Proverbs: Virtuous Women and Some Others by Bryan Gibson
Proverbs: Wisdom by Bryan Gibson
Hebrews: An Appeal for Endurance by Bryan Gibson
First John: Helping Us Know for Sure by Bryan Gibson
Third John: Imitate What Is Good by Bryan Gibson
The Book of Revelation: Faithfulness by Bryan Gibson
The Book of Revelation: Contrasts by Bryan Gibson
Throughout the Bible: Better Things by Bryan Gibson
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Proverbs: Virtuous Women and Some Others
by Bryan Gibson
Many of us are familiar with the “worthy” or “virtuous” woman described in Proverbs 31, but there are several other kinds of women described in the Book of Proverbs. Let’s look first at some you don’t want to be, and then at some you do want to be.
You do not want to be…
- An immoral woman (also described as an adulterous woman, a seductress, an evil woman). “Discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you…from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words…” (Prov. 2:10, 16). “For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood” (Prov. 5:3-4).
- A lovely woman who lacks discretion (not careful in what she says or does). “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion” (Prov. 11:22).
- A contentious and angry woman (one who is always ready to fight, argue, nitpick, nag, etc.). “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious woman” (Pro. 21:19). “A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike; whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand” (Prov. 27:15-16).
- A hateful woman. “For three things the earth is perturbed, Yes, for four it cannot bear up: For a servant when he reigns, a fool when he is filled with food, a hateful woman when she is married, and a maidservant who succeeds her mistress” (Prov. 30:21-23).
You do want to be…
- A wise woman. “Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands” (Prov. 14:1). “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Prov. 19:14).
- A gracious woman (kind, courteous, and polite). “A gracious woman retains honor, but ruthless men retain riches” (Prov. 11:16).
- The kind of woman who would be the crown of her husband, who would be considered a gift from God. “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Prov. 12:4). “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22).
by Bryan Gibson
The Book of Proverbs has much to say on the subject of wisdom, including what makes one wise. Let’s look at some characteristics of a wise man, according to the Book of Proverbs.
- He realizes that he still has a lot to learn, he takes advantage of every opportunity to increase in knowledge and wisdom (1:5; 2:1-5; 9:9; 10:8, 14; 18:15; 24:5-6).
- He welcomes the wisdom and advice of others, knowing that “in the multitude of counselors, there is safety” (11:14).
- As strange as it may sound, he actually loves those who rebuke him (9:8). He knows he needs people like that to get him back on the right track. He understands that “blows that hurt cleanse away evil” (20:30).
- He will not trust his soul to what seems right; he wants to know what IS right (16:25).
- He is bent and determined to follow, not his own ways, but the ways of the Lord (3:5-7).
- He “restrains his lips”, or “spares his words”; he doesn’t say everything that’s on his mind; he doesn’t speak just to be heard, or to impress others (17:27; 29:11; 14:33; 10:19).
- When he does speak, he uses the tongue to teach (15:7), to rebuke (25:12), to encourage or help others (12:18), and to win souls (11:30).
- When dealing with angry people, he is especially wise in choosing his words (15:1; 16:24; 29:8). He is adept at bringing calm to a tense situation.
- He does not overestimate his ability to withstand temptation; he fears and departs from evil (14:16; 22:3).
- His behavior is such that he makes his parents proud (10:1; 15:20; 23:15-16; 23:24). They rejoice especially in his righteousness.
- He shows no partiality in his judgment of others (24:23-25).
- He does “not overwork to be rich,” because he realizes that riches “fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (23:4).
- He does not squander his money (21:20), but he is generous with it (11:25).
- He possesses other qualities that are the products of wisdom: humility (15:33), mercy (14:21), diligence (12:27), self-control (16:32), integrity (28:6), prudence (22:3), fear of the Lord (23:17-18).
- This is the man who will “inherit glory” (3:35).
Hebrews: An Appeal for Endurance
by Bryan Gibson
The Epistle to the Hebrews stresses the need for endurance, the need to hold fast, to persevere, to remain steadfast until the end (see 3:6, 14; 6:11-12; 10:23, 36, 39; 12:1-2).
Let’s notice some points made in this epistle to help us with our endurance.
In these last days God has spoken to us through Jesus Christ, the very One who died for us and purged us from our sins (1:1-4). Would we ever want to stop listening to someone who loved us enough to die for us?
When faced with difficulties, temptations, sufferings, etc., we can go boldly to the throne of grace and receive the help we need. We can do this because Jesus Christ is now at the right hand of God, serving as our High Priest, constantly making intercession for us. So let’s don’t quit when we have problems. Let’s get the help we need and go right on serving the Lord (2:16-18; 4:14-16; 7:25; 13:5-6).
Let’s make sure to spend time with other Christians, both in the assemblies (10:25), and outside the assemblies (3:13; 13:1). We can “stir up love and good works” in one another; we can keep one another from being “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” In short, we can help one another to endure.
Let’s make sure that we advance in our Bible study—that we get to the point where we can eat the meat, as well as drink the milk (5:12-14).
Let’s be encouraged by the examples of others who have endured (6:9-12; ch. 11; 13:7), most notably the example of Jesus (12:1-3). If they can do it, we can too.
Let’s keep in mind what we’ve already endured, and the reasons we did. We’ve come too far to throw it all away now (10:32-35).
The suffering we endure for doing right—it may be painful now, but “afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (12:11).
A great reward is waiting for us if we endure (6:10; 10:35-39; 11:6, 16, 26; 13:14).
A terrible punishment is waiting for us if we fall away (2:1-4; 6:4-8; 10:26-31).
First John: Helping Us Know For Sure
by Bryan Gibson
You do not have to read long in 1 John to see that fellowship with God is one of the major themes: “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1:3). Fellowship with the Father and the Son—that’s what we all desire and this book has a lot to say about it, and not always with the word fellowship. The thought or concept of fellowship is also seen in phrases like “knowing Him”; “abiding in Him”; being “of the truth”; being “of God”; “abiding in Him and Him in us”; etc.
How can we know that we have fellowship with God? How can we know that He hears and answers our prayers? (3:22; 5:14-15). How can we be confident in the day of judgment (2:28), and know that we will receive eternal life (5:13)? These are extremely important questions and 1 John has the answers.
According to 1 John, there are three ways we can know—three conditions of fellowship.
(1) If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (see 2:18-28; 4:1-6). There were those who were trying to convince these brethren otherwise (2:26), and so this epistle was written to offer them further assurance that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of God (5:13). There are certain religions who maintain that you can have fellowship with the Father without believing that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John clearly teaches otherwise (2:22-23; 4:14-15; 5:9-11).
(2) If we love God for what He has done for us through Jesus, and if we show that same love to others (see 2:7-11; 3:13-24; 4:7-5:5). In believing that Jesus is the Christ, and that He did lay down His life for our sins, we not only have the motive for love, but also the model. This self-sacrificing love is the very kind that we should show to others (see especially 3:16-18). We cannot claim to be in fellowship with God if we do not love as we should. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (4:8). “...he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (4:16).
(3) If we walk in the light, or as it’s described in other passages—keep His commandments (2:3-4; 3:22, 24; 5:2-3); practice righteousness (2:29; 3:7, 10); keep His word (2:5); do the will of God (2:17), do those things that are pleasing in His sight (3:22); walk as He walked (2:6). This one doesn’t get as much attention as the first two, but it’s emphasized just as much. “Now by this we know that we know Him (have fellowship with Him—BG), if we keep His commandments” (2:3). One of the purposes for writing this letter was “that you may not sin” (2:1). Those who are content to walk in sin are not in fellowship with God; they are children of the devil (3:7-10).
Are you in fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ? Do you know for sure?
Third John: Imitate What Is Good
by Bryan Gibson
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good…” (3 John 1:11). In this short epistle, three good examples are given, all worthy of our imitation.
He loved his brethren—“to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth” (v. 1). See also 2 John 1:1.
He prayed for his brethren—“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (v. 2).
Nothing gave him greater joy than to see his spiritual children walking in truth—“I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you...I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (vv. 3-4).
He was willing to withstand those opposed to the truth, people like Diotrephes—“if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does” (vv. 9-10).
He didn’t just know the truth; he walked in it—“just as you walk in the truth” (v 3).
He walked in love, showing hospitality to those who were traveling to preach the gospel (vv. 5-8). According to John, those whom Gaius had helped “have testified to your love before the church” (v. 6).
Because he was walking in truth and love, his soul was prospering (v. 2). John’s prayer for Gaius was that his prosperity in other areas would match the prosperity of his soul.
He had a good testimony from all, including the apostles (v. 12).
More importantly, he had a good testimony from the truth itself. His life was in harmony with the truth (v. 12).
The Book of Revelation: Faithfulness
by Bryan Gibson
Two very different groups of people are pictured in the Book of Revelation: those rewarded with heaven, and those punished with hell. Obviously, we want to know as much as we can about those rewarded with heaven. We want to know some of their characteristics, so we can be like them and receive the same reward. So let’s look at what made them pleasing to God.
They Were Christians, Or Saints
They became Christians in the same way everyone else in the New Testament did—by having their sins washed away by the blood of Christ (Revelation 1:5). According to Acts 22:16, the point at which this takes place is baptism. If you have not yet become a Christian, you need to do so. You cannot remain outside of Christ and expect the same reward these people received.
These Christians Had Faith
In Revelation 2:19, a group of Christians are commended for their faith. The importance of faith is also seen in Revelation 13:10 and 14:12. This is certainly in harmony with the words of Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please God…” The ones rewarded in the Book of Revelation did have faith and they were pleasing to God. Do I have the kind of faith they had?
They Also Had Love-For the Lord and For Others
Notice carefully the wording of Revelation 12:11: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” What is implied in this passage is that they loved the Lord even above their own lives. Do I love the Lord that much? Do you? Earlier, we cited a passage where some brethren were commended for their faith (Revelation 2:19). Read this passage again, and you’ll see that they were also commended for their love.
These Christians Feared God Rather Than Man
They took very seriously the charge, “Be faithful, even to the point of death” (Revelation 2:10, NIV), because some of them actually gave their lives in service to Christ (Revelation 6:9; 20:4). They were faithful to the charge Jesus gave in Matthew 10:28: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
They Kept God’s Commandments
The faithful are described in 14:12 as those “who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Those who keep His commandments, according to 22:14, are the ones who “have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” If we want to enter that blessed city, we too must keep God’s commandments.
They Showed Great Perseverance and Courage
They continued to serve God faithfully even when it cost some of them their lives. In 6:9 we read of those who were “slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.” We read of others in 20:4 who were “beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God.” As mentioned above, these Christians were truly “faithful, even to the point of death” (2:10, NIV).
They Would Not Teach, Believe, or Practice A Lie
Notice who is “before the throne” in 14:5: “No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.” But what about those who do teach, believe, or practice a lie? They are warned to repent, or suffer the consequences in 2:14-16 and 2:20-23. They will have their part in the “lake which burns with fire and brimstone,” according to 21:8. “Whoever loves and practices a lie” will be left outside the gate (22:15). So it is vitally important that we believe the truth, teach the truth, and practice the truth.
They Were Willing to Repent of Any Sins They Committed
Notice some of the admonitions to repentance given in the early chapters (2:5; 2:21-22; 3:3; 3:19). It is clear from these references that those who wanted to please God and be saved eternally would need to repent of their sins. Some later references speak of those who would not repent (9:20-21; 16:9, 11). The consequences for this would obviously be very serious. If we want to be counted among the faithful in the final day, we must be willing to repent any time we sin against God.
The Book of Revelation: Contrasts
by Bryan Gibson
“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it…” (Revelation 1:3, NRSV). This verse shows that the Book of Revelation is primarily intended to be a practical book, not a source of wild speculation. To help us see some of the practical value, we want to point out some contrasts within this book.
Contrasts in People
Some are marked as God’s people (3:12; 7:3; 14:1, 4-5), while others are marked as Satan’s people, because they serve his agents (9:4; 13:14-18; 14:9)
Note: Those who are marked as God’s people are those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, those who exhibit faith, love, obedience, courage, and perseverance. These are the qualities seen in God’s people throughout this book. Do you exhibit these same qualities?
Some have their names written in the Book of Life (3:5; 21:27); while others either do not have their name in this book, or have had their names blotted out (13:8; 17:8; 20:15). Are you sure your name is written there?
Some give glory to God (4:9-11; 5:11-13; 7:11-12; 11:13; 15:3-4; 19:1), while others either do not give Him glory or blaspheme Him (13:5-6; 16:9, 11, 21). Note especially 16:9. One way we can blaspheme God is by not repenting of sin.
Some bow before God (14:6-7; 15:4; 19:10; 22:9), while others bow before idols (9:20). Remember, an idol doesn’t have to be a statue or image; it can be anything that means more to us than the Lord.
Some worship the Lamb, who lives forever and ever (5:12-13), while others worship the beast, who will be destroyed (13:4; 19:19-21). It makes no sense to be loyal to anyone (or anything) other than Jesus.
Some do not defile themselves with women (they keep themselves pure from the world—14:4); while others join themselves to the great harlot (they are corrupted by the world—17:1-2, 5; 19:2). Think about it—have you been conformed to Christ or to the world? Which (or who) is influencing you more?
Some hold fast during persecution (2:12-13; 12:11), while others deny the Lord (13:11-18; 21:8). In other words, some are brave and some are cowards.
Contrasts in Fate
Note: The previous contrasts should help us see who will receive what.
Some will drink from living fountains of waters (7:17; 21:6; 22:1, 17), while others will drink the wine of God’s wrath (14:8-10).
Some will be called to the marriage supper of the Lamb (19:9), while others will be called to the great supper of God, where they will be the supper (19:17-21).
Some will rest from their labors (14:12-13), while others will have no rest day or night (14:11).
Some will stand victoriously on the sea of glass (15:2), while others will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (19:20; 20:10, 15; 21:8).
Some will never experience pain and anguish again (21:4), while others will be tormented forever (14:10-11; 20:10).
Some will enter through the gates into the heavenly city (21:24-27; 22:14), while others will be left outside (22:15).
Throughout the Bible: Better Things
by Bryan Gibson
We like to compare things. This team is better than that team; this restaurant is better than that one, etc. Often times, we’re just expressing an opinion or a personal taste; we really don’t have enough information to be certain. But if God says one thing is better than another, then there is no room for argument. God does make statements like these, primarily in the books of Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. These are extremely profitable to us, because they help us set our priorities; they help us to see what is truly important. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Many things are better than riches—the law of God (Psalms 119:72); knowledge, wisdom, and understanding (Proverbs 3:13-14; 8:10-11, 19; 16:16); a good name (Proverbs 22:1; Ecclesiastes 7:1); and virtues such as righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:10-11). Moses certainly understood this, because he chose the riches of God over the riches of Egypt (Hebrews 11:24-26).
The poor man, who has the above things, is better off than the rich man who does not (Psalms 37:16; Proverbs 15:16-17; 16:8, 19; 17:1; 28:6; Eccl. 4:6). Don’t envy the rich man too much, especially if he’s had to sacrifice these better things to get where he is now.
What you have now (materially speaking) is better than what you hope to have one day (Ecclesiastes 6:9). Sometimes we can’t enjoy what we have now for thinking about what we would like to have. Why keep postponing happiness?
It is better to trust in God than to trust in man (Psalms 118:8-9; 146:3-7). Lots of folks have found this out the hard way, after they were led astray. Sadly, some won’t discover it until the day of judgment.
It is better not to make a promise, than to make a promise and not keep it (Ecclesiastes 5:2-5). Too many broken promises and there goes our good name. God is clear: don’t make promises you can’t keep.
A love that rebukes is better than a love that ignores faults (Proverbs 27:5; Ecclesiastes 7:5). We need friends who will tell it like it is, friends who love us enough to point out our wrongs. Jesus said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten” (Revelation 3:19).
Ruling your spirit is better than ruling a city (Proverbs 16:32). We tend to glorify the physically strong; God does just the opposite. It takes more strength to conquer oneself than to conquer others.
It is better to go to the house of mourning (a funeral) than the house of feasting (a party), for it is in the house of mourning that we learn the most valuable lessons (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4). It’s hard to go there and not think about the brevity and uncertainty of life.
The end of a thing is better than its beginning—so be patient (Ecclesiastes 7:8). This certainly applies to childrearing. Sometimes we give up too soon, when we don’t see any immediate effects of our teaching and discipline. Hebrews 12:11 should help us here: “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” This principle also applies to prayer—sometimes we have to “wait on the Lord” (Isaiah 40:27-31).
Two are better than one, so value your marriage companion, your family, your fellow-Christians, your friends (Ecclesiastes 4:7-12; Song of Solomon 8:7; Proverbs 17:17; 27:9; 31:10-12). Imagine life without the love and support of others. Not a pretty picture, is it?
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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