20/20 Vision

I used to think 20/20 vision was perfect vision and one could not get any better than that.  Such is not the case.  20/20 vision is considered average or normal vision.  Someone with 20/20 vision is able to see from 20 feet away what the average person is able to see from that distance.  There are some with vision so sharp they are able to see at 20 feet what the average person can see at 15 feet.  This would be 20/15 vision.

Of course, in addition to vision, the number 2020 brings to mind the New Year. 

Let us consider a verse from the Bible that might link these ideas of vision and time.

In Acts 20, Paul is addressing the Ephesian eldership for the last time.  Verse 20 reads, “how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house”.

I would suggest this describes 20/20 vision according to the Scriptures.  Note the ideas contained therein.

I kept back nothing – Psa 139:17 reminds us of the importance of considering the entirety of GOD’S word.  We must be very careful when taking a verse out of context and misapplying the meaning.

A very important principle to remember when interpreting the Scriptures is always interpret a passage so that it is in harmony with every other passage of Scripture.  The Bible will never contradict itself.

An example of this is found in Acts 2:21 where we read “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”  Lifting this passage out of context would lead us to think salvation is found by simply calling Jesus’ name.  But that is clearly in conflict with Matthew 7:21 which tells us “not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”  The dilemma is resolved by studying what is involved in calling on the name of the LORD.

I kept back nothing implies taking the whole counsel of GOD.  A text taken out of context becomes a pretext and will lead us into error.

Proclaimed it to you – 2 Tim 2:2 describes our personal responsibility in the chain of teaching GOD’S word.  If someone taught us the truth, it is our responsibility to pass it on.  Note the 4 generations in verse 2.  Paul instructed Timothy, and encouraged him to instruct other faithful men and women who would in turn pass the truth on to others.

Taught you publicly – The Scriptures give us examples of both public and private instruction. The important lesson for us is to realize our responsibility to teach.  Some will say they teach and influence others by their example.  Such can be true but in Matthew 28:20 in the great commission, the word translated “teaching” means to verbally instruct someone.  This doesn’t mean we all have to stand before a class and teach but we each have a responsibility to share the Gospel with others.

From house to house – Paul said he taught them publicly but he also taught privately from house to house.

Acts 2:46 is the account of the new believer’s activities in the days following their conversion.  They were in one another’s homes regularly.  As much as we love the church building and our gatherings there, loving relationships are not built during the few hours each week we sit with one another in a church structure.  The deep, caring relationships for which we strive are built sitting around a dining room table sharing the stories of life.  We need to be in one another’s homes in order to be in one another’s lives.

My hope as we enter this New Year is to grow in this area.  I want to teach publicly and I want to teach privately sitting around the dining room table.  And as I do so, I want to proclaim the whole counsel of GOD.

Help us each to commit to growing in this New Year.  May we be stronger and more committed to the truth at year’s end if GOD allows us to see the end of 2020.

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Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.  Part of the reason I like this holiday so much is the emphasis that is placed on family during this season.  We look forward to the food and the sharing of gifts.  In some respects, the holiday is for the kids, but we enjoy it as well.

There are many traditions associated with this holiday, such as caroling, decorations, Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, and so many more.  It is an interesting study to research the origins of these traditions.  Even the December date of the holiday has an interesting history.

One of the songs associated with Christmas is the Hallelujah Chorus.  The Mormon Tabernacle Choir of 360 members can often be heard performing this around the holiday.

The song was composed by George Frideric Handel as part of the production of the musical, The Messiah.  Permit me to give a little history of the song by first looking at the life of its composer.

George Frideric Handel was a child prodigy with a keen interest in the organ, harpsichord, and violin.  He achieved great notoriety early in life.  Later in life as newer and younger artists began to eclipse his fame, he fell into a deep depression.  He was bankrupt and had crippling palsy in his fingers.  It was at this time he said, “Handel’s great days are over.” 

As is often the case, what we deem to be valleys in life are sometimes blessings in disguise.  It seems his troubles and trials matured him and softened him.  A friend sent him a collection of Bible verses about the Christ.

Shortly thereafter on August 22, 1741, he shut himself up in his London home and 23 days later emerged with the musical “The Messiah.”  The Hallelujah Chorus is a part of the production.  It is customary for the audience to stand during the song.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

For He shall reign forever and ever…

The word Hallelujah comes from the Hebrew word, Hallel meaning to praise and the word Jah, is a shortened form of Jehovah or the Tetragrammaton, YHWH.  The meaning of the word is thus, Praise the LORD.

This also brings to mind many of the Psalms.  Psalms 146 through 150 are sometimes called “the Hallelujah Psalms.”  This is in part because they all begin and end with the phrase “Praise the LORD.”

Psalm 148 is one of my favorite Psalms.  It was set to modern music over 100 years ago by William J. Kirkpatrick.  This rendering is called “Hallelujah Praise Jehovah.”  The lyrics are below and I urge the reader to open the Bible to Psalm 148 and compare.  You will agree that it is a beautiful composition.

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
From the heavens praise His name;
Praise Jehovah in the highest,
All His angels praise proclaim.
All His hosts together praise Him,
Sun, and moon, and stars on high;
Praise Him, O ye heav’n of heavens,
And ye floods above the sky.

Let them praises give Jehovah,
For His name alone is high,
And His glory is exalted,
And His glory is exalted,
And His glory is exalted,
Far above the earth and sky.

Let them praises give Jehovah,
They were made at His command,
Them forever He established;
His decree shall ever stand.
From the earth, oh, praise Jehovah,
All ye floods, ye dragons all;
Fire, and hail, and snow, and vapors,
Stormy winds that hear His call.

All ye fruitful trees and cedars,
All ye hills and mountains high,
Creeping things, and beasts, and cattle,
Birds that in the heavens fly.
Kings of earth, and all ye people,
Princes great, earth’s judges all,
Praise His name, young men and maidens,
Aged men and children small.

Hallelujah Praise Jehovah! Indeed.

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More Questions

The following has been said of a friend of mine.  He seldom asks a question that he doesn’t already know the answer.  Now I’m not extolling or condemning my friend.  He really is an intelligent person who is very likeable.   I’m just using this idea to spur our thoughts.  Questions cause us to think.

Using questions can be an effective means of teaching.  I spent many years teaching in a high school setting.  There are various methods of imparting knowledge.  One such way is to encourage the student to think by asking them leading questions.  The objective is to cause the student to process information and come to conclusions on their own.  This requires a higher order of thinking than simply recalling memorized facts.

There are many questions raised in Scripture with this same objective. 

The gospel accounts contain 173 questions asked by Jesus. And most often they were asked not for His sake but for the sake of the one being asked. Jesus asked questions not because He needed to know but because the one being asked did.  Jesus was the Master Teacher.  He often used questions to prompt the listener to think.

For example…

Mark 8:36 – “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

Matthew 16 – “Who do men say that I am?  But who do you say that I am?”

Paul asked questions many times leading the listener to obvious conclusions.  On 13 occasions he asked questions of a rhetorical nature and then replied with “certainly not!” 

Let us note 10 of the 13 questions found in the book of Romans. Each of these questions are raised and answered emphatically with the response – Certainly not!


3: 3 – Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of GOD without effect? 

3:6 – Is GOD unjust who inflicts wrath?

3:31 – Do we make void the law through the faith?

6:2 – Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

6:15 – Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?

7:7 – Is the law sin?

7:13 – Has then that what is good become death to me?

9:14 – Is there unrighteousness with GOD?

11:1 – Has GOD cast away His people?

11:11 – Have they stumbled that they should fall?

There are 3 more found in Paul’s writings found in 1 Cor 6:15; Gal 2:17, 3:21.

Again, each of these are asked and answered emphatically to cause the listener to think.

There seems to be a common thread or common point among all of these.  I would ask the reader to be cautious when taking Scriptures out of context.  It has been said that a text taken out of context is a pretext.  Let us always consider the context of a passage.   A further contextual study of the passages above will be beneficial in order to extract my point.

All of these teach a common theme.  The theme is that GOD’S plan for using the Old Covenant to bring righteousness to the world in the form of Jesus Christ, the Son of GOD, was successful.  Jesus is our means of salvation.  Furthermore, He is our only means of salvation.

Paul was reasoning with the Romans the same truth we find in John 14:6.  It is here we read, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

I leave you with a question.  Shall we neglect so great a salvation available to us through Jesus Christ?  Certainly not!

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The Stony Ground

I was in junior high school when our school burned. The night sky glowed red from the flames and could be seen from miles away. The school was rebuilt in another location and I graduated in a new school.  In time a new football stadium was constructed at the new site.  We played the first game in the new stadium my senior year of high school.  Unfortunately, we lost the game, to a rival school where my Teresa just happened to be a cheerleader.  Ouch. 

One of the things I remember these many years later is how long it took us to get the playing surface ready in the new stadium.  Many of our PE classes consisted of walking the field with buckets in hand picking up rocks.  Indeed it was very stony ground but eventually was cleared and ready for play.

It was stony ground.  I am reminded of such when I read the parable of the sower found in three of the gospel accounts.

One of the accounts of the parable of the sower is found in Matthew 13.  I personally think it could more appropriately be called the parable of the soils.  The parable seems to me to be more about the different kinds of soil or hearts rather than the sower.  Jesus described the seed falling on four different types of ground representative of different hearts when exposed to the truth.  Two of the four, the stony soil and the seed sown among thorns, initially receive the word but fall away in time.

For our thoughts today let us consider the stony soil. Contextually, this is describing one who immediately receives the word with joy but endures only for a short while.  Jesus identified this person as one who has no root in himself.  For when problems arise, he stumbles, because he has no root in himself.

Consider this person “who has no root in himself”.

Some people make a quick emotional commitment to Christ.  They may even believe in their hearts that it is a real commitment but it doesn’t last.  They are unable to sustain their faith because they have no root in themselves.

The analogy is so real.  The idea of a seed in deep rich soil will first produce roots growing deep into the soil.  Afterward, the growth upward will occur.  However, a seed sown on a rocky ledge with only a thin layer of soil, quickly springs up with all growth going upward.  The scorching heat will quickly kill this growth because the plant has no root.  Of course, the scorching heat in the analogy represents trials and persecutions that will come in time.  Without the deep roots necessary to sustain it, the plant and correspondingly the new convert, will die.

Think about the person who has “no root in himself.”  What does this man look like?  Could this be me?

Let us examine ourselves.  Does that describe me?  Am I one to follow each new whelm that comes along?  Am I the one who is carried away with the latest religious fad?  Or am I mature enough to stay true to what I believe when trials and persecutions come?

I don’t want to be a man on stony ground.

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The church at Jerusalem

The Church by the Wildwood is an old song that describes a memory that many would share.  You may remember the lyrics from an old Andy Griffith episode.  Malcolm Tucker sang the song in the episode called “Man in a Hurry.”

Come to the church by the wildwood

Oh, come to the church in the vale

No spot is so dear to my childhood

As the little brown church in the vale

We all probably have memories of early childhood that we hold dear. These are memories of things that ground us, things that give us our core values.  These memories may or may not be related to church but the words of the song can still stir those thoughts from earlier times.

I’d like to consider a church that reaches much further back into the annals of time, much further back than the days of my childhood.  Let us consider the church at Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago.

There are those with a desire to go back to the church we find in the Bible.  If that is our plea, then we are not interested in replicating the church of our childhood.  We are not interested in the church of Wittenberg, Germany in 1517, or the church at Constantinople, or the church at Rome.  No, we are interested in going all the way back to that Pentecost festival on a Sunday, in the city of Jerusalem, described in Acts 2.  It is here we find the earthly beginning of the church.

One of my favorite passages in the book of Acts is found in 4:32.  Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul;

Let us first note the church was described as a multitude.  Passages like Acts 2:47 and Acts 4:4 tell us the number had grown to several thousand at this time.  Some suggest that by the end of chapter 7 and the dispersion from the city of Jerusalem (thought to be about 5 years removed from Acts 2), the church was about 25,000 members strong.  For our observation, we simply note it was referred to as a multitude.

Secondly, let us note they are referred to as those who believed.  The term translated ‘believed’ as it appears in the Greek language is in the aorist tense.  This means it is a single act without regard to time.  A study of the Scriptures will make clear the only faith acceptable to GOD is an obedient faith, an active faith.  Thus the single act in the past, referred to as belief, would represent the entire plan of salvation, for we know repentance, confession, and immersion is a part of the process.

A reading of Acts 2 notes the many backgrounds out of which the early believers came.  And yet, they were of one heart and one soul.  What was it that united them?  The common bond was their love of the truth and understanding of the gospel.  We are sadly mistaken today when we claim ethnic and cultural differences make it difficult to understand the word of GOD in the same way.

The early church, the church founded on Pentecost, is the perfect model for us today.  That church still exists!  That is the church that is dear to me.  Let us strive to be that multitude of believers that operates with one heart and one soul.  It can be done!

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Are You Sure?

Have you ever been absolutely convinced of something and yet it turn out not to be true?  Unfortunately there is so much information we encounter each day that is not factual.  The news networks can no longer be trusted to present the truth.  And this comes from both sides of the political aisle.

It has been said we should only believe what we see with our own eyes.  Unfortunately, this is true only if we see it in real time because photos and film can be manipulated to produce a false image. 

The Apostle John did not live in the 21st Century when he said, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled…”  It is interesting to note the senses involved in 1 John 1:1.  The three senses of hearing, seeing, and touching are all noted.

So, are you sure?  How certain can you be about anything?

What about this question:  Are you going to heaven? Are you sure?  How would you answer this question?  Most people I know would say, “I hope so.”

Actually the Scriptures tell us we can be more certain than that. 

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of GOD, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of GOD.   1 John 5:13

That you may know!  John says it is possible to know we have eternal life.  How can we know?  How can we be sure?  John says our confidence and assurance of our eternal destination is rooted in what is written in the pages of the Bible.

It is here we read passages such as:

Eph 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith…

Rom 5:8 – But GOD demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of GOD to salvation…

Is there anything I need to do?  Sure there is.  But I want to recognize first and foremost that it is by the grace of GOD that I have the opportunity to go to heaven.  Only then do my actions come into the discussion.

My obedience to the gospel is a part of my salvation.  Romans 6:17 reads, But GOD be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

So why is it so hard for us to answer the question of the certainty of our salvation in the affirmative?  Is it because we don’t fully understand the role Jesus plays?

We are saved by the blood of Christ.  And that process is continual if we remain faithful.  In the following passage many of the verbs including walk and cleanses, are in the present tense, meaning they are continual.

But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.     1 John 1:7-9

Are you going to heaven?  Are you sure?  It is easier to answer this question when we remember verse 9 of this passage.  Our salvation depends on His faithfulness.  Please note, if we confess our sins, HE IS FAITHFUL.  My salvation depends on my walking in the light; it depends on my confessing my sins.  But ultimately, it depends on His faithfulness.  And on that I can be sure.

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Peter, Paul, and Who?

In the days of my childhood there was a musical group called Peter, Paul and Mary.  They represented a genre of music referred to as folk music.  If you remember this group then you have dated yourself.  Welcome to the 60s! And by that I am referring not only to the decade of the 60s but also to the fact that you likely are at least 60 years of age if you remember this trio.

I’d like to take a look at a different threesome today.  Peter, Paul and John were the penmen for the majority of the New Testament. They wrote all but seven of the New Testament books.

Peter is sometimes called the apostle of hope.  Hope is a key word in his 1st epistle.  He writes a letter of hope and encouragement to those saints dealing with trials and suffering persecution.  He begins the letter of 1 Peter reminding them that their hope is a living Hope.

Blessed be the GOD and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,   1 Peter 1:3

Peter knew about suffering and trials.  John 21:18, 19 tells us that Peter was told by the Lord that he would suffer a martyr’s death.  He likely was referring to this in 2 Peter 1:14.

In the second case, let us consider Paul.  Paul could be called the apostle of faith.  This penman of 13 books of the New Testament mentions the word faith in every one of those books.  Even in the one chapter book of Philemon, with only 25 verses, faith is mentioned twice.  Faith is addressed in the book of Romans more than any other New Testament book.   It is here we learn the origin of our faith.

So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of GOD.   Rom 10:17

Paul also knew about suffering and trials.  He wrote four of his epistles from a prison cell and eventually was put to death by the Romans.

Finally, we consider John whom we will refer to as the apostle of love.  In the New Testament, the two books containing the most references to love are the epistle of 1st John and the gospel according to John.  The following two passages will serve as examples of his use of the concept of love.

For GOD so loved the world that He gave His only His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.   John 3:16

He who does not love does not know GOD, for GOD is love.   1 John 4:8

There is another reason we could identify John as the apostle of love.  On several occasions he is identified as the disciple whom Jesus loved.  (John 21:20ff)

Secular history tells us John was the only apostle not to face a martyr’s death.  But he knew about suffering and trials having spent time in exile on the island of Patmos.  It was here he received and recorded the Revelation.

The trio of Peter, Paul, and John, is a great Biblical threesome indeed.   And you may have noticed, with them we have the great trio of faith, hope, and love.  Refer to a blog titled Faith, Hope and Love, posted on September 15, 2018, for a further look at these three.

We learn much about faith, hope, and love, from Paul, Peter, and John.  May our lives be characterized by faith, hope, and love as well.

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Be A Man

I suppose our society is struggling with the idea of manhood now more than ever.  What is your definition of manliness?  What is your description of a real man?  Is it the idea of the Marlboro man of the cigarette commercials many years ago?  Or is it the husband/father of today’s sitcoms in which men are portrayed to be so inept?  In truth, we are in trouble if we rely on our world to define manhood for us.

I am passionate about this discussion.  In part because I believe if our country is to be saved, the men must step forward and lead us back to GOD.  The foundation of the home, grounded with a faith in GOD, is the cornerstone of this country.  And for several generations the men have abdicated their position in the home.

Recently I have examined passages like Job 38:2 and Job 40:7 wherein GOD said to the patriarch Job, “Prepare yourself like a man.”  Paul said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 16:13 (ESV) “…act like men…”  This caused me to wonder.  What does GOD expect a man in today’s world to look like? What does it mean to the Father to act like men or to prepare oneself like a man?  It is past time for us to examine what our Creator expects of us as men.

The corollary to our discussion, the worthy woman, has been studied many times.  Indeed, Proverbs 31 is a wonderful study answering the question, “who can find a virtuos wife?”

There is an equally compelling discussion in the book of Proverbs directed at the man.  I am surprised that more attention is not given to the question found in Proverbs 20.  Here by Inspiration, the question is asked, “Who can find a faithful man?”  In the surrounding verses of Proverbs 20 we find at least 10 traits of the faithful man.

It is noteworthy that the English word “man” is found more times in the book of Proverbs than any other book.  In the NKJ version it is found 146 times.  Looking at Proverbs 20 and all the verses containing the word “man” makes for a great study.  Let us observe some characteristics of the faithful man.

  1. A faithful man can manage his emotions.

Verse 3            It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.

  • A faithful man will work!

Verse 4            The lazy man will not plow.

  • A faithful man acquires wisdom.

Verse 5            Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water.

  • A faithful man has humility.

Verse 6            Most men will proclaim each his own goodness.

  • A faithful man has integrity.

Verse 7            The righteous man walks in his integrity.

  • The faithful man leaves a good name.

Verse 7            His children are blessed after him.

  • A faithful man is a student.

Verse 15          But the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

  • A faithful man is careful with his speech.

Verses 19 and 20            …talebearer…flatters with his lips…curses father or mother…

Verses 14 and 25 further describes the man who is not careful with his speech.  And verse 25 ends with the idea of needing to reconsider afterward.  How many times have I said something that I later regretted!

  • A faithful man is loving and compassionate.

Verse 28          Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king (ESV)

  1. A faithful man follows the LORD.

Verse 24          A man’s steps are of the LORD.

As I consider what it means to be a man, I realize the Scriptures have much to say about the subject.  I wish to be like the Apostle Paul when he said “when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  Let us strive to be the men GOD wants us to be. Yea, men who will lead our families and communities to a closer relationship with Him.

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The Number 200

I live in the state of Alabama.  This year we are celebrating the 200th birthday of our state.  Two centuries is quite a milestone.  I recall as a young man the celebration of our nation’s 200th birthday in 1976.  In the small town where I lived, many of the men grew beards that year as part of the celebration.  200 years!

Alabama officially became a state on December 14, 1819.  The city of Tuscaloosa was incorporated the day before on December 13, 1819.  So Tuscaloosa is actually one day older than the state and we thus are celebrating the 200th birthday of our city as well.  200 years!

Biblical numerology is a fascinating study.  Often the numbers given in the Scriptures are significant.  For example the number 7 appears frequently.  Seven is a number representing completeness.  Think about the 7 days making a complete week.  There were 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross.  There were 7 churches of Asia in the Revelation letter.  Or consider the list of “ones” given in Ephesians 4.  There are 7 of them!  There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one GOD. 

Numbers are important and are often symbolic. Today’s study takes a look at the number 200.  Generally the symbolic meaning of the number 200 is insufficiency. This is the obvious use of the number in the passage from John 6.

John 6:7 – In the account of the feeding of the 5,000, Philip answered Jesus, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” 

There are other references where the symbolism may not be of importance so we shouldn’t press the symbolic meaning into every situation.  For example the following uses are probably not symbolic.

Acts 23:23 – 200 soldiers and 200 spearman were sent to accompany Paul on his journey to Felix, during his incarceration by the Romans.

John 21:8 – The disciples were about 200 cubits off shore fishing when they saw Jesus the third time after His resurrection.

 Joshua 7:21 – Among the spoils that Achan kept, were 200 shekels of silver.

The number 200 is found several times in Scripture.

The number 200.  Happy 200th Birthday to my home state and my hometown in 2019.

And there is one other reason for my look at the number 200 today.  Today marks my 200th devotional blog to post on this site.  I began this blog in March of 2012.   I hope that along the way you have enjoyed some of my stories.  But my greatest desire is that the really important matters have been shared.  The blog is entitled, “What Does the Bible Say About It?”  I hope you are encouraged to seek answers there.

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Final Words

What would you talk about if you knew the conversation with a loved one would be your last on this side of eternity?  Discussions such as these are not about frivolous things.  These conversations are about the important things, the core values of life, and the foundations on which one’s life is built.

I recall the last conversation I had with my mother before she succumbed to a terminal illness.  Suspecting it would be my last one, I wrote the conversation down when we were finished talking.   My mother was a masterful story teller and could always make the family laugh with all her tales.  But the conversation that day was not the time for storytelling.

One of my spiritual mentors was Wendell Winkler.  I went to the home of this spiritual friend on Saturday, October 22, 2005, to see him for the last time.  Everyone knew the time was very close and in fact he died in the early morning hours of that very night.  He called me to his side and we talked.  We both knew it would be our last visit.  The topics were about spiritual matters.  We discussed the future of the church and the need to stay true to the word among other things.  He then called my wife to his side and privately they discussed various issues as well.

Final words.  We actually have a very good example of a last visit found in Acts 20.  The Ephesian congregation was one near and dear to the heart of Paul.  The latter part of the chapter records a visit between Paul and the Ephesian eldership.  In a touching scene, the chapter closes with these men weeping and hugging Paul, sorrowing most of all because they would see him no more. 

Final words.  So what was the topic of conversation that day?  The conversation was about spiritual matters. 

Twice in the context (vv 20, 27), Paul notes the importance of taking the whole counsel of GOD.  We are reminded in Psalm 119:160 that the sum or entirety of the Bible is truth.  We can’t pick and choose the Scriptures.  Leroy Brownlow once said we should preach what we practice, that is, the whole counsel of GOD.

Paul says he kept back nothing.  Because of this, he could say he was innocent of the blood of all men.  He had declared the whole truth to them.

A second observation can be made as Paul addressed this eldership.  Leadership must be brought to Calvary!  The church was purchased with the blood of the Savior.  It is unfortunate that some will say the church is not necessary in the scheme of salvation.  This institution was established through the shed blood of Jesus that day on Calvary.  Elders will become dead to self (power, ego, etc.) and alive to GOD when they are brought to the cross!

The future of the church was also discussed.  Paul urged these leaders to first consider themselves and then the church as a whole, because men speaking perverse things would come.  Amazingly, he noted that some of this perversion would even come from within the leadership.  He called these men wolves and urged the leaders to remain in the word of GOD’S grace.

Paul’s topics were the whole counsel of GOD, Calvary, and an appeal to remain in the word.  I’d say this is a great example of final words.  And then Paul’s final act with the Ephesian eldership was to pray with them.

I can think of no better way to part company when it comes time to do so with my family and my friends.  Final words.  What will yours be?

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