Tips to READ through the Bible

It’s Possible! It’s possible to read through the Bible in one year. The above picture is not for bragging rights, it’s for encouragement. The Pic is my record of when I read each book of the Bible in 2022. As you can see I put an emphasis on reading the New Testament multiple times. I’ll finish up the year reading the Gospel of John and Revelation just one more time.

While I have been given the opportunity to read each day for a longer than average time, it’s still possible for the average person to read the bible in one year. Looking at this time chart below, one could read through the Bible in just 12 minutes per day

Crosswalk.org infographic

If you want to read just 5 days a week (Mon-Friday), which is the schedule I’m on, it would only add about 2-3 minutes per day.

Here is a chart from Crosswalk with the times to read through each book of the Bible.

Here are my 4 Tips to READ through the Bible in one year.

1. Read REGULARLY. Set a time for Bible reading. It only takes 15-17min per day, 5 days a week.

2. Reading is compared to EATING. (Rev 10:9-10; John 6:35-51). We eat every day for physical nourishment. Eat a small portion of the Word for Spiritual nourishment. It doesn’t need to be Eaten in one sitting. How do you ready an elephant? 1 bite at a time.

3. Read prayerfully, ASKING God for wisdom. Jas 1:5-7 The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. We get faith, belief, Equipping, & understanding when we read. (Rom 20:17; John 20:30-31; Eph 3:3-4; 2Tim 3:15-17)

4. Read with a Desire to become a DOER of the word. James 1:22 but be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. The New Testament is the final word of Christ and is the doctrine we follow today. (2John 1:9)

Here are some words from God’s word to encourage you to read.

John 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

2Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Ephesians 3:4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

1Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

John 6:48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

IT’S POSSIBLE! You can do it. If the scriptures made Timothy wise unto salvation, it will do the same for us too!

spencer

PS here is a link to a printable bookmark to help you keep your place and help you with a little context as you read.

Increase our FAITH

add to your faith…

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5).

All of us could use a little bit more faith, and if we had the faith of a mustard seed, we could move mountains (cf. Luke 17:6).

The word ‘Faith’ can be confusing. In one place it says, “Where is your faith?” Yet, in another place it says that FAITH was once delivered (cf. Luke 8:25; Jude 3).

In one place it says, “faith cometh by hearing,” and in another it says that faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

It’s easy to see how we become confused by this very complex and powerful word. It’s up to us to study and to understand what it is the Lord is conveying through this little word.

Let’s look at faith.

The Greek word translated ‘FAITH’ is; pistis; persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: –assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity. (W.E. VINES)

That’s the definition of the word, but to fully appreciate FAITH, we need to look into scripture for its use. Would it surprise you to learn that scripture records FAITH in 7 different ways?

FAITH as it is used in the scriptures.

What we usually think when we say “FAITH” is BELIEF. “But without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb 11:6; cf John 12:42). Consider that James uses belief and faith synonymously, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (Jas 2:18-19).

Another common way we understand FAITH is with the word TRUST. “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm” (Matt 8:26). Abraham trusted God when he offered up the son of promise. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Heb 11:17-19; cf. Rom 9:17-20; John 14:1; Luke 7:9).

Here’s where it gets difficult for some. FAITH is also used in conjunction with OBEDIENCE. Paul wrote in Romans, “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:” “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26).

FAITH is also an objective content called “the faith” that is delivered. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). Jude says, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3; cf Gal 1:11,23).

FAITH is also used to mean LOYAL. To be faithful is to be loyal. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Heb 10:23) “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev 2:10).

Yet another way FAITH is used is seen in one’s strong personal conviction. “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph 6:16). “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs” (Rom 14:1-2).

Lastly, FAITH is listed among the 9 spiritual gifts early saints could receive during the writing of the New Testament (1Cor 12:8-9; 13:2; Matt 17:20)

As you can see, FAITH is a very complex word. To disconnect it from its full meaning for one definition is to pervert the word of God.

Spencer is an evangelist for the church of Christ at Franklin & Juniper in Borger Texas.

Lessons from 1 Peter: BAPTISM that saves

1Peter 3:21:

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

BAPTISM:

What is the BAPTISM that saves us?

the BAPTISM that saves is a BURIAL. Col 2:12; Rom 6:4

the BAPTISM that saves is AUTHORIZED by Christ Mark 16:16

the BAPTISM that saves is an essential PART of conversion Acts 2:38; 3:19

the BAPTISM that saves TRUSTS in God’s working through our faith. Col 2:12

the BAPTISM that saves is IN CHRIST. Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:27

the BAPTISM done for the right reason, the right way, with the right heart SAVES. 1Pet 3:21

the BAPTISM that saves is done immediately upon learning whether at MIDNIGHT/ midday / same hour / upon H-B-R-C. Not a scheduled monthly church event. Acts 16:33

6 Lessons from SAMSON

Just about everyone knows about SAMSON, the Mighty Man with the long Mane. His life is very interesting and troubling.

We all know about his STRENGTH his long hair (Jud 16:7, 13:5).

Did you know that as a Nazarene he didn’t drink ALCOHOL? (Num 6:4-5)

Did you also know that he had MARRIED a wife and that she was a Philistine (Jud 14:1-3)? Later he would be with Delilah, the woman that would cut off his STRENGTH.

After she cut his hair, Samson was blinded and mocked. But his hair grew and he OVERCAME more enemies in death that he had in his life (16:30).

The New Testament also has a record of him in the “Hall of Faith” found in Hebrews chapter eleven verse thirty-two.

Samson doesn’t fit the typical mold of a hero of faith, but a hero he was. Here are a couple of lessons we might glean from his time as a Judge.

First, be a SERVANT of God as early as you can. “For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Jud 13:5; cf. Ecc 12:13; Matt 22:387).

This next one usually ruffles some feathers, but do your best to be ALCOHOL free. “Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things” (Prov 23:29-35). John the Baptist, another one with the Nazarite vow, was called, “great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink;” (Luke 1:15).

Being alcohol free sets us apart from the world. “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” (1Peter 4:3-4; cf. Eph 5:18).

Another great lesson we can learn is to MARRY well. “And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death” (Jud 16:16). While it doesn’t appear that he had ever married Delilah, we know what his association with her did to him. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness” (2Cor 6:14)? Even under the best circumstances, marrying an unbeliever means that you are headed in opposite eternal directions.

Another lesson we could glean is that of allowing the SPIRIT of the Lord direct us. “And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house” (Jud 14:19). While Samson had the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are still led by the Spirit when we are filled with His Word. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Col 3:16; cf. 2Tim 3:16-17).

The last two lessons are so important.

Despite what you’ve done in life, you may still OVERCOME sin in our lives through faith in God. Those that have obeyed the gospel may turn back to faithfulness as long as life remains. “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God,” (Judge 16:28). Repentance and Prayer is available to those that stumble after having obeyed the gospel. (Acts 8:18-24; 1John 1:9).

Finally, along with the previous lesson, NEVER quit. Despite being chained, mocked, and blinded, Samson’s final act in service to God would bring about his death. “And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life” (Judg 16:30).

While we live in an age when are weapons are spiritual and not carnal (2Cor 10:4), “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2Tim 3:12; cf. Rev 2:10).

May God Bless you all

Spencer

Thou hast the words of eternal life

The statement above is one of the most significant realizations a person can make. (John 6:68)

Before we look at some take aways, let’s first notice an implication.

For there to be an ‘eternal life’ there stands to reason there is also an eternal DEATH. This should bother people much more than it does.

But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:” (Mark 3:29)

That’s the warning. Now let’s see what we might do to have ETERNAL LIFE.

There are some 30 specific references in the New Testament to “ETERNAL LIFE.” It seems to this writer that this holds some significance.

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN OF ME; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matt 11:29) The context of our opening verse is about learning. “HEARING” is another way the Bible says the same thing. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:” (Mat 7:24-29). These verses clearly teach there is individual responsibility to Hear & LEARN. Some would have you believe that you’re unable to do either except miraculously. UNTRUE! We are all called by the Gospel message. “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Thess 2:14)

The beginning of attaining Eternal Life is LEARNING.

Matthew 7:24-29 is a link in the chain connecting the first action with the next; we must be INVOLVED in doing the things that we’ve LEARNED. We’re involved by obeying the commands of God. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

The clear teaching by Jesus here, and in other places (cf. Phil 2:12), is that the INDIVIDUAL is responsible to LEARN & get INVOLVED in his own salvation. “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:40b). In the immediate context of this verse, they LEARNED to be baptized in the name of Jesus. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)

Eternal Life is for those INVOLVED people that obey.

When we write articles like this some will often decry “LEGALISM” or say that we’re working our way into heaven. Nothing of the sort is being said. Obedience to the will of God is FAITH (Heb 11:6). We trust that God will do what He promises for those that obey Him. God works through our faith. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” (Col 2:12). Eternal Life is for those who are emotionally engaged.

Therefore, that the person striving for Eternal Life must have FAITH from the heart and is not just checking boxes on a list. Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Mat 22:37). He said in another place, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And also, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” (Mark 7:6)

Eternal Life is for those that have FAITH.

It then stands to reason that as a person LEARNS, is INVOLVED, this person must FINISH what he began. “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28) The clear teaching here, and other places (cf. John 15:1-6; Rom 11:21; Rev 2:10), is that there’s no such thing as “once saved, always saved.”

Eternal Life is for those that ENDURE to the end.

Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”

      — spencer

Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. If you live in the Borger area and would like a personal bible study, please reach out & let us know how we can help.

What do you get when you Read the BIBLE?

We believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, that gives us all the information and instruction we need for life and godliness.

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2Peter 1:21; cf 1:3-4)

We also believe that we can understand the Bible, and know & do the will of the Lord.

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” [Eph 3:4]

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Col 3:17]

What we get when we read the BIBLE?

The Bible reveals an answer to this question.

First, The Bible says we may BELIEVE. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” [Jno. 20:30-31] Another word often associated with belief is Faith, which is of the same Greek origin. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” [Romans 10:17]

We conclude from this evidence and more, that when we read the Bible, God’s inspired revealed word, we may BELIEVE.

How then can we Believe, or have Faith, without reading?

Second, The Bible says we will have INSTRUCTION in righteousness. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” [2Tim 3:16-17; cf. 2Peter 1:3-4]

We conclude from this evidence and more, that when we read the Bible, God has given us INSTRUCTIONS on how to live, grow, and how to get to heaven.

How then can we speak or act without reading?

Third, The Bible says that we can BE READY to give an answer, or a defense. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Pet 3:15]

We conclude from this evidence and more, that when we read the Bible, we can give an answer to any and all who ask us why we have hope.

How can we defend our hope (or our faith) without reading?

Fourth, The Bible says we will know LOVE because He first loved us. “We love him, because he first loved us.” [1John 4:19; cr. Rom 5:6-10]. The Bible also says that we LOVE God by keeping His commandments. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” [1John 5:3; cr. Jno. 14:15]

We conclude from this evidence and more, that we don’t truly know LOVE or how to LOVE unless we read about the sacrifice of Christ as revealed in the word of God. We also conclude that part of LOVING God is to do His will.

How can we truly know or practice LOVE without reading?

Fifth, The Bible says that Jesus has the words of ETERNAL LIFE. “…thou hast the words of eternal life.” [Jno. 6:68b; Luke 24:27; 2Cor 2:9-12; Eph 3:3-4] Those words have been revealed through the inspired written word of God (Revealed to the Apostles, whom spoke it, then wrote it) [2Th 2:15; 3:14]. These words are researchable and reviewable (Acts 17:11) and have universal application to all.

We conclude from this evidence, and more, that we may only know how to have ETERNAL LIFE through reading (hearing) and obeying the word of God. “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” [Heb 5:9].

How can you know we’re saved in hope without reading?

     — spencer

Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. If you live in the Borger area and would like a personal bible study, please reach out & let us know how we can help.

Bible Reading Plan for 2022

One of the difficulties in reading the Bible is confusion over the how each book fits in with the chronology of the other books. This is especially true with the Old Testament prophets.

This Bible Reading plan will include a list for each book in chronological order (or at least in order of its period in the Old Testament).

It is still possible to read the whole bible in about one year, just 15 – 20 minutes per day.

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” [Eph 3:4] “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” [Rom 10:17]

These bookmarks will help you to know how each of the books of the Old Testament and the Prophets fit into the narrative. The book of Job fits in the Patriarchal period. The Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, & Song of Songs fit into the time of the United Kingdom under David & Solomon.

Here is a chart showing you how much time it takes to read the Whole Bible in 1 year or years, or multiple times in a year.

May God bless our efforts to know more of His word.

     — spencer

Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. If you live in the Borger area and would like a personal bible study, please reach out & let us know how we can help.

Are There Any Bereans Today?

Upon leaving a very difficult evangelism trip through Thessalonica, Luke tells a refreshing story of those he & Paul met in Berea [Acts 17:1-12].

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.”

When the word of the Lord was preached to them, they displayed some NOBLE characteristics we all would do well to emulate.

Are there any Bereans today?

Acts chapter 17 relates various reactions to the preaching of God’s word. Some mocked, others got angry even to the point of assault. The Bereans had a proper attitude toward hearing the message of the Gospel. Let’s consider some qualities that would make one NOBLE and ask ourselves if there are any Bereans today?

The Bereans were NOT going to be tossed about with every wind of doctrine NOR be deceived by empty words (cf. Eph 4:14; 5:6). How did they accomplish this? They “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The Bereans were NOT gullible people to the extent that they would automatically accept anything taught them.  It’s interesting that Paul would write to the saints in Thessalonica about this very quality; “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1Thess 5:21; cf 1John 4:1). Are there any Bereans today with a mind to make a proper investigation?

The Bereans appear to be free of bias & preconceived ideas and OPEN to hear the message of the cross. “…in that they received the word with all readiness of mind…” People with prejudice don’t do this. Have you ever wondered how a person can claim to read the Bible yet miss the necessity of baptism? Perhaps it’s overlooked because of bias. Jesus encountered this type of problem with the religious of His day. “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matt 13:15)

Bias is like the blinders on a horse, seeing nothing that might cause any discomfort. Condemnation before investigation is not what the Bereans practiced. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” (Prov 18:13) Bias is the opposite of the love of the truth. Paul gave this warning also to the Thessalonians; “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Thess 2:11-12) Are there any unbiased Bereans today?

The Bereans BELIEVED the truth. “Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” Hearing the truth is how faith & belief comes. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” and “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (Rom 10:17; John 20:31). Are there any Bereans today?

The Bereans LOOKED daily. This speaks to their tenacity & diligence. The scriptures in question of their day were the Old Testament Scriptures. These scriptures were written prior to the days of chapter and verse numbering which would have required considerable effort on their part to search. Undeterred, they searched daily! Are there any Bereans today that would have the energy to undertake this tedious endeavor? In a day when the Scriptures are so conveniently available on our phones, in apps, and when we have concordances and other types of helps to locate various passages. We should be teaming with Bereans!

Lastly, as they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so,” we make note of their attitude of EARNEST attention. An attitude that the writer of Hebrews said we “ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” (Heb 2:1). They had elevated the word of God to the importance it deserves as the word of God (John 17:17). We can’t help but note what Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, “ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (1Thess 2:13; cf 2Tim 3:15-17)

Are there any Bereans today?

Does it MATTER what one Believes?

Does it MATTER what we Believe? part one.

Toward the end of nearly every discussion about the divisive state of the religious world, one will usually say something like this…

“You can’t tell me my sweet grandma (could be neighbor, friend or relative), who never went to church (or did go to a denomination ‘religiously’), who was kind to people and animals, who never said a bad word or did a bad thing, who helped anyone that asked, is lost. She was so very sincere in what she believed.”

Instead of approaching the idea of whether sincerity saves, let’s ask the question:

Does it MATTER what one believes?

Usually in these discussions we can agree that certain very wicked people are lost (the Hitlers and the pedophiles of the world). Are the kind and the sincere who didn’t follow the bible totally saved because of their sincerity and goodness?

We’ll set aside the fact that those who say this are suggesting a ‘works based’ salvation, which they would normally condemn. We will just look at the Bible and ask, does it MATTER?

Does it MATTER what we believe?

Most would agree that we ought to obey GOD rather than MAN. (Acts 5:29). Jesus was critical of those that created doctrines contrary to the doctrine of God.

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…” (Mark 7:7-8a)

Usually, they will agree with this point that you have to believe in God, in Christ and in the Bible. But when it comes to saying that the non-Christian religious people are lost, they stop short saying; “I’m not the judge.” This is the fallacy of equivocation. We’re not judging their hearts, we’re making righteous judgment with the Word of God. (cf. Mat 7:1-2)

Paul had ‘judged’ that the Jews of his day were not saved; “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” (Rom 10:1-2). He had discerned from the Truth of God’s word that they had not obeyed the gospel and therefore were not saved.

Which brings us to our next point about “does it MATTER,” does your belief AGREE with the Doctrine of Christ?

In both Old and the New Testaments, one had to have a ‘thus saith the Lord’ for their beliefs and actions. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17) When King David desired to build a Permanent Temple for God, he was prohibited because he didn’t have a command from God, there was no scriptural command to do this good thing. Therefore, it was a wrong thing. (2Sam 7:1-7)

Here’s the point, God’s word is Objective Truth. It is transparent, researchable, universal to all, for the thinking person, and it is heavenly (cf. James 3:17). Compare the objective Word of God to the subjective, shifting sand of a person’s heart. (Mat 7:24-29) “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” (Eph 4:14)

David appealed to the subjective standard of his feelings. He was pointed toward the OBJECTIVE, fixed standard of God’s Word. We’re told not to go beyond what is written (2Cor 4:13), speak as the oracles of God (1Pet 4:11), the commandments of the Lord (1Cor 14:37), the inspired Scriptures (2Tim 3:16-17), using the words chosen by the Holy Spirit (1Cor 2:9-13), and not to add to nor take away from the Word (Rev 22:18-19).

Then, in this 3rd point, when we have an objective standard, called the TRUTH (John 17:17), we have an ability to search the scripture to find out if what we feel is true (Acts 17:11).

Did you know it’s possible to feel secure and not know the Lord has departed from you? (Judges 16:20) Did you know it’s possible to believe a lie? (1Kings 13:18; cf. 2Thess 2:9-12)

By reading & studying God’s word, we can Know the truth and be set free from the bondage of lies, sin, and the corruption of this life. (John 8:32; 12:48; cf. James 1:25; 2:12)

What is that to thee? follow thou me.

After the resurrection of Jesus, He spoke with Peter while having breakfast by the sea (John 21:15-22). There are a few lessons from this text, but I’d like to focus on Peter’s response to the knowledge that he will die for Christ & His Cause.

After Jesus describes the type of love sacrifice that Peter will face, Peter turns toward John and asks, “what shall this man do?”

Jesus, ever succinct and direct, answers, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”

It is this powerful lesson that will be the focus of this article. Before we can learn the lesson, we must understand the root of Peter’s question.

Peter had heard that he will live the remainder of his life in sacrificial service to Christ, the end of which will be a martyr’s death. “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.”

This would be very serious news to receive. The closest example I could give you is one from my own experience. After two years of cancer treatment for my mom, we were in her doctor’s office when we heard something to the effect, “There’s nothing more we can do. Go home, we’ll try to make you comfortable, and enjoy your family in whatever time you have left.” How devastating that must have sounded to her.

Perhaps this gives us just a glimpse at how this might have sounded to Peter at this point in his life. Peter would learn more from Jesus after this, but this stands as a reminder to every Christian, we who love Christ will face persecution, and trouble in this life. [2Tim 3:12].

So, what are we to do with this information, knowing that life as a Christian won’t always be easy? Can we still be happy? Can we find any joy? The answer is yes, we can be HAPPY & JOYFUL, the question then becomes HOW? For that answer we turn to the words of our Lord, FOLLOW ME.

FOLLOW ME.

The beginning of following anyone is to have FAITH. Nobody will follow anyone if they can’t trust that they are worthy to be followed, and able to fulfill what they have promised. Christ is both worthy and able. Just one text of many will prove this point; Christ is spoken of as the Creator [John 1:1-4; Col 1:17-18]. Jesus told His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” [John 14:1-3]. Another powerful verse to help with our FAITH in Christ is, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” [Heb 2:18]

Second, we can only follow Him if we OBEY Him. Jesus is the Captain of our Salvation, but too many treat Him like they’re the captain and He a buck Private. [cf. Heb 2:10] Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:15; 1John 5:3]

Next, we notice that in that breakfast by the sea, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” We should ask ourselves this same question. The word for love is ‘agape’ which is the all-in sacrificial love. To follow Jesus is to LOVE whom He loves. We must LOVE God [Mat 22:37], Christ [John 14:15], The Holy Spirit [Rom 15:30], the brethren [1Peter 1:22], yourself & your family [Eph 5:28-29], and also your Enemies [Luke 6:27].

Fourth, Christ told us to come to Him and, “Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN of me;” [Matt 11:29]. It is amazing to me how much people say that want to follow Jesus, but spend so little time trying to LEARN of Him. He expects us to be the LIGHT of the world, but how can we without LEARNING of Him, without reading His word? [Mat 5:14; cf. Psalm 119:105; Pro 6:23]

Fifth, whether young or Old, as we have OPPORTUNITY let us do good to all men, especially the household of faith [Gal 6:10]. Sometimes folks don’t want us to do good toward them. That’s ok. Paul wrote, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” [Rom 12:18; cf. Mat 15:14; 1Cor 14:38; 1Tim 6:18]

Lastly, and just as importantly, Following Christ involves WALKING. John was present at the breakfast by the sea and he wrote, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to WALK, even as he walked.” [1John 2:6]. Peter wrote, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” [1Peter 2:21; cf. 1Pet 3:13; 2Peter 1:16].

Putting all this together, we know that life is full of disappointments, trouble, and trials. Much of this will come through the hands of people. However, the scriptures teach us that we can have JOY & HAPPINESS despite this world’s troubles. [James 1:2; Mt 5:12; Ac 5:41]. Peter wrote, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” [1Pet 4:13; 1:6; 4:16]

Peter was told at the beginning that he would give his life to Christ. Peter wanted to know, if I’m going to suffer, what going to happen to the others? Christ told him that whatever happens to others has no bearing on what Peter does, “YOU FOLLOW ME.” He understood the lesson.

Whatever it is that others are doing, or not doing, what they’re getting, or not getting, how much fun they’re having, or how much they suffer, these have nothing to do with what YOU & I are to do.

As I read again John 21:22, when Jesus commands Peter, I also hear…

Spencer, YOU FOLLOW ME.”