Matthew 24:38 “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,”
“For as in the days that were before the flood”: Not all the days before the flood, from the creation of the world; but those immediately preceding it, a century or two before it: they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage: not that these civil actions of life were criminal in themselves, had care been taken that they were not abused.
It is lawful to eat and drink, provided it be in moderation, and not to excess; and to marry, and give in marriage, when the laws, rules, and ends thereof, are observed: and therefore this must be understood, either of their wholly giving themselves up to the pleasures of life, and lusts of the flesh, without any concern about the affairs of religion, the worship and glory of God, the welfare of their souls and their approaching danger, of which Noah had given them warning.
Or of their luxury and intemperance, in eating and drinking, and of their libidinous and unlawful marriages; for the word here used for eating, signifies eating after the manner of brute beasts: they indulged themselves in a brutish way, in gluttony and drunkenness; and it is certain from the account given of them, in Genesis 6:2 that they entered into unlawful marriages, and unclean copulations.
Wherefore these things may be spoken of them, as what were really sinful and wicked, and denote a course of sinning, a constant practice of these sins of intemperance and lust, and which is still more fully expressed, until the day that Noah entered into the ark.
The observation that the people of Noah’s day “knew not” the severity and suddenness of the coming destruction indicates that this last generation will be totally unprepared for the “coming of the Son of man,” the return of Christ to judge the world (see 2 Thess. 1:7-8).
The reference to “two” being in the field or at work at the time of Christ’s return implies the suddenness of His coming to separate the lost and the saved.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.
When we first turn to Ephesians 2:8-9, the first thing we notice is that we are confronted with a whole list of spiritual-sounding words: grace, saved, faith, gift, works. Even those of us who have been in God’s church for many years and who may clearly understand each of these words individually, are slowed down in our comprehension of these verses when faced with such terms presented one after the other.
So let us take a very brief Greek lesson. Please take the time to study these words in more detail. Here are the key terms contained in this scripture in English and Greek, the Strong’s Concordancereference number, and, to make the meanings clearer, other English terms translated in the New Testament from the same Greek words:
- Grace (#5485): charis (khar’-ece). Also translated as favor, thanks, thank, pleasure.
- Saved (#4982): sozo (sode’-zo). Also translated as make whole, heal, be whole.
- Faith (#4102): pistis. Also translated as assurance, believe, belief, those who believe, fidelity.
- Gift (#1435): doron. Also translated as present, offering.
- Works (#2041): ergon. Also translated as deed, doing, labor.
We have just learned that ergon is the original Greek for the English word “works.” It does not appear to be a very difficult, ambiguous, or confusing term. But what do the many people and churches who
claim that works are not required perceive “works” to be?
Opinions vary. One group perceives works to mean the whole law in general. A second group perceives works as specific portions of God’s law, which they look upon as being “Jewish” or “Old Covenant,” or that they are just not willing to keep and teach. A third group, amazingly enough in their rejection of it, perceives this term as meaning works of charity in general!
Individuals or groups who choose to substitute the word “law” for the word “works” in Ephesians 2:8-9, and who thus say that New Testament Christians do not have to keep God’s law, do not appear to mean it totally and literally. Instead, most of them reserve the right to choose which parts of the law they wish to keep (“You shall not kill,” “You shall not steal,” etc.) and those that they do not wish to keep (“Remember the Sabbath,” holy days, tithing, clean and unclean meats, etc.). God has nowhere given authority to His people to be selective in these matters, thus this stance toward the law is inconsistent and even hypocritical.
The church of God has always agreed one hundred percent with those who say that salvation is a gift, and that a Christian cannot earn salvation by charitable works or by obedience to God’s law. However, obedience is a condition we must meet before God will give us His free gift of salvation. New Testament evidence is overwhelming on the matter. Here are just a few verses:
· He who says, “I know him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:4)
· So He said to [the rich young ruler], “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17)
· If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:15)
The apostle Paul, in Ephesians 2:8-9, does not say that works are not required at all. The purpose of his statement is to show that works do not save us, but that grace and faith do! In fact, the very next verse, verse 10, shows that God calls members of His church for the very purpose of performing good works: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
The apostle’s language is very clear. God desires us to walk in good works, and He has prepared our spiritual educational process so that we will learn to do them. Doing good works in the name of Jesus Christ is a major part of the purpose for the life of each true Christian. We cannot truly be Christians without them!
“For we know that if the earthly tent [physical body] we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-2
Physical death for Christians holds the promise of a new, perfect body in heaven where we will live eternally with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
God designed us to be homesick for heaven. We will never be completely at peace until we share eternal life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I’ve heard it said that each of us has a hole in the heart that only God can fill. That hole can never be filled completely until we are in our eternal home with the Lord.
Those with some scriptural training or higher status in the faith community will be tempted to count themselves qualified as “wise.” Those who feel inadequate in spiritual things might hope they won’t be noticed. James’s answer to his own question, though, comes as a surprise. As human beings, we tend to measure wisdom as having all the right answers to the hard questions. Instead, James suggests, wisdom is as wisdom does. He echoes what he wrote about faith and good works in chapter 2: “I will show you my faith by my good works.”
A truly wise person will demonstrate the humility of wisdom by his good works. The true test of God’s kind of wisdom is a life well lived, a life spent doing good works for others. As the wisdom book of Proverbs repeatedly makes clear, humility is an essential component of living wisely (Proverbs 1:5–8). Without setting ourselves aside, we cannot hope to become the wise servants God has called us to be
Jesus Christ is easily the most important figure in the history of mankind. No matter how one may regard Him, he will eventually have to concede this point. Jesus’ life and death and the teachings attributed to Him have influenced the course of human history more than any other man who has ever lived—more than Alexander, any of the Caesars, Charlemagne, Mohammed, Napoleon, Washington, Marx, Freud or Ghandi. More people’s lives are influenced by His doctrines; more books are written concerning Him; more speeches (sermons) are made about Him than all other historical figures combined.
Jesus was the world’s greatest Prophet and Teacher. He was God, yet He took on Himself the nature of mankind. He has been the religious inspiration for the whole of North and South America as well as Europe for almost two thousand years. His religion, Christianity, has dominated and molded the destinies of virtually the entire world culturally, socially, politically, academically, technologically, economically and militarily.
Therefore, we can hardly undertake a more important task than to inquire into what Jesus really stood for. What did He teach? This task goes far beyond the scope of this series, which will delve only into His most basic teachings, as found in the Sermon on the Mount, regarding the nature of those who will be in His Kingdom. Even these basic characteristics present what some have called an impossible standard to attain; there is no doubt they are extremely high. Though they may be impossible for a carnal man to reach, with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27). He can enable us to meet and live these admirable attributes.
“It is not the bee’s touching of the flower that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet. It is not he who reads most, but he who meditates most — who will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.”
~ Thomas Brooks
(26) And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Consider how much the lust for power is a major motivating force in this world. It can be seen operating in families, in workplaces, in churches, and in commerce—and possibly, it is most visible in politics. We can see in all of these instances that people are doing what they can to obtain power, often by any means available, fair or foul. They are just following the influence
1 John 5:19) of the one who first lusted for power: “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’” (Isaiah 14:13-14).
While the world is struggling to get power, God promises to give it to us as a byproduct of enduring to the end. In this life, the only power we have to strive for is power over ourselves. In the next, God will provide the rest.
Those who seek power in this world miss the fact that our life is but for a moment. Even if they do receive the power they seek, it lasts only for an instant in comparison. Consider how long our power will last if we endure to the end: “The LORD knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever” (Psalm 37:18
Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better (Ecclesiastes 7:3).
When sorrow comes under the power of Divine grace, it works out a manifold ministry in our lives. Sorrow reveals unknown depths in the soul, and unknown capabilities of experience and service. Gay, trifling people are always shallow, and never suspect the little meannesses in their nature. Sorrow is God’s plowshare that turns up and subsoils the depths of the soul, that it may yield richer harvests. If we had never fallen, or were in a glorified state, then the strong torrents of Divine joy would be the normal force to open up all our souls’ capacities; but in a fallen world, sorrow, with despair taken out of it, is the chosen power to reveal ourselves to ourselves. Hence it is sorrow that makes us think deeply, long, and soberly.
Sorrow makes us go slower and more considerately, and introspect our motives and dispositions. It is sorrow that opens up within us the capacities of the heavenly life, and it is sorrow that makes us willing to launch our capacities on a boundless sea of service for God and our fellows.
God never uses anybody to a large degree, until after He breaks that one all to pieces. Joseph had more sorrow than all the other sons of Jacob, and it led him out into a ministry of bread for all nations. For this reason, the Holy Spirit said of him, “Joseph is a fruitful bough…by a well, whose branches run over the wall” (Gen. 49:22). It takes sorrow to widen the soul.
~The Heavenly Life
What should we learn from the tribe of Reuben?”
Answer: Each of the twelve sons of Israel received a blessing from his father, Jacob, just before Jacob’s death. The twelve sons were the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the blessing contained prophetic information about the future of each tribe. In the case of the tribe of Reuben, Jacob prophesied, “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it” (Genesis 49:3–4). In addition to referring to the future of the tribe of Reuben, the prophecy contains within it several lessons for all of us.
Reuben, the firstborn of the twelve sons, was to Jacob his “might, the first sign of my strength” (Genesis 49:3), indicating that to him were all the rights and prerogatives of a firstborn son. At first, he excelled in honor and power, as is fitting the firstborn son, but Jacob declares that Reuben “will no longer excel” (verse 4) due to his sin of incest with Bilhah, his father’s concubine wife (Genesis 35:22). Although that sin was committed forty years prior, there was left an indelible spot on Reuben’s character and that of his posterity. By committing this uncleanness with his father’s wife, there would be reproach upon his tribe and the family, to whom he ought to have been an example and a blessing. He forfeited the prerogatives of the birthright, and his dying father demoted him, although he did not disown or disinherit him. He would still have all the privileges of a son, but not of the firstborn.
Jacob’s sad prophecy for Reuben certainly came true. No judge, prophet, ruler, or prince came from that tribe, nor any person of renown except Dathan and Abiram, who were noted for their rebellion against Moses. Reuben’s tribe chose a settlement on the other side Jordan, a further indication of the loss of godly influence on his brothers to which his birthright entitled him. Although Reuben was the firstborn, the kingdom was given to Judah and the priesthood to Levi, leaving Reuben’s tribe to be small and non-influential.
Further, Reuben was “unstable as water” (some versions translate it “turbulent as water”), and in this phrase we find several lessons for all Christians. For one thing, Reuben’s virtue was unstable; he did not have control of himself and his own appetites. The charge of instability could refer to his being sometimes very regular and orderly, while at other times wild and undisciplined. As Christians, we are to be in control of our flesh and its appetites and desires at all times. Most importantly, we are to be steadfast in our faith and not “tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).
We also learn from Reuben that those who dabble in sin must not expect to save their reputation or maintain a positive influence upon others. Although we know our sins were nailed to the cross and we are forever forgiven for past sins, we still have to suffer the consequences of those sins, which include remorse and a loss of reputation and influence. Reuben’s sin left an indelible mark upon him and his family. As Christians, we must understand that dishonor is a wound that will not be healed without a scar.