Truth and Love (Part 2 of 2)2 John 1:1-3
Christians are often accused of intolerance for believing Jesus is the only Savior, the only hope for eternal life. Learn why it’s imperative that the church stands by Scripture’s truths, regardless of public opinion. Listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.
From the Sermon
You Will Exit the Box
In my years as a pastor, I’ve conducted countless funeral services. I remember one in particular, though, for the lesson that it taught me.
When I arrived at the funeral home, I was asked to wait in a side room. Being an inquisitive soul, I looked around and realized that I was sitting beside miniature coffins—models with their ends sawn off so that you could see what the inside of each coffin looked like.
As I was sitting there, I began to think of what it would be like not just to look inside but to be inside. I became greatly disturbed. I said to myself, “I am a Christian. I believe in the resurrection of the body. I believe that I will die and go to heaven.” And yet, I still looked at the coffin and thought to myself, “I don’t want to go in one of these things!”
Then the thought came to me: “What comes to the unbeliever’s mind when he or she thinks of death and dying?”
In the late 1960s, the United Kingdom introduced grids painted on the roads at particularly busy intersections, called box junctions, accompanied by signs that read, “Do not enter the box unless your exit is clear.” The purpose of these grids and signs was to help aid traffic flow. But that day in the funeral home, what entered my mind was how apt that sign’s warning is when we consider that we will all be dead and lie in a coffin. Though my body will one day be in a box, my soul will have departed—and my exit must then be clear.
Everybody knows that death is coming. The statistics are clear: one out of one dies. The affairs of life lead inescapably toward the end. Yet God the Son, who existed “before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20) has come into time in order that we may know a Savior, a Friend, and a Lord and so that we might be prepared for—and even long for!—all that eternity will bring.
You may be one of many who are prepared for just about everything that might possibly happen—except for your exit from the box. But that exit is the one thing for which you must be prepared. You will stand before God. You will give an account for your life. But the message of the gospel is that you do not need to fear that day, provided that you are trusting in Christ to bring you through. And if you are, then you can look at a coffin and speak to your fears, for though your earthly flesh may end up in one, your soul will not; and you will enjoy a resurrection body that never sees the inside of a wooden box. “Do not enter the box unless your exit is clear”—but, gloriously, your route through is signposted with the blood of Christ and your heavenly destination awaits. Have no fear.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
17Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles3 off, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.4 Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
28When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved5 in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus
38Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Walk in the Truth
For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.
The truth was in Gaius, and Gaius walked in the truth. If the first had not been the case, the second could never have occurred; and if the second could not be said of him, the first would have been a mere pretense. Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it, or else it is of no value.
Doctrines held as a matter of creed are like bread in the hand, which provides no nourishment to the body; but doctrine accepted by the heart is like food digested, which by assimilation sustains and builds up the body.
In us truth must be a living force, an active energy, an indwelling reality, a part of the warp and woof of our being. If it is in us, we cannot then part with it.
A man may lose his clothes or his limbs, but his inward parts are vital and cannot be torn away without absolute loss of life. A Christian can die, but he cannot deny the truth.
Now it is a rule of nature that the inward affects the outward, as light shines from the center of the lantern through the glass: When, therefore, the truth is kindled within, its brightness soon shines in the outward life and conversation.
It is said that the food of certain worms colors the cocoons of silk that they spin: And in the same way the nutriment upon which a man’s inward nature lives gives a tinge to every word and deed proceeding from him.
To walk in the truth conveys a life of integrity, holiness, faithfulness, and simplicity—the natural product of those principles of truth that the Gospel teaches and that the Spirit of God enables us to receive.
We may judge the secrets of the soul by their appearance in the man’s behavior. Today, O gracious Spirit, let it be ours to be ruled and governed by Your divine authority, so that nothing false or sinful may reign in our hearts, in case it should extend its malignant influence to our everyday lives in the community.
1 Chronicles 24
David Organizes the Priests
1The divisions of the sons of Aaron were these. The sons of Aaron: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 2But Nadab and Abihu died before their father and had no children, so Eleazar and Ithamar became the priests. 3With the help of Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, David organized them according to the appointed duties in their service. 4Since more chief men were found among the sons of Eleazar than among the sons of Ithamar, they organized them under sixteen heads of fathers' houses of the sons of Eleazar, and eight of the sons of Ithamar. 5They divided them by lot, all alike, for there were sacred officers and officers of God among both the sons of Eleazar and the sons of Ithamar. 6And the scribe Shemaiah, the son of Nethanel, a Levite, recorded them in the presence of the king and the princes and Zadok the priest and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar and the heads of the fathers' houses of the priests and of the Levites, one father's house being chosen for Eleazar and one chosen for Ithamar.
7The first lot fell to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, 8the third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim, 9the fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin, 10the seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, 11the ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah, 12the eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim, 13the thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab, 14the fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer, 15the seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Happizzez, 16the nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezkel, 17the twenty-first to Jachin, the twenty-second to Gamul, 18the twenty-third to Delaiah, the twenty-fourth to Maaziah. 19These had as their appointed duty in their service to come into the house of the Lord according to the procedure established for them by Aaron their father, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded him.
20And of the rest of the sons of Levi: of the sons of Amram, Shubael; of the sons of Shubael, Jehdeiah. 21Of Rehabiah: of the sons of Rehabiah, Isshiah the chief. 22Of the Izharites, Shelomoth; of the sons of Shelomoth, Jahath. 23The sons of Hebron:1 Jeriah the chief,2 Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, Jekameam the fourth. 24The sons of Uzziel, Micah; of the sons of Micah, Shamir. 25The brother of Micah, Isshiah; of the sons of Isshiah, Zechariah. 26The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. The sons of Jaaziah: Beno.3 27The sons of Merari: of Jaaziah, Beno, Shoham, Zaccur, and Ibri. 28Of Mahli: Eleazar, who had no sons. 29Of Kish, the sons of Kish: Jerahmeel. 30The sons of Mushi: Mahli, Eder, and Jerimoth. These were the sons of the Levites according to their fathers' houses. 31These also, the head of each father's house and his younger brother alike, cast lots, just as their brothers the sons of Aaron, in the presence of King David, Zadok, Ahimelech, and the heads of fathers' houses of the priests and of the Levites.
1 Chronicles 25
David Organizes the Musicians
1David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. The list of those who did the work and of their duties was: 2Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah, sons of Asaph, under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied under the direction of the king. 3Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei,1 Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. 4Of Heman, the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth. 5All these were the sons of Heman the king's seer, according to the promise of God to exalt him, for God had given Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. 6They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king. 7The number of them along with their brothers, who were trained in singing to the Lord, all who were skillful, was 288. 8And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike.
9The first lot fell for Asaph to Joseph; the second to Gedaliah, to him and his brothers and his sons, twelve; 10the third to Zaccur, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 11the fourth to Izri, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 12the fifth to Nethaniah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 13the sixth to Bukkiah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 14the seventh to Jesharelah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 15the eighth to Jeshaiah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 16the ninth to Mattaniah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 17the tenth to Shimei, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 18the eleventh to Azarel, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 19the twelfth to Hashabiah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 20to the thirteenth, Shubael, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 21to the fourteenth, Mattithiah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 22to the fifteenth, to Jeremoth, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 23to the sixteenth, to Hananiah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 24to the seventeenth, to Joshbekashah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 25to the eighteenth, to Hanani, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 26to the nineteenth, to Mallothi, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 27to the twentieth, to Eliathah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 28to the twenty-first, to Hothir, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 29to the twenty-second, to Giddalti, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 30to the twenty-third, to Mahazioth, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 31to the twenty-fourth, to Romamti-ezer, his sons and his brothers, twelve.
Shepherd the Flock of God
1So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,1 not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;2 not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
12By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14Greet one another with the kiss of love.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Rulers and Prophets Denounced
1And I said:
Hear, you heads of Jacob
and rulers of the house of Israel!
Is it not for you to know justice?—
2you who hate the good and love the evil,
who tear the skin from off my people1
and their flesh from off their bones,
3who eat the flesh of my people,
and flay their skin from off them,
and break their bones in pieces
and chop them up like meat in a pot,
like flesh in a cauldron.
4Then they will cry to the Lord,
but he will not answer them;
he will hide his face from them at that time,
because they have made their deeds evil.
5Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets
who lead my people astray,
who cry “Peace”
when they have something to eat,
but declare war against him
who puts nothing into their mouths.
6Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision,
and darkness to you, without divination.
The sun shall go down on the prophets,
and the day shall be black over them;
7the seers shall be disgraced,
and the diviners put to shame;
they shall all cover their lips,
for there is no answer from God.
8But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the Lord,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression
and to Israel his sin.
9Hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob
and rulers of the house of Israel,
who detest justice
and make crooked all that is straight,
10who build Zion with blood
and Jerusalem with iniquity.
11Its heads give judgment for a bribe;
its priests teach for a price;
its prophets practice divination for money;
yet they lean on the Lord and say,
“Is not the Lord in the midst of us?
No disaster shall come upon us.”
12Therefore because of you
Zion shall be plowed as a field;
Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins,
and the mountain of the house a wooded height.
Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees
1In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
Have No Fear
4“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.1 Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?2 And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Acknowledge Christ Before Men
8“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
The Parable of the Rich Fool
13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Do Not Be Anxious
22And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?3 26If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,4 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31Instead, seek his5 kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
32“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
You Must Be Ready
35“Stay dressed for action6 and keep your lamps burning, 36and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those servants7 whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he8 would not have left his house to be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
41Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43Blessed is that servant9 whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Not Peace, but Division
49“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Interpreting the Time
54He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
Settle with Your Accuser
57“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”10
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