Character Qualities

Commands of Christ

Basic Life Principles

The word eclipse is not found in Scripture, nor is there any record of an eclipse occurring anywhere in the Bible, but a Biblical commentary on anything, or a theology of anything, starts at one place: Creation.
On October 6, 1918, World War I—the greatest and most devastating war that the world had as yet known—was only a month away from the cessation of hostilities. But on that day, a baby was born in Dallas, Texas. That baby, Henry Madison Morris, was destined to grow up and serve as a soldier in a much greater spiritual battle, a battle that spans every age and every generation and which later would be referred to as the “long war against God.”
It is increasingly apparent that we are living in a reprobate culture, a culture that has “changed the truth of God into a lie” (Romans 1:25). Ever since his insidious lies to Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan has been seeking to turn men from truth to error. Jesus called Satan “a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).
The sheep grazed quietly as the sun slowly sank behind the Scottish hills. The sixteen-year old shepherd boy named John gazed at the sunset. His eyes brightened as he thought about the mission that lay before him that night. He would leave his flock in the care of a friend so he could embark on his mission. The lad slipped his hand into his homespun knapsack and felt his hard-earned money. With his funds that had been carefully saved up for a long time, soon he would set out on his long overnight hike.
Florence was a center of art and culture. Here lived Michelangelo and other famous artists of the Renaissance. The powerful Medici family ruled this opulent city, and their palace was stunningly adorned with all that money could buy. Silks, jewels, paintings, art, theater, and literature made this one of the preeminent cities in all of Europe. Into this city Savonarola had arrived in the plain black robe of a Dominican friar.
Can we say with confidence that Christianity is true and that all other religions are false? Our society today professes that such a view is extremely bigoted and fanatically arrogant. The social elite assure us that there are “many ways to God” and that different religions across the world are all different cultural manifestations of the same inner quest of man for the divine—that all religions are merely different paths to the same goal.
We live in a day of many uncertainties. In fact, our modern culture denies the reality of certainty altogether. In the thinking of many people, there are no absolutes. Uncertainty exists as to whether anything can be considered right or wrong. Truth is relative to these people, and they consider that what is true to you may or may not be true for someone else. Our modern society cannot even define male and female. This confusion is a symptom of a relativistic culture where the foundation of absolute truth is removed. In our generation, evil is called good, and good is called evil.
Our dating system in Western Civilization is undeniably linked to the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. As much as modern scholars may try to deny or belittle the fact, B.C. stands for “before Christ” and certainly does not merely mean “before the common era.” A.D. is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase “anno Domini,” which is translated “in the year of our Lord.”
Even as a young boy, Kepler loved gazing at the heavens. In later life, he recalled distinctly the day that his mother took him to a high hilltop to observe a great comet in 1577. When he was nine years old, he also observed a lunar eclipse. Despite physical weakness and impaired vision, young Kepler showed signs of great intellectual power. He studied Latin as well as philosophy and theology. As a young man, he was a strong advocate for the Copernican system of interpreting the heavenly bodies. He saw no contradiction between a heliocentric universe and the Bible. He almost became a Lutheran pastor but became convinced that he could serve God faithfully as a mathematician and astronomer.
The Book of Revelation has variously intrigued, baffled, alarmed, and comforted millions of Christians over the centuries since it was written by John the Apostle on the Isle of Patmos. It has been interpreted in many different ways from many different perspectives. For some, the prophecy is disturbing, containing terrifying visions of armed horsemen, winged scorpions, a dragon, and beasts. For others, the words are comforting, for they assure us of Christ’s final victory, His presence with His people, and the day when God Himself will wipe the tears from every eye.
We are all prone to think of our “neighbor” in the comfortable circle of those whom we already love. It is easy to define neighbor to include our close friends at church, the next-door neighbor who watches over our house when we are away, the coworker who shares our viewpoints, and the people with whom we enjoy socializing. But what about the family on the other side of the street with the barking dog? What about the coworker who is continually gossiping about other coworkers? What about the one person who always seems to ask the wrong question at the wrong time? What about people from a different cultural background than ours? Are these our “neighbors” too?
We live in a day of rampant selfishness. Politicians are suspected of advancing their own interests for political power. Union labor strikes demonstrate distrust between employers and employees. Wars, crime, and acts of terrorism are daily reminders that we are living in a world where men and women do not love their neighbors. In contrast to the selfish culture in which we live, as God’s children we are commanded to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
The hills of Scotland have afforded a lovely playground for many generations of young Scottish lads and lasses. In the midst of the heather growing on the wind-swept hills, the lowing of the Highland cattle, the bluebells dotting the land, and the craggy ruins of ancient castles inciting curiosity, all provide an enticement to exploration that is irresistible for a little boy.
Are our works motivated by the love of God that we have received and experienced, or are we doing good deeds from a sense of religious obligation in an attempt to earn God’s favor? The latter is iniquity; the former is a manifestation of knowing Jesus and His love.
Marriage is God’s first human institution. Before He instituted the state or the church, God first made the family. When the Creator took the rib of Adam and fashioned Eve as a “help meet” for Adam, He said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It would be wise for us to recognize God’s purposes and His right to determine how marriage should function.
The sixth commandment—“Thou shalt not kill”—embraces much more than the prohibition of murder. On the positive side, God’s Law calls for the upholding of life; the deliverance of the oppressed; the kind treatment of strangers, orphans, and widows; and the defense of the innocent. These positive truths are amplified throughout the law of Moses and the prophets.
Death is a tragic consequence of the fall of man. When Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, they were placed in the Garden of Eden and told that if they disobeyed God’s command, they would “surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Little did they realize how ugly death would be! Of the first two sons born to Adam and Eve, the first killed the second. It is a sad testimony of consequence to humanity that the first man ever born on earth was a murderer!
Obedience from the heart requires a great deal of humility. Sometimes we must set aside our own opinions and personal preferences in order to honor our parents. But isn’t this the key to every successful relationship? Doesn’t a husband have to lay aside personal preferences to honor his wife? Doesn’t a wife often make sacrifices for her husband? Doesn’t a good parent set aside pleasures and hobbies to spend time with his children? Learning to honor our parents will yield blessings in every relationship. More importantly, our obedience in this matter of the fifth commandment is “well pleasing unto the Lord.”
The second commandment calls our attention from the graven images and man-made gods of earth to the invisible Creator in Heaven. In a similar manner, Paul’s exhortation urges us to look away from the things of earth that distract us and to look upward to the throne of God, where Christ is seated. Rather than looking at what we see with our physical eyes, the Lord is calling us to look with eyes of faith and see that the Lord Jesus Christ is central to all of life.
When we are preoccupied with these misplaced priorities, we become anxious about the things of this world. Jesus pointed His disciples to consider the grass of the field and to observe the birds of the air. On the basis of this confident trust in the caring, sufficient provision of our Father, Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”