“Let Patience Have Its Perfect Work”

ip-patience-circle

James says, “Let patience have its perfect result” (James 1:2). Patience is a virtue, but not as an end in itself. It’s only because patience results in a “perfect work” that there is any real point to it. By enduring our troubles, and not letting them get us down, we can derive benefit from them.

So what is this beneficial result? What is this “perfect work” of patience? We become “strengthened with power through God’s Spirit in the inner person” (Ephesians 3:16). Patient endurance makes us spiritually fit to “fight the good fight” (2Timothy 4:7).

Our troubles may prevent us from following a course in life that was our will to follow. Instead, we have to put ourselves in God’s hands, trust him, and let him do with us what he wills. “For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-16).

“The Father of mercies, and God of all comfort, comforts us in all our affliction. With this comfort from God, we ourselves will be able to comfort others who are in any affliction” (2Corinthians 1:3-7). By patient enduring and waiting upon God, we receive supernatural help from Him. We become a beacon of hope for other sufferers.

Read More in ‘Patience and Grace’

Not Only But Also

ip-grace

If I said that a flower grows only by fertiliser, and only by water, and only by sunlight, you would get confused. What I should say is that a flower grows not only by fertiliser but also by water and sunlight. That makes sense. If fertiliser, water, and sunlight are required for growth, the flower won’t grow on one of those alone. It will grow not only by one, but also by the other two.

Some people say that a person is saved by grace alone. But they also say we are saved by faith alone. And they will also add that we are saved by the redemptive work of Christ alone. That is confusing, because if grace, faith, and Christ save us, these three, then how can one of them alone save us? We ought to say not only by grace but also by faith and the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross. These three are essential, so we are not saved by grace only, nor by faith only, nor by the cross only.

These three are not the complete list of things that the Bible says we are saved by. But they are the ones to which the word “only” is commonly attached, so for the sake of simplicity, we will just leave the list incomplete at these three for now.

Now I could say something like, “Jesus is the only way to heaven” or, “I can be saved only if I believe in Christ” or “I cannot be saved by any means other than God’s grace” These statements are true, but they do not mean that I deny as essential all the things associated with Jesus, or his sacrifice, or my faith, or God’s grace.

I mean that there is no other way to be saved than to be saved by grace. But there are many things associated with grace. There is the cross, the gospel, faith and obedience, repentance, perseverance, hope, love, prayer… The list is long. Do you dare say that any of these is unnecessary? Do you dare say that any one of them alone will save?

Notice the subtlety here. When one says, “Salvation is by grace alone and nothing else” we can understand that statement in two ways. It is ambiguous. We might understand it to mean that naked grace saves us, unconditional grace without any other thing attached. Or we might take “grace” to include all that is associated with it, grace with all its conditions.

The first meaning is a wicked doctrine. It would exclude even the cross of Christ and it would not require sin to be repudiated. The Devil loves that meaning, and he is welcome to it! The second meaning is true, but why express it ambiguously? Why not say something like, “We cannot be saved by any means other than God’s grace and all its conditions”? That is clearer.

We can make this even clearer. God would save no one by grace if Christ had not obeyed God even unto death. That was a condition of grace. God would save no one by grace if they did not receive Christ crucified by faith and obedience to his commandments. That is a condition of grace. Could we stop talking about grace alone and unconditional grace? Could we go back to saying “Not only but also”?

Simply Bible Domains

ip-simplybible

Currently there are several alternatives to the domain name simplybible.com including the following: simplybible.com.au, simplybible.org, simplybible.org.au, simplybible.net, plus the www. domains of all those. The “canonical” or official domain has been www.simplybible.com.au but we are changing that to www.simplybible.com (without the .au) for three main reasons…

  • Firstly, the site has become very well known as “simplybible.com”
  • Secondly, the .au version has become problematic
  • Thirdly the website is for international outreach not just Australian

HOW THIS CHANGE AFFECTS YOU…

The change probably doesn’t affect you. You can keep using the site as before. The only thing that might happen in future is that a bookmark you have linked to the site could become inactive in which case you can get the site up by entering “simplybible.com” into the browser address bar or into Google, or Yahoo etc.

IF YOU LINK TO SIMPLYBIBLE…

If you have a blog or website and you wish to link to simplybible.com, please remove the .au from the link. For example, “http://www.simplybible.com/dhome.htm” noting there is no .au in that URL. If you wish to link to a page, copy and paste the link in the yellow strip at the bottom of the page, rather than what’s in the browser’s address bar. Not including the .au will future proof your link against possibly becoming broken later on.

Over the next several weeks, search results in Google (and other search engines) will increasingly show a link to www.simplybible.com (dropping the .au) but while that “migration” is taking place the site will function as normal, aside from the above considerations.

Music of Truth

As a rock does not
   shift in the torrent
Nor will truth in a
   river of lies.
As the sun shall come
   back in the morning
So will truth again
   light up the skies.

As the song of a
   bird in the treetop
While the wind whispers
   moanings and sighs
So is truth in the
   ears of the honest
And the music of
   truth never dies.

Hear the truth as a
   gift sent from heaven.
Live the truth, love the
   truth and be wise.
Play the truth as a
   tune on your heartstrings,
For the music of
   truth never dies.

Ron Graham

Put Yourself Last?

One of the Christian doctrines that raises eyebrows, is “Put Yourself Last”.  Yet this is a secret of true happiness.  Put Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.  For the Bible lesson, go to…

http://simplybible.com/f24e.htm

I was waiting at the counter of Hungry Jacks until my turn came.  There was a gentleman standing beside me on my right, who was there before me.  The girl serving raised her hand and called “next please”.  The gentleman looked at me and said, “You go”.  I said, “But it’s your turn”.  He smiled and said, “Yes, but you go first, then I’ll go.

A week later, I was at the same Hungry Jacks, waiting my turn again.  A man came and stood beside me on my left.  I was there well before him.  When he saw the girl coming to the counter he stepped up to it as though he were the only one waiting.  He wasn’t going to let me go first, even though he knew full well it was my turn.

How different were these two men!  One put others before himself.  The other put himself first.  I don’t know these men, but I can easily guess which is the happier, even though they showed their colours in a mundane circumstance.

ip-happiness-wildflowers

 

The Cure For Pulpit Nerves

—Shake off the shakes

Pulpit nerves are caused by two glands, one on top of each kidney. They are called “adrenals”. Their function is to respond to fear by charging the blood stream with hormones that prepare the body for fight or flight. Since one cannot fight or flee in the pulpit, the hormones cause various uncomfortable symptoms. You can control this problem and shake off the shakes when you’re up front.

1. PREPARATION.

Thoroughly familiarize yourself with your subject. Prepare manageable notes. This reduces fear and the chemical charge you have to cope with.

2. EXPERIENCE.

Experience also reduces fear. You’ll be pleased to know, however, that the experience does not have to be real; it can be imagined or vizualized. Pretend you are addressing an audience. If possible, stand in the actual pulpit and talk to the empty seats. Such imagined experience will trigger and tame adrenal reaction.

3. ATTENTION.

Get your attention off yourself and onto your message. Thinking about your nervousness distracts attention from your lesson: you make mistakes, nervousness increases. Thinking about your message makes you do a better job which reduces nervousness.

4. BODY MOVEMENT.

You can’t run. You can’t fight. But you don’t have to stand still like a stone statue. Natural body movements help dissipate the “adrenalin”.

5. “OOMPH”.

Use up “adrenalin” constructively by channeling it into your delivery force. By putting “oomph” into your speech, you’ll be seen as sincere, not as in fear.

 

ip-training-to-preach

 

From Success in the Pulpit by Ron Graham

 

IS JOHN 3:16 ALL?

ip-john316-city-crowd

John 3:16 is among the best known and most loved verses in the Bible.  However some go so far as to say it is the whole gospel in one verse, and everything essential to salvation is in that verse.

It is true to say that everything in John 3:16 is essential to salvation.  However it’s not true to say that everything essential to salvation is in John 3:16.

  • Repentance from sin is not mentioned, but it is essential to salvation (Acts 2:38, 3:19).
  • Confession of Christ is not mentioned, but it is essential to salvation (Romans 10:9-10).
  • The sinner’s prayer* is not mentioned, but it is essential to salvation (Acts 8:22).
  • Keeping God’s commandments is not mentioned, but that is essential to salvation (1John 2:1-6, 5:3).

In John 3:16 we see the love and grace of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, and the need for faith on the part of the one seeking eternal life.  We might regard these as the first essentials.  But they are not all; neither are the other things mentioned above.

If we wish to know all that is essential to salvation, we need to examine all scripture inspired by God, not one single verse (2Timothy 3:14-17).


*In this case the prayer of a straying Christian.

Acknowledgement:  The above article is an excerpt from simplybible magazine

http://www.simplybible.com.au/mag1.htm

Numerology and the 153 Fish in the Bible.

Author: Ron Graham

There are some numbers in the Bible which seem to have significance.  The Book of Revelation for example has symbolic numbers such as seven, twelve, and one thousand.  This does not mean that the Bible is numerological, or that there is some number code by which the Bible hides certain insights.

For an overview of how numbers are manipulated in numerology, you may like to read Numerology in the Bible which greatly expands on this brief article.

153 the number of fish

John records how many fish were caught in the miracle that the risen Christ did when he appeared to his disciples by the Sea of Tiberius.  There were 153 (John 21:11). Efforts to find some mysterious meaning in this number are worthy of scorn.  It was simply the number of fish that were in the net as counted by the amazed disciples.

Of course the number 153, like many other numbers, has some interesting properties. The sum of its (base ten) digits is three to the power of three: 1+5+3=3³. Furthermore we can express the number as the sum of cube of its digits: 1³+5³+3³=153. In fact, you can take any base ten positive integer that is divisible by three without remainder; sum the cube of its digits; take the answer and sum the cube of its digits; repeat till you reach the limit —which will  always be 153.

For example take 666 6³+6³+6³=648 6³+4³+8³=792 7³+9³+2³=1080 1³+0³+8³+0³=513 5³+1³+3³=134 1³+3³+4³=153 1³+5³+3³=153 (limit).

Some people see these facts about 153 as significant.  They think the number’s association with 3 makes it a symbol of the “Trinity” and of Christ’s deity.  Personally I disagree —although one must admit to being amused that, by the simple algorithm of repeatedly summing the cubes of digits, even 666, the number of the beast, can be reduced to 153, the  number of fish!

Don’t be fooled,  “Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edifying which is in faith” (1Tm 1:4).

Ancient Wisdom When Suffering Loss

The Bible brings to us from very ancient times, various principles for coping with loss. Job suffered the sudden loss of everything but his very life. He lost wealth, family, and health. He was in misery. But one thing he did not lose was his good relationship with God. Here are some of the principles that Job learned and held to…

  • Don’t blame God for your loss (Job 2:7-10).
  • Don’t smother your grief (Job 7:11, 10:1).
  • Don’t miss the lesson in the loss (Job 14:1-12).
  • Don’t be burdened with guilt (Job 27:1-6).
  • Don’t lean on your own understanding (Job 42:1-6).
  • Wait upon God to restore you (Job 42:12-13).

The Purpose of Suffering (Php 1:28-30)

The bad things that happen are not good news in themselves; however they can, in a special and wonderful way, be turned to our purpose and goal. Paul puts it this way: “It has been granted to you to suffer for Christ’s sake” (Php 1:28-30). So when we undergo suffering, we should understand that we are privileged to share in Christ’s suffering (1Pe 4:13,19).

These passages are, of course, about suffering persecution. However don’t be quick to put persecution in a small box. For example, why not understand that illness, loss of possessions, bereavement, and suchlike, are forms of persecution?

Job was persecuted by Satan with those seemingly natural misfortunes (Job 1-2). Our chief persecutor is Satan, and he still works in the same way (James 5:10-11). In fact all undeserved suffering can be rightly attributed by Christians to an attack by Satan meant to discourage our faith in Christ. But we respond by recognising that we are honoured to share in the sufferings of Christ and to endure faithfully for his sake and in his strength:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Php 4:13).