Category Archives: Bible

Philippians 4:1-3

During the week, I often find myself on the road with nothing but the radio to keep me occupied. During this last week, I traveled to Lorain OH, Albany NY, and Altoona PA. Along the way, I listened to a variety of political speeches, radio talk shows, and Bible lessons. If you are familiar with radio talk shows, you know that they seem to be very good at getting you mad about the state of the country without providing a workable solution for fixing anything. Although I enjoy hearing the opinions proposed on the shows, I have come to the conclusion that they are like drinking too much Mountain Dew. They produce a lot of energy but don’t always help the situation as much as you would think. In our message today, I would like us to consider some very important things. But let us be sure to temper our excitement with the right attitudes.

Read Philippians 4:1-3.

“Therefore” reminds us of what Paul has taught us at the end of chapter three. He had told the believers to think, live, and wait like a mature believer. Because we are not living for earthly pleasures but are awaiting our heavenly home, we should have right thinking that affects the way we live and what we focus on.

In the first three verses of chapter four, Paul gives three directives to the people in Philippi. We see these in the verbs he uses: stand fast (1), be of the same mind (2), and help (3). These were things that the church at Philippi needed when Paul wrote to them. However, we don’t look at these directives just to think about what other people needed years ago. We look at them to see how they apply to us today. As we look at each one, consider how the directive may apply to each of us.

  1. Stand fast in the Lord (Phil. 4:1).

    This first directive reminds me of something that happened this week. My wife sent me a picture of one of our Pekin ducks. Poor Paddy seemed to be stuck fast in the muck. Thankfully, he was able to extricate himself, but warmer weather would have dried the mud and had him stuck in place. While this verse is not talking about getting stuck in the mud, it is talking about being firmly entrenched in the teaching about the Lord Jesus.

    To better understand the situation, let us consider two questions about this Bible verse.

    To whom was he talking?

    Paul was talking to the believers in the church at Philippi. But they were more than just Christians he had met at some point in the past. He loved them very much. “The apostle’s affection for this congregation is revealed by his love and longing for them and his calling them his brothers…, his joy and crown (stephanos, the runner’s wreath or victor’s crown…), and his dear friends… . These saints were to their spiritual father what victory wreaths were to runners in the Greek races” (Lightner 663). These were people that Paul knew well and had developed a close relationship with. “It is evident from these words that this was, indeed, a fine congregation” (Hendriksen 190).

    What did he want them to do?

    They were to stand fast in the Lord. Stand fast is another way of saying that they needed a firm foundation so that they would not be easily moved. This reminds me of the short block walls on either side of the basement entrance to our house. When originally built, the block were filled with concrete and iron bars so as to keep the dirt from moving them onto the sidewalk. With such a firm foundation, they have held up against pressure for many years.

    But what do retaining walls have to do with standing firm in the Lord? As you may recall, there were some troublesome people who were actively trying to mislead the believers in Philippi. Some were preaching about Christ with bad motives (1:15). Some were trying to convince the church that Jewish practices were still required for Christians (3:2). Some were focused on earthly things instead of heavenly (3:18-19).

    With all of these bad influences vying for their attention, Paul wanted his dear friends to stand fast in the Lord. But what did this mean? It meant that they needed to keep their motives right, their understanding of Christ right, and their focus right. They needed to stand firm in the true teaching about Christ so that they would not be moved from that solid foundation.

    This is a needed reminder for us today. In the past, there were fewer people influencing us. In Paul’s time, any traveling preacher who claimed to be a Christian would have been received with gladness. The early church was being persecuted by Jewish zealots, the government, and idol worshipers. They were the minority and needed as much encouragement and teaching as could be offered.

    But for us today, we can hear Bible teaching all day long. You hear it on the radio, on television, in books and magazines, and on the internet. And how much of it is good? The only way to know what is good doctrine is to compare what is being said to what God has revealed in the Bible. There are many smiling preachers on television, but not all of them will help you to stand firm in the truth of the Bible. So make the time to study the Bible and consider what is true. Then stand firm in that. This is what God wants for every believer.

  2. Be of the same mind in the Lord (Phil. 4:2).

    Being like-minded is something that doesn’t come naturally for us. During a recent trip to Detroit, I stopped at a White Castle restaurant for some sliders. My Ohio State sweatshirt was probably not very welcomed that deep into Michigan. But I still struck up a conversation with a man with a University of Michigan sweatshirt. I found out that his son played in the marching band at U of M and that he was displeased with the current football coach. That led to an interesting conversation which we both enjoyed. I guess love does cover a multitude of sins! While we didn’t root for the same football team, we were able to set aside our differences and enjoy a short conversation.

    As we look at Paul’s second directive, you will quickly see that two people were not very like-minded.

    To whom was he talking?

    Paul was not shy about mentioning people by name in his epistles. These apostolic letters were meant for the betterment of individual people in local congregations. Because of that, the people would not be surprised that he knew them by name or that he knew about sticky situations they were currently facing. And “after such an endearing introduction addressed to each and to all, the needed admonition intended for two individuals cannot seem harsh” (Hendriksen 190).

    In verse two, Paul addressed two women whose names are not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. Their names were Euodia and Syntyche. While we don’t know much about them, “it seems that they were causing dissension in the assembly” (Lightner 663). It is assumed that these women were not getting along with each other. We don’t know what the issue was, but can imagine the reality of such a situation because we have experienced it before.

    Over the years, we have all seen individuals not get along. Sad to say, it is a common thing with us. One person has a certain view about something but another person differs strongly. The disagreement ferments for a while and then the emotions get involved. There have been times (or so I have heard) where church business meetings have turned into fist fights. This is certainly not good. Jesus Himself told us that his disciples would be known by their “love for one another” (John 13:35). He also told the Jewish believers to get things right with a brother before offering an offering on the altar (Matt. 5:23-24).

    Apparently, there were two women in the church at Philippi who had a strong disagreement about something and everyone in the church knew about it. These two women were the subject of Paul’s second directive.

    What did he want them to do?

    He wanted them to have the same mind in the Lord. What exactly does this mean? “He did not mean they must be carbon copies of each other. They may have differences of opinion about many different things, but that will not separate two people who have the mind of Christ. It is one of the glorious truths about the body of Christ that each member can be different and yet all are one in Christ” (McGee 320).

    So what does it mean to have the same mind in the Lord? It means that they were both to have the same attitudes that Jesus had. We often look at the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). But do you remember the attitudes of Christ mentioned earlier in this epistle? They were love and humility (Phil. 2:1-8). If these women were to love one another and show Christ-like humility, they would find it much easier to get along with each other despite their differences.

    Applying this principle to other people is easy, but much harder to apply to ourselves. We tend to get caught up in our own thinking about issues and then forget to be loving and humble toward the other person. Maybe this is something that we need to hear today. It may be that there is something bothering you about someone else in the church. Maybe your ideas are different than theirs. Or maybe it is someone outside of the church. Whatever the case may be, allow the love and humility of the Lord to temper the differences and discussion. Only then can we hope to “be of the same mind in the Lord.”

  3. Help those who have labored for the Lord (Phil. 4:3).

    Over the last several years, our church has had a number of people visit and minister to us. Some have been pastors of churches. Some have been missionaries. As we recall their time with us, there is one thing that they all had in common. They were people who were laboring for the Lord. As Paul addresses the need of these two women, he enlists the help of another Christian but also notes the ministry experience he had with these two women.

    To whom was he talking?

    As I studied this verse, I learned something new. When Paul addressed his yoke fellow in verse 3, he may have been using “yokefellow” as a proper name (see Lightner 663). The Greek word σύζυγε means “an associate, comrade, fellow laborer” (Mounce) or “a person who pulls well in a harness for two” (Hendriksen 191). If Paul was calling this person by name, he certainly “was true to his name. A similar pun occurs in Philem. 11 ‘Onesimus (Useful) who once was useless to you but now it useful to you and to me.’ It is safe to infer that Syzygus, about whom we have no further information, was one of Paul’s comrades or associates in the work of the gospel” (Hendriksen 191).

    We may not have enough evidence in this verse to make a definitive declaration about the individual addressed by Paul. But we do know that the one being addressed was someone Paul trusted to take care of the situation.

    What did he want him to do?

    Paul’s love for these two Christian women is evidenced by his concern for them. Because of this, he wanted this man to help them. “Paul knew he could count on him to work with the women and bring them back to fellowship with each other and with the Lord” (Lightner 663). They needed help and Paul directed his friend to do what was needed to reconcile the two.

    As if it wasn’t enough to just ask for help, Paul explained why he was so concerned. These women had labored with him in the gospel. Somehow, they were part of his ministry either there in Philippi or somewhere else. “Well does the apostle remember the time when they contended at his side … against a common foe and in the gospel-cause” (Hendriksen 191).

    This is quite interesting as we often think that men are the Scriptural ministers of the church. But here Paul mentions these women as a vital part of his ministry team. Ladies, do you feel that you are a useful part of your church’s ministry. I can think of many things that would not get done if it weren’t for the ladies in our church. While our roles may be different, please know that your ministry is noted and applauded.

    How could these women be helped?

    The practical application of this verse is both simple and difficult. Helping two people to overcome their differences is not as easy as you would think—especially if you have gone through such an experience. There is often more heat than light and personal feelings can get in the way of reconciliation. But this shouldn’t keep us from trying to help others. As noted earlier, the key to overcoming differences is having the love and humility of our Lord. When we love others, differences don’t seem as important. When we are humble, we don’t view ourselves as the only one with the right perspective.

    Something that goes along with this is found at the end of verse three. When Paul refers to all of his fellow workers, he purposely states that their names “are in the Book of Life.” This is a good reminder that even though we may have personal differences with other Christians, we must remember that God has placed them in the Book of Life just as we were. We are all sinful people whom God has graciously chosen to save. Try to keep this in mind when conflict arises with a fellow believer.


As we think back on what we have learned today, we should remember the three main points. First, we need to stand fast in the Lord. Each of us needs to have a biblical foundation for what we believe and how we act. Without it, we can easily be moved by the next popular religious speaker on television. Read your Bible, meditate on the Scriptures, and base your thoughts and actions on it. Second, we need to be of the same mind in the Lord. Each of us needs to base our thinking on the love and humility of the Lord. When we do this, our interactions with others will be much different. Third, we need to help other Christians. No matter how much experience one may have, each of us needs the help of others in the Body of Christ.

One of the things that I have learned is that standing firm and being humble are not the same. It is easy to march with others for a great cause. And if you think about it, we have a great cause to stand for. We are serving the Lord and should not let anything pull us away from what He desires. But along with a firm stand, we need to be humble in how we do it. There may come a time when some of us have differences of opinion about somethings. Let’s remember to be humble when that day comes.


Hendriksen, William, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994, pp.189-92.

Lightfoot, J. B., St Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975, pp. 157-59.

Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, p. 663.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. V, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, p. 320.

σύζυγος as viewed at on 5/6/2023.

Matthew 6:19-34

If you watch the evening news, listen to talk radio, or subscribe to the newspaper, you are well aware that our economy is not doing very well. The price of eggs, gasoline, and restaurant food had risen quite a bit. On a recent trip through New York, I stopped at a rest area to get something to eat. I took a chicken salad sandwich and a bottle of pop to the counter and was surprised when the price was $13.73. But don’t worry, if you need help, McDonalds is offering more than that per hour for new workers!

High prices and low income often lead to worry. What about the future? Will our family have enough money this month? Will I ever be able to retire? Is the stock market safe to invest in? What is going to happen? In this chapter, Jesus addressed these questions. He talks about both wealth and worry. As we look at these verses, listen carefully and learn from what He says.

  1. Wealth is not a good treasure (Matt. 6:19-21).

    It has been interesting to read articles about a new form of money called crypto currency. You may have heard about Bitcoin. A Central American country decided to do away with their currency and use Bitcoin instead. However, this week, I read an article about several times where the new currency was hacked by computer thieves. What seemed to be a safe investment now could disappear without explanation.

    Earthly treasure can be lost. Jesus told his disciples that hoarding physical treasure was a risky thing. If your treasure was expensive clothing, a moth could eat holes in it. If your treasure was made of metal, it could be destroyed by rust. If your treasure was locked away, it could be broken into and stolen. All of these treasures have the possibility of losing their value. The point is that physical treasure is not a wise investment for a Christian.

    Question: Is it wrong to have money or to save or invest it? No. “Neither here nor elsewhere is the possession of wealth condemned: it is being enslaved to riches that is fatal, and to possess great riches without being enslaved is not easy” (Plummer 107). Jesus’ point is that we should not be hoarding riches which can so easily be lost. Instead, we should invest in something better.

    Heavenly treasure will never be lost. Jesus contrasted earthly treasures with treasures in heaven. What was he talking about? “Spiritual treasure should be defined as broadly as possible as everything that believers can take with them beyond the grave e.g. holiness of character, obedience to all of God’s commandments, souls won for Christ, and disciples nurtured in the faith” (Blomberg 123).

    We could add Sunday School classes taught, missionaries sent, or money invested in supporting God’s work. These heavenly treasures will not lose their value during a recession or burglary but will have value for eternity. They are worthy investments for Christians to make.

    Wealth can take your focus away from what is most important. Jesus wisely noted that what someone values will be the focus of his heart. When you value earthly treasures, your mind will constantly be thinking about them. When you value spiritual treasures, your mind will be constantly thinking about them.

    What is it that has captured your heart? If you are constantly thinking about earthly treasures, consider what Jesus says here. Devote your heart’s attention to what really matters.

  2. Wealth is not a good master (Matt. 6:24).

    “Against those who might protest that they can accumulate both spiritual and earthly treasures, Jesus replies that they have only two options. They must choose between competing loyalties” (Blomberg 124).”

    You can only be devoted to one master. When we hire a new driver for DSB Transport, we make it clear that the on-call driving job needs to be the primary job. If someone wants to drive for Uber, there is always the possibility of a conflict. So, the driver needs to choose whether he will make this job the priority to alleviate any conflicts with other jobs.

    Jesus told his disciples that it is impossible to serve two masters. Back then many people were slaves not servants. Imagine a slave who was owned by two masters. How would he know which one to obey if there was a conflict of commands? One master tells him to go into town. The other tells him to harvest the crop. Which one would he obey?

    You can’t love God and riches at the same time. Jesus used the two Master illustration to show how someone could not serve the Lord and mammon at the same time. Mammon is “the Aramaic word for ‘wealth or property'” (Barbieri 33). Someone who serves the Lord, puts Him in front of all other activities. Someone who serves riches, will put them in front of all other priorities.

    Think about this. “Jesus proclaims that unless we are willing to serve him wholeheartedly in every area of our life, but particularly with our material resources, we cannot claim to be serving him at all” (Blomberg 124). Which one are you serving? Are you completely given over to what the Lord wants in your life, or are you too concerned with acquiring wealth to have any time for Him?

  3. Worry is not a good practice (Matt. 6:25-34).

    It is easy to talk about worry and to agree that it is not helpful. But this brings up an important question. “If a person is occupied with the things of God, the true Master, how will he care for his ordinary needs in life, such as food, clothing, and shelter?” (Barbieri 33) It is a real question and one that Jesus answers in this next section.

    Don’t worry about your food and clothing (25-32). “Christians must plan for the future, but they need not be anxious” (Blomberg 125). Jesus tells us to stop worrying about needs such as food and clothing. He points to God’s provision for the birds. God the Father feeds them and they don’t have to plant crops and store the produce in barns. If God provides for the birds so easily, why should we worry?

    Jesus then asks two question: (1) Are you not more valuable than the birds? God has made you His sons and daughters. You are more valuable to Him than the birds. Think about that. (2) Does your worry have any real power to make changes? He actually asks if worry can add a cubit to your stature.* The answer is obviously no. We can’t make ourselves taller by worrying. So what is the use of worrying?

    Jesus tells us not to worry about clothing our family. With thrift stores on every corner, it seems strange to wonder how our family will be clothed, but for some people this is a real and pressing need. Jesus points us to the lilies in the field. These flowers don’t rise up early and go to bed late worrying about what they will wear the next day. But God still makes them more beautiful than Solomon with all his wealth. If God can clothe the flowers in the field, despite the fact that they have a very temporary life span, why don’t we trust Him to provide for our clothing?

    This morning, we looked at people Paul knew who were only concerned with the here and now. They lived to feed their appetites and were focused on earthly things instead of the real future in heaven. If we are not careful, we can be tempted to be like that. Are you trusting the Lord to meet these basic needs? Or are you daily bothered by worry wondering how things will turn out tomorrow? Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Prov. 3:5-6). He will take care of you.

    Make God’s purposes your first priority (33). Jesus tells us to replace our worry with seeking after God’s kingdom and His righteousness. There are two thoughts here: kingdom and righteousness. First, we should seek His kingdom. We ought to find out what our King’s intentions are and do our part to promote His policies and plans. Second, we should seek His righteousness. We ought to live our lives patterned after His perfect example. We will never be perfect, but we should seek to live in a way that pleases Him. As a result, when we are seeking God’s kingdom and living righteously, He will provide for our needs. We don’t need to worry.

    Does that seem too simplistic? Does it seem too difficult? Whatever your thoughts, it is plain that the Lord values us and has promised to provide for our needs when we do as He has commanded. So trust Him and do what He says. You will see that He always keeps His promises.

    Don’t fret about tomorrow (34). Jesus concludes His thoughts by telling us not to worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about its own problems. Today’s troubles are all you need to take care of right now. “We are not to carry cares before they come. We are to attend to to-day’s business, and leave to-morrow’s anxieties till to-morrow dawns” (Riley 61).

    We often think about issues that might happen in the future. These issues and their possible outcomes are often what keep us up at night worrying. But does worrying really make a difference? Does worrying remove the problem or the possibility? No, it only makes us feel worse. Instead of worrying, let the Lord take care of each situation.


Jesus made several things very clear today. Wealth is not a good treasure. Instead of focusing on physical treasures that can be destroyed or stolen, we should focus on spiritual treasure that will last for eternity. Wealth is not a good master. Instead of being pulled in two directions, we should choose to serve only the Lord and trust Him to meet our daily needs. Worry is not a good practice. Instead of worrying about our physical needs, we should trust the Lord to provide as we faithfully serve Him.

What is it that the Lord has spoken to you about today? I hope that you will choose to set aside whatever it is that is turning you from the Lord. If it is your desire for wealth or your worry about future possibilities, realize that the Lord loves you and will meet your needs. You just need to follow Him and trust Him.


* If your Bible talks about adding time to life rather than a cubit to stature, consider this: “The NIV marginal note ‘single cubit to his height’ is a somewhat more natural translation of the Greek than ‘single hour to his life,’ but it does not fit as well into the context. Adding a foot and one half to one’s height is not the trifling amount Jesus’ flow of thought seems to demand, and stature does not fit the context of provisions of food and clothing nearly as well as longevity” (Blomberg 125). Also, “ἡλικία size, age. The passage can refer to the length of life or to the size or stature of the person” (R&R 19).


Barbieri Jr., Louis A., “Matthew” in Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, 33.

Blomberg, Craig L., Matthew, Vol. 22 of The New American Commentary, Nashville: Broadman, 1992, 122-27.

Plummer, Alfred, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew, Minneapolis: James Family, reprint n.d., 105-110. (Note: This commentary was not very helpful. It seems that the author likes to quote the Talmud and other Jewish texts with as much authority as the Bible.)

Rienecker, Fritz and Cleon Rogers, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980, 19.

Ryle, J. C., Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Vol. 1, Matthew – Mark, Grand Rapids: Baker, reprint 1977, 55-61.

Philippians 3:15-21

When the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs, it was a big surprise. After the game, a reporter asked Giannis Antetokounmpo if he felt like a failure. Giannis was not happy with the question and told the reporter that his success wasn’t tied to one game. Sure, everyone wants to win the championship, but every day provides an opportunity to work hard and do better.

Sometimes the Christian life is much the same. There are ups and downs, victories and defeats, and emotions of all kinds. But through it all, we seek to grow in our relationship with the Lord and hope to do better each day. However, it is easy to talk about things like this but not have a plan to accomplish them. So, what can a Christian do to be successful for the Lord? As we read through Philippians 3:15-21, we will see three things that can help us to stay on the right track.

  1. Think like a mature believer (Philippians 3:15-16).

    Nancy Gallion’s mother was known for clever sayings. One of them was, “One junior high boy, half a brain. Two junior high boys, no brains.” We all understand what it was like at that age. Boys tend to be impulsive daredevils who act first and then think. The problem is that this often ends in trouble.

    Christians who wish to be mature must also learn to think before acting. One of the ways to find God’s wisdom is to read the Bible. The Book of Proverbs is full of wise sayings that will help any person to gain discernment and wisdom. As you read the Bible and understand God’s way of thinking, it will change your mind. This is what Paul wanted for the Philippian believers.

    What mind should we have? (15a)

    Paul called on the mature believers to have a certain mindset or way of thinking. But what is this mind? Look back to what Paul said in verses 12-14. He talked about pressing on and wanting to hear the “well done” of God upon his entrance into heaven. This is the mindset he was referring to. We should let these same goals be what controls our thinking.

    How will God correct our thinking? (15b)

    Notice what Paul says at the end of verse 15. If anyone thought differently, he stated that God would eventually reveal the truth of what he was saying to that believer. I have heard people say things like this before in an arrogant way. But I don’t think that is what Paul was saying. He knew that there could be some immature believers who were not yet convinced of the wisdom of this mindset. But he also knew that God was able to teach them and mature them in His good time.

    Can you think back to when you were a young Christian? There were times when I was young that my mouth talked before I thought. Sometimes I thought that I was smarter than my teachers. There are times when we are not very teachable but there are also times when we finally understand what God wants us to learn.

    What have each of us attained? (16)

    Paul begins verse 16 with a big “nevertheless.” This was his way of giving room to those who were not yet convinced. As we grow as Christians, we are all at different levels of maturity. Some have learned to trust the Lord for their needs while others have not. Some have learned to pray while others have not. Some are good at speaking for the Lord while others are not. Some have learned to control their temper while others have not. We are all striving to become better for the Lord, but we are all at different levels in various areas.

    So, wherever you find yourself today, thank God for what has been attained. Thank Him for what He has taught you, where He has brought you, and what He is currently doing in your life. Wherever you are as a Christian today, keep working at it. “The principle — namely ‘We are still far from perfect, but in Christ we should strive to become perfect’ — has been enunciated and exemplified. Let our lives be regulated by the consistent application of this principle. It must never be surrendered” (Hendriksen 177).

    In verses 15-16, Paul tells us to develop a proper way of thinking. We need to be motivated in our minds to press on and seek God’s “well done.” And as we seek to do that, we need to allow God to change our minds and develop our thinking so that we think as we should.

  2. Live like a mature believer (Philippians 3:17-19).

    Now that Paul has talked about having the right mindset, he moves on to the right way of walking. He uses the idea of walking to describe the way that we should live our lives. Our lifestyle will always be affected by the way that we think. If our thinking is right, we have a much greater likelihood of making good choices. But there is another factor involved in right living. It is the examples set before us. We must follow the examples of mature believers.

    Who is a good example to follow? (17)

    Paul was an apostle. He was a mature believer whom God had saved years ago. Over the years, he had taken the time to study the Bible, to get involved in the leadership of his church, and was eventually sent out by God to spread the gospel of Jesus across the Roman empire. So, Paul was not an immature believer telling people to follow his example. He was a mature believer who had earned the respect of those he was writing to.

    But as you read earlier in the chapter, Paul didn’t consider himself to be perfect or that he had finally retired from maturing as a Christian. “The apostle was not placing himself on a pedestal, as if he were perfect, but, quite the contrary, was urging his friends to strive after perfection, in the full realization that they were still far removed from the ideal, as was he himself” (Hendriksen 179). He continued pushing forward showing himself to be a good example to follow.

    But notice something else. “When Paul urged the Philippians to imitate him, he was not thinking of himself alone but of himself in company with others…. Note the pronoun we instead of I in the continuation” (Hendriksen 180). Paul usually traveled with other Christians on his missionary journeys. The lives of his travel companions were also an example to those to whom they ministered. This is a good time to think about your own example. It is not just the one in the pulpit who should be an example. Let’s all be an example for others to follow.

    Who is a bad example to follow? (18-19)

    We all know that there are two types of examples: good and bad. In verses 18-19, Paul noted that there were some who had become such bad examples that he considered them “enemies of the cross of Christ.” We are not told whether these were former church members but remembering them caused Paul to weep. Perhaps they were.

    These spiritual enemies had given in to earthly pleasures and were not seeking to please the Lord. Their description shows that they did not have the same mindset that Paul wanted for the Philippian believers.

    • They were enemies of the cross of Christ.
    • They were headed for destruction.
    • They were living for their appetites.
    • They were seeking glory in shameful things.
    • They were thinking about earthly things instead of heavenly.

    It seems that “the basic cause of it is that they have their hearts and minds on earthly things” (McGee 317). Their focus was on what would bring them pleasure now instead of what would gain them the Lord’s commendation in heaven in the future. Sadly, this is not something that only affected the early church. It is still something affecting people today. History is filled with accounts of religious leaders who stopped adding virtue to their faith, who became satisfied with the status quo, and who became enamored with worldly pleasures. The end result of such living is never good.

    Let us seek to follow the good examples of those who have been faithful to the Lord. As we read the biographies of great missionaries of the past, we must realize that they were not perfect. Many biographies only record the victories these people had and we sometimes get the idea that they were perfect. Let us also seek to be a good example ourselves. All of us have people within our sphere of influence whom we can help to become mature in the Lord. Just remember that we aren’t perfect and shouldn’t make ourselves look better than we actually are. Let’s also be wary of those who are bad examples. We need to mark these people and warn others of their bad influence so that the people we love are not tempted to veer away from what pleases the Lord.

  3. Wait like a mature believer (Philippians 3:20-21).

    Paul was a good example of someone who was living for the Lord. The enemies of Christ were bad examples because they were living for their own lusts. But what was it that made the difference between Paul (a mature believer) and the enemies of Christ? It was not only the mindset and lifestyle but the ability to patiently wait for the future. In verses 20-21, Paul shows that mature believers should not be infatuated with what they can get now, but that they should wait for what God has prepared for them in the future.

    Why should we wait? (20a)

    Paul uses the idea of citizenship to describe how a Christian should view this life as compared to the future. “The city of Philippi was a Roman colony. In Philippi the laws of Rome were enforced. The people wore the same kind of styles that were worn in Rome. They spoke Latin. Everything in Philippi was like Rome because it was a colonial city. Today, believers… should be a colony of heaven, and they ought to act like they act in heaven and speak the language of heaven. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, but it should be our goal” (McGee 318).

    Do you remember this old song?

    This world is not my home I’m just-a-passing through
    My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
    The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door
    And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

    This is a good explanation of how mature believers think about our time on earth. It is a temporary assignment which shouldn’t have our full attention. We shouldn’t get to the place where we are living for here and now. We should instead be thinking about where we will spend eternity. I must admit that this is difficult at times. We enjoy our lives. We enjoy the relationships, experiences, and the things we own. But when compared with eternity, are these things really that important? Shouldn’t we be thinking about the future?

    What should we be waiting for? (20b-21)

    Paul lists two things that we should be waiting for. First, he says that we are to wait for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. After all our years on earth, there will come a time when Jesus will return in the sky and call each of us to be with Him forever. That should make you smile. We will finally meet the One who loved us and gave His life for us. What a meeting that will be!

    Second, he says that we are to wait for the transformation of our earthly bodies. Some of you are especially ready for this because of aches and pains. The Bible tells us that our bodies will be changed for the good.

    1 Corinthians 15:51-52 – “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

    But think also of what it will be like to be in a body that has no temptation to sin. There will be no more lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. That, too, is something that should motivate us to be patient. We should patiently wait realizing that the sinful desires we have now don’t please the Lord and will be an embarrassment when He appears.

    There are many who tell us to enjoy our lives now. You only live once, so live well. Paul tells us to be patient. Our time of joy will come in the place where our actual citizenship is. Be patient and listen for the trumpet of God when all believers will be taken up to heaven to be with the Lord forever.


During our study of Philippians 3:15-21, we have seen a number of things. We need to think like a mature believer. Our mindset should be to press on toward pleasing the Lord. We need to live like a mature believer. Our lifestyle should be an example for other Christians to follow. We need to wait like a mature believer. Our focus should be on what God had in store for us in the future.

As we have considered these Bible verses, how has God spoken to your heart? Perhaps you have not been thinking like a mature believer. Will you repent of this and ask God to change your mind and to help you think the way He desires? Perhaps you have not been living like a mature believer. Will you repent of this and ask God for the help you need to live rightly? Perhaps you have not been waiting for Jesus. Will you repent of this and renew your focus on the future. If you will, the Lord will graciously forgive you and bring back that joy that you have been missing.


Hendriksen, William, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994, pp. 175-85.

Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, pp. 662-63.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, pp. 316-19.

Are all religions the same?

During a recent conversation, someone proposed the idea that all religions are basically the same. All of them tell people not to steal, to be nice, don’t hurt others, etc. While there is some truth to that statement, are all religions really the same? It is true that most religions teach some form of morality. You are usually considered a good person if you follow the moral principles taught by a particular religion. However, that is not what the Bible teaches.

According to the Bible, God wants people to honor Him by being like Him.

Read the Bible for any period of time and you will quickly see that God’s desires people to be holy. This means that we are to be set apart as different than others and more like Him. He wants us to be blameless (Eph. 1:4), without blemish (Eph. 5:27), holy in the way we live (1 Pet. 1:15-16), and righteous (Rev. 22:11). The newspaper paints quite a different picture of humanity. Is this holy living even a possibility for people to achieve?

According to the Bible, God knows that we are flawed and cannot be like Him.

Our perspective of humanity is often different than what God sees. We tend to think that we are mostly good but the evidence is much different. Early in human history, God noted that people had become habitually evil in thought and action (Gen. 6:5). While we are easily impressed with our “goodness,” God views our best actions as garbage (Isa. 64:6). As a whole none of us is righteous or seeks to please God (Rom. 3:10-13) and all of us sins falling far short of God’s standard of holy living (Rom. 3:23). From God’s perspective this is an internal flaw which is characteristic of all humanity. So how could any of us be holy like God if we are hopelessly flawed?

According to the Bible, only God can enable people to be like Him.

This is what differentiates what the Bible teaches from all other religions. Religions require people to do things to be accepted. God knows that we are unable to do this, so He makes the change in us so that we can be like Him. This is called the new birth. In order to be right with God, each person has to be “born again.” Jesus was talking about a total change of inner character or becoming a new person (John 3:3-7). When God convinces an individual of their sinfulness and inability to be right with Him, the only right response is to turn to Him for the answer. God provides a new life to anyone who turns from their sin and who trusts in Jesus. When God transforms that person’s life, the Spirit of God gives that individual a completely new character (2 Cor. 5:17). In essence, they become a new person from the inside out. With the enabling help of God’s Holy Spirit, believers then have the ability to live holy lives that please God (Gal. 5:16-23).

In a short article, there are only so many things that can be said. But it should be clear what the Bible teaches — that people can’t expect to be morally acceptable to God on their own. Religious activity can’t make someone less sinful to God; it only masks the inner problem. Our sinful inner character keeps us from pleasing God and pushes us to instinctively do what is wrong. Our only hope is to be changed by God and then enabled by His Holy Spirit to be like Him and to do the things He desires for us. Only God can make us what He requires us to be.

What would you have done?

During our Sunday School lesson, we studied Genesis 12 which tells how Abram followed God’s direction and moved to the land of Canaan. However, after some time, there was a severe famine which affected Abram’s situation. He eventually moved to Egypt where some negative things happened. Our lesson book made the assumption that Abram was wrong to move away from where God had told him to move. But that is not actually spelled out in the Scriptures. It left me wanting to ask the lesson’s author, “What would you have done?”

In tonight’s message, we will contemplate that question. First we will examine what Abram did and the results. Second, we will look at biblical principles that will help us to make our own decisions during difficult situations.

  1. What did Abram do? (Gen. 12:10-20)

    Genesis 12 is the inspired record of how Abram responded to a difficult situation. God gave us these stories for us to learn from so let’s take a look at what Abram did and what we can learn from his decisions. First, he made a decision based on the circumstances (10). A severe famine was affecting his ability to provide for his family, his servants, and his flocks and herds. Something had to be done and he decided to move to Egypt. Second, he preplanned how to handle a possible conflict (11-13). Abram knew what it was like in Egypt. Perhaps he had heard stories of how a man had been killed to acquire his wife. So he preplanned with Sarai how they would respond if there was a conflict. Third, he got himself into a bad situation (14-16). Despite his plan, the ruler of Egypt took Abram’s wife from him and made her part of his harem. Fourth, he escaped with God’s help (17-20). If it were not for God’s response, Abram and Sarai’s relationship would have been permanently ended. But God sent plagues that convinced the pharaoh to give her back to Abram.

    If you were to ask Abram about the decision he made, do you think he would have done things differently? Perhaps he would. But he faced a famine and the possibility of murder. He could look back and see how God protected him, but at the time, he had to make a decision and he did.

  2. What would you have done?

    Someone once disagreed with Dwight L. Moody about the way he gave the gospel. Moody responded by asking his critic how he gave the gospel. The man said that he did not, but that he still didn’t agree with Moody’s way of doing things. Moody then replied, “It is clear you don’t like my way of doing evangelism. You raise some good points. Frankly, I sometimes do not like my way of doing evangelism. But I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”

    As we consider what Abram did and the results that followed, it is easy for us to be critical of his decision making. But it would be much more difficult to make those decisions in the moment. So let’s be careful that we are not overly harsh in our criticism. Also let’s think through how we would have/could have responded in the same situation. What would you have done?

    a. The natural response

    I think it is unfair for us to judge Abram harshly for how he responded. It is far too easy to point out his lack of faith and not consider the difficulty his circumstances put him in.

    You would make a decision based on the circumstances.

    Famines are mentioned many times in the Bible: Abram (Gen. 12), Isaac (Gen. 26), Joseph (Gen. 41-45), Naomi (Ruth 1), David twice (2 Sam. 21; 1 Chron. 21), Samaria twice (1 Kings 18; 2 Kings 6), Elisha (2 Kings 8), Jerusalem under siege (2 Kings 25); and Agabus (Acts 11). During each of those times, the people were short on food and had to make a decision to provide for their families.

    If you were in the same situation, you would have to make a decision as well. As discussed this morning, several people in our church moved from another state to this area for work. When you need to provide for your family, you sometimes have to make a decision that is different than what you had originally planned. You do it in the best interest of your family.

    You would preplan how to handle a possible conflict.

    Abram and Sarai were going to be living in a land where people did not respect God or His ways. And it was a place run by a dictator named pharaoh. In that time, the pharaoh could do whatever he wanted. Knowing this fact caused Abram to preplan how they would handle the possible conflict.

    If you were in the same situation, you would have had to think about these possibilities. Since we live in a land where people often steal things, we lock our doors. Since we hear about criminal activity, we prepare ourselves in case something happens. This is not unusual. When our children were little, we taught them how to open the window and crawl onto the roof if there was a fire. These are wisdom issues and not necessarily a conflict with trusting in the Lord. We should know how to respond ahead of time.

    b. The biblical response

    While there are some natural responses that all of us would have had, there are also some responses that should result from what God teaches us in the Bible.

    You should consider what is best for everyone (Phil. 2:3-4).

    When Abram planned the half-truth about his relationship to Sarai, he only mentioned what would be best for him. As Christians, we are not called to be selfish but to care about both our needs and those of others.

    Philippians 2:3-4 – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

    When we were considering the move to Willard, we were sure it was God’s will. However, one of the children had a hard time accepting that fact. Leaving our home of 16 years, friends at church and school, and the neighborhood we grew up in was very difficult. In the end, we made a decision based on what we felt God wanted even though it was difficult.

    Making decisions based only on what will affect one person can be described as selfish. God wants us to follow His example and to do what is best for the interests of all.

    You should ask God for wisdom (James 1:2-6).

    James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

    James begins his teaching by telling us to be joyful during trials as it is a test of our faith. As we go through the trial, we will learn patience. And once we have learned patience, we will become a mature Christian. So how should we respond the next time we face a trial? First, we should look at the trial as a challenge. God has chosen to give us the trial to test our faith. So, we should joyfully accept the challenge. Second, we should patiently trust in the Lord during that time. As we realize that it is from God, we will more easily wait for Him to work in us.

    You should rely on God (Prov. 3:5-6).

    There are sometimes where it seems that there is no right decision. While we consider what is best for all involved and ask God for wisdom, we won’t always know what the right decision is. This is where we prayerfully make a decision and then trust God to lead and provide.

    Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

    When I was the summer assistant at Peniel Bible Camp, I met a man who drove a van with part of this verse posted on the spare tire cover on the back of the van. He told me that he was surprised one day to see the driver of the car behind him getting out of his car and running up to his van. When he rolled down the window, the young man thanked him for the message on his van as he was learning to trust the Lord at that moment.

    Abram may not have learned this lesson yet. But after going through the situation in Egypt, he learned that God was trustworthy. God not only kept him safe from murder but also kept his wife from harm. When we make decisions, we should not scheme our way out of them by devious means. We shouldn’t lie about things to get out of trouble. What we should do is trust the Lord to completely, not trust in our own wisdom, acknowledge God’s part in our life, and then follow His leading.


Tonight, we have taken some time to critique the way Abram handled his situation. He did what he thought was best but made some decisions that don’t seem to reflect a strong trust in the Lord. Now that we’ve finished looking at him, how about we do something else. What if we were to look back on your life and judge some of the decisions you made in the past? It might be decisions regarding your children, your marriage, or your trust in the Lord. Hmm… suddenly we all want to sing the closing hymn and go home.

It is easy to look back at the past decisions of others and even of ourselves and notice how we didn’t trust the Lord. Sadly, this is true of all of us at various points in our lives. But as we learned this morning, we should follow Paul’s advice about the past.

Philippians 3:13-14 – “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

We can learn from mistakes we have made in the past. But we should not stay there. Instead, let us look toward the future goal of the Lord’s commendation. None of us is perfect and we all fail at some point. But with what we have learned tonight, let’s trust in the Lord and make the best decisions we can this week.


“Famines in the Bible,” as viewed at on 4/23/2023.

Philippians 3:12-14

Basketball was a big part of my life when I was a teenager. I played the game at every opportunity with whomever showed up on the court. As the years passed, I watched a lot of college and professional basketball and heard stories of those who had excelled at the game. I have read about players like Michael Jordan who worked hard at practice and during the season to become the best to play the game. Men like this motivated me to work hard, to keep in shape, and to try my hardest during every game.

Not all of us have an interest in sports. But we all know what it means to work hard at something. Whether it is working with a garden, working long hours at your job, or taking care of an elderly loved one, we know that certain things take a lot of effort. Sometimes it seems that all the work is not worth it, but we keep pressing on because we know the end result will be worth all the effort we put into it.

In Philippians 3:12-14, we read about the effort Paul put into his service for the Lord. In today’s message, we will be looking at two principles found in these verses. As we look at what Paul wrote, let’s ask the Lord to show us how we should respond.

  1. Keep moving forward (12).

    The idea of “keep moving forward” is a good one. Even Walt Disney has been quoted as using that idea. “Around here … we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths” (Beck). That idea is something that Thomas Edison also espoused. While trying to invent a lightbulb that would last longer, he experimented with many different materials until he finally had success.

    In the Christian life, we also need to keep moving forward. That is one of the messages Paul gives in verse 12.

    a. We have not reached perfection.

    If you recall what Paul had said earlier in the chapter, he was downplaying the importance of his previous religious accomplishments. He considered them garbage when compared to having Christ. But even with his high regard for what Jesus had done, he didn’t consider his salvation or even his service to have accomplished what he was striving for. He had not attained it yet.

    The idea behind the word “attained” is “to take, take up, take in the hand” (Mounce). It is one thing to talk about something and quite another to actually have it in your hand. Paul didn’t think he had attained what he was striving for. He also didn’t think he had reached a state of perfection. After all the great stories about Paul in the Book of Acts, we consider him to be a Christian hero. But Paul didn’t have that mindset.

    This is true of all of us, great and small. None of us has accomplished everything that God wants for us. No matter how many years you have known and served the Lord, there will always be room for improvement.

    b. We need to press on.

    Since none of us has reached perfection for the Lord, we need to press on. The idea is “to pursue, persecute, to systematically oppress and harass a person or group; to press on” (Mounce) I think we get the idea of pursuing or pressing on, but oppressing or harassing? Let me give you an example.

    During the third game of the 2023 NBA playoffs between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks, the latter team did their best to “systematically oppress and harass” the former team. At half time, the Cavaliers had a total of 32 points. This was the lowest amount of points they had scored during a game all season. Why was that? It was because the other team kept steady defensive pressure on them all through the game.

    While God is not calling us to oppress or harass anyone, Paul reminds us that there is some effort required in the Christian life. We don’t work to be saved, but we should work faithfully for the Lord after we are saved because we want to please Him. So we must press on and work hard at what God has called us to be and do.

    c. We need to work toward our purpose.

    Paul’s goal sounds a bit confusing. He wanted to “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” It sounds like Jesus had grabbed hold of Paul for a purpose and now Paul wanted to take hold of that purpose and fulfill it. But what was that purpose?

    Do you remember when Saul (Paul’s former name) met Jesus on the road to Damascus? After being struck blind, the Lord sent Ananias to heal his blindness. Ananias was afraid of Saul, so God assured Him. “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” God’s purpose for Paul was for him to speak about Jesus before all types of people including kings and also to suffer for the name of Jesus.

    You might be a bit afraid at this moment, thinking that God wants you to speak and suffer. First, we have to remember that this was God’s specific purpose for Paul and not necessarily for us. Second, we must remember that God has called all of us to be his ambassadors wherever we go. This might include some suffering but it is still our responsibility to speak for him wherever he sends us.

    Since none of us has reached perfection or completed the task given to us, let’s keep pressing on for the Lord. Don’t let anything get in the way of you moving forward for the Lord and the purposes He has given us.

  2. Keep your eyes on the goal (13-14).

    During junior high, our gym teacher taught us how to play softball. Unfortunately, I was not very good at it. Every time I was at plate, I would swing the bat and miss the ball. The gym teacher had one of the other students pitch easy pitches to me, but I kept striking out. It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s that someone showed me what the problem was. I wasn’t keeping my eye on the ball. As this young man talked me through it, I kept my eye on the ball and finally hit the ball over the surprised heads of the outfielders.

    In verses 13-14, Paul reminds us to keep our eyes on the goal given to us by God. As we do, we should consider several things.

    a. We haven’t accomplished it yet.

    Paul had been given a goal to accomplish, but he didn’t consider himself to have accomplished it yet. The text uses the word “count” to describe Paul’s feelings. He wasn’t counting or adding up all of his service to God and considering himself to be finished. He knew there was more to do.

    I heard about a couple in Australia who counted on something before it was in their hands. The man was diagnosed with life-ending cancer. In the time remaining together, they decided to borrow money against the million-dollar life insurance policy and then live it up with the time they had left. They spent a lot of money on trips together and then found that the diagnosis was wrong. The man was going to live but they were now straddled with great debt. They had counted on something that didn’t come true.

    We mustn’t get to the point where we think we have arrived. If Paul didn’t count himself to have accomplished the goal given to him, how can we? While God gives each of us the ability to live, we need to live like we still have something to accomplish for Him.

    b. We need to reach forward not back.

    One of the things that limits our ability to press on for the Lord is what happened in the past. Paul had already listed his religious resume. It included what some would consider to be a long list of religious accomplishments for God. But Paul didn’t look back at those things and stop working. No, he looked forward to what he could do for the Lord now and in the future.

    Have you ever seen a runner stretching forward to cross the finish line ahead of the other runners? It is exciting to see them running as hard as they can and then reaching their head forward to cross the line first. This is the kind of effort that Paul was putting into his service for the Lord. No amount of effort was too much for him to give for the Lord. But what was the goal he was striving for?

    c. We must have the right goal.

    When LeBron James won the NBA championship for the city of Cleveland, it was a dream come true. He had tried many times before but never could get that elusive trophy. It wasn’t until 2016 that his goal was accomplished. Many of us cheered as the final shot and final block was made to secure the championship.

    Paul also had a prize he was straining toward. The goal was the prize given to faithful Christians. He described it as “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” What exactly was this? As mentioned in an earlier message, I believe this refers to the “Well done, good and faithful servant” and the special “entrance” into the kingdom mentioned in 2 Peter 1:11. This goes along with what happened at the ancient Olympic games. “The winner in those games was called to the place where the judge sat in order to receive his prize” (Lightner 661). Paul wanted to hear the Lord’s happy call for him to stand before him and to be recognized as faithful.

    This is the goal we should keep striving toward. No matter what age you may be, no matter what has been accomplished in the past, no matter what troubles may be in your past, the Lord wants each of us to keep moving forward and to keep our eyes on the proper goal. In other words, don’t stop now! Keep going. Our time to rest will happen at some time in the future and so will our time of reward. So keep plugging away. Be faithful and look forward to meeting the Lord someday.


Do you ever stop and think about what it will be like when we arrive in heaven? We have read about the pearly gates and streets of gold and wonder just how incredible it must be. Last week, someone we all know of finally got to see what heaven is like. Ron Hamilton, also known as Patch the Pirate, was an influential song writer and music publisher for almost 50 years. His Patch the Pirate adventure stories were filled with songs, smiles, and spiritual lessons that touched the lives of many people around the world. After writing almost 1,000 songs, Ron Hamilton was diagnosed with dementia. This last week, the Lord finally released him from his tired body and took him home to heaven.

I wonder what it must have been like to finally meet the Lord in the splendors of heaven. Someday, you and I will get that opportunity. If you are not a believer at the time of your death, you will eventually stand before Him to be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment. All unbelievers will eventually be cast into the Lake of Fire. Please turn from your sin and put your faith in Jesus, so you will miss that great judgment.

But if you are a believer, you have the opportunity to enter into heaven with great joy or with embarrassment. If you are a believer who has been squandering time, imagine the embarrassment of entering heaven’s splendor and seeing the Lord’s face. After wasting your talents on earth, you will be deeply disappointed in what you have to present to the Lord on that day. But if you have been pressing on toward the goal and have been faithful to the Lord, it can be much different. While none of us is perfect, it will be much better to step into heaven and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Christian, be faithful, keep moving forward, and keep your eyes on the goal because someday, you will stand before the Lord and give account of yourself. Will you do it with embarrassment or with great joy? With God’s help, let us each strive toward pleasing the Lord and hearing his commendation on that great meeting day.


Beck, Jerry, “Keep Moving Forward” as viewed at on 4/22/2023.

Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publication, 1983, pp. 661-62.

Mounce, Bill, various entries at as viewed on 4/22/2023.


Verse 12
ἔλαβον (aor act ind) from λαμβάνω – “to take, take up, take in the hand, Mt. 10:38; 13:31, 33” (Mounce).
τετελείωμαι (perf pass ind) from τελειόω – “to perfect, complete, finish; (pass.) to reach a goal, be fulfilled, completed, made perfect” (Mounce)
διώκω (pres act ind) – “to pursue, persecute, to systematically oppress and harass a person or group; to press on” (Mounce)
καταλάβω (aor act subj) from καταλαμβάνω – “to obtain, attain, take hold of; seize, overtake; (mid.) to grasp, understand, realize, find out” (Mounce)
κατελήμφθην (aor pass indic) from καταλαμβάνω – “to obtain, attain, take hold of; seize, overtake; (mid.) to grasp, understand, realize, find out” (Mounce)

Verse 13
λογίζομαι (pres mid dep ind) – “to credit, count, reckon; regard, think, consider” (Mounce)
κατειληφέναι (perf act infin) – “to obtain, attain, take hold of; seize, overtake; (mid.) to grasp, understand, realize, find out” (Mounce)
ἐπεκτεινόμενος (pres mid dep ptc) – “to stretch out farther; in NT mid. to reach out towards, strain for” (Mounce)

Verse 14
σκοπός – “a watcher; also, a distant object on which the eye is kept fixed; a mark, goal” (Mounce)
βραβεῖον – “a prize, bestowed on victors in the public games, such as a crown, wreath, chaplet, garland, etc.” (Mounce)
ἄνω – “above, upward, heavenward, top” (Mounce)
κλῆσις – “a call, calling, invitation;, in NT the call or invitation to the privileges of the Gospel, Rom. 11:29; Eph. 1:18; the favor and privilege of the invitation, 2 Thess. 1:11; 2 Pet. 1:10; the temporal condition in which the call found a person, 1 Cor. 1:26; 7:20” (Mounce)

Remove, Renew, Replace – Ephesians 4:22-24

One of the beautiful things about becoming a Christian is the change God makes in each of his children. We all come to God as sinners but are forgiven, cleansed, and changed by God. However, if you have been a Christian for any period of time you will understand that there is a process involved in this change. While our salvation is instantaneous, our sanctification (on-going change) is a process.

  1. The Process (Eph. 4:22-24)

    In this chapter, Paul called on the Ephesian believers to walk worthy of their calling (4:1). In other words, they were to live lives that honored God and underscored the changes God had made in their lives. He also told them they shouldn’t live like unbelieving Gentiles who are still ignorant of God and live sinful lives. When he gets to verses 22-24, he gives three commands that all Christians need to do to keep pure for the Lord.

    We must remove sinful behavior (22). When we realize that a thought, speech, or action is sinful, what should we do? We should “put off” or remove that from our life. Some of the things we have gotten used to doing may not seem to be sinful to us, but when the Holy Spirit convicts us of that, we must remove it from our lives.

    We must renew our minds (23). Renewing our minds involves replacing our former way of thinking with God’s way of thinking. This is accomplished by reading, meditating on, and applying the Bible to our thinking. We do this because God has given us the Bible as a perfect guide book for our lives. What He says in it will change our way of thinking if we let it.

    We must replace the old with the new (24). If we love God, we will not only remove and renew, we will also replace the old with the new. This involves instilling godly habits. Where we used to lie, God wants us to be honest. Where we used to blurt angry words, God wants us to control our responses. Where we used to steal, God wants us to give. Where we used to speak foul language, God wants us to speak uplifting words.

  2. The Examples

    If God wants us to have a new life, he must have included examples of it in the Bible, right? Yes, there are a number of examples in both the Old and New Testaments.

    Naaman the leper was a proud, enemy general who was unwilling to do what God’s prophet told him to do. But when he finally did, his whole attitude changed (2 Kings 5:15). King Nebuchadnezzar was a proud king who boasted about his accomplishments, but God humbled him and his whole demeanor changed (Daniel 4:37). The demon possessed man from Gadera (Mark 5:14-15) was a terrifying, unclothed, violent man, but after meeting Jesus, he was completely changed. The adulterous woman (John 8:2-11) was forgiven by Jesus but was told not to commit this sin anymore. Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8) defrauded people by overcharging them for taxes but after meeting Jesus he wanted to make things right with those he had harmed.

    The point of Ephesians 4:22-24 seems aptly illustrated by the changes made in these people’s lives. They removed their sin, renewed their minds, and replaced the bad behavior with God-pleasing habits.

  3. The Problem

    As we consider the biblical principles and these real-life illustrations, it seems very clear. But there are some problems that face us today. One problem is ourselves. We don’t take the time to examine our lives in the light of the Bible. And because of that we don’t see the sins that God wants to highlight. So we continue to live in sin and don’t have the joy of living the way God intended. Another problem is false teaching. When the gospel is presented without repentance, people add Jesus to their lives without turning from the sin that condemns them and displeases the Lord. When Christianity is presented without the principles of remove, renew, and replace, believers live sinful lives “ignorant” of their need. This is illustrated by many so-called Christians who live much like the world, say “I’m not perfect just forgiven,” and really don’t look much different from an unbeliever.


So what should we do? We need to put into practice what the Bible teaches us in Ephesians 4:22-24. We need to remove ungodly behavior from our because we want to please the Lord. We need to renew our minds by reading, meditating on, and applying what the Bible says to our lives. We need to replace ungodly habits with godly ones. When we do this we will be pleasing to the Lord and a good testimony to the world.

But it shouldn’t stop there. We need to think of people we know who profess to be Christians. As we see them continuing to live sinful lives, we are aware of their sin, but they may be ignorant of it. Because they have not followed God’s commands, their minds are still affected by their old, sinful habits. Since we know the answer, we should humbly try to help them. As they see our godly behavior, and hear us explaining God’s directions, perhaps they will respond with repentance and spiritual growth.

Resurrection Sunday – Acts 2:22-24

Every Spring we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. But I often wonder if it makes any sense to those who may not be very familiar with Jesus’ life. What is this about someone dead coming back to life? What does it mean? Why should we celebrate the resurrection? To give us a better understanding, let’s broaden the focus and look at the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Hopefully, this will help you to understand who Jesus is and what He did for us.

  1. The Life of Jesus (Acts 2:22)

    When I was recently asked whether I had considered other religions, I took a moment to think before answering. While I have learned about different religions, there is one very important thing that separates them from what the Bible teaches. That difference is Jesus. There is no one else like Him.

    a. Jesus was authenticated by God.

    If someone claimed to be the Son of God, you would need to see evidence that proved this, right? During his life on earth, Jesus did things that nobody else could do. As the Son of God, He spoke and calmed a storm (Matt. 8:23-27), healed a deaf and mute man (Mark 7:31-37), healed the Centurion’s servant from a distance (Luke 7:1-10), and brought a man back to life (John 11:32-44). These are only four of many instances where he showed compassion toward people and healed their diseases. These miracles showed the people that Jesus was not merely a man; He was the Son of God.

    b. Jesus was known by the people.

    When Peter preached to the people in Jerusalem, they all knew who he was talking about. Thousands of people came to see Jesus during his time on earth. They wanted to be healed but they also wanted to hear Him speak about God. He spoke to large crowds of people (Matt. 14:13-21) who were seeking the truth. He also spoke to individuals (Nicodemus, the woman at the well, and Zacchaeus) who afterward believed Him. And when Jesus spoke, the response was often, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:44-46). The people listened intently because He taught with authority and told them the truth that could set them free.

    John 8:31-32 – “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

    Who do you think Jesus is? Is He just an ancient religious guru? Or is He who He claimed to be—the Son of God who can set you free from your sin?

  2. The Death of Jesus (Acts 2:23)

    After three years of healing the sick and teaching the truth, the religious leaders conspired to have Jesus executed. You may be surprised that such a popular person could have been captured without an uproar, but that is exactly what happened.

    a. Jesus was put to death by men.

    The religious leaders had been corrupt for a long time. And when Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy and sinfulness, they responded by plotting his death. They paid off one of His disciples and arrested Him at night. After a sham trial, they took Him to the Roman authorities and demanded His crucifixion. After some debate, the governor acquiesced and had Jesus scourged, humiliated, and eventually crucified on a cross outside the city. And after hours of excruciating pain, the loving Son of God died. It appeared that the corrupt religious leaders had won.

    b. Jesus died according to God’s plan.

    You may notice that we skipped the first part of Acts 2:23. It says there that Jesus was “delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God.” What does that mean? It means that Jesus’ death on the cross was something God had planned for a specific purpose.

    But before we talk about God’s plan, we need to stop and think about this for a moment. God is holy and hates sin. He hates the sins we do and considers them to be deserving of death (Rom. 6:23). And that means that every one of us is guilty and will one day face the ultimate punishment for sin in the horrific lake of fire. That is a serious thing to contemplate. So what was God’s plan for us?

    Revelation 13:8 – “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

    The Bible tells us that God loved us despite our sinfulness. He planned that Jesus would pay the price for our sins on the cross that terrible day. While Jesus was hanging on that bloody cross, God the Father placed all of our sins on Him. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus, the perfect, sinless Son of God paid the terrible price for our sins when He bled and died on the cross.

    The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus died for our sins. This was part of God’s plan all along. But do you believe it?

  3. The Resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:24)

    After Jesus’ death, someone took His body and buried it in a tomb cut out of a rock. The tomb was sealed with a large rock. The religious leaders, who remembered Jesus’ promise to rise after three days, sent soldiers to guard the tomb so that nobody would be able to remove the body and pretend that Jesus had come back to life. They did this, but something remarkable happened anyway.

    a. Jesus was resurrected by God.

    While the soldiers were guarding the tomb, there was a great earthquake (Matt. 28:1-10). An angel from heaven arrived and rolled the stone away from the grave. The soldiers were so frightened that they fell over as if they were dead. Several women who had come to visit the tomb, were told by the angel that Jesus had risen just as He had promised before His death. The women told the disciples who were not sure what to think about their report. But Jesus eventually physically appeared to them as well. In all, over 500 people saw Jesus alive after his resurrection. God had raised Him back to life.

    b. Jesus could not be held by death.

    “Peter was well aware that most of his audience, though willing perhaps to admit the miraculous deeds of Jesus, would reject his messiahship because he had been executed as a criminal. Therefore, he showed from Psalm 16:8-11 that Messiah’s death was included in the will of God and was predicted in Scripture” (Kent 32-33).

    Psalm 16:10 – “For You will not leave my soul in [the grave], nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”

    It was impossible for death to keep Jesus in the grave because God’s plan was to raise Him after three days. The quoted prophecy was written about Jesus many years before His birth, death, and resurrection. It makes it clear that Jesus would not remain in the grave and decompose. Instead, God would raise Him from being dead to being alive again.

    Jesus died and was buried, but God raised Him after three days. Do you believe that God resurrected Jesus? It happened just as the Bible says and as the prophecies promised years before. Now those who believe in Jesus have the sure hope that through faith in Him they will be raised from death to be with the Lord forever some day (see 1 Thess. 4:13-18).


Today, we celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He lived to show compassion to sinners and to reveal the truth to all. He died to pay the price for our sins just as God had planned all along. He was resurrected as promised to give us hope. As you consider what we have seen in the Bible, do you believe?

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

If you will repent of your sin and put your faith in Jesus, God will forgive your sins and give you eternal life. Then you too will have new life with Him and the hope of life after death through Jesus.


Kent Jr., Homer A., Jerusalem to Rome Studies in Acts, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000, orig. 1972, pp. 32-33.

“McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. IV Matthew through Romans, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, pp. 519-20.

The Other Criminal

You have probably heard that two other criminals were crucified at the same time as Jesus. According to Luke 23:39-43, one joined with the rulers and soldiers by mocking Jesus’ ability to save them. But the other criminal eventually changed his mind and showed evidence of true faith in Jesus. As I recently read this account, I came away with two questions.

  1. What evidence is there that he was a true believer?

    We have all heard about death bed conversions. Someone cries out to God at the end of his life and we all wonder if God saved him. There are no years of life to follow to see the change of life. We just hope that it was real and that God saved him. As we look at this man, we have only a few minutes of his life to examine. Is there any evidence that he was a true believer?

    a. He admitted his own sinfulness (41).

    When the first criminal joined in the mocking of Jesus, the other one rebuked him. Don’t you fear God? Don’t you recognize that you have been condemned to die? Don’t you realize that you and I deserve this punishment? What he was doing is showing true repentance. Repentance is a change of mind about your own sin against God. None of us can have a right relationship with God without repentance. This man asked the other one if he didn’t fear God. They had been caught in some criminal activity and had gotten the punishment they deserved. It wouldn’t be long before they would have to stand before God and answer to Him for their sins.

    b. He recognized Jesus’ innocence (41).

    In the short time he had known Jesus, he had seen something different about Him. Jesus didn’t have the harsh looks of a hardened criminal. He didn’t have the loud mouth of a braggart. He didn’t even complain about his cruel treatment. The other criminal recognized that Jesus had been falsely accused and was innocent. But Jesus was more than just innocent. He was completely perfect—without sin. Although he was “numbered with the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12), he was not a transgressor. Although he was accused, he was not guilty. Although he was crucified for a crime, he was not a criminal.

    2 Cor. 5:21 – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

    Somehow, the other criminal recognized that Jesus was innocent and was convinced that he was who the others didn’t believe He was.

    c. He asked the Lord for mercy (42).

    When all of these thoughts came together in his mind, the other criminal responded in faith. He believed that this horribly battered and bloody man on the cross next to him was the Christ and that He would one day rule His kingdom as promised in the Old Testament prophecies. (This is a good place to stop and think about those who were taught as children and don’t seem to remember much of anything. God is able to bring to memory what they learned as a child at a later time.) Believing that Jesus was the Christ, he asked Him to remember him when he came into His kingdom.

    This is amazing faith. He actually believed that this dying man was the Christ and that even though He was about to die, God would somehow raise Him up and set Him on the throne of David. That is almost impossible to believe. But he did believe.

  2. Why did he change his mind?

    The other criminal didn’t always believe in Jesus. In parallel passages, we find that both “robbers” were reviling Jesus (Matt. 27:44; Mark 15:32). But something changed this one’s mind. What was is that made him think differently?

    a. He had probably heard about Jesus before.

    Jesus was a known commodity in Israel. People came from all over to hear and see him. Stories of blind men being given their sight, dead people being raised, crippled people walking, and demon-possessed freed. Surely this criminal had heard about Jesus, and what he had heard finally confronted him in this strange situation. As he interacted with Jesus, he had to consider who Jesus actually was.

    b. He saw Jesus’ humble demeanor (34).

    Everyone was mocking Jesus while He hung on the cross. But Jesus’ response was not revenge. He could have called 10,000 angels (Matt. 26:53) but he let them crucify Him. And when they did it, He asked God the Father to forgive them for not truly understanding what they were doing (Luke 23:34). Who was this man who willingly took this torture without complaining or fighting back?

    Someone recently asked me what I thought about the other religions. Had I ever considered that one of them might be the real one? One of my thoughts about this is based in who Jesus is. When you read through the gospel and see how He responded to people, you see a loving, compassionate, righteous, and truthful person who wants everyone to be made right with God. I don’t know of another religion that offers such love from God.

    c. He was awakened.

    During the crucifixion, there were a number of signs that took place (3 hours of darkness, graves opened and dead coming to life, the temple veil torn, an earthquake, etc.). However, none of them is listed before this conversation between Jesus and the criminal. So, I don’t think the signs were what changed his mind.

    I think the main reason why he changed his mind is God. Like all of us, he was dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-3). He had been living a life of sin that finally experienced the wages of sin. But just before his death, God did something in his heart to give him spiritual life. He was blind toward God but was given spiritual sight just hours before he died.


In response to this man’s faith, Jesus told him that he would be with Him in Paradise that very day. That is an amazing truth. This man (at the end of his life with no hope and nothing good to present to God) was forgiven of his sins and given eternal life. Whether at a young age or right before death, God has promised to save those who repent of their sin and place their faith in Jesus. It is still true today.

Useful and Productive Christians – 2 Peter 1:5-9

For the past few weeks, we have been seeing where our confidence comes from. We have learned that God is not impressed with out good deeds. Instead, He knows that we are sinners who could never live up to His holiness. So, the only way we can be seen as righteous by God is when we put our faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross. Our sins were transferred to Jesus and His righteousness was transferred to us.

With that understanding, we need to consider what God desires of each of us after we have put our faith in Jesus. Our relationship has been made right with God, now how does He want us to live? He certainly doesn’t want us to continue in sinful living. So how do we sinful people mature as Christians and live lives that are pleasing to the Lord? First, we need to grow spiritually.

  1. The characteristics of spiritual growth (2 Pet. 1:5-7)

    As each of us seeks to grow in the Lord, there are two things that will enable us to do it. First, we must rely on the Holy Spirit as He must produce fruit in us. Second, we must work on our own personal character. Both of these influences are needed for spiritual growth. And when we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, godly character will be developed in each of us.

    As we look at these verses, note that we are being reminded of our side of the equation. There are certain things that God wants every Christian to be doing.

    We need to be diligent (5a).

    While our salvation rests on what God has done, our continuing Christian experience requires something called diligence. What is diligence? It is effort put forth by those who want to accomplish something. We are not a spaceship that once pushed will always keep traveling forward. We must put forth effort to do what God tells us to do here. “It takes every bit of diligence and effort a Christian can muster, along with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit … to bring in alongside of his faith a complement of virtue” (Gangel 865). But what must we be diligent about?

    We need to diligently add to our faith (5b-7).

    Faith in Jesus is where everything begins. But God never intended us to just believe and then sit down in an armchair to watch Him at work. Instead, we are given seven qualities that we need to “bring in alongside” our God-given faith (Rienecker 769). God has given us our faith. Now we need to work alongside the Holy Spirit to build upon what God has begun.

    Moral excellence – “The quality by which one stands out as excellent” (Rienecker 769).

    This quality is seen in people who want to do their best in every area of their life. They are known for excellent moral decisions, can be trusted to do the job they are given, and stand out in a crowd of people who will do wrong if it makes things easier. Moral excellence is an excellent way to point out you are a Christian. This is first on the list because this shows the change made in you by God. Are you morally pure and becoming stronger in this area?

    Knowledge – It “refers specifically to the ability to discern God’s will and orient one’s life in accordance with that will” (Moo 45).

    Not just any knowledge will do. We need knowledge about God and His will for us. Just recently, Microsoft and Google released Artificial Intelligence on computers. I have heard that you can ask the computer a questions about anything and get an answer. But the answer may or may not be correct as the “knowledge” is only as good as what is programmed into it. In order for you to know God’s will, it would be best for you to go to His instruction manual, the Bible. Read it. Meditate on it. Apply it to your life.

    Self-control – “control one’s passions rather than be controlled by them” (Barbieri 97).

    Apparently, the false teachers of Peter’s time claimed to have a superior knowledge from God that allowed them to live without any self-control. “They are characterized by sensuality (2:2), inflamed by sinful desires (2:10); they live for soft and comforting pleasures (2:13), never cease thinking of adultery (2:14), and are enslaved to corruption (2:19)” (Schreiner 300). If you are a Christian, you need to understand the place that self-control should have in your life. God wants us to be a reflection of his character to the world. When we don’t do that, it gives a bad picture of God to the world.

    Perseverance – “that inner power of endurance developed by persistent self-control” (Hiebert 54).

    Boxing would be a hard sport to master. Constant punching takes a lot of energy. But the more you practice, the stronger you become, and the longer you can compete. God wants each of His children to persevere through temptation and persecution. Notice how perseverance is built upon self-control. The more we practice self-control, the more we will become accustomed to bearing up under troubles and temptation. We will begin to… persevere.

    Godliness – “reverence that seeks to please God in all things. … It keeps the believer from becoming hard and defiant toward opponents or succumbing to the temptation of a mere stoical endurance” (Hiebert 54).

    Godliness may not be a term that is easily understood today. If I asked if you were a godly person, what would you say? If I asked if you were God-like, you would immediately disagree. And yet, we are to pattern ourselves after the character of God. So, it is right and good to be God-like. We become godly when our thinking and actions match how God thinks and acts. As we think and act like Him, He will be pleased that we are becoming more like Him.

    Brotherly kindness – “the warm, brotherly affection between those who are spiritual relatives in the family of God” (Hiebert 54).

    Do you love your Christian brothers and sisters? “Such brotherly affection toward other Christians must be cultivated, for it entails difficult duties, such as a willingness to bear one another’s burdens and to forgive shortcomings and failures” (Hiebert 54). 1 John 4:20 – “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” So, allow God to work in you and to produce brotherly kindness for others.

    Love – “desires the highest good for the object of his affection. … It does not condone or gloss over sin in the one loved but willingly engages in self-sacrificing action to procure his highest good” (Hiebert 55).

    This is love the way God loves. “It is the ‘glue’ that holds all the rest of them [these characteristics] together, the quality without which all the others will be less than they should be” (Moo 47). Love is such a throwaway word today. It can be said without thinking. But stop and think. Are you willing to do the hard things when it comes to loving others? Are you willing to love others when it is not convenient?

    We have looked at seven characteristics that God wants us to add to our faith. All of these characteristics should be present in our lives. We may do better with some than others but we should always be working on developing these characteristics, especially because of what Peter says in the following verses.

As each of us seeks to grow in the Lord, there are two things that will enable us to do it. First, we must rely on the Holy Spirit as He must produce fruit in us. Second, we must work on our own personal character. Both of these influences are needed for spiritual growth. And when we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, godly character will be developed in each of us.

2. The incentives for spiritual growth (2 Pet. 1:8-9)

When I was a car salesman, the owner would give incentives for us to sell more cars. If we sold ten cars in a month, he might give us a $500 bonus. That was a good motivation to work harder. While Christians should not be motivated for financial gain in their spiritual growth, there are some incentives that God gives that should motivate us in an appropriate way. What are the incentives given here?

I want to be useful and productive (8).

If you are a Christian, you should have the desire to please the Lord. To be useful and productive for Him, each of us needs to be adding and abounding. Peter has already told us to add these characteristics to our faith. Now he assumes that we are doing that. But he doesn’t say that you will someday arrive at the right level and then peak. He says that we are to be adding and abounding. The idea is that you are not simply satisfied with mediocrity; you strive for greatness in your spiritual life. It is not a pride thing. Instead, you are wanting to be the best you can for the Lord and for others.

What will result from adding and abounding? As you grow in your spiritual character and faithfully seek to increase in each one, God will cause you to become useful and productive. Instead of becoming barren or unfruitful, you will grow in your knowledge of the Lord Jesus. A chicken that no longer lays eggs is called barren. A tree that no longer produces fruit is called unfruitful. Both are no longer providing what they were made for. “Too many Christians are content simply with being Christians, happy simply to know they won’t go to hell. But the true Christian never rests content with such a minimal (albeit important!) level of Christian experience” (Moo 47).

Let me ask you a question. Have you become useless and unproductive for the Lord? If so, would you repent of this and determine to add godly character to your life. Instead of being a lazy Christian, become someone who is actively seeking to be productive for the Lord. If you do this, you will also accomplish a second incentive.

I don’t want to forget what God has done (9).

We have all seen it. Someone professed faith in Christ as a child, but as they grew older, there was little evidence of any life change. My mother taught many neighborhood children in her home Bible club. A number of children were moved by the teaching of the gospel and turned to Christ. But later in their lives, they slipped away and were no longer interested in spiritual things. What happened?

Peter tells us that those who lack the seven qualities listed above can become short-sighted and forgetful. A short-sighted person is someone who can only see what is directly in front of them. They only think about the immediate and can’t see what will happen in the future. This person’s focus is on what will bring him or her immediate pleasure and happiness and they don’t realize that they will one day stand before the Lord to answer for the way they lived their life. If you have become like this, please allow God to open your eyes to His plan for your life.

But even worse is this person’s forgetfulness about his past. Because he does not see the need for diligent, spiritual exercise, he walks about with “spiritual amnesia” (Hiebert 58) forgetting that God forgave him of the sins he is no longer guarding himself against. Can you imagine forgetting what God has done in your life? Sadly, some back slide so much that they forget that they are even saved. And some make you wonder if they ever were.


Let me ask you a personal question. Have you ever come to the place where you saw yourself as a sinner who needed to be saved by God? And when God convinced you of this, did you repent of your sins and put your faith in Jesus. If so, the Bible tells us that you have been born again. God now sees the righteousness of Christ in you instead of your sinfulness. That is the first step.

Now let me ask you another question. As we read through this passage of Scripture, would you say that you have been growing as a Christian or have you been declining? Faith without these godly characteristics is lacking what God intended. Those who claim to have faith and show no evidence of growth are either not truly born again or have forgotten what God has done. Either situation is terrible. Are you seeking to add these qualities to your life? If not, ask yourself why. It may be that you have never been born again. Or it may be that you have not been diligent. If this is you, please take a moment to talk with God and make things right with Him. With His help, get back to where you are diligent and useful for Him.


Barbieri, Louis A., First & Second Peter, Chicago: Moody Press, 1977.

Gangel, Kenneth O., “2 Peter” in Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983.

Hiebert, D. Edmond, Second Peter and Jude, Greenville: Unusual Publications, 1989.

Moo, Douglas J., The NIV Application Commentary: 2 Peter and Jude, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

Rienecker, Fritz and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976.

Schreiner, Thomas R., 1, 2 Peter, Jude, Nashville: B&H, 2003.