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On the Basis of Love (Part 2 of 2)

Philemon 1:8–16
Program

Do you pray for the salvation of someone who seems beyond reach—blatantly rebellious and opposed to God and the Bible? Alistair Begg teaches that Christianity knows nothing of hopeless cases. Listen to Truth For Life as we take a look at why this is true.

From the Sermon

On the Basis of Love

Philemon 1:8–16 Sermon Includes Transcript 40:28 ID: 2633

From Milk to Food

From Milk to Food

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.

If you keep lots of exercise equipment in your basement but never pick up the weights to train your muscles or strengthen your cardiovascular health, it will be useless. Muscles grow through consistent use. A personal trainer may be helpful, but we must also make a commitment to train ourselves. When Paul wrote to Timothy, “Train yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7), he was emphasizing that no role model, leader, or friend could do the hard work for him.

As we grow in our Christian walk, we learn elementary truths, slowly putting them into practice and growing in spiritual discernment. This process helps us transition from milk to solid food (Hebrews 5:12-14), from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity, so that we can eventually begin to teach others. It is a God-designed life cycle meant to expand His kingdom.

To change the metaphor, Christianity’s fundamental truths are vital; everything else we learn about Christ is built upon them. But it isn’t productive to camp on them forever. We must be diligent in making progress in the Christian life, constantly striving to grow in holiness, asking the Spirit to build us up as we go deeper into His inspired word.

God does not conform His children to the image of His Son in isolation from life or the instruction of His word. As you are trained in the Scriptures and lay hold of them, so you make progress. Does your Bible show signs of daily, disciplined use? Do you seek intentionally to learn from those who are further on in their walk than you, and do you wrestle with difficult doctrines rather than leaving them for “the experts”? And do you read and wrestle and meditate with a view to growing in your love for Christ and your ability to serve others in your church and in your community, rather than with a view only to knowing more? Never let it be said of you that you could have grown more and done more to help God’s people. Seek to grow. That will require God’s help—but as we seek Him, He will surely honor our efforts!

Questions for Thought

How is God calling me to think differently?

How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?

What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?

Further Reading

Hebrews 5:7–14

7In the days of his flesh, Jesus1 offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Warning Against Apostasy

11About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 6:1–3

1Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2and of instruction about washings,1 the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do if God permits.

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Footnotes
1 5:7 Greek he
1 6:2 Or baptisms (that is, cleansing rites)

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotionals by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, 2022, The Good Book Company.

Rejoice

Rejoice

Why do I go mourning?

Can you answer this, believer? Can you find any reason why you are so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told you that the night would never end in day? Who told you that the sea of circumstances would ebb out till there should be nothing left but long stretches of the mud of horrible poverty? Who told you that the winter of your discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow and ice and hail to deeper snow and yet more heavy tempest of despair? Don't you know that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter?

Be full of hope! Hope forever! For God does not fail you. Do you not know that God loves you in the midst of all this? Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God's love is as true to you now as it was in your brightest moments.

No father chastens always. The Lord hates the rod as much as you do; He only cares to use it for that reason that would make you willing to receive it—namely, it brings about your lasting good. You will yet climb Jacob's ladder with the angels and behold Him who sits at the top of it—your covenant God. You will yet, amidst the splendors of eternity, forget the trials of time or only remember them to bless the God who led you through them and works your lasting good by them. Come, sing in the midst of tribulation.

Rejoice even while passing through the furnace. Make the wilderness blossom like the rose! Cause the desert to ring with your exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then, forever with the Lord, your bliss shall never wane.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
Only believe and you shalt see,
That Christ is all in all to thee.

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.

Daily Bible Reading for July 21

Judges 4, Acts 8, Jeremiah 17, Mark 3

Deborah and Barak

1And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord after Ehud died. 2And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. 3Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

4Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. 6She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. 7And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” 8Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him.

11Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh.

12When Sisera was told that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13Sisera called out all his chariots, 900 chariots of iron, and all the men who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. 14And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. 15And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. And Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.

17But Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. 18And Jael came out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord; turn aside to me; do not be afraid.” So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19And he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. 20And he said to her, “Stand at the opening of the tent, and if any man comes and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say, ‘No.’” 21But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died. 22And behold, as Barak was pursuing Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” So he went in to her tent, and there lay Sisera dead, with the tent peg in his temple.

23So on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel. 24And the hand of the people of Israel pressed harder and harder against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

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Saul Ravages the Church

1And Saul approved of his execution.

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

4Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5Philip went down to the city1 of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8So there was much joy in that city.

Simon the Magician Believes

9But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles2 performed, he was amazed.

14Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23For I see that you are in the gall3 of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

25Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

26Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south4 to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter

and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,

so he opens not his mouth.

33In his humiliation justice was denied him.

Who can describe his generation?

For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”5 38And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

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Footnotes
1 8:5 Some manuscripts a city
2 8:13 Greek works of power
3 8:23 That is, a bitter fluid secreted by the liver; bile
4 8:26 Or go at about noon
5 8:36 Some manuscripts add all or most of verse 37: And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

The Sin of Judah

1“The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with a point of diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of their altars, 2while their children remember their altars and their Asherim, beside every green tree and on the high hills, 3on the mountains in the open country. Your wealth and all your treasures I will give for spoil as the price of your high places for sin throughout all your territory. 4You shall loosen your hand from your heritage that I gave to you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.”

5Thus says the Lord:

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man

and makes flesh his strength,1

whose heart turns away from the Lord.

6He is like a shrub in the desert,

and shall not see any good come.

He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,

in an uninhabited salt land.

7“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

whose trust is the Lord.

8He is like a tree planted by water,

that sends out its roots by the stream,

and does not fear when heat comes,

for its leaves remain green,

and is not anxious in the year of drought,

for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

9The heart is deceitful above all things,

and desperately sick;

who can understand it?

10“I the Lord search the heart

and test the mind,2

to give every man according to his ways,

according to the fruit of his deeds.”

11Like the partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch,

so is he who gets riches but not by justice;

in the midst of his days they will leave him,

and at his end he will be a fool.

12A glorious throne set on high from the beginning

is the place of our sanctuary.

13O Lord, the hope of Israel,

all who forsake you shall be put to shame;

those who turn away from you3 shall be written in the earth,

for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.

Jeremiah Prays for Deliverance

14Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;

save me, and I shall be saved,

for you are my praise.

15Behold, they say to me,

“Where is the word of the Lord?

Let it come!”

16I have not run away from being your shepherd,

nor have I desired the day of sickness.

You know what came out of my lips;

it was before your face.

17Be not a terror to me;

you are my refuge in the day of disaster.

18Let those be put to shame who persecute me,

but let me not be put to shame;

let them be dismayed,

but let me not be dismayed;

bring upon them the day of disaster;

destroy them with double destruction!

Keep the Sabbath Holy

19Thus said the Lord to me: “Go and stand in the People's Gate, by which the kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem, 20and say: ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. 21Thus says the Lord: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. 22And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers. 23Yet they did not listen or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck, that they might not hear and receive instruction.

24“‘But if you listen to me, declares the Lord, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work on it, 25then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings and princes who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their officials, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And this city shall be inhabited forever. 26And people shall come from the cities of Judah and the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the Lord. 27But if you do not listen to me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.’”

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Footnotes
1 17:5 Hebrew arm
2 17:10 Hebrew kidneys
3 17:13 Hebrew me

A Man with a Withered Hand

1Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2And they watched Jesus,1 to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

A Great Crowd Follows Jesus

7Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

The Twelve Apostles

13And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15and have authority to cast out demons. 16He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot,2 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

20Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

22And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

28“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—30for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Jesus' Mother and Brothers

31And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers3 are outside, seeking you.” 33And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

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Footnotes
1 3:2 Greek him
2 3:18 Greek kananaios, meaning zealot
3 3:32 Other early manuscripts add and your sisters
Today’s Bible Reading material is taken from McCheyne Bible reading plan and used by Truth For Life with permission. Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

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