|Vol. 14 No. 3 March 2012||
Adam B. Cozort
Recently my oldest son (who is four-years-old) came into the room and told my wife, “I want to die so that I can see Jesus and God.” My son does not have a debilitating illness, he is not in any pain, he is perfectly healthy and (God willing) has many years to grow to be the man God would have him to be. However, in many ways his childhood innocence should be a heartfelt lesson to us all. He does not fear death, nor is he worried about what death would bring. He sees it as another adventure, an opportunity to get to see the ones he hears and studies about every day of his life.
To some, such an idea may be strange. Yet, to the Christian, such an attitude should be understood and appreciated. It is very much the attitude that the apostle Paul had when he wrote, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is needful for you. And having that confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith” (Philippians 1:23-25). Paul wanted to die so that he could be with Christ, at the same time he knew he still had work to do here before that could happen.
There is a beautiful revelation in the statement, “I want to die,” when the reasons for it center on the faith one has in God and in His Word. It does not mean we seek ways to bring it about, but instead that we do not fear what may happen in this life. Recognize as Paul did that, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). If we live for Christ every day of our lives, when the time comes that we are about to die, we will be able to utter with the same confidence as Paul, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
It is imperative that we study the question of how men are made believers. Emphasis needs to be given to the fact that men are brought to a saving obedient faith by believing and obeying the Gospel of Christ, and not by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Peter 1:22; Acts 2:37-38). Especially in this article, I want to call our attention to several passages of Scripture that call us to always walk in and remain faithful to the truth of God’s Word (3 John 4).
There are three passages of Scripture, one located near the beginning of the Bible, another located about the middle of the Bible and the final one found at the end of the Bible that set forth various warnings about tampering with God’s Word. We will notice these first, and then, we will look at some of similar import. (1) Deuteronomy 4:2 reads, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 12:32 says, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” (2) Proverbs 30:6 records, “Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (3) Revelation 22:18-19 warns, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Man is to walk as God his Creator wants him to walk, but how is a person to know how he is to live? In 2 Corinthians 5:7 Paul says, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” Man is to walk by the directions of divine revelation and not by mere human wisdom. We can turn to Hebrews 11:6 and learn, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Yet, how does faith come? Paul penned for us in Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith is taking God at His Word. Man has no right to strike out on his own, make his own way and make his own laws in religion. Jesus said about this situation in Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.” Men are to learn to live according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 4:6). One translation of this passage urges us that we “learn not to go beyond the things which are written.” Second John 9-11 gives a serious warning about any failure to abide in the doctrine of Christ or the danger of fellowshipping those who do. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not unto your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” We are going to be judged by the Word (John 12:48), and therefore, we had better live by it and “earnestly contend” for it (Jude 3).