"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him." (1 John 5:1)
"The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16)
This lesson is the third lesson in the series, "The Children of God" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2). This lesson is the second of two lessons on the Characteristics of a Child of God (Ref. 2). To learn more about "Becoming a Child of God," please review Ref. 1.
Consider. If someone asked you to describe the characteristics of a child of God, what would you say?
A child of God illumines others with the light of Christ. Jesus Christ himself is the light of the world (John 1:9, John 8:12). When Jesus said to his disciples, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14), Jesus described their (our) role to shine with his light, the light of Christ, upon the world. The light of Christ that we shine enlightens people and leads them to salvation and eternal life. When we are a child of God, we share the light of Christ upon the world effectively because the Holy Spirit indwells us and empowers us (John 14:16-17, Acts 1:8, Ref. 3).
A child of God should have the proper motive in doing good works. Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16, italics added). We are to avoid doing good deeds for ostentatious ("look at me") purposes. Jesus criticized people who do good works to bring praise to themselves rather than to God (Matthew 6:1-6). Our motive as a child of God should always be to glorify God, not ourselves.
A child of God must love all people.
The Greek word for love in these verses above is agapaó, which means to have a preference for, wish well to, regard the welfare of (Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Ref. 4).
A child of God has the witness of the Spirit. The Apostle Paul writes, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16). The Greek word for bears witness with is summartureó which means to testify jointly, i.e. corroborate by (concurrent) evidence (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Ref. 5). When we are born of God, the Holy Spirit jointly testifies with our human spirit that God is our heavenly Father and that we are his child (Romans 8:15, Ref. 6 below).
A child of God should be alert (watchful) and sober (free from illusion). The Apostle Paul begins 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 with "Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). Then Paul says, "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day ..." (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, italics added).
Paul then states a characteristic of children of God, "so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:6, italics added.) As a child of God:
Apply. In self-examination, consider each of the characteristics of a child of God covered in this lesson.
In the next, and final, lesson in this series, we will discuss the nature and benefits of our adoption as children of God.
6. Kenneth S. Wuest, "Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament," Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973
"You will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:16)
"By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother." (1 John 3:10)
"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (Romans 8:14)
This lesson is the second in a series on "The Children of God." The first lesson in the series discussed "Becoming a Child of God" (Ref. 1). Today's lesson is the first of two lessons on the Characteristics of a Child of God.
Consider. The Bible describes the children of God as having certain characteristics. How do you know a child of God when you see one? What are the distinguishing marks of a child of God?
A child of God bears spiritual fruit. A child of God passes the fruit test. Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?" (Matthew 7:16) A child of God is recognized by the fruit that he or she bears.
Jesus said that in order to bear much fruit, we must abide in (remain in, stay connected to) him. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing " (John 15:5, Ref. 2). Bearing spiritual fruit is the natural outgrowth of being attached to the vine, Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit as "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).
The first characteristic of a child of God is a person who is bearing spiritual fruit.
A child of God practices obedience, righteousness, and godliness.
A child of God is led by the Spirit. When we are a child of God, the Holy Spirit is our guide for life (Romans 8:14). The Holy Spirit guides us into all the truth and helps us understand the scriptures (John 16:13, John 14:26, Ref. 6). The Holy Spirit helps us to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13). The Holy Spirit guides us in making decisions (James 1:5), what to do (Acts 10:19-20), and where to go (Acts 16:6-10). A child of God has an active, dynamic relationship with God, and follows the leading of the Holy Spirit in his/her life.
Apply. Are you exhibiting the distinguishing characteristics of a child of God? Consider the main points in this lesson:
In the next lesson, we will continue our study of the Characteristics of a Child of God.
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13 NKJV)
This lesson explains that becoming a child of God is both a starting point - when a person receives Christ - and a process of spiritual growth and maturity.
This lesson is the first in a series on "The Children of God."
Consider. What is the scriptural requirement for becoming a child of God? Are you experiencing growth and increasing maturity as a child of God?
Introduction. John begins his gospel writing about Jesus Christ. John describes Jesus as the "Word" (John 1:1), and as "life" (John 1:4). John describes Jesus as the "true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man" (John 1:9). Note the Greek word for man in this verse is anthrópos which means the human race including women and men (Ref. 1). Even though Jesus is the true Light, many people reject Jesus. John writes, "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11).
Becoming a child of God has a starting point - receiving Christ. John, writing about Jesus, begins verse 12 with the words, "But as many as received Him..." The Greek word for receive in John 1:12 is lambanó. Lambanó means to lay hold by aggressively (actively) accepting what is available (offered) (Helps WORD-studies, Ref. 2). In contrast to the great number of people who reject Christ, John writes that Jesus gives the right to become children of God to those who receive (accept) him. John explains in the last part of John 1:12 that we receive Christ when we believe in (trust in, have faith in) him (Figure 1).
Becoming a child of God also is a growth process. In addition to the starting point of when we receive Christ, becoming a child of God includes our growth process from spiritual infancy to spiritual adulthood (Figure 1). The Greek word for become in John 1:12 is ginomai, which means to transition from one point (realm, condition) to another. The word, become, implies motion, movement, or growth (Helps WORD-studies, Ref. 3). Becoming a mature child of God requires growth.
Growing, increasing in maturity, is key to authentic discipleship (Ref. 4).
Indeed, the Lord requires non-stop progress (development) in the life of faith (Ref. 4). The Apostle Peter writes, "Long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation" (1 Peter 2:2). Hebrews 5:13-14 states, "For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." The Apostle Paul writes, "Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:15, italics added). BibleStudyTools says it well, "As you spend time in Scripture and pray, you will experience growth and blessings as you pursue righteousness!" (Ref. 5)
Becoming a child of God is a privilege. John writes "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). The Greek word for right is exousia. Exousia means privilege, authority, power, and right (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Ref. 6). Becoming a child of God is a privilege far more so than being the child of any human being (Ref. 7). Jesus gives this favor, this privilege, to those who believe in his name (John 1:12). Becoming a child of God is God's blessing; it is not something we earn (Ephesians 2:8).
Becoming a child of God results when we are born of God, not because of our human lineage. Are all human beings created in the image of God? (Genesis 1:26) Yes. Are all human beings children of God? No, not in the reborn sense described in the Gospel of John. John describes the children of God, "Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).
Jesus' opposers claimed they were descendants of Abraham and that God was their Father (John 8:39-41). Jesus, God's Son, told them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me" (Luke 1:31-35, John 8:42). Jesus also told them, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father" (John 8:44).
Some of us are blessed to have had parents who were Christians during their earthly lifetimes. However, we become children of God not because of our human lineage, or because our parents are Christians, but because of God's work in us. We must be born of God and believe in Jesus ourselves to become a child of God (John 1:13, John 3:3, Galatians 3:26).
Apply. Are you a child of God? If not, put your faith and trust in Christ. If you are a child of God, are you experiencing spiritual growth and increased spiritual maturity? Seek God's guidance through prayer and his word.
"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." (John 14:16-17)
This lesson is the fifth and final lesson in the series on "Christians and the World" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3, Ref. 4). This lesson describes the role of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to give to his disciples who will be living in the world.
Consider. How did the Holy Spirit help the disciples of Jesus in an unfriendly world? How does the Holy Spirit help you?
Let's set the stage. Jesus the Son of God and his disciples had walked together for three years. They had left homes, families, and businesses to follow him. Jesus had led them while he was with them. Jesus had loved them and instructed them. Jesus had sent the twelve and the seventy on training missions to proclaim the kingdom of God and heal the sick (Luke 9:1-2, Luke 10:1-2).
Now it is the last evening before Jesus' crucifixion and death. When the scene unfolds in John chapter 14 Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. He has told his disciples that he is about to leave them (John 13:33). Jesus tells them that he is going to the Father's house to prepare a place for them and that he would come again to receive them to himself (John 14:2-3). Jesus knows that he will be leaving the disciples in an unfriendly world. He explains that he will ask the Father, and the Father will give them another Helper to be with them.
"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper." The Greek word for Helper in John 14:16 is paraklétos (Ref. 5). Paraklétos means one called alongside to help (Bible Gateway note, Ref. 6). The King James Version translates paraklétos as Comforter in John 14:16. Paraklétos occurs five times in the New Testament, all in the writings of John - John 14:16, John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7, and 1 John 2:1. Titles for the Paraclete include Advocate (1 John 2:1), Comforter, Helper, Spirit of Truth (John 14:17, John 16:13) and the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).
The work of the Holy Spirit applied to Jesus' disciples then, to the early church, and to those who believe in and follow Jesus today. The work of the Holy Spirit includes:
1. Comforting, encouraging, and strengthening us. Luke the physician wrote about the comfort of the Holy Spirit in the early church. "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase" (Acts 9:31). The Apostle Paul wrote about the role of the Holy Spirit to the believers at Ephesus (Ephesians 1:1). "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man ..." (Ephesians 3:14-16, italics added).
2. Teaching us and guiding us into all the truth. Jesus told his disciples that the Helper "will teach you all things" (John 14:26). Jesus also said, "When He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13). John wrote that the Holy Spirit helps us to discern truth and error (1 John 4:1, 6). For more information about the Spirit of Truth, please refer to the lesson, "Spirit of Truth" (Ref. 7).
3. Empowering us for service and witness. Jesus told his disciples before his ascension and departure, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Jesus also told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would give them words to speak when they encountered arrest and persecution in the hostile world. "When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit" (Mark 13:11).
"That He may be with you forever." Jesus was with his disciples for a few years. He was about to separate from them. He would come to them again in the form of the Paraclete (Holy Spirit), and this spiritual presence would remain with them and future disciples forever (Matthew 28:19-20). For those whose love Christ and keep his commandments, the Holy Spirit is our constant guide, companion, and gift giver, even to the end of the world.
"Whom the world cannot receive." Jesus said, "... the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him ..." (John 14:17). The Greek word for see is theóreó, which means to look at, gaze, discern (Ref. 8). The Greek word for know is ginóskó, which means to know through personal experience (Ref. 9). The world has no eyes with which it can see and no heart to know spiritual things so it cannot receive its (the Holy Spirit's) presence and power (Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Ref. 8). The Apostle Paul wrote, "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:14).
"You know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." God provides the gift of the Holy Spirit to all persons who believe in (trust in, put their faith in) Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke of the future coming of Spirit to believers. "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39).
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to fill and empower the disciples of Jesus (Acts 2:1-4). The Apostle Peter provided a Holy Spirit-inspired sermon (Acts 2:14-36). Peter concluded his sermon with this call to action, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself' " (Acts 2:38-39, italics added). God provides the same gift of the Holy Spirit to believers today when we trust in and follow Jesus Christ.
Apply. Jesus said that he would send the Holy Spirit to those who believe in him (John 7:39). Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39)? How is the Holy Spirit helping you to live in an unfriendly world?
"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)
This lesson is the fourth in the series on "Christians and the World" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3). This lesson explains what John meant in his command that Christians should not love the world. This lesson also explains why love for the world rivals our love for God.
Consider. John wrote to Christian believers, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world." What aspects or characteristics of the world are we not to love? Why is loving the world harmful to our relationship with God?
Christian believers should not prefer the world over God. John, Jesus' disciple, instructs Christian believers, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). This verse uses the English word love three times. However, there are nuances of meaning in Greek that are not translated by the word love in English. The first two occurrences of the English word love in 1 John 2:15 are the Greek word agapaó, which means to prefer or esteem (Ref. 4). The third occurrence of the English word love in 1 John 2:15 is agapé, which means divine love, what God prefers (Ref. 5). By adding these meanings in parentheses, 1 John 2:15 reads, "Do not love (prefer) the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves (prefers) the world, the love (divine love) of the Father is not in him."
What aspects of the world does John command us not to love (prefer)? In 1 John 2:15, "the world" that John commands believers in Christ not to love is the world's culture that is alienated from God and is hostile to the cause of Christ (Ref. 1). Nor should we love those affairs of the world which seduce us from God and are rivals for our love for God. In 1 John 2:16, John describes three evil tendencies of the world that we as Christians should be careful to avoid - lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and boastful pride of life. Satan used these three types of sins to tempt Eve (Genesis 3:6) and to tempt Christ (Luke 4:1-12, Ref. 6).
John's command, "Do not love the world," does not apply to the other definitions of the world that I discussed in the prior lessons, "Biblical Definition of the World" (Ref. 1) and "The World Hates Jesus and His Disciples" (Ref. 3). It is not wrong to enjoy God's creation, to have godly affection for people (John 13:35), and to work for a living so we have the material things that we need for daily life. However, we are not to place people or things above our love for God. We are to worship God, not the world's goods.
Why is loving the world harmful to our relationship with God? Love (preference) for the worldly culture alienated from God pushes out our love for God. Love for worldly culture and love for God are mutually exclusive. John said, "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). James writes, "Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4).
God will have no rival (Exodus 20:3). We cannot simultaneously serve two masters. We cannot be a slave simultaneously to both God and riches (Matthew 6:24, Ref. 7, Ref. 8).
In the next and final lesson in this series on "Christians and the World," we will focus on God's provision and promises for Christians living in the world.
Apply. Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters" (Matthew 6:24). What aspects of the world's culture tempt you and rival your love for and commitment to God?
"The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil." (John 7:7)
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." (John 15:18-19)
This lesson is the third in the series on "Christians and the World" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2). This lesson explains why the world hates Jesus and his disciples. This lesson also explains the scriptural basis for joy when Jesus' disciples (that is, we who believe in him) encounter the world's hatred.
Consider. Have you experienced the world's hatred because you are Christ's disciple? Do you see the world's opposition to yourself or to Christians in general as a cause for joy?
Definitions. Let's revisit the definition of "the world" from the first lesson in this series, "Biblical Definition of the World" (Ref. 1). The Greek word for "the world" in the New Testament is kosmos. In the New Testament, and particularly in the Gospel of John, kosmos is used in five ways:
The main scriptures for today's lesson, John 7:7 and John 15:18-19, refer to the fourth definition above for "the world." In these verses in the Gospel of John, "the world" refers to "people who are hostile to Christ and to Christ's followers." Pulpit Commentary provides a more formal sense of "the world" in John's gospel, "unregenerate humanity, humanity without grace, apart from God" (Ref. 3).
Next, let's look at the definition of the Greek word for hate. The Greek word for hate used in John 7:7 and John 15:18-19 is miseó (pronounced mis-eh'-o) (Ref. 4). Miseó means "to detest (on a comparative basis); hence, denounce; hence, to love someone or something less than someone (something) else, i.e. to renounce one choice in favor of another" (HELPS Word-studies - Ref. 4). Note that according to this definition, hate involves making a choice. We see the same Greek word used for hate throughout the New Testament, for example, Matthew 5:43-44, Mark 13:13, Luke 16:13, John 3:19-20, Romans 7:15, 1 John 2:11, and Revelation 2:6.
Yes, the world hates Jesus. When Jesus spoke to his brothers he said, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify [bear witness, give evidence] of it, that its deeds [works] are evil" (John 7:3-5, John 7:7, Ref. 5, Ref. 6, brackets added). Examples of evil deeds that Jesus pointed out to his adversaries include unbelief (John 8:23-24) and hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13-15, 23). Jesus also told his adversaries that their father was the devil (John 8:44). That is why his opposers hated Jesus. American theologian Albert Barnes wrote, "This was the main cause of the opposition which was made to him. He proclaimed that men were depraved, and the result was that they hated him" (Ref. 7, Ref. 8).
When Jesus spoke to his brothers in John 7:5 they did not believe in him. They were of the world. The world does not hate its own. However, there is good news. Redemption is possible through Christ (John 3:16). James, one of Jesus' brothers, later became a believer in Jesus and a pillar of the early church (Galatians 2:9, Acts 15:13). (Jesus' brothers actually were his half-brothers since Mary was their mother - refer to Matthew 13:55.)
Yes, the world hates Jesus' disciples. During the evening before his death, Jesus spoke many comforting words to his disciples (John chapters 14, 15, and 16). Jesus was preparing them for his departure and for the hatred and persecution they would face. Jesus said, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you" (John 15:18-19).
In John 15:19, Jesus gave two reasons why the world hates his disciples:
Jesus gives his disciples (including we who believe in him and follow him) joy despite the world's hatred.
Apply. Pray for yourself and those Christians in the world who are facing the world's hatred, opposition, and persecution. Pray for yourself and those Christians to remain joyful and to have God's peace in the face of the world's hatred. "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (Jesus, John 16:33).
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“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." (John 3:16-17)
This lesson is the second in the series on "Christians and the World." This lesson focuses on God's offer of salvation and eternal life to the world through Christ.
Consider. Have you heard of God's offer of salvation and eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ? Have you accepted God's offer?
What is God's offer? God offers the world salvation and eternal life through his Son Jesus. John 3:16-17 tells us, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."
To whom does God make the offer? God offers salvation and eternal life to all the people of the world. There are no exclusions. There is no "asterisk." There is no asterisk that says you are excluded from God's offer because you are * (fill in the asterisk). The Apostle Paul wrote that God "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God's offer is available to you.
Even though God has made salvation and eternal life available to the world, not all people will be saved. Some people hear God's offer and reject it. Some people have not heard the gospel message; however, they reject what God has revealed to them already through the creation. "That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:19-20). God has promised that all who seek him will find him (Deuteronomy 4:29).
Why does God make the offer of salvation and eternal life? Because God loves the world. God loves all the inhabitants of the world including people who do not know and love Christ and people who are hostile to Christ (John 3:16, Ref. 2).
God sent his Son Jesus because of God's divine love for the world. Even though mankind has sinned against God, disobeyed God, and turned away from God, God still has loved us. The Apostle Paul wrote, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). John, Jesus' disciple, wrote, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). The word, propitiation, means atoning sacrifice (Ref. 3).
Why is God's offer of salvation and eternal life necessary? Because through Adam, sin has come into the world and infects all people. Romans 5:12 tells us, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." Without the treatment of Christ, the infectious disease of sin is fatal. That is why we need a Savior.
What is the salvation that God offers? John 3:17 tells us, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." The Greek word for saved in John 3:17 is sózó. Sózó means deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety) (Ref. 4). Ref. 5 defines salvation as "The deliverance, by the grace of God, from eternal punishment for sin which is granted to those who accept by faith God’s conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus."
What is the eternal life that God offers? Eternal life is a free gift of God to those who believe in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). Eternal life begins when we put our faith in Jesus. As believers in Christ, eternal life continues with God after our physical death (John 11:25-26). Eternal life is the quality of life that results when we know Jesus Christ by experience, on a first-hand basis (John 17:3). For further information about eternal life, refer to "What is Eternal Life?" (Ref. 6)
What is the role of Jesus Christ in God's offer? God sent His Son Jesus to give his life sacrificially to pay the penalty for our sin. "And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). By paying the penalty for our sin with his life blood, Jesus has redeemed those who believe in (trust in and have faith in) him. The Apostle Peter wrote, "You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19).
God's offer of salvation and eternal life is conditional. Even though God unconditionally loves the world, there is one condition that God stipulates for mankind to accept his offer of salvation and eternal life - believing in (trusting in, having faith in) his Son Jesus. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16, John 3:1-2).
Is there a penalty for rejecting God's offer? Yes. The Bible tells us, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:17-18). Jesus also stated, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (John 5:24).
Why is God's offer the most important offer you will ever receive? Unlike what the world offers, God's offer of salvation and eternal life results in eternal life-giving benefits when you accept God's offer by believing in Jesus.
Apply. God offers you salvation and eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17). Have you already accepted the most important offer that you will ever receive? If yes, then praise God. If not, will you accept God's offer by thanking Jesus for forgiving your sins and then fully trusting in him by faith today?
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"He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." (John 1:10)
This lesson is the first in the series on "Christians and the World." This lesson explains the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words for "the world" in the Old and New Testaments.
Consider. What does the expression, "the world," mean to you? Do you think of just the physical earth which God created? Or, do you think about the people of the world? Does the world described in the Bible include people who know Christ as well as those who do not know Christ?
"The World" - Old Testament Definition. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used most often for "the world" is tebel (pronounced as tay-bale'). "The world" (tebel) is the earth as moist and therefore inhabited (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Ref. 1). So, the word for "the world" in the Old Testament refers to the earth and by implication to the inhabitants of the earth (Ref. 1). The first mention of "the world" (tebel) in the Old Testament occurs in 1 Samuel 2:8. Tebel occurs 36 times in the Old Testament (Ref. 1).
The Old Testament describes "the world" in these four main ways:
"The World" - New Testament Definition. In the New Testament, the Greek word used most often for "the world" is kosmos. Kosmos means an "ordered system" (like the universe, creation) (Ref. 7). Kosmos also refers to the inhabitants of the world and to worldly affairs. Kosmos occurs 186 times in the New Testament (Ref. 7). "The world" (kosmos) occurs more often in the Gospel of John than in any other New Testament book (more than 70 occurrences in John).
The New Testament writers use "the world" (kosmos) in three main ways:
The Hebrew and Greek words for "the world" in both the Old and New Testaments include not only the physical world which God created but also the people of the world. Even though God loves all the people of the world, some people know and love Christ, and others do not know Christ. Some people are hostile to Christ and to those who follow Christ. I plan to discuss God's love for the world in the next lesson in this series.
Apply. John, Jesus' disciple, wrote about Jesus, "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him" (John 1:10). If you do not know Jesus Christ, put your faith and trust in him. Ask him to forgive your sins, and he will cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Ask Jesus to come into your life. You and he will begin a new relationship and you will know him better each day. If you already do know Jesus, ask him to show you what steps you can take to help other people know him as their Savior and Lord.
"And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.' And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm." (Mark 4:39)
"O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard And hushed their raging at Thy word ..." -- William Whiting (1860, Ref. 1)
Background. "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" is a hymn traditionally associated with seafarers, particularly in the maritime armed services (Ref. 2). The hymn became popular with the Royal Navy and the United States Navy in the late 19th century. The hymn also has a long tradition in civilian maritime contexts as well, being regularly sung during services on ocean crossings (Ref. 2).
In America, "Eternal Father" is often called the Navy Hymn because it is sung at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. In 1879, Lieutenant Commander Charles Jackson Train was a navigation instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy and the master of the Midshipman Choir. Train began the practice of concluding worship services with the 1861 version of the hymn every Sunday. The hymn eventually became a service-wide tradition, becoming known as the Navy Hymn (Ref. 2).
The U.S. Navy Band played “Eternal Father” in 1963 as U.S. President John Kennedy's body was carried up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to lie in state. Kennedy was a PT (Patrol Torpedo) boat commander in World War II (Ref. 2, Ref. 3).
“Eternal Father” was played by the Navy Band and the Coast Guard Band during the funeral of U.S. former President Ronald Reagan. The hymn was also played at the Memorial Ceremony in Norfolk, VA for the USS Cole (DDG-67) after the bombing of the ship in October 2000. It was performed by the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters at the State Funeral of U.S. former President Gerald R. Ford, who had served in the U.S. Navy during World War II in the Pacific Theater (Ref. 2).
The congregation and choir at Washington National Cathedral sang "Eternal Father" during the funerals for Senator John McCain on September 1, 2018 and for former U.S. President George H. W. Bush on December 5, 2018. Both served as U.S. Navy pilots (Ref. 2).
Hymn Text Author. William Whiting (1825-1878) was an Anglican churchman and resided on the English coast near the ocean (Ref. 2, Ref. 4). At the age of thirty-five he felt his life spared by God when a violent storm in the Mediterranean nearly claimed the ship he was traveling on. The storm instilled his belief in God’s command over the rage and calm of the sea (Ref. 2).
When Whiting was headmaster at Winchester College Chorister’s School some years later, the memory of his voyage allowed Whiting to provide comfort to one of the boys he taught (Ref. 5). One day, a student confided that he was about to embark on a journey to America – "a voyage fraught with danger at that time" (Ref. 5). "A sympathetic Whiting described his own frightening experience, and he and the other boys prayed for the terrified student. And then Whiting told him, 'Before you depart, I will give you something to anchor your faith' " (Ref. 5).
Whiting wrote a poem describing God’s power even over the mighty oceans (Ref. 2, Ref. 5). That poem, written in 1860, became the original text for the hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save."
Hymn Tune Composer. John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876) was an English clergyman and a prolific hymn tune composer (Ref. 6). Dykes composed the tune for "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" in 1861. Dykes fittingly named the tune "Melita" after a location associated with a Biblical shipwreck. Melita was the island where the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked (Acts 27:41-28:1). Today we know it as the isle of Malta (Ref. 2).
Reverend Dykes published sermons and articles on religion but is best known for over 300 hymn tunes he composed (Ref. 7). In addition to his tune, Melita ("Eternal Father, Strong to Save"), John Dykes’ composed well-known tunes including Nicaea ("Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!") and St. Agnes ("Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee," "Happy the Home When God is There").
Scripture References. Ref. 2 and Ref. 8 provide the original verses of "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," 1861 version. You also can follow the verses by downloading the sheet music (link at top of this post, or by clicking here).
Listen - "Eternal Father, Strong to Save."
U.S. Naval Academy Men's Glee Club - U.S.S. Arizona Memorial - 19March2007
Dramatic Storm Video - Marine Nationale de France with Praque Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus - 11June2013
Military Wives - Eternal Father, Strong to Save - 10March2013
Apply. Pray for those who are serving in harm's way and need God's protection. Pray for yourself and others who are going through a storm and ask Jesus to bring calm and peace out of distress and trouble.
5. Ref. 5 begins on the next line
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." (Revelation 1:8)
"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, 'Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.' " (Revelation 1:17-18)
"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Revelation 22:12-13)
This lesson is the seventh and final in the series on the "I AM" statements of Christ. Today's lesson discusses Jesus' statements, "I am the Alpha and the Omega" and "I am the first and the last."
Consider. Jesus said, "Do not be afraid, I am the first and the last, and the living One" (Revelation 1:17-18). Consider these comforting words.
Revelation defined. The writer begins, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John ..." (Revelation 1:1). The Greek word for revelation is apokalupsis. Apokalupsis means uncovering or unveiling of truth and divine things previously unknown (Ref. 1). The One who is providing the revelation of things to come is Jesus Christ. The Apostle John is the writer, Jesus Christ the author, of the book (Ref. 2).
"I am the Alpha and the Omega." Revelation 1:8 begins with the words, "I am." The words "I am" refer to the name of God. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Moses asked God his name. God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:13-14). Then God said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you' " (Exodus 3:14). Jesus used the same language in John 8:58, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Jesus, the speaker of "I am the Alpha and the Omega" in Revelation 1:8, is the same God who appeared visibly to Moses in the burning bush and said "I AM WHO I AM." Jesus used the same "I am" language when he spoke "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12) and his other "I AM" statements we have studied in this series. For more information about who Jesus is, click on "Who is Jesus?" - Ref. 3. To see a list of the "I AM" statements of Christ, click on Ref. 4.
Alpha (Α) is the first letter, and Omega (Ω) is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. The use of these letters signifies that Christ is the first and last (Ref. 5). In Revelation 22:13, Jesus says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." The language in these verses denotes eternity in the being to whom it is applied (Ref. 6). That language can be used only in reference to the true God. "It means that he is the beginning and the end of all things; that he was at the commencement, and he will be at the close" (Ref. 6).
"Do not be afraid, I am the first and the last." Jesus appeared to John in a vision when John was on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9-16). John describes the being that he sees as one "like a son of man" (Revelation 1:13). "His face was like the sun shining in its strength" (Revelation 1:16). In the vision, Jesus said to John, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades" (Revelation 1:17-18).
Jesus' statement in Revelation 1:17 makes the divine claim, "I am the first and the last." Think about who Jesus is stating he is when he says "I am the first and the last." Read these divine claims in Isaiah:
When Jesus spoke to John in Revelation 1:17, he placed his right hand on John and comforted John with the words, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last." The words, "Do not be afraid," are translated as "Fear not" in the King James Version (Revelation 1:17 KJV). "Fear not" is Jesus' comforting message to us. We are to fear not, that is, not be afraid, because for those who believe in Jesus, there is life beyond the grave. Jesus said, "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Revelation 1:18 KJV).
Apply. Jesus said, "Do not be afraid, I am the first and the last, and the living One" (Revelation 1:17-18). Believe that Jesus is who he says he is. Put your faith and trust in him. Receive the comfort and assurance that only Jesus provides.
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