Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Blessings instead of Curses

Joshua 23:14-15: Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.

Not one of God’s promises to Israel failed. Just before Joshua dies, He reminds them of God’s faithfulness to them. Then Joshua confronts the nation with a choice. Stay loyal to the God who fulfilled his promised blessings to them or remember that He will faithfully execute His promised curses as well. Deuteronomy 27 and 28 lists both the blessings and the curses. Joshua says the decision is self-evident, and he and his house will remain faithful to the Lord. They will obey the commandments and principles of this Old Testament covenant with Israel.

I believe that Matthew gives us the “law” or principles of the spiritual Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount. There are nine blessings in the introduction and absolutely no curses in the beatitudes. As the principles are explained, violating some of the principles do contain penalties but the word “curse” is not in the beatitudes as it is in the covenant with Israel. Why? I have been pondering that. Here are some suggestions:

1. The kingdom is heavenly or spiritual and not earthly. Matthew 5:12 says, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” This heavenly kingdom does not have the unsaved or the defiled in it Congregations on earth that should represent the heavenly kingdom do have unbelievers and the defiled in them. There is a Kingdom coming on earth and there will be blessings and curses in that Kingdom. Sin in that Kingdom will be judged immediately and righteously. Death will not be usual but it will be present (Isaiah 65:20). But in the Heavenly kingdom, there is no curse nor death (Revelation 21:4, 22:3).

2. The New Testament is pretty simple with regard to its blessings and curses. The believer is blessed and the unbeliever is cursed. John 3: 18 makes that quite clear, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” The nation of Israel contained many who were along for the ride. They worshiped the way the leaders worshiped, but their hearts were not right with the Lord. Israel was faithful to the Lord during Joshua’s day and during the lives of those elders who outlived Joshua. After the death of those elders, the people who were along for the ride began serving the more popular gods of the land. We have the same thing happening in churches today. There have been great revivals where the Lord is honored. Then a younger generation comes along that does not enjoy the simplicity of New Testament worship. To them and to some of the older ones, the manna becomes stale. Many of them have not experienced the liberty that comes with letting Holy Spirit lead and guide in church worship, neither have many of them experienced a clear “birth of the spirit” where the Holy Spirit uses the word of God to convict of sin and to turn the sinner to the Savior in simple trusting faith. Believing about the Lord is substituted for believing in the Lord. Assurance of salvation comes from what others say or do or from ceremonies or good works rather than from what the word of God says. It isn’t long before “the old way” is not relevant to the social order of the day and the clear principles of worship laid out in the New Testament are set aside for “newer methods.” Separation is not taught and sound doctrine is set aside. Fairly quickly, the church becomes an organization rather than a living body that does the work of the Lord.

3. The Blessings of the Sermon on the Mount are attainable. Only a believer who has been “sealed” and “filled” or “controlled” by the Holy Spirit could actually carry out the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. I believe that the blessings are the preamble to the constitution of the spiritual kingdom and I do believe that in many ways these principles are different from the principles that the children of Israel lived under. We do not have to annihilate our enemies, we are to pray for them. We are not to look for earthly blessing but spiritual blessing. We are not to do things openly to be seen as religious people do, but we are to do things privately where God only sees and rewards. The moral principles of the Old Testament are never set aside; and, in fact, are made matters of the heart rather than matters of law. However, I do believe that these principles and, thus, the blessings are attainable. Where we fail with regard to them, the Lord provides for confession and forgiveness.

The Lord not only wants to bless, He does bless. We who had “no hope” now have something to anticipate with joy. The Lord is coming to save those of us who believe in the Lord from the coming tribulation. This is a blessed hope. We may die, but that will not be the end of the story. We get to be “with the Lord” where there is no more curse or crying or sorrow. I am glad that I live in New Testament times with New Testament promises and New Testament blessings.

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of March 30, 2014

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