Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Ways of Life

"Walking on the Narrow Way" by C.V. Lacroix
In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter quoted Ps 16, in which David said, “You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with Your presence.” (Act 2:28)

Peter attributed David's words to Christ. For the Lord’s ways are the ways of life! So today I would like to talk about what it means to walk in the ways of life, and what that means for us as disciples of Christ.

Walk in His Ways
All throughout Scripture we are commanded to walk in His ways. Let’s look at those passages:

"Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. (Deu 8:6)

"Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, (Deu 10:12)

It's important to understand that God made His ways known to Moses.  The psalmist said, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.” (Psa 103:7). That means that the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) teaches us the ways of God that He revealed to Moses.  

"For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, (Deu 11:22)

“If you carefully observe all this commandment which I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in His ways always--then you shall add three more cities for yourself, besides these three.” (Deu 19:9)

"You have today declared the LORD to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice.” (Deu 26:17)

Walking in His ways is a key to being established as a holy people to the Lord.

"The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.” (Deu 28:9)

“In that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. (Deu 30:16)

"Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn,” (1Ki 2:3)

“That He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers.” (1Ki 8:58)

“That they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You have given to our fathers.” (2Ch 6:31)

"My steps have held fast to Your paths. My feet have not slipped." (Psa 17:5)

“How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart. They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways.”  (Psa 119:2-3)

“How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.” (Psa 128:1)

That's working God's way!

His Ways Are Higher Than Our Ways
"’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isa 55:8-9)

Knowing His Ways
Therefore, since His ways are higher than our ways, we must seek the Lord and ask Him to make us know His ways. 

Moses prayed, "Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people." (Exo 33:13). If you want to know the Lord and find favor in His sight, you need to know His ways.

David prayed, “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths.” (Psa 25:4). He will teach us His paths, so that we might walk in them.

The psalmist prayed, "Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me in Your ways." (Psa 119:37)

Considering His Ways
We must remember His ways and regard them. The psalmist said, “I will meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.” (Psa 119:15, NIV)

"You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember Your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved?"  (Isa 64:5, NIV).

This applies to New Testament living. If a person does not walk in His ways, but continues to sin against them, God is not going to save them (1 Jn 1:6; 2:4; 2:11; 3:6-10). It's important to walk in His ways, and when your life comes to an end, He will deliver you from hell.

Teaching His Ways
David prayed, “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You.” (Psa 51:13)

Although Apollos had been instructed in the way of the Lord, Priscilla and Aquila explained the way of God to him more accurately. "Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately." (Act 18:24-26)

Paul instructed the Thessalonians how to walk. He wrote: "Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more." (1Th 4:1)

The Narrow Path of Life Leads Upward
The Scripture teaches us that God's ways are the paths of life.  This is the way that leads to eternal life. As David said, which Peter quoted in our opening verse, “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psa 16:11). 

He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who ignores reproof goes astray.” (Pro 10:17). You have to heed instruction of you want to remain on the path of life.

The path of life leads upward for the wise That he may keep away from Sheol [Hell] below.” (Pro 15:24)

“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life.” (Pro 6:23)

"You shall also say to this people, 'Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.” (Jer 21:8)

The Lord Jesus also spoke about the way of life when He said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mt 7:13-14)

You must strive to enter this way, because many have tried to do so and failed. The Lord said, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." (Luk 13:24). Therefore, you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Jesus.

When He said He is THE Way, it carried with it the connotations of all the passages I have just cited, as well as all the ones I am about to cite. Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (Joh 14:6).  There is no other way to the Father, except through Jesus, Who is the Way. That does not negate the fact that it is a narrow way!

Walking as Jesus Did
We must walk in the same way in which Jesus walked. John wrote: "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." (1Jn 2:6). The NIV says "walk as Jesus did."

Peter taught that Jesus, who committed no sin, left us an example to follow in His steps and do what is right: "But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;" (1Pe 2:20b-23)

Walking in Him in the Light
Paul taught that we must walk in Him. "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." (Col 2:6)

John taught us to walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light. "But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1Jn 1:7). 

The Way of Holiness
His way is the way of holiness for those who follow Him and walk on it.

“And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.” (Is 35:8, NIV)

"Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Jos 22:5)

The Way of Righteousness
The Scripture says that all His ways are just and true. "And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,  'Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!'" (Rev 15:3; cf. Deu 32:4)

Zacharias the priest prophesied over his son, John the Baptist, "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;" (Luk 1:76).  Now think about the ministry of John the Baptist, and how he preached against sin and called people to repent.   He proclaimed God's righteous ways.

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders regarding John the Baptist, "For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him." (Mat 21:32)

The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds.” (Psa 145:17)

Wisdom says, "I walk in the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice." (Pro 8:20)

"He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake." (Psa 23:3) 

In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.” (Pr 28:10)  

In spite of all this, many people who start out on this path have turned aside from it by turning away from the holy commandment handed on to them. The apostle Peter said, "For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them." (2Pe 2:21)

The Way of Understanding
"Forsake your folly and live, And proceed in the way of understanding." (Pro 9:6)

"A man who wanders from the way of understanding Will rest in the assembly of the dead." (Pro 21:16)

"Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?" (Isa 40:13-14)

Paths of Justice
The Lord guards the paths of justice and preserves the way of His godly ones. "For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones." (Pro 2:6-8)

Paths of Lovingkindness and Truth
"All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies." (Psa 25:10)

The Path of Peace
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied about Christ saying, "...the Rising Sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luk 1:78b-79, NIV). The Lord's way is one of peace. He gives peace to those on whom His favor rests (Luk 2:14).

The Wicked Have No Regard for His Ways
The Scripture tells us that the wicked have no regard for the ways of the Lord. They do not care about righteousness, holiness, and truth. They don't care about the commandments of God. Job, who lived before Moses and before the Law was given said, “Because they turned aside from following Him, And had no regard for any of His ways;” (Job 34:27).

"They say to God, 'Depart from us! We do not even desire the knowledge of Your ways.'” (Job 21:14)

"Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not right.' Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right?” (Eze 18:25)

“Now the end is upon you, and I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways and bring all your abominations upon you. For My eye will have no pity on you, nor will I spare you, but I will bring your ways upon you, and your abominations will be among you; then you will know that I am the LORD!” (Eze 7:3-4) 

Jeremiah prophesied, "Thus says the LORD, 'Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.' But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'” (Jer 6:16). It's time once again, Church, that we Ask for the Ancient Paths.

For the way of life we inherited from our forefathers was futile. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers.” (1Pe 1:18).  The ways of the wicked are crooked. They leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness.

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Consider your ways!'" (Hag 1:7)

"Now therefore amend your ways and your deeds and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will change His mind about the misfortune which He has pronounced against you.” (Jer 26:13)

"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!" (Psa 1:1)

"For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish." (Psa 1:6) 

Also see Psa. 146:9; Pro. 4:4,19; 12:26; 15:9. 

Millennial Prophecies
"Prepare the Way" by C.V. Lacroix
Isaiah prophesied of a bright future day, saying, "And many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.' For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Isa 2:3)

Micah prophesied, "Many nations will come and say, 'Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.' For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Mic 4:2).

These twin prophecies of Micah and Isaiah were speaking about the thousand year reign of Christ on earth, or Millennium, which is still future!!  It says that during that time He will teach us His way, so that we may walk in His paths, and the Law will go forth from Zion, even the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  Maybe that has you scratching your head and wondering how it could be yet future, but it's true! "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" (Rom 11:33)

His Word, His Will, and His Ways
In order to help you understand how this could be possible, please allow me to explain to you what I call "the www of God's kingdom". We all know that here on earth in the kingdom of this world, the "www" is short for the "World Wide Web". But the "www" in the kingdom of God is His "Word, Will, and Ways." These three things are inextricably connected to each other, and they connect everything else in His kingdom.

There are both similarities and differences between the World Wide Web and the www of God's kingdom. The World Wide Web is called an information superhighway, and it contains both a mixture of holy things and profane things, good things and evil. But "the www of God's kingdom" is the "highway of holiness" and wicked fools will not go about on it! There is no mixture on His www, nor is there any profanity or impurity of any kind.

His Word
First of all, His Word was in the beginning, and it endures forever. The Word was with God in the beginning and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. His Word is eternal.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God...And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (Joh 1:1-2,14; cf. 1Jn 1:1-2)

"Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens." (Ps 119:89, NIV)

"The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." (Isa 40:8)

“For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the Word which was preached to you.” (1Pe 1:23-25)

His Will
The Lord made a direct connection between His Word and His will. His will is found in His Word. He said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." (Mat 7:21).  And He also said in that same context, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock." (Mat 7:24-25).  So the Lord tied together His Will with His Word, and since they are one and the same, the man who does His will by acting on His Word will inherit eternal life.

Likewise, the apostle John, who said we must keep His Word (1 Jn 2:5), makes a connection between His Word and His Will. He wrote, "The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." (1Jn 2:17).  John seemed to be alluding to the passage in Isaiah 40 where it says the Word of God endures forever. Where Isaiah said the grass withers and the flower fades, John said this world and its lusts are passing away. And where Isaiah said the Word of God endures forever, John said that the one who does the will of God lives forever.

His Ways
In the same way, the ways of God are also eternal. Habakkuk said, "His ways are everlasting." (Hab 3:6b). David prayed, "Lead me in the everlasting way." (Psa 139:24b). The Lord is eternal and does not change (Heb 13:8). His ways are still the same today as they were in the past; they are still holy, righteous, and good. What was morally evil in His sight thousands of years ago is still evil today. It did not become good or right in His sight just because of the New Covenant.  Likewise, what was morally right then is still right today. His ways never change.

Just as the will of God is found in the Word of God, so are the ways of God. And as I have shown you from the Scriptures throughout this article, the ways of God are the ways of life, which lead to immortality. We are commanded to walk in them, regardless of what part of God's Word they are found in. Since God made His ways known to Moses, you will find the ways of God in the books Moses wrote, as well as the rest of the Bible. Those who walk in the ways of God ascend upward, away from hell, until they reach the Father's throne in heaven, where they enjoy eternal pleasures in His presence forever.

The www of God's kingdom
As I have already said, the Word of God, the will of God, and the ways of God are completely harmonious and connected together as one, in a similar way that the worldwide web is one vast network made up of many parts.  This is why I use the expression "the www of God's kingdom".

In this world we have various domains like ".com" for commercial content, ".edu" for educational, ".org" for organization, etc.  There are also country specific ones like ".us" for United States, ".ca" for Canada, ".hu" for Hungary, ".nz" for New Zealand, and ".eu" for European Union. For the sake of this analogy, we could say that the kingdom of God is the ".kog" domain.

And if we take further liberty to expand this analogy, we could define what corresponds to the URL, which is that address you type into the bar at the top of your web browser. URL stands for Universal Resource Locator.  For example, the URLs for some of my websites are www.eternaldestinations.info, www.Jesus-Reigns.org, www.dmiworld.org, and this site you are on is www.len-seekingthelord.blogspot.com.

So to complete the picture for you, some of the universal resources locators (URLs) you might use to locate resources on the www of God's kingdom could be www.holiness.kog or www.righteousness.kog or www.truth.kog or www.commandments.kog.  We could also have www.genesis.kog, www.law.kog, www.prophets.kog, and www.gospels.kog. But they are all tied together on the same ".kog" domain, which is the kingdom of God. There are no web filters on the www of God's kingdom that allow you to filter content you don't like or don't wish to see.  You cannot separate His Word, His Will, and His Ways (www) from each other.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2Ti 3:16-17)

Putting it All Together
The Lord’s ways are just.
All God's ways are righteous and true (Rev 15:3). His ways are unfathomable. They are the ways of life. The path of life leads upward. His ways and His will are one and the same, and “the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 Jn 2:17b). If you want to inherit eternal life, you need to repent and follow Jesus.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by Him (Jn 14:6).

His ways are not only found in the pages of the New Testament, but in all Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. He has revealed to us His ways in the whole Bible, the Word of God.  We are commanded to walk in His ways always. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable. (2Ti 3:16-17). So don’t compartmentalize the Bible and refuse to listen to certain verses simply because they are found in the Old Testament, or because they are found in the Pentateuch.

The Lord is eternal and does not change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb 13:8). His ways are still the same. What was morally evil in His sight thousands of years ago is still evil today. It did not become good or right in His sight just because of the New Covenant.

Let’s be careful not be like those who say, “The way of the Lord is not right” (Ez 33:20).  They have turned aside from following Him and have no regard for His ways. If you have done that, then repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Ac 3:19).  He wants to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways (Ac 3:26). For the way of life handed down from our forefathers is futile.  But all the Lord’s ways are profitable. The way is broad that leads to destruction, but the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Mt 7:14). His way is the way of the cross.  It's the way of righteousness and holiness!

Therefore, I exhort you to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Then He will fill you with joy in His presence, with eternal pleasures at His right hand forevermore (Ps 16:11).

Disclaimer: As we walk in His ways, we are not to concern ourselves with ceremonial law like circumcision, rituals, dietary laws, or animal sacrifices. We are not endeavoring to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ. We are not justified by doing the works of the Law.  It is only when we put our faith in Christ that He justifies us, so that we have true righteousness, the righteousness of God, and this is the intent or “end goal” of the law. Once we are justified, we will be led by the Spirit to be a doer of the Law (James 1:25; 4:11). Keeping God’s commands in what counts! (1 Cor 7:19b). Just remember that we can do nothing apart from the Lord Jesus (Jn 15:5), and if you keep His commandments, you will abide in His love (Jn 15:10). It's not something you have to force, or do legalistically, but it happens as you open up and receive the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to flow through you.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, where noted. The "Walking on the Narrow Way" and the "Prepare the Way" illustrations, as well as the "Holiness" calligraphy are by my seventeen-year old daughter, C.V. Lacroix. You can find more of her lovely artwork on A Brush with Life.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend
James Agboola Revelation of Heaven and Hell, Followers of the Way, The Straight and Narrow Path, The Way, Will, and Word of God, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Michael Shigaba's Encounter with Jesus, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Practicing Your Righteousness, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Doing What is Right, Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Faith Works!, The Judgment Seat of Christ, The Obedience of Faith, Holding Fast the Faithful Word, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Led by the Spirit, Remember the Eternal Law of God, Purge the Evil from Among You, The Spirit's Law of Life, The Book of Life, Pleasing the Lord, and The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun. Other related articles are available on the Home page. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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