Reading these God-given rules and limitations of the ministry of prophets and tongues speakers we see the enormous gulf between what really happened in the formation stage of the church and what charismatics do today. The path of obedience is the true path of blessing.
Full-service recording below:
Love must be the driving virtue and motive of all that is done for Christ, insists the inspired apostle. Then he shows how it acts and reacts in all circumstances concluding with the reasons for its supremacy over all the gifts and graces.
Paul speaks of the revelatory and sign gifts given while the New Testament was being delivered. These were never for individual benefit, but for the whole body. Here they are reviewed , along with the famous analogy showing the mutual dependence and care of believers.
Corinth had combined a fellowship meal with the Lord’s Supper, but Paul firmly separates them. The Supper is presented as a spiritual banquet, distinct, and calling for deep earnestness. Here are the symbols and what it signifies to ingest them. Here is the Covenant of Grace.
Paul answers the question on the roles of husbands and wives and affirms conformity to the dress code of head coverings in Greek society at that time. With Calvin and major confessions we show that the ‘message’ of clothing may change in other ages and lands.
Three factors are given by Paul for countering temptations. First, the necessity of watchfulness – how temptations come and how to prime the heart; secondly, the rule for resisting temptations; thirdly, the power of the Lord’s Supper to shame away sin and strengthen our resolve.
Exodus Israelites included believers and witnessed miraculous deliverances and provisions, yet they fell into various sins. Their actions and God’s responses are a pattern for later ages. It is not allegorising to draw these intended lessons (here reviewed) for avoiding sin.
Paul makes himself all things to all men. Here is the wrong (common today) and the right sense of his words. Then we draw applications from Paul’s ‘focused athlete’ illustration, and his profound conception of the body as a servant of the mind.
Paul proves his apostleship – here are the unique tasks and qualifications of apostles as the church’s foundation. Paul was motivated by his commission for God, by a desire to reach souls (at great personal cost), and by the great joy of seeing a harvest.
Knowledge is both vital and excellent, but it can so easily inflate pride and vainglory. The apostle names three graces (unfolded here) that deflate pride and make knowledge a source of blessing for the church.
A passage about situations that disadvantage believers and the right way to approach them, beginning with slavery or any other onerous position in life that traps us. Then Paul speaks to both unmarried and married believers. Here are powerful encouragements of priorities for all.
The abiding bond of marriage is established with its ‘debt’ of love, care and pleasure, and its concept of headship blended with partnership. Also explained is Paul’s divinely inspired marriage teaching (often contested), the circumstances of divorce, and how the Lord is proved in marriage.
A heresy that has swept into evangelical churches everywhere is the notion that Christian liberty frees Christians from all rule-keeping and avoidance of worldly pursuits. Here are Paul’s answers to such claims, and his powerful remedy for the avoidance of immorality.
The Corinthian church was proud when it should have grieved deeply at the polluted state of the ‘body’ through toleration of incest. Here is the pattern of discipline, also the potential spread of sin, and positively, the true church’s continuous ‘feast’ of joy.
Preachers at Corinth had thrown aside apostolic authority and failed to address many vital matters (listed here). Paul gives a binding command to follow the ‘pattern church’ of the scriptures, so neglected today. A full and faithful ministry will be given converting and edifying power.
How to assess and regard preachers – here are the apostle’s standards. The problem of cliques, their causes and cure; also the simple, reasonable lifestyle of God’s servants demanded by the apostolic example, and the contrast seen today in ‘celebrity’ preachers.
Paul turns to church growth, warning that believers’ hearts may be largely recaptured by the flesh. Soulwinning is God’s work and we must take care how we build. Here are applications; with the case of those who will lose a reward, yet be saved ‘as by fire’.
The apostle impresses upon us the spiritual blindness of our unconverted state to the wonders revealed in the Gospel, including future glories (described here). Here also is the meaning of ‘comparing spiritual things with spiritual,’ judging all things and living the mind of Christ.
Paul’s chief rule for preaching (and witness) is frequently lost, leading to the withdrawal of the Spirit. Here is the apostle’s golden rule. Here also is why the Gospel is called ‘a mystery’, together with the riches of the ‘eye hath not seen’ passage.
This passage begins with man’s blindness to the things of God, proving that divine power alone can awaken lost souls. Indeed, God calls the humble to bring light and life to the wise and lofty to demonstrate that all glory is due to Him.
For the Gospel to be credible, (so the Corinthians taught), we need conspicuous personalities or preachers. Here Paul proclaims the true source of spiritual power, the preaching of the cross of Christ, and why it is foolishness to the perishing and power to the saved.
This first study of a new series explores the great themes of the opening verses – the credentials of a preacher, the definition of a church, grace as the basis of all blessing, the features of conversion, and the wonders of partnership with Christ.
Should believers suffer many doubts and fears? Here is a sure footing for assurance – firstly what the Word does for us: its explanations and convicting power. Secondly, the approachability of Christ and His constant provision of needed help. Doubts cannot persist when God speaks and answers.
The apostle commands subjection to ruling authorities and forbids slander of them or others. He reviews our past lives, and gives a 14 point overview of God’s mighty work within us, moving us to work for the salvation of others.
A seemingly unusual but crucial concept given by Paul in this passage is that grace disciplines and trains. Here is how, with the apostle’s remarkable summary of the believer’s aim and objectives in this present world, as they look eagerly for the Lord’s return.
Paul’s dependence on the prayers of believers comes first, especially for openness and plainness of speech – and this is what this should mean for today. Here also are the vital components of biblical ministry, and the stirring concept of an ambassador in bonds.
Explaining the words Paul uses in his great ‘armour of God’ exhortations to pray, words such as ‘always – supplications – watching thereunto – perseverance’ and particularly ‘in the Spirit’. Here is what he does not mean, and what he does mean by this most remarkable term.
In the soldier image the sword of the Spirit represents the Gospel work of the church. Here is the penetrating, searching, persuasive power of the Gospel as proclaimed by the apostles. A church or believer not proclaiming salvation is a soldier without the sword.
The helmet is the hope or anticipation of final salvation, when Heaven’s glory dawns on the soul and we see Christ – the greatest possible incentive to serving Him. Here is the Lord’s emphasis on eternal life, and the believer’s experience of death.
Why is faith described as a shield? What are the fiery darts? Here is the centrality of faith in the Christian life, how it is tested in our earthly journey, how the shield is taken up, and the gracious accomplishments of faith.
The third component of the Christian armour, the footwear, portrays us on the march for Gospel witness. It is readiness for Gospel work. Here are seven essential parts of readiness, and the means provided by God for these to remain present in the heart.
The apostle shows how righteousness acts to be protective of the heart or affections in a saved person – a large target of the devil. Here is how self-denial, love for Christ and obedience to the commandments garrison the heart from pollution and shame.
The foundational piece of the Christian’s armour is firstly objective truth – the unchanging doctrines of the faith. (The sword, later, is Scripture used ‘offensively’ to make Christ known). Secondly, the belt is also subjective truth, truthfulness and sincerity for which here are helpful rules.
The introductory passage to the magnificent description of the Christian ‘armour’ – all that is needed in the spiritual warfare to defend against the wiles of the devil and to preserve and enhance instrumentality for the Lord. Each item is a wonder of grace and effectiveness.
Beginning with the duty of conversation, admonition and encouragement between believers the apostle moves to the blessing of singing psalms plus hymns and spiritual songs (here defined), the elements of true worship (public and personal) and the importance of melody of the heart.
Charismatic thinking mistakenly sees similarities between the effects of alcohol and the filling of the Spirit. This verse describes tremendous differences between them. Here are the details of Spirit-filling together with the fruit and the means of obtaining this filling.
In a marvellous overview of the Christian’s walk and duties, the apostle shows how they should demonstrate the light of Christ in new life; how they should channel the message of light, and how they may enlighten their surroundings or new posting in this fallen world.
The duty and treasure of kindness toward God’s people, its impediments contrasted with the great motive – the full readiness of the nature of Christ’s love to us, and how He yielded Himself up for eternity. Also the necessity of cleanness, and the pitfalls of jesting.
The apostle’s appeal never to grieve the Holy Spirit. Here are the sins that do, causing Him to withdraw from (but never leave) us. Here also is what the sealing of the Spirit means for us, and the folly of undervaluing His grace.
Formative in the sense that in addition to being deeply offensive to God, they form deep roots in the character, promoting other sins and shaping the whole person, whereas new opposite virtues (performed by the Lord’s help) lead to lifelong blessing and usefulness.
First, an analysis of the sad state of the unsaved heart. Then two levels of transformation: (1) conversion, where putting off the old and putting on the new life is God’s work, and (2) details of sanctification, where believers are empowered to act by God.
The apostle lays down the vital role of the entire congregation functioning together in evangelism and sanctification. The chief agent of this is ‘the truth’. Here we seek to appreciate more fully the privileges and power of the faith entrusted to us.
Unity defined, not as membership of an organisation, but as a bond between those in union with Christ and bearing His likeness. Then, the opposition believers will know and the answer of holy living. Lastly: service and loyalty to the body, the local church.
The apostle first shows that the ministry of Christ’s church is described in prophecy. He then identifies the different kinds of teacher by their tasks (expounded here), and states the great objectives of all ministry – soul-winning, sanctification, and closeness to Christ.
Beginning with prerequisites for Christian fellowship, Paul presents seven reasons for close union within churches, each a powerful encouragement. What it means to be one body, under one Holy Spirit, with one eternal hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father.
First, the nature of God’s calling – irresistible and transformational, also the basis of assurance; second, the objective of the call – pardon, liberty, holiness and heaven; third, the character of the called – lowliness, meekness, patience, and forbearance among believers and before the world.
The true church is a demonstration to the world of God’s glory. Human nature prefers to vaunt personalities, preachers, even musicians and their produce, but our God-given role is to show the fruits of the converting and sanctifying work within us.
The apostle prays that believers will have Christ in their hearts (here explained), and rooted and grounded in love for Him, we will know more of His for us. Here is the scope of the breadth, length, depth and height of that love.
Paul’s special calling to unfold to the Gentile world the hitherto unproclaimed grace of God, person of Christ, and oneness of saved Gentiles with saved Jews in one body. Here also are the unsearchable riches of Christ, and the ultimate purpose of the Gospel.
In the building of a spiritual family the work of the Holy Spirit is the vital power. Here several Holy Spirit verses in Ephesians are explored (including ‘Be filled with the Spirit’) to show the different activities of the Spirit in the Christian life.
John was the first disciple to grasp the reality of the resurrection and realise that the Lord ‘must’ rise again from the dead. Here are the reasons why it was essential and inevitable, together with the great assurances it brings into Christian lives.
Having shown that God has brought saved Jews and Gentiles into one church, Paul presents the church’s character. First, her citizenship and privileges, secondly, her family ties, thirdly her doctrinal foundation, fourthly, her unworldly saved beauty, and her sensitivity to the Spirit.
The sense in which conversion is a new creation – God’s distinctive workmanship – and the implications for our daily walk. Also, the duties of remembering our origins; rightly esteeming the blood of Christ; and the uniting of saved Jews and Gentiles in the church.
This inspired review of Christian experience begins with the characteristics of spiritual death and the rule of the prince of the power of the air. Then we learn the extent of God’s love in both initiating and accomplishing conversion, with the goal of eternal life.
The fifth great theme of Ephesians calls us to consider God’s mighty power in our salvation and sanctification. To reflect on this gives a great surge of assurance, building our certainty and faith for the final stage of redemption – entry into eternal glory.
Paul desires that his readers gain wisdom to grasp the spiritual purpose in passages of Scripture – something opposed by many preachers today. Here are the proofs for true personal study and use of God’s Word, with examples of the process given elsewhere by Paul.
In five verses the apostle looks to the eternal Heavenly glory awaiting the elect: first the end-time gathering, second their inheritance, third the choir, and fourth the seal or ‘down-payment’ of the Spirit received even now, with its ten (at least) marvellous, amazing components.
The adoption of spiritual children is rooted in the longing of God before time began. It brings the redeemed into the eternal family of love, clothed with privileges and an inheritance secured by the most costly process imaginable. Here the apostle reveals its wonders.
The apostle gives glory to the Triune God, source of all spiritual blessings, given according to His sovereign election of souls. Here we answer doubts about election, whether it is fair, whether it undermines or strengthens evangelism, and how it should inspire Christian living.
Paul’s commendations of his fellow-preachers and helpers in Rome show the standard for all believers, especially ministers. Here are the terms he uses, with their full meaning and challenges. Plus a glimpse of Archippus and his possible ‘hindrance’, with its common equivalents today.
Two verses that commend walking in wisdom toward unbelievers, redeeming or buying up the time, and gracious speech. Here is what the apostle meant by these challenging terms, with counsel for daily conduct and witness to the dying souls to whom we are assigned.
A call to the two continuous commitments of the Christian life – first to persistent prayer (the impediments, the helps, and the branches of prayer); secondly to pray specifically for preachers.
The perfect text for the new year, providing its own natural headings, challenging believers to live every moment of life under the direction of Christ, to do all for His glory and for Him, and to be thankful for everything day by day.
Paul presents four tremendous graces given to believers to exercise and keep in view constantly, lifelong – the doctrine of salvation, the gift of wisdom (here explained), the practice of melody in the heart through psalms and hymns, and a strong awareness of representing Christ.
Once saved, the Christian has the infallible help of the Spirit to lay aside the impulses of the old nature, including covetousness, the five distinct forms of anger, and lying. Progressive renewal also brings rich shafts of knowledge which provide the believer’s blessed assurance.
Explaining how believers are dead, yet commanded to put to death sin. Here is the offensiveness of impurity, the apostle showing how it invades the mind (uncleanness), the heart (inordinate affection or passion) and the will (evil concupiscence or evil longing). Remedies for mortification.
After dismissing the fleshly rites that heretics had begun to introduce to the church, Paul points to the ‘heavenly life’ and growing the graces that will be perfected in glory – deep feeling, kindness, lowliness, a servant spirit, generous love and grateful contentment.
The Judaisers have tried to persuade Colossians to adopt Jewish ordinances. Paul shows they have a vastly superior circumcision of heart. The old nature is dethroned and a new installed. But old sins may re-emerge without these named precautions. Here is Paul’s imagery of conquest.
Beginning with the ferocity of the forces of error surrounding believers (here are examples) Paul identifies first the need for deep appreciation of the doctrine of Christ, secondly church order and firmness, thirdly a sense of amazement at Calvary, as our key defences.
Five verses draw together essential elements of all witness. Here is how Paul came to rejoice in the troubles of a proclaimer. Here also is his deep sense of responsibility for the Gospel, his estimation of Christ’s priceless value, and his manner of persuading souls.
In showing aspects of reconciliation the apostle extols the scope of Christ’s redemptive work (including securing the external obedience of the angelic host), then the depth of our alienation, then the height of our elevation, and finally the sure sign of redemption.
Following aspects of the atonement, Paul turns to the magnificence of Christ, 1) His significance as image of the Father, 2). as forerunner and Creator of all, 3) as sovereign Head of the Church, and 4) as ‘all fulness’ – in which we may participate.
Three verses that present four distinctive aspects of the eternal accomplishments of Christ on Calvary, 1) our personal crucifixion with Him, 2) our deliverance from Satan’s power, 3) our redemption and transfer into the kingdom, and 4) our purifying. So great was the price paid!
In these verses Paul urges greater knowledge, not only of doctrine, but of God’s ways, how He deals with us, and the lot of believers. Here we also learn about applying the Word, our aims in behaviour, and the power to obey and please God.
Beginning an epistle of essential doctrines, objectives, conduct and spiritual joys in the converted life, Paul defines and extols five aspects of this new life: faith in Christ, love for the saints, anticipation of glory, assurance, and love in the Spirit. Do we have these?
The pre-eminence of Christ who condescended to be our scapegoat and Saviour. The accomplishments He foresaw. What He endured on Calvary’s cross, and how He maintained obedient faith through the deepest conceivable valley of death. All the lovingkindness of the Lord in one verse.
Paul’s closing counsels set before us the duties of Christian cheerfulness, keeping spiritual perspective and faith alive, being of one mind as a church family and maintaining harmony. Here are the steps to be taken, and the great reward of God’s presence in our midst.
First, the problem when believers reform their behaviour but without any depth of repentance. Here is vital counsel. Then Paul tells us that if Christ is in us, it is fairly plain to see. Here are the signs of His dwelling in true believers.
The apostle discloses how he experienced in mysterious manner entry into paradise, to prepare him for all rigours he must endure. He speaks also of the affliction given him to maintain humility, and to show him and us that every achievement is the Lord’s doing.
Paul’s labours and sufferings 1) added to his authentication 2) revealed his love for Christ and souls 3) showed his human limitations 4) preserved his humility 5) equipped him to comfort others 6) exposed human hostility 7) deepened desire for glory 8) set standards for consecration.
The harrowing list of pains, pressures and trials, endured by Paul as a continuous authentication of his ministry as an apostle, starts at Damascus, with his ignominious escape. Here is the first of the purposes of Paul’s many sufferings and how it applies to us.
Paul speaks reluctantly of his life and work to defend his standing, so attacked by heretics. Here is his level of commitment, contention for the truth, and faithfulness through labours, privation and persecutions. Is our commitment diluted by the affluence, comfort and self-care of our age?
How superficial the Corinthians were in letting false teachers get in! They only had to claim to be Christian preachers and no questions were asked. When good people lay aside discernment the result is Satanic conquest. A similar war faces sound churches today.
Beginning with Paul’s apostolic authority, this passage presents his reliance on God’s power rather than human schemes, showing how strongholds of human thought void of biblical foundation may be thrown down by the truth. Here also is the need for true submission to Christ.
The apostle’s instructions for giving have often been found surprising, being chiefly spiritual matters. The priority of the Gospel is emphasised even in relief offerings, and a precious list of aims and attitudes is given, bringing a reward of spiritual not fleshly enrichment.
Six graces are listed: faith (conviction), witness, knowledge, diligence (earnestness), love for the cause and stewardship. Then follow seven aspects of such graces that challenge the heart and show the spirit in which they are exercised. This passage uniquely defines dedicated spiritual living.
This message marks a break in the 2 Corinthians series to reflect on the redeeming work of Christ, surveying the statements throughout His earthly ministry predicting the details of Calvary and the resurrection – the goal and triumph of His immeasurable love for His own.
Believers may, like those of Corinth, make serious mistakes and need to repent and reform. Here the apostle chronicles the Corinthian readiness to change, highlighting seven distinct components of a believer’s repentance, so that restoration to full blessing and fruitfulness may be experienced.
Fellowship with false teachers nearly ruined the Corinthian church, leading to this passage on the utter incompatibility of believers being united with unbelievers (as churches or as individuals entering into marriage). Here are God’s reasons, and the command to stand apart from apostate churches or denominations.
Paul is a model for all believers, especially preachers. Here he lists our weapons, such as preaching and witness, to be maintained regardless of our reception, even despite great violence, and through lows and highs – making many rich, and though having nothing, yet possessing all things.
The apostle gives inspired and essential conditions for instrumentality in Gospel work. Beginning with a strong plea to avoid fruitlessness, he stresses the necessity of a consistent life, resilience through all hardship, and five positive qualities which must be exhibited, by the Spirit’s help.
These verses reveal first the means by which Paul sustained his unflagging zeal; secondly the radical change of outlook brought about by conversion, and thirdly the compelling obligation for evangelism which is given to every true believer: are we really saved, and are we genuine witnesses?
The apostle says – all will appear at the judgement seat, saved and lost. Will the sins of the saved be revealed? What will be the basis of judgement? What are the ‘good’ deeds referred to? Here also is Paul’s concern for the salvation of souls.
At death the believer’s soul enters its heavenly home, capable of praise, fellowship, love and learning, and awaiting only the resurrection body. Here is the greatest imaginable incentive to holiness and service and how it should always be in the forefront of our minds.
We consider the astonishing condescension of Christ, to leave the infinite glory of Heaven, and to enter the cesspit of our world to suffer, die and rise again for His enemies. Here is a glimpse of the pre-incarnate and risen glory of our great Redeemer.
The mighty, glorious paradox of the witnessing Christian life is here seen – in weakness, Christ makes us strong; in hindrances and hardships, He provides the escape; when at the end of our resources, He supplies – a lifelong proving of His power and faithfulness to us.
The glorious nature of Gospel ministry burdens preachers and witnessing believers to reach every form of unbelief and rebellion against God. Here are more forms. Here too is Satan’s chief objective – the obscuring of Christ, and the necessity of the Spirit’s illuminating work in salvation.
The apostle shows where false teachers (promoting Jewish views) went wrong, explaining the veil over their minds and hearts. Then he advances the liberty of true conversion, and here are its components. Finally the question is answered – how does beholding Christ lead to sanctification and glory?
Learning from contrasts, including that between the law written on stone, and conversion written in the heart; the ministry of the the letter and that of the Spirit; the old and the new covenants; the administration of death and of the Spirit, with the unique glory of the latter.
Paul reveals his great anxiety for the Corinthians, but hastens to show how he looked also at the overall scene and God’s ceaseless blessing in opening doors and making Paul and others the savour of Christ everywhere; truly a model life for us all.
Despite Satan’s drive to establish a hold over God’s people, the Corinthian church purges out grievous sin (here are the purposes of discipline), achieves restoration for the offender, proves its obedience to the Lord, and defeats Satan’s devices (these being named and described here).
An insight into Paul’s deep sense of the priesthood of all believers. Shared intercession comes first (he needs them), then shared sincerity, then a shared anointing (not just the preacher), finally shared proving of the Lord (the local church needs no external oversight).
Beginning with God as a compassionate Father over His children, Paul moves to sufferings incurred for the sake of Christ and the Gospel, especially his own experience of ‘so great a death’, and its spiritual purpose – that of delivering him from self-trust.
Some believers imagine that Christ speaks to them and even touches them, while others overreact from extreme pietism and think little of Christ’s constant presence with them. Here is the Lord’s nearness throughout the Bible, and the power of ‘seeing Him’ with the eye of faith.
Paul commands withdrawal of fellowship from believers who persistently flout the apostles’ teachings. One example of disorder is the refusal to work for a living, but here are the key offences that seriously blight Gospel work. Here also is the call to fellowship and harmony.
Authentic believers, says the apostle, pray for the Gospel in a certain way, taste opposition (and deliverance), have lively consciences to obey the Lord, and grow in new sense of His love, looking for His return. Are we consciously experiencing the features of a sincere walk?
Paul first speaks of indebtedness (here is how election should influence us); then of our experience of the call of God; then of our duty to hold the faith; then of the forms God’s blessing takes, and finally of the kind of strength God imparts.
Isaiah’s first prophecy of Christ and His Kingdom; its characteristics, conversions and blessings; culminating in the prophet’s inspired appeal – as from the heart of God – for people to learn the way of salvation and walk in this light to the Heavenly city.
Two particular events must precede the Lord’s return, says Paul – the great apostasy and the revealing of the man of sin. Here are his terrible acts, and the final triumph of Christ. How near are we to these events, and how should they affect us now?
Paul’s short yet dazzling unfolding of end-time events written to a young church in a place of fierce opposition. Starting themes are the duty of constant praise, and the unceasing exercise of faith. Here also is Paul’s introduction to the Lord’s return.
This famous doxology of Jude urges us to hold God in highest esteem by looking back at what He has done, looking also at what He is currently doing, looking ahead to our entry into glory, and looking at His everlasting attributes. This is authentic worship.
Jude provides four duties of maintaining faithfulness. First, the building upon faith ( i.e. doctrinal understanding and trust); second, praying in the Holy Spirit (what it is); third, keeping oneself in the love of God (frequently forgotten steps), and fourth, avoiding dangers.
Jude urges God’s people to defend the faith, warning of the stealth of errorists, and of how down the centuries they invent doctrines and attack the authority of Scripture. He also reveals their motives and points to how the battle must be fought.
John here presents four crucial ideals for believers to aim at: 1) to take seriously personal spiritual progress or soul-prosperity; 2) to fully embrace missionary support; 3) to avoid Diotrephes-style leadership; and 4) to know how to recognise those truly approved by God.
The chief message of this personal letter to a Christian lady is the duty and protective power of mutual love against error. Here we define ‘walking in the truth’, consider how fellowship love guards against doctrinal and spiritual collapse, and summarise the main heresies over time.
John sets out the authentic characteristics of truly saved believers. What he means by saying that they sin not, and how they fight sin. Here also are Satan’s attempts to ruin them, and a key work of redemption – a certain and personal walk with God.
Here is the necessity of prayer and why God requires it; the meaning of God’s promise to answer ‘according to his will’; the things for which we should pray; the manner in what we should pray; and the vexed exception of the ‘sin unto death’.
As unbelievers we thought unbelief was ‘innocent’. Surely it was for Christians to demonstrate God’s reality to us. But here is God’s viewpoint – the depths of wilful unreasonableness in our rejection of Him. And here also is what we owe to Him for His mercy.
The apostle describes seven solid evidences of the work of salvation in the true believer (different from the ‘marks of grace’ usually described). All provide either strong assurance, or a profound challenge in the case of those who have not yet experienced conversion to Christ.
From the warning against false teachers, the apostle turns again to the great duty of love to fellow believers, providing fourteen compelling reasons (with benefits) for honouring this obligation. Here love is defined, its actions and activities listed, and the reasons surveyed.
The duty to test all who teach by four standards: (1) Do they proclaim the divinity and humanity of Christ, our infallible mediator? (2) are they truly converted? (3) are they separate from the world? (4) are they bound by the authority and sufficiency of scripture?
The apostle John describes five aspects of love, in the church, at the same time showing that each one is evidence of true conversion. Here love, helpfulness to fellow believers, and the promised greater instrumentality in prayer, are seen as bulwarks of assurance.
Gaining Christian perspective by comprehending all aspects of God’s mighty love, then by looking forward to seeing Christ and being transformed, then by appreciating deliverance from the dominion of sin, and then by knowing how to stay close to the Saviour.
In five verses John describes three major aspects of the spiritual life, the word ‘abide’ appearing six times. Here is how we should make use of the body of Christian doctrine, maintain close union with Christ, and keep alive the illumination of the Spirit.
The apostle John provides the facts about the emergence of antichrist, what exactly antichrist will do, and the twin means by which believers will discern ‘many antichrists’. These two, the unction of the ‘Holy One’ and the test of truth, are here explained.
In three famous verses, John shows that love for the world cannot coexist with love for God, then defines worldliness, shows its offensiveness to God, and describes how it passes away to judgement before our eyes. What believers do, however, lasts forever.
John’s words to little children, fathers and young men seem repetitive and puzzling at first sight, but they are a call to think of the considerable changes brought about in those who are converted, and to stir assurance and zeal. Here are the triumphs of grace.
After extolling Christ and exhorting to holiness, the first topic of the epistle (showing its importance) is mutual love in the congregation. Here are the grounds of solid ties, and the blessings and helps, along with the Apostle’s warnings about opting out of this precious duty.
The aged apostle speaks out of concern for believers everywhere, urging all to avoid spiritual lifelessness by keeping in full view: 1) The campaign for personal holiness; 2) The price Christ paid for us; 3) All His commands to serve Him; 4) Our love for Him.
Christ is extolled by the aged apostle as truly man and God, who is holiness and truth, genuine believers being identified by their sensitivity to sin and concern for biblical obedience, and false Christians by their relative indifference to one or the other.
Why does the risen Lord tell Peter he will die a martyr? How did this glorify God and why was Peter told that John’s future should not concern him? Here are the reasons and their importance to us as individuals and churches today.
A resurrection appearance of Christ to seven disciples gives a final lesson on dependence upon Him for all future blessing. Then, the threefold restoration of Peter shows love for Christ is the key to blessing and the antidote to self-love and disloyalty.
It is clear the resurrection was completely unexpected by the disciples. Here is how it came, first by gentle intimation, then with a caution, then as a proof of Christ’s successful atonement, and then as a command to trust in the living Lord.
The Gospel of John here reveals the repeated failure in understanding and loyalty of a representive disciple, the deep dishonesty of the Jewish leaders, and the unwavering purpose and dignity of the Son of God throughout the multiple unjust, overnight hearings leading to Calvary.
In the course of this great ‘high priestly’ prayer, the Lord reveals the purpose of the Christian calling, the vital distinctives of a true Christian faith, and the Christian’s future destiny. Then the hour of redemptive work arrives, and He proceeds so calmly to Calvary.
The Saviour’s prayer – ‘Sanctify them through thy truth’ has led to a review of the Ten Commandments, this study surveying the scope of the last three – ‘Thou shalt not steal…bear false witness….covet’ – and especially how these guide believers in the life of the church.
Continuing John 17:17, ‘Sanctify them through thy truth’, we here review the fifth to the seventh commandments to see the wide application given by Moses and the New Testament, each commandment naming the chief sin of a ‘family’ of offences. This is the path of holiness.
Christ’s high priestly prayer ‘Sanctify them through thy truth’ takes us to the moral law and a review of the fourth commandment. Here are the biblical reasons (and the resulting blessings) for honouring the Lord’s Day. Here also are its biblical purposes and warnings.
Sanctification (purification, consecration and commitment) by the Word is the will of Christ for His own, and here we turn to the first three of the Ten Commandments to challenge our souls. How should these be applied today in our lives and churches?
Believers are those who have ‘seen’ God and His ways. They are interceded for and kept, in order to reflect and speak of Christ. They are separated from the world and dedicated to the joy and service of Christ, and they are sanctified by the Word.
A prayer expressing the united will of the Godhead for things about to be secured by the work of Christ. Awed disciples learn, and generations of believers receive mighty assurance. This introduction shows Christ praying as prophet, priest and king for all His own.
The very final briefing of the Saviour to the disciples before His arrest tells of much yet to be taught them (by the Spirit), of Christ being ‘seen’ (by the Spirit), of their new liberty in prayer, and of their great joy – all ongoing promises for believers.
Christ speaks of the Spirit’s work convicting of sin (unbelief being the crowning sin), convincing of the perfection of Christ and our dependence on Him, and convincing of the judgement to come. As these things were preached, the Spirit would convict and convince souls.
The Saviour taught that people generally, locked in the world system, whatever their surface attitude, detest Him and His message. History shows this to be so. Here are the various forms of hatred, the reasons behind them, and the biblical response of Gospel workers.
Sublime words of Christ about mutual love between believers, about the privilege of being loved by Him, of being told all things by Him, of being ‘elected’ to salvation and service, commissioned, and equipped with the power of prayer. An overwhelming inspiration to full commitment.
Christ’s instructions to the apostles defining the Christian life. He begins with the New Covenant, and how He is the true vine securing redemption for His people. He also defines ‘fruit’ (the essential evidence of conversion) and what it means to ‘abide’ in Himself.
Five expressions of love for Christ all found in this passage – all being a key to ongoing assurance, and all stirring greater love. For a new year, we see Christ’s words – love learns, love trusts, love identifies, love serves and love obeys.
In this last teaching discourse to the apostles the Lord impresses upon them things they have not yet grasped, especially about the Holy Spirit: that He is a divine Person, giving spiritual illumination and assurance, and impressing Christ on the hearts of believers.
The day before Calvary, with the disciples, Christ gives a fourfold remedy for their deficiencies. They must grasp the necessity of faith, the heavenly objective, His pivotal atonement, and His equality with the Father. Only then can they fulfil their commission.
Having washed the disciples’ feet, Christ revealed to them seven vital immediate events – the betrayal, their future work, the ugliness of hypocrisy, the need for heart-searching before the Lord’s Supper, the direction of events, how humiliation would bring glory, and the future church.
A symbolic act with four moving lessons for the future apostles, just before Christ went to Calvary, showing his love for his own, his coming humiliation, his cleansing of them, and the humility of bearing and life (essential to them and all believers in order to be used by God).
The profound meaning of ‘now is the judgement of this world’, and the scornful questions of the masses, revealing their problem, then the Lord’s last great appeal before Calvary, then the mysterious hardening of the heart of the people, plus green shoots of conversion.
Almost like a Greek play with seven scenes, the apostle John (in twenty verses) tracks seven distinct sources of powerful authenticating views about Christ as Messiah, including the words of Christ Himself and the Father. Here also is the Lord’s call to salvation.
John’s record of the last days of the earthly life of the Lord begins with the supper at Bethany – a remarkable picture of Christian worship and commitment seen in Martha’s service, the testimony of Lazarus, and Mary’s demonstration of faith by the symbol of anointing.
Two months before Calvary, the ruling council of chief priests and clergy assembled to plan the death of Jesus of Nazareth. Their folly is here tracked to show how everything they thought and planned was overruled and re-shaped by the sovereign power of Christ.
Over several days, the Lord gave three clear intimations that He would raise Lazarus from the dead, but the disciples, then Martha, in varying degrees, could not take in His words. Faith triumphed in the end, and here is the history of growing conviction.
Surrounding Christ in the temple precincts four months before Calvary, the teachers of the Jews attempt to ensnare Him, but the encounter reveals seven elements of the Lord’s approach to lost souls, all of which teach believers how they should proceed.
Six months before Calvary the Lord uses the Good Shepherd allegory to portray salvation and the new church order. Here is the contrast between Satan’s ‘shepherds’ and the Lord. Here also is the call of the Gospel, and the gifts of salvation bestowed by Christ.
Announced by Christ as a demonstration of His saving work, picturing repentance as central to saving faith. Also here is a statement of commission to successive believers, a view of Christ’s divine attributes, and a glimpse of the demise of the Jewish priesthood.
The Jerusalem ‘clergy’ failed to see the Lord in the clear promises of Genesis and subsequently, so His words made no sense to them. Here is how Christ is the chief rule of interpretation, and the key to understanding all human history.
In a vast temple court, the Lord declares Himself the light of the world, but the Pharisees reject His divinity. Here, He reasons with them, giving a solemn warning. The shallow belief of some of them urges us to be sure of genuine conversion.
Scribes – experts in the law – devise an inescapable trap for Christ, determined to frame charges against Him, but He confounds them, turning the attention of the crowd to salvation. Here also is ‘I am the light of the world,’ and what it means to possess Him.
The Pharisees and chief priests thought they had communion with God, power to vanquish Christ, and knowledge of the Scriptures. In reality, they had none of these, as this passage shows. Here also is Christ’s great call to the thirsty to receive life and power by the Spirit.
The remarkable parable of the labourers in the vineyard teems with surprising facts of God’s mercy toward souls. This also illustrates how God gathers people to Himself out of all the different age-groups, at immeasurable cost to Himself.
The attitude to Christ of His own brothers (before their conversion), then of the common people crowded into Jerusalem from throughout the land for the feast of tabernacles, then of the leaders, and then of the residents of Jerusalem. Here also are the lessons.
Christ exclusively has the words of eternal life, but it is enriching to understand that this is a comprehensive term that refers to a host of features of eternal glory, reviewed here. If these are not appreciated and wanted, one cannot really desire eternal life.
About a year before Calvary, the Lord preached at Capernaum promises of eternal life to all who received His bodily work for sinners. They would, He said, be ‘drawn’ by the irresistible grace of God to find true and living union with Him.
The discourse of the Saviour to followers who sought a political rather than a spiritual salvation. Here is His presentation of His divinity, His life-giving work, His salvation promises, and His explanation of the Father’s preparatory work in the hearts of those who believe.
The building of faith in the great calling of saved people – how slowly it deepens, without thought. Here is the testing of the disciples, with lessons, in the feeding of the 5000, and Christ’s earthly power in walking on, and calming, the storm-tossed sea.
Early in His ministry, Christ challenged the Jews, proclaiming a spiritual resurrection for all who ‘heard’ His voice, and a future bodily resurrection. Again, He asserted His divine sonship, authenticated by the Father through His mighty works, and through the scriptures – especially Moses.
The startling question ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’ exposes the human indifference to salvation, broken only by Christ’s initiative in opening the heart to mercy. Here are lessons in salvation; also – Christ’s unambiguous assertion of His divinity, which became the real basis of all hostility.
The harvesting of souls is the Saviour’s stated source of great satisfaction, and will be ours also if it governs our priorities and prayers. Here also is the power of witness, and the nature of saving faith in the case of the nobleman of Capernaum.
Christ’s exhaustion shows His astonishing love in assuming the limitations of human nature for salvation. His encounter with a brazenly reluctant hearer, unable to grasp spiritual wonders until He revealed His identity, reflects all experience of conversion. Here also are the golden rules of worship.
Here is the exemplary modesty of the Baptist in yielding the crowd to Christ, and his exalting of Christ’s divinity. Also, we see how crowds desired baptism without deep belief, explaining why John’s Gospel emphasises belief in Christ’s redeeming purpose (which leads to repentance).
How the Lord presented salvation by grace to Nicodemus, showing that it was always given to individuals, through faith, by the immeasurable love of God in Christ. Here also is the Lord explaining why people refuse to believe, and his appeal to Nicodemus to repent.
A ruling pharisee, possibly exploring cooperation between Christ and the Temple order, comes by night, but the Lord teaches that only a new birth purchased by Himself, wrought directly by God, and revealed throughout Scripture, can save people, whether pharisees or ordinary Jews and Gentiles.
The Lord’s purity cannot allow the shameful hypocrisy of Temple conduct, and by an act of divine power He casts out the commerce, and prophesies His own death and resurrection (as well as the fall of the Temple), providing lessons for spiritual living today.
We see first, the immeasurable, surpassing, incomparable greatness of Christ’s resurrection and its chief purposes. We see also forty days of appearances, and consider the way ‘resurrection’ is replicated in a spiritual, moral way in the lives of believers, before their own resurrection.
First we see the message of the miracle; second – the insurmountable problem; third – the necessity of obedience; fourth – the quality of the miracle; fifth – the results. The disciples saw Christ’s divine power and the nature of His saving work.
The encounter of the first disciples with Christ reflects the experience of all believers, embracing a considerable surprise, a deep sense of need, a compulsion to share Christ, a new character, light on the Word and the progressive discovery of even ‘greater things’.
John the Baptist, the forerunner, was needed because of extreme spiritual barrenness. He called thousands to repentance, but most remained unsaved, never receiving Christ’s spiritual baptism – the new birth. Here are lessons to us, and also the saving work of Christ – the Lamb of God.
Four elevating verses, first, presenting Christ’s eternal existence and amazing condescension to His people; secondly, showing His limitless capacity, and the meaning of ‘grace for grace’; thirdly, extolling His mighty accomplishments, and fourthly, telling how He reveals and ‘exegetes’ the Father to provide our spiritual experiences.
Reflections on the magnificent introduction to John, glorifying Christ; eternally equal with the Father (no eternal submission), Creator and fountain of life, obscured by the Fall but always saving souls, rejected by the world but ‘tabernacling’ among us for the salvation of those ‘born of God’.
First, the use of psalms and hymns for personal spiritual help; secondly, the biblical authority and necessity for hymns of human composition; thirdly, the nature of melody in the heart, and fourthly, the qualities needed for valid, edifying, God-glorifying hymns.
Romans 8 shows sanctification begins with conversion and that it is progressive lifelong. Here is how the Spirit employs the Word, the conscience, and the practice of putting to death sin. Here also are special means such as divine chastisement, suffering and mutual admonition.
Loss of spiritual feeling, love, joy and fervour are more serious and ominous than we may think. Attendance soon suffers and a backward drift gathers pace. Why did it happen? The spiritual warfare must come back into view, with all its measures and helps.
He who saw Satan cast out of Heaven began His ministry in voluntary subjection to the adversary’s extreme malice. Yet even the Lord of Glory must do so to ‘qualify’ to be our representative and Saviour. Here is the meaning of each temptation and response.
‘Let go, and let God’ is a great mistake in sanctification, for there must be striving and prayer for progress in holiness. Yet, says Paul, it is all achieved by the power of God. Here also are the three ‘departments’ of life to be specially guarded.
All believers have a solemn responsibility to examine and establish the biblical authority behind all doctrines, acts of worship and methods proclaimed or carried out by their churches, and by themselves as individuals. Here are categories of doctrine and practice to be monitored.
How is the fire of the Spirit manifested in believers’ lives? Here are texts showing His work to be sanctifying, illuminating (with joy), and imparting zeal for souls and good works. Here also are the ways we resist and quench the holy flame.
The Bible is full of thankfulness. Here is its immense significance in the Christian life, also its power to inspire humility, indebtedness to God, appreciation of Him, holiness, trust, reliance, love, happiness and evangelism. Here also are matters for inclusion in thanksgiving.
A call to prove the Lord in every phase of life. Here are the biblical departments of prayer, followed by the need for greater determination, faith, desire, thoughtfulness, patience, holiness and sincerity, with attention to prayer in trials, and the obligations that come with prayer.
This brief ‘treasury’ of concise exhortations lists key duties for Christian living, including rules for the spiritual life and duties for life in the everyday world. Here are the first eight forming a life of aspirations to both monitor and inspire.
So inclined are we to spiritual and moral casualness that the apostle stresses the necessity and urgency of constant self-scrutiny of our tendencies, temptations, conduct, words and our associations in the fight against the surrounding ‘darkness’. Here are his three selected items of armour.
The apostle declares Christ as the unique and authoritative hope for the resurrection of the body. Here also is the concept of being joined to Him for salvation and therefore for eternity; the parousia and the rapture, and their imminence and comfort.
Four principles of living to please the Lord: (1) The need to be pledged to constant progress, (2) the chief virtues to aim at, (3) the necessity of deliberate, determined abstention from sin, especially returning sin, and (4) the role of the Holy Spirit.
Reflected in this letter is the apostle’s deep concern for believers, and his sacrificial spirit. Also we see his acceptance of hardship for Christ, his great priority of building faith and trust in believers, his prayerfulness and his teaching on separation from the world.
Of all the marks of conversion the apostle’s crowning sign here is readiness to suffer in the course of witness. Also, he refers to Satan’s hindrances (here are today’s), and to the immense joy of relating to converts (our wreath of glory) both now and eternally.
Paul’s description of the mission to Thessalonica presents the vital ingredients of evangelism – a desire for souls, hard work night and day, holy lives, fatherly appeals, and a desire for lasting conversion, all leading to a miracle of God in illumination and regeneration.
Paul entered Thessalonica outwardly lowly but inwardly laden with treasures of grace and power. He lays out three tests of soundness: matter (the message), motives, and manner (of proclamation), and here we apply them to Jews, pagans, modern atheism, and present-day Christian phonies also.
Thessalonica saw lives radically changed. The new objective of believers was the gathering of souls out of a doomed world for Christ’s return, not world restoration (an old heresy returning today). Here also is their realisation of God’s hatred of sin. Is ours fading?
Paul’s letter to a young church begins with eleven signs that people are truly elect and saved. Paul can rejoice for the Thessalonians, but could he for us? And are the signs reflected in professing Christian congregations today? Have we reason to rejoice?
John looks back sixty years recalling with amazement how the apostles listened to Christ, and watched Him through His earthly ministry, constantly convinced of His redeeming work, and by the wonder of personal fellowship with God. Here is the basis and joy of such fellowship.
The apostle explains his persistence in service, however arduous, as being driven by Christ’s love to him, showing how the power of that love comes from reflecting on it. Here are the elements that awaken and compel our souls, proving also that new life is within.
A final teaching miracle by the risen Lord trains seven apostles to see key principles of service and instrumentality, including the threefold reproof and restoration of Peter, and the lessons for us, especially on the nature of true love for Christ leading to lifelong loyalty.
The rule of doing all in the name of Christ appears in the context of worship and is a warrant for distinctively Christian hymns, but it goes beyond, embracing all our thoughts, words and deeds. Here is how His name influences every aspect of life.
A devotional study of significant events at Calvary: (1) Christ’s garments stripped, (2) the bravery of four women, (3) Christ’s compassion to Mary, (4) His last triumphant report to the Father, (5) the proof of His death, (6) the new-found boldness of formerly-secret disciples.
Union with Christ is the greatest imaginable privilege of the redeemed, and vital for progress in sanctification and usefulness to the Lord. But what exactly does it mean to abide in Christ, and to allow Him to abide in us? Here are biblical directions.
Paul’s powerful challenge to all believers to offer up their lives constantly as a living sacrifice. The need for sacrifice today; what it includes, and also what it is not. The value of this precious concept and its benefits to us spiritually.
Contrary to what Bible critics ignorantly claim, the Old Testament is full of heaven and the eternal bliss of the redeemed. Here is a review of David’s psalms that overwhelmingly prove so, including an explanation of the few places that suggest (wrongly understood) the contrary.
The closing admonition of the epistle is a stirring appeal for vigilance in keeping our souls, coupled with a plea for lifelong growth in the gifts given at conversion, and consciousness of Christ’s love. Here is what these are, and how they should deepen.
The apostle urges growing union with the Lord and inner peace by keeping in view the day of the Lord, reflecting on the reason for Christ’s delay – the salvation of the redeemed – and by building knowledge and stability in the Word of God.
‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ Reflection on God’s view of time, the certainty of final dissolution of all things, and the believer’s duty to look for that day and shun materialism.
From false teachers in the churches, Peter turns to our vulnerability to the godless worldview of the last days, how it is prophesied in both testaments, its motivation, its underlying contempt for accountability, and its wilful rejection of creation, design and morality.
A seemingly negative chapter is crammed with profound comments on false teachers and the immense danger of association. It reviews their infiltration of the church throughout time, and warns believers of growing used to surrounding worldliness and the power of secret sin.
See more sermons on 2 Peter.
The Old and the New Testaments magnificently authenticate each other through the fulfilling of prophecy in the marvellous Person and work of Christ. Here is the self-interpreting nature of the Bible, its sufficiency, and the right of private judgement, and how these are honoured.
Brotherly love, and how it differs from ‘charity’ (agape love). Here are its characteristics, benefits, helps and hindrances. Also, how love can become a vice, and how all the graces in the silver chain gain assurance and a foretaste of Heaven.
The day of Christ’s resurrection which transformed the disciples, except for Thomas. Here are the reasons for his cynicism, swept away by his seeing the Lord. Here also is the promised blessedness of Gospel age believers, when signs would give way to faith alone.
To enjoy the multiplying of God’s blessing, faith must be clothed with seven virtues. Here, patience (endurance) is defined with (biblical) hindrances and helps. Also, here is godliness, shown to mean reverence, and its powerful influence is our spiritual lives.
The new life embraced by the gift of faith is to be ‘adorned’ by virtue, knowledge and temperance. Here is what they are, how they are cultivated by the Spirit’s help, how they add to each other, and how they save churches from decline.
Here the essence of apostolic preaching is seen:- precious faith (the door to blessing) defined; how knowledge is vital to advance; God’s provision of everything needed for spiritual life, and also the sense in which we are partakers of the divine nature.
Paul’s journey to Rome, where he would gain the souls of many Jews as well as Gentiles in a ‘protected’ ministry in the capital of the world. Here are the wonders of God’s ways and the apostle’s example of determination, compassion and faithfulness.
Paul’s fourth shipwreck is recounted, showing that believers will know trials. Paul is the principal person in this event, praying, trusting and encouraging, and God gives him all lives on board. Here are the spiritual lessons that stand out in this unique narrative.
In days when so many evangelical leaders make social efforts equal to the Gospel, here is God’s commission to Paul, the message to be declared, the apostle’s obedience, and the response of human rulers. The Gospel is unquestionably the priority for God’s people.
Paul, after two years captivity in Caesarea is tried before a new governor of Judea, and offered a ‘retrial’ in Jerusalem. What will he decide? Here is how he discerned God’s guidance. Here also is the relentless hostility of unbelief against him, and its equivalent today.
Paul’s trial in Caesarea shows the hostility of the human heart to the Gospel, the apostle’s unchanging priority as he turns his defence into a witness, the impact of God’s Word on Governor Felix, and his rejection of amazing mercy. Here are the lessons.
The dramatic record of how God brought the apostle through murderous mobs and organised assassination, to take him under Roman escort on the first step to the capital of the empire, where as ‘ambassador in bonds’, he would gather many souls.
Accused by a vast Jewish crowd of being their enemy, Paul, flanked by Roman soldiers, tells of his conversion, and his call to preach to Gentiles. Here are the evangelistic lessons for us, and also the perilous position of the Jewish people and Temple.
At the end his third missionary journey Paul’s long foretold ‘captive ministry’ is about to begin, his violent arrest serving to repair a serious defect in the vast Jerusalem church. Here is the problem, the shock, the Lord’s overruling, and Paul’s remarkable ‘pulpit’.
From Miletus to Jerusalem, believers knew Paul was heading into suffering, and tried to dissuade him. But emotions must yield to God’s way, and the age-long hostility to Christ must be demonstrated. Here is the example of the apostle and the lessons for us.
Paul’s charge to the elders of Ephesus urged self-scrutiny, the care and protection of the flock, awareness of the spiritual warfare, emphasis on the Word, and obedience to Christ’s command to find happiness as givers of Gospel grace and needed help.
This most moving (and challenging) farewell address of Paul, given to the Ephesian elders, shows the heart, manner and commitment of a true minister of the Gospel, indebted and loyal to his charge even in the knowledge of very great trials ahead.
In his ministry, Paul had aims and objectives, seen here, never being in a rut. Much exhortation was given, reviewed here. He endured the rigours of life, and here is why, and saw God’s power, as we should also in ways here stated
From Ephesus the Gospel spread mightily by preaching. Without choirs, vocalists, bands, entertainment or over-the-top preachers, great numbers were saved. Here is the sad mindlessness of the opposition (like today), and views of the apostle Paul’s courage and modesty, an example to be followed for instrumentality.
Genuine, living churches will manifest the effects of Christ at work shown in this passage – Christ becomes all to believers, the offence of the cross is known, godly fear is present (alongside joy), believers renounce worldliness, and the Word prevails. Lukewarm churches, show no signs.
At Corinth great encouragements came repeatedly to Paul and his fellow missionaries, as they do to all faithful servants of God. First, we review his steadfastness, then see the provision of work, home, fellow-labourers, meeting-place, assurance, and (in Corinth) a special peace from violence.
Athens, where pride in learning and culture disabled ability to grasp truth; where pride disdained a supreme God; where pride refused to repent; and where pride displayed its greatest obstinacy. Here grace was largely withheld, and the city of idols left in their ‘power’.
There is a treasury of information about Paul’s methods in Thessalonica, in both Acts and 1 Thessalonians. We note, for example, that Paul reasoned with the active minds of his hearers, which is rather different from plain exposition. Here is authentic apostolic evangelism.
At Philippi on the second missionary journey Paul and Silas are falsely charged, flogged and flung bleeding into jail. But their deportment and witness manifests sincerity, steadfastness, and sympathy for individuals to a degree that commends them and challenges us as believers today.
The beginning of Paul’s second missionary journey is full of unexpected events – a key helper appears, the Spirit blocks progress, redirection to Europe takes place, Luke amazingly coincides with the mission – all events reflecting the sovereign hand of God in the Christian life.
The independent Church of Antioch protests to Jerusalem about false teachers from there who have visited them. Wrongly called a ‘Church Council’, here are the facts of what took place and how apostles asserted divine revelation as the only source of doctrine and directions.
As the Gentile mission reaches Iconium and Lystra, great lessons emerge about times of soul winning and blessing, especially how persecution is provoked, the tenacity of God’s people is increased, and any form of accommodation with the culture and religions of the world is shunned.
Here is the first sermon of the Gentile mission, and the first of Paul’s to be reported in detail. Preached in a synagogue to Jews, and yet made understandable to Gentiles, we see the apostle’s method, his emphasis on Christ, and his urgings and warnings.
At Antioch the Lord established an autonomous church, and here He begins the Gentile mission. Paul is soon endorsed by a God-given miraculous deed as His apostle. But young Mark fails to grasp the historic moment, and leaves. What about us?
Only inspired history could provide this view of the war between fallen human nature (driven by Satan), and the work of the Spirit. Here is Herod Agrippa’s attempt to crush the church, and the power of prayer in keeping Gospel mercy flowing.
Steeped in mistaken Jewish culture, early converts shunned the Gentiles, but God amazingly transformed them to embrace Gentile salvation. The Word still trains believers to think, saving them from conforming to the unreasoned opinion-culture of social media, and rooting them in obedience to Christ.
The 66 verses devoted to the visit of Peter to Centurion Cornelius tells us that God’s orchestration of the start of Gentile evangelism with the sealing of the ceremonial law, was an epochal event. No wonder it required authenticating angels and visions.
Saul’s 3 years in Damascus and 7-8 years in Tarsus – the long years of preparation and proving, and the reasons why. Then the significance of Peter’s two great miracles as God prepared the way for the Gentile mission.
How Saul the persecutor experiences conviction of sin, transformation, and the proving work of God to prepare for his magnificent work – the Gentile mission. Here also are the elements of church life to be honoured to secure the ‘comfort of the Holy Ghost’ and growth.
The risen Lord had sent the Gospel to the ‘uttermost part of the earth’ and now Philip is made the historic instrument who would begin that mission. The core of his witness was Calvary, and the result a full-hearted profession. Here are the lessons.
Luke’s record of how intense persecution served to spread the Gospel extensively; how a city in superstitious subjection to sorcery was captivated by the Gospel, and how a double-minded ‘convert’ and prototype prosperity preacher was exposed by apostles. Encouragement and warnings for us.
Stephen proved to the Sanhedrin the disaster of Israel devoting herself to visible symbols while opposing real faith in Messiah. Here are the lessons for us. When they stoned him, he prayed for their salvation, a prayer notably answered in the conversion of Saul.
Stephen, in showing the Sanhedrin the roots of their hostility to Christ, also traces the typical call of God out of the world, the obedience and trials of faith, and the supreme promise of eternal glory that keeps believers all for Christ.
In this record of extraordinary awakening among people in and around Jerusalem comes the implementation of Christ’s first rule of church government, the two approved ‘methods’ of ministry, the inevitability of opposition and the necessity of preaching for conviction of sin.
The apostles face an enraged Sanhedrin, but stand firm. Council members want them dead, but the counsel of Gamaliel (though proud and foolish) came to their aid and they are flogged and released. Boldly they teach and evangelise everywhere. Here are the applications to us.
Explaining first the sign miracles and their special purposes for the apostolic age. Secondly, the primacy of preaching for the conversion of the lost. Thirdly, the differences between the disciples and the chief priests and rulers, and their significance for us today.
The judgement upon Ananias and Sapphira for their hypocrisy stunned the early church and the wider public. This exceptional event marked God’s hatred of insincerity, to which believers are constantly pressed by Satan. Here are the lessons for promoting personal integrity and freedom from self.
With the leading apostles arrested, the new church suffers an apparent major setback, but the superior power of God is honoured in prayer, not for relief, but for success of the word, and they are answered in transformed hearts. Here are the lessons.
In his second temple sermon, Peter proves from prophecy that Jesus is Christ. When arrested, he trusts God in answering the Sanhedrin, receiving a marvellous measure of vindication. The pattern for this being – prove the Gospel, trust the power of God, see vindication in witness.
The healing of the disabled man in the temple before the evening sacrifice led to Peter’s second recorded sermon – an inspired ‘masterclass’ in convicting contrasts, resulting in thousands of conversions, and yielding lessons on Christ’s presence in the lives of His people today.
The characteristics of people converted through the first sermon of the young church. These serve today as the signs of spiritual life to comfort and encourage (or to challenge) all who hear the call of Christ. Also, the community of goods applied today.
The reaction of the disciples to the resurrection brings powerful pastoral help to believers today. It was such a shock, and they were reproved by the Lord for their unbelief. But unbelief still works in us, to some degree: here is how, and the healing remedy.
The first sermon of the Christian church (and of Peter) is amazing in structure and clarity, never swerving from lifting up Christ and pressing the necessity of repentance and faith. It also reflects the powerful work of Christ in preparing the apostle for such a task.
How could the apostles survive the inevitable hostility of Jews and Gentiles after the Lord’s ascension? The miracle of Pentecost was powerfully reassuring, but it also conveyed to them vital principles for the church age. These are here reviewed, along with the power given.
In the interval between the resurrection and Pentecost, remarkable advances were accomplished in the apostles. Here we see their inner lives, grasp of the Word, high view of service and total submission to God’s authority, and our own inner development is challenged.
Luke’s magnificent inspired record of the first decade of the church provides far more than history. Here are doctrines, duties, patterns for church life, methods and priorities, joined with examples of faith and patience in both blessing and persecution. This is authentic Christian living.
The closing prayer of praise in Romans draws strong assurance from the Gospel, emphasising the eternal security it gives, its complete and unchanging nature, its exclusive power to save, its being received by faith alone, and the glory it reflects upon the Lord.
An appeal for the stirring up of strong feelings of earnestness and warmth in the spiritual life, and a warning against sinking into coldness, with its consequences. Here are Paul’s pressing arguments. They provide an insight into his life, and a fresh impetus for ours.
Paul longed to see the church at Rome, both to help them and to be refreshed by them. Here are the ways we are strengthened through fellowship, and the nature of the ties that the Holy Spirit forms within true churches of Christ.
These five verses of vital exhortation for every church present the importance of mutual admonition in the right spirit; living life as an offering to God; true submission to the Word; and the necessity of entire dependence on the Holy Spirit for all blessing.
Hope (meaning anticipation) of God’s dealings with us throughout life, and then in glory, is the crown jewel of assurance. Here is the way God gives it, with joy and peace, showing both our part and the powerful aid of the Holy Spirit.
Contrary to the ways of today’s society the believer is called to an unselfish life. Here are the questions we should ask about any activity; Paul’s personal discipline; the example of Christ in His life, and the role of the Old Testament in helping our progress.
In a single verse Simeon’s biography gives four features of a life the Lord will use for His glory. How we should covet these, praying for them and cultivating them. Here is the way to great instrumentality wherever we are placed, and the basis of assurance.
Here is, first, the walking analogy for the Christian life and its implications; then the genuineness of that walk; then the characteristics of heathen life which still press on believers today. Finally, what it means to put on Christ, how to do so, and the blessings.
What form does love for others take? It is not unconditional love, or necessarily even affectionate love. ‘Social’ love is here defined, with hindrances and helps. Also the error of loving oneself, and the great exhortation to ‘awake out of sleep’ to serve Christ.
Why should hostile authorities be conscientiously obeyed by believers? Because while rulers may not know it, they are servants of God, Who in His kindness has etched into the fallen human constitution a need for government. Here is how Christ is magnified.
Searching practical verses setting the tone for sanctified behaviour, reflecting the Saviour, proved by the apostle Paul, and providing a gauge of our progress and a spur to advance. What are we really like in our relationship with other people, and in adversity?
The immense value of ‘rejoicing in hope’ is here seen. This is the practice of anticipating and expecting God’s hand in our lives. We see its major place and its fruits from Paul’s various references to it in Romans. Its neglect costs us much blessing.
A threefold exhortation in a single verse calls believers never to hang back in outgoing activity for Christ, always to maintain spiritual zeal and also to live as people who are bonded to the service of Christ. Here are the applications and helps.
Reasons why love for fellow believers often falls short, and how we should build it up. The command to utterly hate evil things, and how this is a vital help in avoiding sin and harm in our churches. Cleaving or clinging to good, despite Satan’s assaults.
Seven spiritual gifts – roles in the church for which God distributes abilities and the dedicated and spiritual way they are to be carried out. Here is a view of all that was done in a first-century church with all members pooling their efforts.
The epistle now turns from doctrine to living, beginning with dedication, and the offering of ourselves as a holy sacrifice, not conformed to this world, but transformed by God. The second cannot proceed if the world is not renounced. The prize is real discernment.
This great song of praise is a compelling call to reflect on God’s infinite wisdom and knowledge and on His mysterious ordering of the lives of His people. The passage moves us to marvel and trust Him for all, and to serve Him wholeheartedly.
God’s promises to bless Abraham’s offspring are kept in every age in an elect remnant saved by grace. Even Gentile salvation is used by God to turn the hearts of many Israelites. And saved Jews and Gentiles have enriched the world, here is how.
Paul’s famous ‘backwards text’ covers the wonders of the Gospel, the call and the commissioning of preachers, and what it means to truly hear, believe and call upon the Lord for salvation. The back-to-front order serves to stir responsibility to make Christ known.
Christ, long prophesied, was appointed to obtain spiritual salvation at Jerusalem in a manner that would humble human pride and presumption, draw multitudes to believe, but confound those who rejected Him. To the last day Christ will be the Rock of refuge or of dismay.
Paul upholds God’s right to exercise sovereign election, and shows it is the only hope of salvation. He also shows God’s kindness during life to the lost, and amazingly, the threefold divine purpose of all human history encapsulated in three unique verses.
The apostle is anguished for the souls of his enemies the Jews. Lessons in intercession. Also the symbols of true spiritual life held before Israelites and their rejection by so many. The same symbols appeal to us, bringing Gentiles into the ‘Israel of God’.
Proofs that Christ’s love of His own can never cease, ranging from the immeasurable price paid for them, to the impotence of all forces seeking to block the flow of His love. Here is the kind reasoning that carries us over attacks on assurance.
Here is the solid foundation of assurance in all the problems and needs of living for Christ in an increasingly hostile world. Also, the great objective of election and calling – likeness to Christ – and the features of character that should mark us out for Him.
The incomparable privilege of having the Holy Spirit’s prayers on our behalf; what they are, and what love they show. How they should greatly energise our prayers. Also, what is meant by ‘all things’ working for good, and why this is as much a challenge as a comfort.
Famous verses depicting the creation as a person subjected to the judgement imposed on mankind through sin, and looking forward to the end of the age, when it will be transformed into the home of the children of God. Here is the full, glorious picture.
Here are the priceless blessings of adoption into the family of the redeemed, also how one’s own spirit, then the Holy Spirit, both witness to our adoption. Then the inheritance that lies ahead for those who suffer now (here explained) with Christ.
Marks of a spiritual person, or, what it means to ‘walk after the Spirit’. Our thinking and behaviour is driven either by the flesh or the Spirit. Here are the features of each lifestyle (even in the church) and how the flesh is to be put to death.
The wages (or meagre rations) given by the world’s largest employer – ‘Sin’, slowly poison our interests in and openness to spiritual matters. Physical death follows but here is the astonishing gift of pardon and life through Christ and His atoning work.
First, the apostle shows the deep reality of the believer’s old life and sins being in Christ on Calvary. Secondly, he shows the certainty of new life and power over sin through reflection on this, and calls for a response of complete dedication to Christ.
In his passage showing the contrast between Adam and Christ, Paul provides five distinct aspects of the Lord’s achievements in redemption and the privileges of believers. Here also is the apostle’s stirring exhortation to all who are called ‘dead to sin’, and what this means.
Realisation of God’s love for us is given by the Spirit first through a profound sight of Calvary, and the price paid for contemptuous sinners. Such great love, we see, can never be withdrawn. Then we receive melting insights of His love during reflection, prayer and praise.
The priceless benefits of justification are here described and amplified. So great is the ‘fortune’ of believers, how can we fall into sorrow, or not share it, for the worldling has nothing. It is all by faith, progressively refined in the tests of life.
Paul traces eternal life, by faith alone in God’s redeeming plan, back across the centuries to Abraham, and then to King David. It pre-dated circumcision and also the law, and involves dependence on Christ and His creating power to give new and everlasting life.
Many prophecies shine out of the Old Testament about the resurrection of the Messiah and His people, and here are striking examples, showing that resurrection is a key theme. The Lord spoke repeatedly of His own resurrection and here are the reasons and the benefits.
The apostle’s perfectly woven threads of teaching show the depths of justification, redemption, propitiation and faith in such a way that the unenlightened are amazed, and believing hearts soar. It is not by inadequate ‘works’ but by faith that God’s law is honoured.
The apostle prepares the ground to show that grace is the only solution to human sinfulness. God will be faithful to His promises (to save), and His warnings (of judgement) also. Both Jew and Gentile must be saved by grace alone.
To what extent are the Ten Commandments written in every heart? Does the apostle redefine the term ‘Jew’ in showing that Gentiles may be Jews in their hearts? May Christians ever resemble the Jews condemned here for disobedience to the law? Paul provides the answers.
All will be judged by their deeds, even those saved by grace alone. True salvation leads to good works – the sure evidence of grace. Here is the kind of evidence that appears, and the apostle’s call to all Christians to be certain of their salvation.
Three times it is said that God gives up and gives over people to their sin. Here are the reasons and the outcome. Here also is the list of 22 sins that increasingly fill an atheistic society like ours, and the opposite traits in Christ’s people.
How God’s wrath is revealed in the Gospel and the reason for it. Also how disrespect for Him in society leads to increasingly extreme sensual sin. What it means to be given up to sin, and the mission of the church to rescue people in time.
Paul gives three reasons why he is ready to evangelise where his message will be despised. Herein is the power of the Gospel, also an explanation of God’s imputed righteousness, and of how regeneration leads to someone being consciously convicted and persuaded by the Gospel.
Before Paul’s famous, stirring, profound statements come pouring from his inspired pen, six priceless verses reveal his unselfish, caring, outward-looking character, his evangelistic priority and his great concern to live in accordance with the will of God. All are challenged to keep spiritual priorities.
Introducing Romans – the supreme doctrinal foundation of our faith – revealing Christ in the full glory of His work and His headship of the church. Romans shows how He calls, saves, sanctifies and keeps His own, and the duties of the Christian life. Above all, it exalts Christ.
In this hostile world, believers cannot live successfully and fruitfully without Christ being with their spirits. Here is why the soul is also called the spirit, and what it means for Christ to be with our spirit. Examples and counsels for securing His nearness.
Facing execution, Paul from prison cares for infant churches to the end, sending out pastors. An enemy has given devastating false evidence against him, and now he expects deliverance not from death but by death into the Eternal Kingdom. Martyrdom will seal his genuineness for Christ.
Soon to be executed, Paul uses exalted language to describe the privilege and blessings of the Christian life, and the experience of death. Here is what he means by the good (noble) fight, finishing his course, keeping (guarding) the faith, and receiving the crown of righteousness.
We are ‘present’ at Paul’s last briefing of Timothy, a key minister, who receives a solemn charge for his life’s work. And yet these words apply to all truly committed believers, for all witness, and uphold the ministry. Here are the ten vital commands.
The New Testament canon, set by the Spirit through the apostles, joins the Old Testament as the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word, unparalleled by any human literature. Here are its unique excellencies, themes and purposes, that deepen and equip believers for their ‘good works’, also here named.
Timothy witnessed the love that drove Paul on his missionary journeys. Here is the source – God’s love of all, even the unredeemed, proved from scriptures. Also the purposes of ‘common grace’, and Paul’s chief love passages, with hindrances and helps to advancing in this highest grace.
Paul urges Timothy (and us) to follow his continuous exercise of faith. Here is the necessity of placing faith in God’s providence and overruling in our lives, faith in His power to help, and faith in His Word (prescriptions and promises). Here also are many priceless characteristics of faith.
Following the features of ‘perilous times’, the apostle provides a unique eight-point summary of his standards and aims as a servant of God, referring to his ‘manner of life’ or ongoing training in service. Here are the objectives for us all.
A series of particularly godless seasons are to take place during the last age, the present age, each being worse than the previous one, the last being ended by the return of Christ. Here are the features of such seasons, and the response of true believers.
Should preachers shout? To be in earnest and larger than life is natural and sincere public communication, but is the bellowing culture not contrary to the words of Paul, and to Christ’s example? Here is the ethos of proclamation for all, exemplified by the Lord.
Even Timothy, sanctified, godly and aged 38-42 must ‘go on fleeing’ the sins of ‘youth’, here described, along with the method of fleeing them. Here also are the positive virtues to be pursued in order to be instrumental for God in witness and intercession.
Forgiveness and new life from God are wholly secured for us by the atoning death of Christ, and are given freely when we come to Him in repentance and faith. But there must be a pressing need and desire on our part, here described.
A passage calling true Christians from all spiritual association with false and worldly teachers, showing why this must be so. How the true church can never be overthrown; its distinguishing marks; also, promises of instrumentality to all who leave worldly culture and ways.
Christ gave Himself for His people, and so Paul endured all for those who would be saved. What it means to die to sin, the old life and the world, and to live to represent and please Christ. Also, the meaning of ‘rightly dividing the Word’.
Paul tells Timothy to ponder deeply on his three illustrations of soldier, athlete and farmer, seeing them as principles of service to Christ. Here are the three vital rules of dedication to Him, obedience to His Word, and soul-participation in Him. Here also – ‘The Uncontainable Word’.
Timothy is to pass the Word to truly saved men, separated from the world, for the future. It is not only preachers who are to live as ‘soldiers’ but all believers, and here are the standards and conditions we accept for the love of Christ.
Paul’s exhortation to be strong in grace is no mere general encouragement. It is the secret of his walk, and a necessity for us all. Here is the practice of constant dependence on Christ in every aspect of the life of churches and individual believers.
A martial call to keep the Word despite continual pressure to sweep us off course. The superiority of God’s Truth over human learning, and the need to defend not only the doctrines but the conduct they teach. Also, the vital practice of faith and love.
Whatever Paul suffers or surrenders for Christ, he is certain of spiritual and bodily triumph because he knows Christ. Here are the grounds of his certainty. Here also is what it means to deposit one’s life, soul and eternal interests into the safekeeping of Christ the Saviour.
Sublime concepts illustrated and explained:- ‘Saved’ (what from and what to?), ‘Holy Calling’, ‘Grace’ (and the sense in which this Old Testament concept was more wonderfully revealed through Christ), the full meaning of ‘Abolished Death’, ‘Life’ (its glorious features) and ‘Immortality’. Here is our highest knowledge.
Gifts of God – aptitudes and endowments – given to believers for the testimony of Christ must frequently be stirred up; literally Paul says – rekindled. Here is how, and here also are the three great strengths which we have from the Spirit that enable us to do this.
Here we find four foundational and timeless principles of the Godly union between Man and Woman; Comparability, Compatibility, Completeness and Complementarity.
Paul speaks about God providing our needs, not supplying excessive earthly rewards, as the prosperity heretics claim. Here are the conditions. God’s ‘riches in glory’ are here defined, also how all glory should be His, not directed at human instruments.
Paul has learned calm contentment of soul and how to obtain strength from Christ in every situation. Violence, sickness and poverty may abase, while revelations and blessing bring other dangers. Here are ‘five points of contentment’ that secure Christ’s presence and power in all events.
Here are the matters which should occupy the minds and plans of believers. ‘Whatsoever things are true’ refers to the spiritual realities which should be our chief concern, unless we are becoming pliable, indifferent and ambivalent concerning the service and standards of the Lord.
The apostle’s way to all-surmounting trust and strength despite trouble or prosperity. Here are six very distinctive steps that lead – by the sure promise of God – to spiritual safety and assurance. Here also is a definition of the peace that far surpasses all understanding.
The deepest and most glorious concept – a union determined from eternity, secured at Calvary, implemented at conversion, deepened through life and perfected in death. Here is how it is felt; with a pastoral survey of the departments and circumstances in which union is unmistakably experienced.
To be named in this most magnificent register of grace cannot be bought, earned or inherited. How could Paul be so certain that his co-labourers were named there? ‘Eternal security’ as widely preached is dangerously wrong, but the security of ‘perseverers’ is assured by the Book.
The opposite of minding earthly things is to keep heavenly themes in view. Here is how we should express and experience our heavenly citizenship with its riches and benefits, and how this exalts Christ in our hearts, and gives us perspective for all situations.
Not only are the apostle’s church activities a pattern for churches of all ages, but his manner of life is also to be closely imitated by believers. Here are key passages highlighting aspects of character, to develop and encourage true progress in godliness.
Having been saved thirty years, Paul speaks of knowing ongoing resurrection power in his life, continuing to conform his mind, heart and will to Christ. What about earthly interests and pursuits? How should we weigh and ration them to fulfil the sufferings of Christ for us?
Paul’s famous gain and loss passage exposes false hopes for both salvation and earthly satisfaction. Some 30 years after his conversion, the apostle affirms the overwhelming superiority of knowing Christ. What he means is explored here, especially the experience of walking with Christ.
The need to protect the Gospel and the Church; the threefold nature of the enemy; how to worship in the Spirit, and glory in Christ; ‘flesh’ in the church today; human inventions in God’s work; and how to express the right kind of sympathy for the unsaved.
The command to be happy as believers raises questions for all who suffer trials or have good cause for heaviness. Here is joy that exists alongside every hard experience, and how it is to be procured by reflection on key aspects of Christ and His work for us.
The believer’s life is to be a conscious and willing sacrifice of love and service to God. Here is how we are to assess the condition of our church, and where it should be strong. Also, here are Paul’s indications of a future pastor.
To grow in appreciation of and delight in God’s commands provides motivation and zeal for obedience. Here is Paul’s counsel for advance and especially in the paramount duty of representing Christ by our lives, and lifting up the light of the Gospel.
Sanctification involves striving in obedience to God, by His power. Here are key striving texts, and an overview of the four departments of holy, spiritual living for which we are to strive. Here also is the apostle’s definition of conscientious effort.
As God-and-Man Christ is elevated to the highest glory and given a name unutterable on earth, but known in Glory. A strongly uplifting study for believers is to explore this greatest name, not to identify it, but to grasp its significance and wonder.
Paul shows that to think as a Christian needs the impetus of strong indebtedness to Christ. Urged by this, we can adopt spiritual values, particularly dis-self-esteem, plus outgoing care for others. Then we begin to resemble our Lord, who laid aside Heavenly glory for His people.
How greatly Paul longed to be with Christ! Do we have such love of the Lord? Here Paul shows how to increase in appreciation of Christ. He also urges believers to Gospel labour, honouring their heavenly citizenship standards (not compromising with the world, as some prescribe).
Paul’s great profession challenges every believer. All we are and have is Christ’s – homes, possessions, abilities, and time. He is our standing, strength, joy and future. We live to prove Him in holiness, service and love, and here is how death is all gain for His people.
Paul is silenced by imprisonment for years, yet in Rome his witness stirs the entire emperor’s palace and guard, and moves the ‘underground’ church to new boldness. Learning from the tragedy of wrongly motivated preachers. Also, praying for preachers, and the challenge to magnify Christ by life or death.
Paul prays that our love will overflow, leading us to choose Christ’s interests in every aspect of life. Our spiritual journey consists of continuous choices – here they are. Right choosing keeps us genuine all the way, and gives rise to practical fruits that glorify God.
Philippi had a remarkable congregation, bonded to the apostle Paul through longstanding ties of support and love. This is truly an epistle of love, also shedding much light on how to apply the Word to life, and to the practical service of Christ.
Holiness comes only by God’s help. Why atheists cannot improve. Believers may resist God’s work in them. Here are the good works we were converted for, with hindrances and helps. The importance of giving all glory to Christ (and the tragedy of evangelical celebrity culture).
This inspired prayer for the people begins by lifting up Almighty God, an all prayer must. The God of peace is extolled, the resurrected Christ, His authority over his people, His work as Shepherd, His all-accomplishing blood, and the covenant everlasting. Here are the assurances.
The attitude of believers toward this doomed world; compassion but not restoration; in it but never of it; the stance of the Lord and of Bible history; soul-winning our great aim. Also, the central place of praise, and how we offer it in Christ’s name.
Here – the doctrines of the faith are an anchor to avoid drift. Grace must be held to as the exclusive way of salvation; it cannot hold fellowship with ‘works’. Proof that O.T. food laws have ceased. Reasons why Christian must never be ‘culturally progressive’; loyalty to God is at stake.
Ways to remember great lessons of the spiritual life and doctrine; how undershepherds ‘rule’ as guides not by personal authority, but by faithful, applied preaching. What is not meant by the words ‘obey’ and ‘submit’ (v17) and the vital true sense.
Covetousness is a fierce spoiler of a believer’s experience of the Lord. Here are its forms and effects, how it becomes an act of worship, and the remedies to be used to combat it. Here, also, are Christ’s glorious kindnesses toward His people.
The climax of incentives to holiness is revealed as the greatness of the cause we serve. For we are not called to the Mosaic order, but the Gospel age; to the kingdom that shall never fall. Here are its contrasting and glorious features – and our duties.
Good churches are soon corrupted and disabled by indifference to holy living, so believers are to watch over each other, thankful that they are not under the Old Testament order, but the altogether better order of Christ’s people, bound for the heavenly Jerusalem. Here are the mighty differences.
A low state of spiritual love, fervour, service and assurance may be speedily remedied by the blessing of God, and here is how. Here also is the duty of peace with worldlings, and the necessity of inward purity for a deep awareness of the Lord – by faith.
Here are the depths and riches of the Father’s training of His people, representing His affection and plans for them. We may neglect it, becoming subject to the firmer disciplines here noted. How may we tell between chastisements, and afflictions for other purposes?
Famously called ‘the greatest fight in the world’ these verses show us how the hearts of believers may be kept zealously loyal to their high calling. Here is what it means to ‘consider Him’ and to keep ourselves from fainting in faith, and strong in passion for souls.
Human beings are servants by nature, and here are some of the things that we are willingly enslaved by. We have only so much time to discover that Christ alone is worthy of service. Here are His attributes and plans, and His call to spiritual life.
How God validates our faith in the eyes of others, if sin is laid aside. Also, how Christ regarded His debasement as temporary, and non-obstructive to the securing of joy for the redeemed, and how we should esteem our effect upon souls higher than our trials.
The most magnificent passage of proofs from Bible history that faith in Christ and a loyal, prayerful life brings from our lives a ‘good report’, i.e.- the witness of God that we are His. Here are the faithful, what they did, and the corresponding deeds today.
Unbelievers (and backsliders) see nothing, but faith views Christ in His Word and Work. Here are many ways in which we ‘see’ Him, especially His Person, power, affections and plans. We must view His all-surpassing qualities constantly, and do so with prayer, trust and submission.
Moses believed a centuries-old promise of deliverance for Israel, and renounced royal life to serve God. His sacrifice was immense, as were also the results. He looked away from earthly rewards, and looked to spiritual gain. Here are the applications for us today.
What will we do, asks Isaiah, in the day God brings us to account for our life? At the moment God disrupts our indifference to Him, or our defiance of Him, what will become of us? Here are examples of futile human defences. The only Saviour must be sought before that final day.
Four great examples of how faith sees Truth, believes and obeys it. Isaac responded with trembling, Jacob obeyed a unique insight, Joseph secured a 400-year testimony, and the parents of Moses performed a dangerous yet vital act with calm certainty. Here are enduring applications.
True faith produces obedience and obedience is the proof of true faith. Strangely, today, much right doctrine does not always lead to obedience. Here are God’s objectives in the proving of Abraham by the offering of Isaac, showing parallels with our provings by the Lord.
Sarah did not at first believe that she would conceive, but then faith was formed. Here is how it operated in the work of God to establish the line and church of Christ. Here also are the reasons why God employed miraculous means, with applications to us.
This is the story of Abraham’s God-given saving faith that compelled him to answer God’s call. What made such an impression on him, how did he respond, and what was the basis for his ongoing faith? Here also are the parallel influences in believers today.
In a single verse both saving and keeping faith are presented in the life of Noah. Here is his ‘illumination’ about future things, his careful response, his obedience, his devotion to the Seed Royal, and his witness – all showing he is an heir of righteousness by faith.
From Abel to Enoch we see how our faith may speak on earth long after we die, and what it means to walk with God. Here sixteen features of being in communion are swiftly reviewed to help motivate and encourage believers to live by faith.
Faith, for a saved person, is the capacity to see beyond the reach of human vision and sense, to perceive as real and certain, matters revealed by God in his Word. Here are faith’s benefits and enemies, and how it must be exercised and enabled to grow.
A two-part hallmark being first, conscientious concern for righteousness. False faith becomes indifferent to sin, but here is the difference between false faith and backsliding. The second mark is the acceptance of Christian priorities and trials. Here also are the joys of true faith.
Inspired steps for fruitfulness and assurance that track the symbolic duties of the high priest. Here is counsel on: 1) drawing near to God, 2) obtaining cleansing, 3) affirmation and witness, 4) watching over others, 5) gathering for worship and instruction, 6) weighing our remaining time.
Further proof that Old Testament Jews knew that their ceremonial worship were both lessons on grace and prophecy of Christ’s work in signs. Here, also, the greatness of Christ is presented, and His present work of subduing all things by conquering hearts and progressively frustrating His enemies.
One of the purposes of Hebrews is to convince readers that the Old Testament saints actually knew that their worship was typical and figurative of the work of their coming Messiah. Here are aspects of the wonder and riches of the atonement to move believing hearts.
Sparkling verses that review the riches of O.T. times to show how much people were shown about God’s holiness and the provision of redemption through the coming Saviour. The symbols have gone, but the record of them stirs and deepens our perception of how much we owe.
Surveying the points of superiority of Christ’s high priesthood over that of O.T. high priests powerfully stirs our gratitude and indebtedness. Likewise, the superior excellence of the covenant of grace increases our love, dedication, and anticipation of future blessing.
Prophecies about Christ and His work included the foretelling of His high priestly work, and the passing of the Levitical priesthood – which was symbolic and unable to atone for sin. Here are great characteristics of Christ represented by Melchisedec, and also by David’s related prophecy.
Spiritual certainty is here based on a forward-looking, heavenly view of life. It is when being with the Lord is kept in view, and becomes our chief motivation for holiness and service, and our chief consolation, that assurance is maintained strongly to the end.
The purposes of Christ’s resurrection. Here also are aspects of the tyranny and ugliness of death which the human mind does not like to think of, to show the scale and magnificence of Christ’s victory over it on our behalf. The present and eternal benefits of knowing Him.
Some Christians devour doctrine, but stand still in personal sanctification, separation from the world, and service. Here is the call to fully-formed maturity. Do we long for our lives to make some return to Christ for the incomprehensible price He paid for us?
After showing the superior sympathy of Christ over His Old Testament type – the high priest – this chapter challenges dullness of hearing. The cause is failure to personally prove Christ. The learning, deepening life depends on a truly obedient, non-worldly walk.
Senses in which the Word is ‘living’. Its power in conversion and in sustaining a spiritual walk. Its unmatched power in ministry, never to be displaced by drama or film. Implications of a unique term ‘throne of grace’, and the rules of prayer, for mercy first, then help.
Here is deep concern for souls, conversion being defined as a rest. Rich terms and appeals are here explored. Salvation is said to have been in place and ready for the Fall. The literal promised land was also a picture of spiritual rest which was preached alongside.
Understanding how the heart (mind-affections-will) may lose spiritual sensitivity and strength, and how these may be restored and maintained. Keeping church and world distinct, and why Christian works of compassion are different from the heresy that Christ calls us to restore the world.
Reflecting on the Lord, to maintain a strong manifestation of our conversion and hold on Christ. Keeping up assurance, witness, and anticipation of glory by ready response to every scriptural challenge. How to hear the voice of Christ in His Word, and to keep the heart.
The range of Christ’s sufferings on Calvary; how divine attributes met there; being brought as children to glory; and other insights into Christ’s love. Plus the twofold purpose of His sufferings: (a) atonement (b) to show that he has tasted our every trial, and will help us.
The inspired writer urges the spiritually vague to faith, and speaks of the greatness of salvation, the signs of the apostles, the ministry of angels, and David’s prophecy of atonement. Here also are explanations of Christ dying for ‘every man’, ‘tasting death’, and how we ‘see Jesus’.
A majestic letter showing the glory of Christ, and how the Old Testament ceremonial is fulfilled in Him. Here is Christ’s divine nature and work, and our privileges drawn from many uplifting passages. Here too the errors of future society and churches are predicted, with a call to holiness and blessing.
A review of the characteristics of Christ’s love for His people, and how it should stir ours for Him. Also, how having received such love, we should reflect it in marriage. Here also is Paul’s famous declaration that it is impossible to be separated from the Lord’s love.