The Last, And Far Superior, Adam

The father of us all, according to the creation account in Genesis, is Adam. The apostle Paul said he was a “type of him to come” (Rom. 5:14), and that Jesus is the “last Adam” and the giver of true life (1 Cor. 15:45). The parallels and contrasts between Christ, “the last Adam,” and the first Adam are almost endless. 

  • Seeking to be like God, the first Adam gave into temptation in a garden. The last Adam, who is God who became man, beat temptation in a garden. 
  • The first gave up a part of himself to receive his bride. The last gave His life for His.
  • The first followed his deceived wife into sin. The last asked His bride to follow His voice to know the truth. 
  • The first found out he was naked, hid from God and was given clothes. The last had His clothes taken away publicly and was shamed for our sake so that we could all approach God. 
  • The first Adam blamed his bride, while the last took the blame for His bride. 
  • The first multiplied thorns for all us by receiving a curse for his sins. The last wore thorns while taking the curse for us all. 
  • The first fell by listening to the serpent say, “take and eat,” while the last listened fully to God and told His disciples, “take and eat, this is My body.”
  • The first worked a garden that had the tree of life in it—but lost access to it. The last was actually mistaken for a gardener after His resurrection (Mary Magdalene in Jn. 20:15), and invites all to a garden-like city where the tree of life is restored and its fruit free for the taking in the presence of God.  

Don’t Be That Guy—Book Of Romans Edition

Six times in the book of Romans the apostle Paul tells us what not to be, mostly in the 12th chapter. Consider these things we aren’t to be or to do: 

11:20  “Do not be conceited, but fear…”
12:2  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
12:11  “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord”
12:16  “do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”
12:21  “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Don’t be arrogant in spiritual things. Don’t be conformed to this world. Don’t lag in devotion to God. Then there is another warning not to be arrogant, but this time not towards others. And don’t let evil rule you.

In these things we see a very heavy concentration on full devotion to God and treating others well. Just like Jesus said when addressing the greatest commandment: “Love God will all your heart, soul, mind and strengthen. and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:26-40). 

No, don’t be that guy who puts himself first and is arrogant to God and man and tries to use both to his own selfish advantage. In this you will also fulfill Paul’s final instruction of what not to do:

13:8  “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

With What Shall We Come To The Lord?

How do we approach God? Do we bring gifts or sacrifices or votive offerings? Do I need to have some else do it for me? Should I find a priest or intercessor who can prepare the way for me?  

We are not alone in wondering about this. In the Old Testament, the prophet Micah asked exactly this same question, saying:

Micah 6:6-8  “With what shall I come to the LORD And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my first-born for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

What was the answer that came from God’s spokesman? Not expensive gifts, or numerous sacrifices, and certainly not anything like the abominable offerings that the pagans gave to show their devotion. No, nothing external at all. Just practice justice to people, love kindness and show it and be humble. 

In one way, these things are simple and every last person, regardless of resources or standing, can do them. But to really, truly, in the sight of God—who knows all things and the thoughts and motives of our hearts—be just, kind and humble—that makes buying gifts and sacrifices seem simple and easy, doesn’t it? But what does God really want? We know, don’t we? Be just, kind and humble.

Let Us Choose To Hear And Speak By Faith

We are currently a nervous and tense society. The level of civil discourse that we are presented and participate in via media and social media is increasingly strident and less civil. A selfish and secular mindset has shaken the pillars of stability that traditional faith and values helped secure. We are left with a world of increasing chaos and uncertainty. Fear and anxiety abound and little of what we hear is shaped by faith. 

Add personal struggles with health, grief, guilt, and disappointment within—the result is that often little of what we say is shaped and directed by faith either. 

As the people of God, we need to be nourished, and to nourish others, by words of faith. This does not mean that we can explain, fix, or even understand all the things wrong in a world were “What is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.” (Eccl. 1:15). 

Rather than becoming anxious, fearful, bitter, and lashing out like the world, let us turn to God, take refuge in Him and receive and embrace the peace He offers.

We can choose to not feed the fear that Satan is spreading.

We can choose to not speak and act from anxiety. 

We can choose to trust in God and live the way He calls us to live.  

We can choose to love as He calls us to love.

We can choose to serve the way He calls us to serve.

We can choose to hear words of faith and grace and speak them, and spread His peace.

Batman Expresses Our Deepest Desire

Ok, maybe not Batman, but Ben Affleck, the actor currently playing Batman on the big screen. Speaking of the appeal of superhero movies he said in an interview published in US Today:

We certainly are in need of heroes in 2017. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world, from natural to man-made disasters, and it’s really scary. Part of the appeal of this genre is wish fulfillment: Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somebody who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil?

Someone to save us from this world of troubles, to save us from ourselves, to save us from evil and the consequences of our own actions — the actor is right, this really is one of humanity’s deepest wishes. And we have within us a great moral intuition and longing that there really should be a savior out there for us all. The good news of the gospel is that there is such a Savior.  The gospel cry of hope to a lost and dark world is that He has come and that He has risen, and that He is calling. As the apostle Paul said:

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all…I found mercy…as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Tim. 1:15,16)

This is not the imaginary hope of escapist novels, movies and comic books, but the real and living hope of all who know Christ. So we say: 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5).

We Don’t Have Answers, But We Do Have God

This broken world has caused us to mourn yet again. Senseless murders are occurring with increasing frequency and hitting ever closer to home. Country music fans (I’m one of those) were gunned down in Las Vegas. Worshippers in a small church in small-town Texas were gunned down during services. I worship in a small church in a small town, even though I no longer live in Texas. 

Our heartfelt anguish is amplified because it is so easy to identify with the victims making it easy to follow the scripture that says, “weep with those who weep.” (Rom. 12:15). But what escapes me are answers, even though I’d dearly love to know and share them. Why’d they do it? Why’d God allow it? What meaning do we look for so many senseless deaths? 

Yet even in times when we have no answers we still have a hope in Christ to share. When we don’t have any idea of what to do, we still have Him and we still have each other. 

The way of God—loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves—will give us a purpose, a reason and a destiny when every illusion of safety is shattered and folks are laid as bare as Job. 

In such times we think not just of today, but to eternity and rely fully on God. As the scripture says:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5,6)

God’s Books Of Wisdom

There is a set of five books in the middle of the Old Testament that together are known as the “Books of Poetry” or the “Wisdom Literature.” These are books of Hebrew poetry, poetry at an exquisite level, but even more importantly, they are the wisdom of God for us in some of the most important areas of life. 

These five books are
    the book of Job - how to suffer
    the collection of Psalms - how to pray
    the book of Proverbs - how to act properly and wisely
    the book of Ecclesiastes - how to enjoy life
    and the Song of Solomon - how to love

The New Testament tells us to take this wisdom from God seriously and to learn from it, giving us this inspired summary: “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (Jas 5:11)

Let us look again to the wisdom that our maker gave us to endure, to succeed and even to prosper in difficult and practical areas of life and of the heart. How successful or not we deal with these parts of life will largely determine for us if our life is one of fullness and blessing or of want and misery. Turn again to the book of God and see how the outcome for the God’s faithful will show His grace and compassion. 

Jesus, The Forerunning Of Salvation For Us

A forerunner is a scout, and advance person, one who prepares the way by going before the others, a pathfinder, a trailblazer, a guide. 

Normally the forerunner we think of in the gospels is John the Baptist, who was prophesied to be the forerunner of Christ. Luke 1:17, quoting prophesy says, “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah…” This prophesy foretold John as turning “THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” He did this by preaching repentance and baptism.

But this is not the only “forerunner” in the gospel. Just as John went ahead of Jesus readying the way for Him, Jesus goes ahead of us to ready the way to heaven. 

It says in Heb. 6:19,20, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

He has done what we cannot yet have done. He has not shown what we otherwise could not yet know. He has gone beyond death, through the veil.  He has gone to where we cannot yet see to prepare and open up the way for us. We can, and must, fully trust Him to lead the way because He has gone there Himself. 

If we want to go to heaven we must follow the one who laid down, who marked out and who traveled the path for us, who alone showed us the way to go — and that is the One, Jesus Christ. 

Jesus Is Eternal Life To Us

1 John 1:1-3  “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life—

2  and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—

3  what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

The ultimate spiritual hope for mankind is eternal life with God. God offers this to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is so connected to Jesus that John stated, we “bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life.” Then he tells what they saw and heard and touched of Jesus, and then calls Him the Word of Life. 

Why is Jesus eternal life and the word of life? The gospel say that Jesus is the one that we can ask about eternal life (Matt. 19:16), and He is the one who teaches us about eternal life (Matt. 19:29; 6:47). That believing in Him brings us eternal life (Jn. 3:15,16,36; 5:24; 6:40,47) and that He gives eternal life to His followers (Jn. 10:28; 17:2)

Later New Testament writers tell us that eternal life is a free gift (Rom. 6:23), by His mercy (Jude 21).

Eternal life is so fully connected to Jesus and only Jesus that John speaks of His as “the eternal life” (1 Jn. 1:2 and 3:2) and concludes that: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 Jn. 5:11).

The God Of All Comfort

Socially, culturally and politically our nation is going through some difficult times. At the same time, many people are quietly waging their own battles with personal, spiritual, financial, and emotional problems. Then add troubles with relationships and health issues. It’s as the the apostle Paul said, “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” This effects believers also, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Rom. 8:22,23)

Difficulties come to everyone sometimes, and more often to some. Troubles can be of own making, or through circumstances beyond our control. No matter how or why they come, most of us can find ways to make them worse or last longer. We can we try to ignore them, living as blissfully as possible in denial — then they grow like compounding interest. 

Or, being worn down or in distress, we want strike out in anger and in destructive ways that make us feel better for the moment, but in the end only make things worse. So most of us just deal it as best we can until the irritation and wear become too much to bear.

All the while, Satan does his best to make things worse and to obscure from us the truth that God is working through Christ Jesus to save us and comfort us, calling us to share His comforts in a lost and dying, and hurting and alienated world. As the apostle Paul told the Corinthians (2 Cor. 1:3,4):

God Did First

When people can’t get along with one another, they often say that if the other person would just do this or that, then all could be forgiven and they could move along in harmony. Of course, many die of old age stubbornly waiting out some relative or former friend who is equally stubborn or no longer caring enough to make the effort to reconcile. 

Imagine how the terrible the world would be if God waited for His sinful creation to move back to Him first, instead of Him reaching out to reconcile with them. So God moved first. 

As John reminded the disciples, “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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 Jn. 4:10,11)

His mercy and grace moved towards us while we were in sin. He lovingly sent His son to die for us while we were in sin and covered in shame. He worked to save us through Jesus long before we moved in any way towards Him. So now we are called to do the same. 

Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, taught His disciples, saying, “Love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for his is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35,36)

We’re to be kind and good even to those who don’t deserve it because that’s what God did for us. When people are unkind and ungrateful that’s when they most need us to kind and gracious to them, just as God was to us.

Getting To Jesus

Mark 2:2-5“And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.  And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  (ESV)

Sometimes, like the paralyzed man, we’re in need of healing and can’t help ourselves. We’re paralyzed and made helpless by doubts, ignorance, fear, uncertainty, and sin. Like the paralyzed, we need someone to help us. This man’s friends helped by taking him to Jesus.

Sometimes in life, we are the friends who have to go around, over, under and even through obstacles, carrying our friends, enlisting others to help as well and doing all we can to get the ones we love the help they need. There are all kinds of ways to help those sick and lost and helpless in this world. But like in this story, the truest friends are the ones who can take their friend to Jesus.

When they got to Jesus, He healed the man’s soul first, giving him what He most needed. We should make that our priority too and go to Jesus for the help we all most need. realizing that in a world of sin and hurt, we need to take care of souls first — and Jesus is only one who can help.

The Parable Of The Lavish Father

Have you heard of Jesus’ parable of the lavish Father? No? This father is the hero of one of Jesus’ most beloved parables, sharing the stage with several other unforgettable characters. 

This father shares the story with his ungrateful and wasteful son, to whom he had given a massive fortune as his inheritance. This son then led an immoral life that caused him near total moral and physical ruin before he came to his senses and returned home. At one point, his son had to work for a heartless pig farmer who didn’t even feed this hired hands properly. 

Later, he shares the stage with his other son who proved to be petulant, rude, resentful and accusing. You may know this father and his two boys from the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

But the real hero of the story is the father — the generous, giving and forgiving father. After providing a good upbringing for his boys, he willingly gives them their large inheritance early—which one of them promptly uses to wreck himself. Then, he expectantly waits for that same wayward son to come home. When he does come home, the father generously gives his broke and broken boy clothes, gifts, and a great welcome with a huge reception worthy of a visiting dignitary. Then he leaves this happy, happy gathering to console and invite back in his other son who is angry at his father for receiving back his brother with such ease and graciousness. 

Behold the Father, Our Heavenly Father — generously providing, expectantly waiting, fully receiving and graciously entreating. 

There’s No Substitute For Forgiveness

The apostle Paul, by the will of God, tells us the state and fate of everyone, saying, “we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). However many people act like we don’t really want, or even need, forgiveness. 

We substitute pride for faith and humility, so we deny our sins. We try to forget our sins by keeping ourselves too busy for thinking and soul-searching contemplation. We try to avoid thoughts of our sins by drowning them in drink or trying to smoke them away. We attempt to self-atone for our sins by good works. We console ourselves with all the sins we haven’t done, and thinking about the “worse” wrongs of others. Or, to the great annoyance of those around us) we go into holier-than-thou mode pretending that our sins aren’t as numerous or as bad as others.  

But all of these human devised and often tried strategies fail, and leave us in our sins. 

The great gift of God in Christ Jesus is to fully forgive us; to cleanse us of sins and to no deal with us as sinners, but to give us a new start, a rebirth, in Jesus and adopt us into His family as His own children. 

Long ago, King David sang of the blessing of forgiveness in the 103rd Psalm. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and all that is within me,

    bless his holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and forget not all his benefits,

who forgives all your iniquity,

    who heals all your diseases,

He does not deal with us according to our sins,                                                                

    nor repay us according to our iniquities

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

    as far as the east is from the west,

    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father shows compassion to his children,

    so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. (ESV)

Jesus, Our Door To The Things That Matter

John 10:7-9“Jesus therefore said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

Doors give access. As the scriptures do, we often speak of doors being open or shut in a figurative sense. (Ref. 1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12; Col 4:3)

Open doors imply welcome and entry while closed doors imply rejection and alienation. So Jesus is portrayed as O ne who opens the door, stands at the door and knocks, and closes the door on evil. Rev. 3:7 says, “He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this.”

In the teaching and parable recorded in John 10, Jesus isn’t just the One who opens the door for us, but He says He is the very door for us. He’s our access to the Father. Through Him we can become His sheep and part of the flock of God and have the shelter of the fold. 

Every good thing that our soul needs in this life — reconciliation with God, forgiveness of and freedom from sin, a new life, and new hope, a real purpose and direction under His direction, and ultimately the free gift of eternal life — is through Jesus, the door. 

We don’t get to God except by Him. “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.’” (Jn. 14:6) He is one and only way—the door—to the Father. So, as He said using a door in a slightly different figure: “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (Luke 13:24)

Judge Not

Matthew 7, verses 1-12, can be summed up as living with a generous spirit, just as God does for us. The teaching about this kind of life concludes with the “Golden Rule.” The golden rule can never be followed, can never really be applied to our lives, with us giving off a judgmental attitude to those around us. 

We know that there is righteous judgment. (In civil settings, 2 Pet. 2:13,14; in resolving personal conflicts, 1 Cor. 6:1-6; in examining religious teaching and conduct, 1 Jn. 4:1; Tit. 3:9-11, etc.).  While good judgment is a positive and necessary virtue, a judgmental attitude exudes self-righteousness and slightest whiff of it can drive many away. Yes, some people are easily offended, but recognizing their fault is not license for us to be less concerned about being offensive. This should cause us to realize of the careful, caring work we are called to do. 

“Righteous judgment” NEVER includes judgmental attitude, otherwise it ceases to be “righteous.” This is one of the easiest ways for us to turn people off of Christianity and the cause which we wish to honor and promote. People are often more forgiving of wrongs and harms done to their things and their interests than they are of being held in contempt since one involves their property and the other involves their pride, which many hold most dearly of all. 

Sometimes our call to follow Jesus causes the world to hate us (Jn. 15:18,19). But let us never act in such a way that people hate Jesus because of us as they think our poor conduct and attitudes towards them result from our devotion to Him.  True devotion to Jesus includes the love of neighbor that He teaches and the patient and tender manner with which he dealt with those in sin and taught them to come to God.

“Thy Will Be Done”

The phrase, “Thy Will Be Done” likely calls to our minds either the Lord’s prayer or Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. “Thy Will Be Done” sums up Jesus’ attitude and action towards the way of God. And “Thy Will Be Done” is the high calling He asks us to pursue. 

Although we are familiar with “Thy Will Be Done” as a New Testament passage, it first appears in a prophetic psalm. In Psalm 40, David said, “You do not delight in sacrifice and offering; you open my ears to listen.You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering. Then I said, “See, I have come; in the scroll it is written about me. I delight to do your will, my God, and your instruction is deep within me.” (Ps. 40:7,8)  

Hebrews 10:7-9 quotes this psalm as if Christ said these words. since Christ Himself both inspired this prophecy and acted in accordance with it. Knowing that God did not want more Old Testament type sacrifices, He came to do God’s will—to the uttermost. This is directly connected to His sacrificial death. 

So in the garden of Gethsemane, when facing the immediate prospect of the crucifixion and death for our sins, Jesus’ repeated prayer was for the will of God to be carried out: “He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done.’” (Matt. 26:42). And thus for us, and for the Father’s will, He went. 

So when he asks us to submit, fully submit, to the will of the Father, Jesus is asking us for the same devotion that He Himself has already fully shown. 

And so He taught us to pray, saying, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:9,10) Let us not only learn to say, “Thy will be done,” — let us do it.

“It Is Written”

“It Is Written” is one of the most famous and familiar phrases in the Bible, occurring nearly eighty times throughout the Old and New Testaments alike. It always refers the audience back to God’s prior instructions. 

Sometimes it refers to prophesy, as when Jesus quoted Isa. 54:13 in John 6:45, “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.’’” or in Luke 19:46 as Jesus cast out those selling in the temple, “saying to them, ‘It is written, “AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,” but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN,’“ referring back to Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11.

Sometimes it refers to instructions of the Law of Moses, as when the apostle Paul said, “for it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT SPEAK EVIL OF A RULER OF YOUR PEOPLE.’” (Acts 23:5) quoting Exodus 22:28.

The most famous use of “It Is Written” might be when Jesus used it three times to meet the devil’s temptations and his twisting of God’s teaching by referring back to what God really meant. 

 Let us always follow Jesus and use this powerful tool to meet our needs today: 

“It Is Written” takes the focus off of our ourselves and to the words of God. 

“It Is Written” strengthens us in moments of uncertainty and doubt giving us the clarity and certainty of God’s will and unchanging revelation. 

“It Is Written” gives us power and wisdom beyond ourselves when our own strength and knowledge falters and fails. 

“It Is Written” takes us above ourselves and our prideful and selfish thoughts and concerns, reminding us of the mind and way of God. 

“It Is Written” gives us the wisdom of God in a world sorely lacking in wisdom, and clarity in a world where nothing seems clear anymore.

 

A Gift Of Quantity And Quality

Those who live by faith in Jesus Christ do so trusting in (to use the words the apostle Peter), “precious and magnificent promises.” (2 Pet. 1:4) Chief among God’s wonderful promises are, “The hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago” (Titus 1:4). 

Three times the apostle Paul calls this promised salvation a “free gift,” saying, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23), contrasting the woeful effects of sin with the great gift of God.

Though this is a free gift, it’s not at all a cheap, temporary or low-quality one. 

In quantity or duration, this gift is without end, so we call it “everlasting” (as in the King James and NKJV translations) or “eternal” in the most other translations. So John 6:40 says, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal [or everlasting] life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” 

This gift is also of surpassing quality. Jesus said, “…I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) So John spoke of Christ bringing and giving this eternal life, and the blessings leading to it, saying, “For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)

So we live by this hope, as John the Apostle simply stated: “This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.” (1 Jn 2:25)

I Sing Because...

The refrain of the hymn “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” contains this wonderful lyric, “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, for His eye is on the sparrow, and He watches over me.” This strong statement of faith tells exactly how the world is ordered for the faithful: we are blessed by Him, who is the Protector and Source of the blessings, and the only proper response for us is to sing! 

God’s people have always been singers. In the Old Testament, David appointed Levites to sing and “raise sounds of joy” to the Lord. (1 Chron. 15:16), and in the psalms people were implored to sing scores of times. In Ps. 104:33,34, this same spirit of faith is expressed: “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.”

Today, the people of God sing knowing that our Savior sings with us. As Jesus sang with His disciples before going to prepare for His crucifixion on our behalf, “And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matt. 26:30), and the prophecy of Ps. 22:22, quoted in Heb. 2:12, says “He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I WILL PROCLAIM THY NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING THY PRAISE.’”

So we sing our “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with [our] heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19), as we are “singing with the spirit and the mind” (1 Cor. 14:15), remembering this instruction: “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.” (Jas. 5:13)

Thus we follow the easiest instruction that God ever gave to a grateful and faithful people — we sing! As the prophet Zechariah said so long ago, “Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares the Lord.”