Acts 4:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: Act 4:12

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12 

Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour which was the hour of prayer.  A man who had been lame from birth was sitting at the temple gate called “Beautiful” begging for financial assistance.  Upon seeing Peter and John, he requested financial help from them.  Then Peter and John looked at him and Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” Acts 3:6. Peter then helped him up and immediately his feet and ankles were strengthened, and he began to walk.  Many people saw this man walking and praising God, knowing that this was the man crippled and begging every day at the Beautiful Gate.

Now, Peter and John began teaching the people about Christ.  “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.  But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.  Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” Acts 3:17-19.  They are calling the leadership to return to true worship and adoration of the true God, not the one they were serving.  Note: There were around 5000 men who believed their word when the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came to have them arrested.

The next day, John and Peter were taken before the rulers, elders and scribes where they were asked by what power they healed this man.  Peter then, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered by saying that it was Jesus the Nazarene, whom they crucified and whom God raised from the dead; by His name this man has been healed and is standing before them.  He added then, “He is the STONE, WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.” Acts 4:11. And then they declared, by our focus verse, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.

The word ‘salvation’ properly denotes any preservation or the keeping of anything in a “safe” state; a preserving from harm.  Also, it denotes deliverance of body or mind of the same, sickness, pain, danger, etc.  In the New Testament, it is normally applied to the Messiah, Christ, and what He came to do.  “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10. Mankind cannot, in and of themselves, become found.  We were separated from God and did not have the access Adam and Eve had prior to their sin.

What Peter was saying to the leadership was they did not have the power to provide this salvation.  Their adherence to the law and its rules and works could not provide what mankind needed.  There is only one name by which man can be saved, that being Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.  And these words pertain to us today as they did to those in the first century.  It is Christ alone, not through any other man or woman, prophet, idol or false god, teacher, leader or any false Christ. Salvation has its origin in God, and the Savior, He gave us, and cannot be originated by any power among people.

This word must be preached to all people, letting them know that Christ is the only answer to all our issues; physical, moral or spiritual.  Salvation from all these areas is only available by the Creator of all things.  Sin caused separation from God, sickness, pain, danger and all things that we suffer today.  And the Messiah, Christ is the only source of salvation from all these areas.  Our job is to go out and evangelize the world.  “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.” Luke 14:23. Many are deluded that salvation comes from many sources, religions, works, etc.  It is our job to compel the world to come to God’s house through the only door possible, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the acceptance of this work. And we must not cave and give in to the arguments of those who question or debate us.  The answer is clear and immutable.  Stand strong and spread this good news to all we come in contact with.  In so doing, we will fill His house, thus pleasing Him and also help those who need and want salvation, receive it.  This is love, both of God and our fellow man.

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

Ephesians 2:8

Verse of the Day Devotion: Ephesians 2:8

“For by grace, you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8 

The Jews in Jesus’ time truly believed that by following the law completely, they would be saved.  They believed that as long as they did exactly what the law required, including the blood sacrifice for any sin they should commit, they would be good enough to be saved.  However, it is clear from our focus verse plus the next that this is not the case.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9.  We can do nothing to make right our rebellion.  Salvation is through grace alone.  Our works have nothing to do with it.

Unfortunately, too many live their lives as though this is still true.  They go to church simply because they believe they must.  They read the bible because they believe this is what a Christian is expected to do.  They say a prayer before every meal and bedtime because that is a tradition they have grown up with.  Also, when they think about whether they are saved, they think about what they did and do, not who they serve.

I remember a Pastor friend who was preaching one Sunday morning and he said the following which has stuck with me since I heard it.  “We do not go to church because we have to, we go because we get to.  We read the bible not because we have to, but because we get to.  And we pray not because we have to, but because we get to.”  These are things we do to fellowship with the one who saved us through His death burial and resurrection.  It is not by what we do, but what He did, and because we accepted this, we GET to fellowship with Him.

Again, let’s look at what James said.  “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? “James 2:14. Our works are the sign of the faith we have.  If we truly have given our lives over to Him, then we will desire to do the things He wants us to.  We do them not to be saved, but because we are saved.  Because we truly love Him.  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  John 14:15. Also, remember James’s wording. “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 2:17. So, summing this all up, Faith by itself, without the works to show the reality of our faith, is not true faith.  But also, works by themselves, without the faith in the works Christ did on the cross, are simply deeds alone with no reconciliation with God.

In closing, Paul lays out how salvation is attained.  “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9-10.  Works has nothing to do with it, they are simply the proof of our salvation through faith in Christ and His works.  Let us change our thoughts if we place works as a means rather than a sign of our acceptance of the grace God has for us.  Moreover, let us help those who believe works are relevant to our salvation understand what the bible actually says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9.  There is much freedom that comes from realizing that salvation is a gift of God we accept through faith alone.

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

John 3:17

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 3:17

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – John 3:17

This verse comes just after probably the most famous and well-known verse in all the Bible.  “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.  God loved the whole world.  He loved us and gave us a way that we can be reunited with the Himself.  And we know what that was, it was through the death, burial and resurrection of His only begotten Son.  And it is because we believe in the Christ, that we are saved.

In Genesis we read the following, “The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 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 3:14-15.  In the very beginning God told Adam and Eve that there would come a seed of Eve that would defeat the serpent, which is the enemy that rebelled before God created them.  And this is what happened when Jesus came.  Through His work on the cross, He defeated him and provided a way that man may be rectified with the Father.  This is important, for there was no final condemnation for anyone here during His first coming.

And this is what our focus verse is saying.  God did not send Him here to condemn the world.  He was not sent here to judge or pronounce judgement on anyone.  His whole purpose was to provide a means by which man may be saved.  He was the sacrificial lamb presented as a sin offering for us, since our own sacrifices were insufficient to restore the relationship broken in Genesis 3.  For, according to the Law, the lamb that is sacrificed must be perfect with no blemishes at all.  We are far from perfect.  Therefore, anything we would do, even in dying, would not be recognized.  And this was why He had to come.

We now have the opportunity to be reconciled and have a very loving relationship with Him if we simply believe.  When He comes the second time, it will not be to provide a means of salvation, but it will be to condemn those who did not believe and chose the worlds ways rather than God’s, and to take to our final home those of us who truly believe.  There are many in this world who still have not believed, and many who have not heard.  It is important that we show them the love of God through the sacrifice given.  For now is the time for people to hear and believe.  Sometime, and I believe soon, that time of reconciliation will be over.  We must go out and tell the world.  It is our calling down here.

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

Isaiah 45:17

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 45:17

“Israel has been saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You will not be put to shame or humiliated to all eternity.” – Isaiah 45.17

In some ways this passage of scripture represents a peak both of theological and of poetic intensity. It brings together the themes of the absolutely unique divinity of Yahweh, the God of Israel as well as the unity of mankind under the sovereignty of Yahweh. The prophet sees a vision not shown in earlier writings of the Old Testament. The poem is formed of two utterances of Yahweh, the first being in verse 14, and then again in 18.

First, let us look at the first one. “Thus says the LORD, The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush And the Sabeans, men of stature, Will come over to you and will be yours; They will walk behind you; they will come over in chains and will bow down to you; They will make supplication to you: Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, No other God.” Isaiah 45:14.  These are three nations that were enemies of Israel and whom God gave to Israel. “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.” Isaiah 43:3. It basically says in this verse that Egypt was given ‘as a ransom’  for Israel, meaning God sacrificed the Egyptians instead of the Israelites; he destroyed the firstborn of Egypt, and saved Israel his firstborn; he drowned the Egyptians in the Red sea, when the Israelites passed safely through it; and the destruction of Israel was to make way for the salvation of Israel, and so said to be a ransom for them. We see this idea in the Book of Proverbs where the author states, “The righteous is delivered from trouble, But the wicked takes his place.” Proverbs 11:8. Also, in verse Isaiah 45:14 it says, “They will walk behind you; they will come over in chains and will bow down to you; They will make supplication to you: Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, No other God.” Isaiah 45:14. This does not mean they will bow down to Israel but to the true God, Yahweh, whom they will confess is the only true God.

And therefore Isaiah states the incredible prophecy in our focus verse. “Israel has been saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You will not be put to shame or humiliated To all eternity.” Isaiah 45:17. This verse is clearly not speaking of the nation of Israel, but the true, spiritual Israel. The apostle Paul puts it this way. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” Romans 2:28-29.  Those of any nation who give themselves over to the true God of Israel is of Israel and a true Jew. And likewise, anyone who is Jewish of nationality who does not serve the true God of Israel is not a true Jew.

Now, we must all look and see who we are and whom we serve. We can claim all we want that we are a Christian, but it is not true if we are not a Christian inwardly; serving our Lord with everything we are. It is just like we cannot claim to love someone and still speak badly of them when they are not around.  Our devotion to God is not shown by what we say, but by who we truly are. If He is our Lord and our God, we will act accordingly. We who are true Christians must “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. And also, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2. Let us not fall into the same trap as many Israelites did by simply claiming to follow God. Let’s actually follow Him by doing the following. “Jesus answered, the most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31. And if we do this, then we show we truly are a Christian and can look forward to an eternally glorious future. We mat stumble, however, if we confess and repent, we show our heart, and can also look forward to this eternal life.

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

Luke 13:23

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 13:23 

“And someone said to Him, Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” – Luke 13:23 

The question asked is sad because the answer is yes.  This question was a subject of debate in Jesus’ day and could have been asked of any rabbi. Opinions on the question ranged from inclusive to exclusive. Some rabbis taught that all Israelites have a share in the world to come, whereas others believed that the Most High made the world to come for the sake of a few. Throughout the central section of Luke, Jesus emphasizes the difficulty of entering the kingdom. His questioner is not identified, but the honorary title Lord coupled with the question itself, suggests, if not a disciple, someone familiar with Jesus’ teaching. Jesus does not reply directly to the questioner but takes the question as an opportunity to instruct the gathering around him.

His answer is intriguing.  “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:24. What He is saying is that they will seek to enter in, but they will not strive to enter in.  This Greek word for strive is taken from the Grecian games. In their races, and wrestling, and various athletic exercises, they strove or agonized or put forth all their powers to gain the victory. Thousands witnessed them. They were long trained for the conflict, and the honor of victory was one of the highest honors among the people. So Jesus says that we should strive to enter in; and he means by it that we should be diligent, be active, be earnest; that we should make it our first and chief business to overcome our sinful propensities, and to endeavor to enter into heaven. This same figure or allusion to the Grecian games is often used in the New Testament. In Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth, he writes “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

We must give our all to enter in, just as the Greek athletes did in their striving to win.  And in like manner, we must strive to enter by the narrow gate.  And there is a distinct difference between the narrow and the wide gate.  Matthews gospel puts it this way. “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.  And it is important to remember that once the narrow gate is closed, at His return, it is closed for good. “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.” Luke 13:25. Matthew uses a different phrase regarding those who did not stive to enter in.  “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:23.  Hard words, but necessary for us to understand.

Therefore, I want to encourage us all to not just seek or hope for, but to strive to enter by way of the narrow gate.  To give everything we have to God and work as hard as possible to devote our entire life to Him. This can be difficult at times, but in the long run it will be worth everything we did to make it through.  God loves us, and He wants us to be with Him for eternity, but it is up to us to choose which path we will take.  And there is no doubt regarding which path is better: the narrow path.

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

1 Timothy 2:4

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Timothy 2:4

“Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:4 

Our focus verse today speaks of what our purpose is.  “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15. Before His ascension into heaven, Jesus called His disciples to share the gospel with all people in all nations.  No one was to be left out.  This is our calling.  When we look in Matthew, we see a more clear outline of His calling to us.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20.  Here, Matthew states that Jesus not only called them to preach the gospel, but to make disciples.  He has called us to make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples, going on ad infinitum. 

This is important because God desires that all men be saved.  There is a teaching in many churches that God has chosen a remnant to be saved, meaning that the rest are chosen for damnation.  This idea, known as Calvinism, is not taught in the scriptures.  In the three leading verses in this chapter we read, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,” 1 Timothy 2:1-3.  And then our focus verse.  “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4.  Paul is calling on all of us to pray for the salvation of all people.  And it is critical that we do pray for all and not just those we deem as worthy.  Nikki Cruz, a cruel gang leader in New York was one many believed should not be saved for all the evil he had done.  However, God sent David Wilkerson to the two most vicious gangs in the city, and because of this Nikki, along with Cookie Rodriguez and other members were saved.  God loved and loved Nikki Cruz regardless of what he had done. 

Peter in His second letter says it this way.  “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.  God does not want anyone to perish.  His nature is one of love and He sincerely desires the eternal happiness and joy of everyone.  And His patience toward sinners shows that He is willing and desirous of them to repent.  However, it is important also to know that He knows everything from eternity past to eternity future.  “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’”.  God knows those who will accept His Son, and those who will reject Him.  But this does not negate the fact that He loves all people from all times and is saddened that many choose not to accept His merciful call to salvation.  The truth is He desires all to be saved but will not go against their will and force the issue.  

If God desires this and has called us to make disciples of all men, then we must do what we can to reach out to everyone we can.  We should endeavor to, as Jesus said to His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15b.  If it is simply a word or phrase spoken to someone you meet, or a discussion that evolves with another, we never know the impact we can have in their life and heart.  Especially when what they see in us is the reality of this Christian walk and love for them and your desire to introduce them to Christ.  And as today’s verse of the day alludes to, we are to pray on behalf of all men that they may accept the salvation God provides.  God loves everyone, and we should love everyone as well.  “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2.

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