Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
November 18, 1997
Last Updated :
November 7, 2012
God Doesn't Make Mistakes, Paul's Example Of Perseverance And Faith, Learning From The Past, Wisdom Of The Wise, Faith Without Works And Hypocrisy, Negative Fruit Of Ignoring God's Word - World Falling Apart, God Is In Control, Trust God Even If We Don't Understand, God Is Near Us, When God Forsakes Us, God's Blessings Are Conditional, Godly Fear/Reverence, Fear And Obedience Result In Mercy, God's Mercy Endures Forever, God's Mercy Revealed Through Christ, God's Mercy Revealed In Our Daily Blessings, Forsaking Mercy And Lying Vanities, The Beginning Of Sorrows, God's Protection And Provision, Wonder Of God's Word, Treasures Of God's Word, Spiritual Blindness, Faith To Believe, Reward Of Diligence, Defining Faith, Peace
If there is one important lesson that I have learned over the years, it is that God does not make mistakes. Everything that He says and does is for a very specific reason and purpose. This is particularly true when it concerns His own children, whom He loves dearly. The Apostle Paul, who suffered many things for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was very well aware of this fact, and emphasized this point when he penned the following oft-repeated words to the Disciples at Rome:
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28, KJV
What a bold statement of faith, and what a shining example of utter trust in the Lord! "All things work together for good", Paul wrote, and not just some things. In spite of the fact that Paul was hounded and persecuted by his Jewish enemies everywhere that he went -- please refer to the article "Biblical Cafeteria, or the Whole Course? -- the Bible makes it clear that he maintained his faith, in word, as well as in deed, up until the very end of his life, when he became another martyr for the Cause of Jesus Christ. Just prior to Paul's martyrdom, we find him writing these final words to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith:
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
2 Timothy 4:6-8, KJV
Just as Paul viewed the events in his own life as having been ordained by the Lord, he apparently held the same view when it came to the many historical events which are described in what we Christians today refer to as the Old Testament. Paul viewed these events as a source of enlightenment, admonition instruction and edification, not only for himself, but for those to whom he ministered as well; particularly his Jewish brethren. Thus it is that in discussing the many complaints of the Children of Israel during their forty-year-long trek through the wilderness of the Sinai, Paul used those events of bygone years to teach an important lesson about murmuring, and other sins, to the brethren at the Church of Corinth. He wrote thusly:
"But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
1 Corinthians 10:5-12, KJV
So as Paul plainly states, we can learn from the example of the ancient Israelites, what to do, as well as what not to do. Not only can we learn from their successes and obedience to the Lord, but we can also learn from their failures and disobediences as well. As the old adage states, "A wise man learns from his own mistakes, but a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others". In this case, as always, the Lord was one step ahead of the philosophers and wise men of this world; because this kind of wisdom has been recorded in His Word for literally thousands of years. For example, in the Book of Proverbs we find verses such as the following:
"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:"
Proverbs 1:5, KJV
"Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning."
Proverbs 9:8-9, KJV
In the New Testament, Jesus offered similar advice when He said the following to His Disciples concerning the hypocrisy of the Scribes and the Pharisees. Notice also how in the final verse, the Apostle James echoes the words of our Lord:
"All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not."
Matthew 23:3, KJV
"And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
Luke 6:46, KJV
"This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me."
Matthew 15:8, KJV
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
James 2:26, KJV
In other words, Jesus was telling His followers to not only take heed to the wisdom of the Scribes and the Pharisees, but He was also cautioning them to learn from their hypocritical example as well. Thus, James wrote that faith without works is dead; because our faith should be made manifest through our works; that is, through the way in which we act and live.
Sadly, as I point out in the article "Selfishness: A Sign of the Endtime?", it seems that in this modern age of stubborn, rebellious men, where so many people have become lovers of their own selves more than lovers of God -- 2 Timothy 3:2-4 -- many individuals fail to follow the wise counsel found in the Holy Scriptures. Because of this, modern civilization has begun to fall apart at the seams. From the personal level, to the family level, to the community level, to the national level, to the international level, society has been deteriorating at an accelerated pace.
From unprecedented acts of terrorism which have resulted in people being killed in the thousands; to illegal, unjustified wars to achieve national agendas; to a foolish rush to obtain biological, chemical and nuclear weapons; to the oppression of the poor through global trade wars; to the destruction of the environment due to greed and a desire for greater profit; to unbridled sexual immorality; to the alarming decay of the God-ordained marriage relationship; to the heartless murder of millions of babies through abortion; to worldwide drug trafficking and abuse; to the misuse of political power and corruption in our governments; to financial scandals and collapse; to deadly epidemics such as AIDS, SARS, ebola and the West Nile Virus; to an increasingly godless educational system; to demonic music on the radio, television set, etc., to improper morals being taught to the younger generation in movies, videos, etc.; to an alarming rise in paganism and satanic worship; the world is truly being shaken to its very foundation. Satan, the destroyer of God's Creation, and the king of chaos and confusion, certainly seems to be having his day.
The lesson we can learn from all of this is clear. When we as individuals, or as a nation, willingly choose to ignore and abandon the precepts of God's Holy Word, we must also expect to pay the dire consequences for our rebellious and foolish actions. This is something which I also discuss in such articles as "The Plight of the Children", "Love and Light, or Rod and Wrath?", "Free Will and Personal Choice", and "Beholding the Evil and the Good". I encourage you to read them.
But what we must also remember, is that no matter how many bad things may happen in the world, and no matter how many "bad" things may occur in our personal lives as well, even in all of this, God is still in control; and as the Apostle Paul so wisely wrote, "All things work together for good to them that love God". In short, in the end, even our mistakes can be good things if we learn valuable lessons from them.
On a more personal level, it is precisely because of the way I have seen the Lord work over the years in my own life, that I have reached a point where it is easier for me to trust in Him. I am not suggesting that I have arrived at some point of perfection, and never fret anymore, but I now recognize and accept all things in my life as coming from His Hand; even if I don't understand them at the time. If we need to understand something, the Lord will give us the understanding if we are patient. But even if He chooses not to explain things to us right away, or even if He never lets us know why something has happened to us, we still need to place our trust fully in Him; for as it is written:
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
Isaiah 26:3, KJV
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV
As His children, we all need to know that God loves us, that He is concerned about us, and that He promises to take care of us, as long as we remain close to Him, on the right path, not deviating either to the right hand, or to the left hand, in humble submission to His Will, and obedient to His Word. Consider the following comforting verses:
"The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them."
Psalms 34:7, KJV
"The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
Psalms 34:18, KJV
"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."
Psalms 55:22, KJV
"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."
Psalms 139:7-10, KJV
"The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth."
Psalms 145:18, KJV
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness . . . For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee."
Isaiah 41:10, 13, KJV
"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows."
Luke 12:6-7, KJV
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:38-39, KJV
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
Hebrews 13:5, KJV
"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
1 Peter 5:7, KJV
So as I explain in the aforementioned article "Beholding the Evil and the Good", even when it seems that the Lord is far from us due to our sins and disobediences, nevertheless, He does not forsake us completely. He may allow us to suffer for a while until we have learned our lesson; He may even let us think that He has abandoned us; but He is also always there ready to receive us with loving arms, once we have come to our senses; just like the story of the Prodigal Son which is found in Luke chapter fifteen. I am reminded again of these comforting verses which were spoken by the Lord through the Prophet Isaiah, to the backslidden Israelites:
"For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer."
Isaiah 54:7-8, KJV
I discuss this topic of submission to God's Will in greater depth in such articles as the series "So You Really Think You Are So Humble?", as well as in "What is God's Will for My Life?". I hope that you will take the time to read them, as I am sure that you will be greatly blessed and encouraged by them.
The Bible is literally full of wonderful promises concerning the Lord's Blessings, such as Protection and Provision. As we delve deeper into this series, and dig into the ancient past, you will begin to understand that these Blessings are not automatically bestowed upon His children, as some people seem to believe. Neither are they necessarily eternal; at least not in the way that some people understand this word. The Scriptures make it very clear that God's Blessings are conditional; that is, they can be granted, or they can be removed, in direct proportion to our obedience to His Will. I discuss this very same point in other articles, such as "The Children of God and Politics". The truth of the matter is that God bestows His Blessings upon those who fear Him. Exactly what does this mean? As I point out in the article "Dracula: Fighting Fear with the Word, Faith and Love", the Bible speaks of different kinds of fear. The kind of fear I am referring to is Godly Reverence; that is, it is fatherly fear which causes us to depart from evil, as we see by the following verses:
"And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."
Job 28:28, KJV
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever."
Psalms 111:10, KJV
"Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil."
Proverbs 3:7, KJV
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding."
Proverbs 9:10, KJV
"By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil."
Proverbs 16:6, KJV
It is this kind of fear, or reverence, which is the key to receiving the Lord's Blessings in our lives; because it is this kind of fear which results in obedience to God's Will. When Mary visited her cousin Elisabeth after being informed by the Angel Gabriel of her cousin's pregnancy, one of the things that Mary told Elisabeth in her moment of Divine Inspiration was the following:
"And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation."
Luke 1:50, KJV
Please notice the relationship between Mercy and Godly Fear. Without Godly Fear, there can be no Mercy; yet at the same time, if we do fear the Lord, God's Mercy is present. Why is this? Quite simply, because obedience to the Lord and His Word is a by-product of Godly Fear and Reverence; and it is our obedience which automatically results in the Lord's Mercy being showered upon our lives. Thus, Mary tells us that "his mercy is on them that fear him". But notice what Mary also states. She says "from generation to generation". What could that possibly mean? When I read those words, what came to me is that Mary is speaking of an on-going relationship with the Lord. In other words, each generation must fear and obey the Lord if they expect to be recipients of His Mercy and other Blessings. We can't count on the past obediences of our parents, or our grandparents, or our great grandparents, in order to receive God's Blessings. We can't even depend on our own past obediences. Obedience to the Lord is something which we must practice every single day of our lives if we expect to be continual partakers of the Lord's Blessings.
It is interesting to note that we are repeatedly told in the Old Testament, that God's Mercy endures forever. The vast majority of times, these words were uttered by King David, who also wrote the beautiful Psalm of repentance, Psalm 51. In Psalm 118, the phrase "His mercy endureth for ever" is mentioned five times. Likewise, in Psalm 136 it is mentioned in every single verse, for a total of twenty-six times. In addition, you will find the phrase used ten more times in other books of the Old Testament, for a total of forty-one times in the entire Bible. Oddly enough, it isn't found a single time in the New Testament. Perhaps this is because the way God ultimately chose to manifest His Mercy, and His Love, to us, is clearly revealed in the New Testament, by the Sacrifice of His own dear Son, who died for the sins of the world. As the Apostles Paul and John each wrote in their Epistles:
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:6-8, KJV
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he [Jesus] laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
1 John 3:16, KJV
A second manner in which God reveals His Mercy to us, is through the way in which He cares for His children on a daily basis. In fact, as Jesus Himself said in the New Testament, God the Father reveals His Mercy to both the righteous and the unrighteous, to both the evil and the good, as we see here:
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
Matthew 5:44-45, KJV
Despite this fact, even though in His Love, in His Mercy, and in His Wisdom, the Lord pours out His Blessings upon the wicked children of the world in His attempt to bring them to Salvation, many of them still reject His existence, and His Love, as manifested through the Sacrifice of His dear Son. Unlike the Prodigal Son, who finally came to his senses, and repented of his foolishness and sins, and humbly returned to the house of his father, these people stubbornly turn away from God's Light, Love and Mercy, as we see here:
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
Isaiah 55:7, KJV
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9, KJV
"Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD."
Isaiah 26:10, KJV
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
John 3:19-20, KJV
"If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin."
John 15:22, KJV
It is when such people have experienced the Lord's Love, and have been beneficiaries of His Blessings, and have heard the Truth of His Word, and then still remain rebellious, that as the Prophet Jonah cried out, they knowingly, and consciously forsake the Mercy which God wishes to have upon them; which is exactly what Jesus is saying in the previous verses from the Gospel of John. As the worldly proverb also states, you can throw a drowning man a life preserver, but you can't force him to take it. Thus it is that Jonah said in his own moment of desperation:
"They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy."
Jonah 2:8, KJV
Surely, these people who reject God's Love and Mercy through His daily Blessings in their lives, as well as through the Sacrifice of His Son, will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment. In fact, it may be that the Lord has already begun to withdraw His Mercy, as the world becomes more evil, more rebellious, and more antichrist, everyday. Perhaps this is why, as the Lord Himself clearly prophesied so long ago, we are currently witnessing such a dramatic increase in deadly earthquakes, in long-term famines, in incurable epidemics, in devastating droughts, in destructive floods, in selfish wars, etc. God is simply fed up with the rebellious nature of the children of the world. For an in-depth look at this topic, with factual evidence to support my statement, please refer to my lengthy fourteen-part series, "The Beginning of Sorrows". It is quite an eye-opener.
However, as I mentioned earlier, for those who do obey the Lord, and are thus pleasing in His sight, the Bible is full of promises of protection and provision. To share all of the verses which deal with this topic would require a great deal of space; however, allow me to share the following additional ones with you for your encouragement and edification. They are perfect companions for the verses I shared earlier:
"Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest."
Joshua 1:7, KJV
"Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
Psalms 37:4, KJV
"For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."
Psalms 84:11, KJV
"A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee."
Psalms 91:7, KJV
"The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand."
Psalms 121:5, KJV
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Malachi 3:10, KJV
"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19, KJV
What truly wonderful promises from the Word of God! It is without a doubt spiritual oceans to swim in, and my daily delight! I am reminded of the following verses which show how our spiritual forefathers likewise highly esteemed the words of our Heavenly Father:
"Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food."
Job 23:12, KJV
"More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb."
Psalms 19:10, KJV
"But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Matthew 4:4, KJV
"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."
Acts 17:11, KJV
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV
Despite my personal enthusiasm for the wonderful Word of God, there are many people in the world today who simply do not understand how one can have such "odd" emotions for the Sacred Book. Neither do they understand how one can place so great a faith in the Precious Promises contained within its holy pages. For these people, if they even possess one, the Bible is just a thick, old volume which is meant to sit on the mantle or coffee table, where it collects dust over the years, and gives the false impression that one is religious. It is indeed tragic that they are so blind to the wonderful treasures which can be extracted from the Lord's "Heavenly Gold Mine". In one of His many Parables, Jesus described it this way:
"Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old."
Matthew 13:52, KJV
As the Apostle Paul tells us, their spiritual blindness is due to the fact that Satan, who is the false god of this world, has blinded their spiritual eyes, and hardened their hearts, so that they are unable to receive the wonderful things of the Spirit. The truth found in God's Holy Word is totally alien to them. It is like an unknown language which they can't even begin to understand. Notice what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV
I will be the first to admit that it requires real faith to accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Not only does it require faith to accept the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures, but before one can even do that, he must first have faith in the One who inspired it in the first place; for without faith, it is impossible to please God. This is precisely what the Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Hebrews. He says:
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Hebrews 11:6, KJV
Notice the very end of the previous verse. It says that "He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him". If you lose something of great personal value, and if you persevere long enough, if you search diligently, backtracking in your steps, there is a good possibility that you will eventually find the lost item. In similar manner, if you happen to be one who is not absolutely certain that God exists, I must tell you that if you humbly, sincerely and truly want to know, the Lord will reveal Himself to you; but you must have an open mind and an open heart. If your mind is already made up, then nothing that the Lord does will probably convince you of the reality of His existence.
At this point, you might be asking yourself, "Well, exactly what is meant by the word "faith"?". In the New Testament, the word "faith" is derived from the Greek word "pistis", which itself is derived from another Greek word, "peitho". Collectively, these words mean to have trust, confidence, or personal conviction regarding something; or to be persuaded of something. In other words, it is a certain knowing which one feels deep in his heart. It is this assurance and strong conviction that God truly does exist, and that He does love and care for us, which gives us Christians a wonderful peace in our hearts. Sadly, many people in the world never come to experience this wonderful peace, simply because they have foolishly rejected the Giver of this peace; God Himself. Consider the following verses:
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
Isaiah 26:3, KJV
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:27, KJV
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:7, KJV
As we continue this series in part two, we will look at such topics as Godly peace and fear, obtaining faith through the Word, the lies of the Urantia Book and the Encyclopedia Of Biblical Errancy, deceivers of the Endtime, the intervention of the Holy Spirit, the importance of giving God the glory, God's vessels, pride, humility and God's breaking process, the transformation of Peter and James, false accusers, and Satan, a liar and accuser of the Saints. I trust that you will join me.
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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