Romans 6:23

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 6:23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Paul wrote this in order to finalize a section where he was writing about the difference of being slaves to sin and slaves of righteousness.  Before we are saved, we are slaves to sin.  This word translated slave is the Greek word doulos, meaning slave or bondservant.  We obey our sinful desires which is counter to obeying God.

When we accept Christ as savior, accepting the work Christ did on the cross, then our old man who was a bondservant to sin dies, which then releases us from our bondage to sin, and because of the resurrection we are a new creation, being a new man who has no ties to sin, and we now are slaves to righteousness.

Now, there are two ultimate endings based on our decision.  Let’s look first at our former life.  We read in a couple verses up, “Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.” Romans 6:21.  This is simple, if we remain in in our former life, not accepting Christ as our Savior, the “final result” is death.  There can be no other.  For we have nothing we can do to be declared righteous before God.  Only the work of Christ provides it.

Now, let’s look at our new life in Christ.  Paul said in the next verse, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” Romans 6:22.  The “final result” of accepting Christ is first, a new life focused on holiness since the old is gone.  However, even better, this life will be eternal, everlasting, never ending.  I would say this is infinitely better then if we remained separated from Him.

Now, to the focus verse.  Look at what is said.  “Wages of Sin” and “Gift of God”.  Wages are defined as something we earn by the works we do.  Therefore, if we do not accept Christ, the old man will get what he earned, what he deserves.  That being death.  However, if we do accept Christ, we earn / deserve nothing.  However, we get a “free gift” from God.  And that is eternal life in Him.

So, we either get what we earn, which is death, or what we do not earn, which is eternal life.  I’ll take what I did not earn.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

John 3:16

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

This verse is probably one of the most recognized verses in all of scripture.  This shows how much God loves us and wants to be reconciled with us.  He loved us even though we did not love Him.  He loved us even though we refused to follow His ways.  However, His love for us does not constitute an approval of our conduct.  It shows that He loved us in spite of what we do.

This was a gift, the most valuable gift that can ever be conceived.  This was not just a book of rules or laws.  It was nothing we could ever have imagined.  And it was a free and undeserved gift.  It was a gift given for the sole reason that He loved us beyond all measure.  It was an act of pure love and eternal compassion.  It was because He did not want us to perish, to be separated from Him forever.

And what was this unimaginable gift?  It was His Son, His only begotten Son.  Something man has no claim to.  And again, something that was so amazing and incredible, it is inconceivable to the minds of men.  Imagine someone you know who committed a great crime that was punishable by death.  Someone you love and desire to fellowship with, even though they do not care to fellowship with you.  You then find out that someone who has not committed a crime could pay for the man’s crime by suffering the consequences that man deserved.  And you have a child who is completely free from any wrongdoing and could set this man free by dying in his stead.

This is what God did.  He conceived a child in the womb of Mary for the sole purpose of having Him die to pay the penalty for the sins we had committed.  He loved us before we could ever have loved Him.  Note this verse, “We love, because He first loved us.”  1 John 4:19. The basis of our love for Him is because He first loved us.  However, let’s go a little farther with this idea.  “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” Revelation 13:8.  Our names, us who have accepted Christ and are Christians, have been written in the Lambs book of life from before our world was created.  And this is due to God’s foreknowledge of our accepting Him, not His indiscriminate choice.  And because our names are there before the foundations of the world, so must have been the plan to give His Son for us in sacrifice.  He loved us before we were even created, before Christ came to die.  And because He came to die, we have the immense honor to love Him.  Remember, we love Him and others because He first loved us.

This beautiful and powerful verse has so much in it, we could contemplate for a long time and still not understand the full ramification of its meaning.  He loved us before He created us.  He knew we would fall away, and He still created us.  He provided the means of salvation before we even sinned, and it was through the death of His only begotten Son.  And anyone who believes in Him and the work He did on the cross will have eternal life.  There is no greater love than that which God gave.  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. This will be a difficult question, but is this the kind of love we have for others?  Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Mark 3:29

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 3:29

“But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3:29 

Now, at this time in His ministry, Jesus was followed by a great crowd. “And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the multitude, in order that they might not crowd Him; for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed about Him in order to touch Him.” Mark 3:9. He had healed so many that He became known throughout the land because of this.  And He called for a boat that He could be on it and able to speak to the crowd without being interrupted.

Now it happened that the scribes of the Pharisees came down to where He was. It appears that Jesus’ ministry had made an impact on the leadership in Jerusalem, and they came in order to confront Christ. They do not deny Jesus has the power to perform miracles, but how. “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, He is possessed by Beelzebul, and He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” Mark 3:22. They were accusing Jesus of being possessed by Satan himself. They believed that because of His power, it could not simply be a demon. They do not accuse him of faking it. They indeed recognize his power to perform miracles, but they deny His power was from God and instead claim it was from Beelzebul.

Then Jesus calls them to Himself and spoke directly to them. “How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!” Mark 3:23b-26. Jesus said this to show that if He did these things through Satan, then surely Satan’s kingdom was in a civil war and would not stand. Jesus said this to show that Satan would not work against himself; this would be like a house divided against itself. This would cause nothing but contention and discord. If citizens should fall out with their leaders, or with one with another; or if the heads of families quarrel with and divide from one another, the whole would be destroyed. And the same would be said of the kingdom of Satan. Then He points directly at the Scribes. “And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? consequently they shall be your judges.” Mark 3:26.

Then He adds the following. “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.” Mark 3:27. Jesus here calls Satan the strong man and Himself as the One who enters the house and plunders it. Of course, before Satan allows his domain to be plundered, he must be incapacitated. Jesus was not in league with Satan, as the scribes suggested, but had come to the earth, to what is essentially Satan’s house, in order to bind Satan and plunder his goods, which are the souls of men. Note this verse regarding this being Satan’s realm. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19.

Then we end with this. “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin, because they were saying, He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:28-30. This is a difficult idea. But what is important is that the Scribes and Pharisees knew of the coming of the Messiah. And they also knew of what the scriptures spoke of Him. But they refused to accept the truth, and in so refusing to see Jesus as the Messiah, the refused to believe He was doing all this through the Holy Spirit. We read in Isaiah the following. “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” Isaiah 11:1-2. I believe they knew what this spoke of and should have seen who He really was. But they refused to believe and thus accused Him of being of the Devil. They saw His works, His healings, and heard His teachings. They knew if they spoke of Him as the Messiah they would lose their authority, and so they refused to accept it. They took it a step to far in claiming He was filled with Satan. And because of this, they hardened their hearts and thus lost their opportunity for repentance.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, for their

John 5:24

Verse of the Day Devotion:  John 5:24 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” – John 5:24

This verse addresses the fact that salvation is the result of hearing His words and believing them, and then ultimately acting upon it.  Salvation has nothing to do with any acts or deeds, as the Jews believed, but it was wholly the work of God.  To “hear” in this passage speaks not of just hearing physically, but it involves receiving the word in the heart, believing it to be truth and then obeying it.  Many people hear the gospel, but few see it as a truth they wish to obey.  They must see it as a truth they must obey, because they believing it is the only way to please God and receive salvation.

And the idea is that we believe God the Father who sent Him to fulfill His will.  The Father provided a way that we can receive eternal life with Him, and that is to provide a means by which the penalty of our sins have been paid.  “For the wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23a.  Note He says “The wages of sin is death.”  When God created man He placed them in the garden declared one thing they were not to do.  “The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.” Genesis 3:2-3.  He told them what they would receive, denoted by Paul as wages, if they disobeyed Him.  Unfortunately, they did and received exactly what God told them they would.  Not necessarily instant death, but they would have a limited lifespan. 

And this was what Paul was referring to.  Because they sinned, they received the wages for their actions.  They no longer had life eternal, but a time where life would eventually end.  And He also declares there would come one who would be capable of addressing this problem.  “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15.  This refers to the coming Messiah who would address this great fall of mankind.  “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!“  John 1:29.  So, as you can see, this was the plan of the Father and He sent Jesus, His only begotten Son to address the sins of all mankind.  And the only way He could pay the penalty for us is if He did not need to pay it for Himself.  “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 1 Corinthians 5:21.

So, going back to our focus verse, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life,” if we hear the words of Jesus regarding our situation, that being we are dead due to sins, and we believe the Father that the death of His only begotten Son will redeem us if we accept this truth, then we shall no longer die but will live eternally with Him.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17. 

We have all sinned and were thus under the penalty of death.  However, if we hear, accept and obey what Jesus said, and believe the Father that if we do this He will forgive us, then our penalty has been placed on Christ, who never sinned and thus can pay our penalty.  And when He does this, then we have eternal life.  Not that we will have eternal life, but we already have it.  It is life begun and expanded.  We, as Christians have already entered this inheritance which is everlasting.  What a glorious life we are assured of going forward.   

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Isaiah 9:6

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Isaiah 9:6

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas Eve.  This is the day before the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of the world.  Our focus verse is the prophecy of this great event as given by Isaiah.  This verse tells us the reason for the great things that will come in the future.  “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.” Isaiah 9:1-5. 

In our focus verse we see several beautiful things that describe this child.  First of all, it speaks of the government being upon His shoulders.  This statement may be referring to the idea of a key that is placed on the king showing his control over the throne room and house of the king.  “Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, When he opens no one will shut, When he shuts no one will open.” Isaiah 22:22.  Note the phrase, when he opens no one will shut, and when he shuts, no one will open.  This designates control and authority over the kingdom of which he rules.  This very well could be what is referred to in Isaiah 9 where he says, the government will rest on His shoulders.  He will rule and the government will be vested in Him; He will be king.

He is called Wonderful Counselor.  He always gives good counsel to His people, in both temporal and spiritual matters.  His wisdom surpasses all others because it comes directly from the Father, and because He is God Himself knowing all things past, present and future.

And He is the Mighty God, as I stated above.  The language here is, God The Mighty One.  He was not just sent by God, He is God, with all the attributes associated with God.  However, He will be in the form of a man.  John put it this way.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1-3.  And we know this is referring to Jesus because of what John says later on, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.  And the next verse clarifies Him as the promised one when He says, “John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” John 1:15.  John the Baptist was conceived in the womb before Jesus, but John says He existed before him.  The meaning is clear here.  He was God who came in the flesh.

He is the everlasting Father.  There is but one Father in the Godhead, however, how this all fits together is beyond our understanding.  But what we do know is that Jesus and the Father are one.   He made this clear in John when He said, “I and the Father are one.”  John 10:30.  If Jesus Christ were not God, could he have said these words without being guilty of blasphemy?  He could not be referring to His earthly father, for this would not have been worded “the Father” but “my Father”.  He is God, not “a God” or a messenger of God, He is God Himself.

And He is the Prince of Peace.  According to theologian Albert Barnes, this is a Hebrew mode of expression denoting that he would be a peaceful prince.  That the tendency of His administration would be to restore and perpetuate peace.  This was in sharp contrast to the mass of kings and princes who have delighted in conquest and blood.  In contradistinction from all these, the Messiah would seek to promote universal concord, and the tendency of his reign would be to put an end to wars, and to restore harmony and order to the nations.  And this refers to all forms of peace.  In a prophecy regarding the new kingdom, Isaiah writes, “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them.  Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:6-9.

These attributes describe completely who this child is that will be born to us, as stated in our focus verse.  He came to us a little over two thousand years ago; a baby born of a virgin in a manger in a small and virtually overlooked town of Bethlehem.  Who He is goes beyond our understanding, but it does show us what we have been given.  A loving and mighty God who provides perfect counsel to those who seek it,  one who is our Father for all eternity who’s reign is defined by perfect peace.  And we have this now in our relationship with Him.  “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.”  Isaiah 26:3-4.  And then, “The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level.” Isaiah 26:7. 

This is our relationship with the promised child born of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem so many years ago.  Rejoice and be glad as we celebrate this wonderful time of Christmas Eve and then Christmas day.  And remember, our time here is but the beginning.  “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9.  Oh the beautiful and amazing things we have to look forward to.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.