A Christian Manifesto (Part 2 of 3)Luke 6:20-27
You probably wouldn’t close a personal letter with a statement like “Wishing you poverty, hunger, and sadness.” And yet, Jesus taught that the poor, hungry, and sad are blessed! Find out what He meant when you join us on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.
Refreshment for Harder Days
All of us have surely found ourselves in a spiritual valley when we expected to be on a mountaintop. Perhaps when we least anticipated it, physical fatigue set in, or we received discouraging news, or a besetting sin returned to plague us. Troubling circumstances in our lives often converge, precipitating a change from faith to fear.
The prophet Elijah found himself hiding in the wilderness largely because his focus had changed: he had started to look at God through his circumstances rather than looking at his circumstances through God. He had magnified his life’s difficulties, and it paralyzed him. As he began to walk by sight instead of faith, his peace was disrupted and his spiritual prosperity was eroded.
Elijah had fallen into the “self” trap. Focusing on the many failures of the Israelites towards God, he had fallen prey to the notion that he was the only one who was serving God (1 Kings 19:10). His faith and hope were replaced by discontent and a lack of peace. In self-pity, he ran away to the desert, lying down on the job under a broom tree, praying to die. Yet instead of judging him or chastising him, God came to Elijah and refreshed him with food and drink, preparing him for the journey ahead. With a gentle whisper, the Lord then revealed Himself afresh to His downcast servant and reinstated him, giving him a whole new list of duties to perform (v 4-16).
During trying times, we often allow self-pity to settle in. We begin to think we are the only one who is facing such trials. Some of us may relate to Elijah’s experience; the Lord used us greatly, and we had influence for the gospel in the past, but, for whatever reason, we’re now a long way from that mountaintop. God may let us get so low—but he never leaves us there. As the angel was with Elijah when he was in his valley, so God’s Spirit is with us in ours.
If you find yourself in the desert, don’t just find a broom tree to lie down under. Don’t assume your best days lie behind you. God has a purpose for you and me. He completes what He begins (Philippians 1:6). Be refreshed by the reminder of God’s presence and press on in the work He has called you to.
Treasure in Jars of Clay
7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self4 is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Is the Lord Jesus Your Representative?
An anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.
Blessed be His name, there was no cause of death in Him. Neither original nor actual sin had defiled Him, and therefore death had no claim upon Him. No man could have taken His life from Him justly, for He had done no man wrong, and no man could even have taken Him by force unless He had been pleased to yield Himself to die.
But lo, one sins, and another suffers. Justice was offended by us but found its satisfaction in Him. Rivers of tears, mountains of offerings, seas of the blood of bulls, and hills of frankincense could not have availed for the removal of sin; but Jesus was cut off for us, and the cause of wrath was cut off at once, for sin was put away forever.
Herein is wisdom, whereby substitution, the sure and speedy way of atonement, was devised! Herein is condescension, which brought the Messiah, the Prince, to wear a crown of thorns and die upon the cross! Herein is love, which led the Redeemer to lay down His life for His enemies!
It is not enough, however, to admire the spectacle of the innocent bleeding for the guilty—we must make sure of our personal interest. The special object of the Messiah’s death was the salvation of His Church. Do we have a part and a place among those for whom He gave His life as a ransom? Did the Lord Jesus stand as our representative? Are we healed by His stripes? It will be a terrible thing indeed if we should come short of a portion in His sacrifice; it were better for us that we had never been born.
Solemn as the question is, it is a joyful circumstance that it is one that may be answered clearly and without mistake. To all who believe on Him the Lord Jesus is a present Savior, and upon them all the blood of reconciliation has been sprinkled. Let all who trust in the merit of Messiah’s death be joyful at every remembrance of Him, and let their holy gratitude lead them to the fullest consecration to His cause.
Abraham and the Covenant of Circumcision
1When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty;1 walk before me, and be blameless, 2that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4“Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5No longer shall your name be called Abram,2 but your name shall be Abraham,3 for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
9And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
Isaac's Birth Promised
15And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah4 shall be her name. 16I will bless her, and moreover, I will give5 you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.6 I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”
22When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. 23Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. 24Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs
1And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2He answered them,1 “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees
5When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” 8But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock2 I will build my church, and the gates of hell3 shall not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed4 in heaven.” 20Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
21From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord!5 This shall never happen to you.” 23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance6 to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus
24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever would save his life7 will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Conspiracy Against Nehemiah
1Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. 3And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” 4And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. 5In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. 6In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem1 also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. 7And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” 8Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” 9For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God,2 strengthen my hands.
10Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” 11But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live?3 I will not go in.” 12And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. 14Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.
The Wall Is Finished
15So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. 17Moreover, in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah's letters came to them. 18For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as his wife. 19Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.
Timothy Joins Paul and Silas
1Paul1 came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2He was well spoken of by the brothers2 at Lystra and Iconium. 3Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
The Macedonian Call
6And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10And when Paul3 had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
The Conversion of Lydia
11So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the4 district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
Paul and Silas in Prison
16As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants5 of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
19But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
The Philippian Jailer Converted
25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29And the jailer6 called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
35But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
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