Afraid of the Gospel (1)

Oh, no!

How could one ever be afraid of the gospel?

Why should we ever be afraid of it?

Even Webster tells us that the word gospel means good news, glad tidings.

How right he is, for the word used by the scrip­tures and translated in our English by the word gos­pel literally means good news, glad tidings.

That a man is afraid to open the envelope contain­ing a telegram, that he has inward fright when the telephone rings in the wee hours of the night is to be understood. These things often bring evil tidings, sad news. But the gospel is glad tidings. Why should we be afraid of it?

Did not the angel declare to the shepherds in the fields of Ephrata that their fear was out of place? Fear not, he said, for I bring you the gospel. That is literally what he said.

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Afraid of the Gospel - 3

Seeds germinate.

Such is the process of life.

And if you do not root up or choke that which sprouts forth from the seed, the plant will soon come to that degree of growth that you can distinguish the plant from other types of plants.

You plant your flower seeds, and they grow. But in the soil are also the seeds of several obnoxious plants, the seeds of weeds. They also germinate. And as both that which your flower seeds send forth grows and that which these seeds of the not-wanted plants send forth grows, you are for a brief period of time at a loss to decide which must be uprooted.

So it is with the seed of the truth and the seed of the lie.

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Significant Silence

The second chapter of the book of Esther is very revealing, if one does not approach it with a mind biased by the general notions concerning the principal characters in the book but lets the facts speak for themselves. It reveals nothing but deeds of unbelief both on the part of the Gentiles mentioned, of whom it can be expected, but also of the Jews, who knew the law and the prophets. And while this chapter already is revealing, what follows in the remaining chapters also underscores what we wrote before, namely, that not one of the persons mentioned by name in the book was a believer. Indeed some reveal that they know that there is a God, but without exception all show that they have no faith in God. Let us look carefully at what the one true God makes known to us in this chapter. 

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A Bitter Cry of Unbelief

With heavy hearts, because they had to leave Simeon behind in one of Egypt's prisons, the nine brothers of Joseph mounted their beasts of burden. And yet with a sigh of relief they headed northward for the land of Canaan. How wonderful to be out of prison and away from rough speech! 

The relief, however, was soon replaced with increasing anxiety, so that their hearts became heavier each step that they took homeward. For now a new trying situation began to impress itself upon their consciousness. They must face their father and explain to him Simeon's absence, the fact that they found a sack's worth of money in the sack of grain that they had opened, and that they must take Benjamin along, if they are to return and get food again out of Egypt. What troubled them especially was the fact that they had to persuade their father, who now looked upon Benjamin as his most beloved son, to let them take this youngest son along on their next trip. 

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A White Christmas

Our flesh so quickly associates a snow cover with the celebration of Christmas, and then it gives the pre-eminence to the incidental and loses the essential. The white snow on the ground becomes in our thinking essential as a part of Christmas. Its absence detracts from the significance of the holiday for us, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas. 

Even then in these areas where snow is so common in December, the holiday is by no means a white Christmas in many respects. In fact it is a most colorful, if not indeed the most colorful of all the holidays. Christmas trees are strung with colored lights here and also in the South. Buildings have their outlines set off with colored lights that shine brilliantly in the cold air, and blink on and off in patterns of color and design. The use of red and green is everywhere to be seen for decorative purposes. It is called the season to be gay. Colorful greetings cards are mailed in staggering numbers and volume. Tinsel and the holly and the ivy are used in abundance to give a little more color to the holiday.

One almost feels ashamed to speak of that drab picture there on the Judean hillside with colorless sheep and even less colorful shepherds, to say nothing of that drab, dull, foul, ill-smelling, wholly undecorated grotto where among donkeys and camels the Christ-child made his appearance in our world. There were no beautiful, colorful wrappings and ribbons containing a gift for him. All was commonplace and dull. All lacked the luster that we now try to bring into the picture, not in his fear but in the satisfaction of the flesh.

God's color was there. There was the bright light of the angel of the Lord, and a few moments later that of a host of these pure, white creatures from heaven. There was the colorful message, that at the same time shown with white brilliancy, "Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." In the darkness of our night of sin the light shone so brightly in those words. For us, who are so black with sin, this was a truth of brilliant whiteness which gives such wonderful significance to Christmas unto us. And the shepherds, who were white with fright, were suddenly engulfed with another heavenly message of glory to God in the highest, and they saw a white flag of peace on earth to the men of God's good pleasure waved before their eyes.

The message was one of peace. The white flag which the angels waved before these shepherds, and through them before our eyes, was not a flag of surrender. It was the white flag of victory. Do we not read in Revelation 6 of the white horse, and that he that sat on it went forth conquering and to conquer? White stands there for victory. And do we not again read in Revelation 19 that he who sat on this white horse is called "Faithful and true, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war?" A verse later we read that his name is "The Word of God." In that light also we must read Revelation 2:17, where we are told that "to him that overcometh" this babe of Bethlehem, who now is the Lord of Lords and King of kings, will give "to eat of the hidden manna" and "a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." This does not mean that we receive a name of those who surrender. It means that we receive the name of victor, through him who rides this white horse that symbolizes victory, and that we shall sit and reign with him because he goes forth conquering and to conquer. 

May God grant you a white Christmas of victory in Christ. And may he take from you the scarlet color of your sins.

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This excerpt was taken from a meditation written by Rev. John Heys printed in the December 15, 1970 issue of the Standard BearerRead the full article.

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Thankful for a Blessed Victory

But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

—1 Cor. 15:57

By God's grace we will, not merely on Thanksgiving Day, thank him for that blessed salvation, which Christ earned for us. By all means we must do that on Thanksgiving Day. But our calling is to do so every day. Every day we must fight the sinfulness of our flesh, and the boasting of what we are and did. That victory for which we thank God is not a victory which we realized. We must thank God because he giveth us that victory. As we read in 1 Cor. 15:50, "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." No, thanking God for giving us this victory is thankfully praising God for what he did in his grace. Take a strong hold of that truth: We thank God because he giveth us the victory through his Son, who is our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Salvation is, from beginning to end, and as far as every detail of it is concerned, God's gift to us. Therefore we are here called to thank God, and not boast of what we did. We enjoy that victory; but if we do this correctly, we attribute every bit of that victory to our God, as the song quoted a moment ago presents that truth: "All that I am I owe to Thee."

Hold on tightly then to the truth which our God presents to us through Paul. Call every bit of your salvation the gift of God's grace; and thank him for the victory which he realized for his elect. 

If we do that sincerely, we reveal that we have been given victory by our God, through his Son. Praise God then from whom all blessings flow.

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This excerpt was taken from a meditation written by Rev. John Heys printed in the 1995 issue of the Standard Bearer. Read the full article herehttp://ow.ly/OFwe30gL7SZ.

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