Jan 16, 2013
He delivered this on April 3, 1968, at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. The next day, King was assassinated.
It seems he knew his time on earth was coming to a close.
Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11
Growing up during the 1950s, I never questioned racism and the segregation practices that permeated daily life in the city where we lived. In schools, restaurants, public transportation, and neighborhoods, people with different shades of skin color were separated.
My attitude changed in 1968 when I entered US Army Basic Training. Our company included young men from many different cultural groups. We soon learned that we needed to understand and accept each other, work together, and accomplish our mission.
When Paul wrote to the first-century church at Colossae, he was well aware of the diversity of its members. He reminded them, “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). In a group where surface as well as deeper differences could easily divide people, Paul urged them to “clothe [themselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (v. 12). And over all these virtues, he told them to put on love “which binds them all together in perfect unity” (v. 14).
Putting these principles into practice may often be a work in progress, but that is what Jesus calls us to. What we as believers hold in common is our love for Him. On that basis, we pursue understanding, peace, and unity as members of the body of Christ.
Amid all our wonderful diversity, we pursue an even greater unity in Christ.
Christ’s love creates unity in the midst of diversity.
Colossians 3:11 lists ancient Colossae’s diverse people groups. Most familiar are the Jews (the children of Israel) and the Greeks (Gentiles in general—all non-Jews). Paul describes these two groups with the terms circumcised (Jews) and uncircumcised(Gentiles). Then he adds barbarian, Scythian, slave, and free. The distinctions between slave and free are obvious. Scythian refers to wild nomadic tribes and barbariandescribes those who didn’t speak Greek and therefore were considered uncultured. The result is a spectrum of ethnically, linguistically, economically, and socially diverse people—all who found the ground to be level at the foot of the cross.
How can people who have trusted Jesus as their Savior live in rebellion against God through inappropriate attitudes and behaviors? After all, at the moment of salvation, a person is given new life; sinful thinking and conduct are characteristics of the old life. And yet old patterns linger. The truth is that all believers live with this dilemma to one degree or another.
Salvation is a onetime act, which God accomplishes in the life of every person who trusts in Christ’s payment for his or her sins. That individual is then guaranteed a place in heaven. But did you know that the Lord wants even more for us than this? The Bible teaches that He predestined us “to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29-30). That’s His ultimate goal. Salvation is the door that opens the way for this process, which is accomplished by the Holy Spirit within us.
This transformation requires submission to Christ’s lordship. He paid for us with His blood, and since we are now His, He has the right to rule our lives. In other words, we received Him as Lord at salvation, and now we must walk in Him (Col. 2:6), letting Him have complete control of every area—every decision, act, word, motive, attitude, and thought. If we don’t, our spiritual growth will be stunted, and we risk falling into a sinful lifestyle.
If you sense little spiritual growth, the problem is probably due to an area that you are keeping for yourself. Only in surrendering it to Christ and letting Him be Lord of your entire life will you be enriched beyond measure as He changes your character, perspective, attitudes, and behavior.
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29)
People do not like to think about hell—especially those who are headed there! But that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
We need to know that the Lord Jesus Himself often warned about the reality of hell. Today’s verse is in His Sermon on the Mount, a message often quoted because of its wonderful promises. Hell is also mentioned in the same sermon in Matthew 5:22 and 5:30. Jesus also stressed in that sermon that “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13). He later warned that we should “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
The religious leaders of the day were not exempt. To them, speaking of their religious hypocrisy, He said, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).
Hell is also a place of fire or possibly of some fearful environment that could only be described adequately under the metaphor of fire. “Depart from me,” He will say to the lost souls at His coming judgment, “into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Hell is called a “lake of fire” by Christ in John’s vision of Him on His great white throne, where He will have to say, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, . . . and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
Hell will indeed be very real—eternally real! Since Christ is both our Creator and our Savior, who died for our sins and defeated death by His resurrection, it is foolish for anyone to reject His revelation about hell. HMM
How gloriously did Isaiah speak at this time; let us read his eloquent words—Isaiah 33:1, 2; 7-24.
Assyria had gained power by treachery, and by treachery she should fall.
The Assyrian king refused all terms of peace, and made valiant men weep for fear, at the remembrance of his power and cruelty.
Devastation and desolation followed the invaders track.
At God’s rebuke the mighty adversary would be consumed, consumed by his own fury, gone like thorns in the fire.
Their terror at Sennacherib led them to enquire how they could endure the yet greater wrath of God, whose wrath is like a fire which devours, and yet burns on. Everlasting burnings are more to be feared than death itself; be it our great business to escape from them. The righteous were at ease while the hypocrites were alarmed, and so we read—
Hezekiah came forth in his robes again, and the people, being free from the invader, could travel as far abroad as they chose.
The proud Assyrian engineers and accountants were disappointed, and his harsh-speaking soldiery came not near the city.
They had all the advantages of broad rivers without being exposed to attacks by vessels of war, for the Lord was with them. Not so Assyria, for its state was like a vessel in a storm.
Jerusalem healed, restored, forgiven, was blessed indeed. Such blessings have all the saints.
Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
Certainly not all of the mystery of the Godhead can be known by man—but just as certainly, all that men can know of God in this life is revealed in Jesus Christ!
When the Apostle Paul said with yearning, “That I may know Him,” he was not speaking of intellectual knowledge. Paul was speaking of the reality of an experience of knowing God personally and consciously, spirit touching spirit and heart touching heart.
We know that people spend a lot of time talking about a deeper Christian life—but few seem to want to know and love God for Himself.
The precious fact is that God is the deeper life! Jesus Christ Himself is the deeper life, and as I plunge on into the knowledge of the triune God, my heart moves on into the blessedness of His fellowship. This means that there is less of me and more of God—thus my spiritual life deepens and I am strengthened in the knowledge of His will!
“For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.” Ps. 9:18
Poverty is a hard heritage; but those who trust in the Lord are made rich by faith. They know that they are not forgotten of God; and though it may seem that they are overlooked in His providential distribution of good things, they look for a time when all this shall be righted. Lazarus will not always lie among the dogs at the rich man’s gate, but he will have his recompense in Abraham’s bosom.
Even now the Lord remembers His poor but precious sons. “I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me,” said one of old; and it is even so. The godly poor have great expectations. They expect the Lord to provide them all things necessary for this life and godliness; they expect to see all things working for their good; they expect to have all the closer fellowship with their Lord, who had not where to lay His head; they expect His Second Advent, and to share its glory. This expectation cannot perish, for it is laid up in Christ Jesus, who liveth for ever; and because He lives, it shall live also. The poor saint singeth many a song which the rich sinner cannot understand. Wherefore, let us, when we have short commons below, think of the royal table above.