The Time is Now! by Bryan Gibson
Backsliding Preventatives by Bryan Gibson
Disciples of Jesus by Bryan Gibson
Things that Really Count by John R. Gibson
Profile of a Faithful Christian; Some Basic Character Traits by Bryan Gibson
Good Habits are Hard to Break by Bryan Gibson
We Are Either Growing or Dying by Bryan Gibson
Return to Bible Subjects Articles page
The Time is Now!
by Bryan Gibson
The Scriptures remind us that we really don’t have a lot of time, that the time we spend here on earth is brief.
- “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Psalms 144:4).
- “Man…is of few days…He comes forth like a flower and fades away” (Job 14:1-2).
- “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and vanishes away” (James 4:14).
- “Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” (Eph. 5:15-16).
- Parents, we don’t have much time to spend with our children and teach them the word of God, so we better make the most of our opportunities (Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:14-15).
- We don’t have much time to learn the word of God ourselves, so let’s get busy and learn all we can while we have the opportunity (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:1-2; Heb. 5:12-14).
- We don’t have much time to teach our neighbors, our friends, our family members. Let’s not wait until it’s too late (John 4:35; Acts 8:4).
- We don’t have much time to help those in need, so let’s do it now, while we still have breath in us (Gal. 6:10).
- We don’t have much time to get together with other Christians—to encourage and be encouraged, so let’s take advantage of the opportunities we do have (Heb. 3:13).
- If you’re not a Christian, you don’t have much time to obey the gospel. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
By Bryan Gibson
The last thing we should want to do as Christians is backslide. Let’s look at some things we can do to prevent this from happening:
- We need to let God say something to us every day—through His written word, of course (Acts 17:11; Psalms 1:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:1-2). Do you know any backsliders who made Bible reading a part of their daily lives?
- We need to say something to God every day—PRAY (1 Thess. 5:17; Heb. 2:18; 4:14-16). What are the chances of someone backsliding, if they are constantly asking God to help them grow spiritually? (Col. 1:9-12).
- We need to say something for God every day (1 Pet. 3:15; Gal. 6:1; Jam. 5:19-20). This may come in the form of inviting someone to services, asking someone to study with us, teaching our children, encouraging a brother or sister in Christ, commending someone for a job well done, admonishing someone who has already backslidden, etc. The more we speak up for Christ, the less likely we are to ever forsake Him.
- We need to do something for God every day (Matt. 5:13-16; 10:42; 1 Cor. 15:58; Gal. 6:10). We can visit the sick, send a card to someone in need, have a family over for a meal, send a tract to someone, send a tape to someone, turn in a name for a Bible correspondence course, etc.
Disciples of Jesus
by Bryan Gibson
In His teaching, Jesus made it very clear what He expected from His disciples. Let’s look at a few of the characteristics He wanted His disciples to possess.
Disciples of Jesus Must be Humble
- “Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:4).
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).
- Jesus can mold an humble person into His image; a proud person thinks He’s already what he needs to be.
Disciples of Jesus will Listen to Him and do Exactly What He says
- “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).
- “My sheep hear My voice…and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
- “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (John 14:15, 23).
Disciples of Jesus Will Not Listen to Anyone Other than Jesus
- “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:4-5).
- Jesus is our Shepherd, and so we should listen to His voice and His alone. If we hear anything that contradicts what He says, we must “flee” that teaching.
Disciples of Jesus Must Become Like Their Teacher—Jesus Himself.
- "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
- One way in which we should be like Jesus is to love as He loved (John 13:34-35).
- And if we loved as He loved, we will bear much fruit, just as He bore much fruit (John 15:1-8).
Disciples of Jesus Must Follow Jesus, no matter what the cost may be.
- We know it will cost some money and time, but it may cost us our families, and even our own lives. But no matter what the price may be, we must be willing to pay it.
- Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).
- "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:34-38).
- See also Luke 14:25-33.
Things That Really Count
By John R. Gibson
”The things that really count are the things that can’t be counted.”
Let’s look at some things that really count.
Salvation and the Accompanying Hope of Heaven.
Any good accountant can figure your net worth in terms of dollars, but how much value should be placed on the forgiveness of sins? The beauty of heaven and the horrors of hell are such that Jesus asked, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). If all could realize how much this really counts, no one would hesitate to come in penitent obedience to the gospel. If we realized what a great treasure we possessed as Christians (Matthew 13:44-46), we would witness a fresh outbreak of zeal among God’s people unlike anything seen within our lifetimes.
Marriage and family are gifts God ordained for the good of mankind in the very beginning (Genesis 1:27, 28; 2:18-24), but many people devote themselves so completely to the pursuit of things to give their family that they actually have no time for the family. We must all be careful that in providing for our families (which must be done—Timothy 5:8), we not neglect that which counts most. Whether it is your relationship with your spouse or your children, time spent together counts for far more than the time spent building wealth.
It is easy to allow our minds to so dwell on the failures of those around us that we forget to appreciate the many acts of kindness done for us by friends who truly show love “at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). Two really are better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12), so let’s remember to value the support of our friends and resolve to be to others the kind of friend we would appreciate having for ourselves.
It is a sad, but indisputable fact that not all Christians behave in a way worthy of the name they wear. Some are simply weak and beset with human frailties; others are half-hearted; and still others are hypocrites who may turn on you and do you great harm. Sadly, it was that way in the first century and continues that way in the twenty-first, but then as now the failures are only part of the story. The other side of the coin is that there are brethren who willingly give of themselves to help others. There are Christians who inspire us with their determined dedication to be present at every service despite physical ailments that seem debilitating. Should we not appreciate the brethren who use their abilities to lead us in worship and praise of God? What of those who make repairs and perform other maintenance on the meeting house, clean the building, prepare the Lord’s Supper and do all the other things that must be done for us to come together and worship God? Our brothers and sisters in Christ are not perfect, but would we rather go at it alone?
Salvation and family are two of God’s great gifts we most often neglect in the pursuit of things we can count and perhaps even display as trophies, while friends and brethren are two gifts we may fail to appreciate because of a limited view, but are they not also things of great value? Let’s take a few moments to meditate on the value of each of these and then stop and thank the Lord above for His bountiful blessings and promise Him that we will never take them for granted again.
Profile of a Faithful Christian: Some Basic Character Traits
by Bryan Gibson
- He loves the Lord, because the Lord first loved him (1 John 4:19). “The Lord loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20) is more than just a memory verse to him. He deeply appreciates what Jesus did for him as his Savior, and what he continues to do as his High Priest (Hebrews 2:16-18; 4:14-16; 1 John 1:8-2:2). He is not like the nine clean lepers who went on about their business; he is the one who returned to say thank you (Luke 17:11-19). His new purpose in life can be summed up by the words of a familiar hymn, “Thou hast bled and died for me; I will henceforth live for Thee” (Jesus Loves Me; see also 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). He is prepared to do whatever the Lord may ask, and to do it cheerfully. Others may find the commandments of the Lord burdensome, but not this man (1 John 5:3).
- He fears the Lord, because he knows Him well. He knows that He is perfectly holy, and therefore despises sin (Revelation 15:4; Habakkuk 1:13). He knows Him as the Almighty (Revelation 4:8), as the One who created all things by the “breath of His mouth” (Psalms 33:6). He understands both the goodness and severity of the Lord (Romans 11:22). He is still motivated by love, but his service is also marked by reverence, by trembling and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28; Philippians 2:12-13; 1 Peter 1:17). Because He is in awe of God (Psalms 33:8-9), he is also in awe of God’s word (Psalms 119:61), and so he treats every commandment with the greatest respect (Matthew 5:19). Every warning—every “take heed” or “beware”—issued by the Lord is taken very seriously (Hebrews 11:7). He knows for a fact that the Lord does not make idle threats.
- He is humble—for many reasons. When he compares his life to that of his Savior (Ephesians 4:13), he knows he’s got a long way to go. He is further humbled by the knowledge that everything good in His life comes from God (James 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:17), that it is only by the grace of God that he can even draw his next breath (Acts 17:25, 28). Too, he understands that his soul’s salvation was purchased by the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19; Acts 20:28). He knows that Jesus paid the debt he was unable to pay, and he knows he didn’t do a thing to deserve it. This man refuses to glory, except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14).
- He has faith in God, which is what you would expect from a man of true humility. He realizes how dependent he is on the grace of God, having already being cleansed from his sins when he was buried with Christ in baptism (Colossians 2:11-13). He knows that the grace of God is manifold (1 Peter 4:10), that everything he needs to make his calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10-11) has been provided. He knows he cannot live without the “word of His grace” (Acts 20:32; Matthew 4:4), that he must go daily before the “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), that every time he sins he must go to the “fountain” of grace (Zechariah 13:1; 1 John 1:8-2:2), that he must look forward to the “grace that will be brought to him at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). He is sincere when he sings, “I need Thee every hour”, and, “twas grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.”
- He is unselfish. How can he be anything else with what he knows? He has learned from the Lord to deny himself, to put the Father’s will before His own (Matthew 16:24; 26:39). He bears his cross daily, willing to endure whatever hardships may be necessary to follow Jesus and be of service to others (Luke 9:23; 2 Timothy 2:3, 10). He does not indulge in self-pity (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), or in self-glorification (James 3:14; Matthew 23:12), because he has crucified himself. While he may not have it perfected, his aim is to say with Paul, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
- He loves others and is deeply concerned about them. Because he is not preoccupied with himself, he is able to give some attention to the needs and interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). His “heart’s desire and prayer” (Romans 10:1) is that all men be saved. He has compassion on the lost, because he sees them as Jesus does—sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
- He is also concerned about his brethren, his family in the Lord. Knowing that Jesus laid down His life for him, he is willing to do the same for his brethren (1 John 3:16-18). He wants to help them in any way he can (Galatians 6:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14), but he understands that he needs them as much as they need him (Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25).
Good Habits Are Hard to Break
by Bryan Gibson
The Scriptures teach that certain things should be done “always”, “often”, “constantly”, “continually”, “diligently”, “steadfastly”, “day and night.” What these words suggest, of course, is that certain things should become a matter of habit to us. Let’s look at some of these good habits.
In Luke 5:16, we read that Jesus “often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus teaches a parable, the main point being that “men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” In Colossians 4:2, we are instructed to “continue earnestly in prayer." Epaphras, according to Colossians 4:12, was “always laboring fervently…in prayers.” Finally, there is the instruction of 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing.” Obviously, then, prayer must be more than an occasional practice. It must become a habit.
Assembling for Worship
In Acts 2:42 we learn that the early Christians “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” In other words, they made a habit out of coming together to worship God. It is said of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 11:26 that “for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people.” While this passage is not specific about the exact frequency with which they met, it does imply that they were coming together on a regular basis. Notice also the statement made in Acts 20:7 about the church in Troas, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread.” This is certainly not stated as if it was a rare occurrence. When the first day of the week came around, they came together. By following the example of these early Christians, we will never be guilty of violating Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some…”
Studying the Word of God
According to Psalm 1:2, the word of God is something we should meditate on “day and night.” In 2 Timothy 2:15, the apostle Paul urges Timothy to “be diligent” in his study of the Scriptures. The Scriptures provide us with our spiritual nourishment, and unless we partake regularly, we will only get weaker (see 1 Peter 2:1-2; 1 Timothy 4:6).
Doing Good Works
In giving the qualifications for a “widow indeed” in 1 Timothy 5:9-10, Paul describes a woman who “has diligently followed every good work.” In other words, she has made a habit of doing good works. The instruction given in 1 Corinthians 15:58 is this, “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…” Finally, notice who it is that will receive eternal life, according to Romans 2:7: “those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.” Let’s make a habit out of doing good works.
When King Darius gave the order to cast Daniel into the den of lions, he made this statement to Daniel, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you” (Daniel 6:16). May the same be said of us that was said of Daniel, that we serve God “continually.”
We’re Either Growing or Dying
by Bryan Gibson
Let’s consider three simple questions related to spiritual growth, and then answer them by using the Scriptures.
How important is it to grow spiritually?
According to God, it is extremely important, and He shows us this in several different ways. 1) He gives us a command to grow—“grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). 2) He sets forth perfection or maturity as the goal for His people—“that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12; see also 1 Corinthians 14:20; Ephesians 4:11-16; Colossians 1:28). 3) He rebukes those who do not grow spiritually (1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Hebrews 5:11-14). 4) He commends those who do (2 Thessalonians 1:3); and 5) He reveals the eternal destiny of those who grow (2 Peter 1:5-11), and of those who do not (Luke 13:6-9).
What can we do to help us grow?
1) We must study the word diligently—“desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:1-3). 2) We must let Christ live in us—“it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20; see also John 15:1-8). The more we study and apply the word, which reveals the character of Christ, the more we become like Him. 3) We must pray for spiritual growth—for greater faith, for stronger love, for more wisdom and understanding, etc. (Colossians 1:9-12; 4:12). 4) We must spend time with other Christians, both in the assembly (Heb. 10:24-25), and outside the assembly (Heb. 3:12-13). Can you think of some others?
What will keep us from growing as we should?
1) A failure to do the things just mentioned—to study, to let Christ live in us, to pray, and to spend time with other Christians. 2) A failure to put self to death (John 12:24-26; Galatians 5:22-24). We can’t grow if we’re still more interested in doing our will than doing God’s will. The attitude we must have is expressed in the words of a familiar hymn: “Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Thou art the Potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me after thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.” 3) Love for the world. Read the Parable of the Sower, especially the part about the thorny ground: “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14). When we pay so much attention to the things of this world, it leaves little time to pay attention to the things that matter most. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him” (1 John 2:15).
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
Return to Bible Subjects Articles page