Tag Archives: Word of the Lord

The Way of the LORD

Proverbs 10:29

“The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.”
The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless,
but destruction to evildoers.
(ESV)

A Bold Assertion About the Gospel

Many, if not most, of the proverbs are pithy statements making general observations about wise living. This one is a bit different. Proverbs 10:29 is less a general observation about wise living, and more a bold theological assertion about the gospel.

My interpretation follows the translation of the NASB, ESV, NIV and the study on the verse done by the German commentators Keil & Delitzsch, in preference to the KJV. The point of the proverb is to contrast the effect of “the way of the LORD” upon the lives of believers (the “blameless”) versus its effect upon unbelievers (“evildoers”).

The Way of the LORD

“The way of the LORD” in this proverb refers to the way of true religion, that way of faith and obedience which God has revealed to mankind. In New Testament terms, “the way of the LORD” refers to obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Many people want only enough of Jesus to make their lives easier, simpler, or more care-free. Will prayer help me get through my problems? Then I’ll pray. Is Jesus the Great Physician? Then I’ll seek Him whenever I’m sick. Is He the King with cattle on a thousand hills? Then I’ll call out to him when I’m broke. Many churches are filled with nominal Christians (that is, Christians in name only) who want the blessings of the way of the LORD, without being born again (John 3:3). That is to say, they have not undergone the fundamental, supernatural transformation of their being which God requires in the gospel. That inner transformation, without which there is no eternal life, happens only by truly embracing Jesus Christ as the most precious, desirable One in the universe – loved above all others, the wonder and marvel and joy of the heart.

What Effect Does “The Way of the LORD” Have On the Believer?

For the believer in Christ, life along that narrow way is said to have the certainty and security of a mountain stronghold. It is a life lived for Jesus and about Jesus and full of Jesus: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), writes the Apostle Paul, and, “the life I live in the body,” he writes again, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). It is a bold, strong, vigorous life! No matter what the world may throw at us, we are safe in Jesus. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

What Effect Does “The Way of the LORD” Have Upon the Unbeliever?

This is the point of contrast made in the proverb which the KJV translation misses, but which is conveyed in the more careful rendering of the ESV above. The same gospel which is life and strength and refuge for the Christian, spells “destruction,” death and misery for the unbeliever. Here we stumble upon the hard edge of the gospel, where few preachers these days tread. Here we trip upon Christ the stumbling block. Embrace Christ by faith, and He is your life. Reject Him through persistence in hardness of heart and unbelief, and He spells your death. The gospel, which is “a stronghold to the blameless,” is also “destruction to evildoers.” The same gospel which proclaims that Christ came to save sinners, declares that Christ will return in blazing, purging, glorious brightness, and that unbelievers will cry out for the mountains to fall upon them to shield them from His glory. The same gospel which declares that He is the Christian’s Rock, declares that the Rock will crush all who reject Him.

The Gospel Aroma

The Apostle Paul picks up on the theme of Proverbs 10:29 in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16. Basically, the idea there is that the gospel smells like a sweet fragrance—desirable and lovely—to those who are receiving new life in Jesus. But the same gospel smells like the stench of death to those who are rejecting Jesus. For them, the gospel has a terrible odor of decay, for it is the smell of death – their own death. They want nothing to do with Jesus Christ or his gospel.

How About You?

Do you love Jesus? Do you want Him more than anything else the world has to offer? Do you “savor the aroma” of Jesus? Are His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming all glorious truths which delight your soul? If so, be assured that He is and ever will be a stronghold for your soul, and that the yearnings in your heart will one day be fully satisfied in His glorious, loving presence. If not, then be warned: the narrow way to salvation will one day close, and Jesus will return with judgment blazing in His eyes.

Let us close with a prayer by A.W. Tozer (1897 – 1963).

“O God, I have tasted thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”

Sources

“A.W. Tozer Quotes.” A.W. Tozer Quotes (Author of The Pursuit of God). N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/1082290.A_W_Tozer&gt;.

Keil, Carl Friedrich, and Franz Delitzsch. “Commentary on Proverbs 10:29.” Commentary on the Old Testament. Vol. 6. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996. 164-65. Print.

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Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 3rd Week of Advent – Day 7

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. -John 18:36-37, KJV

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As we round out the third week of Advent, we shift our focus from the earthly ministry of Jesus to His Kingdom.

This world will never fully see the Kingdom of Heaven, just a taste through its subjects, we Christians who spread the Kingdom throughout this fallen world. We carry His voice to every corner of the planet.

And what is Jesus saying through us?

“You have rebelled against your Creator, and your sins are immeasurable. But I came to redeem you back to Me, to cleanse you of your sins, and one day I am returning to bring you home.”

Be of good cheer, dear Christian. You are cleaned and redeemed, and He is coming again soon!

King Jesus, continue to make us faithful citizens of Your Kingdom, and move through us to reach this world for Your glory.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 3rd Week of Advent – Day 4

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. -Luke 2:19, KJV

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The song “Mary, Did You Know” asks several questions about what Mary knew about her newborn Son before He grew up.

For most of those questions, the answer is basically “yes.” She may not have understood the full depth of things nor known of the specifics of how it would happen, but she thought about it.

She and Joseph wondered at shepherds and wealthy foreigners coming to visit this baby of hers. She heard prophecies about this boy growing up to bring peace and healing to faithful people of God, taking over the government, and suffering for the sins of the world.

And what does she do hearing all of this?

. . . but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. -Luke 2:51b

May we be a people who treasure God’s Word in our hearts and minds, pondering them and sharing the good news that Jesus has come to take away our sins, as prophesied, and is prophesied to come again for the full redemption of His faithful servants.

Lord Jesus, give us a love for Your Word, teaching us to memorize Scripture and share Your love and forgiveness, as well as Your immanent return.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 5

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: -Isaiah 29:13, KJV

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We must be careful how we handle the Word of God. I mean both senses of the term:

  • How do we handle Scripture? Do we read into it what we think it says? Do we read passages out of context or claim promises never meant for anyone but to whom they were made? Do we use Scripture to condemn everyone who disagrees with us or to keep people “in line”? All the while we say, “God is great. I love God.” But we are keeping God in a nice, tidy box that we can control.
  • How do we handle Jesus? Do we treat Him like a monster? Do we treat Him as if He is aloof? Do we treat Him like a genie or vending machine, expecting Him to grant all of our wishes and desires, especially when we ask/demand them? Do we treat Him like a doting grandmother, thankful for the gifts He gives, but ignoring Him most of the time? All the while we say, “Jesus is great. I love Jesus.” But we are using Jesus to control others or only get what we want.

John lived in the wilderness, ate bugs and honey, and only had one outfit. He did not tolerate using God and His Word incorrectly, but he did point us back to the wonder of God’s works, as Isaiah did:

Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. -Isaiah 29:14

We cannot forget that though we rebel against God in many ways, even as we call on His name, He does marvelous things: Most importantly, He came to save us from our rebellion and make us more like Himself. We can try and reason Him away, twist His words and actions, but He is come and has made Himself known. And we cannot stand against Him.

And when Jesus returns, we shall be made like Him – holy, blameless, and glorified, able to give Him all glory for eternity.

Lord, help us to come to Your Word humbly and correctly, to align our thoughts and emotions with Yours, to follow Your will and not our own.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 2

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” -Matthew 3:2

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John’s primary message while baptizing people in the Jordan River was to repent.

Repent literally means “to change your mind.”

Stop thinking the way you do! Stop only thinking about what this world says, and think biblical thoughts, heavenly thoughts! Realize Jesus is Lord of all and Savior of the world!

You may think you are a good person, or that your good deeds will outweigh your bad deeds. But God says you do not understand how much help you need, how great a chasm separates us and Him.

The message of John and all of Jesus’ disciples is “Change your ways! Turn to God! Repent and believe!”

We cannot come to Christ unless we are willing to change.

Great God, thank You for leading us to Your Son. Continue to conform our minds to Your will as we bring others along.


God’s Word Is True

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. -Proverbs 30:5, KJV

Scripture reminds us time and again that it is the very word of God, and He does not lie nor change. Therefore, we can know that what we read (when faithfully translated for us!) is trustworthy and true.

If it is not pure, it is not true. You may come across passages and verses that are difficult to understand or seem contradictory. We must remember a few things:

  1. We typically are separated by culture and thousands of years of time from when they were written. There may be:
    • euphamisms and figures of speech we no longer use,
    • historical references that seem out of place, or are practices that only make sense when seen/experienced, or
    • descriptions that seem odd to us;
  2. Concepts are beyond our understanding (like the Trinity or free will with God’s sovereignty);
  3. Authors frequently seemed to play loose with details, but it was to make a specific point (such as the gospel writers putting orders of events in slightly different ways to highlight different details);
  4. Other portions of Scripture help fill in details not apparent in other portions (Why does God say “we/us/our” in Genesis? Jesus helps us see the unity of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit).

Jesus helps us see the truth and reliability of Scripture, because His life, death, and resurrection verify it. If any part is untrue, the entire thing falls apart. But He has shown us that He and His Word are trustworthy for the salvation of our souls.


The Message I Shall Repeat

He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour. -Proverbs 21:21, KJV

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor. -Proverbs 21:21, ESV

Sometimes I feel like all I do is repeat myself.

But with the words of Life, it is good and proper to have things repeated.

Case in point, there is only one way to find righteousness, and it is summed up in the [two] Greatest Commandment[s]:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”
Luke 10:27

Jesus also tells us,

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness
Matthew 6:33a

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
John 14:6

If you truly desire life, righteousness, and honor, seek God through Christ. It is His righteousness gifted to us through His sacrifice on the cross and imputed by the Holy Spirit that brings these rewards.

And I will repeat it all my days.