Category Archives: Fundamentalism

The Centrality of Music in Worship and Praise

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 149-150

Our year-long reading of the Psalms come to a close today on an appropriate theme… “Praise ye the LORD”.  Psalm 149 and Psalm 150 begin and end with a call to worship.  What an incredible thought that the LORD, our Creator Who is Almighty desires we His people praise Him.

Dogs bark, cats purr, lions roar, and eagles screech…but man alone has the means to communicate in words, song, and musical instruments his worship of the LORD through songs of praise.

I have taken liberty to add to today’s psalms my amplification of the closing chapters in this wonderful book of songs of worship and praise.  As one who loves music, I invite you to especially note the prominence of music, musical instruments, and trained musicians in worshipping the LORD.

Psalm 149:1-9 – Praise [Glory; Celebrate; Sing; Boast] ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new [fresh] song, and his praise [hymn of adoration; song of praise] in the congregation [Assembly] of saints [the godly; pious].
2  Let Israel [lit. “He will rule as God”; another name for Jacob] rejoice [be glad; joyful] in him [i.e. the LORD] that made [Created] him [Israel or Jacob]: let the children of Zion [mount upon which Jerusalem was found] be joyful [be glad; rejoice] in their King.
3  Let them praise his name [the name of the LORD] in the dance [i.e. round dance; dance in circular motion]: let them sing praises [psalms] unto him with the timbrel [tambourine] and harp [the string instrument].
4  For the LORD taketh pleasure [delights; pleased] in his people [people of His congregation; like Israel]: he will beautify [glory; boast] the meek [poor; humble; lowly] with salvation [He will deliver; prosper].
5  Let the saints [the godly; pious] be joyful [i.e. jump for joy; rejoice] in glory [or splendor bestowed on them by the LORD]: let them sing aloud [rejoice; shout for joy] upon their beds.
6  Let the high [exaltation] praises of God [Almighty God] be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;
7  To execute [work; create; make; show] vengeance [revenge] upon the heathen [Gentile nations], and punishments [chastening; rebuke; reproof] upon the people [nation];
8  To bind their kings [rulers of the Gentile nations] with chains, and their nobles [those who exercise authority] with fetters [chains; manacles that bind] of iron;
9  To execute [make; create] upon them the judgment [law; ordinance] written [prescribed]: this honour [glory; majesty; splendor] have all his saints [godly]. Praise [Glory; Celebrate; Sing; Boast] ye the LORD.

Psalm 150:1-6 – Praise [Glory; Celebrate; Sing; Boast]  ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary [holy; sacred place dedicated to the LORD]: praise him in the firmament [in the heavens] of his power [strength; might; majesty].
2  Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent [abundance] greatness.
3  Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery [lyre] and harp.
4  Praise him with the timbrel [tambourine] and dance [i.e. round dance; dance in circular motion]: praise him with stringed instruments and organs [flute; pipe].
5  Praise him upon the loud cymbals [large, clashing cymbals]: praise him upon the high sounding [jubilant; loud noise] cymbals [i.e. perhaps like a ringing bell].
6  Let every thing that hath breath [breath of life] praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

It saddens me to witness the diminishing of congregational singing and choral anthems in the 21st century church.  

In today’s church, the choir, a central part of worship dating to the time of King David, has become little more than a backup for spotlight hungry semi-professionals vocalists.   Even worse, congregations singing great, majestic hymns of the Christian faith are relegated to audiences mumbling in almost muted silence, “Seven-Eleven Choruses” [seven words repeated eleven times].  Worship today is a far cry from the worship the psalmist describes in today’s psalms.

I praise the LORD He has blessed Hillsdale with skilled musicians who voluntarily give and use their talents when our congregation worships the LORD with hymns of worship and praise.  What a joy to have musicians and choir members who, week after week, dedicate their time and talents to serving the LORD and praising Him!

Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 150:6).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Earnestly Contend for the Faith

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Jude 1:1-25

The theme of the book of Jude, only 25 verses in length, is summed up in two words, exhortation and admonition:  Jude exhorts believers to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3) and admonishes the church to beware of apostasy.

A century ago, the pulpits of most Baptist and Protestant churches in America unapologetically preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  There were differences in the mode of baptism and church government; however, the preaching of the cross was almost a universal theme in America’s churches.

By the 1920’s a spiritual apostasy crept into many denominational churches and began eroding fundamental Bible doctrines.  Bible colleges and Seminaries became hotbeds of liberalism and apostasy.  In a generation, mainline Protestant churches departed from the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.

Christ taught His disciples a sign of His Second Coming would be, “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 25:5, 11).

The apostle Paul warned Timothy, “For the time will come when they [professing believers in the church] will not endure [tolerate] sound doctrine; but after their own lusts [sinful desires] shall they heap [invite] to themselves teachers, having itching ears [desiring to hear something that tickles, scratches or pleases the ear]; 4 And they shall turn away their ears [stop listening] from the truth, and shall be turned [aside] unto fables [myths; false teaching]” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

The book of Jude, written to the late 1st century church, warned believers apostates were already in their midst.  Sounding a warning reminiscent of a bugle playing “Charge” for the Calvary, Jude challenged believers to engage in spiritual warfare.

“Earnestly contend for the faith” is a call to spiritual battle (1:3). To wage war for the faith is to be intolerant of doctrinal error and compromise.   Some argue, “Times have changed and Christians should not be so dogmatic about their faith.”

Times have changed; however, the Truths and Doctrines of the Word of God are timeless!

Psalm 119:160 – “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.”

1 Peter 1:23 – “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

1 Peter 1:25 – “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.  And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”

To “earnestly contend for the faith” is to stand and agonize unapologetically for the TRUTH.

Paul challenged Corinthian believers, “Watch ye [Stay awake; be alert], stand fast [persevere; adhere] in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Paul exhorted Timothy, “Fight [agonize; be disciplined] the good fight of faith…” (1 Timothy 6:12).

The balance of Jude’s epistle describes the challenges confronting the churches at the end of the 1st century.  Jude described the character of apostates: Denying the truth (1:4-7), immoral (1:8b), rejecting spiritual authority (1:8c), and irreverent (1:8d-10).  The apostasy of the 1st century church is a mirror image of the decadence found in many 21st century churches.

Vigilance is the cause of the hour; however, rather than “contending for the faith”, I am afraid the majority of believers and churches are in full retreat.

The greatest threat to the Church is not persecution without, but false teachers within. 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The frailty of old age is not an excuse for tolerating sin.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 29-31

Having declared God’s Covenant with Israel as His chosen people (Deuteronomy 5-28), Moses concludes with a challenge for the people to affirm the covenant they entered into at Mt Horeb 40 years earlier (Exodus 24) and acknowledge their obligation to the LORD to obey the His Laws and Commandments (Deuteronomy 29-30).

The basis of Israel’s obligation to honor the Covenant with the LORD was not only the sacrifices they offered to seal the Covenant at Mt. Horeb (Exodus 24), but also the LORD’s loving care of the nation over the course of their wanderings in the wilderness (29:2-9).

The nation, its leaders (“captains…elders…officers”) and “all the men of Israel” (29:10), representing every man, woman, boy and girl…even “thy stranger that is in thy camp” (those in the midst of the tribes, but not Hebrews by lineage) were to affirm the covenant with God (29:11-15).

Moses warns the people (29:16-29), should they turn to idols and follow in the sins of the heathen nations and fail to keep their covenant with the LORD and obey His Laws and Commandments, the nation will be punished with plagues and sickness (29:22) and the ground cursed (29:23).

True to the nature of God, having promised in His justice He would punish Israel for breaking covenant with Him (Deuteronomy 29:24-29), He promises in Deuteronomy 31 to be merciful should the people repent and restore them to their land (30:1-14).

Deuteronomy 30 concludes with a strong challenge to Israel to know the Word of the LORD is sure and He will bless the people when they keep His covenant; however, He will surely bring judgment upon the nation should they disobey His Laws and Commandments (30:15-20).

Mindful of his own mortality and knowing the days of his earthly sojourn were coming to a close, Moses reminds the nation he is “an hundred and twenty years old” and the LORD had said, “Thou shalt not go over this Jordan (31:1-2).  In the tone of a loving, elderly father who knows his days with his children are coming to a close, Moses encouraged the people, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not” (31:6).  The same God who delivered Israel out of Egypt and preserved them in the wilderness, “He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (31:6).

Affirming his role as the leader chosen by the LORD to take the nation across Jordan, Moses publicly affirms Joshua’s ordination “in the sight of all Israel” (31:7-8).

Turning from Joshua, Moses challenged the spiritual leaders of the nation, “the priests the sons of Levi”, to be the custodians and teachers of the LORD’s Law and keep the Law and Commandments before the people (31:9-13).

Reminded He is Omniscient, the LORD revealed to Moses the days would come after his death, that the people would break their covenant with the LORD and “go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land” (31:14-18).  The LORD commanded Moses to write a song that would remind the people of their covenant with the LORD (31:19-22).

Deuteronomy 31 concludes with Moses giving a final charge to Joshua as he assumes the leadership of the nation (31:23).  Gathering the people, Moses challenged the Levites, to take the record of the LORD’s Law and “put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD” (31:24-26).

There are many lessons we can take from today’s scripture reading; however, for me and my generation it is:  The frailty of old age is not an excuse for tolerating sin.

At one hundred and twenty years old, Moses was “feeling his age” and was conscious of his physical weakness and the inevitableness of his death.  The pressures of leading a rebellious people “forty years in the wilderness” and old age had taken its toll on the man (Dt. 29:5).

In Deuteronomy 31:2, Moses confessed, “I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in” (31:2).  In Deuteronomy 31:14, “the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die”.   We read again in Deuteronomy 31:16, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers”.

Moses was old and frail; however, the fire of his convictions and dedication to the LORD had not abated.

I am afraid the same can not be said of my generation.  There is a growing tolerance of sin and carnality in today’s fundamental Bible preaching churches, Christian schools, Bible colleges and Universities that is disconcerting.  In an effort to appease rebellious children in their own households, leaders of this generation, men like myself in their 50’s and 60’s, are compromising spiritual disciplines and precepts of the institutions they are leading.

A spirit of tolerance (i.e. softness in the matter of sin) is eroding the spiritual character and heritage of churches, schools, and institutions.  The fears Moses expressed in Deuteronomy 31:29 are, I believe, a foreshadow of what will become of many fundamental churches, schools, and institutions.

Deuteronomy 31:29 – “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.”

It is my observation, when spiritual leaders accommodate and tolerate sin, the institutions they lead become a shadow of their former character or suffer demise.

How about you my friend?  Does the fire of godly convictions still burn in your spirit and soul?

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Choices Always Have Consequences

Monday, December 11, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 26-28

Our scripture reading is Deuteronomy 26-28 and continues Moses’ final challenge to Israel before his departure.  As noted in previous devotional commentary on the book of Deuteronomy, Moses is charging Israel with laws and spiritual principles that are to guide the people as they become a nation in their own land (Deuteronomy 26:1).

Moses reminds Israel when they come into the land God has promised, they are to give tithes of the fruit (or profit) of their labor.  Remembering the blessing of the harvest comes from the LORD (Dt. 26:1-11), the firstfruits offering was taken to the place of worship, given as a sacrifice and supported the priestly tribe of Levi and their households.

In the third year, a special tithe was given coinciding with tither’s confession he had honored the LORD’s commandments and obeyed them.  The tithe given in the third year was used locally to meet immediate needs in one’s own community and to support “the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled” (26:12-15).

Beginning with Deuteronomy 26:16 and continuing to Deuteronomy 31:13, Moses expounds to the nation the benefits of obeying the LORD and keeping His commandments.  With the promise God had chosen Israel “to be His peculiar people…and to make thee high above all nations…” (Dt. 26:16-19), Moses admonished the people to “be an holy people unto the LORD thy God” (Dt. 26:19b).

Lest the people forget all the LORD had done for them, the elders of Israel were to erect a memorial pillar of stones on the west side of the Jordan River serving as a reminder of LORD’s promises and commandments (Dt. 27:1-2).  An altar was to be built to sanctify the place and the laws and commandments were to be inscribed on the stones as a lasting testimony (27:2-10).

Reminding the people “Choices have Consequences”, the elders of the twelve tribes were charged to teach the people obedience to the Law brought the LORD’s blessing and disobedience His curse and judgments (27:14-26).

Moses pronounced a series of twelve curses should the people disobey the LORD and reject His Law and Commandments (Dt. 27:15-26).  The following sins invited God’s judgment:

1) Idolatry, a violation of the first and second commandments is cursed (27:15).

2) Dishonoring one’s parents is cursed (27:16), a violation of the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:12).

3) Stealing the property and possessions of another by deceit is cursed, a violation of the sixth commandment (27:17; Ex. 20:15).

4) Taking advantage of one infirmed or disabled is cursed (27:18).

5) The fifth curse is upon one who is unjust in how they treat “the stranger, fatherless, and widow” (27:19; Ex. 22:21-24).

The sixth through ninth curses address sexual purity, a violation of the  seventh commandment (27:20-23; Ex. 20:14).

6) Incest with one’s stepmother is cursed (27:20; Lev. 18:8-9, 17; 20:11).

7) Bestiality is cursed (27:21; Lev. 18:23).

8) Incest between siblings and parents is cursed (27:22).

9) Incest with one’s mother is cursed (27:23).

The fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13), is the subject of the tenth and eleventh curses (Dt. 27:24-25).

10) Intentional murder of one’s neighbor is cursed (Dt. 27:24).

11) Hiring an assassin to kill another is cursed (Dt. 27:25).

The twelfth and final curse is addressed to any child of Israel who failed God’s Law and Commandments (Dt .27:26).

Deuteronomy 27:26 – “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them…”

Deuteronomy 28 enumerates God’s blessings for the people and nation who obey His Laws and Commandments (Dt. 28:1-14).  The promise of God’s blessings on Israel if the people obeyed His Law and Commandments is stunning!  The nation had so much to aspire to, if only they obeyed the LORD.

If Israel “observe and to do all His commandments”, God promised He would “set thee on high above all nations of the earth” (28:1).  The blessings of the LORD are described as so great Israel would be overtaken by them (28:2)!  Every area of the nation’s life would be blessed… “in the city…in the field” (28:3).  Universal fruitfulness was promised to Israel…the womb of women, cattle, sheep and the fruit of the fields would reap a harvest of God’s blessings (28:4-6).

Israel’s enemies would fall before them and their storehouses and treasuries would overflow (28:7-14).  All this was promised to Israel, if the people obeyed the LORD’s Law and Commandments.

The balance of Deuteronomy 28 predicts the curses that would come upon Israel should the nation turn from the LORD and disobey His Law and Commandments (28:15-68).  In the same way God promised to bless the nation if the people obeyed Him, the opposite was true should they disobey Him.

If the nation continued in the LORD’s Law and Commandments, the LORD promised His blessings would overtake them (28:2); however, should they disobey the LORD they were assured “all curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee” (28:15).  The city, fields, storehouses, wombs of wives and livestock…all cursed (28:16-18).  The coming and going of the people…cursed (28:19)… “until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly” (28:20).  The promise of God’s judgment for disobeying His Laws and Commandments continues another forty-eight verses!

Sadly, Israel would turn from the LORD and all the curses noted in today’s scripture reading befell the nation!

Friend, it is not popular and few preachers have the courage to state it so, but “Choices Have Consequences” and no nation, people, or family should expect to disobey the LORD’s Law and Commandments and be blessed!

The message of the scriptures is one of redemption through the blood of Christ!  The Gospel is a message of God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness…and there is nothing required of a sinner to be saved than believing Christ, the sinless Son of God died for their sins, was buried and raised from the dead victorious over sin and the grave. The apostle Paul wrote to believers in Ephesus,

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace [God’s unmerited favor] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

However, “Choices Have Consequences” and ignoring that truth does not change it. 

 The pulpits of fundamental churches, schools and Bible colleges are filled with a generation of preachers failing to remind the saints while salvation is “by grace”, God’s blessings are conditional.  “Good works” is evidence of the genuineness and sincerity of our salvation.  Paul writes,

Ephesians 2:10 – “For we [believers] are his workmanship [product; result of God’s grace], created [made and renewed] in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them [i.e. our life in Christ is to be a testimony of good works].

I close with a reminder of the manner of people believers are to be:

Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Are You Passionate and Faithful to Your Calling?

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Acts 21-22

You might remember our last devotional commentary in the Book of Acts concluded with addressing Paul’s determination to return to Jerusalem for the Passover (Acts 20:17-38).  Knowing the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin were determined to arrest and put Paul to death, believers along the way did all they could to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem.  Paul’s journey to Jerusalem continues in today’s scripture reading (Acts 21-22).

Paul arrived in Caesarea (Acts 21:8-14).  Because there is more than one Caesarea in the scriptures, this one on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea is known as “Caesarea by the Sea”.  A beautiful, picturesque location northwest of Jerusalem, in the first century, “Caesarea by the Sea” served Roman governors of Judea as a retreat from the capital city.  Saved by the sands of the desert, the ruins of the Roman fortress, a beautifully preserved amphitheater, and Roman aqueduct are visible today.

It is at “Caesarea by the Sea” that Paul renews his fellowship with Philip.  Philip, formerly a deacon in the church of Jerusalem, was one of seven men chosen to assist the apostles in the distribution of food (Acts 6:1-6; 21:8).  Our last knowledge of Philip was when the Lord commanded him to leave Jerusalem and go into the desert near Gaza where he met an Ethiopian eunuch of “Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure” (Acts 8:26).

This Ethiopian eunuch, a proselyte of Judaism, was reading the prophecies of Isaiah when Philip came upon him (Acts 8:26-30).  Asking the man if he understood what he was reading, Philip began to share the meaning of Isaiah’s’ Messianic prophecies of a suffering Messiah, and declared they were fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:30-35).

Desiring to be baptized and identified with Jesus Christ as his Savior, the eunuch declared, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36-37), and Philip baptized him (Acts 8:38).

It is that same Philip with whom Paul renews his fellowship as he makes his journey to Jerusalem for the last time.  Philip, rather than return to Jerusalem and continue serving as one of its deacons, had made his way to Caesarea where we find him aptly titled, “Philip the evangelist” (Acts 21:8).  True to his testimony in Jerusalem as one of seven men “of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom” (Acts 6:3), Philip raised a godly family in Caesarea of whom four daughters are described as “virgins, which did prophesy” (Acts 21:8).

We could focus on many things in today’s scripture reading (Acts 21-22); however, I limit myself to one.

Philip was a young man faithfully serving the LORD in the Jerusalem church when we first meet him in Acts 6.  He was distinguished as “one of the seven”, the first men chosen to assist the apostle in ministering to the church (Acts 21:8).

When the LORD called Philip to be an evangelist in Acts 8, he obeyed the LORD’s command.  What a joy that twenty years later he continues in the same and is known as “Philip the evangelist” (Acts 21:8)!

Christian friend, what title or designation would your family, friends, and peers give you?

When acquaintances hear your name, what adjective or attribute comes to mind?  What would they say compels or drives you? What is your passion?   What is your calling?  Are you today, plying the trade, the ministry, the vocation to which God called you?

It is with growing sorrow I realize there are few who, like Philip and Paul, continue in their calling and vocation. There are few who accept Paul’s challenge to Timothy and follow the apostle’s example:

2 Timothy 4:5-7 – But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
6  For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

It’s Elementary: Dead, Lifeless Preaching Is the Principal Cause for Dead, Lifeless Churches!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Acts 19-20

The missionary journeys of the apostle Paul continues in today’s Scripture reading, Acts 19-20.  We find Paul making his third and final missionary journey through Asia Minor visiting believers in churches at Ephesus (Acts 19), Macedonia (Acts 20:1), Greece (Acts 20:2-3), Philippi (Acts 20:4-6), and Troas (Acts 20:6).

The narrative in today’s Scripture reading takes on a somber tone.   Arriving in the seaport town of Miletus (Acts 20:17), Paul summoned for the elders of the church in Ephesus.  With a heavy heart, Paul began to encourage and exhort the pastors of the church for the last time (Acts 20:18-38).

Paul reminded the pastors of the manner in which he had conducted himself when he ministered among them (Acts 20:18-21).  He revealed he was going up to Jerusalem for the Passover, knowing suffering and imprisonment awaited him (Acts 20:22-27).  Finally, he warned them concerning the troubles and trials that would afflict the church (Acts 20:28-35).

Paul leaves us an inspiring example for all who pastor and minister in the church.

He served with a selfless spirit (“I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you” – 20:20).

He was earnest in his witness, unashamedly calling both Jews and Greeks to repent (20:21).

He was devoted to the Lord and the Gospel ministry; like an Olympic runner sets his eye on the finish line, Paul determined to finish the course of his ministry with joy (20:24).

Finally, he was God’s watchman and admonished the pastors to shepherd the church.  Like a shepherd protects his sheep from adversaries and guides them to green pastures, the pastors were to be vigilant knowing evil men would come into the church, some aspiring to be pastors, speaking heresies that would divide the church (20:27-30).

The dangers Paul foresaw for the church in Ephesus are the dangers confronting the 21st century church in America.  Many historically Bible fundamental churches, schools, Bible colleges and universities are suffering a diminishing of their spirit, if not an altogether extinguishing of their life in the past two decades.

Pulpits that were aflame with the unapologetic preaching of the Gospel and the warnings of God’s imminent judgment, have given way to pseudo-piety and a hyper-intellectualism that spark academic debates, but do little to stir the soul.

Bible fundamental churches are dying and our Bible colleges and seminaries are lifeless because we lack for shepherds who, like the apostle Paul, are selfless (20:20), earnest (20:21), devoted (20:24), and fearless watchmen (20:27-30).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 1 John 1-3

A personal greeting: Today is Sunday, November 26, 2017 and many believers living in these United States are traveling this Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  For those who are able, I trust you are planning to worship with your church family today.  After undergoing two surgical procedures in the last three weeks, I am looking forward to attending worship with the Hillsdale Baptist Church family this Sunday morning!

Today’s Scripture reading is the First Epistle of John, chapters 1-3.  It is an understatement to describe this brief epistle as rich in content and application.  I find 1st John both challenging and convicting.  Penned by the apostle John to the early church nearly 2000 years ago, the principles and precepts in its pages are as applicable today as they were in the first century.

John is writing to a persecuted church and the testimony of the apostle who was an eyewitness and companion of the Lord Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry is powerful (1 John 1:1-5).   Exhorting believers to walk in the light of God’s truths and in accord with His commandments, John comforts the saints with the assurance of God’s forgiveness writing, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

In chapter 2, John addressed heresies and disputes that sowed doubt and discord in the 1st century church.  The contradiction between sincere believers and those who merely professed to be Christians is explained by John:

1 John 2:3-5 – And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5  But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

Some claimed to be believers but continued in sin and others departed from the church.    Of these John writes,

1 John 2:19 – “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued [remained] with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest [made clear] that they were not all of us.”

I close today’s devotional commentary with John’s reminder that the natural inclination of lost sinners is to reject God and despise those who walk in righteousness (1 John 3:11-13).  The righteous character of the children of God arouses the hatred of the children of this world.

1 John 3:13 – “Marvel not [do not wonder or be afraid], my brethren, if the world [humanity, under the devil’s influence] hate you [holds animosity].”

There is a natural antagonism between good and evil, and the children of God and children of the devil.  To be hated by the world was not merely a future possibility, by the end of the first century it had become a present reality.  John admonished believers, the world will hate you (John 15:18-19)!

I close with a quote by author Edmund Hiebert.  Hiebert writes,

“Whenever the [church] acts so as to expose the greed…hatred, and the wickedness of the world, it must expect rejection; and if it should go so far as to interfere with its evil practices, as Jesus did…it may expect suffering and brutal death…’History confirms that the hatred of the world is most aggressive whenever the life and witness of the church are vital and Spirit-empowered.” 

Edmond Hiebert, “The Epistles of John – An Expositional Commentary” (Greenville: Bob Jones University Press,1991), p. 155.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith