Your word is a lamp to my feet
Volume 02, Number
In this issue:
An observation of the Ecclesiastes writer concerning God as Creator, and man as His creation, is worthy of our consideration. “He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end” (Eccl. 3: 11). Everything in our created world bears a relationship to time, with one exception, that being the eternal soul of man. In other words, everything in this world has a beginning and an ending. Beauty, as mentioned by the writer, bears a relation to time. Consider the beauty of a flower “in its time. ” It begins with a bud and as it blooms its beauty is unfurled and when it reaches maturity its pedals began to drop and wither away until it is no more.
Man, however, has been created with an eternal soul that is not satisfied with things of this world. Riches, fame, power, and great fortunes do not satisfy those who have been so blessed (for many these are a curse). Man wants something else besides what this world has to offer because God “hath set eternity in their heart. ” God has created man with spiritual needs as well as physical needs. The unfortunate thing is that men reject the simple solution to their spiritual needs, thinking the physical will take care of it all. On the other hand, those who do realize a spiritual need often times reject the simple solution as well, by trying to make something difficult out of their spiritual need.
The purposes of God, necessary for us to know, are revealed in the Bible (1 Cor. 2:6-13). Sufficient truth for us to know how to go to Heaven is contained in the Bible (2 Pet. 1:3-5). The fact is the Bible teaches us that there is a doctrine so essential to our eternal well-being that without it we can have neither the Father nor the Son (2 John 9).
The point is clear: without the Father and the Son, man cannot be satisfied here below or have the hope of heaven in eternity (Jn. 14:6; Eph. 2:11-18).
Jesus is the key to all of God’s purpose for men. Men are, thus, obligated to learn of Jesus to find rest for their “heavy laden” souls (Mt. 11:28-30; Jn. 8:32). Considering all the provisions God made through His Son, which things are set forth in the New Testament, it behooves each of us to study the revealed word, for it alone answers the spiritual needs of every man (Col. 1:24-29, esp. v. 28).
Current trends among brethren, which are not new, indicate their seeming dissatisfaction with the revealed word of God. I say this in view of many brethren’s preoccupation and predisposition to wrangle over matters which God has not revealed. There is little difference in hypothetical cases presented by some brethren and our denominational neighbors. The hypothetical case of that proverbial man who gets hit in the head with a tree limb and dies on the way to the creek to be baptized has no bearing on my responsibility. However, “our” brethren, who have invented the proverbial Christian, who has lived a faithful life for many years but in a moment of weakness sins and dies, think that has some bearing on us.
Quite frankly, both arguments are “dead” arguments in every sense. Everyone who presents these hypothetical cases wants to know what we are going to tell their dead man. Well, I am not going to tell that dead man anything because if he could hear me he would not be dead. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes said concerning the dead, “. . . neither have they any more portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun” (Eccl. 9:6). That doctrine which is so essential to our eternal well being is revealed for the living (namely, those “under the sun”).
Our obligation in teaching the word of God is two-fold. We are to preach to the living and we are to preach only what has been revealed (1 Pet. 4:11; 2 Tim. 4:1-2). We are not to play God. Those who present hypothetical cases of dead men are wanting us to do just that. The hows, whys, wherefores, etc. of God’s working have not been revealed. I remind you that the writer’s point in Eccelesiastes 3:11 is that even if a man could live “under the sun” for thousands of years he would still not be able to “find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end.” All that a man can know about the mind of God is what has been revealed. However, let me say, that is enough!
Jesus told the rich man, after he had died and wanted to go back and tell his brothers about what awaits them, “If they will not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if one rise from the dead” (Lk. 16:31). The revelation of God, contained in the Bible, is sufficient to satisfy any honest man.
The fellow who is alive must be baptized to have the Father and the Son (Gal. 3:26-29). The fellow who is baptized, a Christian, when he commits sin must repent and confess it before God to have both the Father and the Son (1 John 1:7-9). Beloved, that is all that a man has a privilege to teach, with respect to that essential doctrine, which has been completely revealed in the Word of God. Man can only discuss the workings of God to the extent that God has revealed Himself. The grace of God has been revealed in the word of God for all living men (Tit. 2:11ff). So far as I know, or anyone else may want to know, such grace cannot exceed the boundaries of its revelation. That revelation is enough to satisfy us here below. Therefore let us heed the admonition, “wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).
In Titus 1:7, we learn that a self-willed man by his very nature is disqualified from serving as an elder in the Lord's Church. Peter gave additional warning by writing: "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock" (1 Pet. 5:3).
Sometimes we hear people trying to excuse their self-willed ways by saying, "It is just human nature to want to have your own way." We strongly disagree with the foregoing because the Bible says that mankind was made in the image and likeness of deity (Gen. 1:26). The Bible tells us that God is love. And, the Bible is in fact an account of God's age old struggle to redeem and save rebellious and lost mankind. If God had been self-willed, He would never have allowed Jesus to die for mankind and all would have been lost. The self-willed do not manifest "human nature" but rather Satanic nature.
In our New Testaments, the term self-willed is translated from the Greek word "authades." The Greek scholar, W.E. Vine, defines the word to mean: "self-pleasing, denotes one who dominated by self-interest, and inconsiderate of others, arrogantly asserts his own will."
The highly regarded R.C. Trench, in his Synonyms of the New Testament (pp. 326-327) writes of the self-willed: "He is one so far overvaluing any determination at which he has himself once arrived that he will not be removed from it."………………………
Thus, Trench describes the self-willed as "stubborn and obstinate"! He continues his description of the self-willed by saying, "The man thus obstinately maintaining his own opinion, or asserting his own rights . . . is reckless of the rights, feelings and interests of others."
In 2 Peter 2:9-12, the apostle Peter affirms that God will "reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." He numbers among them to be punished, those that "despise government" (authority or law, R.E.H.), the presumptuous and the self-willed!
Truly, those who practice the "Golden Rule," love their neighbors as themselves, and regard others as more important than themselves; expose the self-willed, lovers of themselves for what they are agents of the Devil!
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 02/19/2023
The Mount Baker Beacon is a
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA.