Eternal Perspectives

What thrills me most about our heavenly praise is that it will be perfect. Many times I want to praise God with all my heart, but other thoughts crowd in and clutter my mind. Have you ever been praising God when some evil or trivial thought entered your mind, or some nonsensical notion interrupted your praise? How discouraging to realize how earthbound we are! In heaven our praise will always come out of pure hearts with pure motives and no distractions.

~ John MacArthur, 
[Heaven: Selected Scriptures]

Truth for Today

BEARING TRUE FRUIT

Bear fruits worthy of repentance.
~ LUKE 3:8

Your essential character—your inner motives, convictions, loyalties, and ambitions—will eventually show through in what you say and do. Good works do not save you, but every believer is saved for good works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10; see also Gal. 5:22–23; Col. 1:10).

For the believer, true fruit-bearing occurs with the help of Christ. The apostle Paul speaks of our “being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:11). On the other hand, unbelievers (including those who falsely profess Christ) will eventually demonstrate the bad fruit that their unregenerate lives inevitably produce.

If you are bearing fruit, you will be growing in all the areas Peter lists: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (see 2 Pet. 1:5–9).

Truth for Today

ENTERING THE GATE 

 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us. 
~ TITUS 3:5

When you enter the narrow gate of salvation, you must do so alone. A turnstile perhaps best represents the concept of the narrow gate. Just one person at a time, with no baggage can pass through a turnstile. God has ordained that people enter His kingdom singly, not in groups. You can’t ride in on the coattails of your church, your family, or your friends, no matter how godly those people are.

God’s gate is so narrow that you must go through it not only alone but naked. You can’t go through the gate clothed in sin and self-will. As the hymn writer said, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” That’s the way of the cross, which is the gospel. And the gospel is the narrow gate, which involves self-denial. Jesus said, “‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it’” (Matt. 16:24–25).

Truth for Today

HUMILITY SHOULD RULE 

Do not be conceited.
~ ROMANS 12:16, [NIV]

Conceited, self-serving Christians are a serious contradiction. If we would follow Christ we must be submissive to God’s will as contained in His Word. Any confidence you have in yourself, your own wisdom, or your natural talents must be subordinated to the Lord’s commands. 

In no way should you be conceited, or in any respect consider yourself better than fellow believers. Instead, God wants you to accept and embrace every member of the body of Christ: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).

Truth For Today

HOLDING ON TO WHAT’S GOOD 
 
Cling to what is good. 
~ ROMANS 12 : 9

As a servant of Jesus Christ, God wants you to bind yourself to everything good, to whatever is inherently right and worthy. That task requires the use of discernment. With the help of God and His Word, you must carefully evaluate everything and thoughtfully decide what to reject and what to cling to (1 Thess. 5:21–22).

As you separate yourself from worldly things and saturate yourself with Scripture, that which is good will increasingly replace that which is evil. Then, you will fulfill Paul’s message to the Romans: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you May prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (12:2).

Truth for Today

A CHANGE OF NATURE 

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
~ 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17

When you receive Jesus Christ, are born again, and enter into God’s kingdom, you become a totally different individual. The change that occurs when you’re saved is more dramatic than the change that will occur when you die because then you already have a new nature and are a citizen of God’s kingdom. Death simply ushers you into God’s presence.

In his epistles, the apostle Paul says that when God transformed us, He gave us a new will, mind, heart, power, knowledge, wisdom, life, inheritance, relationship, righteousness, love, desire, and citizenship. He called it “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Some teach that when a person becomes a Christian, God gives him something new in addition to his old sin nature. But according to the Word of God, we don’t receive something new, we ourselves become new!

Truth For Today

THE NEW NATURE

Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever. 
~ 1 PETER 1:23

When we become Christians we are not remodeled, nor are we added to—we are transformed. Christians don’t have two different natures; we have one new nature, the new nature in Christ. The old self dies and the new self lives; they do not coexist. Jesus Christ is righteous, holy, and sanctified, and we have that divine principle in us, what Peter called the “incorruptible” seed (1 Pet. 1:23). Thus our new nature is righteous, holy, and sanctified because Christ lives in us (Col. 1:27).

Ephesians 4:24 tells us to “put on the new man,” a new behavior that’s appropriate to our new nature. But to do so we have to eliminate the patterns and practices of our old life. That’s why Paul tells us to “put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness” (Col. 3:5).

Truth for Today

INTIMATE COMMUNION

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
~ JOHN 10:27

The apostle Paul taught the Ephesians that one of the functions of the church is to build up the people in “the knowledge of the Son of God” (4:13). The word knowledge refers to full knowledge that is correct and accurate. That is the knowing of which Jesus spoke in today’s verse. He was not speaking of merely knowing their identities but of knowing them intimately, and that is the way He wants His people to know Him.

Paul’s desire is for every believer to develop this deep knowledge of Christ by building a relationship with Him through prayer and faithful study of and obedience to God’s Word. Growing in this deeper knowledge of Christ is a lifelong process that will not be complete until we see the Lord face-to-face.

Truth for Today

THE RIGHT RIGHTEOUSNESS

Not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ. 
~ PHILIPPIANS 3:9

To know Jesus Christ is to have His righteousness, His holiness, and His virtue imputed to us, which makes us right before God.

Throughout his earlier life, the apostle Paul tried to attain salvation through strict adherence to the Law. But when he was confronted by the wondrous reality of Christ, he was ready to trade in all his self-righteous and external morals, good works, and religious rituals for the righteousness granted to him through faith in Christ. Paul was willing to lose the thin and fading robe of his reputation if he could only gain the splendid and incorruptible robe of the righteousness of Christ.

This is the greatest of all benefits because it secures our standing before God. It is God’s gift to the sinner, appropriated by faith in the perfect work of Christ, which satisfies God’s justice.

Truth for Today

DRAWN TO CHRIST

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 
~ JOHN 6:44

Jesus Christ is the One who introduces men and women to God. Those whom He ushers into the Father’s presence all have a loathing of their sin, a desire to be forgiven, and a longing to know God. Those attitudes are the work of God in drawing us to Christ. A response to the gospel message thus begins with a change in attitude toward sin and God.

Beyond that initial change in attitude is the transformation brought about in every believer at the instant of salvation. 

Christ didn’t die just to pay the penalty for sin: He died to transform us. Deserted by most of His followers, Christ hung in darkness and agony on the cross, crying out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). Those were moments that Jesus felt incredible rejection and hostility. Yet out of those very circumstances Christ triumphed by atoning for sin and providing a way for men and women to be introduced to God and transformed. It was a triumph He Himself would soon proclaim (1 Pet. 3:19–20)