A Universal Language

A Universal Language

Men have spoken a variety of languages since the Tower of Babel. On that day, God confused the languages of men because of the sins of men, so as to cause men to do that which He had previously commanded: multiply and cover the earth. (cf. Genesis 11:5-9) This variety of languages accomplished God’s purpose through the creation of a certain amount of division and confusion.

languages communication

Is your communication sharing love?

It is interesting to note, as a counter-event, that on the day in which God established the church through the preaching of the apostles, God gave those same apostles the gift of speaking in other languages, so as to allow them the ability to preach to all and sundry (cf. Acts 2:4-11). Where sin and rebellion had created division, the message of Christ would bring healing.

However, the presence of many languages remains a constant, and, lacking the miraculous gifts of the apostolic age, the only way in which men speak multiple languages today is through time and study. The need to communicate the gospel to others, in particular, creates a need for Christians to be able to cross the language barrier. It is no wonder, considering the great diversity of tongues, men sometimes dream of a universal language: a single language breaking down all linguistic and cultural barriers between men.

In pursuit of this goal, some have suggested math as a universal language, and, in a manner of speaking, numbers operate the same regardless of what language you speak. However, the ability of numbers to convey information to the common man leaves a little something to be desired. It would be difficult to hold a conversation when every nuance and word required you to sit down with pen and paper and work out the equations.

Others, likewise, have proposed music as a common language. But, while music does indeed cross cultural barriers, again it is not without its shortcomings. If you don’t believe this, try ordering a ham sandwich at a diner using nothing but a guitar to communicate. The waitress might be moved to tears by the beauty of the sound, but you’ll probably leave hungry. Everybody interprets the sound of music slightly differently, and notes themselves don’t convey concrete information, which makes it less than ideal as an actual language.

Rather than looking to math or music, let us consider another thing which crosses linguistic and cultural barriers, and which conveys our innermost thoughts and ideas far loftier than any symphony or sonata: the language of love. There is a universality to love which, when employed correctly, conveys some rather important concepts.

Our Lord Jesus showcased the ability of love to cross cultural boundaries when He taught the parable of the good Samaritan. The Samaritans were of a different nationality than the Jews, and the two nations hated each other very much; which is why Jesus chose a Samaritan for the parable. One of the Jews had asked Jesus: who is my neighbor? To which Jesus told the parable, using the actions of the Samaritan to highlight an important truth – rather than ask, “who is my neighbor,” it is better to ask one’s self, “how can I be neighborly.” Kindness, goodness and charity are appreciated no matter the language spoken, or the culture to which one belongs (cf. Luke 10:25-37).

In a like manner, Jesus told His apostles upon another occasion, “by this will all men know you are my disciples, if you have love, one for another.” (John 13:35) Loving others with genuine love and affection, doing good as Christ did good, being kind and joyful,… these thing communicates effectively to everyone something about the kind of person you are.

You don’t have to speak the same language to share a cup of cold water on a hot day. You don’t have to know the another’s tongue in order to appreciate a smile and a kindly offer of food. You don’t need to be a polylinguist to understand the affection and gentleness behind a mother’s kiss or a grandmother’s hug.  These are actions which communicate effectively across all linguistic barriers, and when done in the name of Christ, they, and countless like examples are an effective witness to the presence of the love of Christ.

Even when a language is shared, love is still a vital part of Christian communication. We read in God’s word: “though I can speak with the tongues of men and of angels, without love I am just a noisy gong, or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).” Jesus most assuredly wanted love to be a large part of our vocabulary.

It’s still necessary, in the end, if we wish to fully communicate, to be able to understand the actual words that others are speaking. Without this, there will always be some amount of confusion (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:9). But love, as an aid to language, is indeed universal, and if we had a bit more of it in our communications, we would all be a lot better off.


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The Dragon, Sea Beast, and Beast of the Earth

The Dragon, Sea Beast, and Beast of the Earth

Those who are familiar with their Bible will recognize the entities in the title of this article as subjects in the book of Revelation.  This book seems to fascinate the masses.  It is colorful, figurative, and full of images that can excite and terrify the mind.  The mind of God penned through the apostle John provides a look at mankind under trial by the forces of evil and the mighty hand of God.  Ultimately, the book of Revelation could be summed up in one of a variety of words: “Hope”, “Comfort”, “Assurance”, or “Victory”.  It is a torch and a balm for the Christian.

revelation beast

There is no power or evil which will not bow before God.

God provides an eternal rest for all those faithful to Him.  The one opposing God is the Dragon.  We know him as Satan or the Devil.  His major tools to destroy the beloved creation of God (mankind) are the sea beast and the land beast.  The sea beast is representative of corrupt nations or governments and their power to destroy and oppress.  The land beast is the false teacher, false religion, or false prophet.  Through these forces, Satan has persecuted, deceived, and devoured man and woman alike through the darkness of sin.

The reality of life is that God rules over all.  His authority is universal over everything in existence.  He has given the same authority to His son, Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18).  The actions undertaken by Satan occur only because God allows them to occur.  As seen in the Book of Job, God sets the parameters within which Satan can operate.  Within these boundaries, Satan can afflict and tempt mankind.  Yet, Satan does not control man.  Man does not have to yield to Satan (James 4:7).  Man does not have to yield to a government leaving its authorized position (Romans 13:1-4; Acts 5:29).  Man can rebuff false religion as well (2 Timothy 4:2, Ephesians 6:16, Revelation 2:2, I John 4:1).  But why would God allow such things?  First the issue may be one of endurance, growth, and faith building (2 Timothy 4:5, James 1:12, I Peter 1:7).  Man is proven through the journey of life.  Second, the issue may be one of punishment (I Peter 2:13-14, Romans 1:24-32, Genesis 18, 19, Jeremiah 25:8-9).  God has long used his creation to discipline.  The third reality of the suffering and pain upon the earth is that from the beginning, God allows man to choose his path (Genesis 3).  However, every path man chooses will have consequences, each to his own benefit or loss. Man not only chooses his behaviors, but those behaviors impact others accordingly.

It may seem at times that the beastly wickedness of corrupt government and false religion has consumed all things, Satan moving his pawns as puppets on a string.  Yet, still there remains a remnant of God’s people undeterred, strong, and faithful.  The government may pass laws condemning scripture, prohibiting worship, punishing godliness, but despite their threats and power, God will bring their treachery to an end (Romans 12:19, 2 Thessalonians 1:8).  False religions go about teaching evil as good and good as evil (Isaiah 5:20), but “Woe” upon them for the Lord knows their deeds (Luke 8:17).  Those who teach beyond what has been shared by Christ and His apostles and prophets will be accursed (Galatians 1:6-10, Jude, Revelation 22:18-19).  Hold fast in the face of these trials (I Corinthians 10:13).  Hold fast in the face of the enemy (Psalm 23:4).  Stand fast in the truth of the Word of God (2 Thessalonians 2:15).  There is a victory coming (I Corinthians 15:57).  There is a crown of life awaiting (Revelation 2:10).  There is an eternal home in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1).  In Heaven the Dragon, the Sea Beast, nor the Beast of the Earth shall every darken a corner (Revelation 20:10).  This is the hope given in Revelation and this is the faithful truth of God’s Word.

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The Lord Knows the Nature of Our Hearts

The Lord Knows the Nature of our Hearts

The old saying goes, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” We are often very good at putting on a facade and fooling others, but we need to remember that we cannot and will not fool God. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). And be sure “your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). The saddest thing is that some have fooled themselves into thinking their hearts are right with God when God knows the true nature of our hearts.

heart knowledge

God knows us and the nature of our hearts.

While King Saul ignored the true causes of his troubles, God saw everything clearly. So many of us need to do some serious introspection and consider the true nature of our hearts in humility and fear. Only when we clearly see our hearts as God sees them can we begin to understand God’s will for us.

As Saul pursues David in an attempt to kill him, David is afforded an opportunity to kill Saul a cave. Yet, even though he is encouraged to do so by his men, David refuses to “put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’S anointed” (1 Samuel 24:10).

An important spiritual application for us to re-member is that Jesus declares those who are not with Him, are against Him (Matthew 12:30). In other words; those who are not faithfully serving the Lord are putting forth their hands against the Lord’s anointed. The Lord knows our hearts and who is on the Lord’s side. Are you faithful?

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Instant Gratification or Waiting

Instant Gratification or Waiting

It is remarkable how much our society contributes to our expectation for there to be instant gratification for whatever we want. James shows that this concept may not always have application in our lives. “Be patient, brethren…see how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your heart…” (Jas. 5:7-8).

Instant Gratification

Are you patient enough to wait for the Lord?

Think about the simple illustration used by James. Farmers understand this principle. Hours and hours, days and days are spent in planting and weeding, and when all of that is done, he waits. The time of harvest is coming, but it does not come immediately. Christians must learn to exercise patience in serving our God.

Blessings He Gives to Those Who Wait

There are those blessings which await those who have learned to be patient. David speaks of the fact that God will exalt those who wait (Psa. 37:34). Solomon reminds us that another blessing God gives to those who wait is salvation (Prov. 20:22). While we tend to tire as we wait, the words of Isaiah promise us that as we wait, God will renew our strength and we will soar as the majestic eagle. We shall “…run and not be weary” (Isa. 40:31). The prophet Micah reminded Israel that as they waited for the Lord to act, God would hear them. Zephaniah added the assurance that God will arise to help us (Mic. 7:7). Paul describes our walk with the Lord based on the fact that we have assurance as we wait that the Lord will return to receive us some day (Phil. 3:20).

Our Response As We Wait

There are those values we must have as we wait for the Lord to respond to our petitions. We must continue to seek Him. “The Lord is good to…the soul who seeks Him” (Lam. 3:25). Paul describes it this way: “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9). Think of how often David had to wait for the Lord to deliver him. The psalmist said, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psa. 37:7).

There is no doubt that we shall win the battle and gain the victory. In His word, our God, who cannot lie, has promised this. Write these words on your heart, “In His word do I hope” (Psa. 130:5). It is this hope that is the anchor of our souls and reaches far beyond a present trial. It reaches beyond the veil into the heavens (Heb. 6:19-20). By faith we look upward and see our Savior sitting there. He is our forerunner waiting for our arrival.

God, help us to learn to wait on You!

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Jesus and The Revelation

Jesus and The Revelation

The book of Revelation is about Jesus and His saving work. There are many portraits of Jesus in the book. Perhaps the clearest is Jesus as the Lamb. Twenty-nine times the word “lamb” refers to Jesus. This isn’t the only image, though. He is also pictured as The Angel, the One riding on the white horse, the Alpha and Omega, the male Child, the Son of Man, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the One sitting on the throne, God Almighty, Jesus, Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, Faithful and True, the Word of God, the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star, and many more. Through Jesus, the saints overcome all enemies.

alpha omega

The Alpha and Omega, Revelation speaks of Christ in so many ways.

Many interpret the book of Revelation on a timeline thinking that one event must chronologically follow another. This is the wrong approach. John writes that the events happening “must shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1, 22:6). What does that statement mean? Instead of trying to force the events into a chronological sequence, a timeless interpretation means the events recur cyclically in the present. Thus, the book of Revelation is as relevent to us today as to the first Christians who read it because the same issues that Christians faced then are issues that Christians face now. Jesus and His workis always at the center of each story in Revelation. Every single heroic character in the book is victorious, and every single villainous character is defeated because of Jesus’ work.At the end, we are introduced to Jesus’ bride, the culmination of Christ’s work (Revelation 21:9). The church is that bride (Ephesians 5:25-33), and the saints are the church. This means that as you live out the gospel in your life, the book of Revelation is fulfilled in you.

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