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What the Bible says about Permanence of Spiritual Things
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 6:19-20

Jesus illustrates His admonition in Matthew 6:19-20 by counseling us to consider carefully two facts when comparing earthly and heavenly treasures. First, moth and rust cannot destroy heavenly treasures. Second, thieves cannot break in and steal treasures in heaven, which we valued so highly that we worked diligently to possess them. Both categories represent the high probability of earthly treasures steadily declining in value after having cost us much time and energy in obtaining them.

The first category—moth and rust—represents all the factors existing in the natural world that cause earthly treasures to deteriorate and lose their value. Foods become moldy, garments wear out, metals tarnish—even land can lose its fertility, become infested with weeds, or wash away. Fences and walls break down, roofs leak and cave in, and termites invade and destroy houses. Hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, fires, and floods can destroy expensive, well-built homes in a matter of minutes. What does a person have then but an empty lot that once held his family's home?

Thieves breaking in and stealing stand for the human element in diminishing or destroying value. If we do not tend to them carefully night and day, our treasures too often, either slowly or all at once, disappear into the hands of enemies. Apparently, in using this illustration, Jesus was thinking of the homes common to His area of the world, most of which were constructed of clay. Thieves could rather easily dig through the walls of a mud-brick home and steal the homeowner's valuables.

We should also consider inflation, which eats away the savings of many. There is also governmental mismanagement of national affairs resulting in higher taxes, as well as bank failures, stock market crashes, business insolvencies, and prolonged illnesses. Even the bodies and minds of the strongest of us gradually wear down, eventually causing the individual to die.

The simple reality is that we cannot take earthly treasures through the grave. In comparison with heavenly things, such physical treasures have a limited “lifetime” of value. We could say that earthly treasures picture temporariness while heavenly ones last for eternity (II Corinthians 4:18).

The Bible provides ample evidence that God is not against pursuing earthly treasure as long as His sons and daughters do not allow it to deflect them away from the primary goals that He has set for us. That line between them must be prayerfully and thoughtfully worked out between the child of God and God Himself. In Scripture, a wealthy person is not automatically reprobate under God's standard of judgment. Genesis 13:2 states, “Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.” Note, Abram was not merely rich but “very rich.” And not only that, he was the friend of God (James 2:23). On the other hand, a rich person is not automatically accepted either.

Nor does the Bible condemn the setting aside of provision to take care of potential future needs, perhaps for a disaster. Joseph's advice to Pharaoh in Genesis 41:33-35 was to store up during the good years so there would be enough during the coming famine. The text later shows that God approves of Joseph's suggestion to set aside wealth to be prepared when bad times arrive.

The apostle Paul does not make a mistake in II Corinthians 12:14, where he counsels the Corinthians: “Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.” Parents are to “lay up” or set money aside for their children. In the same vein, though somewhat more broadly, the apostle writes in I Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Five)

Hebrews 1:10-12

To us, the physical seems so solid, indestructible, and permanent, at least in terms of our own brief existence. But Hebrews tells us to get our attention off the immediate, the "around and about," the physical. We are to reorient our lives, our thinking, our focus, toward the eternality of Christ's dominion.

A profound reality of God and His Word is that they are changeless. "You remain," Hebrews 1:11 says, but we grow old and die. The eternal values never change, and even more exciting, they can be taken through the grave.

What is important in our lives? The immediate gratifications offered by this world? The things we possess? The accomplishments we achieve? If so, we will not likely see God very frequently. Or, we can ask, what in our lives demands our time, effort, and thought? An objective answer to this may reveal what we really worship.

We cannot identify with or worship anything transient. Something must "remain" or "continue" (ASV), as verses 10-12 tell us. Something eternal must abide; something unchanging must continue. To this we can cling, and within it, we can live our life by faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Do You See God? (Part One)

Hebrews 1:10-12

This verses contain a vivid contrast to Ecclesiastes 1. In nature, everything is undergoing constant change from one generation to another. In contrast, God changes not; He is permanent.

Though Solomon reaches the despairing conclusion that the crooked cannot be made straight, God is saying to His children, on the other hand, that now is the time to effect positive, worthwhile changes with His help. These changes will eventually become a permanent part of our personality because the great Creator is working within us.

We find ourselves, then, in a situation where life appears to be vain and absurd, but for the Christian it is not. God has designed things so that we, being able to see the contrast, consciously make the choices in our lives to move toward the permanent and eternal, effecting the changes we need to make in our character to be carried through the grave.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 1)


 




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