Characters Who Were Totally Resolved
Women of Great Character in the New Testament
Test of New Testament Characters
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Characters Who Were Totally Resolved
by Bryan Gibson
While we usually think about making resolutions around the New Year, there is no bad time to make a good resolution. Let’s consider some resolutions made by different Bible characters, and some resolutions we need to make as well.
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15).
Everyone who is the head of a household needs to make this same resolution.
“The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey” (Josh. 24:24).
According to Josh. 24:31, this particular generation of Israelites followed through with this resolution: “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua.”
“If You…will give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life” (1 Sam. 1:11).
In giving our children to the Lord, we’re really only returning them to the One who gave them to us. It’s not showing a whole lot of gratitude to be given a child by the Lord, and then refuse to bring that child up in the ways of the Lord.
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I, send me” (Isa. 6:8).
The Lord’s kingdom needs more workers with this kind of resolve. “Do you need someone to visit the sick? Here am I, send me.” “Do you need someone to teach that class? Here am I, send me.” “Do you need someone to invite people to the meeting? Here am I, send me.”
Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls; Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Hab. 3:17-18).
Habakkuk had resolved that the lack of material things would not keep him from rejoicing in the Lord. Evidently, Habakkuk understood the principle that “our life does not consist in the abundance of the things we possess” (Luke 12:15), and that “we have a better and enduring possession in heaven” (Heb. 10:34).
The Prodigal Son
“I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you” (Lk. 15:18). Let us resolve, like the prodigal son, that whenever we do wrong, we will go to our Father in humility and openly confess our wrong. We will not try to hide it, or deny it, or explain it away. We will confess it.
“For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).
How much are we ready to do in the name of the Lord Jesus? Are we committed enough that we would actually give our lives for Him?
Cornelius; Is Being a “Good Person” Sufficient for Salvation?
by Bryan Gibson
The Bible tells us about a man named Cornelius who feared God, was devout and just, gave money to the poor, prayed to God always, and had a good reputation in his community (Acts 10:1-2, 22). Surely this man was on his way to heaven. Right? Wrong! Cornelius was a good man—a very good man—but he was not a Christian. Despite the good this man had done, he was not saved, and he knew it (Acts 11:13-14).
Thankfully, there is more to the story. The apostle Peter was sent to the home of Cornelius to tell him what he “must do” to be saved (Acts 10:6; 11:13-14). Cornelius was eager to hear these words; he even called together his friends and relatives so they too could hear (Acts 10:24). When Peter arrived, he preached Jesus to them, showing clearly that He was their Lord, their Judge, and their Savior (Acts 10:34-43). The intent was clear—to persuade these Gentiles to believe in and follow Jesus. What did Peter then tell them they had to do to be saved? “He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48)—the purpose of which is clearly stated in other passages: “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38); to “wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16); to be “saved” (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21); to enter “into Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:3); to “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). In other words, Cornelius and the others were not saved until they obeyed this commandment to be baptized. They did not put on Christ—become a Christian—until they were baptized into Christ.
What became of Cornelius after this? We really don’t know, but we do know what he was supposed to do. He was now a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, and needed to do what others were urged to do: “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6); “abide in My word” (John 8:31); “keep My commandments” (John 15:10); “continue with the Lord” (Acts 11:23); “continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22; Colossians 1:23); “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4); “be faithful until death” (Revelation 2:10); “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4).
What about you? Are you hoping to go to heaven, simply because you are a “good person”? Cornelius was a “good person,” but he was still not right with the Lord. He had to be baptized into Christ, and then live faithfully for Christ. Will you do the same?
Ezra: An Example of Seeking, Doing and Teaching
By Bryan Gibson
Read carefully the following passage from God’s word: “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).
Could the same be said of us? Today, we are under the law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21; Galatians 6:2), and we must have the same attitude toward it that Ezra had toward the law of Moses.
First, we must seek (strive to learn) the law of Christ. “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Notice that it must be the pure milk of the word—it cannot be tainted with false doctrine. What we must seek is the truth. And we don’t want to learn just a little bit. Our goal is to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9).
Secondly, we must do (or obey) the law of Christ. Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” In Matthew 7:21 Jesus gives this warning, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” If we want to go to heaven, we must obey the law of Christ.
Finally, we must teach the law of Christ to others. The charge given to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2 is, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” 1 Timothy 4:16 offers additional encouragement in regard to teaching: “…in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” But as we teach, let’s remember the admonition given in 1 Peter 4:11, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.” We must use great care in teaching only that which comes from God.
May we all be more determined to seek the law of Christ, obey the law of Christ, and teach the law of Christ.
Joseph; A Great Example for All of Us
by Bryan Gibson
The life story of Joseph is told in Genesis 37-50. Read it and you will be filled with admiration for this great man. To help us better understand his nearly impeccable character, let’s look at three things he handled very well.
He handled responsibility very well.
Not long after Joseph arrived in Egypt, Potiphar bought him from the Ishmaelites. Joseph served so well in Potiphar’s house that Potiphar made him the overseer of his house. How well did Joseph handle this responsibility? So well that Potiphar “left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate” (Genesis 39:6).
Later, when Joseph was imprisoned, he was given another job. “The keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison” (Genesis 39:22). Again, Joseph showed himself to be dependable, because the “keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority” (Genesis 39:23).
Joseph was later released from prison when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, and it was then that he was given his most demanding job. Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph that he said, “You shall be ruler over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you” (Genesis 41:40). Pharaoh trusted Joseph to such a degree that when famine struck the land, he told the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do.”
Wouldn’t it be great if we all handled responsibility as well as Joseph did? When given a task—any task—we should be trusted to do the job well and do it right.
He handled temptation very well.
While Joseph was serving in Potiphar’s house, Potiphar’s wife “cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, lie with me” (Genesis 39:7). Joseph was very firm in his refusal, and among other things said to her, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? Potiphar’s wife did not give up easily. She continued to make advances toward him and one day even grabbed him by his garment, pleading with him to lie with her. What did Joseph do? “He fled and ran outside” (Genesis 39:12). What a great example! We can resist temptations, no matter how strong they may be. God provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). Joseph found his, and so can we.
He handled adversity very well.
Joseph’s life was sort of like a roller coaster, a lot of ups and downs. He rose to the second highest position in all of Egypt, but look at what he went through before that. He was sold as a slave by his own brothers, and he spent two years in prison. What is admirable about Joseph, though, is that during these bad times, he showed no bitterness and he maintained his faith in God (see Genesis 39; 40:7-8; 41:15-16; 45:5-8; 50:15-21). He was just as faithful to God during the bad times as he was during the good times. Adversity presents a big test to our faith and character. Joseph passed his with flying colors—what about us?
[Perhaps most importantly: He handled success very well. Unlike Saul and David, who both allowed their success to be their downfalls (called the Icarus paradox), Joseph held up quite well when he overcame adversity and became successful. He did not allow it to go to his head, but instead realized that his success was totally dependent on the Lord, and behaved himself accordingly. Many people handle their problems, defeats and adversities in an exemplary manner, but totally fall apart when they become successful. If we ever have the (mis)fortune of great success, let us not forget that it was the Lord who gave us the strength to overcome. -- dbb]
Lot; Righteous But Ruined
by Joe Fitch
Lot is remembered with the infamous city of Sodom. Yet Lot was not evil; the Bible names him “righteous Lot”—God “...turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes…delivered righteous Lot” (2 Pet. 2:6). Details of “righteous Lot” are impressive. He kept himself from the evil of Sodom. Lot did not buy into “when in Rome, do as the Romans.” He did right while everyone else was doing wrong. Good for Lot!
More, Lot’s attitude was right toward evil. He “...was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked” (v. 7). He never got comfortable with abominations: “for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds” (v. 8). His resistance rose from “his righteous soul”—his good character was a flower in a briar patch. Good for Lot!
Lot stood up for right—even when the entire city opposed him. “The men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house…they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door” (Gen.19:4, 9). He did not back down—not even if it cost him dearly—not even when he was protecting strangers. He had courage; he did the right thing. Good for Lot! God accepted Lot—pronounced him “righteous” and “godly” (2 Pet.2:9). Righteous says he did right; godly says he respected God. Good marks for Lot—inspired no less.
That sounds great. It is! “Righteous Lot” got all those important—vitally important things—exactly right. But then, there is the rest of the story—his ruin. He got some very important things terribly wrong—not sinful, but bad—not evil, but foolish. His ruin was the result. “Does the Bible say I will go to hell if I do that?” Maybe not. Bad decisions are not necessarily sinful, yet they may surely ruin your life—even without sending you to hell.
Lot chose Sodom’s fertile plains, and in the bargain acquired Sodom’s problems and enemies. Soon he was a captive. Chedorlaomer conquered Sodom, and “they also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed” (Gen. 14:12). He lost everything—even his freedom by being in Sodom. Moving to Sodom was not a sin, but it surely meant ruin. Only Abram’s rescue spared “righteous Lot” from a total disaster. “So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people” (Gen. 14:16).
Lot chose green grass and water without considering the evil environment. Was that choice a sin? No! Was it a good place to live? No! Was it hazardous to Lot and his family? Oh, yes! It was a good place for sheep; it was a terrible place for people—especially children. “Righteous Lot” surely learned the high cost of living there.
He entered Sodom as “rich Lot.” I doubt he left rich. There was hardly time to move his livestock before the brimstone rained down. Where do you next find Lot? “...he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave” (Gen.19:30). I think Sodom spelled financial ruin for “righteous Lot”—still righteous but ruined by a foolish, materialistic choice.
Though Lot vacated Sodom, his ruin was far from over. His family remained in smoldering Sodom. Before Lot was clear of the plains, he also lost his wife. Her heart and eyes “looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (19:26)—a lingering payment for living in Sodom. The next scene shows Lot drunk (19:33). Sad scene—conduct unbecoming “righteous Lot.” Bad decisions are not necessarily sinful, but they often lead eventually to sin and spiritual ruin. “Righteous Lot” is a case in point. The downward spiral continued; his ruin worse. He became a fornicator with his own daughters. “But it was their plan, their fault.” Right! Yet that removed none of his shame—changed the incest not at all. Sodom’s toll! Lot’s stay in Sodom was paid in the currency of defiled integrity. Doubtless “righteous Lot” would have fared much better in the desert with Abram!
Don’t travel with “righteous Lot” seeing only the alluring money without considering the cost to your marriage, children, or spirituality. Don’t settle down with “righteous Lot” seeing the beautiful country without noticing the absence of spiritual support—no strong church. Don’t join “righteous Lot” and tally all your prosperity without calculating all that you are losing. Don’t end up with “righteous Lot”—righteous but all alone—righteous but broken hearted. Don’t share a fool’s choice with “righteous Lot”—along with the broken heart and bitter tears.
Nehemiah – Building for the Lord
by Bryan Gibson
The Book of Nehemiah tells of the efforts of a man named Nehemiah, along with his fellow-Jews, to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Despite considerable opposition, the walls were completed in 52 days—less than 2 months. The following points show why they were so successful, and at the same time, how we can be successful today.
THEY HAD A MIND TO WORK
When Nehemiah first revealed his plans to the people, their response was, “let us rise up and build” (Nehemiah 2:18). They were ready to get to work. Later, as they progressed with the work, this statement is made, “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6).
The Lord still wants people with a mind to work, people who have a mind to visit the sick, teach a class, invite people to services, show hospitality, encourage weak brethren, labor fervently in prayer, etc. We’ll never get a lot done unless we first have a mind to work.
AS THEY WORKED, THEY KEPT WATCH FOR THE ENEMY
The Jews knew their enemies would try to disrupt their plans, so here is what they did, “Nevertheless we made our prayer to God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night” (Nehemiah 4:9). The Jews continued to build, but they kept their weapons at their side, ready to fight whenever the enemy invaded (see Nehemiah 4:10-23).
How does this apply to us today? We, too, must be watchful for our enemy (1 Peter 5:8). And since we never know when he might attack, we better have our weapons at our side (Ephesians 6:10-18), ready to fight (Philippians 1:27-28; Jude 3).
THEY KEPT ON WORKING, DESPITE CONSIDERABLE OPPOSITION
Nehemiah and his fellow-Jews faced enough opposition to make a lot of people quit. Along with efforts to discourage the Jews as a whole (2:19-20; 4:1-3), attempts were made to harm Nehemiah (6:1-4), to slander him (6:5-9), and to entice him to sin (6:10-14). But none of this kept them from working and completing the job before them. This is what is recorded in Nehemiah 6:15-16: “So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.”
What is the message to us? Some may make fun of us. Some may run us off when we try to teach them. Fellow-Christians may disappoint us. False teachers may run rampant. But we must never stop working. “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…” (1 Cor. 15:58).
THEY CONSTANTLY PRAYED TO GOD
As evidence of this, please read Nehemiah 1:4; 2:4; 4:4-5, 9. Nehemiah certainly understood that they would need God’s help in accomplishing this great work. Certainly, it should be no different with us today. To accomplish the work God has given us, we must learn to “pray without ceasing.” Prayer is the best way to increase the effectiveness of our God-given weapons against Satan (Ephesians 6:18).
Women of Great Character in the New Testament
By Bryan Gibson
Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s grandmother and mother, who both had a genuine faith, and who taught Timothy the Scriptures from childhood (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15).
Dorcas, who was full of good works and charitable deeds (Acts 9:36-39).
Lydia, who obeyed the gospel and then became a hostess for Paul and his companions (Acts 16:14-15, 40).
Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea; a helper of many (Romans 16:1-2).
Priscilla, who together with her husband, Aquila, explained to Apollos the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-26).
Anna, a prophetess, who served God with fastings and prayers night and day, and who spoke of Jesus to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-38).
Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, who was righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless (Luke 1:6).
Martha, who welcomed Jesus into her home on a couple of occasions and served Him (Luke 10:38-42; John 12:1-8); and who also proclaimed her faith in Jesus by saying, “I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:24-27).
Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word (Luke 10:38-42).
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and other women, all of whom provided for Jesus from their own substance (Luke 8:1-3).
Tryphena, Tryphosa, and others who labored in the gospel, or in the Lord (Romans 16:12, 6; Philippians 4:3).
Mary, the mother of John Mark, in whose home many were gathered together praying (Acts 12:12).
Test Your Knowledge of New Testament Characters
By Brian Gibson
1. _____________ Almost persuaded to become a Christian.
2. _____________ He was dead four days.
3. _____________ Candace’s treasurer.
4. _____________ Gentile centurion who became a Christian.
5. _____________ Called the beloved physician.
6. _____________ Loved to have the preeminence.
7. _____________ Replaced Judas as an apostle.
8. _____________ Ate locusts and wild honey.
9. _____________ Apostle whose occupation was a tax collector.
10. _____________ Referred to as a son of encouragement.
11. _____________ Jewish ruler who came to Jesus by night.
12. _____________ Jewish sect; did not believe in a resurrection.
13. _____________ His youth was not to be despised.
14. _____________ A murderer who was released instead of Jesus.
15. _____________ Would call for Paul at a convenient time.
16. _____________ Prophet in Acts who predicted a famine.
17. _____________ Climbed up in a sycamore tree.
18. _____________ Worried and troubled about many things.
19. _____________ Mother of John the Baptist.
20. _____________ Father of John the Baptist.
21. _____________ Was left behind when he was twelve.
22. _____________ An eloquent man.
23. _____________ Sorcerer who was converted to Christ.
24. _____________ The grandmother of Timothy.
25. _____________ Silversmith who stirred up a crowd.
The names are scrambled below.
Demetrius Agrippa Lois Lazarus Eunuch
Simon Apollos Zacharias Elizabeth Martha
Zacchaeus Agabus Felix Barabbas Timothy
Sadducees Nicodemus Barnabas Matthew John
Matthias Diotrephes Luke Cornelius Jesus
Scroll Down for the correct answers.
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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1. _____________ Almost persuaded to become a Christian. Agrippa
2. _____________ He was dead four days. Lazarus
3. _____________ Candace’s treasurer. Eunuch
4. _____________ Gentile centurion who became a Christian. Cornelius
5. _____________ Called the beloved physician. Luke
6. _____________ Loved to have the preeminence. Diotrephes
7. _____________ Replaced Judas as an apostle. Matthias
8. _____________ Ate locusts and wild honey. John the Baptist
9. _____________ Apostle whose occupation was a tax collector. Matthew
10. _____________ Referred to as a son of encouragement. Barnabas
11. _____________ Jewish ruler who came to Jesus by night. Nicodemus
12. _____________ Jewish sect; did not believe in a resurrection. Sadducees
13. _____________ His youth was not to be despised. Timothy
14. _____________ A murderer who was released instead of Jesus. Barabbas
15. _____________ Would call for Paul at a convenient time. Felix
16. _____________ Prophet in Acts who predicted a famine. Agabus
17. _____________ Climbed up in a sycamore tree. Zacchaeus
18. _____________ Worried and troubled about many things. Martha
19. _____________ Mother of John the Baptist. Elizabeth
20. _____________ Father of John the Baptist. Zacharias
21. _____________ Was left behind when he was twelve. Jesus
22. _____________ An eloquent man. Apollos
23. _____________ Sorcerer who was converted to Christ. Simon
24. _____________ The grandmother of Timothy. Lois
25. _____________ Silversmith who stirred up a crowd. Demetrius