Bitter-Sweet Proclamation

Revelation 10:8-11

8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” 9 So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. 11 And I was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”

What is it like to bring the word of God to bear? Bitter-sweet is a fair answer. It is probably wise not to expect it to be different.

In Revelation 10, John is tasked with consuming the word of God that he would then take and speak to the peoples and nations. This parallels Ezekiel 3, where the Lord gives the prophet Ezekiel a scroll to eat. Both prophets find the word sweet in their mouths. Both, before the end of their chapters, also find bitterness.

Why bitter? Why does the word that John eats make his stomach bitter? Perhaps it is because he knows the hard things he will have to say. John will communicate that the coming wrath of God will bring death and destruction on a rebellious world. Ezekiel certainly endured the bitter experience of watching the people rebel against God and harden their hearts rather than repent under the proclamation of the word.

Do you assume that proclamation is easy? Do you assume that it will always be a treat? You should not. Just consider how easily you repent. More than likely, when you are in sin, there will be a stubbornness or a blindness to your sin. Most of us do not like it when we are reproved. We ought not expect a sweet experience to be the norm when we have to use the word of God to bring conviction to bear on others.

But do not miss the sweetness. Both when John and Ezekiel ate their scrolls, the word was sweet as honey in their mouths. These men new that the word of God is good. It is sweet. Whether proclaiming grace or judgment, whether pointing out our sin or God’s loving kindness, god’s word is good. And no amount of bitterness in experience can remove the goodness of God. God’s word is always true, always right, always trustworthy, always reliable, always sufficient. God’s judgments are always just, straight, solid, unwavering, and perfect. And these things are sweet.

So, dear Christian friend, love and proclaim the word. Take the word into the depths of your life. It may walk you through times of bitterness. But God’s word will always, absolutely always, prove perfect and sweet in the end.

May a Christian Apply the Standards of God Even to the Lost?

Amos 1:3-5

3 Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Damascus,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they have threshed Gilead
with threshing sledges of iron.
4 So I will send a fire upon the house of Hazael,
and it shall devour the strongholds of Ben-hadad.
5 I will break the gate-bar of Damascus,
and cut off the inhabitants from the Valley of Aven,
and him who holds the scepter from Beth-eden;
and the people of Syria shall go into exile to Kir,”
says the Lord.

The prophecy of Amos begins with the Lord pronouncing judgments on lands that surround the northern kingdom of Israel. One might imagine the judgments of God falling on neighboring lands, encircling Israel, coming closer and closer until the northern kingdom is squarely in the sights of the Lord. With the first pronouncements, the people of Israel probably celebrated. But as the pronouncements drew closer and closer to Samaria, the people likely got more and more nervous.

For me in this reading, the thought that got my attention is not the slow and steady shelling of the lands around Israel until it is finally hit. Instead, it is the fact that God first pronounces judgments on Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. (A pronouncement is made against Judah as well, but that is not what grabbed my attention.) In Amos 1 and 2, God pronounced his judgments upon lands and peoples who never agreed to follow him or his ways.

One common misconception that I have recently heard voiced is that the people of God have no right to bring the morality of the faith to bear on those who do not know the Lord. If a person is not a Christian, some reason, we cannot attempt to impose the standards of the Bible upon them.

But look at any proclamation in the first 2 chapters of Amos and see what the Lord is doing. God is judging lands like Syria for their cruelty and evildoing. In the section I cite above, God judges Syria for their harsh treatment of Gilead. One might say that this is OK, because the Syrians were hurting other people . But stop and let yourself think of the point that God clearly makes here.

For what reason is God judging Syria? In simplest terms, God is judging Syria for their sin. This nation is crushing people, killing people, and this is wrong. Why is it wrong? Is it only wrong because you say so or I say so? No, that cannot be it. In Genesis 9, God is quite clear that murder is an attack on the very image of God. In Exodus 20, when God outlines his covenant with Israel, God shows us that to unjustly take a life is to go against the holy standard of right human behavior. The leaders in Damascus have treated people wrongly in clear violation of the standard of God. And the Lord has pronounced punishment upon them for this treatment. And this is just of God, even if the people of Syria have never heard the law of God proclaimed and even if they have never agreed to follow the Lord or his ways.

So, do we have the right to bring the word and standards of God to bear in our discussions with and our response to the lost world? Absolutely we do. Whether the world agrees or not, Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus commands all to believe in and follow him. To violate that standard is to oppose the one who has final and lasting authority. If this is not the case, then we must conclude that God did not have the right to judge the six surrounding nations outside of Israel and Judah in Amos 1 and 2. And I do not think we are ready to declare that God overstepped.

Do not be confused here. I am not at all suggesting that any lost person who obeys the basic morality of God will somehow earn his or her way to heaven. In Adam, all humanity fell. All of us are already guilty of violating God’s holy standard. No amount of law-keeping will earn us heaven. We must have Jesus and his perfect atoning work on our behalf if we are to have life with God. Neither am I pressing toward making Israelite civil law the law of every nation. But, and this is the point, we still live in God’s world. We all still live under the “all authority” that Christ claimed for himself (cf. Mat. 28:18). And so, when God says murder is wrong, it is wrong for the Christian and the lost person alike. When God says adultery is wrong, it is wrong for the Christian and the lost alike. All of God’s ways are right, and no person on earth has the right to live in opposition to the commands of the God who made us.

So, yes, believers have not only the right but also the responsibility to apply the word and ways of God in every situation. And, yes, we must reject any claim that we cannot bring Scripture to bear, even in situations that involve those who have never surrendered personally to the lordship of Christ. Christian, do not fall prey to the false argument that says that you have to keep your Bible to yourself. Your Bible is the expression of the will of the one, true, ultimate, complete, and final authority.

I’m Not My Own Judge

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 – 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

When writing to the Corinthian church, a body that had been playing favorites among different teachers, Paul is clear that he does not find their opinion of him to be a big deal. Their judgment is not how he evaluates his spiritual life before the Lord. And then Paul says something very helpful. The Apostle tells us that he also is not the one to truly evaluate his spiritual life. It is the Lord who judges him.

In our world today, we often will talk with people who will be quick to tell us how good they are. There are many who will tell us of the rightness of their choices, even choices that go against the word of God. And they will tell us that what they choose to do is OK because they feel no particular conviction regarding the issue.

Perhaps, however, we should take a lesson from Paul. Perhaps we should not think that we are the ultimate determiners of whether or not our thoughts and actions are righteous. Instead, perhaps we should hold our lives up to an external standard, an unchanging eternal standerd. Perhaps we should weigh our actions, our choices, our hearts against the holy word of Almighty God. The Bible will help us to know if we are doing and thinking things that please the Lord. The Bible is far more stable than our wavering emotions or society’s shifting standards. I am not my own judge. You are not your own judge. The Lord is the only judge.

I do not judge myself. It is the Lord who judges me. And, thanks be to God, he has caused to be perfectly written down for me what his standards of righteousness are . May I love the Lord and live under his word. And, thanks be to God, he has provided Jesus Christ to fulfill on my account the commands of God and cover my guilt for falling short of God’s glory.

Your Very Life

Deuteronomy 32:45-47 – 45 And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47 For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

How do you treat the word of God? Think well, Christian, as you examine your life. Is the Bible an add-on? Is the Scripture a thing you turn to on occasion when you need comfort? Is the word of God a thing that you look at on a Sunday and then whenever you might find a minute to fit it in?

Here in the final chapter of the book of Deuteronomy, God, through Moses, tells the people of Israel how they are to handle Scripture. They are to take to heart the words of God. They are to teach the commands of God to their children so that their kids will know how to obey God. And then Moses puts the true weight of the word in a very helpful way, saying, “For it is no empty word for you, but your very life.”

Hear that phrase, it is your very life.” Do you feel its import?
The Scripture is your life. the Lord who has revealed himself to you in Scripture is the Lord who gives you life. You cannot know him or please him apart from his word. You need Scripture like you need to breathe.

Christians, I urge us all to reevaluate just how we see the Bible. It is no small thing. It is no chore. It is no extra bit to our days. The word of God is our very life. to ignore it, belittle it, slack in our love of it is to stop breathing in our souls.

His Commands are not Burdensome

I have a quick challenge for my Christian friends. Are you ready? This one is simple, but I believe it is impactful.

First, I have a question for you: Do you believe the word of God? Stop and consider your doctrine of Scripture. Is the word of God true? Are all the words of God true? Did God say anything in Scripture about himself or his ways which is false? Think it through, as this is where the challenge lies. Do you believe God’s word?

OK, if you believe the word of God, I want to give you a single verse of Scripture. It is not obscure. It is not some sort of odd apologetics challenge. It is not some supposed contradiction. Honestly, it is not even a difficult verse for anybody to understand. I just want you to read this verse and think about whether or not you believe it since you say you believe the word of God. Here goes.

1 John 5:3 – For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

I told you it was not hard to understand. But, dear me, I think, if you are honest, it might challenge you to revisit your claim to believe the word. I hope that this verse will challenge you to recommit yourself to that claim to believe the word. And, if you do, this will have implications for your life.

First, take note. If you believe the word of God, then you must believe that obedience to the commands of God is quite certainly connected to whether or not you can say you love God. This is no works-based salvation talk. Nor is this some return to Old Testament rituals. The fact is that John, late in the first century, writing to believers in the risen Lord Jesus, tells them that obeying the commands of God, the word of God, is inseparably linked to a genuine claim to love Jesus.

Does that call to tie your understanding of loving Jesus to obedience bother you? Is it off-putting? Do you feel unhappy with that as a way to talk about loving Jesus? Remember, you said you believe the word of God. God’s word says that love and obedience here are linked.

Let me challenge you even further. You say that you believe the word of God. Do you believe the second part of the verse too? Do you genuinely believe that the commands of the Lord are not burdensome? I hope you do.

I think that part of why many in the church today struggle with connecting love of Jesus to obedience to his commands has to do with the fact that many in the church do not believe the second half of the verse. For some reason—perhaps bad preaching, perhaps fleshliness, perhaps fear of persecution in our culture—many folks think of the commands of God as burdensome. Many think that no kind Savior would really ask people to obey the commands we see in the Bible. The commands are just too hard.

Consider what happens if you fail to believe the word here. What happens if you let yourself believe that the commands of God are burdensome? If you let yourself think God’s commands are burdensome, you will not connect obedience to those commands with the love of Christ. No way would you say to yourself that your failure to obey a burdensome command is you not loving Jesus. You will begin to give yourself a pass on the commands you find burdensome.

Think about how many folks hold a Bible in one hand even as they disobey the commands of the Lord. Husbands are nasty to their wives as if the call to love your wife as Christ loves the church is burdensome. Women fight against the biblical pattern for the structure of the family or the church as if God’s ordering is burdensome. Married couples walk away from their marriages without biblical justification, believing that God’s standards for marriage are just too burdensome. Singles ignore God’s commands for sexual purity as if God’s commands are too burdensome. Some battle against the fact that God created us male and female as if the very idea of creation in the image of God and genuine gender is burdensome. Some churches refuse to preach the word fearing the loss of a crowd as if the word that would be preached is burdensome. Many in seats or pews ignore the study of doctrine, preferring self-help and emotionalism over Scripture, as if the study of the Lord and his true ways is burdensome.

On and on I could go. And, let me be fair, where I refuse to obey the commands of God, when I give myself a pass to vent my cranky spirit or shrink back from the call to seek to make disciples, when I want to be lazy when God’s word calls for action, am I not also pretending that God’s word is just too burdensome for me in that moment? I’m not writing from a position of superiority. But I am writing to challenge both you and me.

God is good. God’s word is true. God’s ways are right. God’s commands are perfect, even those our culture hates. God’s commands are not burdensome. Obeying God’s commands is part of loving God. It is time for us to reset our understanding of Scripture by reminding ourselves that to love Jesus includes obedience to the word, and the word we obey is not, regardless of what our flesh would say, burdensome. No, we do not obey in our own strength. We rely on the Spirit of God. WE remain connected with other believers who will hold us accountable. We gather with believers and are fed by the word, strengthened when we sing the truth, nourished and convicted in Lord’s Supper, and refueled to continue in the process of sanctification. We do not do this alone or by our own strength. But we will, if we love Jesus, regularly recommit ourselves to loving him by obeying his commands. And his commands are not burdensome. Believe that word of God.

All Scripture Points to Jesus

I’d like for you to take a look at two verses at the end of the 2 books Luke wrote for us under the inspiration of Almighty God.

Luke 24:27 – And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Acts 28:23 – When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

These two events occurred around three decades apart. The first is the Lord Jesus speaking about himself to the disciples who were traveling on the road to Emmaus. The second is Paul speaking to the Jews in Rome.

Do you see the common thread? The Scriptures testify to Jesus. God has promised and proclaimed the glory of Christ in the Old Testament for us to see. Abram found out about salvation by grace through faith alone and heard God’s promise to bless all people groups through Abram’s coming descendant. The law of God shows us God’s holiness, our sinfulness and helplessness, the principle of substitutionary atonement, and the idea of being made clean before God. The history of Israel shows us God’s faithfulness even to a sinful people as he preserves the family line of the promised Savior. The prophets promise a king to come who will rule the world, who will be holy and good, who will do justice, and who will be God with us. The prophets point us toward God’s coming promise of a new nation, a holy nation, made up of people from all nations under the rule of God’s promised King. Isaiah pointed us to a servant who would die to bear our sins and then rise again to eternal reward.

Christian, thank God for his word. Thank God for all of his word, Old Testament and New. Thank God for pointing to and promising Jesus in the Old Testament. Thank God for unveiling the mystery of the gospel in the New. Love the word of God and do not neglect any part of it.

God’s Law is Good

Christians, do you believe God’s word? Be careful here. I am not asking if you believe the parts that are easy for you. Do you really believe that, as Paul told us, all Scripture is inspired and profitable?

IF you believe that God is good and God’s word is good, you will have to allow that to impact how you think and feel about the Old Testament. While we are a New Covenant people, and we are grateful not to be under the old sacrificial system, we should nonetheless rejoice in the words that God gave his people.

Look at what God himself says to us about his word, particularly what he is going to tell his people in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 4:5-8 – 5 See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

In that last verse, we see a fascinating question. God says that those who see his people abide by his word will ask, “What great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law?” God is telling us that he is good, that is word is good, and that is law is perfectly just. Either these things are true, or God’s word is not true.

Since we are a people who love the Bible, we must understand that his words are true here as well. His law is good. His principles for justice are right. His orders for Israel, as a nation, were perfect.

While I’m not suggesting that it is the responsibility of the Christian to attempt to establish legal systems that are identical to those of ancient Israel, I am wanting modern Christians to grasp this point if nothing else: God’s law is good. When God told Israel what to eat and what not to eat, for them, at that time, it was absolutely and perfectly good. When God told Israel the penalty for crimes against one another or against God, his justice was good. When God told the people with what particularity they are to address his holiness and his worship, it was good.

Christians, when you begin to think through the law of God, will you be careful to start here? Will you start with the assumption, the word-centered, God-honoring assumption that his law is righteous and good? If you do not start here, you place yourself in a position to say that some of God’s law is good and some is not. You, in that mental move, place yourself in a position to judge the Lord, and that is akin to original sin itself.

Christians, love the word. Love the New Testament. Love the law. Understand that, no, we are not Old Testament Israel. We are not under the same dietary restrictions as was Israel. We are not bound to their ceremonies. But we can look to those ceremonies and find hints of the gospel. We can look to the law to see the glory of being a people set apart for the Lord. WE can look to the law to see our deep sinfulness and need of a Savior. WE can look to the law and see God’s great holiness. We can look to the law and see what justice looks like. We can look to the law and know better what pleases the Lord. God is good, all good, including his perfect and righteous law.

An Example of Man’s Best Guesses

We see a fascinating event happen when Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta. The people gather wood and build a fire to warm the bedraggled passengers. And a thing happens to Paul that adds some level of insult to injury. And in that happening, we can see a solid example of why we ought not trust human conclusions without divine revelation.

Acts 28:3-6 – 3 When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 4 When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

OK, Paul is bitten by a snake. The thing just latched on. Paul shakes it off, and he lives. All things considered, this is a rough day.

But watch the assumptions made by the observers. First, the people draw a conclusion from the evidence they see. They assume that Paul is a criminal getting justice. Even though he survived the wreck of the ship, he is still going to die from the poison of the snake. HE is getting what is coming to him. This is what the natives assume.

Then, after Paul does not die, the people amend their assessment of the situation. He survives a shipwreck and the bite of a viper. Now the people assume that Paul must be a god.

The fact is, the people of Malta were wrong, badly wrong, twice. They used their best guess based on the evidence available to them and their understanding of the world. And what we discover is a simple truth. Mankind, apart from the perfect revelation of God, will misinterpret the world around him time and time again.

Christians, let a passage like this one cause you to give God great thanks for Scripture. After all, without God revealing himself in his holy and inspired word, you too would interpret the world around you wrongly. Either you would have superstition all over you like the people of Malta, or you would be given into the folly of a naturalistic worldview. Either way, you would be very wrong. Thank the Lord for speaking to us in his word. Thank the Lord for speaking to us in the person and work of Jesus. It would be totally just of God to simply destroy us for our sin without ever speaking to us in any way whatsoever. Thank God for choosing to tell us who he is, who we are, and what we must do to be made right with him. Thank God for the Bible.

God is Different Than People Think

You know why Scripture is such a gift? You could never know God without his revealing himself in his word. If God does not tell us what he is like, if we do not pay attention, we will totally have the wrong image in our minds as to who god is, what he does, and what he requires.

I Thought of this in a read through Exodus 19-20. In that passage, the text around the original giving of the Ten Commandments, God makes some restrictions on the people that do not sound like what many around you think God is like.

Why do I say this? In our world, most people think that God is open to any sincere attempt to worship him. People assume that God is open to all expressions of human religion so long as those expressions do not attack other humans. But look at God’s words and God’s standards for the people near the mountain. In two places, we will see something important.

Exodus 19:21-22 – 21 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.”

As God prepared to speak to Moses from the Mountain, he gave two significant restrictions. The people could not approach or touch the mountain while God’s presence was upon it. And the priests could not experience this day without a holy consecration. Either group who disobeyed the commands of God here would die. God himself would kill people for disobedience.

But that does not sound like the modern understanding of God put forth by so many people. And at this point we have to ask, is our picture of god from God’s revelation or from our own minds? God is holy. God may not be approached by sinful man. And God will destroy those who violate his holy standards and remain without his forgiveness.

Exodus 20:25 – If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it.

Here God points out that the people of Israel were not free to make just any kind of altar for worship. If they were to fashion a stone altar with their tools, their touching of the altar would defile it. God was clear that his worship was to be holy. God is clear that he sets the standards as to what is acceptable and unacceptable worship.

The simple thought that I want us to take away from these passages is that God is holy. God is not what the modern American believes. God will judge people. God will judge based on his own standards. God will not bend to our will and our standards. God is not OK with just any old action we want to take. God will tell us how he is to be worshipped.

And in both passages, we see that God is clear that sinful mankind cannot approach him. If we wish to avoid God’s judgment, we must find ourselves under his grace. We are sinners who need to be forgiven. We need to have God apply to us the perfect righteousness of Christ. If we do not have God’s forgiving grace and the imputed righteousness of Jesus, anything we would do that could be considered worship will only serve to bring us under God’s judgment.

So, what do we take away? First, you need Jesus. Ask him to forgive you and cleanse you before the Lord. Surrender to him and be saved by his grace through faith. Then, realize that God has a high and holy standard that is far more dangerous than anything you have ever imagined. Submit to his holy word in order to live and worship in a way that pleases the Lord.

Simple Depth in Glorious Doctrine

Sometimes the simplest of doctrines are the ones we need to remember most. IN churches like the one I serve, there are always folks who are interested in the “deep” things. And, quite often, the things these folks consider to be deep are primarily things that are hard to understand or not broadly known. While we want to study all biblical doctrine, we can, if we are not careful, become fascinated with the obscure and fail to embrace and cherish the simple and true.

Christians, may I remind you that depth does not equal obscurity? May I also remind you that simple does not mean shallow. Sometimes deep study and deep faithfulness means learning to embrace with all of your being the things that every Christian should know.

Here is an example of a few things said in Psalm 18 that we all should love deeply.

Psalm 18:30-31a

30 This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?

Let me point out four doctrines, lovely doctrines, simple doctrines, deep doctrines, that we should love from those lines. First, note the perfection of God. David refers to God by saying, “his ways are perfect.” That is not a shallow truth. God’s ways are perfect. All that the Lord is and all that the Lord does is perfect. There is no flaw. There is no sin. There is no taint. God is absolutely, unquestionably, immeasurably perfect.

How important is that doctrine? How does it change us? When the Lord says that he will do a thing, our response must never be to measure it by whether or not we approve. God’s ways are perfect. Our response, when we see that the Lord does a thing should be to ask the Lord to reshape us in our sinfulness to love and embrace his perfection. Thus, when God speaks of things with which we are uncomfortable, we are the ones flawed, not the Lord.

Second, the word of the Lord proves true. This is a reminder that not only is what God does perfect in every way, all that God says is true. For David, this helped him to embrace the Pentateuch and the words of the prophets around him. For us, this develops for us our doctrine of holy Scripture.

Just like thinking of the ways of God as perfect, we now think of his word as true. So, what happens when our experience or our best understanding stands in contradiction to the word? WE have a choice to make. We either decide that we are more true than the word of God or that the word of God is more true than our experience. Christians, this is a vital piece of doctrine to get right, as it will shape everything you think you know.

Third, God is a shield for all who take refuge in him. What a glorious truth this is. God is a gracious God. God receives kindly those who come to him for shelter. Consider, there is no rule beyond God that says he has to do this. He could turn us away in our cries for his mercy. But he does not.

Here is a doctrine that helps us to understand the grace of God. We are all a people in danger. Our sin would cause us to be eternally condemned. But God is a shelter for all who take refuge in him. If you come to the one true God seeking shelter, he will grant it. We know from the rest of Scripture that there is only one way to come to God for shelter, through the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). But we also are gloriously encouraged by the truth that all who do come to Jesus in faith and repentance are genuinely saved (Rom. 10:9-10, 13).

Fourth, and finally, notice that David also tells us that there is only one God. Who is God but the Lord? Much of the world thinks in the terms of multiple divinities. Much of the world assumes all religions are the same. But the word of God tells us that there is not another God, period.

This doctrine is vital to the believer. We know that all other world religions are false, because we know that there is only one God who may only be approached through the person and work of Jesus. All other claims of authority are illegitimate, because we know that there is only one God. All that oppose God do not merely oppose a religion, they oppose the one and only Creator and Lord. And all who have the favor of God have blessing that can never be removed, because God is the only God. There is no competition for God. There is no alternative to God. There is only the one God.

You might say that all these things are easy to know. Perhaps they are. But that does not make these shallow. These are vital truths. And the more you think about them, the more you embrace them, the more you will love the Lord you serve. I’m glad that we have the opportunity as believers to delve into end times, to think about election, to seek to understand the intricacies of the trinity, to ponder the covenants. But I’m even gladder that we are given by God the chance to know that he is the only God, that is ways are perfect, that his word is true, and that he welcomes all who run to him for shelter. These things should change your daily life, and change it forever. So do not miss them as you seek to study the deep things of the Lord.