Tag Archives: Strength for Today

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Rebuking the World

“By faith Noah . . . condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Heb 11:7).

Your actions and words should rebuke our godless society.

Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Before moving in judgment against the most evil and corrupt society in history, God appointed Noah to build an ark, which became a symbol of life and salvation to all who believed God. For those who disbelieved, it represented impending death and judgment.

Concurrent with constructing the ark, Noah preached about coming judgment. Peter called him “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), and every board he cut and nail he drove in was a living illustration of the urgency of his message.

God’s warning was stern and His message horrifying, but His patience and mercy prevailed for 120 years. As Peter said, “The patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark” (1 Pet. 3:20). The people had ample warning of judgment, but they chose to disregard Noah’s message.

As sad as the account of Noah’s day is, perhaps the greatest tragedy is that man’s attitude toward God hasn’t changed since then. Jesus said, “The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:37-39).

Like Noah, you are to proclaim righteousness to an evil and perverse generation by your works and your life. Be faithful to do so even if people don’t want to listen. After 120 years of diligent work and faithful preaching by Noah, only eight people entered the ark. But God’s purposes were accomplished and the human race was preserved.

Suggestions for Prayer

Sometimes you’ll encounter people who scoff at God’s judgment and mock your testimony. Don’t be discouraged. Pray for them and be available to minister to them whenever possible.

For Further Study

Read 2 Peter 3. What effect should the prospect of future judgment have on your present behavior?

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Seeking God’s Reward

“He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

All who come to God in faith will receive the reward of eternal life.

We’ve seen that without faith it’s impossible to please God. And the first step in faith is believing that God exists. In addition, we must also believe that He answers our prayers—more specifically, that He redeems those who come to Him in faith.

Scripture repeatedly tells us that God not only can be found, but also desires to be found. David said to his son Solomon, “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9). The Lord says in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jesus said, “Everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened” (Luke 11:10).

At first glance those verses may seem to contradict Paul’s teaching that “there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside” (Rom. 3:11-12), and Jesus’ statement that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). But really they’re two sides of the same theological coin.

On one side you see man believing God and receiving Christ for salvation. On the other you see God enabling man to do so. Prior to salvation, a person is spiritually dead and utterly incapable of responding to the gospel. God must grant him or her saving faith. That’s why the Bible contains statements like, “To you it has been granted for Christ’s sake . . . to believe in Him” (Phil. 1:29); “As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48); and “The Lord opened [Lydia’s] heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14).

God is the Great Rewarder, extending His love and grace to all who call upon Him. “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed” (Rom. 10:11).

Suggestions for Prayer

If you’ve been praying for someone’s salvation, don’t become discouraged. Only God can grant saving faith, but He gives us the privilege of participating in His redemptive work through faithful prayer and evangelism (Rom 10:1).

For Further Study

Memorize Ephesians 2:8-9.

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Believing in God

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is” (Hebrews 11:6).

Nothing you do can please God apart from faith.

Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God. Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth.

Many trust in their own good works, not realizing that even their best efforts are offensive to God (Isa. 64:6Phil. 3:8). And the more we try to justify ourselves, the more we offend God, because “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20).

Some trust in their family heritage or nationality. The Jewish people thought they were pleasing to God simply because they were descendants of Abraham. But John the Baptist warned them, saying, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham” (Matt. 3:7-9).

Apart from faith, man cannot please God. And the first step of faith is simply believing God exists. That isn’t enough to save a person—even the demons have that level of faith (James 2:19)—but it’s a start, and by God’s grace can blossom into full saving faith.

God has given ample evidence of His existence. Romans 1:20 says, “Since the creation of the world [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.” David said, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Ps. 19:1).

Creation itself proclaims the existence, power, and glory of God, yet most people “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18) by rejecting the Creator and denying their accountability to Him. Rather than bowing to the true God, they pay homage to “Mother Nature” or evolution. How foolish!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for the beauty of His creation.
  • Worship Him as the giver of every good gift (James 1:17).

For Further Study

Read Romans 1:18-32. Is there a connection between denying God, practicing idolatry, and committing gross immoralities? Explain.

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Walking with God

“Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:24).

Walking with God includes reconciliation, obedience from the heart, and ongoing faith.

When Scripture speaks of walking with God, it’s referring to one’s manner of life. For example, Paul prayed that the Colossian believers (and us) would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so they could walk (live) in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:9-10). To the Ephesians he said, “Walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind . . . [but] be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” (Eph. 4:175:1-2).

The Old Testament describes Enoch as a man who walked with God. Though relatively little is said about this special man, we can derive implications from his life that will help us better understand what it means to walk with God.

First, Enoch’s walk with God implies reconciliation. Amos 3:3 says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (NIV). Two people can’t have intimate fellowship unless they agree. Obviously Enoch wasn’t rebellious toward God, but had been reconciled with Him through faith.

Second, walking with God implies loving service. Second John 6 says, “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” We obey Christ, but our obedience is motivated by love, not legalism or fear of punishment.

Third, a godly walk implies continuing faith, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Colossians 2:6-7 adds, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith.” By grace Enoch believed God and pleased Him all his life.

Do those who know you best see you as one who walks with God? I trust so. After all, that’s the distinguishing mark of a true believer: “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for granting the reconciliation, faith, and love that enables you to walk with Him day by day.

For Further Study

What do the following verses teach about your Christian walk: Romans 8:4Galatians 5:16Ephesians 2:101 Thessalonians 2:12; and 1 John 1:7?

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Walking by Faith

“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (Heb 11:5).

When you walk by faith, you enjoy intimacy with God.

Our second hero of faith is Enoch. Genesis 5:21-24 records that “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

What a wonderful epitaph: “Enoch walked with God.” His life exemplifies the walk of faith. Adam and Eve had walked with God in the Garden of Eden, but their sin separated them from such intimacy. Enoch experienced the fellowship with God they had forfeited.

Enoch’s faithful walk pleased God greatly. And after more than three hundred years on earth, Enoch was translated to heaven without ever experiencing death. It’s as if God simply said, “Enoch, I enjoy your company so much, I want you to join me up here right now.”

Like Enoch, there is coming a generation of Christians who will never see death. Someday—perhaps soon—Jesus will return for His church, “then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up . . . in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). Enoch is a beautiful picture of that great future event, which we call the rapture of the church.

As you walk with God, He delights in you. You’re His child and your praises and fellowship bring Him joy. Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.” Even death itself simply ushers you into His presence for all eternity.

Let the joy of intimacy with God, and the anticipation of seeing Christ face to face—either by rapture or by death— motivate you to please Him more and more each day of your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the promise of Christ’s return.

For Further Study

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

  • What events surround the rapture of the church?
  • How were the Thessalonians to respond to Paul’s teaching about the rapture?
  • How should you respond?

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The First Disciple

“Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel . . . brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard” (Gen. 4:3-5).

True discipleship is characterized by obedience to God’s Word.

In John 8:31 Jesus issued an important statement to a group of people who were showing an interest in Him: “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” Sadly, they rejected His words, proving themselves to be less than true disciples. Jesus went on to explain why: “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (v. 47). They listened but didn’t really hear. They were interested but not truly committed. They were hearers of the Word but not doers (James 1:22).

In contrast, Abel did what God told him to do. He was, in effect, the first disciple. He was probably a better person than Cain—more friendly, moral, and dependable—but that’s not why God accepted his sacrifice and rejected Cain’s. Abel trusted God, and his faith was counted as righteousness. Like Abraham, whose faith was evidenced by his willingness to obey God and sacrifice his son Isaac (James 2:21-22), Abel’s faith was evidenced in his obedient offering. He didn’t rely on his own goodness but acknowledged his sin and made the prescribed sacrifice.

Perhaps God indicated His acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice by consuming it with fire, as He did on other occasions in Scripture (Judg. 6:211 Kings 18:38). But whatever means He used, God made his pleasure known to Abel.

Abel’s brief life conveys a simple three-point message: we must come to God by faith; we must receive and obey God’s Word; and sin brings serious consequences. If you hear and heed that message, you’ll walk the path of true discipleship and be assured of God’s pleasure.

Suggestions for Prayer

Make it your goal to please the Lord in everything you do today. Seek His wisdom and grace to do so faithfully.

For Further Study

Read these verses, noting what they say about pleasing God: 2 Corinthians 5:9Ephesians 5:6-10Philippians 2:12-13Hebrews 11:6; and Hebrews 13:15-1620-21.

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Being Wise in Adversity

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:13).

Wisdom teaches us how to handle adversity.

In his wonderful commentary on the book of James, Robert Johnstone wrote the following about meekness:

That “the meek” should “inherit the earth”—that they bear wrongs, and exemplify the love which “seeketh not her own”—to a world that believes in high-handedness and self-assertion, and pushing the weakest to the wall, a statement like this of the Lord from Heaven cannot but appear an utter paradox. The man of the world desires to be counted anything but “meek” or “poor in spirit,” and would deem such a description of him equivalent to a charge of unmanliness.

Ah, brethren, this is because we have taken in Satan’s conception of manliness instead of God’s. One man has been shown us by God, in whom His ideal of man was embodied; and He, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: He for those who nailed Him to the tree prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” The world’s spirit of wrath, then, must be folly; whilst than a spirit of meekness like His, in the midst of controversy, oppositions, trials of whatever kind, there can be no surer evidence that “Jesus is made of God to His people wisdom” (The Epistle of James [Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978], 272-273).

Johnstone recognized more than a hundred years ago what we need to know today—that the wisdom of man is arrogant, conceited, and self-serving, whereas the wisdom of God is humble, meek, and non-retaliatory.

The contrast between false wisdom and true wisdom is crystal-clear. Be sure you handle adversity in a Christlike way, knowing that every detail of your life is under God’s sovereign control.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for His example of how to respond to adversity (cf. 1 Peter 2:21-24).

For Further Study

Read Philippians 2:1-11, applying Christ’s example to your life (vv. 1-5).

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Having a Faith That Responds

“Faith is . . . the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

True faith goes beyond assurance to action.

When the writer said, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”, he used two parallel and almost identical phrases to define faith.

We’ve seen that faith is the assurance that all God’s promises will come to pass in His time. “The conviction of things not seen” takes the same truth a step further by implying a response to what we believe and are assured of.

James addressed the issue this way: “Someone may well say, ‘You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’. . . But are you willing to recognize . . . that faith without works is useless? . . . For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:1826). In other words, a non-responsive faith is no faith at all.

Noah had a responsive faith. He had never seen rain because rain didn’t exist prior to the Flood. Perhaps he knew nothing about building a ship. Still, he followed God’s instructions and endured 120 years of hard work and ridicule because he believed God was telling the truth. His work was a testimony to that belief.

Moses considered “the reproach of Christ [Messiah] greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:26). Messiah wouldn’t come to earth for another 1,400 years, but Moses forsook the wealth and benefits of Egypt to pursue the messianic hope.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when faced with a life- threatening choice, chose to act on their faith in God, whom they couldn’t see, rather than bow to Nebuchadnezzar, whom they could see all too well (Dan. 3). Even if it meant physical death, they wouldn’t compromise their beliefs.

I pray that the choices you make today will show you are a person of strong faith and convictions.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to increase and strengthen your faith through the events of this day.
  • Look for specific opportunities to trust Him more fully.

For Further Study

Read Daniel 3:1-20. How was the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego tested?

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Hope That Assures

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1).

Faith is the solid ground on which we stand as we await the fulfillment of God’s promises.

An elderly man who, on his seventy-fifth birthday, received an invitation to fly over the little West Virginia town in which he had spent his entire life. Although he had never before flown, the man accepted the gracious offer.

After circling the town for about twenty minutes, the pilot safely returned his passenger to the ground. The man’s grandson greeted him excitedly, asking, “Were you scared, Grandpa?” “No,” he replied sheepishly, “but I never did put my full weight down.”

Unlike that hesitant grandfather, true faith trusts fully in its object. For the Christian, that means resting in God and His promises. That’s the primary characteristic of each faithful individual listed in Hebrews 11. They all believed God and responded accordingly.

People often confuse faith with a wistful longing that something, however unlikely, will come to pass in the future. But “assurance” in Hebrews 11:1 speaks of essence and reality— the real thing, as opposed to mere appearance. Faith, then, involves absolute certainty.

For example, the Old Testament saints had the promise of a coming Messiah who would take away sin. They believed God, even though their understanding of Messiah was incomplete and somewhat vague. They knew their hopes would be fulfilled, and that assurance dominated their lives.

It’s the same for New Testament believers. Peter said, “Though you have not seen [Christ], you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:8-9).

Man’s natural tendency is to trust only in the things he can see, hear, touch, or taste. But our physical senses may lie, whereas God cannot (Titus 1:2). Far better to believe God and trust in His promises.

Suggestions for Prayer

Which promises of God are especially meaningful to you today? Thank Him for them and reaffirm your commitment to living on the basis of His Word.

For Further Study

Skim Hebrews 11 and note all the divine promises you find there. To gain a fuller understanding of each one, find other Scripture references that mention the same promises.

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Heroes of Faith

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval” (Heb. 11:1-2).

Christian faith produces righteous deeds.

Hebrews 11 has been called “The Heroes of Faith,” “The Faith Chapter,” “The Saints’ Hall of Fame,” “The Honor Roll of the Old Testament Saints,” and “The Westminster Abbey of Scripture.” Those are appropriate titles because this chapter highlights the virtues of faith as demonstrated in the lives of great Old Testament saints. It also reminds us that without faith, it is impossible to please God.

Such a reminder was necessary for the first-century Hebrew people because Judaism had abandoned true faith in God for a legalistic system of works righteousness. Its message is valid today since our devotion to Christ can easily degenerate into a religion of rules and regulations.

While affirming the primacy of faith, the writer of Hebrews doesn’t undermine the importance of righteous works. Quite the contrary. He exhorts us “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (10:24) and to pursue holiness so others will see Christ in us and be drawn to Him (12:14).

Yet righteous works are the by-product of true salvation, not its means. As the apostle Paul wrote, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Apart from faith, all attempts to please God through good works alone are as useless and offensive to Him as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). That’s why Paul gladly set all his Jewish legalistic practices aside, counting them as rubbish. He wanted only “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil. 3:9).

This month we’ll study the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11. As we do, remember they weren’t perfect people. But their faith was exemplary and by it they gained God’s approval. I pray that’s true of you as well.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the gift of faith.
  • Undoubtedly you know people who are trying to please God by their own efforts. Pray for them and take every opportunity to tell them of true salvation through faith in Christ

For Further Study

Select one of the individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11 and read the Old Testament account of his or her life.

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Increasing Your Spiritual Strength

“All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . correction” (2 Tim. 3:16).

God’s Word strengthens the repentant sinner.

If you’re a gardening buff, you know that skillful pruning promotes the overall growth and productivity of a plant. Jesus assumed His audience knew as much when He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:1-3).

Jesus was comparing believers to branches, which the Father prunes for maximum productivity. The Word is His pruning shear, which He applies with skill and precision to remove our imperfections and promote godliness. He wants to eliminate anything from our lives that may restrict our spiritual growth.

The word translated “correction” in 2 Timothy 3:16 speaks of the strengthening work of God’s Word. Scripture not only exposes your sin, but it also strengthens you and restores you to a proper spiritual posture. It convicts you and then gives you instruction to build you up again.

Job 17:9 says, “The righteous shall hold to his way, and he who has clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger.” Paul added, “I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

As the Spirit uses Scripture to expose sin in your life, forsake that sin and follow what Scripture says to do instead. You will be strengthened in your spiritual walk as a result. To aid in that process be “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and . . . sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6).

I firmly believe that any weaknesses you have can become areas of great strength as you allow God’s Word to do its sanctifying work within you.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the strengthening and restoring power of His Word.
  • If there’s an area of your life that is weak and vulnerable to temptation, confess it to the Lord and begin today to strengthen it according to the Word.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 1:18-23 and 3:14-21.

  • What did Paul pray for?
  • How did God demonstrate His power toward believers?
  • Is God’s power sufficient for all your spiritual needs? Explain.

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Reproving Sinful Conduct

“All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . reproof” (2 Tim. 3:16).

People who aren’t interested in holy living will avoid being exposed to sound doctrine.

Paul instructed Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). He knew a time was coming when many people would reject sound doctrine, and “wanting to have their ears tickled, [would] accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and . . . turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (vv. 3-4).

That’s certainly true of our day. Many who profess to love Christ seem intolerant of His Word. Often they fall into spiritual complacency and surround themselves with teachers who tell them exactly what they want to hear. If they can’t find a comfortable message, they drift from church to church or simply abandon it altogether.

Such people have exchanged conviction for comfort, and need to examine themselves to see if they are genuine believers (2 Cor. 13:5). Their attitude toward the Word is in stark contrast to those who truly love Christ and come to the Word with an earnest desire to learn its truths and live accordingly.

But even true believers can fall into the trap of negligence and compromise. Perhaps you’ve noticed how sinning Christians often try to avoid exposure to God’s Word. Sometimes they’ll temporarily stop attending church or Bible studies. They also try to avoid other believers—especially those who will hold them accountable to what they know to be true.

But like any loving parent, God won’t allow His children to remain in sin for long without disciplining them (Heb. 12:5-11). Sooner or later they must repent and be reconciled to Him.

An important element in reconciling sinning Christians to God is the faithful prayers of other believers. God may choose to use you in that way, so always be ready to pray, and eager to restore others in a spirit of gentleness (Gal. 6:1).

Suggestions for Prayer

Do you know a Christian who is being disobedient to God’s Word? If so, ask God to bring him or her to repentance. Assure the person of your prayers and concern, and be available to be further used in the restoration process if the Lord wills.

For Further Study

What does Matthew 18:15-20 say about how to confront a sinning Christian?

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Avoiding Spiritual Deception

“All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . reproof” (2 Tim. 3:16).

Scripture is the standard by which you must measure all teaching.

In November of 1978, United States Representative Leo Ryan of California visited the People’s Temple (a California- based cult) in Guyana. He went to investigate reports that some of the people were being held there against their will. The world was shocked to learn that the congressman and his party had been ambushed and killed.

Even more shocking was the grim discovery that followed a few days later. Authorities who entered the compound at Jonestown, Guyana were horrified to find the bodies of 780 cult members who had been shot or had committed suicide by drinking cyanide-laced punch. Their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, was found lying near the altar—dead from a single bullet wound to the head.

For many, it was the first time they had witnessed the deadly effect of satanic teaching. Editorials and articles for months attempted to explain how such appalling deception and genocide could occur in this day and age. But as tragic as the Jonestown deaths were, most observers missed the greatest tragedy of all: the spiritual damnation that Jim Jones and all other false teachers lead their followers into.

Spiritual deception is a very serious issue to God. That’s why in Scripture He lays down the truth and reproves anything contrary to it. The Greek word translated “reproof” in 2 Timothy 3:16 means to rebuke or confront someone regarding misconduct or false teaching.

If you have a thorough grasp of Scripture, you have a standard by which to measure all teaching. Then you can easily recognize false doctrine and avoid spiritual deception. That’s what John had in mind when he said, “I have written to you, [spiritual] young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:14).

False religions will always attempt to distort Scripture because they must eliminate God’s truth before they can justify their own lies. Beware of their subtleties, and be strong in God’s Word.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for protecting you from spiritual deception.
  • Pray for anyone you may know who has fallen victim to false teaching. Take every opportunity to impart God’s truth to them.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 11:1-413-15. How did Paul describe false teachers?

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Learning Truth

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

Scripture is a manual of divine truth.

This month we’ve considered many benefits of Scripture. Second Timothy 3:16 lists four more that will be the focus of our studies as we draw this month to a close: teaching truth, reproving sin and error, correcting behavior, and training in righteousness. We’ve touched on each of those to some extent in our past studies, but they warrant additional discussion from this verse, which is Scripture’s most concise statement on its own power and purpose.

First, the Bible is profitable for teaching. The Greek word translated “teaching” refers more to content than to the process of teaching. Scripture is God’s manual of divine truth for patterning your thoughts and actions.

As a believer, you have the capacity to understand and respond to Scripture. That’s because the Holy Spirit indwells you and imparts spiritual discernment, wisdom, and understanding (1 John 2:27). You have “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).

But having the ability to understand spiritual truth doesn’t guarantee you’ll exercise that ability. God said to the Israelites through the prophet Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (4:6). His truth was available to them, but they ignored it and lived in disobedience.

I’ve heard many people lament that they could have avoided much grief if only they had known the Bible more thoroughly—if only they had taken the time to learn what God expected of them in a particular situation. Perhaps you’ve felt that way. The best way to avoid making that mistake in the future is to faithfully, prayerfully, patiently, and thoroughly saturate your mind with biblical truth, then discipline yourself to live according to its principles. Now that’s the challenge of a lifetime, but it’s the only way to profit from biblical teaching and avoid unnecessary heartaches.

I pray you will be encouraged today as you study God’s Word and diligently apply it to your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to use the circumstances you face today to draw you closer to Him and motivate you to dig deeper into His Word.

For Further Study

Read Exodus 24:1-8. What was the Israelites’ response to God’s Word? What is yours?

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Passing on a Godly Heritage

“From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).

Planting and nurturing the seed of God’s Word in a child’s mind can produce an abundant spiritual harvest.

Not long ago I met with a group of Christian leaders to consider several candidates for a significant ministry position. During our meeting it dawned on me that each candidate’s father was a prominent pastor. Each candidate had grown up in a family that daily taught and exemplified biblical truth.

That illustrates the enormous impact a Christian heritage can have on a person—whether he pursues the pastorate or not. And by no means is it fathers only who influence their children toward righteousness. Quite the contrary: A godly mother usually has far more opportunity to do so.

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan had four sons—all of whom followed his example by becoming ministers. It’s reported that at a family reunion a friend asked one of the sons, “Which Morgan is the greatest preacher?” “That’s easy,” the son replied, “Mother!”

Timothy knew the benefits of a spiritual heritage like that. His mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois (2 Tim. 1:5) taught him the sacred writings, which give the wisdom that leads to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15). Even as a child, Timothy was being equipped for the ministry God would later call him to. The spiritual training he received as a child—and the reservoir of biblical knowledge he accumulated in those early years—were crucial elements in his adult ministry.

If you are a parent, the most precious gift you can give your child is a godly upbringing that will serve as the foundation for his or her future ministries.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for those who have instructed you in the Word and encouraged you in righteousness.
  • If you are a parent, pray that your children will exceed you in the faith.
  • Be faithful to pray for the young people around you and set a godly example for them to follow.

For Further Study

Read 1 Samuel 1:1—2:10. What characteristics of a godly mother did Hannah display?

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Heeding God’s Warnings

“By [Thy judgments] Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Ps. 19:11).

Heeding God’s warnings brings spiritual protection and great joy.

Psalm 19:11 concludes David’s hymn on the sufficiency of Scripture. How appropriate that it ends noting the value of God’s warning, because guarding His people against temptation, sin, error, foolishness, false teachers, and every other threat to their spiritual well-being is a major concern to God.

For example, God said to the prophet Ezekiel, “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth, and give them warning from Me” (Ezek. 33:7). The great tragedy of the Old Testament is that Israel rejected God’s “statutes and His covenants which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them” (2 Kings 17:15).

The apostle Paul defined his ministry as that of proclaiming Christ and warning “every man and teaching every man with all wisdom” (Col. 1:28). After exhorting the Thessalonian church to maintain sexual purity, Paul added, “The Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you” (1 Thess. 4:6).

He also warned the Ephesian church, saying, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish [warn] each one with tears” (Acts 20:29-32). He did that by declaring to them the whole counsel of God (v. 27).

The warnings of Scripture aren’t intended to frustrate or stifle you. On the contrary, when you heed them they shelter you from spiritual harm and bring the joy of knowing you’re in God’s will. That’s the “great reward” David speaks of in Psalm 19:11. May you earn it as he eventually did through heeding God’s Word in every aspect of life.

Suggestions for Prayer

Overwhelmed with the sufficiency of God’s Word, David prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14). Make that your prayer as well.

For Further Study

Reread Psalm 19:7-11, reviewing each characteristic and benefit of Scripture. Think carefully about how they apply to your life.

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Fearsome Foursome

“For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death” (Romans 7:5).

Four key terms characterize those who are not in Christ.

In our fallen, cursed world, disasters are commonplace. Fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters happen somewhere every day. Added to those natural disasters are the man-made ones, such as war, acts of terrorism, plane crashes, train wrecks, etc.

But far greater than any of those disasters, and the one from which they all stem, was the entrance of sin into the human race. Sin renders fallen men spiritually dead, cuts them off from fellowship with God, and consigns them to eternal punishment in Hell.

In today’s verse Paul introduces four words that describe man’s unregenerate state: fleshsinlaw, and death. Those four words are interconnected: the flesh produces sin, which is stimulated by the law, resulting in death. Let’s consider each one individually.

The term flesh is used two ways in Scripture. It is sometimes used in a physical sense to speak of human existence. John used it to describe Christ’s incarnation in John 1:14 and 1 John 4:2. But in its moral sense, “flesh” represents the believer’s unredeemed body (Gal. 5:13Eph. 2:3). While believers are no longer “in the flesh” (Rom. 8:9) as are unbelievers, the flesh is still in us. It is the seat of temptation, the beachhead from which Satan launches his attacks.

Sin (or “sinful passions”) energizes the flesh, which in turn produces further sin. Those “sinful passions,” Paul says, “were aroused by the Law”; they are exposed by the law because fallen man’s rebellious nature makes him desire to do what is forbidden. The end result of this downward spiral is “death”—both physical and spiritual.

What a merciful God we serve, who “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for the unbelievers in your life, that God would open their hearts to respond to the gospel (Acts 16:14).

For Further Study

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Source of Righteousness

“The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether” (Ps. 19:9).

God’s Word is true and produces righteousness in the believer’s life.

The inability of human wisdom to produce right living was reaffirmed in my thinking as I read a contemporary psychiatrist’s book on how to overcome depression. The doctor’s first suggestion was to shout “Cancel!” every time you have a negative thought. She also recommended playing a tape recording of positive messages while you sleep at night, and listening to positive music during the day.

Cultivating a meaningful spiritual philosophy was another of her suggestions. She said any will do—as long as it works for you—but cautioned against those that speak of sin and guilt. Her final point was to find the spiritual light within yourself.

That kind of advice is foolish because it has no basis in truth. The best it can do is mask a few symptoms. It cannot cure the illness.

Jesus illustrated the hopelessness of searching for truth through such means when He said to a group of unbelievers, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil . . . [who] does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. . . . He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (John 8:43-47).

Unbelievers don’t see the truth of God’s Word for what it is. But believers hear the truth and receive it. Like David, they acknowledge that “the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether” (Ps. 19:9).

“Judgments” in that context speaks of ordinances or divine verdicts from the Supreme Judge. “Righteous altogether” implies that Scripture produces comprehensive righteousness in all who receive it. Together they emphasize that true righteousness originates from God’s Word and flows through His people.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for giving you the truth that produces righteousness.

For Further Study

What do the following verses say about God’s righteous Word: Psalm 119:89128137-38, and 142?

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Fearing God

“The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever” (Ps. 19:9).

Fearing God leads to reverential attitudes and actions.

In the Old Testament, to fear God was to view Him with reverential awe and bow to His sovereign authority. In Psalm 34 David wrote, “Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (vv. 11- 14). His son Solomon added, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. . . . Fear the Lord and turn away from evil” (Prov. 1:73:7).

The concept of fearing God isn’t limited to the Old Testament. Paul said, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), “Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1) and, “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph. 5:21).

Our fear of God compels us to worship Him and conform our lives to His will. If you fear Him, pleasing Him will be your greatest delight and displeasing Him, your greatest disappointment.

In Psalm 19:9 David uses “fear” as a synonym for God’s Word, implying that Scripture is God’s manual on how to worship Him. “Clean” (v. 9) is a comprehensive term that speaks of the absence of sin, corruption, filthiness, defilement, imperfection, and error. The message Scripture conveys is always “flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times” (Ps. 12:6, NIV).

Because it is so perfect, Scripture endures forever (Ps. 19:9). That’s why Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31). It never needs to be updated to accommodate contemporary thinking. It stands forever as authoritative and unyielding. Those who judge it, slander it, or ignore it are in grave peril. Far better to fear God and bow to His revealed will.

Suggestions for Prayer

Read Psalm 33 as a prayer of praise to the Lord.

For Further Study

Memorize Proverbs 3:5-7 as a reminder always to seek God’s will and approval.

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Obeying God’s Commands

“The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps. 19:8).

Obedience to the Word is the hallmark of a true believer.

It isn’t popular these days to speak of God’s Word as a book of commandments. Commands imply law and we’re accustomed to grace. But the fact is, both the Old and New Testaments contain many commandments that all God’s people are to obey.

The apostle John said, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected” (1 John 2:3-5). John equated the commandments of God with the Word of God.

Jesus Himself said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15) and “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father” (v. 21). If you truly love Christ, your life will be characterized by a pattern of obedience to His Word.

Every commandment of God is “pure”, the psalmist said (Ps. 19:8). Its effect is “enlightening the eyes.” God’s Word brings spiritual truth into clear focus. Not every passage of Scripture is easy to understand, but taken as a whole, the message of the Bible is clear to the regenerate mind.

But as clear as the Bible is to believers, unredeemed people can’t understand it. To them it’s foolishness because their minds are unenlightened (1 Cor. 2:14). In their spiritual blindness they choose humanistic philosophical speculations over God’s Word. But as a believer, you are continually being enlightened by the truths of God’s Word as the Holy Spirit enables you to understand and apply them to your life.

Your ability to understand the Word is a priceless gift. Take advantage of it daily by expanding your Bible knowledge and increasing your obedience.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for opening your mind to the truths of His Word.
  • Commit yourself to discovering at least one additional truth from Scripture each day.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 2:14-16. What comparison did Paul make between the natural (unregenerate) man and the spiritual (regenerate) man?

http://www.gty.org/