, 2013

“Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13 KJV).

You are not alone in being shy about witnessing for Jesus Christ….

A Christian sister recently asked me why she feels nervous when she gets opportunity to talk to people about Jesus Christ and the Bible. Sometimes she says nothing because she is afraid; other times, she is bold enough to speak. There are a few reasons for this.

In the context of today’s Scripture, Jesus’ brethren have come to Judaea (the region surrounding Jerusalem) to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, but He stays behind in Galilee (verses 2-9). When His brethren arrive, the Jews demand to know where He is (verses 10,11).

This inquiry excites the common people. Some say of Christ, “He is a good man,” while others say, “Nay; but he deceiveth the people” (verse 12). Notice the expression in this verse, “There was much murmuring among the people concerning him.” Murmuring is quiet speech, a near whisper. Some of them are grumbling criticism of Jesus Christ; others are praising Him. Contrast this with today’s Scripture: Howbeit [However] no man spake openly of him….” These people will not utter anything about Jesus Christ in a normal tone. Instead, they talk about Him softly. The context explains their “hush-hush” attitude.

Jesus Christ has just delivered an extensive, “non-feel-good” sermon in John chapter 6, so chapter 7 opens with, “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.” Thus, we see why the common Jews dare not publicly mention Jesus Christ. They fear persecution: “If they want to kill Jesus Christ, and He is not here, then what would they do to us if we even mention His name?!” This disdain for Jesus Christ’s name continues today.

A Christian pastor was recently sentenced to eight years in prison for evangelizing his relatives and friends in his native country. He certainly did not fear the public reaction to his ministry.

What is one of the reasons we grow shy when witnessing? We fear people’s reaction to the name of Jesus Christ!

A Wise King for Israel

Saturday, January 26, 2013

“Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice” (1 Kings 10:9 KJV).

Today’s Scripture has a dual application—Solomon… and Jesus Christ.

Verse 1 says, “And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.” This Gentile queen is coming to Jerusalem, to see for herself if the rumors about Solomon’s kingdom are true.

The queen of Sheba brings with her many gifts, and she speaks with Solomon (verse 2). He answers all of her hard questions, and she witnesses his wisdom, his cuisine, his house, his wealth, his clothing, and his diligent servants… “there was no more spirit in her” (verses 3-5). She was so amazed at the magnificence of Solomon’s kingdom that she felt faint!

“And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom” (verses 6-8). She then praises the LORD, that He has given Israel such a wise king, someone who will take care of His people Israel and render justice in their midst (today’s Scripture).

Now, 1,000 years later, when Jesus chides Israel’s apostate religious leaders, notice what He declares: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here(Matthew 12:42).

Think about Christ’s words. The awesome kingdom Israel enjoyed under Solomon is nothing compared to the glorious earthly kingdom that Jesus Christ will establish for Israel one day. Wow! 🙂

Honesty or Flattery?

Friday, January 25, 2013

“He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue” (Proverbs 28:23 KJV).

Which will ye?

Which type of person would you “favour” more? Someone who told you a feel-good message, that which “tickled your itching ear,” or someone who was honest with you, and rebuked you when you did something wrong? Do you prefer a lie, or the truth? Behold, Satan’s lie, and God’s truth. Choose ye!

LIE #1: Do your best, and then God will do the rest.
LIE #2: Do your best, and then God will do the rest.
LIE #3: Do your best, and then God will do the rest.
LIE #4: Do your best, and then God will do the rest.

While the lie appeals to our flesh, and is thus very popular, it is vain flattery. We enjoy hearing, “You are good enough for heaven if you do the best you can.” Yet, we know deep in our hearts that our shortcomings are our “best.” If they are our “best,” then we are headed to anywhere but heaven!

TRUTH #1: “There is none righteous, no, not one… For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10,23).
TRUTH #2: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
TRUTH #3: “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:4,5).
TRUTH #4: “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:24,25).

The truth, although it hurts our fleshly ego, is still in fact, the truth! Christ’s finished crosswork is a testament to our sins. This “offence of the cross” (Galatians 5:11) insults our self-righteousness, and demolishes any notion that our religious performance can give us a right standing before God.

In what have ye trusted? The truth, or the lie? Honesty, or flattery?

I Know Who You Are

Thursday, January 24, 2013

“Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?” (Matthew 26:67,68 KJV).

Little did these “anonymous” individuals know—one day Jesus Christ would indeed name them….

It is late night, and our Lord has just been arrested. His disciples have abandoned Him. The chief priests and elders have taken Him back to Jerusalem. He is now in the high priest’s palace, surrounded by scores of onlookers. The Apostle Peter even sneaks in to witness the proceedings (verses 56-58).

Israel’s religious leaders are seeking false witnesses, people who will lie about Jesus Christ in order to condemn Him to death. Many false witnesses come, but their inventions are not “convincing” enough—these religious leaders need something more in order to have grounds to execute Christ. Eventually, two false witnesses come, who merely twist Jesus’ earlier statements (verses 59-62). Upon being asked for a response to those accusations, “Jesus held his peace” (verse 63). He remains quiet, fulfilling Isaiah 53:7.

Again, the high priest demands of Jesus: “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63). “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death” (verses 64-66). They proceed to spit on Christ’s face, and punch Him, and strike Him with their palms (today’s Scripture). They mock Him (probably blindfolded): “Tell us who hit You!”

Interestingly, they were ignorant of who He was, but being the God of heaven, He could have named them all. One day, they will be resurrected. He will call their names in judgment, to rightly condemn them to the lake of fire, just as they had wrongly condemned Him to Calvary.

A Rejected Sacrifice

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell” (Genesis 4:5 KJV).

We are some 6,000 years removed from today’s Scripture, and yet it teaches us a valuable lesson of eternal worth….

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain…” (Hebrews 11:4). The LORD gave Cain and his brother Abel clear instructions. Only Abel did what God said because only he believed what God said. Abel, a shepherd (Genesis 4:2), “brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” (verse 4a). Cain, a farmer (verse 2), “brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD” (verse 3).

Notice what Abel brought—a sheep, a blood sacrifice, and its fat, which is what God said to do. Observe what Cain brought—something he grew. Cain had probably slaved away watering that crop, weeding that patch of ground, and so on. Cain brought the very “best” he could bring—it was the work of his own hands. He rationalized, “Surely, God will accept this fruit of the ground. He knows I put so much effort into it. How can He say no?”

When Cain saw the fire of God come down from heaven and consume his brother’s sacrifice, and yet nothing happened to his sacrifice, today’s Scripture tells us that Cain grew very upset. “How dare You, God! It was my very best, and You do not want it!” Cain probably threw a tantrum and cursed. Eventually, filled with that religious rage, he murdered Abel (verse 8).

Cain symbolizes today’s average religious person, who refuses to do what God’s Word says: “Trust in the finished crosswork of Christ alone and I will save you.” Like Cain, they offer “their absolute best”—tithes, water baptism, acts of charity, penance, church membership, et cetera—things God never commanded them to do for salvation! Those things are “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) when compared to Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice of Himself.

And when they die, like Cain, they will be greatly disappointed.

An Accepted Sacrifice

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4 KJV).

How did Abel know that God accepted his sacrifice?

Sons of Adam and Eve, Abel is a “keeper of sheep” and his brother Cain is a “tiller of the ground” (Genesis 4:2). Cain “brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD” (verse 3), while Abel “brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” (verse 4a). To wit, Abel “by faith” brought a blood sacrifice, indicating He followed God’s instructions. Unbelieving Cain, however, offered vegetation to God, which He never commanded.

“And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect” (verses 4b,5a). Today’s Scripture affirms: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts.” But, exactly what does it mean that Abel “obtained witness” from God that “he was righteous?” For the answer, we must search the Old Testament Scriptures.

Read 1 Chronicles 21:26: “And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.” In 1 Kings 18:38, we read of the time when the prophet Elijah offered an animal sacrifice: Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” And 2 Chronicles 7:1: “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.”

Based on these verses, we conclude Abel must have seen the fire of God come down from heaven and consume his sacrifice, thus signifying to him that God had accepted his offering. Amazing!