A missionary physician in one of China’s hospitals cured a man of cataracts. A few weeks later, forty-eight blind men came to him from one of Chia’s far corners, each holding a rope held in the hand of the man who had been cured. he had led them in this way, walking in a chain 250 miles to the hospital, that they too might be healed. Are we among those who can say “Once I was blind, but now I see?”
Jude 3, 4
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” Jude 3.
Jude begins this letter with the statement that he desired to write a letter concerning salvation, but something compelled him to send a warning first. Jude had to first warn the believers about the danger of false teachers among them. The salvation of the believers was not at risk, but the salvation of others was. There was also danger of the church being led astray. So, Jude instructed the believers to contend for the faith.
To contend simply means, “to compete and fight for something.” Jude was urging the people to put up a challenge to those who would seek to lead them away from God’s truths. He said that God has given this “faith” or truth once for all time. We have been given God’s Word. God has revealed to us His will and His truths. Now that we have the Scripture completed, there is no need of any additions or new revelations.
Even in our current day false teachers are trying to bring a new twist to biblical truths. There are those that seek to change the eternal truths to fit into today’s secular culture. Do not be fooled! Contend for the faith! Just as counterfeit “men of god” were creeping in and presenting false teaching in Jude’s day, they are still active in our day. Be ready to contend!
JUST A THOUGHT
What are some ways you are contending for the faith on a daily basis?
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” Ephesians 1:13.
When does the truth become a lie? It becomes a lie as soon as something is added or taken away from the truth.
We have the completed Word of God. It is the Bible. Contained in the Bible and especially in the New Testament is the true way of salvation through Jesus Christ and Him only. To change any part of salvation is to change the truth into a lie. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to never add our personal philosophy or religious traditions to the gospel of salvation. It is what it is. Salvation is through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, nothing added or taken away. Furthermore, salvation is a free gift that comes with multiple blessings.
Salvation, an extravagant gift from God, must first be accepted before it can be a blessing. Like a beautifully wrapped gift, it is layered with certain blessings, such as, being accompanied by the Holy Spirit who dwells in each believer. He resides in us to comfort us and intercedes in our prayers and groanings, sealing our souls forever., And, hallelujah, it does not depend on our good works! Salvation is a completed package when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Our only responsibility is to believe. God is responsible for maintaining, that is sealing, redeeming and teaching (Rom. 8:35-39).
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:23).
Yesterday we considered the Valley of Achor (Joshua 7), the “valley of pain and trouble.” We conclude today by noting that not only does its history demonstrate how sin subtly overtakes us, but it also shows us sin’s results.
First, sin defeats us. As noted yesterday, Israel relied not on God but on her own understanding of the situation and so took only a small army of “about three thousand men” to Ai (Jos_7:4). The result of that attitude of self-sufficiency, along with Achan’s action of disobedience, was not only Israel’s defeat—her men “fled before the men of Ai” (Jos_7:4)—but also her disgrace, as the army of Ai “chased [her]” as she retreated (Jos_7:5; Jos_7:12). Indeed, sin destroys, dishonors, and debases us.
Second, sin hinders fellowship with God. As God Himself declared, “Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people” (Jos_7:12-13). Accursed appears six times in Jos_7:11-15. The Hebrew is chērem (H2764), which speaks here of “devoted to destruction.” While Jericho itself was “accursed” (Jos_6:17-18), Israel had permitted that accursed thing to enter the camp, so God demanded that it be purged before she could know full fellowship again. While God “will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb_13:5), and while the true believer does not lose fellowship with God, since such fellowship is part of salvation (1Jn_1:3), fellowship and communion are certainly hindered by sin.
Third, even with confession, the results of sin remain. While Achan admitted his sin (Jos_7:20-21), he and his family were still put to death (Jos_7:23-25). While this might seem harsh to some today, it is a consistent principle. Even though God forgives us, the “wages of sin is death” (Rom_6:23), which is why Jesus had to die for sin. While God can certainly forgive, each sin can still have consequences.
Fourth, sin affects others. Achan’s sin affected his entire family (who were probably accomplices, see Deu_24:16), as he led them astray into sin. Even his innocent livestock and possessions were destroyed (Jos_7:24). One of Satan’s most effective lies is reflected in the often-used phrase, “My sin only affects me.” Families, churches, and entire nations are affected by the sin of individuals. Let us steer clear of the Valley of Achor.
Scriptures for Study: Read the following, noting what each says about sin: Jer_17:9-10; Jer_23:24; Amo_9:3. What is our provision for sin in those times it does overtake us (1Jn_1:9)?
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; . . . with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation,” Isaiah 12:2, 3.
In his best moment, man is still a cup of dirt mixed with water. Add Jesus and man is a light bearer. Without Jesus, man realizes how vulnerable he is; therefore, he must search his entire lifetime for security and safety. Ecclesiastes 3:11 states, “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart.”
Jesus entered into the world offering eternity with the Creator, and man must choose. Shall I surrender that which I cannot keep to gain that which I cannot lose? The lost man made in God’s image wants to control his own destiny. He will do everything he can to create his eternity on earth. All the while, every evidence tells him nothing on earth is permanent. Isaiah 12:3 tells us to trust in Him and we can have joy drinking from the wells of salvation.
In his quest to determine his own destiny, lost man’s mind devised a system whereby he could believe that he created his own self as he struggled up the chain of evolution and, thus, eliminate the Creator or a system of justice by which he will be judged. In his confusion he has made himself very complicated. God simply says repent, believe, confess and ask and all the glories of Heaven are yours. Jesus does not just cause our salvation, He is our salvation.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him (John3:36).
“He is the Rock; his work is perfect. For all His ways are judgment, a God of truth and without iniquity; just and right is he,” Deuteronomy 32:4.
From Genesis to Revelation God is represented as the Rock of our salvation, and man is represented as dust. In Daniel 2:34, 35, the rock is used to illustrate Christ’s return in judgment. The King of righteousness will rule the world with a rod of iron. The Prince of peace will have peace or else, and His kingdom will never end. God will cast the last stone, justice will prevail and the works of man will turn to dust.
In the desert, the rock or mountain was the only shade from the sun’s destruction. In the shadow of the mountain, David found rest from the battles of life and refreshing waters to quench his thirst. God brought water from the rock for His people in the wilderness, and Paul said that Rock was Christ. Jesus taught that when we build our house on the shifting sands of the world, it will fall. But, the house built on the solid Rock will stand the storms of life. We must all build on the solid Rock that will hold our lives together or we build in vain.
Even the biblical anchor was a huge boulder buried deeply on the beach. A forerunner was chosen from among the mariners to swim ashore with a rope and tie off the ship to the rock anchor. Then, the sailors could hold to the rope and make it to shore safely. Thank God for the forerunner who has gone before and tied us to the throne of God for safekeeping (Heb. 6:18-20).
He is the solid Rock compared to our dust running through the hour glass. Tie up and hang on—your little bark is in good hands.
Author – William Andrew Dillard
Parson To Person
God is so wonderful! He has done everything necessary for sinful men to be eternally saved spiritually, and to achieve salvation of the mind-life (proper maturity in understanding and employing biblical instructions) as His will is so plainly expressed in I Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Somewhere along the long line of history evangelism has taken on a new, but manmade, reduced meaning. Still, the true meaning of the term must be understood from the biblical presentation of it in action, and there is no shortage of that.
A few select instances are herewith cited. New Testament work is built upon repentance from sins in obedience to God, followed by receiving heaven’s authorized baptism. This was begun by John the Baptist, and placed in His church by Jesus Himself. All the disciples of Jesus received it, including our Lord Himself. From that point forward one may note the baptism of Cornelius (Acts 10); the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8); Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9); the Philippian jailer (Acts 16); the group improperly baptized (Acts 19), et., etc.
Deep water immersion of each professed believer was administered as the consistent biblical pattern for that time, and throughout the age. It is still God’s approved method of evangelism.
However, what is now largely assigned to the term “evangelism” is simply leading one to profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. At that point, the person is dropped to join whatever may exist under the broad banner of “Christianity.” whether such movement is scriptural or not or even if they do not practice baptism. This is the injection of man into the Word of God, and that is iniquity. It will not stand in the Day of Judgment. Some will be shocked to learn that they have been led astray, and others will be shocked that their “good” intentions were the source of leading others astray.
Folks, it should be known that “evangelism” is a Greek term that has been transliterated into English rather than translated. The translation of the term is “good news” or “good announcement” Contrary to what many want to believe, the good news or announcement is not simply that men can now be saved. That has been going on since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. Rather it is that lost men may continue to be saved, but now be added to the Lord’s church, the executor of the kingdom of heaven, and achieve a high degree of spiritual maturity under the tutorial leadership of the Holy Spirit given to it. Such will enable those so exercised to rule and to reign with Christ in the upcoming millennial reign. To short-change true, biblical evangelism is to cheat men out of this grand opportunity.
Clothing makes the man. May we be clothed in the righteousness of the Lord and not found in our own tattered and torn righteousness.
Addressing the ever-increasing propensity for redefining salvation and the gospel nowadays, no teaching is more prevalent today (or throughout history) than the one that insists that salvation is either wholly, or at least partly, the result of human merit or works. There is perhaps no more graphic verse in Scripture that speaks to the contrary, however, than Isa_64:6 : “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Rags is begeḏ (H899), which is the most common OT word for clothing and by itself refers simply to any kind of garment, as in its first appearance in Gen_24:53, where a servant brought jewels and “raiment” to Rebekah. When coupled with a qualifying word, however, it is used to refer to specific types of garments, from something as common as a widow’s clothing (Gen_38:14) to the specialized, holy garments of Aaron (Exo_28:2-4).
Our text, therefore, adds a very unique qualifying word to begeḏ. (We do not wish to offend any reader’s sensitivities, so we will say this as delicately as possible.) Filthy is beged (H5708), which appears only here in the OT and refers to a woman’s menstrual period, and therefore, the cloth that accompanies it when coupled with begeḏ. Does this not clearly demonstrate what all our good works are, what any “righteous deed” we might perform really is? All of them are as filthy and repulsive as begeḏ.
No truth is clearer in Scripture than that salvation is apart from any merit or works of men. Scripture repeatedly declares man’s uncleanness and depravity (Job_15:14-16; Job_25:4; Job_40:4; Psa_51:5; Rom_1:21-32; Rom_7:18; Rom_7:24; Eph_2:1-3) and that works cannot save (Job_9:20; Rom_3:20; Rom_3:28; Rom_4:5; Rom_9:11; Rom_9:16; Rom_9:30; Rom_11:6; Gal_2:16; Gal_3:16-21; Eph_2:8-9).
Sadly, every false religion, cult, and human philosophy teaches that enough works will result in salvation, “renewal,” “enlightenment,” or whatever concept they choose as their goal. Even some today who call themselves evangelicals are diluting salvation by insisting that works have a part in salvation. James makes it clear that works are the result of salvation (Jas_2:14-26), but it is grace (April 6, 7) alone through faith (April 9) alone that is the cause. Let us rejoice this day in God’s power, for that alone can save us.
Scriptures for Study: Read the verses cited above about depravity and the insufficiency of works, and then rejoice in God’s power (and willingness) to save.
yāša‘ [and] yešû‘āh
One of the key themes of the Bible, of course, is salvation. Nevertheless, despite not only the prominence of this theme but also the clarity of what it is and how it comes, there seems in our day to be much confusion about it. An understanding of these words, however, along with yesterday’s study of sin, clears up all question.
As most Hebrew nouns come from a verb, the verb here is yāša‘ (H3467), which appears about 200 times and means “to save, help, deliver, or defend.” The “underlying idea of this verb is bringing to a place of safety or broad pasture as opposed to a narrow strait.” This idea actually comes from the same Arabic root that means “to make wide or sufficient,” since “wide” implies freedom from stress and encumbrance. Such change, however, demands deliverance, and such deliverance must come from outside the individual. The Septuagint usually renders yāša‘ as the Greek sōzō (G4982), “to deliver or preserve from danger or destruction.”
A vivid example of yāša‘ is Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (Exo_14:30), accomplished, of course, solely by God. Even when deliverance came through some human instrumentality, it was still only by God’s power, as when Gideon saved God’s people from the Midianites only because God empowered him (Jdg_6:14-16).
From what, then, does salvation deliver us? What is its substance? Salvation is deliverance from spiritual death. Because of Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden (Gen_2:17), “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Eze_18:4; also Rom_5:12). It is, therefore, Christ alone who came to “save his people from their sins” (Mat_1:21).
Further, no verse of Scripture is clearer on the source of salvation (yešû‘āh, H3444) than is Jon_2:9 : “Salvation is of the LORD.” From beginning to end, and everything in between, salvation is all from God. It is not because of our partial merit or good works (Tit_3:5), not because we “said a prayer,” not because of our own “foreseen faith”— even the faith to believe the gospel is God-given (Eph_2:8-9; Joh_6:65; Php_1:29; Act_18:27). Rather, “Salvation is of the Lord,” writes Spurgeon. “The Lord has to apply it, to make the unwilling willing, to make the ungodly godly, and bring the vile rebel to the feet of Jesus, or else salvation will never be accomplished.”
Scriptures for Study: God continues to deliver us on a daily basis. Read Psalms 20, noting God’s deliverance from enemies.
šagāh [and] āwōn [and] peša‘
Is the issue of sin really all that important? Yes—it is mentioned approximately 900 times in the Bible. In addition to the most commonly used Hebrew word, chātā’, we find several others used to picture the seriousness of sin (see July 11 for another).
One such word is šagāh (H7686), “to go astray, to deceive, to wander, to make a mistake, to reel.” It’s used primarily to express the idea of straying or wandering and frequently describes a wandering or aimless flock, both figuratively and literally (Eze_34:6). Isaiah used this verb to suggest “swerving, meandering, or reeling in drunkenness” (Isa_28:7, “erred”). It also describes moral corruption (Pro_5:23, “to go astray”). It is also translated sin in Lev_4:13, “sin through ignorance.”
Another word is ‘āwāh (H5753), which is equivalent to the Arabic ‘awaya, “to bend or twist,” and so reflects not only those ideas but also to “distort” and “pervert,” whether intentional or not. Men pervert what is right (Job_33:27; Jer_3:21) and commit “iniquity,” which is to bend God’s revelation (Psa_106:6). The word ‘āwōn (H5771), which appears more than 230 times, speaks of Israel choosing to return to the “iniquities of their forefathers,” that is, twisting and perverting God’s Word to “[go] after other gods to serve them” (Jer_11:10). This word is also translated sin in 1Ki_17:18, where a widow speaks to Elijah in fear that her son died because she bent or distorted some requirement.
One other word for sin is peša‘ (H6588), which appears over ninety times to indicate “willful deviation from, and therefore rebellion against, the path of godly living” (e.g., Isa_58:1; Isa_59:12; Amo_5:12).
Is there now any doubt as to the answer to the question, “Is the issue of sin really all that important?” Indeed, sin is the problem, salvation is the provision, and the Savior is the path. After salvation, however, is sin still a problem? Positionally no, but practically yes. While we are freed from the bondage of sin as the rule of life (Rom_6:1-7), “the flesh” (“our selfish properties,” sarx, G4561) still rears its ugly head and wars within us (Romans 7). Thankfully, we can have victory over this by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8), and we have the assurance of forgiveness through confession when we do sin (1Jn_1:9).
Scriptures for Study: Read David’s prayer of confession and restoration (Psalms 51). Note the words for sin in Psa_51:1-4 : “transgressions” (peša‘), “iniquity” (‘āwōn), “sin” (chattā’t, a derivative of chātā’), and “sinned” (chātā’). Praise God today for His forgiveness (April 16).