The Temple of His Body
by Elder Ben Cordes
19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
At the time of Christ, the temple in Jerusalem had long been recognized by Israel as the only place where worship of God occurred. Jews brought their sacrifices to the Lord and offered them to God, as they were obliged to do. The greatest reason why the temple was so important was because God had blessed the temple with His glory. When the ark of the covenant was brought into the temple it became known as the house of God.
2 Chronicles 5:13-14
13 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers [were] as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up [their] voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, [saying], For [he is] good; for his mercy [endureth] for ever: that [then] the house was filled with a cloud, [even] the house of the LORD; 14 So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.
The temple was where God manifested Himself to His people. It was a staggering idea to think that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed. When Christ said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”, the Jews ignorantly feared that Jesus was speaking of the beautiful and beloved temple of stone. However, He wasn’t speaking of the temple of Moriah, but of His body which He declared to be the temple of God (Heb 9:11).
Though God’s glory occupied the temple in Jerusalem for a little while, God did not dwell there. God, rather, was dwelling in the vessel of clay that Jesus Christ possessed. The body that Jesus had was of the same elements of flesh, blood, and bones, as Adam who was formed by God from the dust of the earth (Gen 2:7). Christ’s body suffered hunger, thirst, and pain. It was alive and functioned like every other body, yet, in His body there was no sin (1 John 3:5). The temple of Christ’s body was not made with hands, but was formed in the womb of a virgin by the power of the Holy Ghost (Luke 1:35).
48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49 Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what [is] the place of my rest? 50 Hath not my hand made all these things?
Though the temple of His body was crucified and laid in a tomb, Christ proved it to be the vessel in which God dwelled when He raised it from death by His divine power. The resurrection of Christ declares that God dwells in the body of Jesus; that His body is the true temple of God, and that the edifice atop Mount Moriah was no longer the place of God’s glory. Rather, it was in the body of Jesus Christ that the glory and presence of God would be made manifest.
Now we may also conclude that God’s presence dwells in other vessels. This appears to be the case since the Bible teaches that the Spirit of God dwells within the elect of God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Since God’s elect are given the Spirit of God, we then understand that the vessels in which the Holy Ghost dwells are also made to be the temples of God, and that unto us is given the same expectation that Jesus Christ had, that though the temple of our body be destroyed, it shall be raised again (John 14:19).
The temple of the Old Testament was a place of worship, but the same is now clearly said of the temple of our body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
The truth is that we, as God’s temple, are capable of worshiping Him without man-made instruments. We can give Him glory and honor as a congregation without shedding the blood of sacrificial animals. Instead, we simply bring our temples together and offer to God living sacrifices (Rom 12:1). Since God has made His home within the heart of His elect, we may now worship Him with the same pure heart that He has given (Acts 17:24-25).
Together, with Christ, we are the temple of God. A living, spiritual house in which God dwells, and Jesus Christ, the cornerstone, is the integral part of this structure not made with hands (1 Pet 2:4-6). Let us consider the great expectation we have in Christ of the resurrection, and offer up our priestly worship through the declaration of the gospel, prayer and songs of praise. May the blessings of the indwelling Spirit of God cause us to rejoice in Him daily.
August 16, 2022
Beatitudes: They Which Are Persecuted
10 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
The final Beatitude of the Lord Jesus expresses blessings for the elect of God who suffer. The suffering that is addressed is not to be understood as illness or afflictions that arise due to poor health. Persecution is when a person suffers hostility at the hands of others who reject that person’s beliefs.
The Bible details many instances of people who suffered persecution for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible records the prophets, including John the Baptist, the apostles, and other disciples were persecuted, almost all of them to the point of death.
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.
The story of the Christian faith reveals a history of persecution. However, the most notable persecution was the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ. In some ways the story of Christ’s suffering is so commonly understood that it does not carry with it the passionate response that it perhaps had on us when we first heard the account of Christ’s afflictions. Nevertheless, we must remember that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. The King of Heaven and Earth descended to dwell among men and wasn’t warmly received, but rather suffered abuse and death at the hands of men. May the effect of the gospel story never become dull to us.
It is absolutely contrary to our mortal nature to choose suffering. However, Christ showed us that He knew persecution would be what sinful men would express in response to the holy and virtuous words that Jesus spoke. It was His intention to save sinful men through His death knowing that the recipients of His salvation were also at enmity with Him.
As Christians, it is our duty to follow the example that Jesus Christ has set before us. To live in faithful obedience to God the Father in whatever scenario of life we may exist. Through bliss and ease, and through trials and torment. There is no greater cause for living or suffering than to do so for the belief in Jesus Christ. Though no one wishes suffering or death upon themselves, or others, yet it is the potential we must accept when we commit ourselves to living a Christian life.
In general, the martyrs (those who are killed because they refuse to renounce their belief in Jesus Christ) are acknowledged in the scriptures for their unwavering faith. They are highlighted for their confidence, not in their faith, but in the object of their faith, that is Jesus Christ. The Savior sees when His people suffer for His name’s sake, and He cares. Augustine said, “It is not the punishment, but the cause which makes the martyr.” Augustine was correct since it is no ordinary thing for which the persecuted are willing to suffer; it is the infallible, eternal, glorious Son of God to whom the whole earth shall bend their knees at His return (Phi 2:10). People can die for various reasons, but it is the person who dies because they lived for Jesus that becomes a martyr.
The persecuted are blessed to know that they have a kingdom that awaits them. The martyr will close his eyes in this world at death, and will open them in the glory of God’s paradise where his faith is made complete. Those who suffer for the truth and their most deeply held belief in Christ Jesus are made assured by God that Whom they suffer for is worthy. Since Jesus, who knew no sin, was willing to suffer for sinners like us, we should also be willing to suffer for Him. We need to be thankful for the time of peace in which we live, though such peace isn’t guaranteed to continue. We cannot allow the peace we now experience to soften our commitment and cause our faith to weaken. Let all who follow Jesus repeat the motto, “Till death!” May we all be happy, even as our fathers and mothers in the faith were, to live, suffer, and die for Christ, who gave His all for us.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
July 26, 2022
Beatitudes: The Peacemakers
Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
The flawed nature of man loves to fight. This is one of the most verifiable truths we can observe. Look no further than social media where self-control is abandoned and people engage in arguments ad nauseam. People even argue about whether the arguments matter. Then, on a larger, more consequential scale, are the countless wars that nations have waged against other nations. Whether it is nuclear war, bloodshed, debate, or a simple misunderstanding, human nature exhibits an undeniable desire to fight.
If our nature is bent on fighting, how then do we have any peace in this world? The answer, of course, is God. God’s influence is found even in our bitter, hate-filled planet. We are not totally consumed with wars of violence (though some places on earth may appear to be) because God has caused His peace to infiltrate the hearts of His people. These people of God have been equipped with a love for peace, despite their remaining human nature that revels in conflict.
It is the peacemaker that knows he is capable of fighting, but resists the urge to argue and debate, and instead chooses to speak a soft answer to turn away wrath (Pro 15:1). The peacemaker is not easily offended and does not run to participate in a quarrel, but, rather, looks for a way to end the fight and bring previously conflicting parties together in peace. The peacemaker loves law and order, but most of all, the peacemaker loves forgiveness.
Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul [delivered it] from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.
The love for peace isn’t natural, it is supernatural. It is a product of regeneration, which is wholly God’s work. Peace is the third fruit of the Spirit and certainly affirms God’s saving presence (Gal 5:22). This is why Christ states that the peacemakers shall be called the children of God, not only because their efforts to bring peace between man and man demonstrates they are children of God, but because they imitate their heavenly Father, who has brought peace between God and man through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
The elect of God, while dead in sins, were enemies toward God through sin and the friendship of the vain world (James 4:4). Nevertheless, God is unwilling to allow anything to separate His children from His love. Christ’s atoning death took away the enmity that existed between God and His elect, and now peace exists between them. It is through faith that we come to realize that peace and righteousness have been given to us as gifts of God’s amazing grace.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
The blessed peacemakers are living evidence of the Prince of Peace reigning in their hearts (Isa 9:6). They are proof that peace exists in this world as a result of God’s blessing and influence. If it were not for God, the world would see no end to war and violence. Men would have destroyed themselves ages ago. But thanks be to God for granting peace through Christ, and for putting peace within the hearts of the elect. Blessed be the name of Jesus Christ, our gracious Peacemaker.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
July 15, 2022
Beatitudes: The Pure In Heart
Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
To be pure is to be clean. A clean heart is something David desired, but it is also something David knew only God could create in him.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
When Aaron and his sons, who represented the Levitical priesthood, approached the tabernacle, they were to wash themselves. In order to approach the altar and offer sacrifices for themselves and on behalf of Israel, they had to be made clean. The outward washings of the priesthood only cleansed their bodies, but it revealed the fact that God requires purity in order to approach His holiness.
No matter how much water Aaron and his sons used to wash themselves, it was never able to make their hearts pure. The cleansing of the heart is a work that is reserved for the Holy Ghost alone.
3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
The washing of regeneration, as mentioned by the Apostle Paul, is what saves us from the dreaded results of death in sins. God, through His own love and kindness, gives a clean heart to His elect, which is done in accordance to His mercy. No good work could be done on the part of the sinner in order to receive the washing of regeneration since all that was within him was unclean. It is an act of grace by God to make His elect children pure.
When it came to outward rituals of washings, the scribes and Pharisees were rebuked by Christ for their pretenses. They knew the law required outward washings to be performed. The hypocrites did not understand the spiritual nature of what the law signified, rather, they were blind and only understood it simplistically. To wash hands and feet, to have a clean body, to the Pharisees, these things were what made them holy, but there was no regard for the heart. However, Jesus testified against them and exposed their fallacies.
25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 [Thou] blind Pharisee, cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men’s] bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Then what do we make of the admonitions to purify ourselves? There are plenty of verses that indicate we have a work to do in cleansing ourselves.
1 John 3:2-3
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded.
1 Peter 1:22
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently:
The above verses are to be understood as commandments of repentance. For God’s children to turn away from sins. It is impossible for a completely unclean person to cleanse himself, his ways, or his soul, yet God instructs us to cease from sinning. The washing of regeneration by the grace of the Holy Ghost must first occur, this enables a person to follow Christ’s obedient behavior, which was a life of holiness. Although we are commanded to purify ourselves, we cannot absolutely rid ourselves of the influences of sin. The old sinful nature remains with us until we are made glorious at the return of Jesus Christ (Phi 3:21).
Knowing that it is by grace alone that we are enabled to live according to a pure heart, we ought to choose purity and holiness over the vain pleasures of sin. There is joy in the Lord when we choose holiness, but sorrows abound for the child of God who continues to live according to the flesh (Gal 6:8).
The blessing that awaits the pure in heart is the promise of seeing God. The best that Aaron and his sons could achieve through outward washing was to approach the sacred altar and tabernacle. But for those whom the Lord has cleansed, their eyes shall see the face of the glorious God of heaven and earth. Though we can currently “see” Him and His kingdom through eyes of faith (John 3:3), we will one day see Him in the fullness of His majesty in the flesh with glorified eyes.
25 For I know [that] my redeemer liveth, and [that] he shall stand at the latter [day] upon the earth: 26 And [though] after my skin [worms] destroy this [body], yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; [though] my reins be consumed within me.
Glory be to God who not only gives to us a pure heart, but also causes our cup to run over with joy at the rich hope of seeing our God, and living forever in His blessed presence. May we be encouraged to live purer in heart by drawing nearer to Him.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
July 8, 2022
Beatitudes: The Merciful
Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
The righteous judgment of God demands that the sins of mankind be accounted for. The consequence of sin is death, therefore, what every sinner deserves is death (Rom 6:23). Almighty God declared from the beginning, before any sin was committed, that to transgress His law meant death for the transgressor (Gen 2:17).
The book of Genesis reveals that Adam, the father of the human race, committed sin by transgressing the law of God. Since Adam sinned, death came upon him, just as God said it would. He suffered the affliction of the presence of sin, and Adam and his wife were made to depart from the Garden of Eden. Death came between Adam’s fallen flesh nature and the divine holiness of God. Adam, Eve, and the children that would follow them were pronounced dead in sins (Rom 5:12).
The Bible makes it clear that death occurred at the moment Adam transgressed God’s law. The original (first) sin brought death upon all mankind. Still, the Bible declares that a second death exists.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
From the verses above, we can conclude that the second death is reserved for those who will be cast into a lake of fire by God. The lake of fire is the everlasting punishment mentioned by Christ in Matthew 25:46. It is a death which all mankind is deserving of since all are guilty of sin, and because God is just.
However, God is not only just, He is also merciful. He is just to condemn some, but He is also merciful to spare many, though, we shouldn’t assume that God’s mercy is unjust. Every sin has a recompense and must be dealt with (Heb 10:30). For those who receive mercy, it is because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, took the punishment for their sins upon Himself.
But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
God has graciously given mercy to the great number of His elect; mercy that spares them from the second death–the everlasting lake of fire. Mercy can be defined as not receiving a deserved result. What God’s people deserve is everlasting punishment, but that is not what they will receive since God’s Son took the penalty for sins upon Himself, allowing those that He died for to be spared from God’s righteous wrath.
The Spirit of God gives the new birth to all for whom Christ died. When God’s children are made new creatures by the Spirit, they are also given spiritual attributes. Mercy is one of the attributes that the elect are able to exhibit, and a merciful person demonstrates the existence of a merciful God. If it weren’t for God giving mercy to His elect, and granting them the ability to have mercy on others, there would be no mercy in this world at all.
The Beatitudes do not speak of ways in which to achieve God’s blessings. Rather, the Beatitudes teach us that God has made His children to live, who were once dead in sins, and now we can know that God has given us life through the evidence of spiritual behavior, such as mercy. We are able to show mercy because God has been merciful to us.
Therefore, our responsibility as Christians is to demonstrate the nature of Christ to those around us. We ought to examine the life of Christ in order for us to know how to behave like Christ. Jesus, our Great High Priest, stood in our place and offered Himself upon the altar of the cross of Calvary. His act of love and mercy was absolutely voluntary.
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
When we show mercy and forgiveness to those who offend us, we are demonstrating Jesus. The merciful are blessed because they have received mercy and will continue to receive mercy. Because of Christ, the just desserts are no longer ours, but have been placed upon the sinless Son of God. Christ suffered abandonment by God the Father so that we can say that the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Let us remember how merciful God has been to us undeserving sinners, so that we may be more encouraged to extend mercy to others, and to let the light of Christ shine for the glory of God.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
June 30, 2022
Beatitudes: The Hungry and Thirsty
Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Hunger and thirst will always be two very clear indications of life. The dead hunger and thirst for nothing, but the living have appetites and require nourishment to have their lives sustained. The physical needs for the body are supplied by God in and through His creation. The fruits, vegetables, and meats that our bodies desire, God has supplied to us on the earth. We read that we should not become overwhelmed by worry about food and nourishment since Christ declared in His Sermon on the Mount that the Father is faithful to give us our physical needs (Mat 6:25-34).
However, the Beatitudes are spiritual blessings concerning spiritual subjects. The hunger and thirst being spoken of in the above text are not concerning our corporeal needs, but are in reference to the spiritual nature. The regeneration (new birth) that God works in His elect brings forth a living spirit. Jesus calls the regeneration of the spirit a birth.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
The effectual work of God brings forth spiritual life and enables us, by faith, to hear spiritual words, such as the gospel, and to see spiritual things, such as the kingdom of God. The new birth also causes the heart of our newborn spirit to cry out in desire for the Heavenly Father.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
God gives a longing for His presence, like a newborn baby desires his mother’s closeness—to be loved, held, comforted and nurtured. Being made new in the spirit creates a similar yearning for God as our Father, to be with God and to be nourished by Him. If a person is longing for God, it then stands as evidence that they already possess spiritual life, and God is their Father.
The spiritual hunger and thirst is not for natural sustenance, but for godliness, truth, virtue, and the like. Christ said that righteousness is for what the blessed people of God hunger and thirst. God’s people long to see righteousness in the world, and they desire for their lives to be filled with it. They also desire to hear from God and be fed with His word of truth, which God has faithfully supplied in the Holy Bible.
1 Peter 2:2-3
2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
The desire to hear God’s word, to read, understand and be nourished by it, does not come naturally, but supernaturally. We do not long for spiritual nourishment because we are simply born of a mother and father, but because we are born of the Heavenly Father. And our Heavenly Father knows our spiritual needs, and He is faithful to supply them to us.
The promise to the people of God who long for righteousness is that they shall be filled. What Christ has assured us of is that God doesn’t create a longing in our spirit that He doesn’t also intend to supply. What we hope for is a world without sin and death. What we shall receive is a home in heaven where God and all His saints and angels are, and where sin and death are not (Rev 21:4). What we hunger and thirst for is unending joy, peace and love within our souls, and what God has promised is to reveal the pure glory of His holiness within us along with all the rich treasures of life and immortality (Rom 8:18).
God does not intend to give us a portion of righteousness that will become empty and must be replenished. He promised to fill us with a never-failing supply of righteousness to the pure delight of our spirit. Jesus Christ is revealing how generous and caring our Heavenly Father is to us.
Christian, if life in this present world causes you to wish for a better land. If your heart becomes overwhelmed with the troubles and sorrows of life, then be assured, God has something much better in store for you. Your spirit longs to be fed with the satisfying righteousness of God! (Psa 17:15) Your soul thirsts for the living water that springs up into eternal life! (John 4:14) And only Jesus Christ is able to supply you with what you desire. Do not seek to be filled by the beggarly elements of a sin-cursed earth. Do not bother looking for satisfaction in the dead, dark places of this present world. Rather, seek first the kingdom of our Father that is found in the church of the living God. Righteousness is what your spirit longs for, and the living God is the only One who can supply what your spirit truly desires.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
June 21, 2022
Beatitudes: The Meek
Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
The third Beatitude concerns the matter of meekness. It is important to remember that the qualities for which Christ reserves blessings are not things to be acquired through desire, but are attributes given by God to the elect to be exercised and perfected. They are not earned. They are gifts of grace. Meekness is a fruit that comes forth from the Spirit who abides in every regenerated child of God (Gal 5:23). Therefore, only the born again may demonstrate meekness.
Meekness is a profound feature of the elect, but one that requires defining. It is a gentleness of the spirit of the child of God. It requires that humility be present since the two are so closely tied together. However, meekness should not be understood as weakness. Rather, it is a spiritual strength that resists the excited urges and impulses of the flesh. The meek do not fight with God, instead, they accept His word and cling to His promises, come what may.
Like the other subjects of the beatitudes, meekness is a spiritual characteristic that is opposed by the carnal world. Nevertheless, Christ calls His followers to not conform to this present world, but be transformed by the mind as it is renewed and refreshed in Jesus Christ (Rom 12:2). The spirit and heart that God gives the elect by grace is equipped with the heavenly nature that is opposed to the fallen carnal nature received by flesh and blood. Though our nature of flesh wars against the spirit now, at the resurrection the flesh nature will no longer resist, but will also be transformed to be made glorious and incorruptible. Then, all the qualities of eternal life will shine and the children of God will rejoice in how the Lord has made us perfect.
At least two examples are given to us of people from the Bible who were meek. While Israel spent time in the wilderness, Moses was declared to be “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num 12:3). Moses demonstrated his meek nature through gentle entreaty toward God, requesting that He spare Israel after they sinned (Ex 32:11-14). Moses possessed strength to control himself from becoming angry with Israel, and humbly begged the Lord for His mercy.
Jesus Christ, above all, is declared to be “meek and lowly in heart” (Matt 11:29). The humility that the Son of God displayed in condescending to mankind, stooping to wash their feet, and reaching to touch and heal the sick allows for us to see that Jesus Christ is meek. Even as Christ was tormented and ridiculed, He possessed His soul with patience and strength to remain silent in the face of false accusers. Christ suffered death, not because He couldn’t overcome His persecutors, but because He was serving the purpose of the Father through dying rather than in saving His own life. The meekness of Christ was demonstrated in His obedient submission to the Father, even through great difficulty.
Meekness in the children of God provides evidence of Christ. Everytime a Christian bears patiently through trials, he is demonstrating meekness. When he withstands provocation and remains charitable despite the temptation to fight back, he is demonstrating meekness. When he is faced with terrible news, he doesn’t ask “why me?”, but instead he asks “why not me?”. Meekness in the character of a Christian reveals the humility and strength of faith that Christ has issued to him.
The Lord promised the meek that they shall inherit the earth. The Lord wasn’t speaking of this present earth, but of the new earth to come.
2 Peter 3:13
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
The Psalmist, David, also spoke of the new earth being inherited by the meek. The new earth will be a place where no evildoer exists and peace will be abundant.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. 10 For yet a little while, and the wicked [shall] not [be]: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it [shall] not [be]. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
This present earth is not the home of the meek children of God. We may spend time here, but living for this earth and the things in this earth is not what Christ has commanded His people to do. Foes and devils may fight for this current ground on which we dwell, but they only live for temporal pleasures and carnal lusts, and then they are judged. We, the elect of God, are to set our affection on things which are heavenly (Col 3:2). We are anticipating the Lord’s return and the abode He has in store for us, wherein we will dwell with Him in righteousness forever.
1 John 2:15-17
15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
What a hope the Lord has given us! To observe meekness in our brothers and sisters is to see the evidence of the promises of God in them. Remember, friends, to exhibit the grace that God has given to patiently possess your soul, and to live in meekness. When you charitably bear with one another, and when you choose to love instead of fight back against those that provoke, you are demonstrating Christ. May the Lord bless us to live meekly while in this present world.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
June 17, 2022
The Beatitudes: They That Mourn
Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
The Bible is a book of comfort for the children of God. It plainly speaks of the great troubles in the world, but also assures us of God’s power over the world and all its grief. The Bible informs us of the hope that saves us from despair, and reminds us of what God has done so that we may wipe away tears and rejoice (Rom 8:24).
God knows this world is difficult, but He does not spare us from all sorrow. Instead, God assures us that He will walk with us and help us through the troubles of life. He has promised that he is with us always, even to the end of the world (Mat 28:20).
The second beatitude acknowledges the reality of sadness that exists in the world. Mourning is evidence of regret and pain. People mourn when they wish things weren’t as they are. God’s children have a spiritual yearning to be made free from the painful existence of sin.
The heart of one who cries out in regret of sin is doing so because God has given a new heart to them and they are now aware of sin. Not just sin in general, but the sin within their own personal nature. The child of God may mourn and feel remorse and unworthiness, but God is ready to comfort the hearts of His children who are broken. The hope for mourners is that they shall be comforted by the only one who can condemn them, but has chosen to forgive them instead.
Consider the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her hair:
37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that [Jesus] sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind [him] weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe [them] with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed [them] with the ointment.
The weeping woman enters the house of a Pharisee, willing to suffer his prejudiced glares and condemning speech, in order to express love to the only person who can grant her forgiveness. Why is she mourning? Because she knows the truth about herself. It’s not the Pharisee she believes, it’s the law that God has written on her heart that is accusing her conscience.
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
She is mourning because God has opened her eyes to her own sins. However, sin is not the only thing God has revealed to her, but He has also revealed to her the Forgiver of sins. God’s grace has allowed for her to see Jesus as her only hope. After Jesus defended the woman’s act of love and humility, the weeping woman departed in peace, having received word that her sins are forgiven.
Luke 7:47-48, 50
47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, [the same] loveth little. 48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. … 50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
Some who lost their loved ones to death came to Jesus for help. The Lord raised their dead back to life and they were comforted. Others were sick, and Jesus healed them. The lame were given strength to walk. The lepers were cleansed. The blind were given sight. Jesus gave these mourners comfort and peace through restoration.
Though the miracles of healing are wonderful, we are comforted with an even greater promise than a reinstatement of this natural body. And though we mourn, yet our Savior, Jesus Christ, has promised us an end to our mourning altogether. God has assured His children of eternity where every tear shall be wiped away.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
We mourn because of sin and the overwhelmingly destructive effect it has in this present world. We mourn because of sin around us, and we mourn because of sin within us, but sin has an end. When Jesus Christ returns, He will resurrect the dead in Christ and change their corrupted bodies and make them sinless and incorruptible (1 Cor 15:52). We shall be gathered, the entire host of God’s elect family, with Jesus Christ, and we shall never mourn over sin and death ever again.
We mourn here for a little while, but hope is given to us in Christ so that we may carry on the way of our pilgrimage. The Holy Spirit abides with us, to console us, and to encourage us (John 14:16,26). If it weren’t for the comforting grace and hope of the Lord Jesus, which is applied to us through the Spirit, we would all be too miserable to operate. Thanks be to God that our mourning is only for a little while. We may sow in tears, but by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will reap in joy (Psa 126:5).
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
June 8, 2022
The Beatitudes: The Poor in Spirit
1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3 Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Christ’s Sermon on the Mount stands as a distinct example of God’s excellent wisdom stated in profoundly simple ways. And though Christ spoke in simple terms, it remains for God’s people to study what Christ preached so that we can uncover the truths buried deeply in the message.
The blessings spoken by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount are called the Beatitudes (which means a state of great joy). The Beatitudes are declarations of the state of existence for God’s born again children. It must be said that it is only by the grace of the Holy Ghost that a person comes to realize their own spiritual existence. The characteristics that describe the child of God are the result of a change God has made in the individual, and are not attitudes that are simply learned or selected. These are discoveries made by God’s people, not inventions, and the discoveries only come by God uncovering them for us.
The first Beatitude is to the poor in spirit. Usually we do not regard poverty as being a blessing. To be monetarily poor is regarded as a hardship in life. By the world’s standards, the rich and wealthy are the blessed ones. However, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus demonstrated an Old Testament truth regarding God’s nature versus man’s nature:
1 Samuel 16:7b
…the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Samuel and Isaiah learned that God’s perspective is far greater than man’s. Jesus also revealed in the Sermon on the Mount that what God considers important is not always what man considers important, and vice versa. Man typically only considers the appearance, but God looks deeply at the heart and soul of the inner man. God does the same when examining righteousness and holiness, to Him they are more than just appearances.
As Tevye, from the musical The Fiddler on the Roof, said to God in a prayer, “it’s no shame to be poor, but it’s no great honor, either.” Tevye humorously sang about how he would live frivolously if he possessed a fortune. Though the point is made as to why Tevye didn’t have great riches (as he would make waste of it), he still understood that God is rich and He gives of those riches to men. The truth is, we are all poor, and what we have is not our own. We are stewards of God’s things. The same is true with spiritual things. Every person is spiritually destitute and what we possess does not originate with us.
Why, then, is it a blessing to be poor in spirit? The blessing is not the sole fact that mankind is spiritually poor, but that we realize we are spiritually poor. When God shows us our spiritual emptiness due to the presence of sin, we can then begin to understand our great need for Him. It is a blessing to see God as a wealthy Father, and to consider our pathetic state of utter emptiness in contrast. It is at that point when we begin to understand that only God can give us what we desperately need.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:
Spiritual riches are what God gives to His children. The man who trusts in himself and feels no need for God is not capable of understanding his own spiritual penury nor the importance of God’s riches. He is dead in his sins. Those who are alive in Jesus Christ are the poor in spirit and, by His grace, will realize they are such. They long to be filled with the supply that only our rich and generous God can give.
In God’s economy, it’s not gold or silver that are given to enrich the poor in spirit, but rather the greater riches of love, joy, mercy, forgiveness, faith, and peace. It is only through the blood of Jesus Christ that our redemption has been secured and the costly gifts of salvation have been supplied to a people who were once dead in sin, but are now alive.
God has a kingdom in store for the poor in spirit. Not an earthly kingdom with conflict and sorrow, but the heavenly kingdom of God’s righteousness, joy, and tranquility. God allows for us to receive a portion of the kingdom of heaven after we have been awakened to our spiritual poverty and confess our need for the Savior, Jesus Christ. Through repentance and baptism, we press into the kingdom and are blessed with the joy of salvation that our abundantly merciful and loving God gives to those who follow His gospel instruction (Luke 16:16).
If you feel you are in need of forgiveness. If you long for peace and separation from the sins and mistakes of the past. If you believe that God is unbelievably kind to you despite your faults and failures, then you are among the blessed poor in spirit. However, poverty is not your end, because you have a rich and generous Friend! Jesus Christ is the elder brother of the poor and afflicted children of God. You have an inheritance because of Him, and He has made you part of His royal heavenly family.
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for we have a King who freely gives to us all things. What a blessing it is to know of our rich Heavenly Father.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
June 3, 2022
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
If you have ever been convinced that God knows the heart of man it is probably because you have witnessed that mankind has a lust for money, just as the Bible says. We have either been guilty of coveting money, or know of someone who has. The love of money can drive a person to commit heinous sins and lead them to destruction. A covetous heart hungers for more, but is never satisfied. The love of money is truly the root of all evil.
Nevertheless, God has a purpose for money. The Bible has much to say about how we are to live with money and how it is meant to assist us in serving God. Money can be made an idol just like any other thing, but the real nature of money is amoral. Money is an instrument, a mechanism for serving God, and we will look at some ways in which the Bible instructs Christians to use the money God has given them.
Giving to the Church
The church is intended by God to be a place for Christians to join their giving abilities and help one another on a larger scale. The practice of giving to the church for the purpose of the church distributing to the needs of others was practiced in Christ’s ministry and throughout the ministry of the apostles and the 1st Century church.
34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid [them] down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
As disciples we see a clear pattern in the scriptures for liberal giving to the church. How then should the church direct what is given to it? Galatians 6:10 seems to place a priority on where our service should go:
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Christians have a responsibility to help others whether they are in the church or not, but our first priority in giving should be to the church for the benefit of the household of faith. Within the church are a few directions that money should go.
The financial support of the gospel ministry is emphasized as a priority in the New Testament, and for good reason. The Lord is greatly concerned with the gospel being preached steadily, deeply, and broadly. The Lord requires that the men He calls to preach His gospel be faithful to that calling, and strive to eliminate obstructions that would prevent him from upholding his responsibility.
2 Timothy 2:3-4
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
The money that Christians are instructed to give to the church should first go to the pastor who labors to feed the flock of God. This appears to be the emphatic case the apostle Paul presents to the Corinthian church, who financially neglected the apostle that loved them so dearly.
1 Corinthians 9:9, 13-14
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? … 13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live [of the things] of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
The church must be faithful with what it has been giving, and the financial support of the pastor has been prioritized by God. It is the first way His church is to demonstrate faithfulness with money. A pastor and the church he serves should be working together to eliminate a need for any other source of income for the pastor that he may give himself completely to their service.
Christians also give to the church for the purpose of caring for other church members in need. Widows, fatherless, and others who come upon difficult circumstances should be supported by the church until they reach a level of stability. It is important to remember that those in the church who can work to provide an income for themselves are expected to strive for financial independence from the church so that the church can help others who are in need.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
The church should consist of people who demonstrate the faith, love, and grace of Christ in whatever they do. The same expectation remains for how the church handles money. Greed for money in the church does not demonstrate the nature of Christian character, but a sinfulness that doesn’t belong in the church. Handling money faithfully means trusting God’s word for how the money should be spent. Just as the scriptures dictate our doctrine, it also directs our Christian practices. Too often we are guilty of making excuses for not trusting God’s instructions. Or, perhaps, we overthink matters when it comes to giving. However,Paul’s admonition for Christians is to be happy in financially giving to the saints.
2 Corinthians 9:6-9
6 But this [I say], He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God [is] able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all [things], may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
A simple giver is a cheerful giver. Whether it’s the financial support of the pastor, supporting a member in need, or serving a cause outside the church, the congregation should not complicate the process of following God’s word in giving.
Giving as Individual Disciples
As I have already expressed, disciples should first give to the church. The Old Testament principle of giving our firstfruits to the Lord is just as solid of a truth as it has ever been. Though how much should be given is debated by some (a tithe or ten percent), it should be understood that we live in the blessed age of the gospel and for our giving to be outdone by those under the law will not speak well of Christians who claim to believe in the grace of Jesus Christ. Rather than say we aren’t under the law of tithing, Christians should be happy to express a heart that rejoices to give even more than the ten percent the law required.
9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: 10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
Living with the knowledge of abundant and free grace should move us to be abundantly gracious and free with our giving to others. Christ has an expectation of all His disciples to give alms (gifts of mercy) to those in need. To be charitable with our money, not just our words. To be gracious and even sacrificial with our possessions, not stingy and unloving. In His sermon on the mount, Christ speaks of almsgiving as an expectation He has for His disciples, not an option.
1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou doest [thine] alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
The Lord ends the message of giving alms with the promise of an open reward from the Lord. Other verses in the Bible speak of reaping what we sow when it comes to being gracious in our giving. The Lord is pleased to reward the faithful giver with more, because He knows the faithful giver will continue to give. When God blesses the disciple with more, the disciple will likely desire to give more away, revealing a heart full of grace. The disciple exhibits some truths when he follows through with this behavior: 1. Faithfulness with God’s things. 2. Trust in God’s word. 3. An example of the Father who continually gives to His children.
Lastly, as we consider our individual responsibilities in handling money, we must consider stewardship. The money we have is not really ours. In fact, nothing we have in our care is our own, it is given to us by God and God can take it away if it pleases Him. With that in mind, what kind of stewards with God’s money do we desire to be? Faithful, I hope. How we handle God’s money says a lot about our heart, as do all of our behaviors. May the Lord look and see that we trust Him with our financial decisions.
May we take care not to burden ourselves with debt or large financial obligations that would prevent us from being kingdom-minded with money. May we be gracious and cheerful in giving to the church as well as to others in need, and may the Lord bless us to be able to grow in our giving.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
May 28, 2022
Overcoming The World
1 John 5:5
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
The Bible has many things to say about the world in which we live. It is the creation of God, but it is also corrupted by men. Good dwells in the world by God’s gracious providence, but evil is also present in the world. God’s glory is manifest in beautiful ways throughout the world, but Satan also lurks about this world, causing trouble and confusion.
The elements of sin and Satan cause hardships for God’s people here. Temptations and snares are often set by Satan through his use of physical/carnal/worldly things. The world is characterized by covetousness, fear, envy, hatred, fornication, death, etc., and Satan knows these devices very well. He also knows how to use them to discourage the children of God from living faithfully. This world contains so much good, but this world also contains so much sin. Because sin is present here, this world will not suffice as a permanent home for God’s people.
It is good, however, to know that God has already made arrangements for us elsewhere. The Bible tells us that our citizenship is in heaven where Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Father (Phi 3:20). Jesus reminded His disciples that “where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). Seeing that our home is in heaven, perhaps we should have a different attitude about this present world.
Maybe you’ve never considered the world as being something to overcome, but I can tell you that Satan has tried many times to overcome us with this world. Every temptation, every discouragement, and every sinful snare that we have experienced is the result of this fallen world being used as a weapon against us by Satan. When we evade the traps that Satan has set for us, it should encourage us. That God makes a way of escape for us in times of temptation (1 Cor 10:13), should assure us of His love. Resisting sin in the world is a way in which He has allowed us to overcome the world. It is a victory that also demonstrates that God cares deeply for us and doesn’t want to see us fall into the painful bitterness of sin.
The fact that we are able to overcome temptations is not something we should take for granted. The reason why we can resist sin, Satan, and the carnal seductions of the world are because Jesus Christ first overcame the world.
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.
Jesus encouraged the disciples to be of good cheer because peace is possible for His disciples in the world. True peace can’t be found just anywhere, but only in Jesus Christ. It is because of Christ that sin has been conquered in this world and the victory over sin has been given to the elect for whom Christ died. The faith that God gives to us is an assurance that victory is ours. Because faith is a gift of God by grace, the peace and victory over the world isn’t something for which we can boast, but rather something for which we should be thankful.
1 John 5:4
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith.
Victory over the world is ours, but it was given to us by God who overcame it first. Faith is the evidence of victory that stands within each elect of God. When we express that faith through confidence in the name and power of Jesus Christ, we declare that we are overcomers of the world, sin, death, and hell through Christ!
For the child of God, life in this world has its ups and downs. God blesses us with times in which we rejoice in His grace so sweetly. There are other times in which we suffer sin’s consequences in this world. We are all thankful for the good times, but it’s especially during those trying times that we must remember that Jesus Christ has overcome this world and granted us peace from it.
We long for our heavenly home where Christ ever lives and reigns, where sin is not present, and death has no dominion, but we should abide faithful for the time we are in the world. Cling to Jesus, continue to press forward with Him in faith, and remember that because He has given you victory by grace, you are an overcomer of this vain and hollow world.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
May 19, 2022
Made In God’s Image
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
On the sixth day of creation, God crowned His creation of the entire universe by forming a man, made from the dust of the earth, and into His own image. No other creature was made to bear God’s image; only men and women have the distinct privilege of being made in God’s likeness (Gen 1:27).
Adam, the first man, and Eve, the first woman, were made to live in the beautiful and pristine Garden of Eden. In this place made especially for them, they were given responsibilities. Adam was in charge of dressing and keeping the garden, while Eve was made to be his helper (Gen 2:8,15,18). God declared man would bear His image, and the ways in which mankind would demonstrate God’s image in them are through his purpose, power, and authority.
The Bible clearly expresses that mankind was made to praise, worship, and obey God. In Ecclesiastes 12:13, the wise king Solomon stated:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.”
The Apostle Paul makes it clear in several verses that the person, created and redeemed by God, is elected and predestinated for the purpose of praising the glory of God (Eph 1:6,12,14). We see that Jesus Christ, who is the express image of the second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, came into the world and lived in obedience to God the Father, and glorified Him (John 5:30).
There is little doubt that man’s main objective in life is to praise, worship, and obey God. No other creature has been given this responsibility. To be made in the image of God elevates man to the purpose of giving God glory.
God declared from the beginning that man was to have dominion over the earth and the creatures that are in the earth. Dominion implies authority, though not unlimited. Man still answers to God for his actions and decisions, but to be given something to care for, explore, and use wisely, such as the earth and its abundance, is something very god-like.
Though mankind had no part in creating the world, God giving man responsibility and authority over creation shows that God intended to demonstrate His own power and authority through the delegation of His image bearers. Every discovery, every revelation, and every intelligent conclusion of man that is made in pursuit of gaining more dominion over a wild and untamed planet Earth is a testimony of God’s infinite knowledge and power. When men who are made in God’s likeness seek to responsibly exercise their God-given right to have dominion over the world, they are honoring the God who created the world for them to explore and enjoy.
As God is Creator, He made man to build and make things. No other creature has this ability. God is creative, and He has made man to be creative, also. Man can draw, paint, sculpt the images of the earth and the heavens, which were formed by God. Man certainly cannot do everything God is capable of doing, and what man does is never on the same grand scale as God, but man is truly unique as a creature in his abilities.
Man is capable of learning, growing, making wise and intelligent choices, for which man is unique, or sacred from the rest of creation. Man can design, make, consume, and destroy, all of these abilities demonstrate how man is made in the image of God. For every scientist, author, engineer, artist, physician, builder, architect, mathematician, teacher, etc., God was first in being and in doing all of these things. Mankind has simply identified the skills and abilities which God has placed in man as part of being made in His image.
The Abuse of These Things
For every way in which man demonstrates that he is made in the image of God, there is also a way in which man abuses the great privilege he has been given. When sin entered into the world by the first man, Adam, it marred the image man bears (Rom 5:12). It was after the fall that Adam and Eve conceived children, and the Bible tells us that Seth, the son of Adam, was made in Adam’s likeness.
And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat [a son] in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
Since sin came into the world, every man has been born in the image of the man who was created in the image of God, and who also defaced that image. We can still see the image of God in mankind in how he lives out his purpose, authority, and abilities. However, because we also bear sin in us, we must remember to not abuse the privileges we have been given.
The Last Man
The Bible describes Jesus Christ as the last Adam (Adam = man) (1 Cor 15:45). The first Adam, though he bore the image of God, abused the image he bore through sinful rebellion of God’s word. The first Adam plunged himself and his family into sin and death; but the last Adam, Jesus Christ, came into the world and saved the family of God from sin and death.
Though sin defaced the image of God in us, the Bible still clearly states that God’s image still exists in us. So great is the responsibility to view mankind as being in the image of God, that we are commanded to respect and defend each other for the very reason.
8 But the tongue can no man tame; [it is] an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
We have been commanded to uphold and defend the sanctity of human life in every stage of existence, from conception through adulthood. All human life is sacred to God. He alone creates life, and He alone declares how it ends. Our responsibility is to honor God by faithfully bearing His image.
Conformed to the Image of the Son
Jesus Christ redeemed the elect of God to life after Adam had carried them into death. Now that the last Adam has given life to God’s elect people, they are capable of bearing God’s image in a new and living way. Where our physical, natural, and intellectual abilities before manifested that we were made in the image of God, the Holy Spirit enables God’s elect to manifest the image of God through the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gal 5:22-23). These things do not come naturally to mankind, but rather supernaturally—by the power of God. If someone bears God’s image through these unique virtues, then they are in God’s image in a most unique and gracious way. It is through the Holy Spirit that they are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
The first man fell in sin and deformed the image of God in all mankind; but praise be to God for the last man who stepped out of heaven and into a sin-cursed earth to rescue the fallen. God’s people aren’t being returned to a state like Adam; rather, man is being elevated to an existence that he has never experienced before. Though Adam was rightly sentenced to death, Jesus Christ undeservedly subjected Himself to the same for the purpose of ransoming God’s children and conforming them to His glorious image. If you rejoice in the Savior’s redeeming love, then bear the image that God has given you with faithfulness and joy. Give glory and honor to the God who loves you so much, that He gave His only begotten Son to deliver you.
In Christian Love.
Elder Ben Cordes
May 10, 2022
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
Christ Jesus addressed many self-righteous people during His earthly ministry. The Pharisees were generally revealed to be a people who believed their own ways were superior to the ways of others, because of which Jesus did not hesitate to rebuke them openly for their blind self-righteousness.
Friends, there is a truth that we must admit: we really aren’t as good and righteous as we imagine ourselves to be. The Bible tells us that, by our nature, we are not good at all.
But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
The Bible telling us plainly that we are all unclean is a plainly accepted doctrine by those whose spiritual eyes have been opened by God. It is the self-righteous who will hear and believe that the doctrine of man’s unrighteousness speaks of others. The one who trusts in himself will believe he has managed to overcome unrighteousness, and that others just simply have not attained to the same level of perfection.
We can all behave self-righteously, and we all most certainly have at times. Perhaps you or someone you know may be dealing with an ungodly self-confidence, or a destructive belief of being superior to others. What is it like for the self-righteous person?
- The self-righteous person is a scorner.
A scorner is someone who expresses great displeasure with others. The self-righteous person does not feel much sympathy for others, and believes that if people would live like him then their lives would be better. The criticisms never seem to stop coming from the self-righteous. David described the scorners as having a seat, which indicates there is an ease and comfort the self-righteous have as they express their displeasures and criticisms toward others (Psa 1:1). We have all had our time in the seat of the scornful, but may we arise from it and fall to our knees as we seek to behave humbly before the Lord.
- The self-righteous person is alone.
It’s lonely at the top, or so it must feel for the person who believes they have no errors. Since everyone else is either a gross sinner or a fool, the self-righteous person creates a world of their own through alienation of others. A person who trusts in himself will want people to believe he is always right, and will attempt to teach others that he knows what is best, but ultimately, when they do not follow him, he casts them off. The people the self-righteous person reaches out to with his laws and instructions may be receptive at first, but they eventually see through him and walk away when it is clear to them that they can never achieve his invented standards.
- The self-righteous person is apathetic to Jesus.
The self-righteous person is a humanist at heart. The sin of self-righteousness leads to many other sins, but the worst of them is the elevation of the sinner as an idol. The self-righteous may claim religion, but unless they see their need for salvation, Jesus Christ will only be a nominal means to a self-promoting end. The interesting thing is that Jesus was willing to speak to those who trusted in themselves (Luke 18:9-14). However, it was to illustrate that their selfish religion could not justify them. The Pharisee declared himself more righteous than the Publican in Luke 18, because he believed his works saved him before God. Christ declared that the Publican, who confessed himself to be a sinner, went to his own house justified. This meant that God allowed for the Publican to understand that though he is a sinner, he has been made righteous by the grace of God.
Self-righteousness is a terrible disease of the heart, and though the wicked abide in such error, God’s people sometimes fall into this destructive way of thinking. The child of God is to turn away from self-righteousness by having an exalted view of Christ, and to also have a realistic, humble view of who he is in contrast to Christ. We must also view others as our neighbors, having brotherly love for them, and preferring them above ourselves (Rom 12:10). Our neighbors and fellow believers do not exist for us to constantly criticize them, or for us to contrast their life to ours. Rather, we share this world with others so that we may demonstrate the love of Jesus to one another for God’s glory.
Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. If we don’t view ourselves as sinners, then who did Christ save? May the Lord Jesus deliver us from the bondage of self-righteousness, and may we always understand that we have such a great need for Him. Let us come before Him, broken as we are, and declare that only Jesus is our righteousness.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
May 3, 2022
Who Has Believed the Report?
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
Isaiah chapter 53 presents the most descriptive prophecy of the suffering of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. The accuracy with which the Lord foretold of the Suffering Servant through the prophet Isaiah is astounding. The chapter is especially eye-opening for many who have lived under Jewish teachings, even today. As they read the details of Isaiah 53 for the first time with understanding that Jesus Christ is the subject that was abused, rejected, and who died, their faces appear deeply astonished.
As Christians, we can often take miraculous things for granted. The fact that we know that Isaiah 53 speaks of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a miraculous work of the Lord. When Isaiah asks the question, “Who hath believed our report?”, he follows it with the question, “and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?”. That is because when men believe in who the Arm of the LORD is, they will believe the report of that Arm, Jesus Christ.
We should know that not everyone will have the “arm of the LORD” revealed to them. The lack of revelation prevents them from believing the report of Isaiah, as well as others who have proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. The important reality, that the LORD reveals His Son to us, is declared throughout the Bible. However, many Christians believe it is the responsibility of men to reveal Jesus Christ to others. Though it is given for men to preach Christ to all nations (Mat 28:19), it is God’s work to reveal Christ to His people in the heart before people can believe the preached gospel (the report).
The hearts of God’s people are in His hands. This is where knowledge of Christ will be placed by God alone. The intellectual work of teaching others of Christ, or the personal study we put into growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Pet 3:18) is given to men, and God blesses those efforts, but it is God who reveals His Son so that individuals may grow in knowledge of Christ.
And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
The direct revelation of Jesus Christ by God to individuals indicates saving grace has been applied to them. The effectual calling (John 10:27) and drawing of persons to Christ (John 6:44) is joined with the divine revelation through irresistible grace.
It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
When a sinner confesses his or her belief and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior, they demonstrate that God has already revealed His saving Arm, Jesus Christ, to them in the heart of their soul. This knowledge is something that cannot be undone. It is not written with temporary ink on corruptible paper, but rather by the eternal Spirit of God on the new and living heart of the saved child of God (2 Cor 3:3).
Friends, if you believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ, then praise God! You have believed the report and testimony of the witnesses of God. Why is it that you believe the testimony of these Bible witnesses? Because the Arm of the LORD, Jesus Christ, has been directly and graciously revealed to you by God alone. This is nothing short of a glorious miracle of love for which no man should ever take credit.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
April 26, 2022
Good Works Accompany Salvation
9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. 10 For God [is] not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
The faithful men and women of the Old Testament are referenced in several places within the New Testament as examples of faithful witnesses of God. God reminds us of the testimony of their faith to encourage us in our faith, which is to be focused on Christ as our successful Savior through worship and service, as the saints of old were focused.
This passage teaches that there is an assurance for the believers through the work of ministering to the saints (God’s elect people). It is important to mention that the verses given do not describe how a person is saved, but rather are “things that accompany salvation” (v. 9). In our experiences that are intended to be for assurance of salvation, we must never consider them as causes of salvation.
People can get carried away with the subject of good works, and can focus so intensely on good works that it becomes the object of their faith rather than Jesus Christ. Often, there is an overreaction of man’s nature that couples God’s instruction with the ego of man. Satan exploits these flaws in the nature of mankind and takes what God has meant for good, and uses it to pervert God’s good directions. God never intended the work of ministering to the saints to be an avenue for people to boast of themselves and believe that their good works save them.
Christ makes it clear in His parable of the sheep and the goats that good works are a characteristic of His sheep, not a means of eternal salvation (Mat 25:31-46). Christ says that the sheep are identified by how they have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, given drink to the thirsty, visited the sick and imprisoned, etc., but Christ never indicates that is what made them sheep. So, it is important for us to know that the work of ministering to the saints, and any other good work, does not deliver God’s people from hell, nor should the fact that Christ grants us assurance through the ministry of good works be considered a license for us to label people as unsaved simply because we haven’t personally perceived their good works.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
God has given us new, everlasting life for the purpose of glorifying Him through our good works. As our old sinful nature still exists with our new spiritual nature, we must realize that sin is still present. The Apostle Paul said that he found a law concerning his old nature and new nature, “that when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Rom 7:21). This law will have an end when we are separated from the body of sin at death, or, finally, when Christ returns to change our corruptible bodies to incorruptible bodies (1 Cor 15:53-54). With this in mind, understand that sin will be present with us until death or the resurrection, whichever comes first.
So, even on our best days, we still live with sin. We all come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Since that is the case, all of our efforts to serve God should be done in humility and with thanksgiving. These works of ministry are meant to assure our hearts and minds of the hope we have in Christ! But when we misplace our faith by putting it in our good works, then our hope is no longer where it should be in Christ, but imprecisely in ourselves.
Because sin and wavering belief/unbelief are parts of the experience of God’s children in this world, we must understand that no one walks a perfect walk. However, Christ did walk a perfect walk, and lived a perfect life, therefore we must put full trust in Him. We must understand where our good works belong, and that is under the category of love and thanksgiving to God.
If we have been enabled to serve God through good works, let us use them to give Him our thanks for all that He has done for us. We all have fallen short of expressing our thanks to God as we should, but today is a new day and His grace is sufficient to bless and empower us to do better today, for HIS glory, and not our own. Our God is not unrighteous to forget your labor of love which you have shown toward His name (v. 10). Unlike mankind, God knows your heart, and He sees the efforts of His people to serve in love, and He blesses those efforts. May we continue to show forth the praises of God who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9).
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
April 20, 2022
46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, [his] mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Growing up in the church has been one of the greatest treasures in my life. The rich relationships I have had with other believers in Jesus have provided many benefits to me, from gaining wisdom to learning true friendship, the people of the church have done more for me than any other group of people in the world.
When the mother and brothers of Jesus came to speak with Him, Jesus was occupied with the disciples to whom He was ministering. Though the mother of Jesus had a very important role in His life, Mary’s importance as earthly mother was not above the business Jesus had in serving His heavenly Father. Jesus had previously expressed His priority to the Father at the age of twelve when He tarried behind His family in Jerusalem and after three days sorrowful Mary and Joseph found Jesus in deep discussion with the doctors of the Mosaic law.
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?
Christ did not intend to give an example of neglect concerning His earthly parents since He clearly rebuked the Pharisees for doing such (Mar. 7:9-13), and we know that the verses following Luke 2:49 speak of Jesus returning to Nazareth with His parents, and that He was subject unto them. He was a perfect child to Joseph and Mary, just as He was to His Father in Heaven. His top honor and priority to His Father in heaven never wavered. Jesus Christ came to earth to do His Father’s will (John 5:30). Honoring his earthly father (figure) and mother were part of the law that Jesus kept for the glory of God (Ex. 20:12).
Nevertheless, we see Jesus in His adulthood giving a clear preference to the kingdom of God. When Christ acknowledged the disciples as being His mother, brother, and sister, He is indicating a superior family to that of the earthly, nuclear family of flesh and bone. The family that we are part of by God’s electing and regenerating grace is a spiritual one. Often, we seem to disregard the spiritual realities as being less important than the physical, or what we can see and touch; but what Christ is revealing to us is that this spiritual family, which manifests as the church, is real and should be considered essential to us in this world.
I have been blessed by the relationships with the brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. Some of my brothers and sisters are much older than I am, some are much younger. I have brothers and sisters where I live, and I have some that are great distances away in foreign lands. My earthly father and mother, as believers in Jesus Christ, are also my brother and sister in Christ. My very own son who confessed his belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and asked to be baptized in 2021, took his place in the church, and because he is a little brother of Jesus, he is also my brother in Jesus.
As an adult, I am able to think back on my youth and realize how all of the time spent in church, integrated together with young and old, male and female, taught me so much. I learned how to respect women as my sisters in Christ and to give them honor as God word teaches. I also learned how to communicate and have friendships with people of the church who were old enough to be my great grandparents. I was encouraged to make friends with everyone in the church, not just those of my own age and gender. Worshiping in the same room, and even on the same pew with people who didn’t have the same background as me was enriching. It provided a greater perspective and sensitivity of how life varies from person to person, and yet we are drawn together by the same precious gospel of Christ. The church taught me how to be a more socially respectful person, and I am forever thankful to God for that.
It is because of Christ that we have this blessed relationship with one another. The only begotten Son of God died to redeem us to the Father and now we have been adopted (legally) and born (vitally) into the family of God. All who claim Jesus Christ as their Savior and follow Him in obedience to the Father are identified as children of God, and brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ. The family of God is big, and the church is a manifestation of that family. God has given us the church to show us that we aren’t intended to be alone. If you haven’t already, go to the church, publicly confess your belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and your Savior, and take up your identity with your brothers and sisters in Christ. May the Lord bless you with the richness of the fellowship of His kingdom, and may you come to realize the deep and precious importance of the family that Christ died to give us.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
April 16, 2022
Christ’s Prayer for the Elect
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
Just hours before Jesus Christ would suffer death by crucifixion, He took time to speak to His Father openly in front of the disciples. In a similar pattern to which the Son of God gave to Moses and Aaron many years prior (Num 6:22-27), a blessing was asked of God upon the elect.
John 17:9 teaches an extremely important truth concerning the intent Christ had in salvation. His focus was on the people that the Father gave to Him. Much like how Aaron’s blessing was intended only for the people of Israel, Christ’s prayer before His death is for God’s chosen people, the elect.
Christ had not recently become familiar with the elect, rather, He had known them and came into possession of them before the foundation of the world.
2 Timothy 1:9
Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began
Christ focuses only on this relationship with God’s elect because they are the reason He came into the world. Christ was never interested in offering salvation to all the human race, but Christ intended to issue redemption to as many as the Father chose and gave to Him. The prayer Christ offered was covering the ones He purposed to save. By His awesome power at Calvary, Christ has accomplished what He purposed to do.
Salvation is not an offer made by Christ to mankind, rather salvation is a reality for the elect of God because Christ offered Himself to the Father.
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Christ was not interested in satisfying the desires of the world, He was moved by the love He has for His Father, and for those that are in the heart of the Father. Since God the Father demanded that the price for sins be paid, Jesus willingly offered Himself to satisfy what was owed to God. What the elect should have suffered, Jesus Christ suffered for them. The death of the elect would have landed them in torment forever, but Jesus Christ delivered them from death and hell, and instead are predestined to a world of endless joy and glory. Where men would fail, Christ exceedingly prevailed.
You may be wondering who the elect are, and/or how you can become one of them. The fact is that no one can add their name to the list of God’s elect since that was settled before the world began. No one becomes a part of the elect by their own choice, it was God’s choice. However, we know that election is real since God’s word says so much about it. So, how can we know if we are part of the elect family of God? Well, do you love the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you believe He is the Son of God? Do you believe Jesus Christ died to save you from sin, and then rose from the grave? If you answered yes to those questions, you can be assured that you are part of God’s elect family.
1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
Knowing that we love the Lord and that we are in His elect family should prompt us to grow in our knowledge and understanding of our Lord. Christ came to give His elect life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). An abundant life is one lived in the kingdom of God, which is the church. If we feel ourselves to be sinners saved by the grace of God, then we have a home in this world. It isn’t the world itself, but rather the kingdom of heaven extended to us while in this world. It is the church of the living God.
If you feel to be a child of God by the grace of Jesus, then you ought to follow the instructions of the One who prayed for you those hours before He died on the cross for you. God commands His people to repent of their sins, and to be baptized according to the gospel (Acts 2:38). To be a part of the church is to embrace the child of God Christ has made you to be. It is to take up your place among His family of elect who are visible in this world, and to enjoy the fellowship of the brotherhood/sisterhood in Christ.
Some believe that their salvation is applied to them through offering a prayer to God. The Sinner’s Prayer has been uttered by many who believe that it was their part in getting saved. However, a sinner is only saved by the effectual and particular work of Jesus Christ on their behalf. The only prayer for sinners that was offered was by Christ, the Savior of sinners. John chapter 17 features the prayer that Jesus made for us, and it was perfectly effective.
It’s amazing to think about how we were on the mind of Jesus just before His death. Even as He hanged on that cross of cruelty, He was thinking of us. Now that we see the fruit of what His death brought forth, He bids us come and enjoy His gifts. One day He is coming back for His elect. When He returns we will see Him and the entire host of His elect from all ages. We will meet Him in the air, and we will never be separated from Him again. I do not speak these things as if they are a dream or a wish, for these things are certain and true. What Christ determined to do has come to completion without error or loss. In all things He is victorious.
1 John 5:4-5
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
April 8, 2022
Full of Care
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Being careful for nothing may seem counterintuitive to our good health when we first read Philippians 4:6, but the word careful is understood and used differently today. What is meant by careful for nothing in the King James Translation of the Bible is we should not be full of cares (worries), in other words, be anxious for nothing.
The instruction to not be anxious is certainly one we all would benefit from, but it’s not an easy practice. Our imaginations play a big role in perpetuating the cycle of worry and fear. We often cannot seem to stop ourselves from dreaming up scenarios of what may happen in the future. However, it is a blessing that we do not know every detail of what lay ahead of us, because if we did it would surely render us useless in this world. It is God who knows all things, and it is God who holds our future. Our responsibility is to trust Him with our future.
The apostle’s counsel for ridding ourselves of worry and anxiousness is to go to God in prayer. He instructs us to take everything to God. He continues by telling us that through supplication, that is, asking God to supply us with our needs, is how we will ease our worries. When we ask God to provide us with what is needed to get over our anxieties, He is faithful to grant grace that is sufficient for the problems and cares we face (2 Cor 12:9). Note: God may not provide what we want in these situations, but He will certainly, without fail, provide what we need.
Often when we are overwhelmed with worries, doubts, and fears, our heart is quick to ask God for what we need, and we forget to thank God for allowing us to approach Him, and for blessing us with the things we have. Paul reminds the Philippian Christians that we should always take time to give thanks to God. Thanksgiving is our purpose in life; it is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us (1 Thes 5:18). Asking for help and then giving thanks to God in the midst of worries and concerns can be a humbling experience, even more so when we ask for others to pray for us. However, this is also part of unloading the worries and cares of our heart.
1 Peter 5:6-7
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Before we can cast our care upon the Lord God, we must first accept and confess that the cares we have are more than we can bear. It’s humbling to admit that we cannot handle our own lives, but God already knows that we need help. We should view humility as a posture of the soul that God blesses us to take, and that there are blessings that come from God when we submit to Him in humility.
The thought of “casting our care” is one that brings to mind an intentional desire to be far separated from worries, so it’s reassuring that God invites us to toss them upon Him. Doesn’t this demonstrate how mighty and great our God is?
Some may say that it sounds negligent to simply not care, but I submit that is not what we are being taught. We ought to have care and concern for others, after all, we love others and to have love for another person is to care about them. The hymn writer, J. F. Parker wrote, “Here our heavenly Father knows all we need before we ask, here our heavenly Father knows, and He cares”. The hymn is correct, because we read from Matthew 10:29-31 that God, who cares for the little sparrows that are seemingly so insignificant. They fall to the ground and die, yet God sees them. If God keeps His eyes on the little sparrows, Christ assures us that our Father more exceedingly sees and cares for us, His elect children. God loves, therefore He cares, which means we are permitted to care for others, also.
It is good to have care and concern for those that we love, but we must not get carried away by cares, or else the cares will turn into worries, which then will lead to fears. We often fail to see that there are matters that simply are out of our control. Those are the cares we must give up to God. We are not meant to care for, and save everything. Remember, Jesus Christ is the Savior, and we are the servants. If there is some way for us to serve those whom we have many cares for, ask God to help you serve them. Worry and fear can be paralyzing, but ask God to rid you of that fear so that you can be about helping those in need. Be a support, be a comforter and counselor to someone in need, but let’s not be made useless by our worries and cares.
We truly serve a God who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Eph 3:20). We just need to remember that He sees, He knows, and He cares. Go to the Lord in prayer today, and ask Him to relieve you of the anxiousness that often overwhelms you. Cast your care upon Him, and give Him thanks! God is worthy of our praise, and He is great enough to handle our worries and cares. Remove the unstable trust we so often misplace in ourselves, and have faith in God. Do not borrow grace from tomorrow, but rather trust in God’s grace for today. What He gives you is exactly what you need.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
April 1, 2022
Christ’s Instructions for His Church
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.
We have heard the church described as a body. The individual disciples are called church members. Membership isn’t like when people join a fitness center or a country club, but rather they are like body parts. Each member is necessary to the whole of the body, and each member has an important purpose. The body is a local assembly to which local believers in Christ join themselves. The body worships and fellowships with each other, and should be beneficially involved in each others’ lives. The church body has leaders within it, the pastor, who is responsible for overseeing the work of a church (i.e. dissemination of the gospel, giving biblical counsel, prayers, work of the ministry in Christ, etc.). Other elders may be present to assist the pastor and encourage the church. And the deacons are leaders in serving the members through visitation and providing aid on behalf of the church for those who have needs. More could be said about them, but these simply summarize the roles of the church leaders.
An important question arises when we consider these church leaders, and that is, From whom do these leaders receive their instruction? Since the purpose of the church is to give glory to God (Eph 3:21), it would make sense that God has a particular way in which expects glory to be offered to Him. God has brilliantly given instruction to the church in the Bible, particularly through the words of His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb 1:2). In the New Testament we find that God the Father has given the church to Jesus Christ, and the church answers to Him as head. The church is given to Christ to present it as a spotless and holy bride to Himself.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Seeing that God has appointed His Son to be head of the church, it is important that the church receive orders only from Jesus Christ. As Ephesians 5:26 states above, it is through the word that the church is washed, or made clean. That is, the practices and behaviors of the church should conform to the word of God, which leads the church to be set apart from the ungodliness of the world. The Lord calls for the church to be different and uncommon, but in agreement with Him.
Here are some instructions and behaviors observed by the early church that are found in the New Testament of our Lord:
Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
The above verses demonstrate that prayer, both in the assembled church, and individually, should be a practice of members of the church body. Unceasing prayer is maintaining a heart that is in continual communication with the Lord. Often we neglect the privilege to commune with the Lord through prayer, but Christ gave us an example of this behavior through the recorded events of Him speaking privately and openly with the Father on many occasions. This teaches us that prayer ought to be a large part of the lives of disciples. Corporate prayer (public prayer made as an assembly) is part of the worship service given to us in the New Testament, and it serves as a way of teaching and admonishing the entire church as we listen and pray together.
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
The Apostle Paul speaks on at least two occasions of the importance of singing in the church. This indicates that Christ, the head of the church, has authorized the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to be a means of worshiping God. The primary goal of the church is to bring glory to God, and as long as the songs are biblically sound and speak of the Lord in truthful and reverent terms, we may sing them. It should be noted that Christ has authorized singing, but in the New Testament we do not see any musical instruments introduced into the worship service. This is because God is concerned more about the heart, and by being worshiped by instruments not made with hands (Acts 17:25). The pure hearts of God’s born again children are where worship stems. The mouth, tongue, and voice are God-given instruments used to articulate the joy, sorrow, thanksgiving, and glory in the heart. When God listens, He not only hears the voices of His children, but He hears what their hearts and souls are singing to Him.
2 Timothy 4:2
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
Perhaps the most important instruction given to the church of Jesus Christ is to preach the word of God. The early disciples gave their lives for the sake of preaching the word wherever the Holy Spirit directed them. The apostles would travel from city to city, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and when men and women would confess their belief in Jesus, the apostles would baptize them, and labor with them and form a church in their city. The apostles would ordain faithful men and leave them in the city to do the work of regularly preaching the gospel to the church. The preaching of the word is for the growth of the church in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Preaching strengthens and encourages the church, and, when it is necessary, is a means of rebuking and correcting the church (2 Tim 3:16). When God raises up a man to serve a church as pastor, his main responsibility to God and the church is to preach the word of God to the assembly. When the pastor regularly presents healthy sermons from his diligent studying of God’s word, the church benefits, and the Lord Jesus receives glory. God is honored when His church preaches His word.
Fellowship & Communion
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
1 Corinthians 1:9
God [is] faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lastly, we see that Jesus Christ has authorized fellowship and communion within His church. As members of the body come together for worship, we share our hearts and experiences with one another. Jesus knows how lonely and troublesome the world is, and He has not commanded us to live in isolation from one another. Rather, Christ encourages us to help one another and share in the joys and sorrows of life (Rom 12:15; 1 Cor 12:26). The fellowship of the church extends in worship as we pray, sing, and hear the preached word together, and not in seclusion. Fellowship is also shared as members of the church partake of the Lord’s Supper and in washing each other’s feet. The time of communion is a very solemn and intimate occasion for the church to observe. Partaking of the bread, wine, and washing of feet requires each to be in fellowship, agreement, and unity with one another. It is a special event Christ has instructed His church to observe in order to memorialize His death.
1 Corinthians 11:26
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
If I then, [your] Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
As members of the church, we have a responsibility to Christ to observe all things He has commanded for us to observe (Mat 28:19-20). However, Christ has not given us authority to make additions to His church, nor to take elements away which He has given. To change the church would be to unlawfully seize authority, for which a person would then be in danger of judgment from God. The church belongs to the Lord Jesus, and as we learn more of Him, we are comforted by how He lovingly works among His people in and through the church. As we grow more deeply in love with Him we will also learn how sweet it is to trust in Jesus. The orders for His church are for our blessing and benefit. Let us follow these instructions and may we be blessed to see how wonderful it is to be part of the Lord’s church.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
March 25, 2022
The Lord Has Taken and the Lord Has Given
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
At the beginning of Job’s dreadful tribulations, he confesses a most humbling truth about the Lord.
20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
Job is absolutely correct. Experiences in life will affirm that God gives, and God also takes away. For Job, his children, his possessions, and his wife’s integrity had all been taken away. What he once rejoiced over was suddenly removed, and he lamented greatly.
Though Job’s statement is correct, it is uttered as a bitter truth. However, the Bible reveals to us that God is not only a giver and then a taker, but He’s also a taker and then a giver. Separation isn’t always a bad thing. It’s important to know that when God takes something away from His children, He always gives something in exchange. It may not be what we want, but we can be sure it is what we need. In time, it may be that we appreciate what God has done as we live to trust Him more.
Consider these texts that reveal how God takes away and then how God gives:
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
John the Baptist heralded the approach of Jesus Christ because the good news of the sins of God’s children would be taken away from their accounts. The promise of sins being removed is made even sweeter by the news that eternal life is given to as many as God has elected. At the Lord’s pleasure He has taken away the sins of the elect, and has given to them eternal life.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Hard and stony is how God describes the heart of the natural man who is dead in sins. God graciously removes the hard and stony heart, and lovingly gives a spiritual heart that is sensitive to the Lord. This operation of the Holy Ghost is performed on all of the elect. It is essential for spiritual understanding and godly living. God takes away the corruption within us, and plants His loving grace in its place.
8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and [offering] for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure [therein]; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all].
Before the appearance of the Son of God in the flesh, people worked to keep God’s laws that were given to Moses. Sacrifices of various animals were constant reminders of the reality of sin (Heb 10:3). The shedding of the blood of animals was useless in removing sin, but it was never intended by God to be a solution to the problem of sin. Instead, God waited to reveal His Son, Jesus Christ, who at His appearance would take away the obligation of animal sacrifices by satisfying the demands of God the Father. Christ, who willingly offered Himself to God, died as a sacrifice to put an end to the demands of the law of Moses. Now, God has established His Son as the fulfillment of the law, and beside Him there is no other satisfaction for the demands of God. God has taken away the guilt and has given liberty to the elect.
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
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.
For these last two verses, we read of Christ being taken up into heaven, the prophecy of His return, and the promise of the Comforter’s presence after Christ’s ascension. Though it was needful for Christ to return to the glory of the Father, Christ knew it would be an unbearable world for the disciples (John 16:12-13). Christ assured the disciples that though He would be taken away, He would give the Holy Ghost in exchange. The Lord has always honored His promise to never leave nor forsake His children (Heb 13:5).
Though we can often dread the thought of someone or something being taken from us, let us not be so discouraged as to forget that God doesn’t just take, but God also gives! The Lord is a gracious giver, and His riches are beyond measure. God supplies to us our needs at precisely the right time. Perhaps you feel robbed, or maybe you feel empty. Could it be that your focus on what is gone has caused you to overlook what God has given instead? Our disappointment often comes through a focus on what we don’t have, and wishing we had more of what we want. However, we must not trust in what is given, instead our trust should be in the Giver. He gives richly all things for His children to enjoy, but never for the purpose of idolizing the gift and forgetting God.
Let us be thankful for the Lord’s goodness to take away, because He’s never made an error in removing anything. And let us rejoice in the grace of God’s giving, since every gift we have received is undeserved. May the Lord bless us to see Him as merciful and loving in taking away and in giving.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
March 15, 2022
A House of Peace
2 Samuel 7:12-13
12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
After king David had officially taken the throne of a united Israel, a house was built for him by the king of Tyre. While David sat in his house of cedar, he observed how the ark of the LORD remained in a tent. David was moved to build a temple to house the ark of the covenant. However, God did not desire for David to build the house, but instead God would bless David’s son, Solomon, to build the temple.
1 Chronicles 28:5-6
5 And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel. 6 And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him [to be] my son, and I will be his father.
The LORD denied David the opportunity to build the house because David was a “man of war”:
1 Chronicles 28:3
But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou [hast been] a man of war, and hast shed blood.
War and bloodshed were characteristics of David’s ascent to and session of the throne of Israel, and much of it was necessary to the unification and security of Israel; God often commanding David when to battle and leading enemies into David’s hands. Yet, under the circumstances of death and fighting was not how God planned for his house to be built. Fighting is part of defending a house, but that must come only when necessary and should be ended when the threat is subdued so that peace may resume.
Solomon would later build the temple where God’s name and ark would be found. It was under circumstances of peace and unity that the house was constructed. Solomon offered many peace offerings and sacrifices at the dedication of the newly constructed temple. The temple was a beautiful sight to behold, and the people left the feast of the dedication of the temple with joy over all the goodness that the LORD had done for Israel (1 Kings 8:65-66).
The key to building a house today is no different than it was in David and Solomon’s time. Peace is required if a foundation, walls, and a roof are going to be constructed. Peace is also necessary for the Lord’s house (i.e. the church) to grow.
Our Adamic nature is terribly inclined to fight and war with one another. There are times when we are called to take a defensive stance, because it is our duty to defend God and His word. However, fighting one another in the flesh happens far too often, and typically has very little justification, if at any.
Though we can and should stand to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3), no church can grow through constant contention. Brothers fighting brothers, and sisters fighting sisters over pride, jealousy, correctness, etc., is not what is meant by contending for the faith. Standing up to those who would slander the name of the Lord, or deny His divine nature, etc., is what is meant. However, those debates should always be met with grace and charity. Even still, we do not wish for the church to be characterized only by contention since peace is a noble virtue, and a vital ingredient for healthy growth.
God’s sheep need a place of shelter and peace from a world that is constantly seeking to go to war with them. Why should we expect people to visit and join with us if what they see in the church looks like what they are trying to flee from in the world? How can we expect God’s house to grow when peace is not present? Pastors who constantly argue and fight should never expect for the churches they serve to grow, in fact, they should expect the opposite. Many churches have dissolved due to the constant fighting in which pastors and members were constantly engaged. God has spoken that He will not allow for His house to be built by men of war.
Jerusalem, a name which suggests peace, was often a place of fighting and bloodshed. Much of what took place in and around Jerusalem has denied its very name. Now the church of the Son of God is intended to be a true house of peace. It is the kingdom of the Prince of Peace. We must see that in order for growth and unity to be found within the church, brothers and sisters must be willing to seek peace with one another.
1 Peter 3:10-12
10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord [are] over the righteous, and his ears [are open] unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord [is] against them that do evil.
For some, there is uncertainty as to why the church isn’t growing, or why the end is near and the church meetinghouse will soon be closed forever. Has peace no place in the church? Has the existence of the believers been characterized by bitterness and fighting? In a country that is now more divided than ever, it appears that the influence of the culture has infiltrated the church. This should not be. Instead, let us bring our godly influence of peace to the culture. As His disciples, Jesus Christ has told us that we are to be the salt and light in this world, to bring change in the lives of the people around us. We must work together in this effort of peace.
[[A Song of degrees of David.]] Behold, how good and how pleasant [it is] for brethren to dwell together in unity!
Let us follow peace with all men (Heb 12:14). Let not the church of the Lord today be characterized by fighting, lest we see the church disappear from our part of the globe. Pray for peace in your own life, and pray for peace in the kingdom of God. If it is God’s will, I trust we will see the Lord continue to build His house in our day.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
March 8, 2022
Ministry of Reconciliation
2 Corinthians 5:16-19
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more. 17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Reconciliation is a word that implies restoration. It is a familiar word to the text of scripture and should bring a sense of relief to those who trust in the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason for the sense of relief is due to our understanding that Christ has reconciled His elect to God. He has restored us to a position of favor with God that once was broken down due to sin. In fact, Christ has not just reconciled us to life in Adam, but rather to life in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
We have been made heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom 8:17). This is a status inconceivable by mere men who are dead in sins, yet it has been achieved entirely by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Reconciliation is a most precious doctrine, and when we understand what it means, we then have a responsibility to uphold its importance before men.
As Christ has made us alive by the power of His voice (John 5:25), we now have been reconciled vitally unto God. Jesus has returned us unto our Lord. We are new creatures beholding the world and everything in it with new, spiritual eyes (2 Cor 5:17). Christ has restored what had been broken by Adam and our sin. Reconciliation has been made, and the Savior Jesus receives all glory!
Since we have been made alive in Christ, and because the word of reconciliation has come to our ears, we now should imitate Christ and His gracious act of reconciliation. The Father taking the first step toward His children by constructing the path Christ would walk to reconcile the elect to Himself required that the Father not only be aware of our deep and depraved transgressions, but that He would also look past them and see the abundant fellowship His children would enjoy when the work of reconciliation is finished. God in fact declared the end (reconciliation) from the beginning (before the foundation of the world) (Isa 46:10).
We have a very similar work to do in this world. At the heart of reconciliation is forgiveness. Though we often expect a person who has wronged us to make the first move and ask for forgiveness, the model found in scripture shows that God, the One who was trespassed against, was first to act. He was guiltless, yet He moved to restore sinners. Now that we have forgiveness, we are able to grant the same grace to others.
1 Peter 4:10
As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
As ministers of reconciliation, we have a duty to learn how we have been forgiven and seek to apply forgiveness to all who have offended us. To be quick to forgive, and eager to move forward in restoring a fruitful relationship where Christ is present. When we forgive others it demonstrates that we have not forgotten the blessed forgiveness that Christ has secured for us on our behalf. When we fail to forgive due to pride and hardness of heart, it is as if we no longer consider what Christ has done for us, and have forgotten how deep in sin we once were.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness toward others are all part of the work of the ministry of reconciliation. It is not always an easy task to perform, but the Lord works on our hearts through the Holy Spirit, strengthening us through softening us. The Holy Spirit does this through fellowship with Him in worship, study of the scripture, prayer, and fellowship with the saints. Our primary mission in serving the Lord is to serve in the fashion of Christ. He is the greatest example of One who never holds a grudge. He never condoned sin. He always called sinners to repentance. However, His message was clear, forgiveness has already been granted, reconciliation has been purchased, now turn your living heart to God and live in the blessings of reconciliation by granting it to others.
Is there someone in your life that needs to be released from the prison of your bitterness? Perhaps there is a grudge you may be holding over someone with the belief that it gives you power. When we consider how God could have held such offenses over our heads, but He didn’t, what right do we have to do so to others? Release, forgive, and be at peace.
The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and [it is] his glory to pass over a transgression.
May the Lord bless us to continue in His word of reconciliation, remembering to forgive others as we have been forgiven, and to exercise the faith we have received by trusting God’s ways more than our own.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
March 1, 2022
A Good Word for the Stooping Heart
Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.
We all have problems. Troubles plague us in this world of sin: a truth we all are familiar with to some degree. For some, troubles can be overwhelming to the point that it feels difficult, or even impossible to carry on with life the way it is. But we are reminded that “with God all things are possible” (Mat 19:26). The road may be difficult and dark, but it’s never too difficult or dark for God. The burden of carrying sorrow can be a heavy one, but sorrow was never meant to be carried alone. Jesus Christ, our Friend, has counseled us to cast our cares upon Him. Why? Because He cares for us (1 Pet 5:7).
Prolonged sadness can be indicative of mental health issues, for which medical help should be sought. Nobody should ever be shamed or discouraged by others for seeking help from professionals who are trained in alleviating mental and emotional issues. The Bible speaks of seeking balm, salve, oil, etc., which were medicinal remedies in ages past, for health problems people faced (see Jer 51:8; Eze 47:12, 27:17; Jam 5:14; Rev 3:18). Today should be no different seeing as medicine has been improved by leaps and bounds since the Bible has been completed. Unfortunately, mental health and medicine have been stigmatized, and people who seek professional help are terribly mislabeled as faithless, weak, or worldly. This could not be farther from the truth.
Friends, God has blessed us in this great age of advancement with knowledge and technology in many fields, and medicine being a very important one. If you have ever received helpful treatment, therapy, or cure, then praise the LORD! Give thanks for what you have been saved from, because we know all deliverances come from Almighty God! It is not faithless to seek medical help. It is like every other aspect of Christian life, it should be pursued while also praying and trusting that God is able to use medical care as a means to bring about healing. Though the Lord is able to heal the sick directly, it is not faithless, weak, or worldly to believe that God uses modern medicine as a means of applying His healing mercy.
Salvation [belongeth] unto the LORD: thy blessing [is] upon thy people. Selah.
What about our role in the lives of those whose hearts stoop due to sadness? How can we help others who are laden with sorrow and grief? Proverbs 12:25 says that a good word makes a depressed heart glad. This is understood as a principle, not a promise, but it reveals to us that encouragement from God’s uplifting word is as necessary as seeking professional medical attention. A friend should love at all times (Pro 17:17), and part of loving our friends is lending our support to them through encouragement. This should come when times are difficult or when times are good. Finding a place in scripture from which to encourage someone is not difficult, but it does require us to be thoughtful and considerate of what others are going through.
It is not always clear what others are facing in life. Some may be living with unencumbered joy at the moment, and some may be struggling with the most dreadful situation of their life, regardless, we are put on this earth to serve and love. So, let us serve one another through loving encouragement. Take time during your daily schedule to help lift up a stooping heart with a good word. Look for a text in the Bible and send it to someone for their encouragement. Let them know you love them and are praying for them. What a simple way to help serve someone today.
If you are going through a difficult time, seek the help of our Great Physician, Jesus Christ. Go to the Lord in prayer. We should never disparage people for seeking medical help, but we are more than physical people. We are also spiritual. The physical and spiritual elements of our being are so closely connected that they greatly affect the other. Seek help by going to our Savior first, ask for His leadership and deliverance. The Lord is able to direct you to those he has placed in this world to be of assistance to you. Do not be ashamed to ask for help from people in your life. Though troubles exist in this world, it is not hopeless. There is always help as long as Jesus is the victor over this world.
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.
Oh, how great our Savior is to His people! How gracious He is to lift up our heads and draw our attention to the Sun of righteousness who arises with healing in His wings (Mal 4:2)! May the Lord bless and encourage you in His word today and everyday, and may we all strive to be agents of His good word to those with heavy hearts.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
February 21, 2022
Thy Will Be Done
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
Thy will be done. This one important phrase is often difficult for us to utter. The reason why is because our flesh nature is comforted by having some sense of control in matters. We all are familiar with this strong and often crippling desire to control situations in our lives, but for some it is often why the thought of flying in an airplane, or undergoing surgery, or even allowing for someone to run errands for them is a frightening thought. There exists a fear of trusting someone else with our lives and the things in our life. The fear is often coupled with a belief that we can do it better than others, which comes from an arrogance of the flesh.
The lesson of trusting God is prevalent in the scriptures. The word trust is mentioned in the Bible 134 times, also trusting (1), trusteth (17), trusted (29), and the word faith and its forms, which can often be understood as trust in God, is mentioned a multitude of times. The instruction to trust in the Lord is a major subject of the Bible, so we can conclude that one of the greatest lessons in life is to learn how to trust God.
Another difficulty with expressing a desire for God’s will to be done can be traced to our weakness in trusting our invisible God. We know this is a matter of faith, and can be overcome, because we read how Moses had overcome the weakness of flesh and trusted our unseen God.
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
Life in a temporal, material world conditions us to trust only in what can be seen, felt, and understood. Nevertheless, Jesus instructs us to trust the Lord and submit to the will of Him who is unseen. He appeals to the faith He has given us, our spiritual sense, which stands as the evidence for things unseen (Heb 11:1).
How, then, do we learn to trust the Lord? How do we bring ourselves to faithfully and sincerely express from the heart our desire for God’s will to be done in our lives? The answer is to learn more about God. Building a closer fellowship with God by drawing nearer to Him in study of God’s word will help us to see God’s good and perfect nature. As we spend time reading about God’s actions of the past, and as we begin to understand that He never changes, we will become more comfortable in trusting Him with the matters in our life. Belief that God is good, and everything He does is good and for our good, is essential in trusting God and believing that His will should be done, even in the most delicate matters of our life.
But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Three things are important for us to keep in mind concerning why Christ has instructed His disciples to pray asking for God’s will to be done:
- Man has a will of his own. Man’s will, by nature, is sinful and cannot accomplish anything good. A person’s will conflicts with God’s will, and so if a person would do any good it must first be that God changes the person. Once God has changed the person by giving him a new heart and bringing him out of death in sins and into new life (Eph 2:1; Col 2:13), the person is able to use his new, spiritual mind to make choices that align with God’s will. However, that person, so long as he is in this world, will live with an internal conflict between the old nature of flesh, and the new nature of the spirit. This is best summarized by a few verses from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
- God has a will. The will of God is always good, because God, by nature, is only good. All that God does is for our good. Though calamity and judgment come from God, these also accomplish His will and purposes. God, in His perfect will, is able to overrule the will of sinful man, and often God exercises His sovereign power to rule against the fallacious choices of man. God also suffers the sinful actions of men to be carried out, though He despises sin. Though God allows sin, it is not an endorsement of sin. Sin and death are a result of man’s disobedience, not God’s pleasure.
Man is able to align His will with God’s will, which is what Christ is expressed in His model prayer for His disciples. Jesus was instructing us to desire God’s will to be done as opposed to the sinful will of mankind.
34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom [is] from generation to generation: 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
- We should desire God’s will. Understanding God and His nature will help us see how God can and should be trusted. When we consider how faithful God has been to us in our past, we must trust that God will continue to abide faithfully with us in our future. As we observe how Jesus taught His disciples to pray, it was so that God’s will would be done “as in heaven, so in earth”. God’s will is always done in heaven. No one is contradicting God beyond the pearly gates, and that is because sin has no presence in heaven, but sin is very present in this world. Earth is filled with the will of fallen mankind constantly working against the goodness of God. Think of how much sweeter things will be when all we know is the perfect will of God. We can do our best while in earth to live according to the will of God.
So, this leads us to briefly examine what God’s will is for us. We should understand that God has revealed some things in His will, and some things are still a mystery to us. It is important to know that God has spoken on subjects such as worship, prayer, thanksgiving, belief of the gospel of Jesus Christ, godly living, honesty, faithfulness, justice, etc., and that these are all things revealed in God’s word for us. These things are truly good, and in faithfully honoring God through these things, we can be assured we are in God’s will.
What can be difficult is not knowing, or understanding God’s will. Some of life’s hardest moments that put our faith on trial can lead us to question God’s will. Perhaps it’s the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or some life-altering disaster that leaves us wondering why? The truth is that we will not always know the answer to the question, why did this happen? However, we can always trust that God is good, no matter what. That though He takes away, He also graciously gives. It is with that in mind that we can confidently go to God’s throne of grace and boldly petition Him for anything big or small (Heb 4:16), but we must also bear in mind that ultimately God’s will is what is best for us, whatever that may be. We must trust God, even when we don’t understand what is happening.
As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, may our longing for His will to be done in earth grow also. May the Lord bless us to see how good, acceptable, and perfect His will is (Rom 12:2), that we would desire to be more precisely conformed to His ways.
5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
February 19, 2022
1 John 3:18-21
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, [then] have we confidence toward God.
The Bible is not short on providing assurance of salvation to the believer in Christ. Unfortunately, some teachers avoid certain passages intended to comfort God’s people, or even worse, some lead God’s children purposefully into doubt in order to exercise control over them. God has not commanded His ministers to frighten the children of God, but rather to comfort them with the gospel of peace and good tidings (Rom 10:15).
1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.
First of all, it’s important to know why we have confidence of our salvation. The reason is because of who has furnished salvation, which is none other than the infallible Son of God, Jesus Christ. When our trust and belief is in Him and His perfect work, we have no reason to doubt since we know that Jesus Christ cannot fail. We should visit the gospel and spend time learning how great and mighty Christ is. As we see that He is perfect, we will naturally understand that everything He does is perfect. There is no error in His work, and what He has done will not fail. God’s people need to know that our confidence must be in Jesus Christ, or else we will never be assured of our salvation.
When we believe the gospel of truth, that Christ alone has secured us through His death and resurrection, then we should place our faith only in Christ. When we place our faith in the Lord, He blesses us to receive a gift. The gift is not eternal life, because when we believe in Christ it stands as evidence that we already possess eternal life. Rather, the gift received is a token, or what the Bible tells us is an “earnest of our inheritance”.
13 In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
God is faithful to provide us an assurance of our salvation by giving us an experience of heavenly joy and peace. These precious gifts come to us through the Holy Spirit. The gifts grant a relief to the conscience of God’s people and allow for us to see that we have been made righteous by the grace of God (Rom 5:1). This “earnest of our inheritance” is meant to be a sign that conveys a message of comfort from God, it assures us that our experience is real and that there is much more to come. Because of the sign of assurance from God, we may know that we will be carried with Jesus at His return, to the joys of heavenly paradise.
Perhaps someone is dealing with doubt concerning their eternal life. This isn’t uncommon. Our walk in this world is not a perfect one, and Satan often tries to steal our assurance through temptations and fears. While John the Baptist was in prison, he sent messengers to inquire whether Jesus truly was the Messiah. Christ sent word back to John, who was most certainly in a dark valley of life, saying, “tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached” (Luke 7:22). Christ intended to assure the discouraged John of who He was by reminding John of what He has done. Certainly Jesus was the Messiah because the undeniable evidence witnessed by John and others stood as assurance that only the Messiah could do such things.
We, too, need to be reminded of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We must turn to the scriptures for patience, comfort and hope (Rom 15:4). When we get discouraged, or doubts begin to infiltrate our minds, go back to the word of God and read what Jesus has done. Then remember and know that you are in Christ, and there is no safer place for us to be.
Another way for us to lose a sense of our assurance is when we fail to live out our purpose as servants of God. We can forget who we are when we don’t uphold our duties. One of which is our service of love. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Putting our love in action is what we are made to do! When we neglect that, we can often spiral into despair and hopelessness. This does not erase our salvation, but it can cause us to lose a sense of our assurance, and the joy and peace that come with that assurance. When we faithfully serve by putting our love in action, we are then comforted by God’s grace. “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him” (1 John 3:19).
Another verse to consider for our assurance:
1 John 3:14
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death.
Notice how the above verse uses the word “know”. This is more than a wish, and it is more than just hoping we are saved, but this is intended to be an assurance to believers in Jesus that our selfless love for our brothers and sisters in Christ stands as evidence of God’s marvelous work of salvation in us, and is intended to provide the comfort of assurance.
When ministers fail to uphold what the scriptures say about comforting God’s people of their salvation, it can deeply impact the people of God. Removing confidence doesn’t just damage the believer, but it damages the name of the Savior. If confidence is rightly placed in Jesus Christ, where it must be for assurance, and then a person is told that they cannot know they are saved, then that not only destroys the hope of a believer, but it also discredits the work of Jesus Christ. A child of God under the sound of the gospel should never walk away from a sermon having any doubt about the perfect finished work of Christ, nor of His power to save and secure His people forever. What a crime it is when the gospel minister does not provide scriptural assurance to believers in Jesus Christ, about who the Savior is and how they are secure in Him!
May the Lord bless our hearts to be assured and know that what Christ has done is good and very good; that Jesus does all things well (Mark 7:37). May we know that “we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psa 95:7), and that no one is able to separate us from Him (John 10:28-29; Rom 8:39). May we be assured that even though our hearts can condemn us, that God is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20). That we would not trust not in ourselves, but in the living God, and be assured that the Lord knows them that are His (2 Tim 2:19).
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
February 7, 2022
You Are Peculiar!
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
If one were to take a simple cursory review of the Bible, one might walk away from that review understanding the important theme of sacrifice. After all, one doesn’t get very deep into the text of scripture before reading how God made coats of skins for Adam and Eve after their transgression in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:21), coats which required the sacrifice of an animal to be made for their sake. From the shedding of the blood of bulls, goats, and sheep, to the offering of Jesus Christ’s life on a cross outside the gates of Jerusalem, bloodshed, death, and sacrifice is a well-noted subject of the Bible.
One might ask, “why so much blood?”, and one answer is because where sin is there is also death. Death is a resulting penalty for breaking God’s law (Rom 6:23). Certainly the sacrifice of a bull or an ox would have been felt as a loss to a family or individual, but it was a loss God ordered His people to take so that the family would remain known as a family of God’s law.
When Jesus Christ came into the world it was for the purpose of seeking and saving that which was lost (Luke 19:10). The Apostle Paul said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Tim 1:15a). Saving sinners is what Jesus intended to do, and the word makes it clear that Jesus accomplished exactly that by the shedding of His blood.
Jesus saving sinners meant that they would belong to the Father who sent Jesus to die on their behalf; to redeem the sinners chosen by God, taking possession of them instead of allowing for them to be casted away forever. Our Father God made provisions through His eternally begotten Son to make a people for Himself.
The blood that Christ shed at the cross was not a demonstration of death, nor was it without effect, rather it was a transaction that took place. The life of the perfect, sinless Son of God was exchanged for the elect sinners. The chosen people were being purchased and delivered from God’s wrath, and into God’s heavenly glory.
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
The redemption of the elect by Christ was made by giving up His life and shedding His precious, costly blood (1 Pet 1:18). At the high cost of Christ’s life, our lives have been purchased. The truth is that we are not our own. The Bible informs us that the elect are God’s peculiar people. Meaning: we are His. This is a truth that the present world both hates and rejects, yet to the believer in Christ, there truly is no better news.
Often we hear or read the word peculiar and we instantly think of how it means strange or different. Well, that isn’t wrong, it actually helps us to understand the way the Bible uses the word. Since we are God’s possession, we then consider ourselves not of the world, but of God. We are strangers on planet earth. If we are God’s people then we are different from others who reject Christ and who view this world as their permanent residence.
If we believe we are included in God’s peculiar family then it is through this lens that we must view our lives and the world around us. When we realize that we are the possession of God, we must not live life the same as before knowing this precious truth. How we view our body, our children, our money and materials all must change. We must confess those things to be the Lord’s. My body is actually His body which He has purchased, and I must submit to using it how it pleases Him. My children are really His children, and I must surrender to His ways of training and nurturing them. Even time and energy change, for now we see that those things are His also, and must be used in ways that please Him.
It is when God saw our dead and depraved estate that He took pity on us. In our alienation God chose to bring us in and make us part of His family. While in death we were far from God, but through the giving of Christ’s life we have been brought into the very heart of God.
Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time [was] the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.
Does knowing this change life for you? I confess that it does for me. I can no longer look at this world in the same way. I see myself, my family, my roles and responsibilities as all coming at a cost. Not at my cost, for I could never afford such wonderful things, rather it is by the giving of Jesus Christ that all of this exists. Everything in my life has been given and it is truly all by grace. Knowing, now, at what great price these things have come, I must confess as Saul of Tarsus did, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).
How wonderful is our God that He would allow for us to care for so much in His world! To be entrusted with His things. To shepherd His little children. To recognize that our lives are His and we are safely hidden in Christ (Col 3:3). Not only does He bless us to be stewards of these precious gifts, but He also instructs us through His word to care for these things. From mind, to soul, to children, to body, and money, God’s word has much to say to help us. Let us not neglect the gifts we have received, but let us view our lives, and all that is in it, as being His. May we be found faithfully giving glory to God while these things are in our care.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
January 31, 2022
Our Defense Against Confusion
Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied [him]? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil [is] good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where [is] the God of judgment?
Perhaps one of the most disappointing aspects of our current world is the high speed in which bad ideas travel. We see the blessings in technology, but for every good use we have, there seems to be an immoral use, also. The internet and the various forms of media at our disposal have both expanded our knowledge, and inhibited our growth. With our technology today a person is able to access video of a gospel sermon, and another person is able to view explicit carnal material.
Of course we could break this down into finer details, but the overall point is that God has a good purpose in mind when He allows such useful tools to be developed; purposes to bless and benefit mankind. Yet, it doesn’t take long for these tools to be corrupted and used in destructive ways, which proves that sin is still very present in our world.
One of the tasks Christians face is in not confusing good with evil, and vice versa. We work especially hard on this when training children. Their precious, young, impressionable minds are easily carried away by the myriad of influences in life. Of course, Satan relentlessly works in areas of mass influence to devise blurred lines of morality which once were considered plainly understood. This is not a new trick for him since from the beginning Satan has both questioned and twisted what God has said, creating doubt in the minds of God’s people (Genesis 3:1-5).
In our above verse, we read that God becomes weary of men twisting His words by telling people that those that do evil are good in His sight. Though God is longsuffering toward man’s wickedness, God has a limit to how much He will suffer (Romans 9:22). We should know, God will judge the unrighteousness of men who call good evil and evil good.
Isaiah 5:20, 24
20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! …
24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, [so] their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Though some may doubt His vengeance by saying “where is the promise of His coming?”, God has promised to put an end to such evil at His return (2 Peter 3:3-7).
Today there are many vain ways of living, many sinful lifestyle choices, and a variety of evil pleasures in which a person could choose to destroy self. The work for us involves fighting against the corrupt ideas which lead to destruction.
The battle first begins with our own mind, not allowing the world to define for us what is good and bad, but rather to be convinced that God has the answers for us in His holy word.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
God’s word will help to transform our way of thinking, so as to not be conformed to a world that confuses good and evil. The work is ours to do seeing that the verse states “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Next, we have the responsibility to shepherd our children in the truth of God’s word, and in the sheltering care of family and church life, which should truly be one in the same. Rather than allowing our children to be so greatly influenced by the vain youths of unbelieving parents, we should work to create an environment for our children that is conducive to growth in Christ rather than being delivered to conditions which cause confusion (Psalm 144:11).
Often we feel our children are strong enough to remain steadfast in faith, and we toss them into the world unprepared and unanchored. We do the same things that parents who lose their children to the world use, but we expect different results. That is foolish. In order to have our children live for Christ we cannot follow the same formula the world uses, lest our children be given over to the same corruptions as the world.
Shepherding children, as Christ shepherds us, isn’t about creating a spotless, squeaky-clean world, but rather using wisdom in teaching children at the appropriate time about what God’s word says about the world we live in. God has given parents a major responsibility in shepherding the hearts of their children, for which we all should undertake with reverence and humility.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Training involves daily routines and exercises. For Christian parents, it means being as faithful to include God’s word in our children’s lives as brushing teeth and eating vegetables. Study of God’s word must be a habitual practice that our children expect from us.
Lastly, when we are strengthened in our gospel world view, we should seek to honor God through good works everywhere, including our realm of influence. Living by our biblical convictions and obeying God’s word will have an effect on those around us. This way of life is not for the weak or fearful. Too often we become paralyzed by the fear of what other people may think. However, this life isn’t about us, it is about the glory of the Father.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
How do we combat the confusion of good and evil in the world? It starts with me understanding and living in God’s word, and then it goes out to others. God’s word defines good and evil with no confusion. The Bible is our lamp to shine light in this dark world. God also provides Himself as our leader. The Holy Spirit helps us in our walk with Him. In this world confusing errors spread quickly from east to west, but God and His word remain true and steadfast. Anchor yourself to the immovable truth of God’s word and He will deliver you from being tossed around by every strange doctrine of men (Ephesians 4:14).
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
January 24, 2022
Learning From A Dog
21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, [thou] Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast [it] to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great [is] thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
There are many stories from the Bible that move me to tears, and this is one of them. The occasion when Jesus sends a devil out of a Gentile woman’s daughter due to her faithfulness brings some important lessons to our attention. Here are some things to observe about this interaction.
While Jesus was ministering in an area that was mixed with both Jews and Gentiles, a woman of Grecian descent (from Syrophoenicia; Mark 7:26) approached Him. Jesus was a Jew, and the Jews had few dealings with the Gentiles (John 4:9). The attitude toward this Gentile woman can be noted in how Christ’s disciples ignored her until she couldn’t be ignored any longer, at which point they asked Jesus to send her away. I imagine she had been following them and crying for quite awhile. However, her persistence got the attention of the Lord.
A point which Jesus makes in His parable of the widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8) is “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint”. When what we desire of the Lord is good, and what we request can be petitioned honestly from a pure heart, we should not fail in that prayer. We should desire good from the Lord. Jesus showed us what was good over and over again: acts of healing, mercy, justice, restoration, revival, etc. We look at what Jesus did and understand that He’s just the same today (Hebrews 13:8). There is nothing wrong with persistently praying for the Lord to work His power in our lives and the lives of others. Indeed, pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
In an open trial of the Gentile woman’s faith, Jesus spoke dismissive words, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. In other words, you’re not a Jew, so I have nothing for you. However, she pushed through to Jesus and worshiped Him. Then, Jesus tried her once more, and wielded the shameful term “dog” when He spoke to her. Though Jews commonly called Gentiles dogs, it’s important to know that Jesus wasn’t trying to be hateful, but knowing that she would continue to faithfully seek His help, Jesus sets her up for an open demonstration of faith.
Sometimes we may think that our unanswered prayers, our prolonged hardships and difficulties are cruel or shameful, but we must remember that Jesus loves and cares for His children. He doesn’t leave or forsake them. Our continued trust in Jesus despite our circumstances will result in His glory. God can magnify our faith in Him, and thus magnify His Son in us. It is an opportunity to glorify the Lord.
How interesting that the Gentile woman did not deny she was a dog. She didn’t fight back or resist what her Master said. When I think more deeply on that, maybe I understand the reasons why she accepted it. I consider how my dog follows me faithfully wherever I go. She sits beside me, waiting for a bit of attention, maybe a scratch on the head. My dog will wait with anticipation beside the table when it’s dinner time, expecting some morsel to accidentally land on the floor, where she will quickly devour it. I don’t get mad at her, I’m happy for her. “What a privilege for her!”, I think to myself, and she is happy when she gets something. She will wag her tail, and she will patiently wait again. Strangely enough, when I consider the faithful, expectant, happy disposition of a dog, I realize why, perhaps, it was humbly received by the Gentile woman.
The woman obviously meant more to Jesus than a dog. The woman was precious in the sight of Jesus, a beloved daughter of the heavenly King. He tried her faith, and she excelled! She was crying out to the Lord on behalf of her child. She was willing to suffer anything for her, even shame, knowing that who she begged and worshiped was able to deliver her daughter, and He did. She stands as a testimony for us to remain faithful, to plead for others, and despite what others may say or think, our patient waiting for Jesus will be blessed in the Lord’s good and perfect time. The earth is full of the Lord’s mercy (Psalm 119:64), and if we take time to consider the world our God has made, we will find so much that can inform us about our relationship with Him, even from a dog.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
January 17, 2022
The Length of Our Lives
Over the life of my ministry I have been asked by several different people, “Can we shorten or lengthen our life on earth? Or is our time of death unalterable?” These are good questions to which, I’m sure, all have an interest in knowing the answers. To know what the facts are concerning life and death (and any other related subject) we go to the Bible.
First of all, we should remember that God is supreme and sovereign (Daniel 4:34-35). He will do all that is His pleasure to do. Our lives are ultimately in His hands. God is omniscient (He knows all things) and prescient (has foreknowledge of future things), He is not informed (Romans 11:33-35) and His counsel stands in eternity (Isaiah 46:10). God is immutable, meaning, God does not change, nor does His mind change (Malachi 3:6), what God does He has always intended to do from eternity. However, God also has foreknowledge of people, their behaviors, and their prayers. These things He included in eternity when His counsel stood.
Anything I say after this is simply a principle that hinges on whether or not something is in God’s sovereign will and counsel, as described above.
Now we consider what is in our hands to do as people living in the realm of time and change. We know that death is a reality and that God knows when we will breathe our last breath. Foolishness and unnecessary risks can threaten our lives, and even bring them to a tragic end. We are instructed to be wise and fear the LORD. We are also instructed to pray for God’s providence and protection. Simply put, the Bible instructs us to obey and pray.
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
We read that Solomon is admonishing his son to live in obedience, and if he will, then he will experience a long life. This is within his son’s ability to perform, as well as ours. We should understand that God’s word stands as instruction for how to live while in this sinful and dangerous world. God’s commandments are good for us, so when we honor God through keeping His commandments, He has already seen it in eternity and has considered our way of living.
5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. 8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
To trust in the LORD, to follow His paths of instruction, and to praise Him and love His ways will be a blessing to our physical health in this world, as well as our spiritual health, and these two are related. This stands as a principle of godly living, but it is contingent upon God’s righteous will. He can and does overrule things for His own glorious and good purpose.
Other verses that indicate God blesses with longer life through obedience:
Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong [thy] days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.
There are examples in the Bible that inform us of how sin and wickedness will cut a life short. Saul, king of Israel, was an example of one whose life was ended due to his sinful choices.
1 Chronicles 10:13-14
13 So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, [even] against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking [counsel] of [one that had] a familiar spirit, to enquire [of it]; 14 And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.
Because Saul chose to do evil (therefore), God responded to Saul’s evil by taking Saul’s life.
Then there is the amazing story of king Hezekiah, who was told his life was coming to an end due to a sickness, but then king Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, and the Lord informed Hezekiah that fifteen years had been added to his life. This is a good lesson for why prayer is important.
1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live. 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, 3 And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done [that which is] good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. 4 Then came the word of the LORD to Isaiah, saying, 5 Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.
The verses below indicate that God exercises His good pleasure concerning the lives of the people on earth. God sometimes suffers the wicked to live long lives, and also takes the lives of the righteous at seemingly early stages.
15 All [things] have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just [man] that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked [man] that prolongeth [his life] in his wickedness. 16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? 17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?
We are also instructed to pray for one another when it illness and injury are at hand:
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Another general principle which the Bible tells us of is the typical life expectancy:
The days of our years [are] threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength [they be] fourscore years, yet [is] their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
So, how should we respond to this information? Well, we must remember that God is supreme and His judgments are just and righteous. If we obey and live in the light of His gospel, the Lord may add His blessings of a good long life, if He is pleased to do so. To live in disobedience will bring death. However, to expect to live a life of around 70 to 80 years is reasonable, and biblical.
To summarize, our days and years are in the gracious hands of the LORD. This world is not our home, so let’s not get too attached to it. Trust in the Lord and keep His commandments. Live in the love of Jesus. Wait upon the LORD. Be good stewards of His manifold grace. Be wise and seek help, care, and good health. Pray for those who are sick, and see if these things do not lead to good changes, by God’s grace. See how the Lord may bless your soul and perhaps cause you to feel as if your strength is renewed and your life is invigorated by His abundant mercies.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
January 10, 2022
The Power to Forgive Sins
17 And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was [present] to heal them. 18 And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought [means] to bring him in, and to lay [him] before him. 19 And when they could not find by what [way] they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with [his] couch into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? 22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? 23 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? 24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. 25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.
In this miraculous account we are reminded of several important things relating to the heart, which should encourage us to do good works. When a sick man’s friends work together to bring him to be healed by Jesus, Jesus blesses the sick man on account of the faith of the friends. The friends were doing something that the man with palsy couldn’t do, which was to physically go to where Jesus was. Despite the man’s inability, his loving friends came through for him.
What an important example to us of how faithful friends can and should be a blessing! The man with palsy was not so isolated that he had no friends at all, but rather knew the importance of relationship and fellowship. What a gift it is when we remain close in fellowship with our friends in Christ. The faithful who will lovingly and carefully take us to Jesus in prayer. Though we are capable of praying for ourselves, sometimes our own prayers are hindered. So it seems that this man was hindered by more than just illness.
Before Christ commands him to rise up and walk, He first declares to the man that his sins are forgiven. This reminds us that it is most needful for our sins to be forgiven and put away. It seems the palsy the man experienced was due to his personal sins. It was not because he was born with palsy, or that his parents had sinned, but this problem came upon him by his own actions. Jesus knowing that the spiritual sickness of sin is far more treacherous than any physical illness, He instantly grants forgiveness to the man, and that on account of the faith of his friends. We should know that though sin in respect to eternity is forgiven in Christ at the cross, sin also has earthly implications, for which we will suffer temporal results if we do not seek repentance and forgiveness. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
When Christ declared the man forgiven it caused the scribes to inwardly revile Jesus. Since they did not believe Him to be the Son of God they also did not believe Him to have the authority to forgive sins, but Jesus proved to those watching that His power to forgive sins was genuine by healing the man of palsy.
I imagine the shocked look on the faces of the scribes. They believed Jesus to be blaspheming when He spoke forgiveness, but His words were justified when Christ told the man to rise and walk. He made full proof that He possessed the power and authority of God. Though the scribes dealt with problems bigger than just doubting Christ, I find it amazing that Christ would take time to perform wonders that would cause His children to believe and also silence the mouths of arrogant hypocrites. Our Savior God is truly awesome!
In conclusion, I hope we see ways in which we can respond to this Biblical event. Praying for our loved ones. Seeking forgiveness for our sins. Viewing Jesus as more than just a dispenser of our wishes and wants, but that He is the God of mercy and forgiveness. Let us keep this account in mind and heart so that we may put into practice the work of carrying those in need to Jesus, which is the mark of a true friend.
In Christian Love,
Elder Ben Cordes
January 3, 2022