In his introduction to the Fall 2021 edition of The Master’s Seminary Journal, John MacArthur writes:
Here is the key lesson that runs like a powerful current through everything the Bible says about the New Birth: Eternal life is not a prize for being good. It is not a reward for those who try harder. It is not heaven’s reimbursement for those who live sacrificially in this life. It is not a wage that can be earned by being pious and legalistic. You don’t obtain it by forsaking vices or praying prayers. You can’t acquire it by paying tithes or performing religious ceremonies. It isn’t the birthright of anyone’s ethnicity or an entitlement for some privileged class. You don’t get it by joining a religious sect, no matter how meticulously you keep its traditions.
John goes on to say that the new birth is a gift one doesn’t end. It’s a work of God. That is central to the doctrine of regeneration, the theme of the Fall 2021 TMS Journal…
The Cambridge Dictionary defines Rage as (a period of) extreme or violentanger. It is easy to see this in everyday life with road rage, unbridled vulgar shouting in public places, and violence in our streets. Then there is our pampered youth; they have things called rage rooms, and scream clubs whatever they can be on campuses today.
For many it is becoming harder to act in a Godly manner to the constant ungodly actions around us. Yet that is exactly what God calls us to do, be like Christ. I have said it many times and will repeat it again here, that does not mean being a pushover a carpet for the world to trample on. In reading the Whole Counsel of God you will realize that was not Jesus. He led the life He was called to live, and was very outspoken (Dogmatic) about it. Calling out sin and sinners, but doing so in a kind and forgiving manner.
Today’s sermon from John MacArthur dated back in 2017 and may be more relevant today than when it was preached.
Here is a 13 part series, first published in June 2018, from John MacArthur’s Grace to You Ministries entitled Keeping the Faith. Note some of the words used in the titles Judge, Discrimination, Humility, Discern are those likely on the hit list of “bad” words for the woke culture of today. Yet the bible says true believers are not of this world and we are to do those things living as such.
“Coming to [Christ] as to a living stone” (1 Pet. 2:4).
Jesus is the only source of eternal life and the foundation upon which the church is built.
Peter’s description of Christ as “a living stone” is paradoxical because stones aren’t alive. In fact, we sometimes speak of something being “stone dead.” Yet Peter’s symbolism is profound because it beautifully incorporates three realities about Christ.
First, Jesus is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. The Old Testament referred to the Messiah as a stone, and Peter incorporated those texts into His description of Jesus in 1 Peter 2:6-8: “Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed” (Isa. 28:16); “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very cornerstone” (Ps. 118:22); and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (Isa. 8:14). The parallel is obvious and would be especially meaningful to Peter’s Jewish readers. The expectations of pious Jews throughout history were realized in Christ. God had kept His promise to send the Messiah!
Second, Jesus is a stone in that He is the focal point of His spiritual house, the church. The Greek word translated “stone” in verse 4 sometimes referred to the stones used in building projects. They were cut and chiseled to fit perfectly into a specific location, and were practically immovable. Not only is Jesus a stone; He is the cornerstone, which is the most important stone in the entire building. From Him the church draws its spiritual symmetry.
Finally, Jesus is living. That’s an appropriate description because everything Peter said in this epistle is based on the fact that Jesus is alive. That’s the believer’s hope and the basis for every spiritual privilege you have. You “have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3, emphasis added).
Interestingly, the literal rendering of 1 Peter 2:4 is, “Coming to Him as to living stone.” Christ is a unique stone—the stone that possesses life. All who come to Him receive eternal life (cf. 1 John 5:11).
Suggestions for Prayer
Praise the Lord for His unchangeable character and irrevocable promises.
For Further Study
Read Acts 2:22-47.
What was the central point in Peter’s sermon?
How did the people respond to his preaching?
How many people were baptized?
What were some of the activities of the early church?
With truth being so subjective today in themainstream I thought it appropriate to look at what truth really is, or at least should be for true Christians and non-believers alike.
I have posted much on these verses (see below) in the past so today I offer an excellent article from Pastor John MacArthur and Grace to You Ministries from over a decade ago that is still on point today:
CONTEXT: Matthew Henry comments: All professions of faith are vain, if not producing love and justice to others. (1-13) The necessity of good works to prove the sincerity of faith, which otherwise will be of no more advantage than the faith of devils. (14-26)
Our text for today comes at the end of the first theme of James Chapter 2. We find the stage set if you will in v.1 show no favoritism, no prejudice, no snobbery] the chapter then goes on v.2-7 to describe situations that may arise when one might be tempted to discriminate. James then goes on in v.8-12 to note other areas where believers might fail.
Understanding our text requires two key points first it does not mean that those who do not show mercy are condemned to hell. Romans 8:1 and other similar verses settled that issue forever.
What it does mean is those FULLY committed to Christ will show mercy just like Christ. If you have been indwelled by the Holy Spirit it is pretty difficult to resist that call to be merciful. We (believers) are going to be surrounded by sin daily; our own, fellow Christians, and for certain non-believers. What kind of testimony would we have if we went around condemning everyone?
Let me be clear about this, we should be discerning (judgmental) as to the sin of others and ourselves. We need to be protective of our property and families while at the same time as Paul emphasized to the Church in Colossae C.3; 12 So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; 13 bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).
God commends merciful people but condemns the merciless.
Scripture shows that those whom God blessed most abundantly were abundantly merciful to others. Abraham, for example, helped rescue his nephew Lot even after Lot had wronged him. Joseph was merciful to his brothers after they sold him into slavery. Twice David spared Saul’s life after Saul tried to kill him.
But just as sure as God’s commendation is upon those who show mercy, His condemnation is upon those who are merciless. Psalm 109:14-16 says, “Let the iniquity of [the merciless person’s] fathers be remembered before the Lord, and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out . . . because he did not remember to show [mercy].”
When judgment comes, the Lord will tell such people, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me” (Matt. 25:41-43). They will respond, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” (v. 44). He will reply that when they withheld mercy from those who represented Him, they were withholding it from Him (v. 45).
Our society encourages us to grab everything we can for ourselves, but God wants us to reach out and give everything we can to others. If someone wrongs you, fails to repay a debt, or doesn’t return something he has borrowed from you, be merciful to him. That doesn’t mean you excuse sin, but you respond to people with a heart of compassion. That’s what Christ did for you—can you do any less for others?
Suggestions for Prayer
If there is someone who has wronged you, pray for that person, asking God to give you a heart of compassion for him or her. Make every effort to reconcile as soon as possible.
I have written or posted about this verse more than once over the years (see below) primarily because I believe the Bible is true and as such1 Peter 4:10 demands I take action.
Of course, as always context is critical, this past Saturday’s Devotional has the chapter breakdown from Matthew Henry’s commentary. One thing to point out is v.21, James through the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes, So get rid of all uncleanness and [e]all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. (AMP)
God has plans for and expects the humble of heart to be the doers of His Word, what about you?
“Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).
A doer of the Word obeys what Scripture says.
Effective Bible study is built on three key questions: What does the Bible say? What does it mean? How does it apply to my life? Each of those questions is important, but applying the Word must always be the highest goal. Knowledge without application is useless.
Both the Old and New Testaments emphasize the importance of applying Scripture. For example, just prior to leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, Joshua received this message from God: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Josh. 1:8). That’s a command to be a doer of the Word—one who receives, studies, and understands Scripture, then applies it to every aspect of his or her life. That was the key to Joshua’s amazing success.
James 1:22 is a New Testament counterpart to Joshua 1:8 and is directed to every believer: “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” It’s not enough to hear the Word; you must also do what it says.
The phrase “doer of the word” doesn’t refer to the person who obeys periodically, but the one who habitually and characteristically obeys. It’s one thing to run in a race; it’s something else to be a runner. It’s one thing to teach a class; it’s something else to be a teacher. Runners are known for running; teachers are known for teaching—it’s characteristic of their lives. Similarly, doers of the Word are known for their obedience to biblical truth.
Never be content to be a hearer of the Word only, but prove yourself a doer in the Christian life. Your claim to love Christ will mean something only if you obey what He says.
Suggestions for Prayer
Memorize Joshua 1:8 and pray regularly that God will make you a faithful doer of the Word.
For Further Study
Read Psalm 1.
What are the benefits of delighting in God’s law?
How does the psalmist characterize those who reject righteousness?
CONTEXT: Matthew Henry says of this book and specifically this chapter: This epistle of James is one of the most instructive writings in the New Testament. Being chiefly directed against particular errors at that time brought in among the Jewish Christians, it does not contain the same full doctrinal statements as the other epistles, but it presents an admirable summary of the practical duties of all believers...How to apply to God under troubles, and how to behave in prosperous and in adverse circumstances. (1-11) To look upon all evil as proceeding from ourselves, and all good from God. (12-18) The duty of watching against a rash temper, and of receiving the word of God with meekness. (19-21) And of living according to thereto. (22-25) The difference between vain pretenses and real religion. (26,27)
Over the years I have written many times about anger, like many of my fellow ex-military, it is an issue I have long dealt with and writing helps remind me of the futility of angry outbursts.
Instead of more of my words here is a devotional on the matter by John MacArthur:
“Let everyone be . . . slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).
If you resent God’s Word, you cannot grow in righteousness.
Have you ever started reading your Bible, thinking everything was fine between you and the Lord, only to have the Word suddenly cut deep into your soul to expose some sin you had neglected or tried to hide? That commonly happens because God seeks to purge sin in His children. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to penetrate the hidden recesses of the heart to do His convicting and purifying work. How you respond to that process is an indicator of the genuineness of your faith.
“Anger” in James 1:19-20 refers to a negative response to that process. It is a deep internal resentment accompanied by an attitude of rejection. Sometimes that resentment can be subtle. Paul described those who “will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Tim. 4:3). They’re the people who drift from church to church in search of someone who will tell them what they want to hear—or a congregation that wants a pastor who will make them feel good about themselves instead of preaching the Word and setting a high standard of holiness.
Sometimes resentment toward the Word ceases to be subtle and turns to open hostility. That happened when the crowd Stephen confronted covered their ears, drove him out of the city, and stoned him to death (Acts 7:57-60). Countless others throughout history have felt the fatal blows of those whose resentment of God’s truth turned to hatred for His people.
Receiving the Word includes being quick to hear what it says and slow to anger when it disagrees with your opinions or confronts your sin. Is that your attitude? Do you welcome its reproof and heed its warnings, or do you secretly resent it? When a Christian brother or sister confronts a sin in your life, do you accept or reject their counsel?
Suggestions for Prayer
Thank God for the power of His Word to convict you and drive you to repentance. Welcome its correction with humility and thanksgiving.
For Further Study
Read 2 Timothy 4:1-5, noting the charge Paul gave to Timothy and his reason for giving it