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« Reply #6285 on: September 30, 2018, 08:21:30 AM »

Bearing and Helping to Bear

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. . . . For every man shall bear his own burden.” (Galatians 6:2, 5)

This is one of the most commonly cited Bible “contradictions,” the apostle Paul commanding us, almost in the same breath, to bear other people’s burdens and yet to bear our own burdens. There is, however, no real contradiction, and both commands are equally valid and important.

The problem is partly one of translation. There are two Greek words used here, baros and phortion, respectively. The first means “heavy load,” the second “responsibility.”

When a Christian friend has been stricken with a great burden—whether sickness, financial need, death of a loved one, or even a grievous sin in his life that he has been unable to overcome by his own strength (see verse 1)—he needs desperately the love and support of his Christian brethren. The Scripture assures us that when we help relieve this burden, we “fulfill the law of Christ.” The previous chapter also notes this: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:14).

At the same time, the privilege of having Christian friends who will share and help with an otherwise unbearable load does not at all absolve us from the responsibility of doing our own part in carrying out our God-given responsibilities. There is no place in the Christian warfare for Christian beggars or Christian crybabies. “Study to be quiet, and to do your own business. . . . That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

The preceding verse (Galatians 6:4) had urged that “every man prove his own work.” Since God has both created and redeemed us, we can be sure He is concerned about us and will not allow trials, or place upon us duties, that are greater than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). HMM
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« Reply #6286 on: October 01, 2018, 07:54:34 AM »

The Ministry of Reconciliation

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)

The great work of reconciling lost men to a holy God has been accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ, yet He “hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation,” through which we, as His ministers (i.e., “servants”), urge men, “Be ye reconciled to God” (vv. 19-20).

This wonderful “ministry of reconciliation” is outlined in 6:1-10, under three subcategories, totaling 28 characteristics. First, there is a tenfold ministry of suffering. “In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings” (vv. 4-5). On the other hand, it also encompasses a ninefold ministry of godliness: “By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (vv. 6-7).

These attributes of suffering, combined with the characteristics of godliness, produce what might be called the ninefold paradox of the ministry. “By honor and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (vv. 8-10).

The central paradox of these nine is the great central theme of the Christian life, centered in Christ: “As dying, and, behold, we live!” This is the ministry of reconciliation, for “they which live should . . . henceforth live . . . unto him which died for them, and rose again” (5:15). HMM
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« Reply #6287 on: October 02, 2018, 07:57:41 AM »

Holy Anointing

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” (1 John 2:20)

The word “unction” in our text is translated “anointing” the other two times it is used (1 John 2:27). That term, and a companion word, are used only seven times in the New Testament, but all refer to the same essential concept often spoken of in the Old Testament.

Both things (tabernacle, temple, vessels, offerings) and people (priests, Levites, kings, ambassadors) were “anointed”—often ceremoniously—to identify them as consecrated or honored for a special service or position. Once anointed, the person or object was to be held in great respect by everyone.

Thus, we who are the “children of God” (Romans 8:16) have been anointed by God Himself (2 Corinthians 1:21) in such a way that the anointing abides, teaches, and is truth (1 John 2:27). This anointing is, obviously, no ceremonial oil demonstrating an honor (Psalm 133:2), but rather the “pouring out” of the Holy Spirit Himself onto and into our earthly bodies, consecrating us to be the very “temple” of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).

This “unction” further designates us to be “kings and priests” (Revelation 1:6) who will one day “reign on earth” (Revelation 5:10). We are called “lively stones” (1 Peter 2:5) being built into a spiritual house for the Lord.

Furthermore, we are to be seen as “chaste virgin” (2 Corinthians 11:2) who are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), having been set apart as a “vessel unto honour” (2 Timothy 2:21) in the “household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). We are to know all these things. HMM III
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« Reply #6288 on: October 03, 2018, 07:06:21 AM »

The Vanishing Serpents

“For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.” (Exodus 7:12)

Like the future image of the beast, which will seem to have life, these magician-induced serpents can only have been “lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Neither men nor demons can really create life; this is a prerogative of God alone, who “created every living creature” (Genesis 1:21). However, both human magicians and demons can generate hypnotic mental states and occult hallucinations that ungodly people like Pharaoh may be deceived into seeing as real physical entities. When their demonstration was over, however, nothing was left. Even their rods (not “serpents”) were gone, for Aaron’s genuine serpent had made a meal of them. In a true miracle of creation, Aaron’s God had transmuted the dead atoms of a wooden stick (just as He later made it to produce blossoms and almonds, Numbers 17:8) into a living serpent, capable of consuming other sticks that only appeared to be serpents.

The deception of the magicians was revealed when they were unable later to imitate Moses’ miracle of turning dust into lice throughout the land of Egypt (Exodus 8:18). Interestingly, many people believed for many centuries that similar phenomena—which they called “spontaneous generation”— occurred naturalistically, but this notion was scientifically demolished by Pasteur over a hundred years ago. Only the living God can create life!

The miracle of Aaron’s rod is also a parable. Aaron’s rod of life took on the nature of the serpent, just as Christ was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). But then it swallowed up the other serpent-rods, and the sting of “that old serpent” was put away. Thus, “death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). HMM
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« Reply #6289 on: October 04, 2018, 07:52:04 AM »

The Teacher

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” (2 Timothy 2:24)

Patience and gentleness are invaluable Christian virtues in any occupation. Teaching, however, involves other attributes as well, and these are effectively set forth by Paul in the second letter to young pastor Timothy. Consider just four of these important exhortations to God-called teachers.

Be straight. Sound doctrine is absolutely essential, the most vital criterion of all. “Hold fast the form of sound words. . . . Shun profane and vain babblings. . . . Preach the word . . . Exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. . . . Endure sound doctrine” (1:13; 2:16; 4:2-3). Straight doctrine is the basis of everything.

Be strong. One can, of course, be strong and gentle at the same time, and this is what God requires. “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2:1). A non-gracious Christian leader is a dis-grace to his calling.

Be studious. The Lord has given us His inspired Word, and a “sound mind” with which to study it, as well as “the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (1:7, 14) to illuminate it, and He expects us to be diligent in its use. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2:15).

Be steadfast. As he concludes, Paul foresees the awful spiritual and moral conditions of the last days—surely enough to intimidate and discourage any Christian. “But,” he then says “continue . . . in the things which thou hast learned” (3:14). This exhortation is followed by the strongest passage on the full divine inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of the Scriptures to be found in the Bible. Regardless of circumstances, a Christian teacher must maintain sound doctrine, be both strong and gracious, be diligent in handling the Scriptures, and just “live there” in the Word of God. HMM
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« Reply #6290 on: October 05, 2018, 07:26:32 AM »

Reconciliation

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10)

It is interesting to note that as important as is the doctrine of the atonement in Christian theology, the word itself occurs only once in the King James New Testament. It is in the very next verse after our text. “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (v. 11).

The Greek word is translated “reconciliation” in 2 Corinthians 5:18: “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” Thus, the doctrine of atonement is the doctrine of reconciliation. Men are separated from our holy God both by their sin nature and also by their actual guilt of committed sin. But through the substitutionary death of Christ for our sins, “we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” That is, God has already reconciled sinners to Himself by the sacrificial death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The problem is that sinners are not actually reconciled to God until they personally accept this free gift of God’s love to them.

But we who “have now received the atonement [that is, reconciliation] . . . joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:11). A part of that joy should be in the fact that God has now “given unto us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Thus, it has become our great privilege to tell others that they can be completely forgiven and eternally saved. “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). HMM
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« Reply #6291 on: October 06, 2018, 08:46:58 AM »

Abiding

“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28)

There is nothing sophisticated or subtle about this Greek word, meno, used many times in the New Testament. The various shades of “remaining” or “staying” are easily understood from the context and always focus on a consistent and even permanent situation.

So it is in our text. The Christian is expected to “stay” in a relationship with the Lord Jesus—implying both a permanent relationship and a “normal” relationship. We are to abide in Christ so completely that we would be like a branch growing out of the vine—thus making “fruit” possible (John 15:4-5). We are to continue in His Word so thoroughly that our prayers will be in synchronization with His will (John 15:7) and our behavior will be in synchronization with His commandments (1 John 3:24).

The steadfast “dwelling” in Christ promises to produce a confidence in our eternal relationship—the word choice especially emphasizes freedom in speaking, an unreservedness in speech. As Peter freely spoke at Pentecost (Acts 2:29) and the disciples received boldness to speak the Word of God (Acts 4:31), so our “plainness of speech” (2 Corinthians 3:12) in witnessing sets the stage for our “boldness in the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17).

Ultimately, of course, the lifestyle of abiding in Christ while on this earth builds the sanctified relationship with Christ that we are to enjoy for eternity.

“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:35-36). HMM III
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« Reply #6292 on: October 07, 2018, 08:59:04 AM »

The Doctrines of Salvation

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

The great theme of “salvation” (Greek soteria, Hebrew yeshua) is prominent in both Old and New Testaments. It basically means “deliverance” and can be used for local and specific “deliverances” from perils, as well as for the eternal deliverance of one’s soul. In the latter sense, it is used for deliverance from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin in daily life, and from the very presence of sin in the future life.

Salvation, of course, is found only through the Lord Jesus Christ, whose very coming into the world was to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The name Jesus means “salvation.” In fact, His name really was Yeshua, the word that often is translated “salvation” in the Old Testament. Devout Simeon, after waiting for many years, took the infant Jesus in his arms, exclaiming by the Spirit, “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation” (Luke 2:30).

The theme of salvation is “so great” (Hebrews 2:3), it embraces many major doctrines of Scripture. As a very sketchy summary, one may note that it includes the doctrines of atonement (Leviticus 17:11); of substitution (Isaiah 53:5); of imputation (Romans 4:6-8); propitiation (1 John 2:2); redemption (1 Peter 1:18); remission (Acts 10:43); justification (Romans 3:28); adoption (Ephesians 1:5); reconciliation (Romans 5:10- 11); regeneration (Titus 3:5); sanctification (Hebrews 10:9-10); and glorification (Romans 8:30). When a person is saved, the blessings implied in every one of these great doctrines of salvation become his, whether Jew or Gentile, whether found in Old Testament prophecy or New Testament fulfillment. No wonder Paul was not ashamed of this great gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ, and neither should we be! HMM
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« Reply #6293 on: October 08, 2018, 09:19:34 AM »

Scattered Abroad

“So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.” (Genesis 11:8)

The verse above is a summary statement of God’s judgment at Babel, at which time God confused the languages of the people there and dispersed them throughout the earth. These original nations—all descended from Noah and his three sons—are listed in what is called the “Table of Nations” in Genesis 10. As time went on, the people proliferated into still more nations and languages and migrated still farther from Babel until finally, as the verse says, they were scattered “upon the face of all the earth.”

Christopher Columbus was a brave explorer and skilled navigator, as well as a diligent Bible student and convinced Christian. However, he did not “discover America,” as he is said to have done on October 12 in 1492. Neither did Leif Ericsson or any other adventurer whose name has been suggested for this honor.

The Indians discovered America! Archaeologists have found Indian artifacts at occupation sites dating well before the time of Christ at many places in America. And wherever these early tribes went, they carried with them the pantheistic religion taught to their ancestors at Babel by Nimrod there in that first great city after the Flood.

Many centuries later, however, there was another great scattering with a much different purpose and motivation. “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). This time, it was not a false religion that was being carried with them but the saving gospel of Christ who had commanded His followers, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), even “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). HMM
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« Reply #6294 on: October 09, 2018, 08:28:55 AM »

I Will Build My Church

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:181)

This is the first of 115 occurrences of ekklesia in the New Testament—three times translated “assembly,” all other times as “church.” It is a compound of ek and klesia, thus meaning “called out” from their previous locations to meet together as a body for some purpose. The three times it is translated “assembly” refer to the town meeting in Ephesus (Acts 19:32, 39, 41). Once it refers to the congregation of Israelites in the wilderness (Acts 7:38), leaving 111 times when it refers to a Christian church or churches.

Of these 111, at least 86 clearly refer to local churches, each meeting as a body in specific times and places. Individual local churches may come and go, but the institution of the local church will continue at least until the return of Christ. In the Bible’s final chapter, after outlining the entire future of the world, Jesus said, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches” (Revelation 22:16). All churches of all times and places, as well as the seven representative churches of Asia (Revelation 2 and 3), which have long since died out as distinct local churches, are thus intended to hear of the world’s prophetic future.

This is the last mention of churches, but the first, as cited in our text, has eternal dimensions, for even the “gates of hell” cannot prevail against it. This church actually will be in heaven itself. “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:22-23). HMM
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« Reply #6295 on: October 10, 2018, 08:43:08 AM »

Teaching Universe

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)

This familiar psalm, extolling God’s creation (vv. 1-6) and God’s Word (vv. 7-14), begins with a beautiful summary of the testimony of the physical universe. “The heavens” and the “firmament” are synonymous (Genesis 1:8), both being equivalent to our modern scientific concept of space. The “glory of God” refers to His infinite power, or energy, and “his handywork” implies the infinite variety and complexity of physical systems, or matter, in the universe. This interaction of matter and energy occurs everywhere throughout space, but also has to operate and be understood in the context of time, “day unto day” and “night unto night.”

The entire marvelous complex of space/time/matter/energy is continually “uttering speech” and “showing knowledge,” teaching men and women of all times and places that there is a great Creator God who made it all. “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen” (Romans 1:20).

The boundless space, the endless time, the infinite energies, and the innumerable complexities of the matter of the universe all unite in irrefutable testimony to the God of creation. The most fundamental principle of science, as well as the most universal rule of human experience, is the Law of Cause and Effect, stating that no effect can transcend its cause. Thus, the great cause of the universe must be infinite, eternal, omnipotent, and omniscient. And since we as living, feeling persons are able to think about all this, that cause must also be a living, feeling, thinking person. This is the great lesson engraved on the textbook of the universe for all to read and learn. The whole creation, indeed, declares the glory of God. HMM
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« Reply #6296 on: October 11, 2018, 08:54:11 AM »

Seven Outgrowths of Faith

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

“Having escaped the corruption that is in the world” (v. 4) through our “faith” in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we must now grow spiritually, conforming our nature and practice to His. We must put to use the divine nature we now possess, recognizing that He has provided all the resources we need.

In this passage, Peter assumes we already have “faith,” thus here our spiritual lives must begin. Peter instructs us to “add to” that faith seven character traits: virtue, knowledge, temperance (self-control), patience (perseverance), godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (agape love).

There seems to be, both in the text (i.e., “add to”) and in practice, a progression here. New Christians should strive for virtue, eliminating sinful actions and thoughts from our lives, as the Holy Spirit brings conviction. A commitment to growth in knowledge, first the basics of the faith and then deeper doctrines, enables us to exercise wisdom in life’s choices. A self-controlled, disciplined lifestyle exercises perseverance, even strength in the face of adversity, which in turn produces godliness—an attitude of reverence toward God that strives to please Him by developing His attitudes and priorities. Our relations with others will thus be marked by brotherly kindness toward believers and agape love (self-sacrificing, undeserved love) for all.

Such spiritual growth does not come without effort. He has provided all we need, but we must “give all diligence” to the process, much more than simply allowing the Holy Spirit to reside in our hearts to work on our character and habits. Any lack of spiritual growth is our fault, not His. JDM
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« Reply #6297 on: October 12, 2018, 08:31:13 AM »

The Whole Armor of God

“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.” (Ephesians 6:13)

This modern age of terrorism, drugs, sexual license, rampant crime, and worldwide unbelief is surely an evil day; and each Christian urgently needs “the whole armour of God” to stand against the devil’s wiles today. This armor is clearly described in Ephesians 6:14-18, but it seems that Satan’s wiles have confused it in the minds of many Christian educators. Paraphrasing this passage, their view might be expressed somewhat as follows: “Gird your loins with an open-ended search for truth, and have on the breastplate of value sensitivity, your feet shod with the gospel of academic tolerance; above all, taking the shield of accreditation and legal protection, with the helmet of economic security and the sword of evolutionary thought, praying always to the Department of Education and your academic peers.” Such Christian compromise is no armor at all.

How much better to be undergirded with revealed truth, founded on creation and biblical inerrancy, than by a “search” for truth! The true breastplate is righteousness, both imputed and practiced, and the true peace of God through Christ adorns the beautiful feet of those who carry the gospel. The shield is faith, which must be exercised first of all in special creation (Hebrews 11:3). The helmet, protecting the mind, is the genuine hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8). With no armor for the back, since the Christian is “to stand,” not to retreat, the chief offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God that meets each particular need. Finally, insistent prayer is both an offensive and a defensive weapon. The “weapons of our warfare” are “mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). HMM
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« Reply #6298 on: October 13, 2018, 08:20:56 AM »

Overcoming Victory

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

The power behind our overcoming victory is none other than the presence of the Holy Spirit of God who indwells the twice-born (1 John 4:4) because of “our faith.”

Much has been recorded by the apostle John about the basis of our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came in the flesh to lay down His life as the propitiation for our sins. The completion of His work in us will be realized at His coming: “When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

These great truths are the foundational anchor that keeps our faith strong and our hope secure in Christ. Yet there is much more to come.

• We will “eat of the tree of life” (Revelation 2:7).
• We will “not be hurt of the second death” (Revelation 2:11).
• We will be given “a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (Revelation 2:17).
• We will have “power over the nations” (Revelation 2:26).
• We will “be clothed in white raiment” and confessed before the heavenly Father and His angels (Revelation 3:5).
• We will be made “a pillar in the temple” of God, and “shall go no more out” (Revelation 3:12).
• We will be granted “to sit” with the Lord Jesus on His throne (Revelation 3:21).
• We will “inherit all things” (Revelation 21:7).

Is it any wonder that John spoke of our “victory” that awaits us when we have “overcome” the world? May God grant us the steadfast faith to “occupy” until He comes (Luke 19:13). HMM III
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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« Reply #6299 on: October 14, 2018, 09:04:28 AM »

The Lord

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19)

The title “Lord,” when applied to Christ, is not merely a title of respect but an acknowledgment of relationship. We belong to Him, just as bondservants (slaves) belong to their owners. He owns us, having bought (i.e., “redeemed”) us with His blood, and the distinguishing seal of His purchase is that His servants are expected to “depart from iniquity.”

Thus, whenever “Lord” is attached to His name, there is an implied confession of His Lordship in that particular area of life. For example, to be saved, one must “confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” (i.e., “Jesus as Lord”) and “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 10:9; Acts 16:31). Following that, we are commanded: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6).

Even in the mundane affairs of life, He is our Lord. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13); “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). Obedience to the Lordship of Christ is, of course, absolutely essential for a truly Christian and happy family. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. . . . Husbands, love your wives, . . . even as the Lord the church. . . . Children, obey your parents in the Lord. . . . And, ye fathers . . . bring [your children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22, 25, 29; 6:1, 4).

As our text reminds us, Christ’s Lordship implies holiness and full submission to Him. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh. . . . For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord” (Romans 13:14; 14:8). HMM
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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