Friday Devotional

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. – Isaiah 65:17

How infinitely great is the future which the Lord has provided for His people! It is beyond our understanding and all our expectations. This future will soon be here. We already hear the footsteps of the heavenly Bridegroom and we see the signs of His coming. Let our heart be longing with great desire for this day when he comes to judge the living and the dead. The Devil, and all who served him, will be cast into the bottomless pit, and then this wonderful prophecy shall be fulfilled, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth.” In the beginning, God created heaven and earth by the Word and it was all very good. Nevertheless, there was a possibility of sinning. There was the serpent who could enter and affect God’s creation. That all had to happen according to the perfect, wise counsel of Him with whom we have to do. But in the new creation, there is no sin, devil, or hell.

In this new creation, there will be eternal happiness with no threat of evil. There will be no thought of evil, for the former things will not be remembered. They can never come into our mind because our mind and heart will be eternally full of God. God will be all in all. We shall love Him perfectly. There cannot be any thought which is not totally filled with His love. We will admire ad adore Him, and we will be so busy that we have no time for anything else. It is our greatest joy, our eternal pleasure, and our deepest wish that this will never end. Our wish will be fulfilled; this is eternal joy, this is eternal life.

The former things shall not be remembered anymore and the things which are then shall fill us to all eternity. We will be united with Christ in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The love of the Father will dwell in us in all perfection. The love for each other shall unite us unto all eternity to the same goal. And Christ’s prayer shall be heard: “and the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:22). We can share in this glory by a true faith in Christ.

Cultivating Biblical Godliness NEW

9781601783813How Should We Develop Biblical Friendship? – Cultivating Biblical Godliness Series

Beeke, Joel R. and Haykin, Michael

Electronic Format 


“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend,” Proverbs 27:17 tells us. God uses Christian friendships to help His children grow in grace and stay true to Christ. But our twenty-first-century Western culture values individualism, busyness, and selfishness—qualities that do not encourage deep, long-lasting, satisfying friendships. The authors guide us through a practical survey of biblical and historical friendships, drawing principles from them that will aid us in forming our own biblical friendships that will sharpen us for our Christian journey in a world that is no friend to grace.


Joel R. Beeke is president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and a pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Michael A. G. Haykin is professor of church history and biblical spirituality as The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.


“A treasure! From two of my friends, a booklet about friendship that makes me thankful for them and what they have written. Friendship is what Jesus gifts in His final hours—‘you are my friends’—and discovering friendship with others is one of God’s great gifts. Winsomely thoughtful and practical, this is a rare treasure that is bound to be read widely.” — Derek W. H. Thomas, senior minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina; Robert Strong Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology, RTS Atlanta

“This booklet is needed in the Christian world as people relate to phones and iPads but increasingly less to others. Here is an accessible, reader-friendly, ‘one-stop’ treatment of the Bible’s encouragement to form and sustain rich friendships. It is lucid but not simplistic, judicious but not obscure, and convicting but not shrill.” — Geoff Thomas, pastor, Alfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwyth, Wales

denyWhy Should You Deny Yourself? – Cultivating Biblical Godliness Series

McGraw, Ryan M.

Electronic Format


“Self-denial is one of the fundamental principles of the Christian life. It is Christianity 101,” writes author Ryan McGraw. Christians, regardless of personal cost, must believe and do whatever Christ teaches them and reject and flee from whatever He forbids them. McGraw helps readers develop an understanding of this essential principle of Christian living by providing an in-depth explanation of what self-denial is and why it is important, and then giving examples of what it looks like in practice.


RYAN M. MCGRAW is pastor of First Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Sunnyvale, California; research  associate, University of the Free State; and adjunct professor of systematic theology, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.


“‘Deny yourself.’ This is one of the hardest biblical commands for Christians to implement practically. Our selfish sinful nature wants and wants even more. Ryan McGraw’s pamphlet is a powerful call to the twenty-first-century church to be more like Jesus and less like the world; to be transformed by the Spirit rather than conformed to the world. We need this exhortation today, and I’m glad to commend this pamphlet for issuing that call.” — Daniel R. Hyde, pastor, Oceanside United Reformed Church, Carlsbad, California

Review of Works of Perkins

Review of Works of William Perkins, Volume 1 by Dr. S. Westcott

perkinsThis impressive tome is the first volume in what promises to be a monumental set comprising the whole works of the Elizabethan Puritan William Perkins

This mammoth undertaking is a ‘first’ for the publisher, as this material has not been available since the printing of the original seventeenth-century edition, which then comprised three massive folio volumes. Why Perkins, in many ways an originator of the English Puritan movement and its theology, was omitted in the nineteenth-century reprinting of so many sets of Puritan ‘works’ (of which almost all modern Puritans seta are facsimiles) remains a mystery, but with no clear modern typeface edition to work from, Reformation Heritage have had to re-typeset the while into a clear current typeface, edit (conservatively updating the most archaic phraseology) and put the whole into an attractive and accessible modern format: a colossal task which (to judge from this initial volume) has been performed superbly.

William Perkins (1558-1602) gained his M.A. at Cambridge in 1584, and was appointed ‘lecturer’ (preacher) at Great St. Andrews Church there, where he associated with men such as Lawrence Chaderton and Richard Greenham in turning Cambridge into an evangelical training centre, becoming pastor and theological mentor to successive intakes of students, many of whom (for example Richard Sibbes, John Cotton, and John Preston) passed on to become leading lights of the rapidly expanding Puritan movement: a process that continued down to Perkins’ death in 1602.

Perkins advocated reformation from within the Church of England (“no man ought to sever himself from the Church of England for some wants that be therein”, p. 734), opposing those, like Thomas Cartwright, who advocated immediate reform by separation. Nearly eighty years later the famed John Owen (often regarded as England’s greatest Reformed theologian) stated that he regarded William Perkins as having been bear to John Calvin in theological acumen.

This substantial volume includes three items. The first is: ‘Digest or Harmony of the Old and New Testaments.’ In this short item (70 pps, first published in 1631) Perkins aims to aid the Bible reader to place the events of redemptive history in proper sequence. Following an outline introduction he gives detailed table of Bible events, with the years (counting onward from Creation) in which they occurred. Working from the Hebrew, before the famous Archbishop Ussher, Perkins calculates the creation at 3,967 BC.

The second item is: ‘Combat between Christ and the Devil’, an 85 page ‘Commentary on the Temptations of Christ’ (1606) based on sermons on Matthew 4:1-11. As might be expected this is rich in practical and devotional matter.

By far the largest item (well over half the book) is: ‘An Exposition of Christ’s Sermon the Mount’ (565 pps, originally 1608), again a massive sermon series from Perkins’ Cambridge ministry. This may be the most thorough and exhaustive treatment of the Sermon on the Mount available in English today, wide ranging, doctrinal, devotional, and including special gems such as his exposition of ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ Those who appreciate modern works on the Sermon on Mount (e.g. that by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones) will relish this Puritan treasure. Even the Puritans vary in readability. Perkins is by no means ‘scholastic’ or heavy; his emphasis is always on faithfully explicating and applying the Bible for the spiritual nourishment of his audience.

The book benefits from full Scripture and Subject indicies, and is excellently presented throughout. This volume (and even more so the entire series) could provide a lifelong spiritual reference and resource. Those who can afford will not regret the outlay!

Reprinted Books by Dr. Beeke

fightingFighting Satan: Knowing His Weaknesses, Strategies, and Defeat

Joel R. Beeke

Paperback, 126 pages

Retail Price: $12.00/ Our Price: $7.50

If you are a true believer, Satan hates you because you bear the image of Christ and because you were snatched from his power. You deserted Satan, and he wants you back. He wants to sift you like wheat. While we should not overestimate Satan’s power, to our peril we underestimate an enemy who is living, intelligent, resourceful, and cunning.

Every Christian is in a battle that is fierce, spiritual, and necessary between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to know the enemy—his personality, his strategies, his weaknesses, and his defeat at Calvary and his final judgment.

In a day when society has in many ways placed itself under Satan’s rule, when Satanism is flourishing in Western nations, when certain branches of the church are preoccupied with “deliverance ministries,” and when others deny the devil’s existence, Fighting Satan is a sober, practical perspective on this vital subject. Joel R. Beeke states, “We must know our enemy. . . . We must know how to withstand him and what spiritual weapons to take up against him. We must defeat him by faith through lives that bear fruit and spread the truth.”

With questions for reflection and discussion at the close of each chapter, Fighting Satan is ideal for group and individual Bible study.

Endorsement  “Joel Beeke’s Fighting Satan anchors in the bedrock of a noble exposition of the Christian life viewed as homo viator (the pilgrim traveler) embattled in a war with Satan at his heels. It is in the same line as John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, William Gurnall’s Christian in Complete Armour, and Thomas Brooks’s Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices. Succinct and deeply pastoral, Dr. Beeke’s little volume has all the marks of a Christian classic. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest and get ready to fight the good fight of faith. This will help you view the Celestial City and the assurance of Jesus Christ.” — Derek W. H. Thomas, senior minister of First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina, and the Robert Strong Professor of Systematic Theology and Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia

familyThe Family at Church

Joel R. Beeke

Paperback, 80 pages

Retail Price: $6.00/ Our Price: $2.40

This book contains guidance on two important areas of family life. First, it explains how we should prepare our families for public worship. Second, it addresses the subject of prayer meetings, their importance and the scriptural warrant for them. Dr. Beeke’s approach involves a sketch of the past uses of such practices and a detailed exposition, in such a way, that the reader can apply it to everyday living. This book will help a family focus the Sabbath wherein it can truly be a delight to the soul.

Endorsement  “In The Family at Church, Dr. Beeke has given us valuable and judicious advice about listening to preaching and the need for corporate prayer…This book is more of the same; rich in pastoral advice, timely in biblical focus, and warm in fervent exhortation.” – Dr. Derek W. H. Thomas

Friday Devotional

The Bosom of Jesus

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth. – Psalm 34:17

(Taken from Seasons of the Heart)

There is no nest below without a thorn; this you well know and therefore will not expect it. But there is a bosom without a thorn, even where John leaned, and where, by faith, unworthy I often lean and find sweet rest and refreshing; in that dear bosom and in that dear heart ‘yet there is room’, room even for you, O weary one! There you shall find no rebuke, no spurning, no upbraiding. The invitation to the laboring and the weary is, ‘Come unto me, and I will give you rest’. Nor did those precious lips utter one unmeaning word. He means it all, and His ear and heart are open to all the sorrowful complaint of those poor and needy ones whom He invited to His rest.

How many a long, sad tale has He privileged me to breathe out to Him such as none else would have had patience to listen to or cared to redress. Others would have called it fancy or imaginary trouble, but He bore with it all and either delivered out of it or in it – either made a way of escape or gave strength to endure through finding in Him enough to fill and satisfy under it all. Then at other times He has discovered the illusion of the enemy, kindly shown me that I really was fretting under imaginary evil and, without upbraiding, has set me on high from him that was puffing at me. When under deep and sore trials, His heart and arm and counsel have been for my support all-sufficient. Oh, what a friend is Christ to me! And not less to you, my beloved. Oh! Come then and magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. Do not let us be murmuring in these tents of flesh, but by faith going forth to Jesus. Our Father has not appointed us any portion in self, but He has given Christ, the true manna, to be our portion for time and eternity; and the more we are brought to feed upon Him by faith, the less we shall need or desire aught beside. Oh, may the blessed Spirit bring us to this dear privilege, so that we may grow up into Him, our living Head, in all things!

A Way in the World , Part 3

This is an excerpt from the first chapter of Passing Through: Pilgrim Life in the Wilderness by Jeremy Walker. 


PassingGuided by Scripture

Instead, if we are to be guided and guarded on our way through this life, it is to our Bibles, in reliance upon the Holy Spirit, that we must turn: “The Holy Scriptures…are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:15–17).

How is a child of wrath to be saved? What is it that changes our fundamental relationship to the world? What brings us out of the way of death and puts us onto the way of life, delivering us from the power of darkness and conveying us into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love (Col. 1:13)? It is through the Scriptures, which make us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

And how is the child of God to be kept from the evil one? How will you make your way in the world, knowing “how you ought to walk and to please God” (1 Thess. 4:1)? It is the Scriptures that equip us for the road.

What relief there is here for the determined-though-sometimes- bewildered, willing-but-often-exposed disciple of Christ! Here is realism about the persecutions we must endure and about the deceptions that will abound: “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:12–13). But here also is a firm anchor, a source of divine wisdom for salvation in its complete scope, a means for our entering in and our going on in the kingdom of God. Its quality—the breathed-out word of the living God—gives us confidence. Its utility for bringing wisdom for salvation to those who are lost in darkness and who require a Savior (2 Tim. 3:15) and for enabling the “man of God” to be “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17) assures us that it will answer our needs.

But we cannot forget that we are utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit to enable us to grasp the truth that saves and embrace the truth that sanctifies: “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Without the illumination of the Holy Spirit we are blind men in a dark room. Even if that room is filled with the treasures of divine revelation we can- not see them until the lights are turned on and our eyes are opened. He opens the truth to us (John 16:12–15), and us to the truth (Acts 16:14). Without Him, we will miss our way. When He is at work in and with and through the Word of God, then we find answered that great prayer-declaration of our Lord and Savior: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

With the Word of God as our map and the Spirit of Christ as our compass, we are equipped to navigate this world, to make our way in the world so as to bring honor and glory to God. By means of the Scriptures and with the light of the Spirit we can establish and embrace our identity and direct and pursue our activity to the praise of the glory of our God and Savior.

This is the final part of this series. Read the entire book here –>

A Way in the World , Part 2

This is an excerpt from the first chapter of Passing Through: Pilgrim Life in the Wilderness by Jeremy Walker. 


PassingFlawed Relationships to the World

Christians must appreciate that they are called to relate to the world in a certain way in each of these different spheres in accordance with their different definitions. What happens if we fail to distinguish between them or to cultivate a properly nuanced understanding with an unwillingness to discern and direct our responses accordingly? We may be bewildered and betrayed, confused and compromised, indecisive and ineffective. The child of God might—for various reasons and perhaps because of a too absolute rigidity or a too careless fluidity—be betrayed into one of three flawed approaches.

The first flawed approach is isolation. We might describe this as the bunker mentality, when a church or a Christian seeks to back off or simply to cut themselves off from all contact with the world in any form. Some might adopt it as an offensive strategy, often sincerely seeking to promote a high degree of holiness. It can be a breeding ground for the kind of pride that—like the Pharisee in the temple—begins to thank God that we are not like other men (particularly those dreadful sinners outside) but are rather well endowed with the kinds of good works with which God is obliged to be pleased. Others adopt this approach as a defensive maneuver, attempting to shut out everything that is unholy, making the walls high, the ditches deep, the doors thick, and the bars strong. They persist in their notion that they can create some kind of spiritual hermetic seal around a church, a family, or a person and so keep everything spiritually contaminating at a distance. The assumption seems to be that if they can establish and maintain such a seal, eventually the world might just go away and they will not have to deal with it.

There may be some degree of truth and wisdom in elements of this approach. However, the problem with isolation is that no matter how many others I might be able to keep out, I am left inside. Anyone who invites and shuts me into that community or space has shut in a man who carries sin in him. Furthermore, even our Lord did not pray that we would be taken out of the world, but that we would be kept from the evil one (John 17:15), preserved in the world and maintained in godliness despite the environment into which He has sent us. This is not only unreasonable to attempt or expect, but it would also sever our contact with the very people for whose benefit the church has been entrusted with the gospel.

A second flawed attitude is inattention. This is the congregation or saint who maintains a kind of distant ignorance, perhaps with some- thing of a sneer. To such people the world is irrelevant, the object of casual neglect and carelessness. Perhaps there is pride here, or ignorance of how to handle the world, or fear that they are not equipped to do so. It may be that the language of holiness is used to put a veneer on what is actually a thoughtless disregard for the world and the things in it. This is cultivated not in the sense of esteeming and holding such things lightly for Christ’s sake, but is the absence of any genuine concern, legitimate interest, sincere compassion, and real care. Paul is able to say, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious” (Acts 17:22). As he engages with them, he goes on to quote their own poets to prove the correctness of some of his fundamental assertions, truths which ought to be—and are, in measure—evident to clear-thinking men in the world. And if not Paul, what of Christ Himself, who clearly did not go through the world with his eyes half shut, but was able to ask His hearers to consider the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, the sower at his work and the children at their play?

The church and the world often drift along side by side in a strange relationship, neither one really acknowledging the other. The church can even become something of a parasite. It exists among the people of the world and feeds off the profits and processes of society and the culture at large, but makes no genuine and righteous investments and seeks no gospel influence. Again, there may be something of an appropriate and righteous disregard—the absence of any obsession—with the world, but there is also a grand mistake being made. In the beginning, before sin entered the world, the Lord gave a charge to our first parents: “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Gen. 1:28). What is called the “dominion mandate” remains as a binding obligation upon men and women made in God’s image.

The third flawed outlook might be described as emulation. This is the church or believer who ends up seeking to be (or, in some cases, deliberately sets out to be) like the world. Often this begins with the desire, legitimate in itself, of doing genuine good to those around her. However, it can result in a church immersed in the world’s culture, adopting its patterns, mimicking its behavior, imbibing its priorities, and mirroring its movements. These Christians ape what they see around them and simply meld into the environment, perfectly camouflaged. In some cases, the mantra “in it to win it” might be used to justify such a principle. Others will twist Paul’s statement that “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). In itself, it is an individual’s simple testimony to his readiness to accommodate himself to substantially neutral norms around him

Under such circumstances, the church ceases to be a thermostat that regulates the moral temperature of society and becomes a thermometer that merely registers and reflects that temperature. There is no doubt that the church must have points of contact—must make points of contact—with those around her if she is to have an impact upon the souls of men and women. However, the Scriptures are perfectly clear that “friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4).

Each one, as we have seen, abuses or neglects some element of biblical revelation considered as a whole. None of them answers the distinctive demands of the relationship that the church must sustain to the world considered in all its various manifestations and guises. None of them is an option for the church seeking to be faithful to God and fruitful among men. Indeed, to live like this—individually or corporately—would be to fail in our responsibilities, privileges, and duties. They have the virtue of relative simplicity, providing a sort of catch-all approach by means of which it is then possible to relieve one’s conscience, avoid combat, suspend thoughtfulness, make less effort, give in to temptation, or take some other apparently easy way out.

Part 3 will be available next Thursday

Book Review


The Beauty and Glory of Christian Living

(Review by Ryan King in Evangelicals Now)

Though not a particularly large book, it is filled with wholesome teaching about Christian living in the light of God’s grace – which draws from the best of Puritan spirituality. It is divided into three sections, with headings related to seeing the Christian life as a seed growing to fruition. ‘Christian Living in Its Divine Roots’ plants the Christian life firmly in the gracious work of God and the sanctifying work of the Spirit. ‘Christian Living in Its Human Branches’ applies the previous section to family life, business, and evangelism. ‘Christian Living in Its Earthly Storms’ provides encouragement for standing strong in a world of suffering, immorality, negativity, sickness, death, and all-around hard times. There are also two very good chapters that take a more historical-theological approach: John Tweeddale examines John Owen’s writings on spiritual-mindedness and Joel Beeke outlines the Puritan William Gouge’s thoughts on Christian family life.

There is at times a tendency in ‘Reformed’ circles to focus on the justifying work of the Saviour on the cross to the neglect of the sanctifying work of the Spirit in the Christian. Books like The Beauty and Glory of Christian Living serve as a powerful corrective.

The Christian’s Pilgrimage

I walk as one who knows that he is treading

A stranger soil;

As one round whom a serpent-world is spreading

Its subtle coil.


I walk as one but yesterday delivered

From a sharp chain;

Who trembles lest the bond so newly severed

Be bound again.


I walk as one who feels that he is breathing

Ungenial air;

For whom as wiles, the tempter still is wreathing

The bright and fair.


My steps, I know, are on the plains of danger,

For sin is near;

But looking up, I pass along, a stranger,

In haste and fear.


This earth has lost its power to drag me downward;

Its spell is gone;

My course is now right upward, and right onward,

To yonder throne.


Hour after hour of time’s dark night is stealing

In gloom away;

Speed thy fair dawn of light, and joy, and healing

Thou Star of Day!


For thee its God, its King, the long-rejected,

Earth groans and cries;

For thee the long-beloved, the long-expected,

Thy bride still sighs!

– Horatius Bonar

A Way in the World , Part 1

This is an excerpt from the first chapter of Passing Through: Pilgrim Life in the Wilderness by Jeremy Walker. 

PassingWho are you? What are you? The answers to these questions will effectively ­establish ­the­ way you ­live,­ because­ your­ sense ­of ­identity­ substantially governs your modes of activity. Your whole demeanor and every part of your conduct will shift in accordance with your sense of yourself.

So it is with Christians in relationship to God in Christ and to the world around them. Our sense of who and what we are will substantially determine our attitudes, affections, appetites, and actions as we make our way in the world. In brief, if you do not know who and what you are, you will not know how to behave in your various relationships to the world around you.

Sadly, too many believers barely consider their identity, if at all. Some think about it carelessly or misguidedly, out of a position of ignorance or negligence. Some do so under the influence of false or foolish teachers, and go badly awry. The result is wrong and often, ultimately, very damaging conclusions.

I was once asked to preach on the question of the Christian’s relationship to the world. The question was posed this way: Should we relate to the twenty first century world? You will appreciate immediately the issue that the question intends to raise, and yet—as I pointed out at the time—the question itself can be badly misinterpreted. It at least implies that Christians have a choice as to whether or not they relate to the world. Of course, we have no choice in the matter. All of us, by very definition, are relating to the world around us. All our attitudes, affections, appetites, and actions are manifestations of that relationship. If we immerse ourselves in the world, we are relating to the world. If we attempt to cut ourselves off from the world, the very desire to have no relationship is a way of relating. The key question is not so much whether we should, must, or need to relate to the world. The concern is, how are we relating to the world? As professing disciples of Jesus Christ and followers of “the Way” (Acts 9:2), are we relating to the world around us foolishly and sinfully, or wisely and righteously? If we have not grasped our identity and our calling, we will not be able to answer that key question accurately and righteously.

We need, therefore, to consider our identity and our activity in the light of Scripture. This is especially necessary because the issue of worldliness—the implied dangers of a too-close walk with the world in its opposition to God—is a topic much neglected and often reinterpreted, even twisted, in the church today. By and large, the church and her members, especially in the modern West, seem to be losing sight of who and what they are. Confusion, carelessness, and even outright carnality—sometimes in the very name of Christ—are great enemies of the gospel and the souls of men, a screeching brake on the progress of true religion.

So how does a believer relate to the world? Our Lord Jesus Him- self puts us on the right track when He made intercession for His disciples, as recorded in John’s gospel. Considering His people, He prayed in this way to His Father and to ours:

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” (John 17:14–19)

Here in John 17 the Lord speaks of Christians as those who, having been given His world, now sustain a relationship to the world that is conditioned by their likeness to and connection with Him: “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” But notice further that the Lord does not pray that the world would be taken away or that we would be taken out of the world. Instead, He pleads that we would be protected and preserved from the evil one as we make our way in the world. Our relationship to the world is conditioned by and patterned after His own. So the Savior prays that we would be holy in the world—living distinctively and increasingly as those who belong to and are set apart by and for God—under the influence of the truth of God.

If this is so, then we come back to the question, Who and what am I as a follower of this Christ in my relationship to the world? In addressing this matter of identity and activity, we must define our terms and recognize that Scripture has at least three broad categories, linguistically or conceptually, for defining or describing the world.


What Is “the World”?

First, sometimes the Word of God speaks of the world in a creative sense. So we find Elihu asking of the Lord, “Who gave Him charge over the earth? Or who appointed Him over the whole world?” (Job 34:13). Secondly, the Bible sometimes describes and discusses the world in an extensive sense, dealing with the human inhabitants of the earth, the nations of the world. This concept takes account of mankind as a race. Often it means all peoples in all places simultaneously. In Romans 3 the apostle uses it to describe the whole human race, asking, “How will God judge the world?” (v. 6). Thirdly, the Scriptures speak of the world in a moral or ethical sense. This is a particular favorite of the apostle John, quoting or following the Lord Jesus: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.” (John 7:7)

These shades, nuances, and combinations of meaning are important to note because one of the right and proper rules of biblical interpretation is that, generally speaking, the same word is used in the same way in the same context. And yet, as so often, exceptions exist, and these shades of the concept can lurk in various linguistic forms and different phrases. It is important that we ask how and to what purpose these various shades of sense are employed.

Part 2 will be available next Thursday

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