# 18 of 30 – The Working of the Word

This is # 18 of 30 ways that God’s Word, the Bible, works in the lives of His people.

God’s Word gives the believer a reward. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:10-11).


# 15 of 30 – The Working of the Word

This is # 15 of 30 ways that God’s Word, the Bible, works in the lives of His people.

God’s Word gives the believer an increase in the spiritual fruit of faith, love, and hope.  We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, of which you heard before in the Word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth (Colossians 1:3-6).

What We Shall Be

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).

Across the street from my home there is a 300-room hotel going up. When the hotel is opened, occupants will be able to look down right into my living room windows!

Because of our continual rainy weather, the 5-level building is covered in plastic so the work can go on. Once in a while, the construction workers will move the sheets of plastic and I’ll get a peek at what’s going on underneath, but most of what the hotel will be is hidden for now.

Early Christians were troubled when their saved friends and loved ones died. The Apostle Paul wrote to encourage and comfort them, explaining why believers don’t mourn over death like the unsaved do. The Bible’s great funeral text says that death comes with hope (1 Thess 4:12-18).

When a Christian dies, his spirit immediately goes into the presence of God in Heaven (2 Cor 5:6, 8). His body goes into the grave awaiting the resurrection of all believers, when mortality is transformed into immortality. In the resurrection, the body will be reunited with the soul and spend eternity in fellowship with God (John 5:29). At the same time, the bodies of living believers will be transformed and also rise to be with Christ in Heaven.

Like the hotel being constructed underneath the plastic, we don’t know everything about these resurrected bodies, but we do know a few things.

For the child of God, your resurrected body will be like Christ’s resurrected body (1 Cor 15:49-53). After His resurrection, Jesus ate food (Lk 24:42-43), and could touch and be touched (Jn 20:27). He had flesh and bone, but no blood (Lk 24:39) and was not bound by time or space so He could appear and disappear (Jn 20:19; Lk 24:31). More importantly, we will be made like Jesus in character, free from sin and the affects of sin.

For now, the details of these bodies is hidden from us, like the hotel across the street. To go beyond Scripture is to go beyond God, but we know that when Jesus returns, and we see Him as He is, we’ll be made like Him. Until then, everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3).


The Parable of the Snail’s Tale


Herbert and Hobart were twins. Almost.

They’d spent every minute of the three months of their lives together. They liked the same things, did the same things and went to the same places.

Every morning when the sun came up, Herbert opened his eyes, moved to the bright pink wheel in the center of his home, and began running around and around and around.

Hobart would wake at the same time as Herbert, only he didn’t have a wheel, he’d just move to the edge of his house and swim around and around and around.

The two best friends, a hamster and a goldfish, kept busy going. They had so many places to go and things to see in their little world.

One day as the two brothers were making the circuit around the world, Hobart noticed something odd outside his glassy home. He stopped swimming to stare. Herbert stopped running in his wheel and tumbled to the wood shavings on the floor of his home.

“Hey, what’s up?” the hamster protested as he turned to see what his twin was so interested in.

Hobart ignored his brother and rose to the top of his fishbowl. Taking a big gulp of air he called out, “You! On the wall! What are you doing?”

The snail on the wall stood still in his thin trail of slime. Turning his antennae, he saw the two twins on the table, each peering over the edges of their glass houses.

“I didn’t see you fellas there. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Solomon and I’m on my way up the wall to the window. I’ve dreamed about a big-wide world out there just waiting to be discovered. More snails than I could ever imagine. This adventure has taken me three days so far, but I’m on my way. See, I spend the day climbing up the wall and then each night I slide down a bit, but I’m certain to reach the window sill in a few days.” Solomon couldn’t resist adding, “Then the world’s my … oyster!”

The twins looked at each other and sneered. “Up the wall.” They both laughed simultaneously, Hobart’s gills choking on a wave stirred up from laughing so hard. “That’s nonsense! A world waiting to be discovered. We’ve seen and done everything there is to see and do.”

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).


The Sign Reads: Resurrection Taxidermy

Resurrection Taxidermy

The sign on the little building near my home reads: Resurrection Taxidermy. Taxidermy is the art of taking the skin of an animal and arranging it over a form to make it appear alive. While the outside of the animal is forever preserved, it’s not living. It’s only an illusion of life.

The Christian doctrine of resurrection isn’t the rearrangement of skin over a lifeless skeleton.

When Jesus died, His body was buried (Lk 23:50-56). Three days later, His spirit returned to the body that was in the grave and that body returned to life (1 Cor 15:42-44). This is resurrection: when the spirit returns to the body.

The same body of Christ that entered the grave came out of the grave (Lk 24:39-40). His body, still sporting nail scars in His hands and feet, and a spear wound in His side, is the body that came to life (Jn 20:26-29). It is the body that Jesus still has, and is the body He will return in one day.

The Bible says that we all, the redeemed and the wicked both, will be resurrected one day to spend eternity in either Heaven or Hell (1 Cor 15:50-55; Rev 20:11-15).

Jesus said, The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of the condemnation (John 5:28-29).


True and Righteous Justice

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:36).

There was an old preacher who hated to get his photograph taken. Every year he was required to get his picture taken for his new pastor’s identification card, and every year he refused. Finally the organization had enough of his disobedience and told him that if he didn’t get his picture taken, they wouldn’t renew his license to preach.

The old man reluctantly made an appointment for a new photograph. When the day came, he arrived at the photographer’s studio with a scowl etched on his face.

The photographer did all he could to make the preacher smile. Nothing worked. Finally the photographer sat down and asked, “Sir, why are you so grouchy today?

I don’t like to get my picture taken” he groused.

I’m sorry to hear that. So what’s the problem with getting your picture taken?” asked the photographer.

The preacher gnarled, “Pictures never seem to do me justice.

The photographer looked carefully at the preacher, then stood back up behind the camera. “Sir, it’s my professional opinion that you don’t need justice … you need mercy.”

You are mistaken if you believe you will ever find justice in this world. Flawed and sinful man will only ever dispense flawed and sinful justice; true and righteous justice comes only from God.

To this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth”; who when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:21-23).


Secrets of Your Heart

Flying above the deserts of Baja, Mexico

I’ve done a bit of traveling in my lifetime. I’ve flown over the snow-capped Canadian Rockies, the ice shelves of Greenland, and barren African deserts. I’ve traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. I’ve eaten dates in Dubai, biscuits in Britain, ice cream in Israel, and mole in Mexico.

From 30,ooo feet in the air, rivers are mere lines drawn on the ground and mountains appear flat and unimpressive. Even the deep slit of the Grand Canyon is nothing but a wrinkle. Cars appear to barely move along the great highways of America as I fought back the impulse to wave or shout as if the people in the tiny specks of a thousand different colors and shapes of metal could ever see or hear me.

When God described the promised land to the Israelites, it had unending streams with fruit trees and grain in such abundance that there was no lack of anything (Deut 8:7-10). Years later, from the slopes of Mount Carmel, all the prophet Elijah could see was withered grass, shriveled shrubs, and dried up riverbeds. For three and a-half years not a drop of rain had fallen.

King and prophet stood side-by-side as the people purged the land of Baal’s false prophets. Finally Elijah told King Ahab to Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.  So Ahab went up to eat and drink.  And Elijah went up to pray (1 Ki 18:41-42).

Every crisis of life reveals the secrets of your heart. Some spend their days feasting and playing, even though the world is headed down the proverbial highway to Hell; others steal away to a high place of prayer and remain hidden there until they are assured their prayers haven’t just reached the throne of God but been heard and answered.

What makes the difference? The perspective from where we stand. We stand either on the feeble footing of an ever changing Earth’s landscape, or we fly above it in heavenly realms with the perspective of the God of the universe.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six month. And he praised again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit (James 5:16-18).


In Remembrance Of Me

Pastor Phil was a tall, broad-shouldered man who liked to laugh. One Sunday night I asked him why, if God saved people by grace, he said people needed to work up their faith and repeat a prayer to be saved. To me, this seemed illogical, like self-works to earn salvation.

In his typical good-humored way, Pastor Phil smiled and laughed. He put his finger to his lips, thought a moment, then said, “That’s a good question.” That ended the conversation.

My pastor always talked about being saved by grace, but then he added a bit more of our own efforts.

The Lord’s Supper is a pictorial reminder of God’s saving grace. When Communion is served, the words of Jesus are repeated: This do in remembrance of Me (1 Corinthians 11:25). These words are a gentle reminder that salvation isn’t in remembrance of Richard plus Jesus. It’s not in honor of anything we’ve done or brought to add to Christ’s own work.

Salvation is, and has ever only been, by God’s grace through faith in Jesus alone. There’s not one stitch of us involved except that we receive the finished product of redemption. Even the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift of God’s grace.

Communion is a frequent reminder Jesus left with us that salvation is all about Him. It is by His grace that we have eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, and the hope of Heaven. We partake of the bread and the cup in remembrance of Him: what He began, what He did, and what He finished.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).


Finding the Next Spiritual Level

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3).

When God created the universe, it wasn’t as flying particles and residual goo that took billions of evolutionary years to coalesce and become something complete. God created all things complete.

Adam was formed complete. God didn’t plop Adam down in the middle of the Garden of Eden as a baby needing special treatment. The first man was created as an adult with everything necessary for him to live each day and serve God to the fullest.

In the same way, the moment a sinner is born again, God gives him everything he needs to live the Christian life and grow in godliness. There’s no second blessing of the Holy Spirit or some additional experience necessary. You are born again complete in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

Some people go through their spiritual walk constantly looking for something new. A new message, a new experience, a new method, a new power, a new move of God or the next level; these are an endless pursuit in futility. There is no next level in the Christian life! Christianity isn’t a multi-level marketing con-game. If you are born again, you already possess everything that God has for the spiritual life; if you need something more, you may not be born again! Your need isn’t gaining or achieving something new, but walking in the growth, nurture, and development of what God has already given.

How does maturity come? How do we grow in God’s grace? How do we begin to experience all that God gives us in salvation? By the study and application of God’s Word.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).


The Believer’s Hope and Joy

Have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called (Ephesians 4:1).

Yesterday we learned of the death of Dr RC Sproul (1939-2017), a man who had a profound impact on both my beliefs and my preaching. Even at the end of his life, when he could no longer breathe, he made every effort to continue teaching the Bible. For a preacher, it’s all you can do!

The Bible says that for the believer, to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord in Heaven (2 Cor 5:8). Upon hearing the news of Dr Sproul’s entrance into the presence of God, I thought of Jesus calling His apostles.

In Matthew 4:18-22 we’re told Jesus found brothers Peter and Andrew hard at their job as fishermen. He said, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. The Bible says the two immediately left their nets and followed Him (Mt 4:20). A bit further on Jesus found two more brothers, James and John in the boat with Zebedee their father … and He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him (Mt 4:21, 22).

Imagine, in both instances, those whom Jesus called left everything to immediately be with Jesus. Without hesitation they left their employment. They abandoned their livelihood. They departed from their own families. Can you image what Zebedee said when his two sons left in the middle of the work day?

When Jesus called Dr Sproul, he didn’t linger. He didn’t say, “Lord, just give me a few more days with my family. Heal me so I can live a longer and more productive life.” No, when Jesus called, RC immediately left this world behind to be with Jesus. He lived to be worthy of the One who called him.

Suppose I was going to Disneyland. You wouldn’t be sad that I was going to California to be welcomed by Mickey Mouse into his Magic Kingdom. You would be glad. Your sadness would be that you’re not going along. So it is with God’s people whom He calls home.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Ps 116:15). We should rejoice in what God rejoices. So we are reminded that in death we do not sorrow as others who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13). Death for the child of God is not a time to mourn like those with no hope, but a time for joy and personal longing to also be with Jesus.