HOW TO MEASURE YOUR SOUL
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17-19).
Each of us has a soul or inward man which is to grow and develop into maturity — into manhood and womanhood. The fact of the reality of the soul is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. In speaking to his disciples, Jesus taught to “...fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). The Son of God also stressed the value of the soul and compared its worth to the physical things of this world. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matt. 16:26)? Furthermore, by inspiration the apostle Peter, concerning the importance of man’s soul growing into maturity, exclaimed that we should “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” and exalted Christians to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18).
As we consider God’s teaching in regard to the soul, we might find it good to ask, “What size is our inward man?” Are we growing spiritually as we ought, or are we still mere babes in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1; 14:20)? It would be well for each of us to consider and discern the progress of our inner growth. It is something that can be measured...not as a box might be measured with a ruler or tape. We cannot see the soul, except in the mirror of God’s word. But we can determine the size of the inner man by the measure of its manifestation.
The size of the soul may be measured by determining the height of its ambitions. Big souls are always ambitious souls of high ideals and worthy goals. We must never be found guilty of becoming the “one talent man” of Matthew 25. Because he felt he could not do big things in the sight of the Lord, he did nothing. Christians should continually strive onward with their eyes focused upward. “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16). Christ came to do big things and gave us a big job.
The size of the soul may be measured by the depth of its convictions. Hebrews 11:1 speaks of a “conviction of things not seen” (ASV). This has always been a characteristic of God’s great people, with his honor roll of faithful followers forever recorded for our learning. Daniel was another example of our Father’s expectations, proving himself to be a man of deep convictions and faithful to the will of Jehovah. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8). Big souls have convictions concerning right and wrong, truth and error, and matters of duty.
The soul may be measured by the length of its love. Consider the measurement of God recorded in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” God so loved the world. “So” is an adverb of degree. It tells how much God loved the world. He went so far as to give his only begotten Son. And when we read this, it should bring to our minds a much-needed question: How does our love measure up in regards to God, the church, and the lost? 1 John 4:19 should be emblazoned within our hearts and thoughts. “We love him, because he first loved us.”
The size of the soul may be determined by the weight of its influences. Matthew 5:14-16 relays a command to be carried out by every Christian. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” How much light do we radiate? One of the Lord’s parables brings forth a closely related reminder. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Matt. 13:33). Are we leavening for others through our actions and our words? What is the weight of our influence for those around us?
May we each ask ourselves the soul-searching question: “How big is my inward man?”
FAITHFUL, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT
Dr. Seuss wrote some wonderful children’s stories. Even adults can sometimes be entertained and educated by the stories. In Horton Hears A Who,Horton the elephant declares, “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent.”
I have to admit that this quote made me think. Am I faithful one hundred percent? Are you faithful one hundred percent? If we are not careful, we can settle for something less than one hundred percent faithfulness. We might settle for ninety-nine percent faithfulness; or maybe, over time, with even a little less than that.
Perhaps, you are thinking that one hundred percent faithfulness isn’t necessary. Maybe, you are thinking that one hundred percent faithfulness isn’t even possible. Let me make clear that I am not talking about sinless perfection. Only one man, Jesus Christ, has ever achieved that (Heb. 4:15). The rest of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Rom. 3:23). I am not talking about being sinless. I am talking about being faithful (Rev. 2:10). We all need to live in such a way that one day we can hear our Lord say, "Well done, Thou good and faithful servant" (Mt. 25:21).
Faithfulness is both possible and necessary. In the book of Numbers, God makes this truth very clear. We read, “And the LORD'S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying, Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me: Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD” (Num. 32:10-12). Please note that God divided the spies into two categories. The first category was made up of the ten spies who did not wholly follow God and the second category was made up of the two spies who did. Those who wholly followed the Lord were allowed to enter the promised land. Those who gave less than one hundred percent faithfulness were denied entrance. Where would you have been numbered? Where would I have been? We each need to examine ourselves and make sure that we have not settled for something less than complete faithfulness. Paul wrote, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Cor. 13:5). We need to make sure that we are one of the few who find life and not one of the many who find destruction (Mt. 7:13-14).
A NATION IN DECLINE
It would be difficult to find an age when people were more aimless and lacking in purpose than they are today. Could we pinpoint a time when men were more alienated from one another, or when the gods of greed, mammon, and selfishness held greater sway?
Politicians and media personalities occasionally get concerned and ask, “What has happened to us?” But no one seems to know, or if they do, they will not admit it. Solutions are offered, but the basic problem, as well as the one effective remedy, is carefully ignored. A call is occasionally made for personal sacrifice for the well-being of the nation. Do you honestly think this will happen? It is similar to asking a cow to give a strawberry milkshake. She just does not have it in her. Our people do not have it in them either—at least not until they can face the truth. They must be willing to admit what is really wrong and have a sincere desire to change things in the only way that will make a difference.
THE PROBLEM The basic problem is man’s alienation from God. He is isolated from other men because he is estranged from God. The greater his separation from God, the deeper the rift gets between men. The heathen world was fragmented by selfishness, and the fruit of that selfishness was their gross immorality. The real source of their discord was their refusal to have God in their knowledge. Paul said they became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools... Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie...And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful (Rom. 1:21-31). THE UGLY TRUTH This also describes present-day America. She has banished God from her consciousness.
Professing to be wise, fools have expelled the Creator from the nation’s classrooms, legislative bodies, and halls of justice. The nation’s homes lie in ruins. Her churches have degenerated into social welfare agencies. Her doctors turned from healing bodies to murdering babies. Now, a horde of dope-heads, sodomites, deadbeats, and other assorted social misfits feed on the land like a plague of maggots demanding support from the public coffers.
Prisons overflow. Justice is a joke. Murder by the millions—euphemized as abortion—is practiced on a scale that makes Adolf Hitler and his crowd seem like boy scouts. Lawmakers represent—not the people who put them in office—but the highest bidder. WORLDLY WISDOM’S FAILURE What caused all this? Simply stated, we listened to the voice of worldly wisdom (liberalism, socialism, humanism, atheism), and this depraved assortment of ravenous wolves destroyed the moral fiber of our people. Men can live by God’s standard of righteousness and reap the benefits, or they can ignore that standard and destroy themselves. Most Americans have chosen the latter.
God tells us: “Righteousness exalteth a nation; But sin is a reproach to any people” (Pro. 14:34). Again, “the way of the transgressor is hard” (Pro. 13:15), and we are learning just how hard. Patchwork efforts will doubtless be made to correct some of our most undesirable and shameful problems, but they are doomed for four reasons. (1) Most will not abandon worldly wisdom or the selfishness that lies at the root of immorality. (2) Appealing to worldly, selfish people to practice altruism is wishful thinking. (3) Few will acknowledge Christ as Lord or His wisdom as their guide. (4) Most people will refuse to repent of their rebellion against God. ALL IS NOT LOST—YET The government subsidizes fornication by supporting unwed mothers, but the only real solution is for these women (and their partners) to stop fornicating. We can quadruple the size of our prison systems, but people filled with envy, selfishness, and hate will not stop preying on others. The restoration of sanity and morality to our land will occur only when God is restored to His rightful place in society. We will enjoy peace and tranquility only when men repent of their sin and rebellion against God and live in submission to His will. A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY This is not likely to happen in wholesale lots, but it can be accomplished one at a time.
There is a remnant—God’s faithful—who could have a powerful impact on the country if they would but lose themselves in a cause greater than themselves (the cause of Christ). The deteriorating moral and spiritual condition of our people has caused even the liberal, humanist-controlled media to express alarm. Opportunities have seldom been greater to preach the pure, simple gospel of Christ to a weary, aimless nation. We will still have to contest every inch of ground with false ideologies and teachers, but what will happen to us if we are content to do nothing while those worldly souls quite literally go to hell? How long will these doors remain open?
THE CALL TO BATTLE This is a time for stout-hearted, faithful Christians to fearlessly call rebellious people to repentance, as the prophets of old did. As the army of God, we must rise up and assault the citadels of Satan (2 Cor. 10:3-5). We must be willing to spend and be spent in the service of our Lord and for the salvation of men. If we refuse—or fail, are we any less culpable than they? —Deceased “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)?
WHAT WOULD LIFE BE LIKE
WITHOUT THE LORD?
Roger D. Campbell
What a horrible thought! I cannot imagine trying to make it through life without having “the good Shepherd” (John 10:11). He is the “one mediator between God and men” (1 Tim. 2:5). He is the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). But, what if? What if Jesus had never come into this world “to give his life as a ransom” (Mark 10:45)? What if I had refused to believe and obey the Gospel? Or, what if I became a follower of God’s Son but later decided “to turn from the holy commandment” (2 Peter 2:21)? Friend, what kind of life would it be if we had to live it without the Lord?
It would be A Life Without True Meaning. Jesus came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Aren’t we thankful that He did! Jesus once told His apostles, “...without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). But on the other hand, as the apostle Paul said, we “can do all things” through Him (Phil. 4:13). The “whole” of man is to fear the Lord and keep His commandments. The Bible says so (Eccl. 12:13). Yes, without the Lord, our life would be a life without true meaning.
It would also be A Life Without A Totally Reliable Pattern Or Model To Imitate. There are a lot of really fine people in this world. Some of them are worthy of imitation because they demonstrate in their lives wonderful behavior, pure speech, and a respectful attitude. Such rare people are a good pattern to follow most of the time. If you have read the Bible, you know that no mere human is perfect. No mere human is a good example in every aspect of living all of the time. Each person makes mistakes. The Bible says that “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). But not Jesus. He “did no sin,” and that is why He, and He alone, is One about Whom we can say to ourselves and others, “...ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21-22). Take Jesus out of the picture and there is no completely reliable model to follow.
Life without the Lord would be A Life Without Direction. Where am I going in my life? Where should I be heading in life? Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). Following Jesus is the path of light. Through His word, the Lord provides a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). Jesus has “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Without Him we would have no clue about where and how we should walk.
Life without the Lord would be A Life Without Forgiveness/Salvation. The wages of sin is death because sin separates a person from God (Rom. 6:23; Isa. 59:1-2). We could never devise a plan by which we could save ourselves. Thank God that He loved us so much that He sent Jesus “into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). The Bible says that in Jesus “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). Because Jesus is the only Savior, His is the only “name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Without Him we could never enjoy the forgiveness of sins. Without forgiveness, we would always carry the burden and guilt of sin in our heart. How horrible it would be to have to face life without the Lord and His marvelous salvation. We should continually express our gratitude for all the Lord has done to provide us with the remission of sins.
A life without the Lord would be a Life Without Hope. People that live without hope are miserable indeed. Jesus is the hope of the world (1 Tim. 1:1). Through Jesus we can live “in hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2). Christians have been begotten by God to possess a lively hope. That hope is to obtain the inheritance that the Lord has prepared —“an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” (1 Peter 1:3-4). That is the only hope that is really worthy of man’s interest and effort.
What would my life be like without the Lord? It would be a life without true meaning, a life without a totally reliable model to imitate, a life without direction, a life without forgiveness, and a life without hope. The great thing is that none of us has to live such an empty and vain life without the Lord and His blessings. The choice is ours: we can either live life with Him, or live life without Him. Let us choose wisely, for this choice will determine our eternal destiny. To live with Him, of course, means to live according to His will. Are you doing that?
WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN’S RESPONSIBILITY
TO THE CIVIL GOVERNMENT?
Roger D. Campbell
Do you suppose there is a civil government anywhere in the world that has the exact structural arrangement and policies that the Roman Empire had in the days of Jesus and the first-century disciples? There may be some aspects of present-day governments that resemble those of the ancient Roman Empire that was in power in the Middle East when the New Testament was written, but the odds are extremely high that no modern-day arrangement is a one-hundred-per-cent carbon copy of the Roman setup.
If that be the case, why should a child of God living in the 21st century even be concerned about what the New Testament teaches about Christians’ responsibility to their civil government? The specifics may not be exactly the same, but the New Testament principles still apply because they are a part of the teaching of the Christ that endures and lives forever (1 Peter 1:23-25), being in force until the end of the age/world (Matt. 28:20).
What does the New Testament teach about my obligation to the government under which I live? This general instruction is found in Titus 3:1: “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.” That statement, coupled with more extensive teaching recorded in 1 Peter 2:13-17 and Romans 13:1-7, as well as other New Testament principles, leads us to make the following conclusions about our responsibility to the civil government.
1) A Christian is to obey civil authorities. First, the message of Titus 3:1 is, “...obey magistrates.” Second, the opening instruction of Romans 13:1 is, “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.” Third, Christians are further charged, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man” (1 Peter 2:13). The context of this last passage clearly shows that the expression “ordinance of man” is not a reference to some man-made religious regulation, but rather to the decree of civil authorities, “the king” and “governors” are noted (1 Peter 2:13,14). When the Holy Spirit’s instruction is to “obey,” “be subject to,” and “submit to” the laws of the land, that is a pretty plain message, would you not agree?
2) A Christian is to obey the civil government “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13). Because “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1), resisting such authorities is equal to resisting God’s ordained authority and arrangement (13:2). Obeying civil authorities is part of obeying the Lord, “For so is the will of God” (1 Peter 2:15).
3) A Christian is to obey every aspect of civil law. Going back to 1 Peter 2:13, we read, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake....” “Every ordinance” would include what the civil authorities decree about building codes, littering highways, tax obligations, the size of passport photos, how far a church building must sit away from a street/road, and you name it. We may be tempted to label certain laws as “unreasonable,” “ridiculous,” or even “insane,” but the law is the law. If I have the right to disregard a law that I count as inconvenient, excessively costly, etc., then why would another person not have the right to disregard a different law? What is it that ensues when people decide to use their own gut feelings to determine with which government ordinances they will comply, and which they will disregard? The word is “chaos” or “lawlessness.”
4) A Christian is to obey civil authorities at all levels. Peter’s Spirit-guided instruction to submit to civil ordinances was, “...whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers...” (1 Peter 2:13,14). Kings, governors, and delegated authority are mentioned, indicating that all branches and levels of civil government fall under the category of “the powers that be” to whom we are to submit ourselves. In our country that would include national, state, district, county, and city laws.
5) A Christian is to obey civil authorities, regardless of the type of government under which he lives. This principle is tough for some to accept willingly, but it is true. In the U.S., we are blessed to live in a republic in which we are privileged to vote and elect government officials who are supposed to represent us and our best interests. Those to whom the apostles wrote inspired messages in the first century about obeying governmental powers were not living in a republic or anything akin to such. They lived in a day when kings, often ruthless, self-serving men, reigned. Still, the message of God was to submit to them. If the U.S. or some other nation should some day, either by choice or by force, adopt a form of government that has little or no concern for the common people, God’s charge to “obey magistrates” would still be in force.
6) While Christians are obligated to obey civil authorities, if there are governmental regulations that are not in harmony with God’s law, Christians must choose to obey what God says. Because God’s people are to act “as obedient children” at all times (1 Peter 1:14), if man’s laws are at odds with the teaching of the Bible, God’s children are to obey the Bible. Yes, in every situation, “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Remember, we are not at liberty to not submit to a government law simply because we do not like it. A saint’s decision to not submit to a civil law must be based on a “thus saith the Lord” and not on his own personal likes or preferences.
These half-dozen principles we have noted are not based on culture. Rather, they are biblical truths that apply in every society in every generation.