We have had four posts in this series:
Hence, this is the fifth post.
Each post is self-contained and though they can be read in any other, it is suggested that they be read in sequence for better understanding and benefit.
Let us remind ourselves of the way of God with particular reference to the passage we have been looking at:
- We are to obey the word of God whether we are alone or in the company of others, whether we have someone to encourage us or not.
- More importantly, we are to grow out of any dependence or servant mentality and walk in the light God has given us.
- Each of us is to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling.
- We should understand and be encouraged by the truth that, it is God that works in us both to will to do anything, and to go ahead and do it.
- In all that we do, we are not to murmur and dispute either against God or against our fellow believers.
- Rather, we are to follow the ways laid down in Scripture to address God, and to resolve differences with fellow believers.
- God’s way is the right way because that is the only way acceptable to Him, and that leads to reward.
We continue our discussion in this piece by looking at how we can answer this question: “You are to hold forth the word of life, but are you?”
Our anchor scripture for this discussion is,
Phil 2:16: “holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”
We shall be looking at the first part of this verse here: holding forth the word of life.
How do you hold something forth? Or what does it mean to hold forth?
Holding forth, meaning to hold something fast or firmly and in a way that others will see it or to show something to others to see. In this case this is a metaphor for demonstrating to the world the fact of our faith through a lifestyle of obedience to the gospel message.
It includes knowing the truth, holding it firmly, keeping it pure, applying it so that faith in it is demonstrated to or shown to others by one’s lifestyle.
What is to be held forth is not just anything but “the word of life”
People hold forth new material things they are proud of for others to see. They enjoy the attention, and desire that people know they have this thing.
Such material things may include new dress, new shoes, engagement ring, new hair-do, new car, new gadget, new toys and the like.
To hold forth such things, one first must have it, value it, be proud of it, and therefore desire that others see it while firmly keeping it. People are proud of and derive pleasure from being seen with such materials. They may even purposely go to large gatherings just so they can be seen wearing such item.
In all these scenarios, the owner possesses that thing, it belongs to him, is proud of it, and desires others to know of this possession, and wants to be seen enjoying this possession. All this effort is concerning material perishable terms.
But this verse is talking about something eternal the value of which is inestimable.
- But how proud are you to be seen or identified as a Christian?
- How much effort do you make so you can be seen as enjoying being a Christian?
But this verse is speaking of the word of life, and not of some material thing of temporary value.
If some believers are so proud of material things that are so temporary, why are they not so proud of their faith in Christ that is eternal?
What is the word of life?
The word of life is described or illustrated in numerous ways in the bible, as if to ensure we know or understand what it is. Knowing it is crucial to our very existence.
The gospel is the word of life (John 6:68; Acts 5:20). It is the word of God which endures forever, and by which the gospel is preached to all (1Pet 1:25).
“It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” (Romans 1:16; 1Cor 1:18, 24),
And believers should therefore not be ashamed of it. It is by the gospel that believers are born into a new life (1Pet 1:23).
What are some of the qualities/attributes, and effects of the word of life?
Some of the attributes of the word of God include that it is:
- Perfect and converts the soul;
- Sure, and makes the simple wise;
- Right and rejoices the heart;
- Pure and enlightens the eyes;
- Clean and endures for ever; and
- True and righteous completely (Ps 19:7-9).
The word of God is to be desired than gold and is sweeter than honey; It is by it the believer is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward (Ps 19:10-11).
This is summarized in the NT here in Heb. 4:12:
“the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”.
But is it working in your life?
- Can it be that you are just a Christian by association, and not by genuine conversion experience in an encounter with Christ?
- Or you are a Christian, but the world and your circumstances are choking the word of life out of your life?
The word of life is very precious to God and should be to you and indeed to all who belong to God and love God, that is, every child of God. It is a trust given to every believer to keep pure and uncorrupted, and to make the rule of his life.
Our duty as believers is to hold fast in our lives and forth the word of life to others in our spirit, conversation, and practice. We should so live that others will see the presence of God in us. That they will feel that God is with us. Other believers before us have lived true to the faith by the grace of God.
Joseph, even as a slave so lived that his master knew God was with him (Gen 39:3).
Daniel was so diligent in his secular duties and his devotion to God that the ungodly around him knew they could not catch him in any wrong doing except they conjure trump-up charges against him concerning the worship of his God (Dan 6:4-5ff.).
Concerning Demetrius, we are informed,
“Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.” (3John 12).
It is still the same Lord. It is still the same grace available to believers today.
What should motivate the believer to hold fast and forth the word of life the love God showed him first by sending Christ to die for him while yet a sinner (1John 4:9-10). The motivation is gratitude out of a grateful heart for his salvation which makes him to love God and want to please Him.
Believers are to hold forth the word of life.
- First, before you can hold forth the word of life, you must have the word of life, that is you must be born again.
- Are you born-again or you are just a church goer?
- Are you a Christian by association or by real personal experience of Christ?
When you are born again, the word of life comes into you, and the Holy Spirit begins to reside in you. The two begin to work together to renew and transform you. You receive the desire to love God and to want to please Him.
You demonstrate your love for God by the efforts you make to cut off yourself from your old life and develop the character traits in-line with the new life. In other words, your becoming a born-again Christian is the beginning of personal action and responsibility to truly live as the new creature you are in Christ (2Cor 5:17).
Now is the action time, the time for war, not against others but against your members. Those parts of you that want to continue with the old life without regard to your relationship with God.
It is war because military and forceful words are used. It is war because you have been used to these things, and they have enjoyed your company for so long, and so, they will not leave without being forcefully ejected.
Words like cast off, put off, mortify, tear out and others denoting violence and forcefulness are used to describe the actions to be taken by the believer as part of his responsibility in working out his salvation.
These things to be gotten rid of must leave the believer in Christ by fire and by force!
Few samples as reminders as to what God is talking about:
“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Rom 6:13).
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” (Rom 6:19).
In other words, you are not an innocent bystander, rather, you have been an active participant in your ways of life. As an unbeliever, you worked unrighteousness. Now as a believer, you are to work righteousness.
The command is:
“come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thin; and I will receive you. (2Cor 6:17).
But remember, these are habits you have enjoyed. You also might have made some half-hearted efforts to get rid of them, and then gave up trying. Tried as you have, you have never been able to wish them away, nor pray them away.
Hence, the forceful words used as to the type of actions you, the believer are to take to get rid of them:
“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col 3:5).
“Put off concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22).
More specifically, believers are commanded:
“But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” (Col 3:8).
These are commands, not advice, not suggestions, and not options. Again, remember the military terms used.
They are to be done from now, and persistently throughout our lives.
Two Practical examples: anger and filthy communication
What is anger?
- Why does it come?
- How do you overcome it?
What are examples of filthy communication out of your mouth?
- What causes them or where are they coming from?
- How do you get rid of them?
The command is:
“come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thin; and I will receive you. (2Cor 6:17).
It is very important that you remember:
- That you are not left on your own to do whatever is second nature to you;
- That the Holy Spirit is with you and is there to render all the help you need.
- that the Holy Spirit in you will illumine your mind, teach you, correct you, rebuke you, and train you in works of righteousness;
- That the word of God is available, and you should not just read it, but you should actually make time to diligently study and apply it to your life;
- Your success lies in the word of God as applied to your life by the Holy Spirit.
Your heart is at the heart of the matter
The root is in the heart, your heart and not that of the other person. It is you that needs to deal with yourself with the help of God, while using all the resources God has provided to you to fight the battle.
If your defense /armour is not breached from inside, no one can breach it from outside.
Take active, sustained, and persistent action to root out all the filth from its root in your heart:
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45).
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life.” (Pr. 4:23).
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom 12:2).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col 3:16).
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil 4:8).
To hold forth the word of life:
Again remember, the believers in Christ are to “shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life” (Phil 2:15-16).
- The believer in Christ is to know the truth of God.
- The believer in Christ is to keep that word from corruption.
- The believer in Christ is to hold fast to the word of life by living it as a lifestyle.
- The believer in Christ is then to hold forth the word of life to others in his daily living and in sharing it with others as he has opportunity.
- Be sure you know and have the truth;
- Be sure it is pure and uncorrupted;
- Be sure that you are a living epistle of the truth you believe.
You must therefore be earnest in both acquiring and dispensing the truth. Do it lovingly, constantly, and with confidence, all of which come with persistent practice through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
But this has been about the believer in Christ. What if Christ is not yet your Saviour? What if you are not yet born of the Spirit? Then the above does not yet apply to you. You are yet outside the fold of believers in Christ.
But there is a way out for God has made provision for you too.
By becoming a born-again child of God as demanded and provided for by God:
The invitation has gone out to all human beings including you reading this piece.
Accept God’s verdict concerning human beings:
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And that“the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
That is, in the opinion of God, we all fall short of His standard. Further, our sin has earned a deserved wage which is death or separation from God in hell.
But while we are still in our sin, God took the initiative to reconcile us with Himself as we are told:
“But God commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Yes, while we were all still in our sin, God showed His love for us by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for us. God gave Jesus Christ to the whole world (John 3:16). So, all we need to do is to accept that Christ has died for our sin by standing in place of us.
We do this by doing what the word of God commands all would-be believers:
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10). “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Everyone who appropriates the sacrifice of Christ is acceptable to Him. And He Himself extended the invitation to all:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
So, I encourage you to appropriate the finished work of Christ and confess Him as your Saviour and Lord NOW!
I prayer that God will accept you into His household through Christ in Jesus’ Name, Amen. 0