Tim Johnson, editor
August 7, 2011
Principle of Life
Thou Mighty Man of Valor
"The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor... Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the Midianites." To what brave and stalwart soldier were these words spoken? To Gideon, a man who truly deserved them, eventually. But when they were first spoken to him, he was far from what the words implied.
If Gideon had ever wielded a sword, there is no record of it. When God called him, he was threshing wheat secretly for fear of the Midianites who regularly plundered his country. Being told by the Lord to throw down Baal's altar, he did so, but under cover of darkness "because he feared his father's house and the men of the city." Before he would even attempt to organize an army, he required not one, but two signs from the Lord, involving a fleece and the dew of heaven. And before he was ready to go into battle, God had to grant him yet another omen, allowing him to over hear Midianite soldiers expressing their fear of Gideon. "Mighty man of valour," indeed! God must have been looking at what he would become, and not at what he was.
Simon's friends must have raised eyebrows when Jesus called him Peter, a stone. How unlike a stone he was throughout the personal ministry! Yet following the resurrection and the encounter with Jesus by the sea, Simon was indeed Peter, exactly what Jesus challenged him to be.
Does not God still deal with us in this way? Sometimes he speaks of the unconverted as His people (Acts 18:10). Those newly converted are addressed as saints, though possessing only the faintest suggestion of that holiness that is implied in the word. They are "children of God," though only beginning to be "partakers of the divine nature." They sit together with Christ in heavenly places, although they are still struggling with the flesh and their old worldly habits.
Shall we not learn from this? Recently, I expressed doubt that a certain alcoholic could ever be changed. Another brother (formerly a heavy drinker himself) disagreed, expressing hope for him. Which of us will be more likely to reach him?
Our children are all potentially devout faithful Christians. We must let them know this is what we expect. They must never be labeled "bad." Occasionally they make mistakes, perhaps grievous ones, but these must be dealt with as actions out of harmony with their true character. We are disappointed, but never disillusioned.
If Paul could write to the church in Corinth with all its problems, "I thank my God all concerning you," then, surely, we can speak positively to any modern congregation. More is accomplished by encouraging and exhorting then by constant brow-beating and fault-finding. Regular commendation of what is good lends effectiveness to rebuke when that is necessary. Even to the weak, we may say, "Go in this thy might!"
-- Sewell Hall
One of the unalterable principles of nature is that every living thing reproduces after its own kind (Gen. 1:28, 29). You don't get okra from black-eyed pea seeds (vice versa). And, in spite of the mental gymnastics of the evolutionists and the action of some people to the contrary, humans did not come from monkeys (via evolution or otherwise).
In the parable of the Sower, Jesus said the seed of the kingdom is the word of God (Lk. 8:10-11). The Hebrew writer described the Word of God as "living and active" (Heb. 4:12). The apostle Peter said those who purified their souls in obedience to the truth have been begotten again "through the word of God which liveth and abideth" (I Peter 1:22-28). The Bible is a seed which produces life when it is cultivated in the hearts of men and women (Luke 8:12).
If everything reproduces after its own kind, then the planting of this word into our hearts will make us a people ready, willing and able to forgive others. After all, Paul called the message he preached "the word of reconciliation" (II Cor. 5:19). That is, a reconciling between man and God based upon the principle of forgiveness in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:7-9; 2:13-16). Therefore, we are admonished on this basis to be "&ldots;kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, EVEN AS God also in Christ forgave you" (Eph. 4:32).
Christians go contrary to the law and deny the very seed which produces life when they do not learn and/or practice forgiveness toward others. In dealing with others who have sinned against us, we must recognize that our personal hurts and feelings are not above the law which offers forgiveness for even the most vile of sinners. We cannot possibly be partakers of that life which the seed (word) produces without practicing the same forgiveness, which we have received from the seed, toward others. Forgiveness must begat forgiveness or else we are without life which the seed produces!
-- Bill Robinson, Jr.