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THE Joshua CODE52 Scripture Verses Every Believer Should Know
By O. S. Hawkins
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2012 O. S. Hawkins
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEVERYONE HAS A WORLDVIEW
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. GENESIS 1:1
Everyone has a worldview. We all view life through some type of lens. Certain predisposed persuasions or seemingly benign biases do, in fact, determine how each of us views our world. Presently, the Western world is engaged in a huge confrontation between competing worldviews.
I spent my boyhood years in the 1950s, when the Judeo-Christian worldview was front and center in America. Our young men and women had just returned from the European Theatre or the South Pacific at the conclusion of World War II. They married their high school sweethearts and began what sociologists now call the baby boom. We were a thankful and grateful people. Church attendance was at an all-time high, and Bible readings were everyday occurrences in public schools. We viewed our world through a modern yet moral lens.
My teenage years were spent in the 1960s. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy ushered in that decade, and something happened to the psyche of America. We became more introspective. It began to be reflected in the music of the day. Peter, Paul, and Mary sang, "The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind." Suddenly our introspection revealed that the simple answers we thought we held were now questioned. Our worldview began to subtly change. For many, the answers to life's questions that they thought they believed seemed to be "blowing in the wind."
Then came the 1970s, ushered in on the throes of Watergate, Roe v. Wade, and Vietnam. Society became more skeptical. Again, it was reflected in the music of the day. Billy Joel's big hit in those days was "Only the Good Die Young." Skepticism became the lens through which many in our culture began to view their world.
This was followed by a bit of a reprieve in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan brought new hope as he spoke about that "shining city on a hill." Then came the 1990s. The Berlin Wall fell; the Cold War came to a sudden conclusion. Next, the new millennium was ushered in on the heels of September 11, 2001, and the War on Terror was launched with a significant effect on the worldview of many.
Even though worldviews may change across the decades, there is a single constant that does not change. The simple fact is that one's worldview can be determined by one's response to the first four words of the Bible: "In the beginning God ..." If we believe these four words, then we will view our world through the lens of Scripture that does not change. If we do not, then we will continue to view our world through the lens of culture that continually changes.
Perhaps there is no other verse under such constant abuse and ridicule as Genesis 1:1. It demands the answers to three important questions: When? Who? What?
WHEN? "In the beginning"
It should be noted that history does not begin in Genesis 1:1 but back before it, way back in the eternal councils of God. There we find three things: love, glory, and eternal life.
Before Genesis 1:1, there was love. In His high intercessory prayer, the Lord Jesus prayed, "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24). Before the foundation of the world that is reported in Genesis 1:1, there was love.
Back in the eternal recesses of God, before the events of Genesis 1:1, there also existed glory. Earlier in that same prayer, Jesus had prayed, "Now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was" (John 17:5). Long before what we refer to as the "beginning," the glory of God existed.
There also existed the promise of eternal life back before the "beginning." The apostle Paul, writing to Titus and inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself, penned it thus: "In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began" (Titus 1:2). Our hope of eternal life and its promise was there "before time began," before "the beginning."
One should not think of Genesis 1:1 as the beginning of everything, for "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." So that there be no mistake about whom he spoke, the apostle John added, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1, 14).
The Bible translates the Hebrew word Elohim here as God. The significance is that the word is in its plural form. It is a plural noun, thus hinting to us in the initial verse of Scripture that God is one pictured as three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Interestingly, the verb created, which follows this noun, is in the singular form, seemingly making a mockery of grammar. Yet it should be singular in that He is the great Three in One. We see this truth revealed later in Genesis 1 when we read, "Let Us make man in Our image" (Genesis 1:26, emphasis added). And then the following verse reads, "So God created man in His own image"(v. 27, emphasis added).
The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the great mysteries of the Bible. Yet, beginning with this first verse, the idea of the Trinity is woven throughout the Scripture. It is often illustrated by its similarities to H2O, two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. We all know this to be water—a liquid. However, it can also be a solid (ice) or a vapor (steam). Yet, in all three manifestations, it is still the same in nature: H2O. And so it is with God manifesting Himself in three persons.
WHAT? "created the heavens and the earth"
There is a huge difference between creating something and making something. Many of us have made things, but none of us has ever created anything from nothing. A cabinetmaker may make a beautiful cabinet out of wood. However, he is totally unable to create the wood itself. The Hebrew word from which we translate created in Genesis 1:1 carries with it the connotation that something is created out of nothing.
This physical universe was spoken into existence by God Himself. Is it possible that, in the entire vast expanse above us, the solar systems, the constellations, and the measureless space, all having billions of stars moving in clocklike precision, do so without a master Creator and Designer? Is it also possible that no one else among the billions of people presently on the planet has DNA or a thumbprint quite like yours? And is that kind of creativity and variety possible without Someone behind it all who sees you as indescribably valuable?
As you memorize Genesis 1:1 this week, meditate on the rich meaning of each of these sacred words and remember that those first four words of the Bible determine one's personal worldview. Yes, indeed, "In the beginning God!" Make these four words the lens through which you view your world.
Chapter TwoTHE MOST OFTEN QUOTED VERSE IN THE BIBLE
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." JOHN 3:16
If we ever memorize a verse of Scripture, it will most likely be John 3:16. It is the verse most often heard in the simplicity and beauty of a little child's voice proudly reciting it from memory. It is the one verse showing up on large placards at football games and other major sporting events. Those signs are located where television cameras cannot avoid its message. This is the one verse that has been spoken by many older saints as they breathed their final breath. It is the entire gospel in a nutshell.
Angel Martinez, the late evangelist who had memorized the entire New Testament, referred to John 3:16 as salvation's formula and observed that it contained four very insightful truths. It is the gospel in one verse. It reveals to us salvation's cause, its cost, its condition, and its consequence.
SALVATION'S CAUSE "For God so loved the world"
The motivating factor behind God's redemptive plan for every man and woman is His love for us. He not only loves us, He so loves us! Later, the apostle Paul sought to describe this love by speaking of its "breadth, and length, and depth, and height" (Ephesians 3:18 KJV), "God is love" (1 John 4:16), and this deep emotion is what brings about the possibility of our redemption; knowing Him in the intimate relationship of Father and child. God's love for you is the motivating cause of salvation. "For God so loved ..."
SALVATION'S COST "that He gave His only begotten Son"
Our salvation, the free pardoning of our sin, and the promise of abundant and eternal life in Christ did not come without cost. Freedom is never free; it is always bought with blood. From the early chapters of Genesis, there is a scarlet thread woven throughout the pages of Scripture revealing the blood atonement. It climaxes in the final and complete sacrifice for sin on a Roman cross outside the city gates of Jerusalem. Jesus not only spoke of His love for us, "but God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us"(Romans 5:8). Our salvation in Christ came at a great cost: God "gave His only begotten Son."
SALVATION'S CONDITION "that whoever believes in Him"
Salvation is not spelled "d-o," but "d-o-n-e." Many people, however, think their own good works are the pathway to eternal life. Consequently, they do this or do that, or they don't do this or don't do that, all in order to earn salvation. But our salvation is done. It is already purchased for us with the blood of Christ on the cross. Our part is to believe, to transfer our trust from ourselves and our own efforts to His finished work on the cross of Calvary.
To believe does not mean to simply give intellectual assent to the claims of Christ. It means to transfer our trust to Him alone for our salvation. The most pointed question in the entire Bible is asked of the apostle Paul by a Philippian jailer: "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30). Paul's immediate reply follows in the next verse: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." I believe in George Washington, but I don't believe on him; I don't trust my life to him. Salvation's condition is through faith—and faith alone—in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
SALVATION'S CONSEQUENCE "should not perish but have everlasting life"
What a consequence! What a promise! Those without Christ are perishing, but those in Christ have the eternal promise of "everlasting life." This comes not from our own human efforts, morals, or good deeds, but the promise is to those who realize that God's love reaches down to us, was made possible through the payment of Christ, and is received by grace through faith alone; believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.
An unknown, yet wise old sage once explained John 3:16 like this:
so loved ... the greatest degree
the world ... the greatest company
that He gave ... the greatest act
His only begotten Son ... the greatest gift
that whoever ... the greatest opportunity
believes ... the greatest simplicity
in Him ... the greatest attraction
should not perish ... the greatest promise
but ... the greatest difference
have ... the greatest certainty
everlasting life ... the greatest possession
As you memorize this old and oft-repeated verse this week, meditate on the fact that love is always something you do and remember that "God so loved the world that He gave." Yes, God knows you, loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life.
Chapter ThreeAMAZING GRACE
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. EPHESIANS 2:8
Christianity has always been cross-cultural. Its message transcends the various cultures of the world. Its roots were in a first-century Middle Eastern Jewish culture. Later it deeply impacted a sophisticated European culture. Then it continued to spread westward and became the basis of a New World culture. Today it is growing exponentially in an Eastern culture.
The modern church sometimes forgets that the Christian faith is not simply cross-cultural, but has always been countercultural as well. Western culture today is telling us in a thousand ways that there are many different roads that lead to eternal life. Many contend we are all going to the same place, just simply getting there by different paths. However, the Bible reminds us that "there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death"(Proverbs 14:12). Salvation is entirely God's work, in God's way, and according to God's will.
SALVATION IS GOD'S WORK "by grace you have been saved"
Where does our salvation have its origin? Many today believe it is the work of man, that one can merit good favor by one's own good deeds. But Christianity is counter-cultural. Salvation began way back in the eternal councils of God in eternity past. Earlier in this Ephesian letter, the apostle Paul said that God "chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love" (1:4). Salvation is God's work.
Our salvation is "by grace" and not in response to any good works we may or may not have done. It is provided for us wholly because of His grace, His unmerited and undeserved favor. The Father did not send the Lord Jesus to die for our sin because we kept begging and pleading with Him to do so. It was by His grace alone. There is a difference between mercy and grace. Mercy is not getting what we do deserve; grace is getting what we do not deserve. No wonder we call it amazing!
SALVATION IS GOD'S WORK IN GOD'S WAY "through faith ... not of yourselves ... the gift of God"
Whenever I read this verse, I find myself wanting to shout those words, "Through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God"! And, in the context, the following verse continues, "not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8–9). Scripture says our salvation is by grace and through faith; that is, by trusting in God alone. The Greek preposition preceding the word faith indicates that our faith is the channel through which our salvation flows from God to us. It is through faith. In Israel archaeologists have uncovered an ancient aqueduct through which the Romans brought their fresh water from the Carmel Mountains in the north down to the port city of Caesarea. It stands today as a reminder, a word picture, of how our own faith is the aqueduct through which the living water of God's saving grace flows to us.
Paul's repetition of this truth that salvation is "not of yourselves" and "not of works" emphasizes the point. Go to India today and the religion of the masses will reveal some followers pulling wagons with giant hooks in their backs, others lying on beds of nails, and still others plunging into the Ganges River. All of these things are being done in a feeble attempt to appease the Almighty. But it is "by grace ... through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." Certain followers of Islam today rush out to die in jihad in hopes of being ushered immediately into heaven and being welcomed by dozens of virgins. In Latin America, one can find people during the Holy Days of Obligation crawling on their knees up rocky paths to the top of mountains to be nailed to crosses, all in their morbid search for penance. But it is "by grace ... through faith ... not of yourselves; it is the gift of God."
There are only two religions in our world: true religion and false religion. One is a religion of works while the other is freely obtained "by grace ... through faith." No amount of human effort, good deeds, or giving of our resources can buy God's favor. And what amazes me is that God is freely offering this incredible gift, and we still have to encourage and exhort people to receive it. Salvation is God's work ("by grace") in God's way ("through faith").
SALVATION IS GOD'S WORK IN GOD'S WAY, ACCORDING TO GOD'S WILL
Ephesians 2:8–9 cannot stand alone without the context of verse 10: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." This is an awesome thought—"we are His workmanship." We actually get our English word poem from the Greek word translated "workmanship." You are God's special creation, His own work of art. He so fashioned and formed you that no one else has DNA like yours. You are unique to Him and indescribably valuable. You are His workmanship, His own special work of art.
The believer is a new creation. He is "created in Christ Jesus." Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, addressed this very fact, saying, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christians are not men and women who have been improved upon because they took on a new set of moral standards. They are new creations in Christ Jesus, His own special "poem." Thus, the Christian life is not simply a changed life but an exchanged life.
Excerpted from THE Joshua CODE by O. S. Hawkins Copyright © 2012 by O. S. Hawkins. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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