We Need a Miracle

for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

The gospel is not an exhortation to well-meaning people, inviting us to add a little religion to our lives. God’s word comes to the rebel heart and commands obedience. It is a word that brings the dead to life.

How is this work accomplished? Only by God’s Spirit. It is the Spirit’s work to achieve what cannot be done in any other way, by any other means: to bring about new life. 

By nature, we are all rebels against God. No one seeks after Him (Romans 3:11). Even if I call myself an agnostic or a seeker or open-minded, in reality I am rebelling. And God “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). God calls every one of us to do an about-turn—to turn decisively from sin and rebellion and to come under His rule.

Apart from a miracle, we cannot do this. Left to ourselves, we are dead and without hope for eternity. Thankfully, it is the very task of God’s Spirit to perform that miracle for us. New life is something God achieves, not something we engender. The Spirit convicts us of sin and convinces us that Jesus, by His death on the cross, has dealt with it. 

Scripture is absolutely clear on this: when we were dead in our sins, we were made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5). The Spirit brings us to understand what by ourselves we are unprepared to face—namely, that we have a deep, endemic problem we cannot fix. We need a miracle. And that’s what God does. He brings about new life. He saves us by His grace. 

Everything about us fades; like the grass, Peter reminds us, all of us will one day fall. But there is a seed which produces that which is imperishable, which is planted in us by the Spirit and which will bloom and thrive for all eternity: the life that has been born anew through the gospel. The word of God remains forever, and so does the one who has been brought to new life as the Spirit works through it. 

Once that has happened to us, we no longer see the Bible merely as some history book or inspiring story. By the work of the Spirit, it becomes a light, illuminating true life, and our eyes are opened to understand who God is. This is why we study the Bible: to better see and know the one who has saved us and with whom we will spend eternity.

So, may the love of Jesus draw you to Him. May the joy of Jesus enable you to serve Him. May the peace and contentment that comes in knowing Jesus grant to you stability and clarity as you reflect on where you’ve been, consider where you are, and meditate upon where you are headed. Your earthly flesh will fall; but you will remain forever.

Devotional material is taken from Truth For Life Daily Devotional by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.

True Friendship

A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

No one likes to feel alone and without a friend. We all recognize the importance of friendship and the priceless gift that a true friend can be. Deep friendship—the kind marked by consistency, honesty, and sensitivity—is the standard which the Bible holds up to us.

Solomon says that a true friend is always loyal, regardless of circumstances: “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). We see our friends exactly as they are, and we still remain consistent in our loyalty to them. Furthermore, sincere friends are prepared to wound in order that their friends might become all that God intends them to be: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (27:6). We may not particularly like it, but each of us is in need of friends who will hold us accountable when we err—and each of us is called to be that kind of friend, too. 

We must also consider our use of language: as Paul says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up … that it may give grace” (Ephesians 4:29). You can break a heart with just a word, and it can take a lifetime to repair it. 

Men and women who take these principles seriously may find themselves asking, “Is there really any friend who embodies such characteristics? Is there anyone that I know who is always constant, who rebukes me in love, who will show grace and sensitivity in all of their dealings with me?” And the answer to those questions is found, ultimately, in the person of Christ. The scope of the Lord Jesus’ friendship is amazing! He befriended the strangest individuals—stopping under a tree to speak with a tax collector, asking for water from an immoral woman, reaching out to a leper. He was consistent in His love; He was prepared to speak words of truth, however challenging; He built others up. Supremely, He is the one who loved His friends enough to lay down His life for them (John 15:13). He is the friend of sinners: 

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer! [1]

Jesus’ friendship is the golden standard for ours. As friends of Christ, we are called to love and befriend others as He did. In fact, Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). We are to seize every opportunity to share the extent of His friendship with those who are friendless and forlorn.

We live in a world where acquaintances are often countless and “Facebook friends” are many. But that is not true friendship. Do you have friends who are constant, close, and Christlike? If you do, cherish them. If you do not, pray for some. And today, be that kind of friend to others. You may just be the answer to someone’s loneliness or the protection from someone’s ruin.

FOOTNOTES 1 Joseph Medlicott Scriven, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (1855).

Devotional material is taken from Truth For Life Daily Devotional by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.