It is one thing to please God, quite another to attempt to buy him with works of merit. We can hold no hope of heaven without pleasing him, Rom 8.8-9; 2 Cor 5.9-10; Heb 11.6. On the other hand, we can never expect divine approval by our selected list of works that we determine as good. Such arrogance smacks of one’s own deification. But pleasing God means that we believe his truth and his promise and act upon them, in order to receive the eternal reward that he bestows based upon his will and conditions.
This is a gift-giving season. We have been given more gifts from God than we could possibly count. So…What are you giving God this season? In Ephesians 4:30, we are warned not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Given that warning, what can we “give” to God this season?
- Read your Bible daily (II Timothy 2:15)
- Pray for the brethren (I Thessalonians 5:25)
- Attend all the services of the church (Hebrews 10:25)
- Abstain from the very appearance of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22)
- Love one another (John 133:34)
- Rejoice (Matthew 5:12; Philippians 4:4)
- Be faithful whatever the cost (Revelation 2:10)
- Teach others (Matthew 28:19)
- Do good for others (Luke 6:27; Hebrews 13:16)
- Be thankful, and show it (I Thessalonians 5:18)
Since we are warned that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), let us strive to be a people who love God and seek to please Him. Since He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3), shall we not do our best to show Him our appreciation and our love for Him?
There have been many times when I have eaten my lunch while continuing to work at my desk. On such occasions I have experienced reaching for my lunch, only to realize I had already eaten it all. Because my mind was really somewhere else, the food was consumed without even remembering tasting it. Not only might I not remember what I ate, but why I ate it.
Though my following list is not in any particular order, consider these reasons for eating and then another parallel for us to consider.
Why Do I Eat?
1. I’m hungry.
2. It’s time to.
3. It’s there and looks good.
4. It continues to taste good (though actually had enough).
5. To get it gone.
6. I need the nourishment.
7. To compliment the “Chef”.
Each of these are reasons why I have eaten at various times. Now consider the following parallel. Continue reading
“Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more” 1 Thessalonians 4:1.
When we justify our choices by our situation, we live in order to please ourselves as Eve did when she “saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” We set ourselves up on the throne of our lives as the ultimate authority over ourselves. When we sow to please our sinful nature, God warns us in Galatians, that we “will reap destruction.”
Instead, we are told in 2 Corinthians to “make it our goal to please Him.” Being resurrected with Him, we live for Him. We must please Him, not us.
And we do this, this chapter tells us, by living sanctified, that is, holy or set apart. We do this by avoiding sexual immorality, not wronging our brother, living a pure and holy life, loving each other, and living to “win the respect of outsiders” and “not be dependent on anybody.”
Just as the Thessalonians were doing this already but needed to be urged “to do this more and more,” so must we.
Who do you live to please?
Plattsburgh church of Christ
I was told the other day by an adherent to Calvinistic theology that (and I quote):
“The free human will can do a lot of things; but it cannot will anything pleasing to God; because the natural human mind cannot submit to God’s law.”
The first thing/question that popped into my head after thinking about what they said was, “A free will that’s only free enough to do things that do not please God? Doesn’t sound very “free” to me.” After all, if a person has no free will concerning their will toward God they have no will at all!
But then I started thinking about what the scriptures say (outside of the plainly contradicted verse of Romans 2:14) concerning people before they became a Christian and whether or not their will had any will to do the will of God and one person in particular came to mind, and that was Cornelius. Cornelius is a case that simply reveals how wrong Calvinistic theology is when it comes to their complicated and contradictory teaching on the free will (or the lack thereof) of men and women, for the scriptures (with emphasis added) say concerning Cornelius that:
“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius! “And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” (Acts 10:1-7)
Cornelius was a good man, but like all sinners who are not in Christ he was not saved. But despite the fact that he was not saved, i.e. he needed to be quickened due to being dead in sins (Ephesians 2:1-5), Cornelius did things that were pleasing to God, and they were pleasing even to the extent that the Bible says that his works reached Heaven itself! That’s right; Cornelius did things that were pleasing to God before hearing and obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ. Cornelius was doing what Calvinism says can’t be done – he willed, and he did things that God took note of in a positive way. Sure, Cornelius still had to come to the Father through the Son because his good works could never justify his sinful deeds, but the point still remains, and that point is that God Himself took note of this man’s free will that willed to do the will of God.
Furthermore, take note of what the angel of God said to Cornelius. It was the angel who told Cornelius that Peter would tell him what he must do. What had to be done had to be done by Cornelius and it had to be done of his own free will, for if his will was anything other than free it would not have been Cornelius who was doing it, nor would there have been anything for him to do. There was nothing that he could do to make God owe his salvation to him, but something had to be done by Cornelius’ will, which willed to please God, in response to the gospel of Christ for this was and still is the will of God concerning the lost (John 3:16).
This is why I say that Cornelius was no Calvinist and you shouldn’t be either!
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34-35)
Here’s an older article written by one of the ministers at a sister congregation in the same county as Keltonburg. It includes a great story that illustrates the impossibility of pleasing every person.
A man and his grandson went on a journey one day, walking and leading a donkey. Soon they met a man who said, “How foolish for you to be walking. One of you should be riding the donkey.” So the man put his grandson on the animal.
The next traveler they met frowned and said, “How dreadful for a strong boy to be riding while an old man walks.” With that the boy climbed off the donkey and his grandfather climbed on.
The next person down the road, however, said, “I just can’t believe that a grown man would ride and make a poor little boy walk.” So the man pulled the boy aboard and off they rode on the donkey together.
That is, until they met the fellow who screamed, “I never saw anything so cruel in my life, two intelligent human beings riding on one poor, defenseless donkey.”
Down the road a short distance, the trio met a couple of men traveling together. After they passed, one of the men turned to the other and said, “Did you ever see two bigger fools carrying that donkey?”
How do you please everyone? YOU CAN’T! Don’t even try! Just do your best to please God. Perhaps that’s the lesson Paul had learned when he wrote in Galatians 1:10…”For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” The sooner that each of us learns that we cannot live by the conscience of other men, the better off we will be. While we try to please others we sometimes find ourselves in a far worse predicament than when we first started. So, follow the advice Peter gave in Acts 5:29…”we ought to obey God rather than men.”
Tim Woodward, Smithville church of Christ
LEARNING TO PLEASE GOD
LESSON TWO — THE ONE TRUE GOD
God created man in His own likeness. By His word He brought things into existence from nothing. He spoke and “it was so.” No man has seen God and yet none should deny the existence of God. There is a God in Heaven. (Daniel 2:28) Only a fool would deny the existence of God. (Psalms 14:1) The Bible teaches that there is a God in Heaven who was in the beginning. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) God formed and fashioned both the heavens and the earth, therefore, they are His. “The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.” (Psalms 89:11) Hebrews 1:3 says that God upholds all things by the word of His power. God’s mighty power is revealed in creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.” (Psalms 19:1-2) The Bible forcefully pictures God as the creator of all things. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
God created both the universe and mankind. God very specifically stated the fact of creation. “And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:7) The Old Testament opens with the story of God creating man. (Genesis 1:1-31) At the close of the Old Testament the prophet Malachi again reminded us that God is Creator. “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” (Malachi 2:10) It is not reasonable to believe that man came from non-existent, non-intelligent matter with no design. The Bible says man was made by God. “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.” (Psalms 119:73) At the beginning man was made male and female. “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” (Mark 10:6)
Mankind is God’s special creation. Man is special because he has both body and a soul or spirit. The Bible teaches that man is more valuable than the “fowls of the air.” (Matthew 6:26) If evolution is true, we are no better than animals. But, we are more than animals; God has given us an eternal spirit or soul. Man is God’s special creation because, though He has a body of flesh, the real person is that living soul. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) Our spirit or soul will continue to live even after our body dies. Each of us possesses an eternal, living soul. This soul is of great worth. Our soul is so valuable that all the wealth of the world does not equal it. “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?” (Matthew 16:26)
Life is valuable because we are made in the image of God. If there was nothing after physical death it would make no difference how we live. But, the fact that there is life after death means it is important how we live our lives. Our life on earth is brief, like a vapor. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14) Because life on earth is brief we all need to consider the reality of death and prepare to meet God now. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
Jesus invites all to come to Him for salvation. (Matthew 11:28-30) The alien sinner prepares to meet God through hearing God’s word, believing in the Lord Jesus, repenting of sins, confessing faith in Christ and being baptized. (Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 10:32, Acts 2:38) God pleads with everyone to prepare for eternity by faithfully obeying His will. If we fail to prepare we will be cast out to eternal destruction.
True or False:
1. _________ The Bible does not specifically say there is a God. (Daniel 2:28)
2. _________ Only a fool would deny the existence of God. (Psalms 14:1)
3. _________ God made both male and female at the beginning. (Mark 10:6)
4. __________ Our life on earth is brief, like a vapor. (James 4:14)
5. __________ Salvation is not available to everyone. (Matthew 11:28-30)