The Last Will Be First

So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.

Matthew 20:16

The logic of God does not coincide with the human one. For us, the natural tendency is to prefer the order of the first to the last. Certainly many would be upset if someone jumps over their turn and everyone approves that the last one goes to the end of the line. But the Lord tells us the first will be last, and the last, first, contradicting completely the human preference. Before God, a Christian who has been converted for 50 years does not take advantage of who receives Jesus Christ in his heart on this day.

I believe that a biblical example of what the Lord says in Matthew 20:16 is the apostle Paul. Peter, John and the other apostles walked for three and a half years with Jesus Christ. They followed Him step by step during His earthly ministry and were His first disciples. Instead, Saul of Tarsus was originally a staunch persecutor of the Christians until he had a supernatural encounter with the Lord. Paul is a last apostle; but it is first among all of them as to the fruits which he gave in his ministry. Half of the New Testament came out of its pen.

Why does God put first those who came last? The answer is given in the second part of Matthew 20:16: For many are called, but few chosen. The Lord’s call to repent and follow Him is universal, but not all respond to that call. Many decide to ignore the call and continue on the path of perdition that marks the world. On the other hand, there are those who respond to the call to salvation, but do not respond to the call to service and prefer to continue fattening spiritually, but doing nothing else.

You could say that you have 30, 40 or 50 years in Christianity and religiously attend every service in the same church that you received the Lord Jesus. And if I asked you if you gave the gospel message to someone during all those years and you said no, would you feel ashamed to be placed in a last place and not be among the chosen ones? Would you be angry if you see that a man full of numerous sins who converted last month already see you preaching to people in the streets and is thinking to dedicate himself to pastor?

If it bothers you to see that former drug dealers, murderers, prostitutes, homosexuals, adulterers and rapists are ministers of the Word today, look at what it says 1 Corinthians 1:26-28, For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.

They will first those who respond to God: “Here I am, send me,” not those who think that it is their turn for seniority. It is impossible for God to choose to serve anyone who does not have a heart willing to deny himself, take up his cross every day and follow Him. To arrive last and to be called first by the Lord does not have to do with our merits or with our past. Of whom we are going to preach is of Jesus Christ, He is the true protagonist, is not our fame but His. It is not about us, it is about Him and nothing else. God bless you.

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Partakers of the Divine Nature

Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:3-8

As children of God we are partakers of His divine nature. That is part of the precious and very great promises mentioned by the apostle Peter. But if we are to participate in the divine nature, we must escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. We must act diligently in this regard. Instead of participating in the things of the world, our duty is to participate in the things of God. Peter mentions the things we must add to our faith: moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

The Bible repeatedly reiterates the incompatibility between the things of God and those of the world. Those who have been touched by grace and become children of God cannot continue to participate in worldly things. It is not possible to be a simultaneous participant of the divine and worldly natures. It is written that the whole world is under the evil one, as children of light, we are called to be partakers of the light, not to be accomplices of the darkness. So the Christian must stand firm in the face of current world trends that are opposed to the Word of God.

In order to participate in the divine nature, it is necessary to live in the Spirit and not in the flesh. When we live in the Spirit, the result will be the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us what the fruit of the Spirit consists in, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Just by living in the Spirit, we have several things to add to participate in the divine nature.

As for moral excellence, kindness, goodness and gentleness are virtues that come within the package of the fruit of the Spirit. So we take several steps forward when we live in the Spirit to participate in the divine nature. And what about the others? How do we add knowledge, godliness and brotherly affection? The Spirit itself leads us to the knowledge of God and His Son Jesus Christ. John 14:26 says, But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, the Father will send Him in My name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

And among the things that the Lord Jesus Christ said and that the Holy Spirit will remind us is what it says in John 13:34-35, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. This is brotherly affection. It will also remind us of the words of Matthew 25:34-40 so that we learn about compassion and godliness. God is Spirit, we live in the Spirit and we will be partakers of the divine nature. God bless you.

Doers of the Work

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:25

There is something to be noted, the works we do, do not make us worthy of salvation because it is obtained by grace, as a gift from God. But once we are saved, we must become doers of the work, doers of the Word, living according to what is written in it. Grace is not a license to sin but a safe-conduct to be doers of works worthy of repentance.

Today many who call themselves Christians do not feel compelled to obey the Law of God because they think that grace is sufficient and they are already saved and have nothing more to do. This thought is a product of the wrong teaching of many churches. Although works do not serve us for salvation, being saved and not observing what God commands is a mockery of the blood shed on the cross by Jesus Christ.

The English pastor Maurice Roberts (1938- ) said, “Although we are justified and saved only by faith, we do not persevere for eternal life only by faith. We must cooperate through obedience to His written Word and daily implore His gracious grace.” Three centuries before Roberts said this, another Englishman, William Jenkyn (1613-1685), had said, “We are not justified in doing good Works, but when we are justified then we do good.”

Doing the work is a logical and direct consequence of having been saved and justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It would be an act of supreme betrayal to the God who forgave us of our sins by continuing to sin. On the contrary, now, through His Spirit we are enabled to do good.

The words another countryman and Jenkyn’s contemporary said are not wasted. The Englishman Richard Baxter (1615-1691) said, “If you have a better master than you had before, now you must work harder than you did before. Will they not serve God more zeal than they served the devil? Will they not strive harder for the salvation of their souls than they do to condemn them? Have they no more zeal for good than they had in evil? If you are true believers, you now have a reserved hope in the heavens; deal with it, in the way worldly people go after the world.”

Another aspect of doing the work is service. The Lord Jesus Christ himself said it in Matthew 23:11, But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. In that sense, let us look at what the Irish preacher Frederick Leahy (1922-2006) said, “It is not an insignificant comment to say that we are ‘saved to serve.’ Without service to God and to others through evangelism and Christian compassion, the Christian’s life would soon be self-centered and introverted.”

The Christian life is not to be carried out in a selfish way. We are called to serve both brothers in the faith and those who are not yet touched by grace. That was the Lord’s command in Matthew 10:8: Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. I close with what American pastor Phineas F. Bresee (1838-1915) said, “We are indebted to every man to give him the gospel in the same measure we have received.” God bless you.

Children of Light

But you, brothers, are not in the dark, for this day to overtake you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness.

1 Thessalonians 5:4-5

What is written in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 is something that every Christian should have in mind. In its context, this biblical passage is part of what Paul explains to the church in Thessalonica regarding the second coming of the Lord. But that applies to all of us who believe in Christ. We are children of light, not children of darkness and we must walk through this world according to what we are. Also, it is extremely important to be prepared for when our Lord comes. We are in the world, but we cannot live as the world wants.

We are not in darkness because we have believed in Jesus Christ and we have Him, the light of the world. John 8:12 says, Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” And it confirms it in John 12:46, I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. Having already Christ, believing in Him, following Him, we have left behind sin, we have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and now we are part of the Kingdom of Light.

Having accepted Jesus Christ in our hearts, we have also come out of darkness because our eyes have been opened and now we have the knowledge of the truth that has set us free. In 2 Corinthians 4:6 we read, For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Now we know where we have taken God and where he has led us.

As soon as the coming of the Lord does not surprise us, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 is confirmed by what Romans 13:12 says, The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. That day is closer and closer, the children of light must walk in the light and be prepared, discarding that world of darkness in which we live before and now only focus on satisfying the will of the one who saved us from eternal punishment.

Therefore, let us do what Ephesians 5:8-13 says, which is explained only, For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.

Let us act as what we are, as children of light. We do not have to follow the current of a world lost and enslaved by the tyranny of the evil one. Let us raise our heads and use the weapons of light, the two-edged sword that is the Word of God. Let us always remember who we are, as 1 Peter 2:9 says, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Let us not be afraid of rejection for bringing the word of light and calling it to things as the Bible says. We have the support of our Father. God bless you.

Fullness of Life in Christ

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

Colossians 2:11-15

There is a well-known verse, John 10:10, which sets the contrast between what Christ came for and what the thief came for. The last part of John 10:10 says, I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. Many people love to hear this and imagine that abundant life with a fabulous mansion, a collection of luxury cars, millions of dollars in bank accounts and enjoying the acceptance of everyone. In Colossians 2:11-15, Paul describes the fullness of life in Christ, which does not necessarily coincide with material prosperity.

Abounding a little more about the supposed abundant life with which many people dream, I think it prudent to remind them that many have possessed all that: mansions, cars, money, popularity and fame; but whose lives have been so empty that all they had was money. Instead, there are people with limited resources who lead full lives. Material goods are not the key to an abundant life. Wealthy people often have the concern to protect their property and end up confined in their mansions without enjoying the fullness of nature.

If Christ came to give us an abundant life, that is, fullness of life, that abundance must be associated with something far more valuable than the riches of this world. From Colossians 2:11-15 we can see what that fullness of life consists of. In the first place, Christ cast the sinful, fleshly body from us. By receiving Jesus Christ we are being born again of the water and the Spirit, we are new creatures and we are no longer dominated by the flesh but by the Spirit. He made us free from sin.

When we are baptized, we are making an act of faith symbolizing the death and resurrection of our Lord. We are identifying with Him, who is the resurrection and the life. Thus we affirm the hope of being resurrected to reign with Him. And when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, He gave us life with Him. In that new life in Christ, we will share His glory when He returns triumphant. But above all, in rescuing us from filth, the Lord forgave all our sins and cast them to the bottom of the sea,

In the cross the act of the decrees that condemned us in payment for our sins was annulled. That sentence of death that in justice deserved to have sinned against God was canceled on the cross, where it was nailed. And the accuser and his spiritual hosts were defeated also on the cross where they were stripped of their control and dominion over those who have believed in Christ. Therefore, the new life in Christ is full, abundant, and complete. Now we are free from sin, from death, and from the kingdom of darkness. God bless you.

A Great Reward

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

Luke 6:35

In any sporting event, competition or contest, participants take long for the first place. Everyone fights, train and sacrifice to achieve the gold medal, championship, cup, crown or trophy. In short, each contestant craves the great reward. In the spiritual world, the great reward is intended for those who do extraordinary things like love their enemies and give without expecting repayment.

Do good to the people we love, our friends and relatives is something very simple that does not require a great effort. However, pay with good to who hate us or those who have done something wrong to us that takes work. It is very normal, in the natural; we strive to give the best things to ours and leave leftovers or give nothing to who fall ill to us or unknown people we met on our journey through life.

In my life I have known people who spare no efforts to give expensive gifts to their children or close relatives; but who are extremely stingy when dealing with those outside their circle blood. I have also seen people hold grudges for life that at some point in their existence have done wrong and, if they saw their enemy on the floor, chances are that they would put their foot on his head to sink more.

The experience of life has taught me many lessons regarding human relationships. Your enemy yesterday could be your ally tomorrow and your friend today could be who sticks the knife in your back tomorrow. Even our own family can behave as our enemy. That I have lived in my own flesh and therefore not surprise me because the Lord prophesied in Matthew 10:36: and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.

Doing good to friends, our children, persons we love is not bad; but there is no guarantee we receive any reward for it. Spiritually, act that way does not have great merit. Even the worst criminals are generous with their families. So when we do well to ours, we do not make difference to them. In addition, the people closest to us can pay ingratitude for our efforts to please them. That I have seen in my life and those of people close to me.

I cannot tell you that if you do a good to your enemy, he will thank you or love you. Indeed, it is not guaranteed that he will treat you better for it; but in Luke 6:35, the Lord tells you that your reward will be great. So, do good, not expecting retribution on earthly things, but the recognition of our Father in heaven. Paul says in Galatians 6:9: And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Let us do the difference from others trying to do well to those who have wronged us. You might tell me that this is very difficult and that I don’t know how bad they have done to you, which you cannot forget or forgive. You know, people have also done me wrong: they have tried to kill me, have robbed me, I have been slandered and humiliated and, if given the chance to do good to those people, I would do to earn this great reward. God bless you.

Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

1 Peter 3:14-16

In this world of every man for himself, true Christians may seem like alien beings. When reading the instructions that 1 Peter 3: 14-16 gives to followers of Christ, anyone who lives attached to the parameters of the world would think we’re crazy. How can anyone feel blessed while persecuted? Why give a gentle and reverent defense? Surely the world reacts differently. The live haunted distressed and fearful and defend like a wounded animal.

And although many see it as a rarity endure the suffering and rejoice because of the righteousness of God, in life many people do it for other reasons. Many people make long lines for hours to go to a sporting event or a concert of their favorite artist. Some are scrambling to get the best seat and endure hunger, heat, cold, sun and rain just to achieve their goal.

In recent years, the United States has been going on a phenomenon that is far crazier to me than rejoice persecution for Christ’s sake. The day after Thanksgiving has been called Black Friday. The shops at the malls sell all just for the day at special prices. At first stores opened in the early hours of Friday morning, i.e. at about 8 am. Over time, some stores have begun to open earlier and others are opening even from late Thursday.

As Black Friday activity was gaining popularity, many people began practicing camping at the gates of the stores to be the first to go to take advantage of special prices. Many of these people put up with the weather, physical needs and even fought with others for the few top spot. And for each of them, the Day of Thanksgiving lost its importance because their main interest was bought at a good price and do not care what they would suffer because eventually they would come out with his trophy, the coveted item purchased for a fraction its price.

And I wonder how is it possible that there are people willing to suffer whatever just to acquire first one the newest version of the iPhone? How is it possible that there are women capable of risking their life in order to look beautiful and young? How is it possible that there are men able to sleep in the street in a strange country, go hungry and leave their family for a month not only lost the Soccer World Cup? How can we endure all that and we find heavier suffering for Christ?

At present, most people look to Jesus as an outlet for their problems. When there is disease, deprivation and loneliness, everyone cries out for prayer or makes an attempt to accept Jesus Christ. For the same reason, when trials come, those who had sought Him because of their problems, they’ll run. I tell you, do not do that it’s better to endure the sufferings and feel blessed. God bless you.