Living in Light of Eternity

Late in the fall of 1981, my wife and I made a decision that has forever changed our lives. We decided to bring a child into the world. Nine months later God blessed us with a beautiful and healthy baby girl. Since that day our lives have never been the same. No longer could we simply think of ourselves. Now we needed to think ahead to make sure our daughter had food, clothing, adult supervision, and much more. From the day we decided to start a family, we have needed to live in light of that decision. For those of us who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our only hope for eternal life, we should be living every day in light of that decision. We should be living in light of eternity.

In Hebrews 11:23-28 we learn that Moses was a man who lived not merely for the here and now, but for the hereafter. The evidence of this testimony is in the decisions he made. Moses refused the allurement of the world. Verse 24 says, “he…refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” At this point in history, Egypt was the leading nation of the world in power, prestige, education, and pleasures. All of this was at the fingertips of Moses. According to the historian Josephus, Moses was even in line for the throne of this advanced civilization. All of these things were more than a mild distraction, they were undoubtedly a powerful temptation pulling Moses away from living the life God wanted for him. We today can certainly understand the pull of the world, because we feel it in our lives too. That’s why Paul warned Timothy “no man that warreth (in working for the Lord) entangleth himself with the affairs of this life: that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Tim. 2:4). There is certainly nothing wrong with working hard to provide for our families, in fact it is a noble act. But it is so easy to become distracted with these necessities to the point where we lose sight of what is really most important.

As the story goes, a young banker was driving his BMW in the mountains, during a snow storm. As he rounded a turn the vehicle slid out of control and toward a deep precipice. At the last moment he unbuckled his seatbelt and jumped from the car. Though he escaped with his life, his left arm was caught near the hinge of the door and torn off at the shoulder. A trucker passing nearby witnessed the accident, stopped his rig, and ran back to see if he could be of help. There standing, in a state of shock, was the banker at the edge of the cliff moaning, “Oh my BMW, my BMW.” The trucker pointed to the banker’s shoulder and said “man you’ve got bigger problems than a car.” With that the banker looked at his shoulder, finally realizing he’d lost his arm, and began crying, “Oh my new Rolex, my new Rolex.” The pull of the world can easily steal our affections away, and cause us to live for the wrong things. But believers must live in light of eternity.

Hebrews 11:25 tells us that Moses chose affliction and association with God’s people, instead of “the pleasures of sin for a season.” It was not politically correct or personally advantageous for Moses to choose an enslaved nation living in poverty, over living in luxury with those in power. But this man of God was not looking at the short term. He was looking at what was best in the long run. Like Abraham before him, he considered himself to be a stranger and pilgrim on earth. Instead of earthly riches, he “looked for a city… whose builder and maker is God…an heavenly…city” (Heb. 11:10-16). For this kind of living in light of eternity, he was one of whom it could be written “God is not ashamed to be called their God.”

In 1955 Mr. Akio Morita’s company invented the first portable transistor radio. Because he lacked the funds and connections to adequately market it, he entertained an offer from Bulova to sell his product, and provide him with a handsome profit; but he refused. The catch for him was that his product would be marketed under the Bulova name, instead of his company’s name. Mr. Morita persevered, and his company later invented the first VCR, and portable CD player. The company name, SONY. But this huge success story might never have been written had one man not looked beyond what was easy and immediately gratifying. For the believer in Christ, we may stand ashamed at the judgment seat of Christ if we are so short sighted that we live only for the here and now, instead of the hereafter.

Moses made these first two decisions because he “esteemed the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasure of Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of reward” (Heb. 11:26). One might truly call this a proper value system. He chose to place more value on eternal reward, than on earthly gain. Which is exactly what every believer needs to do. Romans 8:18 reminds us “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,” II Corinthians 4:16-18 urges us to desire an “eternal weight of glory…(and to keep our priorities on the things which) are eternal.” Hebrews 10:34 summarizes it all by reminding us it is possible for us to “have in heaven a better and enduring substance.” The right kind of value system will desire eternal reward more than the fading and fleeting riches of earth. Is this what you value most?

Several hundred years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town, the next a government. The third year the government planned to build a road five miles into the wilderness. The fourth year they tried to impeach the government because they thought it was a waste of money to build such a road. Here was a group of people who had the vision to travel thousands of miles and endure many hardships, but in just a few years had lost the vision to see even five miles into the wilderness. Believer friend, have you traveled many miles since first trusting Christ, even endured many hardships, but at present have lost your vision of eternal reward and how valuable that will be? Is it time to start living once again in light of eternity?

One thing gave Moses the needed stability to consistently live for the Lord. He had a close personal relationship with God. In the context of Hebrews 11:25, which refers to Moses “esteeming the reproaches of CHRIST greater riches,” verse 27 says “he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Moses was keenly aware that he lacked the strength and wisdom to face each day alone. So, he regularly communed with the Lord, loved His words enough to record them with great care, exhibited great faith in his Lord, and ran to Him often with his problems. It was this kind of closeness and dependency upon the Lord that enabled Moses to live for the hereafter, instead of just the here and now. One might say, he kept his eyes on the Lord.

On July 4, 1952 a young woman named Florence Chadwick waded into the water off Catalina Island intending to swim the channel to the California coast. Long distance swimming was not new to her: she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. But on this day the water was numbingly cold and a heavy fog rested over the water. She swam for 15 hours before asking to be taken out of the water by her team that followed her in boats. Her trainer urged her to keep going because she was close, only one mile from shore. But Florence just couldn’t make it. “I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land I might have made it.” Two months later she did make it, because this time she could see her goal with every stroke. Believers, if we are to achieve the goal of living in light of eternity, and do so over the long haul, then we are going to have to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ in a living daily relationship.

Abraham, Sarah, Moses, the Apostle Paul, and many other saints of the past were successful in living for the hereafter, and we can too. If this is really what you want for your life, then you will have to make five choices every day. You will have to choose to value eternal reward more than earthly gain. By no means does this mean that you become negligent about work or financial responsibilities. Moses cared for flocks in the desert, and later for the daily needs of an entire nation. The Apostle Paul made tents to provide for his needs. But in both cases working for the Lord, obeying Him, and proclaiming God’s message for the day was most important. It was their priority and passion. Make it yours too. Choose to “set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2). What we embrace emotionally as being important is a choice of our will. We can decide to “love” cars, jewelry, houses, clothes, and the such, but these things will only leave us feeling empty here and in eternity. But we can “prepare our hearts” to love our Saviour, our heavenly home, the prospect of reigning with Christ in eternity, and the incorruptible rewards awaiting us. Think about these things, talk about them, and set your affections upon them.

Choose to be content with what you have. We learn from I Timothy 6:9 “they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” Many a believer has become so preoccupied with getting ahead, and getting things, that these pursuits have stolen their hearts away from the Lord. The end result is that one often considers himself so busy that there is little time left for the Lord, or His work. God’s advice is “having food and raiment [clothing] let us there with be content” (6:8). But we should choose not to be content to be poor in eternal rewards. Often believers bemoan “I’ll only be a street sweeper or stable cleaner in eternity.” Shame on us if this is so, or if we even think it will be so. We’re told to “redeem the time” and make the most of it. We’re told to “be rich in good works” (I Tim. 6:18). Don’t settle for a selfish life of pleasing yourself now, and end up with little or no rewards in eternity. No one should be content with that.

Last, choose to maintain a close relationship with the Lord everyday. That’s going to mean disciplining yourself to have daily Bible reading, continual prayer, and regular attendance at church. During these times, seek to apply and implement into your daily life the principles of godliness understood rightly divided. It will also mean learning to trust the Lord in times of trial, seeking to honor Him with all that you have, and to maintain a pure conscience before Him. Living in light of eternity simply cannot be done in our own strength. It can only be done as we are “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10).

On April 14, 1912, at 10:00 p.m. the Titanic crashed into an iceberg and in four hours sank, carrying hundreds to their death. One woman in a life boat asked if she could go back to her room. She was given only three minutes to do so. She hurried down the corridors, already tilting dangerously, through the gambling room piled ankle deep with money. In her fancy estate room were treasures waiting to be taken, but instead she snatched up three oranges and hurried back to the boat. One hour earlier she would have naturally chosen diamonds over oranges but, in the face of death, values are seen more clearly. If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, apart from any good works of your own, as your only hope for eternal life, then you are now in the life boat of salvation. Your values should be much clearer than those of the unsaved around you. You should realize that you need to be living every day in light of eternity. If you haven’t recently, then right now is the time to make the choices we’ve just studied about. Will you do so now, before it’s eternally too late?

You can receive More Minutes With the Bible every week in your email inbox. This list features longer articles, including both original content and articles that have appeared in the Berean Searchlight.

Part 2: The Teaching of the Cross

As we began our voyage last month, the first port of call brought us to the predictions of the Cross. David gave us a vivid description of the crucifixion of Christ one thousand years before it actually transpired. Psalm 22 is a remarkable testimony of the foreknowledge of God.

With our sails reset, we are now going to consider the teaching of the Cross. As our voyage brings us within view of the crucifixion, we want to study the events preceding and following this great historical event. We are now sailing with Peter, as the drama of redemption continues to unfold. As we sound the depths of the Word of God, exactly what did Peter and the other apostles of the kingdom understand and teach about the Cross?


“From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matt. 16:21).

Approximately one year before the end of our Lord’s earthly ministry, He began to teach His disciples about His impending death. This is another noteworthy reference to the Deity of Christ. Who among us can predict the place, time, or manner of our death—Christ did! Once again, the Spirit of God demonstrates that both the sovereignty of God and human responsibility were key components in the crucifixion. The term “must” here is a clear indication that Christ’s death at Jerusalem was unalterable according to the plans and purpose of God. This intersects with the foreknowledge of God, which permitted the leaders in Israel to carry out their diabolical plan to have the Lord executed.

After the Lord foretold His death, Peter received them as unwelcome words, therefore he took Him aside and began to rebuke Him: “Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee” (Matt. 16:22). If Peter were around today, he would be the last one chosen to head up a high profile national ministry. In the eyes of many, he was impetuous, ignorant, unlearned—a mere lowly fisherman. But the Lord saw something in Peter, as He does in all believers. In Peter’s case, his greatest asset was a willing heart. The clay was pliable! Thus, the Potter could fashion him into a vessel of honor, fit for the Master’s use. As Peter matured in the faith, he, on more than one occasion, disarmed his critics and left them speechless (Acts 4:13).

As we return to his formative years, Peter couldn’t believe his ears regarding what would soon take place at Jerusalem. It engendered this response, “Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee.” In essence he is saying, “You are the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel. We will defend you with our last breath, if need be.” Peter’s actions proved the sincerity of his love when he drew the sword, the night the Lord was betrayed, and attempted to separate the High Priest’s servant’s head from his shoulders. Malchus apparently took evasive action, or an unseen hand protected him, which resulted in only his ear being cut off. There is no record of anyone ever dying in the presence of our Lord (John 18:10,11).

For one reason or another Peter failed to understand that, according to prophecy, the sufferings of Christ must precede the glory of the kingdom. This first part was partially veiled, therefore he only saw the brilliance of the crown before him. Peter had a classic case of tunnel vision! He was looking forward to the Golden Age—that time of peace and righteousness when Israel’s enemies will be subdued and the faithful will reign with the Messiah upon the earth.

“But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matt. 16:23).

Moments earlier Peter had been the mouthpiece of the Father, when he announced the Master was the Messiah, the very Son of God. How quickly things changed, now he had become the mouthpiece of Satan when he declared, “be it far from Thee Lord,” which demonstrated his indifference to the will of God. Simply because we are believers does not preclude us from being an instrument in Satan’s hand. There is nothing more pitiful than a child of God who’s caught in the snare of the devil. Sadly, those who allow themselves to become ensnared in his web of deceit are usually the last ones to be aware of it.

Peter fell into Satan’s trap by failing to savor the things of God. In this context, the “things of God” speaks of the rejection and suffering of His dear Son to accomplish the plan of redemption, even though this was not fully understood at the time. Rather than accepting God’s word by faith, Peter followed in the footsteps of Satan by relishing the things of men; that is, glory and honor and recognition. The kingdom was just too close to entertain the thought of anything happening to the Master. As we follow this line of thought, it helps us to better understand the Savior’s next statement:

“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).

This passage has suffered greatly at the hands of those who apply it devotionally to believers today. Many say, for example, that “your cross” may take the form of financial reversals, loss of health, or whatever other burdens you may be bearing. But, dispensationally, the Lord is speaking about what the kingdom saints may be called upon to endure for the cause of Christ. Those who denied themselves and followed Him would be rejected and, in all probability, pay the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. According to Church history, all the apostles of the kingdom died a martyr’s death. In the case of Peter, it is said he requested to be crucified upside down out of respect for His Master’s sacrificial work.


“And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death. And shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again” (Matt. 20:17-19).

Now, in the shadow of the Cross, the Lord takes His disciples aside to give them a more detailed account of the events soon to unfold at Jerusalem. He confirms the words of the prophet, that He would be betrayed into the hands of ungodly men who would condemn Him to death. It should also be noted that the Gentiles would bear the responsibility of carrying out the will of the leaders of Israel. This is the first time that the Lord specifically states the manner of His death. He would suffer death by crucifixion, as foretold in Psalm 22!

What exactly did the disciples and the kingdom saints understand about the death, burial, and resurrection at this point in time? Nothing! Clearly the disciples did not grasp the significance of these events, nor did they place their faith in the coming death of Christ at Calvary to be saved, although this would be the means by which they would be redeemed. According to the biblical record, these things were hidden from them (See Luke 18:31-34).

This sheds more light on why the disciples seemed oblivious to our Lord’s words. They were more interested in the glories of the kingdom and the positions they would have when they reigned with Him. This is substantiated by what follows.

“Then came to Him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him. And He said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto Him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in Thy kingdom” (Matt. 20:20,21).

Every mother wants the best for her children, but sometimes her ambition can be a product of the flesh. Concluding that the kingdom would soon be established, the Mother of James and John wanted her sons to have the distinct honor of being seated on the right and left hand of the Master. Of course, James and John competently argued the case. After all, they were among the first who left their fishing nets behind and faithfully followed the Lord. The true intent of their request was to secure positions of authority so they could rule over others, like the Gentiles. But the Gentiles desire for such power was purely selfish.

What they failed to comprehend was, the kingdom could not be established until the Master had suffered and died for the sins of the nation. The Lord also reveals in this portion that they, too, would drink of this same cup. Then He adds, “to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” Most likely this honor will be given to Moses and Elijah, who represent the law and the prophets (Matt. 16:28; 17:1-3).

You see, the key to greatness in the kingdom was not based upon position and power, things that the Gentiles covet, but character. They were to follow in the spirit of our Lord who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give Himself a ransom for many. Christ was the Creator of all things, yet He humbled Himself and took on the form of a lowly servant. Thus, the Master admonishes His disciples, “whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:23-28). We believe this same principle can be applied to the Body of Christ when we rule and reign with Christ in the heavenlies.


“These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:44-46).

It was not until after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ that the Lord opened the disciples’ eyes that it was He who was spoken of in the Law of Moses (Deut. 18), and the prophets (Isa. 53), and the Psalms (Psa. 22). The veil that once shrouded their eyes on this matter was removed. It now became clear to them for the first time that Christ was the promised Redeemer the Scriptures had foretold. But let us be careful not to assume that the disciples understood more than they did. They merely understood the fact of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Nothing more!

Armed with this new light, the disciples continued to proclaim Christ in accordance with the prophetic theme, which portrayed Him as a victim. This is confirmed by Peter’s address to his countrymen on the day of Pentecost.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1).

As we enter into the bay of the Book of Acts, we are still sailing in prophetic waters. Peter is going to cautiously steer us through the dangerous shoals created by the traditions and commandments of men. It is important to remember that the early chapters of the Acts record are merely a continuation of the earthly ministry of Christ.

Luke makes this very plain when he writes, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach. Until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen.” The “former treatise” that Luke refers to here is the gospel according to Luke, wherein he introduced his friend Theophilus to “all that Jesus began both to do and to teach.” But as Paul Harvey would say, “Now for the rest of the story….” “To whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:1-3).

When Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost to address his countrymen, he preached the same message that he had during the earthly ministry of Christ, with one addition—He charged Israel with the death of her Messiah!

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:22,23).

As we have seen, the death of Christ was according to the sovereign design of God, referred to here as “the determinate counsel.” Peter strongly asserts Christ was not delivered into the hands of evil men due to “weakness” or that He was beyond the control of the circumstances surrounding Him. The Scriptures are unmistakably clear that Christ gave His life voluntarily (John 10:17,18).

Interestingly, Peter adds, “and foreknowledge of God.” God chose the most appropriate time, place, and manner for His will to be carried out. Simply because God foreknew the actions of those who would reject and condemn His Son does not diminish from their guilt. Some of those standing before Peter at Pentecost were the very co-conspirators who helped set up the false witnesses against the Lord. There were also those present who cried out, “Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas!” Hiding behind them were the ones who chanted, “Away with him, away with Him, crucify Him!”

Peter wasn’t one to mince words. He effectively exposed the guilt of those responsible for the death of Christ when he stated, “ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” It was as if the blood was dripping off the ends of their fingers. Incidentally, have you heard any good news up to this point? For want of a better term, Peter was preaching the bad news of the Cross. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he tightened the noose with: you crucified Him, but God the Father raised Him from the dead and placed Him at His own right hand until all His enemies are made His footstool. Let all Israel know who committed this evil deed that they are the enemies of God (Acts 2:24-36).

Suppose for a moment you and a friend planned and carried out the perfect murder. Unexpectedly, a couple of months later your friend taps you on the shoulder and says, “By the way, remember that man we murdered, he’s back from the dead and he’s looking for us.” Now that would have your undivided attention! In like manner, Peter had his hearers’ attention when he charged them with the death of Christ. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” That is, what must we do to be saved from this terrible sin we have committed?

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent….” Finally, here’s the good news, “repent” repent of what? Repent of crucifying their Messiah. This would have included belief on His name, that He was who He claimed to be, the Messiah, the very Son of God (John 20:31). “And be [water] baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, [Upon expressing their faith in this manner, they would have been saved according to Mark 16:16], and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).

These were the amended terms of salvation under the kingdom gospel after the day of Pentecost. Land ho! We are most grateful to Peter who has brought us safely to our destination where he will give the first legitimate offer of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 3:17-21). Her rejection, however, of God’s gracious offer of repentance will mark a major turning point in God’s dealings with mankind.

One of the things from Peter’s message that we would all do well to remember is, we are always responsible for our actions. The greater the position, the greater the responsibility. Next month we will be sailing with Paul!

You can receive More Minutes With the Bible every week in your email inbox. This list features longer articles, including both original content and articles that have appeared in the Berean Searchlight.

With Him — The Glories of the Life to Come

God has not seen fit to reveal to His children all the details of the life to come. He has, however, made known to us what we need to know for our encouragement and establishment in the faith.


The event that will bring this present dispensation of grace to a close is the rapture of the Church—the true Church—to be with Christ.

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds1 to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thes. 4:16-18).

But when Saul of Tarsus saw the Lord in His heavenly glory he was instantly blinded, and only by a divine miracle was his sight restored. How then will we be able to endure His glory? The answer is found in I Corinthians 15:51:

“We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”

In contrast to the gradual—often all-too-slow—metamorphosis referred to in II Corinthians 3:18,2 this change will be sudden:

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…” (I Cor. 15:52).

Philippians 3:20,21 also refers to this wonderful change:

“For our conversation3 is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:

“Who shall change our vile body, that it might be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.”

What a glorious prospect! And the most wonderful part of it is that not only will our bodies be changed, but we shall be changed morally and spiritually, so that we will never again be tempted to commit one single sin to grieve our Lord.


Believers will appear before “the judgment seat of Christ”4 immediately following the rapture. This is evident from the following Scriptures:

I Thessalonians 4:17: “caught up together…TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR.” Clearly this is not a chance meeting, but a called meeting. We are caught up to meet Him. Some have rendered this passage: “for a meeting with the Lord.” Note also that this meeting will be held “in the air,” before we “go [bodily] to heaven.”

I Corinthians 4:5: It is when “the Lord comes” that He will “bring to light the hidden things of darkness” as He “judges” our Christian conduct and service.

II Timothy 4:8: Here refers to a “crown” to be given to him and to “all them also that love His appearing”—“at that day.”


Then, with our “slates” (as His people) all wiped clean, as it were, we will “judge angels” (I Cor. 6:3) and, in proportion to our former faithfulness, will “reign with Him” (II Tim. 2:12). As the kingdom saints will reign with Christ on earth (Luke 19:17,19), we, His heavenly people, will reign with Him over the earth and over the angelic hosts who now have this authority (Rom. 8:17).

And then—how could any book contain all the details of an eternity with Christ? We could not understand them in our present state, neither do we need to know them. It is enough to know that He has saved us by His grace and has given us a heavenly position and prospect (Eph. 2:4-6),

“That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ver. 7).


If we know little about the glory of “the ages to come,” we know even less about the so-called “intermediate state,” our state between death and the resurrection. But again, there are some things we can know, and God has revealed all that we need to know.

We know, for example, that we shall be conscious—and consciously blessed. See what the Apostle Paul, by divine inspiration, has to say about this:

“to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

“to be with Christ…is far better” (Phil. 1:23).

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8).

And there is more. In Luke 16:19-31, we find “the beggar” in conscious blessedness in what has been called the “blessed compartment” of hades (Ver. 25). This is where the saved of former ages went at death. Further, in Luke 23:43 we have our Lord promising the crucified thief: “Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise”—evidently the same place.

But our Lord did not remain in hades with the saints there, for we read in Ephesians 4:8-10: “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and…ascended up far above all heavens…,” so that now “Paradise” has been transferred to the epouraneous, the highest heavens. Indeed, from II Corinthians 12:4 we learn that Paul was “caught up into Paradise,” which was now in “the third heaven” (Ver. 2). Thus it is Scripturally correct to say that believers “go to heaven” at death.


As we contemplate the glories to come, surely the most blessed prospect of all is the fact that we shall be “with Christ,” whether we depart this life before the Rapture of the Church, or whether we “are alive and remain” until that time. Note the emphasis on this glorious fact in Paul’s epistles:

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather, to be absent from the body and to be PRESENT WITH THE LORD” (II Cor. 5:8).

“…having a desire to depart and to be WITH CHRIST, which is far better” (Phil. 1:23).

“…so shall we ever be WITH THE LORD” (I Thes. 4:17).

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

“Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together WITH HIM” (I Thes. 5:9,10).

As we consider these glories that God has prepared for His children, is it not enough—and most blessed of all—to know simply that we will be “with Christ”! If I were invited to visit one of the world’s richest and noblest men, would I need to inquire about the food and lodging? Would it not be enough simply to know that I would be “with him”? Or, where love and protection are concerned: If a loving father from New York City were to take his son for a vacation in California, would it be necessary to inquire about the details of the son’s whereabouts and activities? Where is he now? Is he well fed? Is he enjoying interesting and beautiful sights? Would it not be enough simply to know that a loving father has provided this time of pleasure, and that his son is there “with him”?

Thus it is with the glorious things held in store for the members of Christ’s Body. What more do we need to know than He has told us, especially since He has told us that whether we are taken by the hand of death or whether we are still alive at the Lord’s coming for His own—from the very moment of our departure from this world, we will be “with Him”!

Many stories have been told about heaven that are Scripturally deficient, but one of these at least brings out a most precious truth. A simple but godly old man, it is said, died and went to heaven. There he was met by an angel who offered to introduce him to his new surroundings. “Where’s my Jesus?” asked the old man. “Oh, we’ll see Him soon,” said the angel, “but I’m sure you’ll want to see the beautiful mansion in which your mother now lives.” “Well, that’s all right,” said the old man, “but I want to see my Jesus.” “You will,” replied the angel, “but first let me show you your new surroundings and especially the mansion prepared for you.” “No! No!” said the old man, “all that can wait; I want to see my Jesus.”

Incorrect as some of the details of this story undoubtedly are, it brings out forcefully the deep desire of every spiritual believer to see His blessed Lord and to be forever with Him.

“Wherefore, comfort one another with these words” (I Thes. 4:18).


In closing it should be observed that all these blessings will be the more precious to us as we consider them from a dispensational perspective.

All of the glories that we shall share “with Christ” are promised to us as members of His Body, hence they are found only in the epistles of Paul. Neither in the “Old Testament,” nor in the records of our Lord’s earthly ministry do we find one promise of going to heaven to be with Christ at death.

Israel’s hope and prospect were earthly in sphere. Christ, her Messiah, was to—and will—reign over her, and over the other nations, on earth (Jer. 23:5). Thus, at His coming to earth 2000 years ago, He was named “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God WITH US” (Matt. 1:23). This prospect will, of course, be more completely realized during our Lord’s millennial reign. What a joy it will be when Isaiah 11:1-9 and 35:1-10 and 59:20-60:3 are fulfilled, and the favored nation dwells in a restored land with Messiah in her midst! Indeed, this hope will be even more gloriously fulfilled in the “new earth” of Revelation 21:3, of which we read:

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is WITH MEN, and He will dwell WITH THEM, and they shall be His people; and God Himself shall be WITH THEM and be their God.”

But all this has to do with Israel and the nations and is based on Old Testament promises. Not until we come to the epistles of Paul do we read of a “hope which is laid up for you in heaven” (Col. 1:5).

Wonderful as it is that our Lord will one day dwell on earth as Emmanuel, “God with us,” it is still more unspeakably wonderful that we, redeemed sinners of this present dispensation of grace, will one day be “caught up” to be “with Him”! Yes, Christ is “our hope,” and heaven, God’s own dwelling place, is our home!


  1. “Clouds”—i.e., the hosts of His attending angels. Cf. Heb. 12:1; Rev. 1:7.
  2. The Greek word rendered “changed” here is metamorphoo.
  3. Gr., Politeuma, Citizenship.
  4. Our judgment for sin is blessedly past (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1), but according to I Corinthians 3:13-15 our conduct and service as Christians will be reviewed at “the judgment seat of Christ,” where some will be “rewarded” for faithfulness and others will “suffer loss.” There both our service (I Cor. 3:10-15) and our conduct (II Cor. 5:10) will be scrutinized. See the writer’s booklet, Will There Be Tears in Heaven?

You can receive More Minutes With the Bible every week in your email inbox. This list features longer articles, including both original content and articles that have appeared in the Berean Searchlight.

Berean Searchlight – December 2001

Free Mail Subscription

For a free subscription to the Berean Searchlight by mail, visit the Berean Searchlight Subscription page.

Subscribe to the Berean Searchlight Monthly Email to receive an email announcement when each issue of the Searchlight is posted online.

The Forgiveness of Sins

“[Christ] in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).

A businessman near St. Louis recently received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and was rejoicing in the knowledge of sins forgiven. Lately, however, he has become conscious of sin creeping back into his Christian life. Haunting fears of an angry God keep torturing his tender conscience as he wonders if God still accepts him.

A suburban housewife has a husband who is an alcoholic. Early this morning, he came home drunk with a major dent in the family car. He is sorry but she knows, if she forgives him, he will just do it again.

An 83 year old woman near Kansas City sits alone in a large, empty house. Years ago, her family hurt her very deeply. At one time she wanted to forgive but they have never acknowledged that the offense ever took place. “How could they have done such a thing,” she asks. Now she awaits death and deliverance from the bitterness and disillusionment that binds her.

The above examples are more than just hypothetical. There are countless similar cases being lived out every day in homes and churches throughout our land. Does Christianity have the answer? It depends on what “Christian” you ask. One of the most misunderstood doctrines in the Word of God is the issue of the forgiveness of sins. I am convinced that two of the most difficult things to teach a Christian is (1) his sins have been completely and eternally forgiven and (2) this forgiveness should now be extended to others.

Why all the difference of opinion on a subject so foundational to the Christian life? As with so many themes in the Bible, the failure to “rightly divide the Word of truth” has led sincere believers in Christ to inconsistent positions on forgiveness. They say, “Thank God that He has forgiven me all my sins but….” Then they begin to list conditions which they believe they must meet if God is to accept them.


Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles and the revealer of the mysteries of God to the Church which is His Body, gives only one condition—belief in his gospel. According to the above Scripture from Ephesians 1:7, the forgiveness of sins is intimately linked with our redemption which in turn is based upon Christ’s sacrificial blood and the riches of His grace. Also, notice carefully that forgiveness (as with all our spiritual blessings) is past tense for the believer in Christ. We have redemption…the forgiveness of sins.

For those who need further confirmation of this wonderful news, please consider prayerfully these additional examples from Paul’s epistles:

“And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).

“In Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14).

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col. 2:13).

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:13).

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, `Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin'” (Rom. 4:5-8).

“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man [Jesus Christ] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38,39).

The above verses represent the teaching on forgiveness for the present dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:1-9). The instructed grace believer knows that man is by nature dead in trespasses and sins and as such cannot merit a place in heaven with God (Eph. 2:1,8,9). The love of God has provided forgiveness for fallen man through the blood of His Son. Faith in Jesus Christ is the responsibility which a Sovereign God has placed upon man in response to His love. “Christ died for our sins… and rose again” is the gospel which Paul received from the glorified Lord Jesus and preached wherever he went (I Cor. 15:1-4). The Holy Spirit of God then takes the believing sinner and supernaturally baptizes him into Christ, thus establishing an eternal union (I Cor. 12:13). This has been testified to by the revelation that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ because the Holy Spirit has sealed us until the day of redemption (His coming) (Rom. 8:31-39; Eph. 1:13,14; 4:30).

The knowledge of these scriptural facts give the believer great peace and joy unspeakable. But as is the case with so many Bible subjects, those who want to homogenize the Word of God go to forgiveness teachings given to Israel for a past dispensation and arbitrarily transplant them into the present dispensation of Grace. The result is fear, doubt, and a lack of boldness in our prayer life.


At this point, it may be beneficial to contrast forgiveness under the law of Moses.

“If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chron. 7:14).

What an oft quoted verse used by sincere preachers wishing to see our country restored to moral and spiritual greatness! Indeed there is wise counsel here for believers of all ages. Spirit-led humility, prayer, seeking God’s face and turning from sin should produce a tremendous revival in the Church today. But take a closer look at the verse. “My people which are called by My name” refers to Israel under the law—not the Church under grace. The land to be healed is not America but Palestine. Now note the conditional nature of this forgiveness. “If My people shall…then will I forgive.” This “if-then” syndrome so characteristic of the covenant of the law brings us all the way back to Exodus 19:5. “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.”

This system of conditional blessing is stated repeatedly throughout the Old Testament books of Exodus-Malachi. If Israel obeyed God’s covenant (the law), God would bless them. If they disobeyed, God would curse them (Deut. 28). This is not how God deals with believers today. We have already been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3,7). This includes the forgiveness of sins.

In relation to the II Chronicles 7:14 passage, we must recognize the difference between interpretation and application. Since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable, there are truths in this verse which can speak to us today, but only as we apply them in light of the revelation of the mystery given to us through the Apostle Paul (Rom. 16:25; Col. 1:25-27). The verse as it stands with its conditional blessings belongs by interpretation to Israel under the law.

While some have come to acknowledge the difference between the Mosaic and Pauline systems of blessing (including forgiveness), fewer have seen that conditional forgiveness is carried into the non-Pauline writings of the New Testament.1 Consider the following:

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:12,14,15).

“And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matt. 18:34,35).

“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25,26).

“Forgive and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37c).

“If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, `I repent;’ thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:3,4).

Note carefully that forgiveness in the above examples is extended by the heavenly Father only when forgiveness is first extended to others. Likewise the other is forgiven only if he repents. The order is: (1) Offense committed (2) Confrontation and rebuke (3) Repentance of offender (4) Forgiveness extended by victim (5) God’s forgiveness extended. This teaching shows forgiveness in relation to the millennial phase of the kingdom of God on earth according to Prophecy (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; Rev. 5:10).

In contrast, Paul’s writings reveal that the believer in Christ today is working from a position of perpetual forgiveness from which he is free to forgive others.

“Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).

“Forgiving one another…even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:13).

This teaching shows forgiveness in relation to the heavenly phase of the kingdom of God according to the Mystery (Rom. 16:25; I Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:4; II Tim. 4:18). As Scofield has so aptly stated, “Under law forgiveness is conditioned upon a like spirit in us; under grace we are forgiven for Christ’s sake, and exhorted to forgive because we have been forgiven.”

What a difference between law and grace—between conditional and unconditional forgiveness! Both systems are consistent with God’s character and work according to His plan for the ages. But how we should rejoice in being saved members of the Body of Christ during this present dispensation of the grace of God! It shows that while God Himself never changes, His dealings with man do change through the course of history and prophecy.

Some may still object that the forgiveness teachings of Jesus while on earth represent doctrine which was later written to us as members of the present day Church. They further argue that we also should make our forgiveness conditional. This they do because of traditional assumptions and a fear that grace will be abused.

First of all, we agree that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4). All of Scripture is equally inspired of God but is profitable only as it is rightly divided (II Tim. 2:15; 3:16). Secondly, let us understand that Jesus’ earthly ministry was only to the Jews according to prophecy (Matt. 10:5,6; 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30; Rom. 15:8). Thirdly, our Lord’s life and teaching did not nullify the covenant of the law given through Moses on Mt. Sinai (Matt. 5:17,18; 8:1-4; 23:1-3; Luke 2:21-24; Gal. 4:4). Jesus lived and worked as a Jew under the law as He was circumcised the eighth day, observed the Jewish feast days, told a healed leper to show himself to the priest and offer the gift (animal sacrifice) that Moses commanded, and charged His disciples to observe and do all which those who sat in Moses’ seat bade them (i.e. the scribes and Pharisees who had this authority and were strict adherents for the letter of the law).

While Jesus’ kingdom teaching did take the law deeper to include the motives of the heart (Matt. 5:22,28,32,34), and certain adjustments were made to accommodate the coming kingdom (Matt. 5:44; 13:52), His teaching was one of confirmation (Rom. 15:8). Any new revelations given by Jesus at this time were only added details confirming the prophesied, millennial phase of the kingdom of God as outlined in the Old Testament. Finally, let us acknowledge that the Apostle Paul is the theologian for the present dispensation of the grace of God. In his writings alone do we find the doctrine, position, walk and destiny of the Church, the Body of Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ conducted a heavenly ministry through Paul, his mouthpiece (I Cor. 14:37; II Cor. 13:3; Gal. 1:11,12; 2:2,9; Eph. 3:1-9). We are the recipients of that ministry today through his epistles. May we never lose sight of where we stand in the program of God. This is crucial for our study of forgiveness as we have shown.

Being properly adjusted to grace teaching is absolutely essential for a joyous and victorious life of faith. How can we love and praise God for something we are not sure He has given us? Likewise, how can we have joy and peace when we fear God may withdraw His gifts? Let us not let unscriptural or undispensational teaching separate us from the enjoyment of sins forgiven and fellowship with the One “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith [faithfulness] of Him” (Eph. 3:12).


Here we must falter if our feet are not firmly planted in grace. We are instructed to deal with others in the same way God has dealt with us. Since God has forgiven us all trespasses (past, present, and future), is it reasonable to withhold forgiveness from those who trespass against us? “But I was hurt so deeply,” you say. Have you not wounded the heart of your Heavenly Father by your unforgiving spirit? You can never forgive more than He has forgiven you. God knew beforehand how you would sin against Him, yet He forgave all when you believed the gospel.

For anyone who may be struggling with an unforgiving spirit, I would make these suggestions.

(1) Make sure that you understand and believe the gospel of grace (Rom. 3:19-28). Without the indwelling Holy Spirit and the love He sheds abroad in our hearts, you will not be able to forgive in a way which is acceptable to God (Rom. 5:5).

(2) Recognize that this attitude is emanating from the flesh (the old self) and is sinful (I Thes. 5:15; Rom. 12:17-21).

(3) Do not indulge the flesh but judge it (Rom. 13:8-14).

(4) Consider the depths of sin from which you have been forgiven and what it must have meant to our Lord Jesus to die for us. A certain man always prayed, “Lord, never let me forget what I was before I became a Christian.” As a fallen seed of Adam’s race, your sin against a holy God is infinitely greater than any sin we may commit against each other.

(5) Take account of what your disobedience is doing to your inward soul life. Some people think they are well justified in harboring hard feelings against a person while others support them in their evil speaking. But much more damage is done to the offended party in the form of a darkened soul than could ever be done to the offender.

(6) Forgive the person as an act of the will. This is Christian love in action. Do not wait until you “feel” like forgiving. Forgiveness is first extended, then feeling will eventually follow. Trying to work up warm, tender feelings toward the offender is not necessary to forgiveness and in most cases is artificial.

(7) Pray for the spiritual welfare of the offender. I once heard a preacher say, “It is extremely difficult to remain bitter against someone for whom you consistently pray.” Good advice! God promises a “peace which passes all understanding” as we present all our requests to Him (Phil. 4:6,7). We have the added joy of knowing we are pleasing Him and bringing honor to His name.

(8) Be prepared for the reappearance of a root of bitterness. Many Christians report the return of destructive feelings, especially if the offender remains unrepentant or the offense is repeated. Time and again the old man wishes to raise his ugly head. Repeat the above steps.

(9) Use the situation to allow the Lord to conform you to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:28,29). Shameless sinners are causing pain and suffering to the family of God. What a marvelous opportunity for us to take our Christianity out of the closet and let it shine before men!

So far I have said nothing about changing the offender. If the person is lost, we must pursue prudent means to share the gospel with them. If the person is saved, we must lovingly apply the means which are consistent with Paul’s instructions concerning an erring brother (Gal. 6:1; II Tim. 2:24-26; I Cor. 5; II Cor. 2; Heb. 12:14-15). “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). That is a truth which transcends dispensations and is true for all time.1

If we are allowing our Lord Jesus to love him through us, we will be interested in changing the behavior.

Having said this, we must realize that some people will not change. But we can if we seek to live for Him who died for us and rose again. Forgiveness is not easy, but it is a wonderful occasion for the Spirit of God to change us into His likeness. Remember, God commands us to forgive and His commandments are also His enablements. Our Lord will never ask us to do something that we are unable to do. If God can raise our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and impart life to your dead soul, cannot He also give you victory in this area? “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it” (I Thes. 5:24). Amen.


  1. The term New Testament is itself a misnomer since it could not be in force until the death of the testator (Christ). Hebrews 9:16,17.
  2. While outside the space limitations of the present article, the issue of confession of sins for this dispensation has been much discussed, largely because of a misapplication of I John 1:9. Paul does not speak of confession in his epistles, although Luke gives us an inspired account of it in relation to his ministry (Acts 19:18). Many of Paul’s commands cannot be obeyed without self-judgment which would of necessity include a confession of sin (II Cor. 7:1; II Tim. 2:21; I Cor. 5:2; 11:32).

    When a Christian sins, we should agree with God’s Word that it is wrong (confess) and forsake the behavior or attitude by putting off the old man and putting on the new man (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:7-10). So we confess our sins, not in order to receive forgiveness, but because we wish to be properly tuned to grace and to thus glorify Him who has forgiven us all trespasses.

  3. You can receive More Minutes With the Bible every week in your email inbox. This list features longer articles, including both original content and articles that have appeared in the Berean Searchlight.

Taking A Stand

“But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

“Go, stand and speak in the temple…” (Acts 5:19,20).

As the apostles had followed Christ through His earthly ministry, He had generally sat down to teach. Concerning His first recorded sermon, delivered in Nazareth’s synagogue, we read:

“And He closed the book, and He gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him.

“And He began to say…” (Luke 4:20,21).

This is only one of numerous references in the gospel records. (See Matt. 13:1,2; Mark 4:1; Luke 5:3; et al). That this was His usual custom is clear from His own words in Matthew 26:55:

“I sat daily with you teaching in the temple….”

But even our Lord occasionally stood to address the people. In John 7:37, for example, we read:

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.”

But in this case the word “stood” means more than merely that He rose to His feet. Reading the context, one can take in something of the passion that filled the Savior’s heart as He beheld the multitudes going through the formalities of this “feast of the Jews,” only to be left spiritually hungry and thirsty.

On the last day of this feast of tabernacles, at the pouring of the ceremonial water, He could bear it no longer. This pouring of water was to signify the refreshment of His own coming kingdom. But they did not know Him, nor the water of life, which He alone could give. Thus, He found a place to stand where He could be heard and lifted up His voice above the noise of the busy multitude: “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.”

This is what is meant by the phrase: “Jesus stood and cried.” The word histemi here means more than merely to rise or to be upon one’s feet. It means to take a stand, and it is often so used.

For example, in Matthew 24:15 we read of the Antichrist, who is to “stand in the holy place;” in Luke 19:8, “Zacchaeus stood, and said;” in Acts 2:14 we find “Peter, standing up with the eleven;” in Acts 25:10 Paul declares, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.” Furthermore, in Romans 5:2 we read of “this grace wherein we stand;” in Ephesians 6:11 we are told to “stand against the wiles of the devil;” in Revelation 10:8 we have “the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth,” lifting his hand to heaven to swear that there will be time no longer.

In these and many other occurrences of the word histemi there is a certain energy and determination manifested. It has clearly to do with taking a stand.

And so it is in Acts 5:20. The apostles had been commanded not to teach in Christ’s name. They had even been held in ward for so doing. But now an angel opens the prison doors by night, bidding them take their stand for Christ in the temple, from which they had so recently been taken and cast into prison.

What a lesson there is for us in this scene!

Surely we have a more glorious message to bring to the world than Peter and the apostles had for Israel. It is a message that is all of grace—an offer of reconciliation wholly through the merits of the crucified, risen, ascended Lord. It is an offer of complete justification by grace, through faith—of a position in the heavenlies in Christ.

What have we to be ashamed of, with such a message to proclaim? Surely we should not hesitate to take our stand for it. But it is the very potency of this message that so enrages our adversary and causes him to oppose it so viciously. This is why the Apostle Paul so strongly urges us to be courageous in the fight:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world [age], against spiritual wickedness [wicked spirits] in high [heavenly] places.

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

“Stand therefore…” (Eph. 6:10-14).

May God help us, beloved, to boldly take our stand for Him and for the gospel of His grace. True, this is an evil age and we wrestle against satanic forces, but where sin abounds grace yet much more abounds. It was our blessed Savior and Lord whose death on Calvary made the exceeding riches of God’s grace available to us. Surely the least we can do is to take our stand for Him in this world of sin and make the glad message known to others.

Part 1: The Prediction of the Cross

Call me old fashioned, but I still prefer to sing the old hymns of the faith. And for good reason: they are objective, that is, Christ is the primary object of the message. If you listen carefully, most contemporary Christian music is subjective. It emphasizes what the believer has done for the Savior. Since singing is an integral part of our worship, all the glory is to be given to the Lord. Although the old hymn writers generally captured the essence of the Scriptures, occasionally they were inconsistent. Perhaps the most beloved of the old hymns is the Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard. In poetic prose he beautifully portrays the sufferings and death of our Savior.

The Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away stood an old rugged Cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old Cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

Surely we shall never exchange the Cross for a crown, as the last sentence of the chorus suggests. Those nail prints in the Savior’s hands and feet will be a constant reminder throughout eternity of His finished work (Zech. 13:6; John 20:25-29; Rev. 5:5-9). Christ is our Redeemer who “became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.” He didn’t die just any death; He died the death of the Cross. Death by crucifixion in biblical times was one of the world’s most disgraceful and cruel methods of torture. The Jewish historian, Josephus, had witnessed countless crucifixions, which he called “the most wretched of deaths.” Cicero referred to it as “the most cruel and hideous of tortures.” Will Durant writes, “even the Romans pitied the victims.”

As we prepare to enter into a study on the Cross of Christ, we are about to embark upon a great journey over a sea of Scriptures. Our journey begins in prophetic waters with the “Prediction of the Cross.” David will be our captain who will steer us through the afflictions Christ would endure at Calvary.


“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? why art Thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.” (Psa. 22:1,2).

As we gather our thoughts around Psalm 22, we have perhaps one of the most detailed accounts of the sufferings of Christ found in the Word of God. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the heading “Aijeleth Shahar” appears above this Psalm, which translates into “The hind of the dawn of the morning,” which is interpreted to mean “the young deer suffers innocently, but the dawn brings relief.” Though veiled at the time, the correlation is to be made with Christ, who suffered and died as an innocent victim, but the dawn of the resurrection brought relief.

There may be another path of thought here as well. Recent arche-ological discoveries suggest that the Hebrews likened the horns of the deer to the morning light. In other words, they viewed the shafts of the antlers to be like shafts of light. Interestingly, the morning sacrifice in Israel was offered as soon as the Watcher on the pinnacle of the temple saw the morning dawn. He would then shout, “Behold the first rays of light shine forth.” Hence, the 22nd Psalm marks the dawn of redemption.

In addition, Psalms 22, 23, and 24 form a trilogy. In John 10, Christ is said to be the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep, as depicted in Psalm 22. According to Hebrews 13, Christ is called the Great Shepherd who was brought again from the dead to guide His people through the wilderness of sin and death. This is the theme of Psalm 23. Finally, the Chief Shepherd of I Peter 5 finds its roots in Psalm 24 where Christ returns in power and great glory to establish His Kingdom upon the earth.

One of the remarkable things about the 22nd Psalm is that David vividly described the crucifixion of Christ approximately 1,000 years before the event took place. Another amazing fact is that death by crucifixion had not yet been introduced into humanity at the time of David’s writing. It is believed the Assryians were the first to use this form of execution, for they were well known for their inhuman tortures. But what the Assyrians created, the Romans perfected. By the time of Christ, death by crucifixion was the chief form of execution in the Roman Empire for crimes against the state.

As we study Psalm 22, the Psalm is divided into two parts, the spiritual sufferings of Christ and His physical sufferings. The Psalm begins with “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” and ends with “he hath done this,” (vs. 31) or as the Hebrew conveys, “It is finished!” “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” was one of the seven last sayings Christ uttered from the Cross. The word “forsaken” is perhaps one of the most tragic words in the human language. It is difficult for us to understand how a mother could abandon her newborn, but sadly it’s a common occurrence. We are stunned when we hear about a husband who has forsaken his wife of many years. We ask why? We have trouble believing it, much less accepting it.

But when the Son of God states that He was forsaken by the Father, we stand amazed. If there is one thing that characterized the life of Christ upon the earth, it was the unbroken communion which He enjoyed with the Father. The silence of heaven was broken on more than one occasion when the Father declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him” (Matt. 17:5). But now in His darkest hour the Father had forsaken His Son. Why? This was the very question that weighed heavily upon the Son’s heart as He sought to understand, humanly speaking, why He had been abandoned.

As darkness descended from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. the day Christ died, the Son reasoned, “O my God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent…Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them” (Psa. 22:2,4). Here we have the innermost thoughts of Christ as He hung on the Cross. It is the only place in the Word of God where we are told what the Savior was actually thinking as darkness fell over Palestine. Only the Spirit of God could have given us this remarkable revelation through the prophet. The Son reasoned with the Father, “Our fathers trusted in Thee: they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.” As the Son pondered the history of His people, He recalled how Samson was delivered from the hand of the Philistines; Daniel from the mouths of hungry lions; and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace. But there would be no deliverance for the Son, who was foreordained to suffer for the sins of His people, indeed for the sins of the world!

The Son answered His own question as to why He was forsaken of the Father in verse 3: “But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” The Father is holy, which speaks of His moral excellence. Sin is, without exception, a violation of His holiness. Our finite minds cannot begin to take in the majesty and holiness of God. He is infinitely pure. This helps us to understand the purpose for the veil in the tabernacle; it separated a holy God from His unholy people. Both King Uzziah and Isaiah had an encounter with God’s holiness with totally different results.

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke” (Isa. 6:1-4).

During the years that Uzziah reigned, he led Judah in a program of peace and prosperity. But while the nation prospered materially, it was bankrupt spiritually. Note that in the year Uzziah died Isaiah “also” saw the Lord sitting upon His throne. This strongly suggests that Uzziah had been exposed to the holiness of God, but with catastrophic consequences. Although the king had done that which was right in the sight of the Lord, he had foolishly intruded into the priest’s office by entering the temple and burning incense on the altar. Uzziah was stricken instantly with leprosy and died shortly thereafter for his intrusion into the holy things of God (II Chron. 26:16-23).

One sin brought death and banished Adam and Eve from the garden. One sin barred Moses from entering the Promised Land. One sin ended the lives of Ananias and Sapphira. You see, a right view of the holiness of God leads to a right view of sin. When Isaiah came into the presence of God and heard the Seraphims cry to one another “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts,” and felt the posts of the door move at his voice, this was Isaiah’s reaction: “Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” Because Isaiah had the proper view of the holiness of God, he lived, and had his iniquity taken away, and his sin purged (Hebrew kaòphar or atoned—Isa. 6:5-7).

Since sin is a violation of God’s holiness, the Father could not look upon His Son who was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Christ bore the burden of our sins alone. As despair visited like an unwelcome friend, the Savior reasoned, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” The term “worm” in this passage is the Hebrew word tola. The tola was a small maggot, specifically, the crimson grub. In ancient times they were placed in a bowl and crushed to produce a scarlet dye. As we know, Solomon robed the daughters of Israel in scarlet. May we suggest that the analogy we are to draw from the tola is this: the weight of Israel’s sins (and ours) crushed the life of Christ, who shed His precious blood that we might wear the garments of salvation.


“Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and Thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me” (Psa. 22:12-17).

It is interesting how many references there are to animals in Psalm 22—the bull, lion, dog, unicorn, etc. Those who were responsible for the crucifixion were like the beasts of the field. They were cunning, vicious, and methodically stalked their prey. The strong bulls of Bashan undoubtedly refer to the religious leaders in Israel, who sought to gore the Lord with their horns of hate (Luke 23:8-21). Like the beast of the field that taunts it prey before killing it, these wicked leaders scoffed:

“He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the Cross, and we will believe Him.He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God” (Matt. 27:42,43). Thankfully, the Savior remained upon the Cross, for had He come down the world would have been swept into the lake of fire forever to satisfy the holiness and justice of God. Christ never wavered in His resolve to complete the work of redemption. The above clearly shows that these religious leaders were not only ignorant of the prediction of the Cross, they also had no comprehension whatsoever of the significance of Calvary.

Death by crucifixion was the death of deaths. The victim’s arms were outstretched and nails were driven through the palm of the hands. Then they tied off the wrists so the nails wouldn’t tear through the victim’s hands. Next, one foot was placed on top of the other and a large spike was driven through both feet. Hence, “they pierced my hands and my feet.” This was only the beginning of sorrows, for death by crucifixion was a slow excruciating process that took two or three days. Three rusty nails secured our redemption—one fastened the law to the Cross, one fastened the sins of the world to the Cross, and one fastened self to the Cross (Col. 2:14; II Cor. 5:14-19; Gal. 2:20).

While not a bone in our Lord’s body was broken, it does appear that when the Cross was placed into its slot the Savior’s arms were dislocated from His shoulders, based upon the statement “all my bones are out of joint.” Hanging by outstretched arms placed such tremendous pressure upon the lungs that it gradually became more and more difficult to breathe. To do so the victim had to push himself up by his feet to inhale. As the carbon dioxide levels increased in the body, the victim began to suffer from pulmonary edema, eventually dying from either a cardiac arrest or suffocation.

Interestingly, the Savior died within a matter of hours after being placed upon the Cross. In His own words He states, “my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels” (vs. 14). Could it be that the Savior died of a broken heart over the sins of the world? As the moment of His death approached, the Son prayed to the Father:

“But be not Thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste Thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog [Gentiles]” (Psa. 22:19,20).

It was the Savior’s desire to voluntarily give His life for the sins of the world and not have it ended by the sword of godless Gentiles. The Father graciously granted His Son’s request, for we read in the gospel according to John, the Savior had already given up the ghost before the sword touched His side: “Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him.But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:32-34).


While the word of man is as unstable as water, the Word of God is always accurate and true, as we have seen from the prediction of the Cross and the actual fulfillment of the events nearly 1,000 years later. God’s Word is truth. So when we read a passage such as the following we can count on what is said to be true. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (I Cor. 15:33,34).

The context of this passage is a warning not to adopt the ways of the world. Since the world had rejected the resurrection, their philosophy was to eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. Those of the household of faith are appalled at such reasoning. But God says, be not deceived, evil associations gradually destroy good morals. In other words, if you entangle yourself with the world, before long its influence will cause you to question and deny the Word of God. Consequently, sin and the condoning of sinful behavior is displeasing to God. The Corinthians are a prime example of failing to heed this warning, but let us not be guilty of the same (I Cor. 5:1-13; 6:1-8,13-18; 11:20-22).

Psalm 22 teaches us that there is a conflict between good and evil in the world. Christ was the very embodiment of everything that is good and righteous. His enemies, on the other hand, were given to lies and hypocrisy. They hated Him without a cause. Therefore, we should not be surprised when the world hates us without a cause for standing for the truth of the gospel.

You can receive More Minutes With the Bible every week in your email inbox. This list features longer articles, including both original content and articles that have appeared in the Berean Searchlight.

Berean Searchlight – November 2001

Free Mail Subscription

For a free subscription to the Berean Searchlight by mail, visit the Berean Searchlight Subscription page.

Subscribe to the Berean Searchlight Monthly Email to receive an email announcement when each issue of the Searchlight is posted online.

The Right Foundation

In 1993, construction began on the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Destined to become the world’s tallest buildings, a solid foundation for these twin towers was absolutely critical. So when test-drilling revealed bedrock beneath the proposed site for one of the towers, but not for the other, the site was moved 150 feet. One engineer said: “With each building containing two million square feet of office space, a poor foundation would have resulted in `The Leaning Tower of Kuala Lumpur!'”

While a solid foundation is crucial for buildings, it is far more important that your spiritual life be founded upon a firm foundation. The Lord Jesus Christ proposed a site for your life’s foundation in Luke 6:47,48:

“Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like;

“He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock; and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock.”

The particular flood that our Lord had in mind is the Antichrist (Isa. 59:19), the coming world leader that will plunge the earth into seven years of what the Bible calls “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21). While you may not live to see the Antichrist come, there is still much we can learn from our Lord’s words here.

You see, a flood is a deceptive kind of danger. In rain-starved desert areas such as the one in which our Lord lived, a flood starts out looking like a blessing! The rain falls, the river begins to rise, and everyone rejoices. And so it will be when the Antichrist appears. He will begin his career looking like a blessing to the people of Israel. He will rebuild their temple and re-instate the ancient sacrificial system of their religion. But when he turns on them halfway through the week of seven years (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15,16), Israel will learn too late that the man they thought to be a blessing was actually a terrible curse.

Most of the perils that young people face these days are similarly deceptive. Drugs and alcohol start out looking like an enjoyable blessing, but untold millions have learned the hard way that the Bible is true when it says of alcohol, “at the last, it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Prov. 23:29-35). Likewise, pre-marital sex allures young people with seductive promises of excitement and pleasure, but in the end lives are ruined and regrets are too numerous to number.

Young person, you can avoid these and all the other dangerous pitfalls of life by building your life on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you are thinking that you already have a firm foundation in life. Your music, the education you are receiving, your friends; maybe you’ve built your life on your relationship with a boyfriend or a girlfriend. These things might seem to offer a solid foundation for your life, but I can assure you on the authority of God’s Word that they are not solid enough! When the hard times come, and the bottom drops out of your life, you will need the Lord Jesus Christ.

Just for a moment, I’d like you to compare the reliability of your foundation to the foundation of Christ enjoyed by the Apostle Paul. In Acts 16, Paul and his friend Silas were falsely accused (v. 20,21), beaten (v. 22,23) and imprisoned (v. 24). A severe test for anyone’s spiritual foundation! Let’s see how Paul held up:

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (v. 25).

Could your spiritual foundation withstand harsh treatment such as this? Maybe. But would your foundation also enable you to sing praises to God after receiving such brutal injustice? If not, maybe it’s time to consider a new foundation. Let’s read on:

“And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed” (v. 26).

We’ve been talking about the need to build your life on the right foundation. How symbolic then to read here that “the foundations of the prison were shaken.” Over time, the prisoners incarcerated there had come to trust in those prison walls. Sure, the bars and locks meant that they weren’t able to come and go as they pleased, but incarceration also meant they had food, clothing, and shelter. And those walls also represented the massive power of the Roman empire protecting them from the outside world and worse cut-throats than themselves! Their foundation in life seemed sure and stedfast, and they didn’t think anything could shake it—until now! Now as the walls shook violently, they knew that even the awesome power of Rome couldn’t protect them from everything! And so, while it was Paul and Silas who had been beaten and bloodied unjustly, when the earthquake came it was the prisoners who were shaken to their very foundation! So shaken that even though “every one’s bands were loosed,” not an inmate dared run away (v. 28).

Young person, as sure as you may be of your foundation, there are earthquakes that lie ahead in life that will rock your world. Are you, like the prisoners, trusting some earthly foundation? If so, the time to establish your life firmly on the Lord Jesus Christ is now.

But before the story ends, we find that the prisoners weren’t the only ones shaken to the foundation by this earthquake:

“And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled” (v. 27).

Now our focus shifts to the jailor. Only an hour ago, his world was rock-solid and secure. But a Roman prison-keeper was responsible for his inmates with his life. Thinking that all his prisoners were escaped, this jailor was about to choose a quick death over the slow, torturous, excruciating execution to which Rome was sure to condemn him.

How about you? Does a recent earthquake in your life have you thinking that a quick death is preferable to the long, slow, torturous existence that can only lie ahead for someone like you? Suicide is very common among young people, but suicide is no answer! If you, like the jailor, are thinking of taking your life because of your many troubles, you need a new foundation! Fortunately for the jailor, Paul was there to offer him one:

“But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm; for we are all here.

“Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas” (v. 28,29).

After Paul assured the jailor that none of his captives had escaped, and thus talked him out of his deadly decision, this shaken man had a question for the apostles:

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (v. 30).

The songs of praise that Paul and Silas had been singing that night had obviously praised God for the wonderful security of being saved, and now the jailor wants to switch his foundation in life to the Lord Jesus Christ! How about you? Are you ready for a new foundation? If so, it’s as simple as can be. The apostles answered the jailor’s question in the very next verse:

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (v. 31).

Now don’t be afraid of that word “saved.” The Bible uses this word over and over again. Hymn writer John Newton used it when he wrote that most beloved of all Christian hymns, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” Perhaps you’ve even sung that hymn yourself. But are you saved? You can be!

If you are wondering how to be saved, notice that Paul didn’t tell the jailor: “Believe on the Lord and try to be good.” Nor did he tell him, “Believe on the Lord and learn to be religious.” He simply said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ—and thou shalt be saved.” That’s it? That’s it! That’s all? That’s all! The jailor found that it was just that easy to switch to Paul’s foundation on that fateful day so long ago, and it is just as easy to switch to Paul’s foundation today. All you have to do is believe.

If you are not sure what it is about Christ that you must believe to be saved, Acts 16 doesn’t give us any details. Verse 32 says only:

“And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”

So what was this “word of the Lord” that Paul spoke unto them? Well, in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul explains more fully what it is that we must believe about Christ when he tells us “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3). On the day they crucified the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father placed all the sins of all mankind on our Savior as He hung on Calvary’s Cross. But that doesn’t mean that all mankind is saved! II Corinthians 5:21 says:

“For [God] hath made [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

2,000 years ago, God placed all your sins on the Lord Jesus Christ. But it’s only 2,000 years later, when you believe on Him, that God takes Christ’s righteousness and places it on you, completing the transaction that must be completed for the purchase of your salvation.

So the only question that remains is, Do you believe God when He says that all of your sins are paid for? Do you trust Him when He says that? If you don’t, you’ll just have to go on trying to save yourself. By being good, or by not being bad. But this is something the Bible says you can never do:

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).

You must decide right now to trust Christ as your Savior. To not trust Him right now is to reject Him right now. And to reject Him means to spend eternity in the lake of fire:

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

I promise you this. Ten thousand years from this moment, you will remember this moment. And whether you remember it with joy or with eternal regret depends upon the decision you make right now, to receive or reject the Lord Jesus Christ.

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11).

You can receive More Minutes With the Bible every week in your email inbox. This list features longer articles, including both original content and articles that have appeared in the Berean Searchlight.

Holding Forth the Faith with a Clear Conscience

“Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck” (I Tim. 1:19).

The Civil War was a dark chapter in the history of America. Thankfully, we have lived to see the abolition of slavery with its various forms of cruelty. But few realize that the underlying issue of the conflict was states’ rights, which has never fully been resolved to this day.

Several years ago, our family visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Needless to say, it was a memorable experience. The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the defining moments of the Civil War. As we stood on Cemetery Ridge, it wasn’t difficult to envision the battle that took place there on July 3, 1863. General Lee’s strategy was to attack the Union Army head-on and split it into two parts. It was called “Pickett’s Charge.” The idea, of course, was to divide and conquer.

Envision for a moment over 12,000 Confederate soldiers, with guns in hand, yelling at the top of their lungs, charging toward you. The initial wave of soldiers covered an area nearly one mile wide. It would be enough to make a strong man tremble. As we know, the North was triumphant that fateful day, but scores of good men lost their lives in the cause. Lieutenant General John B. Gordon of the South stated after the war that he believed, “It was the providence of God that the North won for had the South been victorious, the nation would have been fragmented.”


Perhaps the most touching moment of the visit came when we visited the National Cemetery where President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysbury Address. There were 15,000 present the day he spoke these memorable words:

“Now we are engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.”

Brethren, we too, are engaged in a great conflict—a conflict between good and evil, between righteousness and unrighteousness. The heavenly ground upon which we stand has been hallowed by the precious blood of Christ. Furthermore, it is consecrated by the sacrifices of those courageous soldiers of the Cross, both living and dead, “far above our poor power to add or detract.” Therefore, when the battle grows intense, let us not draw back as some have done. I personally believe this was the intent of Paul’s words to Timothy, “Holding faith, and a good conscience.” In other words, stand fast, don’t be discouraged, never give up the fight, always do what’s morally right!

“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck” (I Tim. 1:18,19).

The use of the term “son” by the apostle is a clear indication of his affection for Timothy. Although Timothy’s heart had been cultivated by his mother and grandmother, it was Paul who led him to Christ and nurtured him in the faith. We might have ten thousand instructors, but we normally only have one spiritual father who will naturally care for our spiritual welfare. This was the case with Paul and Timothy. Paul had become a spiritual father to this young man.

As we examine the record, we learn that the battle was so intense at Ephesus that Timothy had apparently become discouraged. Probably every child of God at one time or another has suffered from discouragement. This is another one of those things that fall under the category of: it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.”

You can be certain that any time we’re discouraged we’ve taken our eyes off of the Lord. We begin to dwell on the circumstances around us. Since that’s enough to depress anyone, we try to deal with things in our own way. It usually goes something like this, “Step aside, I’m taking charge!” Of course, the harder we try to control things, the more complicated they become until we come to the end of ourselves. Then the lamentation is heard throughout the realm, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen!”

This is where Timothy was; he was ready to throw in the towel, as it were. While the counsel of many today would be to visit a psychologist, Paul always sought a biblical solution when dealing with the Lord’s people. He encourages his young friend by reminding him of his spiritual roots. Timothy had been called of God. You see, he had lost sight of that. Paul effectively draws his attention back to the things of the Lord.

Son, remember those “prophecies which went before on thee.” Notice, “on thee,” that is, Timothy. Clearly the prophets of grace, most of whom were probably with the Lord by this late date, had confirmed his calling of God. They apparently foretold what great things would be accomplished through this young man’s ministry to the glory of God.

In essence, the apostle is saying to his young friend, “Timothy don’t dwell on the circumstances, evil as they may be. Get your eyes back on the goal, the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Why are you so astonished that ungodly men are opposing and threatening you, it’s part of the territory, my son? Beloved, you must never forget you are called of Him and entrusted with that precious deposit. If God be for you, who shall be against you?” Thankfully, we know Timothy recovered from this temporary setback because a year later he is still faithfully serving the Lord when Paul writes to him a second time (II Tim. 1:1,2).


With the apostle well along in years and facing a possible death sentence at Rome, Satan was turning up the heat on Paul’s companions. He knew the torch of grace would soon pass to them after the apostle’s death. One by one they departed from the apostle leaving the Church without field commanders, which eventually resulted in the religious confusion of the Dark Ages (II Tim. 1:15; 4:10,16).

But Timothy stood fast in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. It could well be that the prophets predicted he would be the lone voice after the apostle’s death to proclaim the message of grace in its purity. Church history bears out that after Timothy’s martyrdom, Paul’s gospel was compromised by the traditions and commandments of men. Sadly, it was diminished to a mere flicker of light until the Protestant Reformation.

For years Paul had been preparing Timothy for the inevitable—his departure to be with Christ. So when Timothy received word that the apostle would soon be executed in Rome, it came as little surprise. After Paul recovered from the initial shock that the ruling had gone against him, he writes to Timothy these touching words:

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:6,7).

Paul was a “ready” servant of the Lord. He was ready to visit Rome to minister the Word. Here, speaking of his impending death, he was ready to be offered, which is a subtle reference to the Old Testament libation. The libation, or drink offering, was poured over the sacrifice as an additional act of worship (Num. 28:10-14). The apostle wanted the end of his life to be looked upon as a testimony, one final act of worship, something over and above. In our case, we will probably face some sort of terminal illness, but may our desire be that of Paul’s, to glorify God with our last breath.

For “the time of my departure is at hand.” The word “departure” is a nautical term that has the idea to loose the ship from the mooring and set sail. As far as Paul was concerned, he was ready to set sail to be with Christ, which is far better. The apostle could also confidently say, “I have fought a good fight…I have kept the faith.” In addition to summarizing his lifelong ministry for the Lord, Paul meant this as a word of encouragement for Timothy that he should strive to do the same. It was his prayer that Timothy would be able to say this at the end of his life. Paul didn’t want his young friend to have any regrets.

“That thou by them mightest war a good warfare.” There are many good and noble battles being fought today; the battle over abortion, stem cell research, religious liberty, etc. While Christians should stand up and be numbered on these issues, the Church will never turn the tide of this world system. In fact, opposition against Christian values will grow worse and worse as we approach the Rapture. The answer is not reformation. We will never conform the world to our way of thinking. Rather those who oppose the truth need to be transformed by the gospel.

So then, the only fight that produces lasting results is the good fight of the faith. You see, until the lost are saved and come into a knowledge of the truth, there is no hope for change. In regard to the Church, until it submits itself to “the faith,” Paul’s special revelation, it will continue to flounder in a quagmire of confusion. This is why it’s essential that we stand in the defense and confirmation of Paul’s gospel. Those who understand Paul’s distinctive apostleship and message are the last bastions of hope for the members of the Body of Christ who are fighting the wrong battle.

What battle are we to be fighting? Clearly, it’s to make all men see what is the fellowship of the Mystery—the special revelation that was committed to Paul concerning Christ. Interestingly there are two major revelations of Jesus Christ.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John” (Rev. 1:1).

The Greek word that stands behind the English term “revelation” in this passage is apokalupsis, which means the unveiling. In this context, it has to do with the revelation of Jesus Christ according to Prophecy. The Book of Revelation is merely an extension of the earthly ministry of Christ, which confirms that Christ will one day return in power and great glory to destroy the kingdoms of this world and establish His kingdom of righteousness for one thousand years (Matt. 24:14,29-31 cf. Rev. 11:15; 19:11-16; 20:5-7). The good fight of the faith in the coming day of the Lord will be to stand in defense of the kingdom gospel. This is the basis for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11,12).

The Greek word that stands behind the English term “revelation” here in Galatians 1:12 is also apokalupsis. In this context, however, it has to do with the revelation of Jesus Christ according to the Mystery. Paul received the unveiling of Jesus Christ in grace. This is the heavenly ministry of Christ concerning the Body of Christ, which was kept secret from ages and generations past. The apostle says, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace.” This special revelation came through Paul; he was God’s divinely chosen apostle to make known the manifold riches of His grace.

The good fight of the faith today then is to stand in defense of the gospel of the grace of God. This is the basis for the fulfillment of the commission of reconciliation. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Commander in Chief is not going to hand out honors to those who were defending the wrong commission. Which commission are you defending? Our marching orders are clear. God will not hold us blameless if we disobey the commands of Christ set forth in the manual of grace found in Paul’s epistles (Acts 20:24 cf. I Cor. 14:37).


“Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck” (I Tim. 1:19).

It is essential to minister the Word with a good conscience. Apparently there were those in Paul’s day that were careless in this regard, which greatly hampered their ministry. Conscience simply means “with knowledge.” When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, “they knew that they were naked” and sinned against God. The moment they partook of the forbidden fruit their consciences were activated, for we are told that they knew the difference between good and evil (Gen. 3:5-7).

Those who lived under the dispensation of conscience were to do all known good and abstain from all known evil. While we are no longer living under the regulations of that dispensation, God has never rescinded man’s conscience. It’s still alive and well in each of us. Luther once said, “It’s a dangerous thing to disobey your conscience.”

Our conscience is an early warning system that warns us against wrongdoing. We might liken it to a railroad crossing. When danger is approaching, in the form of a coming train, red lights begin flashing as the gates come down. But the railroad warning system is powerless to stop you from going around the gates and putting yourself in harm’s way. In a northwest suburb of Milwaukee, a car full of teenagers on their way to school one morning thought they could ignore the flashing lights and beat the oncoming train at the crossing. They were wrong, dead wrong! Objects approaching perpendicular to one another are always traveling faster than they appear to be. In other words, it’s much more difficult to judge distance accurately.

In like manner, the conscience has the ability to warn us of danger, but it, too, is powerless to keep us from sinning. If we fail to heed the warning and sin, we do so of our own volition. There are several consequences for disobeying the conscience, the primary one being guilt. The message Paul was sending to Timothy was this, always do that which is right in the Lord’s work. He was to abstain even from the appearance of evil for the sake of the gospel and his conscience.

We recently saw a news magazine that did an undercover camera investigation of a well-known national ministry. Apparently the tele-evangelist pledged he would pray over each and every letter he received from those who had sick loved ones—God was waiting to heal them!!! He encouraged the Lord’s people to send their requests, and handkerchiefs, along with a generous gift. The following week, what the undercover investigation recorded was the staff removing the checks from the envelopes and discarding the letters without even reading them, let alone praying for each request. The answer to the health, wealth and prosperity gospels of our day is Paul’s gospel.

Brethren, here at the Berean Bible Society every letter is read and every request honored. Whether it’s regarding a question, information, prayer request, or simply a book order. We also issue a receipt and acknowledgement for every donation. Of course, this doesn’t mean that things don’t occasionally fall through the cracks, but I think you’ll find our staff to be very conscientious. We are strong believers in accountability in the Lord’s work. Thus, it is our earnest desire to hold forth the faith with a clear conscience!

You can receive More Minutes With the Bible every week in your email inbox. This list features longer articles, including both original content and articles that have appeared in the Berean Searchlight.