God’s Promises Have Stipulations

Peter and John were under arrest for preaching about Jesus Christ and his gospel. The rulers in the temple of God took counsel against them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:19-20 ESV

“But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard’.”

Amen! We must keep speaking the truth of God’s word, and we must not give way to intimidation to stop speaking the truth just because it is not popular, or just because it offends people. For the truth is what people need to hear. Too many people speaking lies these days, leading people astray, promising them heaven while leading them straight to hell.

Acts 4:23-31 ESV

“When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“’Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

“’For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”

We live in a day and age, even within the church, when the lies rage and are largely accepted but while the truth is frowned upon and snuffed out so as not to offend people. It is okay to discuss politics, political viewpoints, share stories, pictures, and jokes, but it is frowned upon to talk about sin, repentance, obedience, submission to God, righteousness and holiness. If we talk about sin, they say we are being negative or judgmental or legalistic.

Yes, the Scriptures are filled with the promises of God to encourage us, and yes, we need to talk about those, too, but we need to teach that they are conditional. They don’t apply to everyone, and they don’t even apply to everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ. God set down stipulations that go along with his promises, and so we need to know what those stipulations are, but many people don’t want to hear those because they offend people.

Yet, Jesus said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” is going to enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God who is in heaven (Matt 7:21-23). And Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our lives of living in sin and for self we will lose them for eternity. But if, for the sake of Jesus, we die to sin and live to righteousness, then we have eternal life (Luke 9:23-26).

So, why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain against the Lord, and against his gospel message, and against his servants who are declaring the truth of the gospel? Because men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil, and so they will not come into the light, for they do not want their evil deeds to be exposed. So, the truth offends them. They don’t want to hear it. They want to hear feel-good messages, instead.

So, should we be all negative? No! But the gospel message has both negative and positive and even the positive has stipulations, so if all we do is teach the positive without the negative, and without the stipulations, then the people are not hearing the truth, and they will end up believing the lies, because the lies coddle them in their sins. Yes, we should rejoice that Jesus died for our sins, but he died that we might die to sin and live to him.

Yes, we should rejoice that by God’s grace we can be delivered from our sin and have the hope of eternal life with God. But Jesus died to deliver us from our slavery (addiction) to sin so we might be slaves of God and of his righteousness. And God’s grace instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return (Rom 6:1-23; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14).

So, if all you do is share the promises of God with a large group of people – some (or many) of whom may not even be in relationship with Jesus Christ because they never truly died with Christ to sin and they were, thus, never raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, and so they never forsook their lives of sin to follow Jesus in obedience to his ways – then you could be guilty of giving people false hopes. For, with the promises of God come stipulations (conditions), so we need to share those, too.

So, we need to be those who speak the word of God (the whole counsel of God) with boldness and who do not dilute the gospel or ignore the negative aspects of the gospel in order to not offend people with the truth. We need to confront sin, and call people to repentance, and warn of the consequences of living in sin, but also share the joys and the rewards of walks of obedience to our Lord, too. For we should joy in our walks of obedience to our Lord and not see obedience as something negative.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-11; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Eph 2:8-10]

Rejoice, the Lord is King!

Lyrics by Charles Wesley, pub. 1744
Music by John Darwall, pub. 1770

Philippians 4:4; Psalms 103:19

Rejoice, the Lord is King!
Your Lord and King adore;
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing,
And triumph evermore;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns,
The God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains
He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail,
He rules o’er earth and Heav’n,
The keys of death and hell
Are to our Jesus giv’n;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope!
Jesus the Judge shall come,
And take His servants up
To their eternal home;
We soon shall hear the archangel’s voice;
The trump of God shall sound, rejoice!

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