Thanksgiving was Thursday, so this probably seems like a bad time to talk about it, but maybe it’s the perfect time, since it was three days ago. Scripture says a lot about food and eating. Some form of the word “eat” is found over 750 times in the Bible. “Food” itself is seen 55 times. The more common words for the equivalent of “food” is “bread,” which is 361 times, and “meat,” 290 times. Israel was given dietary restrictions as part of God’s law for His people. With the knowledge of that, we should think that there is something helpful and practical about what we put into our mouths. It’s something we usually do every single day, and it gets a regular part of our attention. We can be wrong about eating, either what we eat or how we eat, which is why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” It says that the most mundane, common occurrences in our life should also be guided by the Word of God.
I was giving thought to my sincerity of thanks. I really do think I’m thankful to God and others, but I know I can deceive myself as to my motives. It’s ironic here, I know. Am I thankful or just saying I’m thankful? I want people to hear thanks, and it really should be meaningful, not just something that’s required after someone has done something, as a kind of leadership quality or request to keep doing more of the same. On the other hand, there is effort put into expressions of thanks, because we are really thankful and we want someone to know it, so we go out of our way to thank someone. The Apostle Paul says many times that he is thankful to those in his churches, the ones he evangelized and were saved. I know what it’s like out there, and I am really, really thankful for you. You’re amazing. I want more from you, but I also am very grateful. Of course, God has given us so much and we need to show Him our thanks in as many ways as possible. You have shown thanks to me and my family too. I’m thankful for your thanksgiving.
The Treasury of David records: “I think the death of the saints is precious in the Lord’s sight, because they are taken from the evil to come; they are delivered from the burden of the flesh; ransomed by the blood of the Redeemer, they are his purchased possession, and now he receives them to himself. Sin and sorrow for ever cease; there is no more death, the death of Christ is their redemption; by death he overcame him that had the power of death; therefore, they in him are enabled to say, ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ . . . [I]n it he often sees the very finest evidences of the work of his own Spirit upon the soul; he sees faith in opposition to sense, leaning upon the promises of God. Reposing upon him who is mighty to save, he sees hope even against hope, anchoring the soul secure and steadfast on him who is passed within the veil; he sees patience acquiescing in a Father’s will – humility bending beneath his sovereign hand – love issuing from a grateful heart. . . . [I]t draws out the tenderness of surviving Christian friends, and is abundant in the thanksgivings of many an anxious heart; it elicits the sympathies of Christian charity, and realises that communion of saints.”
God created man to fellowship with Him. God had already fellowshipped within the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—but it was His will for more. Sin separates man from God. For fellowship, the sin must be eliminated. God provided for that through His Son. He made the condition faith. We must believe His Word, the Gospel, and Jesus Christ. I could say, “or Jesus Christ,” because you don’t believe in Jesus and not believe in His Word or the Gospel message. God must be believed, like Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto Him as righteousness. God will save those who believe though. Fellowship is regained through justification by faith. We have peace with God. The plan then is to go to be with Him in glory where we fellowship with Him forever. Again, this is only for those who believe in Jesus Christ. Fellowship, which will include bringing glory to God, is the purpose and plan, enabled by God, the condition, faith. Today we have that through the Word of God and in prayer.
The emphasis on the building for a church originated in Roman Catholicism. We know from the New Testament that congregations met in houses. We don’t read, if you meet in a house, that will be very bad and the church will never grow if you do that. However, today people don’t think you are a church or have a church without a building. If you meet in a home, to many that would mean that it isn’t even a church. There is pressure especially on young congregations to spend money on a building, so that it will look established, look solid – look like a church. Roman Catholicism takes a position on the Old Testament and the kingdom that treats the church like Old Testament Israel, which had a physical temple and priests. Roman Catholicism put more and more emphasis on the building. There is a different emphasis now more in line with the spirit of the age. It’s nice for a church to own property and have its own building. If it has one, it should take care of it in representation of the Lord and in honor to Him.
Paul wants to establish his apostleship at the beginning of Galatians, because his authority has been attacked by false teachers. They are preaching a false gospel and part of their strategy was to undermine the true gospel by assailing its messenger. In the very first verse of Galatians Paul wants to establish the divine quality of the epistle, and he writes: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” They were saying his apostleship was only human, nothing from God. Paul says it was “not of men,” in an emphatic repetition, “neither by man,” and then the contrasting, “but by Jesus Christ.” Paul makes a strong statement of the deity of Christ by contrasting Jesus from men as divine – not of men, but by Jesus Christ. If Paul was an apostle not of men, but of Jesus Christ, He is with great emphasis saying that Jesus is God. It doesn’t make any sense otherwise.
Yesterday, I read the New York (NY) Times editorial, the entire essay for the purpose of judging the morality of a well-known, prominent person in the United States. A moral by dictionary definition is a standard for behavior, so in the NY Times’s case, a standard by which to judge behavior. Morality is a system of principles for judging what is right or wrong. One would assume that to judge morality, you would have some basis for deciding what is right and wrong. What is that basis? If someone is going to judge someone else, he would need a standard, something that is an authority for judging right or wrong. What is the standard of the NY Times? I would be interested. The NY Times thinks abortion is moral. It thinks that same-sex marriage is moral. It believes humanity got here by chance. You can’t trust what someone says about morality if he doesn’t have an objective standard of judgment. The only defensible position of morality comes from the Bible.
Through my life, I’ve heard people say to me many, many times, “I believe in God.” Usually, I’m supposed to be impressed. I’m not, because when someone says that, it shows that he really doesn’t believe in God. When I say he doesn’t believe in God, I mean that he doesn’t believe, and the God He believes in, still isn’t God. When James 2:19 says that the devil believes and trembles, it doesn’t mean that demons and Satan have saving faith. I’ve said in the past that God doesn’t want to be believed in like we believe in the existence of our left foot. We believe that exists, but that isn’t much of a belief. Hebrews 6:2-3 tells us to go on to perfection, which is to believe in Jesus Christ, “not laying again the foundation of . . . faith toward God.” Hebrews is telling unsaved people to move on, to leave certain things, including that is the insufficient “faith toward God.” If you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, then you don’t believe in God, even if you say that you believe in God.
3 John 1:5-8 say, “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; . . . . whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.” Visiting, fellowshiping believers are on a “journey after a godly sort,” who are “taking nothing” from the world, and are obviously representing the truth. We ought to receive them, bring them forward on their journey, because in their case, we are fellowhelpers to the truth. Romans 12:13 says concerning all church members that they should be “given to hospitality.” This is the Greek word philoxenia. You hear people say “xenophobic” today, which is apparently fear of strangers. This is the love of strangers. I don’t think it is just anyone, but those who meet a description of a believer, but we want to help them.
Ephesians 5:24 reads, “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” Something occurred to me this last Wednesday night that struck me for the first time that I can remember. The imperative to wives isn’t understood without the comparison with the church. She understands her subjection to her husband from the subjection of the church to Christ. Subjection to Christ is assumed in the church. How could a woman expect to understand the subjection if she doesn’t have the example of a church subjecting itself to Christ? Also, the subjection to Christ of the church is comparable to the subjection of the wife to the husband. Could a woman even be considered to be in subjection to her husband if she subjected like most church members? It doesn’t seem like a contemporary idea for church members to be subject to Christ. A person is saved when He subjects Himself to Christ, and then He keeps subjecting. What about you?