“Opposition From Without and Within” by Bill Echols (Evangelist)

Scripture Reference: Acts 5:17-29

Introduction: Satan will do anything he can to destroy the church. If he is to have any success, he must gain it by attacking those who follow Jesus. Satan tries to create internal problems (Acts 5).

I.  The Work of Satan in the Church (Acts 5: 1-4)

A. Basically, the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was hypocrisy.

  1. Some would have thanked Ananias for the gift. Not Peter! Being honest and outspoken, he rebukes the wrongdoer. Ananias lied and died (5:5-6). God is not mocked (Gal 6:7).
  2. We see God’s attitude toward hypocrisy. The attitude of Jesus is not hard to learn (Mt. 23:13, 15).

B. Sapphira, the wife, felt the same sting of punishment (5:7-10).

  1. Why were this man and wife punished so severely? The results tell us (5:11). To produce such fear as to deter others. The true church must be free of hypocritical profession.
  2. God punishes the lying lips of those who sought the praise of men rather than God. This is another example of the honest realism of the Bible. Conditions are presented as they actually were.

C. The immediate result was more growth for the church (5:12-16). The healings were secondary to preaching and adding souls (5:14).

II.  The Second Imprisonment of the Apostles.

A.  The cause of this persecution (5:17, 18).

  1. Again it is the Sadducees leading the opposition (4:1). The apostles preached much about the resurrection of Jesus (2:32; 3:14, 15). This contradicted one of the main points of Sadducee belief.
  2. “They were filled with jealousy”. The success of the apostles created intense indignation, many believed the apostles teachings (2:41; 4:4; 5:14). The Sadducees were losing ground rapidly.

B. God’s angel released the apostles and sent them back to preach (5:19-21a).

  1. It takes more than a human prison to stop the work of God. Four reasons have been suggested why the Lord intervened here, but not always in other cases.

a)  It was a reproof to the Jewish leaders. b) It encouraged the apostles in their preaching. c) It convinced any doubtful Christians. d) It was proof of the truth of the apostles’ preaching.

2.  The apostles lost no time getting to the people. The message was “the word of this Life” (5:20). This is dependent on a living Christ, and a living Christ is dependent on His resurrection.

III.  Courage In Face of Persecution.

A.  The apostles again are brought before the rulers (5:25-29).

  1. The angel did not promise that there would be no more persecution. God’s approval of our efforts does not exempt us from hardship and possible persecution.
  2. The Sadducees prefer not to mention the name of Jesus (5:28). The charge was a great compliment to the apostles. The apostles did it because they were busy every day.
  3. Human authority said, “Don’t preach”. The apostles must obey one or the other. The choice is simple (5:29). The apostles preach to the leaders of their guilt and need to repent (5:30-32).
  4. The testimony could not be gainsaid or honestly denied. The Jews who rejected it proved themselves dishonest and unworthy of respect (5:33). They did not want credit for killing Jesus (Mt. 27:25).

B. The apostles were saved from death by Gamaliel (5:34-39).

  1. The merits of Gamaliel’s advice depend on which point of view you take. As a general rule, it is poor. Instead of waiting, every lover of truth should promptly investigate (Acts 17:11).
  2. Public opinion or great success do not prove that anything is true, especially religion (Mt. 7:13, 14). One finds no middle ground when confronted with Jesus. One cannot take a wait and see attitude.
  3. If Gamaliel’s advice is looked at from the point of view, “Should we attempt to crush this movement with violence?” then his counsel is good.
  4. Notice again his comment (5:39). You need to decide the question, “Is the gospel from God?” Why not accept the gospel as God’s power (Rom. 1:16; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38).

IV.  Rejoicing in Persecution (5:40, 41).

A. Very early in His ministry, Jesus pronounced happiness to sufferers (Mt. 5:10-12).

  1. Any suffering the council could impose upon them was nothing compared to eternity. Thus they are happy to suffer for Christ (II Cor. 4:17; Rom 8:18).
  2. It is better to be beaten than to fight against God as the Sadducees were doing.

B.  So the work went on unabated (5:42).

Conclusion: All who could admire moral heroism were drawn to the apostles who turned them to Christ. It is love that gave such strength to men (Jn. 3:16) Will you not accept him (Acts 22:16)?

 

Chosen In Christ – by Evangelist Bill Echols

Scripture Reference: Eph 1:13-14

Introduction: Throughout Ephesians runs a theme of the church. Certain themes recur constantly. One of these is the purpose of God in establishing the church. This lesson will focus on Eph 1:4.

I.  The Election: “He Chose Us In Him”

A. The spiritual blessings provided by God are bestowed by his design upon those who are chosen in Him (1:3, 4).

  1. The expression “He choose us” means that God picked us or selected us for himself. The emphasis is on what God has done in the matter of salvation.
  2. The word “chose” does not tell us whether God chose us conditionally or unconditionally. Can we become part of God’s chosen by our actions, or is it totally in God’s hands that we have no will in the matter?
  3. This verse does not tell us so we have to look elsewhere in the bible. God’s grace would be manifested in either conditional or unconditional election because salvation is totally beyond man’s reach.

B.  All the great spiritual blessings in this text are “In Him”, that is “In Christ”.

  1. All spiritual blessings are in Him (1:3). In Him we are chosen (1:4). Grace is freely bestowed in Him (1:6). Redemption is in Him (1:2). The mystery of God’s will is purposed in Him (1:9).
  2. All things are summed up in Him (1:10). We are made a heritage in Him (1:11). We hope in Him (1:12).

C.  Let us see that coming into Christ is conditional.

  1. There are things we must choose to do (Gal 3:26, 27). Peter speaks of Christ as being elect or chosen (I Peter 2:4).  Christ was chosen first and with Him all who are in Him.
  2. If God has chosen those in Him, and being in Him is conditional, then God’s choosing involves the same conditions as coming into Christ involves.
  3. God chooses those who are in Christ. We get into Christ by obedience (Mk 16:16, Rom 6:3).

II.  Time of Election: “Before the Foundation of the World”.

A.  The word “foundation” comes from an expression which means “to throw down”.

  1. Here God is seen throwing down the world into its proper place.
  2. Before any of the creation was brought into existence, God chose to save those who would come into Christ and remain in Him according to the gospel.

B.  God’s choice of Christ and those in Him was not an afterthought.

  1. His plan was carefully thought out before the world was brought into existence (II Tim 1:9).
  2. God says, “You are sinners, but I have chosen you because you have accepted Christ as Lord”.

III.  Object Of The Election: “That We Should Be Holy and Without Blemish Before Him In Love”.

A.  God elected a body of people in which all who are holy and without blemish will be presented to Christ (Eph 5:27; Col 1:21, 22).

  1. God chose Christ and the Church. The church is composed of people who come into Christ by obeying the gospel. God did not chose individuals unconditionally.
  2. God chose to save all who will comply with his will.  He chose all the faithful in Christ. The Christian entered the body by his own choice and God adopted him (I Cor 12:13).

B.  To be “holy” is to be separated or to be sanctified.

  1. The original word comes from the same root word from which we get “saint”. The sanctified are saints. The chosen are a group who are identified by their holiness, their separation from the world.
  2. They are also described as without blemish. Just as being chosen is conditional, being holy and without blemish is also conditional. (Col 1:22, 23).

C.  The election of God is also “in love”.

  1. Election and adoption by God imply God’s love. The phrase “in love” may then modify God’s part in our election and adoption. Yet, could he mean we are holy in love?
  2. We must respond in love to what God has done for us in love. God has chosen us in love and we choose Him.  Faith in Christ is the highest expression of love.
  3. Doesn’t this explanation of election by God make even more glorious the relationship of the Christian to the Lord than the cold Calvinistic position that God chooses arbitrarily apart from a person’s own will.
  4. Calvinism and other many other doctrines ignore the great truth announced by Peter to Cornelius (Acts 10:34, 35). This statement is meaningless if God decides unconditionally leaving us with no choice.

Conclusion: You can be among God’s chosen people if you will accept Christ’s teaching and be baptized into Him and live a faithful life unto death (Mark 16:16, Acts, 22:16, Rom 6:3, Rev 2:10).

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SALVATION: Why Do We Need It..? by Evangelist Scott Smelser

Salvation

God created man.
Man sinned against God.
Sin carried the penalty of death.
God gave his Son to die and save us from sin and death & reconcile us to life with Him.

God created man
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen.1.1). He created plants, beasts, birds, fish, and finally, man and woman. Looking at his creation, God saw that “it was very good” (Gen.1.31).
Reflect on that statement please. Looking at this earth, with man and woman placed upon it, God saw that the creation was “very good” in the beginning.
Reflect again upon the status on earth today. As God sees into the very hearts and thoughts of men, into the midst of our crowded cities, and into the lives of men and women across the globe, does he still see a creation to be described as “very good”?
What happened?

Man sinned against God
When Adam was placed in the garden, he was given great blessings and a notable prohibition. He was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good or evil, or he would die.  In Gen. 3, the serpent tempted Eve to violate God’s command. His message was twofold: exalt yourself and do not fear God. Tempted by the fruit’s appeal to her eyes, to her flesh, and to her vanity, Eve chose to rebel, and Adam joined her in rebellion.  The same basic rebellion occurs in our own lives when we have failed to respect God and his will, and exalted our own will and desire above His. “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned each of us to his own way” (Isa. 53.6). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3.23).

Sin carried the curse of death

The warning to Adam had been that in the day he violated the command, he would surely die (Gen.2.17). “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezek. 18:20. “For the wages of sin are death” (Rom.6.23). There are two aspects of death in the Bible; spiritual death and physical death. Both forms of death are described as separations. In physical death, the spirit is separated from the body (James 2.26; cf. Gen.35.18; Lk.23.46). In spiritual death, the soul is separated from the Creator; “ye were dead through your trespasses and sins … ye were at that time separate from Christ…without God in the world” (Eph. 2.1,12). It is not that the Lord cannot hear you or reach you, says Isaiah. The problem, he says to the Israelites, is that “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you” (Isa. 59.1-2).

God gave his Son to die and save us from sin and death, and reconcile us to life with Him.

Death was the penalty for sin, and Jesus took that penalty for us, to save us. Concerning his upcoming birth, Joseph was told “it is he that will save his people from their sins,” (Mt.1.21). The night before his death, Jesus said “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto the remission of sins” (Mt.26.28). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone that hangeth upon a tree.” (Gal. 3.13; Dt.21.23).

He also faced down the old tempter (Mark 1.13), but without sin (Heb.4.15), and through his death, he brings to nothing the “him that had the power of death, the devil” (Heb.2.14). At the cross, Jesus shed his blood for remission of sins (Mt.26.28), redeeming us from spiritual death; and in the resurrection he conquered the grave, the first fruits of those to be redeemed from physical death (Rom.8.11,23).

Think back to the garden and consider the curse placed on the serpent: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen.3.15). In Genesis, we are not told who the serpent is. Rev. 12.9, however, identifies Satan as “the old serpent.” The same chapter describes his attempt to destroy the Son, and his failure to do so (12.1ff). Then consider that in the OT usage of children, “seed” is regularly used of the seed of man (Gen.17.19; 19.32). Yet here we have reference to “her seed,” the seed of the woman. Does this call to mind he who was “born of woman” (Gal.4.4), without the seed of man (Mt.1.18)?  Has the serpent tried to inflict damage upon the Son, but the Son will ultimately defeat the serpent? Paul calls up this image at the end of Romans:  “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom.16.20).

Sin & Sacrifice

Under the law of Moses, sin incurred the death of sacrificial animals without blemish. These sacrifices were offered by imperfect priests (7.27), and were offered continually year by year (10.3). But the blood of bulls and goats would not ultimately take away sin (Heb.10.4).  Jeremiah 31 had spoken of the days of a new covenant wherein sins would be remembered no more (Heb.8 & 10). Other prophecies pointed to a better priest, that would rule forever at the right hand of God (Ps. 110.1ff, Heb. 7); to a better cleansing (Zech. 13); and to a servant without guile, on whom the iniquities of the people are laid, and who is cut off from the earth for the sins of others (Isa. 53).

When Jesus comes to John, John says: “Behold, the lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world!” (Jn. 1.21,29). God so loved the world, that he gave his own Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish, but have eternal life (Jn. 3.16). Jesus, hanging on the tree, took the curse (Gal.3), took our iniquities upon him (Isa. 53), and gave his blood for the remission of our sins (Matt.26.28).

As Jer.31 had spoken of the day of a new and better covenant, Jesus came to serve as the better priest of a better covenant (Heb.7-8), offering a better sacrifice (Heb.9-10). Jesus died for the sins of all, once and for all; “this he did once for all, when he offered up himself” (Heb.7.27); “having been once offered to bear the sins of many”  (Heb.9.28); “he offered one sacrifice of sins forever” (10.12). In doing so, he died not only for the sins of those who lived in his day, and for those who would come in the future (Acts. 2.28-39), but also for those who had died before, and under the old covenant.

Note Heb.9.15; “He is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant,” and Rom. 3.23; “all have sinned … being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: who God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God” (Rom. 3.23-25).

So though God, in forbearance, has passed over the sins of those who trusted in Him, the true redemption of their sins was not provided until the cross. In offering full atonement for those sins, as well as ours, God remained just, while at the same time offering justification to us (v.26), through the redemption of he who died for us.

So where is the room for boasting in salvation by our efforts? It is excluded (Rom.3.27).  We are spiritual charity cases. Someone else has paid our way. By grace have we been saved, and our hope and trust must be in Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Responding to the offer of salvation

FAITH – the basis of our response to Christ
God gave his Son for whosoever will believe on Him (Jn. 3.16). Except we believe, we will die in our sins (Jn.8.24). By grace we are saved, through faith (Eph.2.8). Man is justified through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal.3.16). The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all those that believe (Rom.1.16).
Belief (ie.; faith), is a matter of trust. Luke 18.9 speaks of those who mistakenly “trusted in themselves that they were righteous,” yet they remained unjustified before God. Trusting in our merit is empty.  “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Our trust (our faith) must be in the only one who can save us (Acts 4.12).

Question:  What type of faith is required? Faith “alone”? Or faith that is faithful?

What is often misunderstood is whether or not the Lord requires nothing but “faith alone /only,” or whether he not only desires, but requires, a faithful faith. Based on texts such as those above from John, Romans, Galatians and Ephesians, many declare adamantly that salvation is in faith “only.”  Read farther into each of those texts, however, and it becomes clear that God not only desires more than belief “alone,” he requires more than belief alone.  In John: Some of the rulers believed on him, but would not confess, for they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God (Jn.12.42). Is that salvation? (see Rm.10.9; Mk.8.38).

In John 15.1-6, Jesus said “I am the vine, the Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that bears not fruit, he taketh it away,” and it it is cast out and burned.

In Romans:   In Romans 3 Paul established why we are justified through faith, in his blood, not through our works (our works do not redeem, they condemn; it is the blood of Christ that redeems). In Romans 6, Paul clarifies that salvation by grace does not remove the demand for obedience. Continue in sin, that grace may abound? Not at all (6.1ff). We were baptized into Christ, and into his death (v.3). As Christ died, and rose from the dead, our old man is put to death (v.6), buried with him (v.4), and raised to “walk in newness of life” (v.4). We must not then let sin reign in us (12). Shall we sin, because we are not under law but under grace? Not at all: “Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness” (6.15-16).

In Ephesians  Salvation is by grace, through faith, not by our works (2.8). But good works is what we are created for (2.10). What of one who chooses to continue in immorality? Should he presume that a faith without repentance and obedience is going to be acceptable?  Read on: “But fornication, and all uncleanness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints … For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person … hath any inheritance in the kingdom of God. Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them; for ye were once darkness, but ye are no light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph. 5.3-8).

In Galatians  Very similar to the point above, after establishing that salvation is in Christ, he demands that they walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh. After enumerating various acts of disobedience such as fornication, drunkenness, etc., he says; “of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Note also in Galatians how Paul associates faith and baptism together: “For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ, did put on Christ.” (Gal. 3.26-27).

Baptism is not an unnecessary work of merit. Baptism itself is an act of faith in which Christ is put on.

Those who have erroneously claimed that God requires nothing from us than faith “only” would do well to read farther and more carefully into these very texts. The Bible does not teach salvation by “faith only.”  As James also wrote:  “What doth it profit my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? Can that faith save him?… faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself …faith apart from works is barren …. man is justified not by faith only … faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2.14-26).

REPENTANCE – the decision and commitment of faith
The Lord does not merely desire repentance. He requires repentance.  “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13.3). “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3.19). The Lord is longsuffering, not wishing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance” (2 Peter. 3.9). To repent is to change one’s mind. In coming to Christ, we resolve to change from seeking to serve self, to serving the Lord; “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Lk.9.23).  Godly sorrow of sin leads to repentance (2 Cor.7.10).  Repentance in turn, is to lead to the bearing of fruits of repentance (Mt.3.8).  Those who come to Christ choose to deny self, and in following him they will bear fruits of that commitment. If they are not commited to following through, they are like a man who started building a tower but was never able to finish. Jesus warns in Luke 14.25-35 that we must understand what full commitment is. Those who serve other things or persons above him “cannot be my disciple” (v.26, 27,33).

Confession – a statement of faith
Rom.10.9; “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  This is not a silent, secret confession of sin, with “every head bowed, and every eye closed,” so that “no one will see,” as is popular in some circles. This is a confession of Jesus Christ the Lord. Compare 1 Tim.6.12; “Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou was called, and didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.”

Nor should confession stop at conversion. In our continued walk in Him, we are to be people that confess Him. “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mk.8.38).  “Everyone therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven” (Mt.10.32).

Baptism – an act of faith
The great commission states in Mt.28.19: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you.”

On the day of Pentecost, when the people were cut to heart of discovering their sin, they asked Peter, “what shall we do?”  Peter replied: “Repent ye, and be baptized, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins.”

When the Eunuch asked Philip who the slain lamb was in Isaiah, “Philip opened his mouth, and  beginning from the scripture, preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on the way, they came to a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?”  (Acts 8.35-36).

Three days after the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damacus, what did Saul of Tarsus still have on his soul? “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” (Acts 22.16).

Where does baptism put us? (see Gal.3.27 and Romans 6.3).

What is accomplished at baptism? (1Peter 3.21).

Biblical baptism is unto the remission of sins (Ac.2.38); is for the washing away of sin, through Jesus Christ (Ac.22.16); is for salvation (1 Peter 3.21); and it puts us into Christ.

For those who object that baptism cannot be necessary for salvation, lest it be by our “works” rather than the grace of God, and disdain the concept as mere “water salvation,” we close with the following questions.

Please read the account of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. Note what the prophet told Naaman to do.

Note his initial response, and ultimate submission and cleansing. Note when his leprosy was removed.

QUESTIONS: Was Naaman’s healing the power of his own works? Or was it by the power and grace of God? Was the power inherent in the river? Or in the promise and command of God?

Please read the account of the blind man in John 9. What did Jesus tell him to do? What did the blind man do?

QUESTIONS: Was the blind man healed by his own works? Or by the grace and power of God?

Questions: If someone had told Naaman and the blind man, that they did not need to dip, should they have listened to such advice? If someone told them to instead, say a silent prayer accepting the Lord as their personal healer, would that have been a more spiritual, more obedient, or more effective option? lf someone told them they shouldn’t trust in “water healing,” and dismissed the importance of the instructions given to them by the prophet or by the Lord, should they have listened?
Likewise, today, we surely ought not trade the word of God for the words of those who would lead us away from what we are told to do.

God created man.
Man sinned against God.
Sin carried the penalty of death.
God gave his Son to die and save us from sin and death & reconcile us to life with Him.

If we wish to honor him as both Lord and Savior, we need to come to him understanding that only he can save us, and obey him, knowing that he is Lord (Matt. 7.21).

God Remembers!!!

Then God remembered Noah (Genesis 8:1, NKJV)
These words introduce the part of the story in which God removes the water from the earth. God judges us and He punishes us, but He also remembers us.  Read Psalm 103:1-14. We may question whether God understands and remembers us during some difficult time of life (Whether through some fault of our own or not). We are reassured of the answer – God remembers. The people of Israel suffered in brutal slavery in Egypt for 400 years and may well have wondered “Does God even remember us?” Indeed, God heard their groaning and remembered… (Exodus 2:24-25).
You may be experiencing some serious difficulty in your life. Do not despair; God remembers. In time He will cause the flood to abate and He will deliver you if you trust Him.  
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A few pictures from our last Freehold Area Sing on Sunday February 23, 2014

Some Images from our last Area Sing on February 23, 2014 at the Freehold Church of Christ.

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Eph 5:19 – speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord

Col 3:16 – Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Freehold, NJ— The annual Freehold Church of Christ “Area Sing”  

Make sure you join us next time!!!  Please make sure you send us your email address in the “Contact Us” form.

 

The Results of Growing by Bill Echols (Evangelist)

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Scripture Reference: 2 Peter 1:1-11

Introduction: From the time one is born into the kingdom of God they are to grow (1 Pet 2:2). Each is to grow spiritually strong and knowledgeable enough to teach others (Heb 5:12). What if one does not grow?

I. The results of Not Growing (2 Peter 1:9)

A. The manifestation of growth is pointed out (1:5-8)

1. If we do not grow, we lack these and become spiritually blind. To be such is to have no clear understanding of the nature of the gospel or its requirements and     obligations.

2. The very fact that one does not have these qualities shows one has no eye for them.

B. No growth results in spiritual nearsightedness.

1. Such cannot discern truth from error because his eye is on worldly things. Spiritually short sighted people have only a hazy apprehension of the objects of belief and how they bear on life.

2. They only see they are a member of a religion, but not the life to live as one purged from sin.

C. Such has forgotten he has been forgiven.

1. This forgetfulness is the inevitable result of wilful neglect. Forgetfulness does not cause nearsightedness, but is a part of it. He does not remember the obligations which grew out of being forgiven.

2. Our appreciation of God’s grace should motivate us to greater effort (I John 4:19).

D. The supreme example of this blindness can be seen in Israel.

1. Israel fell when they ceased to grow in knowledge (Hosea 4:2). The answer for them is the same for us (Hosea 4:1). Without knowledge of God there can be only one result (Hosea 4:2).

2. Israel’s tragic story is well summed up (Isa. 5:13).

3. There is no growth without pains, but it has rewards. As the world goes further and further from God, we must be more diligent (II Tim 2:15).

II. The results of Growth (II Peter 1:8)

A. Peter is speaking of the qualities in the verses before (1:5-7). One will never stumble and be granted an abundant entrance into the eternal kingdom (1:10, 11).

B. First, the life of a Christian can never be one of idleness.

1. Even prior to sin Adam had to be active (Gen 2:15). The O.T. is filled with warnings about idleness (Prov 6:6, 10:4).

2. Idleness is not natural, it is learned (I Tim 5:13). The early church was told to discipline the idle (II Thess 3:6-15).

3. Being a Christian is a vocation of sweet labor (Mt. 21:28). We were recreated spiritually for good works (Eph 2:10).  Faith divorced from works is profitless, dead, demonic, barren and imperfect

(Jas 2:14-26).

C. Next, fruitfulness is an effect of growth as a Christian.

1. As one pursues the upward way, he is walking in the light of the Spirit’s instructions (Gal 5:16). Then he develops the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23).

2. Fruitfulness is connected with winning souls (Prov. 11:30). The principle is clear (Mt 7:17).  Those in union with Christ bear much fruit (John 15:2). We are joined to Christ to bear fruit (Rom 7:14).

D. The third result of growth is prevention of stumbling (II Peter 1:10).

1. God is able to keep His children from stumbling (Jude 24). God prevents our stumbling by means of the strength inherent in the word.

2. It is only when we apply the word and add the qualities that we are assured of not stumbling. One who fails to develop these is blinded and will stumble. Jude stresses our individual responsibility (Jude 20, 21).

E. Finally, the faithful servant will be granted a rich entrance into the eternal kingdom.

1. “Kingdom” is used several ways. The reign of God among Israel was called a kingdom which would be taken away from them and given to another (Mt. 21:43).

2. The Lord’s church, as to its government, is a kingdom (Mt. 16: 18, 19; Col 1:13; Rev 1:5, 6).

3. Also, the final state of the faithful is called a kingdom (II Tim. 4:18). This is the kingdom Peter has in mind as the reward of spiritual growth. It is “richly supplied.”

4. While the entrance is rich, we still enter through tribulation (Acts 14:22). There are tremendous rewards for those who mature and remain steadfast in the faith (I Cor. 15:58).

III. What We Must Do (II Peter 1:10).

A. Those to whom Peter wrote at a fork in the road. They could turn away, fail to add and become spiritually near-sighted. They would then fail. If, they added these characteristics, they would have a heavenly home.

B. Thus Peter exhorts, “Give the more diligence… make your calling and election sure.”

1. Peter had begun his enumeration of these characteristics with an exhortation to diligence (1:5).  Diligence is earnestness, zeal and carefulness. Living for God is serious business.

2. Our calling is made secure through our instrumentality. We play a part in our security. God calls and we respond. God commands and we obey. imagesCAFN5C8C

Prosper/Prosperity

Scriptural References for Prosper/Prosperity in the (KJV):

Ge 24:40 And he said unto me, The LORD, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father’s house:

Ge 24:42 And I came this day unto the well, and said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go:

Ge 39:3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.

Ge 39:23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.

Nu 14:41 And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.

De 28:29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.

De 29:9 Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.

Jos 1:7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. {prosper: or, do wisely}

1Ki 2:3 And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: {prosper: or, do wisely}

1Ki 22:12 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the king’s hand.

1Ki 22:15 ¶ So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.

1Ch 22:11 Now, my son, the LORD be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the LORD thy God, as he hath said of thee.

1Ch 22:13 Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the LORD charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.

2Ch 13:12 And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.

2Ch 18:11 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.

2Ch 18:14 And when he was come to the king, the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And he said, Go ye up, and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand.

2Ch 20:20 ¶ And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.

2Ch 24:20 And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. {came…: Heb. clothed}

2Ch 26:5 And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper. {in the visions…: Heb. in the seeing of God}

Ne 1:11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Ne 2:20 Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

Job 12:6 ¶ The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.

Ps 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. {wither: Heb. fade}

Ps 45:4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. {ride…: Heb. prosper thou, ride thou}

Ps 73:12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.

Ps 122:6 ¶ Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

Pr 28:13 ¶ He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Ec 11:6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. {shall prosper: Heb. shall be right}

Isa 52:13 ¶ Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. {deal…: or, prosper}

Isa 53:10 ¶ Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. {thou…: or, his soul shall make an offering}

Isa 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Jer 2:37 Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.

Jer 5:28 They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.

Jer 10:21 For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.

Jer 12:1 ¶ Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? {talk…: or, reason the case with thee}

Jer 20:11 But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.

Jer 22:30 Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

Jer 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

Jer 32:5 And he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the LORD: though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper.

La 1:5 Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.

Eze 15:4 Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work? {Is it…: Heb. Will it prosper?}

Eze 16:13 Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.

Eze 17:9 Say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Shall it prosper? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring, even without great power or many people to pluck it up by the roots thereof.

Eze 17:10 Yea, behold, being planted, shall it prosper? shall it not utterly wither, when the east wind toucheth it? it shall wither in the furrows where it grew.

Eze 17:15 But he rebelled against him in sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. Shall he prosper? shall he escape that doeth such things? or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered?

Da 3:30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon. {promoted: Chaldee, made to prosper}

Da 8:24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. {holy…: Heb. people of the holy ones}

Da 8:25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. {peace: or, prosperity}

Da 11:27 And both these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed. {hearts: Heb. their hearts}

Da 11:36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.

3Jo 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. {wish: or, pray}

(KJV)