“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) When “Best” Goes Beyond Our Understanding! (Tom Edwards)
2) Truth’s Consequences (Bill Hall)
When “Best” Goes Beyond Our Understanding!
While praying recently, it occurred to me that, due to limited ability, the term “best,” when referring to God and His ways, does not fully describe or convey to us just how much greater God’s wisdom, His virtues, and His ways actually are. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts,” says the Lord (Isa. 55:9).
Often I have prayed for God’s will to be done, not only on earth as it is in heaven, but also everywhere else as well — in whatever the realm, whether physical or spiritual. For His will is, and always will be, the “best.” But, with our limited understanding, does that word adequately indicate just how much greater God’s ways are?
Though using the term “best” would be true in comparing what God does and who He is to that of humanity, yet that of God would be far greater than our comprehension of “best.” For our everyday usage of “best” does not usually imply perfection. For instance, if you had three apples that were going bad, but at different stages of decay, one would be the worst, two would be better than that, and one of those would be the best of all. But, in this case, even the best would still have a little rottenness to it and probably not be one you would want to eat.
So God and His ways are not just “best” in any comparisons made with that of us; but, rather, a “best” to the greatest of all degrees and without even the slightest room nor need for improvement.
God Himself is so much greater than us that it actually goes beyond comparison. The psalmist realized this: “Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which you have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You…” (Psa. 40:5). Job also acknowledged this superiority of God by saying, “Who does great things, unfathomable, And wondrous works without number” (Job 9:10). And, going along with this, Paul also, in his doxology, speaks of God as being One “…who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).
God’s work of creation, in bringing about a vast universe with all that is in it, is certainly a manifestation of some of His greatness. As Jeremiah declares in prayer, “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jer. 32:17). And God begins His response to Jeremiah by saying, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (v. 27). After speaking of that which would be impossible for man, Jesus goes on to show that it would not be that way for God, “for all things are possible” with Him (Mark 10:27). And would we not think that anyone who could simply speak a universe into existence (cf. Gen. 1), and to create that out of nothing (cf. Heb. 11:3), would definitely not have any difficulty in bringing into reality whatever else He would so desire? For the universe was not formed by pre-existing matter; but that which was not was simply commanded to be. Notice, if you would, all the repetitive phrases in the account of creation that precedes and shows how the various things that God had created came about: “Then God said” (Gen. 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24, and 26). In this first verse, for example, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” How marvelous! Imagine if you could make a reality out of any beautiful thing you could think up by just commanding it to be! But even if you had that ability, would you not still rather let God be the one to bless you with whatever He would so desire for all eternity? As Jesus told His apostles, “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:1-3). Isn’t it wonderful that it is Jesus who will prepare that place — and not just something the apostles would have to do for themselves? For as we saw, God is a God who “…is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…” (Eph. 3:20). I find great comfort in that and in allowing the Lord to do whatever He desires for me.
And though we haven’t seen that spiritual realm of heaven where God dwells, we have seen some of the physical heavens that He has made and which attests to His reality and greatness (cf. Rom. 1:19,20). As David declares, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is expressing the work of His hands” (Psa. 19:1). Paul speaks of God’s power as being a “surpassing greatness” (Eph. 1:19), and how that is clearly seen in the creation. For who can even come close to doing what the Lord has done — and at such a grand, astronomical scale? The rhetorical question, “…For who in the skies is comparable to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the LORD…?” (Psa. 89:5-8), must be answered in the negative of “no one.” For whether we are talking about angels or men, how inferior we are to the Almighty God. For if God’s greatness would be represented with infinity, then ours would be likened to nothing more than a grain of sand in comparison. And can we not, therefore, also say that to be able to fully comprehend the totality of God’s greatness would be as impossible to us as to imagine all of infinity? For that is something that we just cannot possibly do. It goes beyond our mental ability.
The Lord says to His people, “To whom would you liken Me And make Me equal and compare Me, That we would be alike?” (Isa. 46:5). Jeremiah’s declaration can accurately be used to answer this. For he states, “There is none like you, O LORD: You are great, and great is Your name in might” (Jer. 10:6).
In this statement, it appears that Jeremiah did not include, in his consideration, Jesus Christ, nor the Holy Spirit — for they are exactly like God the Father when it comes to the essence of Deity and are the other two persons of the eternal Godhead who were also involved in the great work of creation (cf. Gen. 1:1 — “God” is from “Elohim,” the plural form for God; Gen. 1:26, “…’Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’”; cf. Jn. 1:1-3,14; Psa. 104:30; Matt. 28:19; Matt. 3:16,17; 2 Cor. 13:14).
Not only is God’s greatness beyond all we can fully fathom, but also that beautiful place called “heaven,” where He forever dwells, is described as being “far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). And isn’t it wonderful to know that this same God is “…not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9) and “…to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). To be able to enjoy forevermore that which goes beyond all we can even now conceive, certainly can make the trials of life — and whatever sacrifice that needs to be made along the way — very much worthwhile as we strive for that heavenly home (cf. 2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Jesus paved that road by His own blood, in a manner of speaking; but we have the responsibility in turning to God’s roadmap, the Gospel, to see where we pick it up at, how to stay on it and to avoid those wrong turns that we are not to make. For that great destination is still up ahead. We must all, therefore, hear the gospel (Rom. 10:17), believe in the deity of Jesus (Jn. 8:24), repent of sins (Luke 13:5), confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38), and be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21), which is all necessary to be forgiven and become a Christian; and then to continue in the faith as we press on for that glorious goal of heaven (Rev. 2:10; Heb. 10:36-39; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). And heaven is not just the best, but also a “best” that goes way beyond human comprehension to the utmost degree of blissfulness in a supreme state of perfection!
The consequences of truth are sometimes bitter. Many a man has lost his job, or home, or friends, or life because of his stand for truth. Many a preacher has been ousted from the pulpit, having neither house nor salary, because he preached the truth. Many a person has had his name slandered and maligned because of truth. With all such people, love for truth is greater than love for comfort, security, or even life itself.
Unfortunate indeed is the man who looks ahead to evaluate the consequences of a position before evaluating the position itself. Such a man will rarely come to a knowledge of truth. His thoughts concerning “What will my wife think?” Or “Where will I preach?” Or “Won’t I be condemning my good mother to hell?” Or “How will I explain my change to good ole Brother Jones?” or “How will I support my family?” or “Everybody will think I’m crazy,” may well blind his mind to whatever evidence is at hand. The man who really demonstrates a love for truth is the man who studies every subject objectively and then lets the consequences — whether they be good or bad — take care of themselves.
Unfortunate too is the man who complains and grieves over the consequences of truth, for truth must bring joy to the heart, whatever may be its consequences. Self-pity may lead one to “sell the truth” and to profane this precious commodity. If pity is to be felt, it must be felt for that person who has never suffered the consequences of truth, for such a man has obviously loved the praises of men more than the praises of God.
No men ever felt the consequences of truth to a greater degree than did the apostles, but they faced all such consequences “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). Worthy! There’s the key! The man who lets a fear of consequences dictate his position on every question never suffers, for he is not worthy to suffer. Pity him! But the person who stands for truth regardless of the consequences shall suffer, for he is worthy to suffer. Rejoice with him!
What a difference between the man who is “heaven” oriented and that one who is “this world” oriented!
— Via The Beacon, August 16, 2011
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21)
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)