Mark 16:15

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"

Spiritual Growth

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (I Peter 2:2). “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). These scriptures tell us that it is possible for God's children to grow; it is God's will that we should grow and how we may grow.
Growth is important. This can be observed in the natural realm; plants bear fruit only through a process of growth; animals become full-grown through a process of growth. We also observe the importance of growth in the human family; an infant grows into an adult through proper growth. We don't expect as much of an infant as we do a full-grown man or woman; neither do we expect the child to remain an infant (I Cor. 13:11).
The fact that growth is important can also be observed in the spiritual realm. We realize that it is vital that we become strong, well-developed Christians and this is not possible without growth. As in the natural realm, God doesn't expect as much of newborn babes in Christ as he does of older members. What is required for spiritual growth? How do we grow into mature Christians? In answering this question we can compare spiritual growth to physical growth. What are the requirements for proper growth in the natural realm? Let's look at some of the things that are necessary.
First, proper food is necessary for growth. This means that we must eliminate the wrong kind of food and include the right kind; spiritually we must do the same. We must rid ourselves of all the doctrines and commandments of men (Matt. 15:9; Gal. 1:6-10). We must be careful not to “wrest” the scriptures “to our own destruction” (II Peter 3:16). In Ephesians 4:22-32, Paul shows us that when we become Christians we “put off concerning the former conversation the old man” (v. 22) and “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (v. 24). He then proceeds to list a number of things that we are to get rid of and tells us what we are to replace them with. We are also instructed to “study to show thyself approved unto God” (II Tim. 2:15). We should have the same interest in studying the Word of God that the Bereans did. They “searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11).
Second, the proper environment is required for growth. Physically this means that we need proper ventilation, lighting and sanitation. Spiritually it consists of avoiding evil in all forms (I Cor. 15:33; Rom. 12:9; I Thess. 5:22). When we place ourselves in an environment where we are tempted to sin growth is stunted at best. We should seek out friends and companions that will influence us for good instead of being a hindrance to our spiritual development.
Third, proper exercise is required for growth. Without exercise the physical body cannot develop and remain strong. The same is true of the spiritual man. The writer of Hebrews speaks of “those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14b). Paul exhorted Timothy to “exercise unto godliness” (I Tim. 4:7). In comparing physical exercise and spiritual exercise, Paul wrote: For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (I Tim. 4:8). Spiritual exercise consists of prayer (I Thess. 5:16-17), worship (John 4:24; Matt. 4:10; Heb. 10:25), self-denial (Matt. 16:24), service (Mark 9:35) and steadfastness (Acts 2:42; I Cor. 15:58; James 1:2-4).
What are the benefits of Christian growth? We gain the ability to discern between good and evil (Heb. 5:14; Phil. 1:9-1); we bear fruit (Phil. 1:11). We become able to teach others (Heb. 5:11-14; II Tim. 2:2). It should be the desire of every Christian to grow into the strongest possible Christian and continue that growth throughout life.

Paul M. Wilmoth

Jesus, Prince of Peace

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, is the only true “Prince of Peace” the world has ever known or will ever know. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the announcement was made to “shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night,” in these marvelous words: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
We are living in troubled times today. Men continue to be engaged in wars and fightings constantly. This pandemic has many living in fear. Protesting, looting and destroying is on the increase. One of the desires of all is for peace. Jesus came into the world to bring peace. But an examination of other reliable translations make it clear that this peace will not come to all men, but only those with whom He is “well pleased.” “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased” (ASV). Only the obedient and faithful shall know the blessedness of that peace which only the Lord can give.
In John chapters 14-16 we have recorded Jesus’ conversation with His apostles showing them the necessity of His going away, but assuring them that they would not be left alone: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7). Among many things He promised these men was peace: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27 NKJV). He again reminds them as this conversation closes, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” ( John 16:33).
Later in Paul’s letter to the Romans he tells us, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Christians are even promised, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). But just as “all spiritual blessings” are found only in Christ (Eph. 1:3), this “peace which surpasses all understanding” is promised to those who are in Him “through Christ Jesus.”
Sadly, the rebellious majority of mankind shall continue to travel in the broad way that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13). Therefore, the peace which the Lord gives is a glorious inner peace that has no relation whatever to any turbulence or pandemic on earth. It comes from a oneness with God that securely rests in the confidence that no matter what may happen to one's person, his health, his property, his country, his family, or anything else, he can still be at peace with God through this Prince of Peace, and in the words of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest.” Amen!

Paul M. Wilmoth

Jesus, Saviour

One of the titles given Jesus in the scriptures is “Saviour.” Robert Young defines the word that is translated “saviour” as: “A Saviour, preserver” (Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible). On the night of His birth, Luke informs us that the angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds abiding in the field with this announcement, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). This is also in harmony with what the angel said to Joseph, “…fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20-21). And this was His stated purpose in coming into this world: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). And John stated it this way, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (I John 4:14).
Do these scriptures teach that everyone will be saved? From comments often heard when someone dies, it seems that a great many people believe this to be true. But is it? Paul also wrote, “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe” (I Tim. 4:10). "This is not universalism. The key is in the words, ‘specially of them that believe’" (Ronald Ward,
Commentary on 1,2 Timothy and Titus, p. 73). It is a fact, of course, that God is able and willing to save all men, and that all who are ever saved will be saved by Him; and it is in this sense that He is the Saviour of all men. And Jesus told us in His sermon on the mount, that most folks are going to be lost, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). Note the contrast: many are on the road to destruction while few are on the road that leads to life. Matthew 23:37 shows us why so many are not saved. Then who will be saved?
Let’s let Paul explain it: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the
saviour of the body” (Eph. 5:23). Paul identifies the body as being the church in Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 1:18. Thus Jesus will save ONLY those who are in His body, the church.
Now it becomes imperative that we know how we get into His body, the church. Again let Paul tell us: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). And in Romans 6:3, Paul also wrote, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?”
When we learn that the way into Christ is by being baptized into Him, then we know why EVERY example of conversion in the Book of Acts mentions the final step of getting into Him—baptism. Check these passages: Acts 2:38; 22:16; I Peter 3:21.
Have YOU been baptized into Christ? If not, He is NOT your Saviour. He desires to be; He died in order to be, but you and I must obey His commands, be baptized into His body and become a part of the “saved.” See Acts 2:47.

Paul M. Wilmoth

A New Creature (3)

We continue our study into the “all things” which become new when one obeys the Gospel and becomes a “new creature.” In our last article we noted that the Christian has a new heart, a new family, a new master, and new eyes.
The Christian also has a new mind. It is “the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:8). This new mind is centered upon one thing, serving God and other people; we accomplish this by living sacrificial lives, by living obedient lives as we “walk in the light” (I John 1:7). Included with this new mind is a new thought process. One is to “set your affection on things above, not on the things on the earth, for ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2-3.) Note that these words are proceeded by “If ye then be risen with Christ” (Col. 1:1). As noted in an earlier article, when one is baptized into Christ, he is then raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), and in this way one becomes a “new creature” (II Cor. 5:17). This new thought process causes one to think on “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report” (Phil. 4:8). This new thought process is important because it is from the heart that both good and bad originates (Matt. 12:34).
The Christian has a new tongue with which he is to speak the truth and spread the glad tidings of the Gospel (II Tim. 2:2). We are to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). We are to “speak every man truth with his neighbor” (Eph. 4:25). We are to “let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth” (Eph. 4:29). Even though the tongue is described as “a fire, a world of iniquity” and is “set on fire of hell” (James 3:6) when used properly it is an instrument of spreading the Gospel, encouraging, exhorting, sounding warnings, etc. Let us use our tongues “to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Eph. 4:29b).
The Christian has new feet. His feet no longer travel the road of sin. He is following the path that is illuminated by the word of God (Psa. 119:105). His feet are now “led in paths of righteousness” (Psa. 23:3). Instead of being “feet that be swift in running to mischief” (Prov. 6:18), they now “run with patience the race that is set before” them (Heb. 12:1), and they “walk in the light as He is in the light” (I John 1:7). Because the new creature abides in Christ, he “walks as He walked” (I John 2:6).
Christians have a new hope. Before becoming new creatures, the sinner was without Christ…having no hope, and without God in the world (Eph. 2:12). But now he has the “one hope” (Eph. 4:4) “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). It is the hope of being “like Him” when he comes, a hope that causes us to “purify” ourselves “even as He is pure” (I John 3:1-3). This hope of glory is what causes us to “wait with patience” for it. Thus Paul declares that “we are saved by hope” (Rom. 8:24-25).
And the Christian has a new home to go to after this life is ended (II Cor. 5:1). We are only “strangers and pilgrims” while here; we are foreigners in a strange land trying to get home (I Pet. 2:11). We have a new home, described by Jesus as a “mansion” (John 14:1-6). Paul, nearing the end of his earthly pilgrimage, uttered these great words: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (II Tim. 4:6-8). What a wonderful thought!
Let me urge all who read these words to become a new creature by obeying “from the heart that form of doctrine” at which time you will become “free from sin” (Rom. 6:17-18). Then let each of us as Christians allow “all things to become new,” as we “walk in newness of life” that we might be able to be presented to God “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight” (Col. 1:22).

Paul M. Wilmoth