Your Faithfulness Derives from God’s Faithfulness

2019-01-10T11:45:35+00:00 January 14th, 2019|

The story of Hosea and Gomer is well-known. “The LORD said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.’ So, he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim” (Hosea 1:2-3).

Israel, the Northern Kingdom, was faithless and broke from Judah and Jerusalem. Jeroboam led Israel to established alternate sites of worship, Bethel and Dan, and to worship alternated Gods, golden claves. Jeroboam established a non-Levite alternate priesthood. He also ordered the celebration of alternate feasts during the eighth month rather than in the God-ordained seventh month. You can read about this faithlessness in 1 Kings 12:25-33. Hosea lived sometime later during the reign of Jeroboam II. Israel was ripe for judgment because of decades of faithlessness.

Gomer, like Israel, was prone to wander. She did so. Like Israel, she led a life of harlotry and adultery (Hosea 2:2). Gomer’s adultery portrayed Israel’s spiritual harlotry and unfaithfulness. In the midst of this personal tragedy and political instability, God again spoke to Hosea. “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods” (Hosea 3:1). Hosea’s mission was to publicly display God’s love for a sinful people.

Hosea 2:19-20 graphically describes God’s disposition toward Israel. “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.” God’s covenant love and compassion toward Israel come to expression in His faithfulness. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). This God is our God, the Faithful One. In like manner, Hosea must be faithful to faithless Gomer.

The apostle Paul also uses marriage as the type and picture of God’s relationship with His people. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Such love requires faithfulness. In and of yourself, you are faithless. Like Gomer and ancient Israel, you are prone to wander. Your status before God depends upon God’s faithfulness to you. And so, God says to you, “I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.” God’s faithfulness to you results in a saving knowledge of Him and of His Son, Jesus Christ. The imagery advances. You become part of the church, the bride of Christ. You are committed to Him in faithfulness.

Again, it is not within your capacity to change your disposition from that of prone to wander to that of prone to faithfulness. The key is your union with Christ. You are joined to Him as part of His bride. You are joined to Him as a wild olive branch grafted into a native olive tree. You are joined to Him as a branch is part of a grapevine. Thus united to Christ, you are enabled to bear fruit. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

What is the fruit? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22). United to Christ you are enabled to be faithful in dating, marriage, school, work, social activities, athletics, and in every other area of life. United to Christ you bear the fruit of faithfulness.

Denny Prutow

Goodness

2019-01-04T10:19:26+00:00 January 7th, 2019|

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness. . . .” (Galatians 5:22). The fruit of the Spirit is the character of God renewed in you and working in you by the Spirit. The rich young ruler asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus first responded, “Why do you call Me good?” The young man did not recognize Jesus as God incarnate. He had no ground to call Jesus good. Ultimately, to be good is to be godlike. When Paul tells us “the Law is good” (Romans 7:16, 1 Timothy 1:8), he means the Law reflects God’s character.

On a personal level, when God gives you a new heart, He cleanses your “conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14). He gives you a “good conscience” (1 Timothy 1:5). He gives you a conscience saying, “Yes,” when God says, “Yes,” and saying, “No,” when God says, “No.” You respond positively to God’s good pleasure, that is, God’s good Law. You “work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Paul also puts this in terms of light. “God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). What is the fruit of this light shining in your heart? Since “you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8-10). With light from God, you walk in God’s goodness seeking God’s good pleasure.

John puts the same idea a little differently. “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11). The one who truly does good is born of God. Therefore, when you do good, you express God’s goodness in the fruit of the Spirit. This goodness comes to visible expression when you actually reject evil and embrace good. You actually “Depart from evil and do good” (Psalm 37:27). You do so by walking in God’s good pleasure in God’s good Law.

Because you belong to Christ and He is your Lord, you are “freed from sin and enslaved to God” (Romans 6:22). Lust no longer rules your life and heart. You follow the Tenth Commandment. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).

Violations of the Eighth Commandment, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15), are not an option. You do not covet, or lust after, your neighbor’s property. Violations of the Seventh Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14), are not an option. You do not covet, or lust for, your neighbor’s wife. Violations of the Sixth Commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13), are not an option. There is no hatred in your heart for your neighbor because of his good estate and his servants. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15). You know and follow God’s good law. The goodness of God fills your heart. You manifest the fruit of the Spirit, goodness.

Denny Prutow

Read Through the Bible in 2019

2018-12-29T20:00:34+00:00 January 1st, 2019|

We all want to grow or at least we should want to grow. This year, 2019, presents another opportunity for such growth. We can read the Bible and grow together spiritually. Jesus prayed to His Father for our growth when He said, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

The word “sanctify” has two meanings. First, it means to set aside something or someone for holy use. In other words, Jesus asked His Father to set apart His disciples for holy use or work. God had already commanded His people, “Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44). Second, “sanctify” means causing growth and sanctification is the process of spiritual growth.

Take a look at how Jesus says this growth will come about. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” To grow, men, women, boys, and girls must be filled with the truth of the word of God. Jesus has the Scriptures in mind. Today we have the Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments in the Bible. The way to spiritual growth is therefore through the reading and the study of the Bible. Next year you have the opportunity for significant spiritual growth through the reading and study of the Bible. Read through the Bible in 2019 and experience the difference it makes.

Click here and listen to today’s podcast, Jesus’ Prayers, Your Sanctification, and Scripture.

Anthropopathism and Incarnation

2018-12-14T14:08:21+00:00 December 17th, 2018|

Metaphors are implied comparisons. John 10:7 is a good example, Jesus said, “I am the door.” In other words, Jesus is the way into the company of God’s people. Jesus compares Himself to a door or entranceway. We do not take the language literally. It is a figure of speech.

There are three special metaphors, anthropomorphisms, theriomorphisms, and anthropopathisms. The anthropomorphism refers to attributing human form to the inanimate or the divine. Isaiah 55:12 says, “All the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Obviously, trees do not have human hands; but their waving in the wind is like the clapping of hands. We do not take the metaphor literally. In like manner, the Scriptures speak of God’s hands, His arm, His ears, His eyes, etc. “The eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth.” Second Chronicles 16:9 uses this metaphor to signify that God is all knowing and all seeing. We do not take the metaphor literally. God, who is a Spirit, does not have human eyes.

The second special metaphor, the theriomorphism, attributes animal form to human beings or God. In Luke 13:32, Jesus compares Herod to a fox, “Go tell that fox.” Psalm 36:7 speaks of God’s protection using a theriomorphism, “And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” Of course, we do not take this special metaphor literally. God, who is a Spirit, does not have wings.

The third special metaphor, the anthropopathism, attributes human emotions to the inanimate or to God. For example, Psalm 96:12 exclaims, “Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.” We do not interpret this text literally. Trees do not sing and trees do not express the human emotion of joy. Anthropopathisms also impute human characteristics to God, in this case, human emotions. A. A. Hodge explains,

When the Scriptures, in condescension to our weakness, express the fact that God hears by saying that he has an ear, or that he exerts power by attributing to him a hand, they evidently speak metaphorically, because in the case of men spiritual faculties are exercised through bodily organs. And when they speak of his repenting, of his being grieved, or jealous, they use metaphorical language also, teaching us that he acts toward us as a man when agitated by such passions (The Confession of Faith, 49).

Hodge comments on Westminster Confession of Faith 2:1 which says God is “a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions.” These “passions” are part of the human makeup and human nature, that which makes us human in contrast to the divine. These include excitable impulses of our nature such as fear, anger, love, hatred, etc., human emotions, which are reactive.

When God says, “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5), He is speaking metaphorically. Genesis 6:6 says, “The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” Sorrow and grief are human emotions imputed to God to characterize His actions using language to which we can relate. Genesis 6:6 speaks metaphorically using anthropopathisms. Are we diminishing God and undercutting the Bible? No! In fact, we are emphasizing God’s utter distinctiveness. As God does not have humans eyes, ears, or hands, God does not have the human emotions of anger, fear, hatred, or sorrow. Again, He is infinitely distinct from and different than you and me. “God is spirit” (John 4:24). A “spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39).

Understanding anthropopathisms brings us to the wonder of the incarnation. What is the connection? In order for the great God of heaven who is a most pure Spirit, without body, parts, or passions, to express human emotions, He must become a man, a human being. In order to feel human sorrow and to shed human tears, God must become a man. It is the man, Christ Jesus, of whom it is written, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). For the God of heaven, a most pure Spirit, to actually bleed, it was necessary for Him to become a man. In like manner, for this infinitely good God to feel human pain, He had to become a human being, a man. To suffer the full range of human emotions in the agony of ultimate abandonment, loneliness, and feeling forsaken, God had to become a man. To suffer the pains of Hell, physically and emotionally, and to feel the weight of wrath, physically and emotionally, it was essential that God become a man.

Putting it all together, if you and I do not understand that God in heaven does not have human emotions and we do not grasp the significance of anthropopathisms, we will not appreciate the full beauty of the incarnation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Denny Prutow

Continue in God’s Kindness (Romans 11:22)

2018-12-07T11:36:40+00:00 December 10th, 2018|

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness . . .” (Galatians 5:22). The fruit of the Spirit includes kindness that reflects the character of God in His mercy toward us. This kindness is goodness and generosity particularly related to the things of salvation. Paul exclaims, “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness” (Romans 11:22). God is kind to His children and they, in turn, express this kindness to others. Kindness and goodness typify the believer’s life.

What is the character of this kindness? Paul asks, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). God’s kindness is His forbearance and patience. His kindness gives us time to think through our lives and our sin and to turn back to God.

This kindness is also grace in Christ. God “show[s] the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). In kindness, God presents Christ to us. He gives us time to understand Him and turn to Him. As Paul again says, “When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us” (Titus 3:4-5). Literally, Paul speaks of “When the kindness and philanthropy or compassion of God our Savior appeared.” Paul shows us that God’s kindness is compassionate kindness, that God’s kindness is the revelation of Jesus Christ.

United to Christ, men and women express the kindness of God in both the church and the world. Romans 11:22 once again, “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness” (emphasis added). When you experience the kindness of God, He works His kindness in your heart. You become kind-hearted. You commend yourself to a watching world in the kindness you express to others (2 Corinthians 6:4 and 6). For this reason, the apostle Paul exhorts, “As those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12, emphasis added).

Outside of Christ, people lack this Spirit born fruit. Paul quotes Psalm 14:1 in Romans 3:12 to describe such people. “All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good.” Literally, “there is not one doing or practicing kindness.” Psalm 14:3 continues the same thought. “They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good [practices kindness, LXX] not even one.”

While the lack of this fruit characterizes unbelievers, simple acts of kindness mark you as a follower of Christ. Often, these are a matter of common courtesy. You Say please and thank you to those serving you in a restaurant. You hold the door for others so they may pass through first. You defer to and honor your elders.

More particularly, remember “the kindness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). And so, it will serve you well to be kind to others by giving the Holy Spirit time to convict them of sin and to work Godly repentance in them. Thus, you will emulate the kindness of God. In this way, you will “continue in His [God’s] kindness” (Romans 11:22). You will vindicate your faith by your works (James 2:24).

Denny Prutow

God Works His Patience in You

2018-12-04T08:07:21+00:00 December 3rd, 2018|

God promises, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances (Ezekiel 36:27). The Spirit inclines your heart to walk in God’s ways. You make effort to keep God’s commandments. But how you follow these commandments is as important as what they direct. And so the new Spirit born disposition of the heart involves certain fruit. In this lesson, we look at patience. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience . . .” (Galatians 5:22).

Paul refers to long-suffering, forbearance, and endurance. James challenges, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” Then he exhorts, “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

C. S. Lewis speaks of Christ in this context. He is the only person, says Lewis, who knows the full extent of a test or temptation. How so? He is the only person to completely push through His testing and perfectly navigate the full extent of temptation. Our Lord did so exercising patient endurance. Thus, He lived out the words of James. Hebrews 5:8-9 puts it this way. “He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.”

The prophets also exemplified patient endurance. “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job” (James 5:10-11). Isaiah’s life epitomized this endurance. God called him to difficult ministry. “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” We understand Isaiah’s response. “Then I said, ‘How long, O Lord?’ And he said: ‘Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people and the land is a desolate waste, and the LORD removes people far away’” (Isaiah 6:10-11).

As Isaiah’s work required patient endurance so ministry today requires much patience and endurance. Pastors, elders, and all those involved in ministry must be full of love. Yet, the Apostle Paul reminds us, “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Ministry requires patience, endurance, and perseverance.

Now note how Paul speaks of God’s dealings with you and me. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4)? Yes, consider God’s patient long-suffering kindness. Where would we be if God was not patient with us, giving us time and space to repent of our sin and turn to Christ for forgiveness? We would be lost forever. God’s long-suffering patience is a manifestation of His love.

The Spirit of God and of Christ, the Spirit of love, therefore works long-suffering patience in us. If you love your husband or wife, you are patient. If you love your children, you are patient and long-suffering with them. If you love your work, you exercise much patience on the job. You persevere in God’s calling. This patient long-suffering and loving patience is, therefore, an important witness in the church and in the world. “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). For this reason, God works His patience in you.

Denny Prutow

The God of Peace is With You

2018-11-14T10:26:12+00:00 November 19th, 2018|

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .” (Galatians 5:22). We all crave peace of heart and conscience. Unrest, anxiety, guilt, anger, and a host of other unseemly feelings and emotions often consume us. The deeds of the flesh include strife, jealousy, envy, anger and such things as these (Galatians 5:19-21). Peace of heart and peace within the heart often evade us.

Jay Adams reminds us of an important biblical principle. “Feelings flow from actions” (Competent to Counsel, 97). See also The Christian Counselor’s Manual, 130-136. Simply put, feelings follow. When you do something bad, your conscience hurts and you feel bad. When you do something right, you feel good about it.

We see this principle at work in several places in Scripture. Philippians 4:6-7 links practice and peace, what we do and how we feel. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If you love God and seek His face in the midst of anxiety by pouring out your needs to God, the promise is the peace of God will overtake you. A sense of inner peace comes after we take appropriate action to seek God in our troubles.

So also, Philippians 4:9, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” If you expect to experience peace which comes from God (He is the God of peace), then you must practice the Christian life. You must practice what Scripture teaches about the church, the family, interpersonal relations, employments, and other issues. Good feelings follow proper practice.

When children need to get up and get dressed, and get ready for school, it is inappropriate for them to refuse by saying, “I don’t feel like it.” Parents do not take kindly to this response. God does not take kindly to this response from His children either. When He calls us to repent of our sins and turn to Christ for forgiveness, He does not ask if we feel like it. When He issues the Ten Commandments as a way of life for His people, He does not consult us and ask us how we feel about it. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Once God cleanses our consciences and reorients our hearts, we feel bad when we lie, cheat or, steal. Guilt replaces peace. On the other hand, we have feelings of peace in our hearts when we tell others the truth, make sure we return the property of others, and keep our eyes on our own papers when taking exams. As in conversion itself, feelings follow.

Ultimately, peace of heart and feelings of peace are the work of the Spirit. God uses our actions as part of the means to bring about His ends. He enjoins, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). God gives you both the will and the ability to follow His commandments, albeit imperfectly. By God’s grace you work out the implications of your salvation by following God’s word. As you do so, the God of peace is with you and you experience peace of heart. The fruit of the Spirit, peace, blossoms and becomes a visible and attractive part of your life.

Denny Prutow

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

2018-11-09T13:59:16+00:00 November 12th, 2018|

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…” (Galatians 5:22). Love is the first of the fruit, love for God, love for Christ, love for others, love for Scripture, and love for the moral law as a way to demonstrate love. Joy quickly follows. This joy is not effervescent and fading. It is not like the froth on a root-beer float that quickly evaporates. It is an anchor for the soul. It is a buoy keeping us afloat on the sea of life.

Shortly after my conversion, the man who led me to Christ saw me and asked, “What’s the matter? Have you lost your joy?” His questions forced some quick introspection. No, I thought, it has not been a particularly good day; but “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). My joy in Christ was intact. It was a stabilizing influence in the midst of a pressure-packed day.

Nehemiah 8:10 exhorts, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” The people of old experienced grief because of their sins. They heard the reading and preaching of the Word of God (Nehemiah 8:1-8). The result was shock and sorrow. “All the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law” (Nehemiah 8:9).

The Spirit of God applying Scripture to our hearts may cause us to feel guilt. This sudden recognition of guilt may provoke deep sorrow for sin. Such godly sorrow “produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow therefore has a positive side. “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

And so, when the people of old heard the Word of God, it was not just a day for weeping and sadness. It was a holy day, a Sabbath to the Lord (Leviticus 23:24-25). It was a day for remembering. “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15). It was a day to remember the salvation of God and to rejoice in His grace.

You too may grieve your circumstances or have sorrow over your sins. When you hear the Word of God regarding the work of Christ and the grace of Christ, “you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). And when the light of Christ arises in your heart, it is the dawning of a new day.

You experience the joy of the LORD, that is, the joy that comes from the LORD who renews your heart. He takes a spiritual scalpel and removes that old angry heart and disposition. He replaces it with a new heart. You experience the joy of being forgiven, the joy of adoption into God’s family, and the joy of new purpose, God’s purpose, for living. You have a new joy and confidence born of the Spirit.

This joy in God and from God is an inner strength of heart. It is a quiet godly assurance. You gladly pursue God’s purposes in your work and in your family. God becomes the stabilizing influence in your life. You actually experience and exhibit real joy, the fruit of the Spirit.

Denny Prutow

What is Biblical Love?

2018-11-03T08:26:47+00:00 November 5th, 2018|

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these (Galatians 5:19-21). God’s moral law summarized in the Ten Commandments stands opposed to such things. On the other hand, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

As we begin to examine this contrast by way of a look at the fruit of the Spirit, we see the priority of love. There is no law against love. God’s law defines love. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). The Ten Commandments give you a way to express love. You express love for God when you put His desires before your own, when you gladly worship Him, when you call upon His Name and pray to Him, and when you honor Him by setting aside one day in seven from regular work for corporate, family, and private worship study and meditation.

You love those around you when you respect age and position, when you preserve life, when you live chastely outwardly and inwardly, when you work to make a fair wage and support yourself and your family, when the truth is important and your word is your bond, and when you live this way in a state of contentedness. This love for God is not a burden to you but a joy.

This love also has certain characteristics. “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:5-8). This is a description of love.

Love patiently and kindly tells the truth. Love assumes positions of authority without arrogance. Loving fathers do not demand tasks be done exactly the way they would do them. They do not demand their own way. Loving mothers are not easily provoked by the antics of their children. The love you express in following the Ten Commandments should bear the marks of this description.

Finally, such love springs from the heart. In fact, it is an attitude of heart. Philippians 2:5 exhorts, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Attitude here refers to inclination of the heart or disposition. You do not want to be known as a person with an ugly disposition. You want to be a person inclined to love. You express this loving inclination, disposition, or attitude through the Ten Commandments as 1 Corinthians 13 describes. This attitude of heart is a fruit of the Spirit. It comes from God. If you lack in love, you should seek God for a new attitude. You should study the Bible to see how Godly love lives and acts.

Such love is also a witness. “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). Attitudes of love, gladly expressed through the Ten Commandments, as 1 Corinthians 13 describes, testify to God’s presence. Unbelievers entering a congregation where God’s love is being perfected, where Christians express such love, will get a glimpse of the Divine. They will see God.

Denny Prutow

The Context of Contentment

2018-10-24T13:06:46+00:00 October 29th, 2018|

Well known Christian counselor, Dr. Jay Adams, has lamented the proliferation of wall plaques that quote selected Bible verses. I’ve heard him suggest beginning a contextual wallpaper company. One of the texts frequently taken out of context is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him [Christ] who strengthens me.”

On the basis of this text, we should not expect miraculous infusions of strength of Superman proportions. We will never be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound nor be as fast as a speeding bullet. So, to what do the “all things” in Philippians 4:13 refer. Look at the context.

Verses 11-12 are revealing. “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Yes, Paul is speaking about contentment. By the grace of God in Christ, he is able to be content “in any and every circumstance” of life. In “all things” regarding the circumstances of his life, whether freely preaching Christ or in prison because of his preaching, whether shipwrecked on a Mediterranean island or spending time mentoring Timothy or Titus, Paul is content in heart and soul.

No matter the circumstance, Paul knows that Jesus Christ rules over heaven and earth. Paul know that God in heaven carefully guiding “all things” in the circumstances of his life for his good. Paul confesses this truth in Romans 8:28. “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (emphasis added). No matter the circumstance in your life or mine, this truth applies. Contentment in “all things” is not elusive.

Denny Prutow