Thursday, August 25, 2011


“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Psalm 119:9). “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

What shall we study and meditate on? There are many books in the world -- some are good, some are bad. This is true of sermons you can hear and read -- some are good, some are bad. We could suggest as some have that you read nothing other than the Bible. Yet being men and women in a modern world, we are not likely to limit ourselves to that, especially if we are good readers. God gave us a desire for knowledge in many areas, and we fulfill it, sometimes by reading.

Many years ago, in another state, I was asked to preach in a particular church on several different occasions. I suppose I was 39 or 40 then, and the pastor there was considerably younger than myself. I got to know him pretty well, and stayed with him and his young family each time I was in the area. He told me that he read at least one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons every day. I said, “Very commendable. Spurgeon was a great preacher and left us a great body of work.” The pastor also put a Spurgeon sermon in his church paper each week.

The last time I was there, I met another young couple from his church that was staying in the pastor’s home until their house got repaired. They seemed like a nice couple. A short time later I got word that this pastor fell into sin with the other woman, and left his wife and two children for her. Two homes were broken up! A ministry was destroyed!

What brought about this awful situation? This minister was surely not following the teachings of Spurgeon when he did this. You can’t blame Spurgeon for this, for he was a godly man. It does show that no matter how much a person is claiming to follow sound doctrine, he can err if he is not obeying God’s word. Spurgeon preached the word. Some others he read from, like Arthur Pink, also preached the word. He read his bible regularly. But it doesn’t matter. He could have been reading John Wesley every day. Maybe J.C. Philpot; Or David Wilkerson; Or Billy Graham, or whoever. There had to be something much deeper than which ministers that he was reading. Who was influencing him? This minister himself studied and preached the word. He seemed to have good Bible knowledge. Why did he put another black mark on the cause of Christ?  “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul” (Proverbs 6:32). The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We are all flesh and blood. For myself I have to say “but for the grace of God, there go I”.

There is an answer, however. Many, as James says, are only hearers (or readers), of the word .“Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). You see, it is not enough to just hear, or read, or be religious, the word must be in the heart to cause the manifestation of doing good works. James also said
“ …To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

This person knew. All thought him to be a true brother. God alone knows. Now he surely does not appear to be God’s chosen, unless he repents. Beloved, as the verse which  I quoted at the beginning says, we must hide God’s word in our hearts. As our theme verse says, it is a lamp to guide our path. But we must be doers of the word. Remember in Ephesians, that great scripture mountaintop, it says: “ For by grace are ye saved. through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For  we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

So many, we can sadly say, have  utterly ruined their lives by taking their eyes off of Christ. We have all failed Him there, of course, and He has proved able and willing to rescue each of us. Even as He did Simon Peter when he fell into sin. But, to consistently walk with Him is the way of a true believer. As His workmanship, we are created unto good works. God has ordained that we should walk in them.

We are in troubled times in our day. This has caused many to forsake Christ instead of following Him. The eye of a saint needs to be entered on the Lord! For our nation, this is the only answer. For our state, this is the only answer. For our region this is the only answer. For or city, our town; this the only answer. There  has never been another answer! All of us must know this! There is no other answer, except Jesus Christ!

Is sin tricking you?  Is the flesh tempting  you? Are sicknesses discouraging you? Are trials overwhelming you? Are you about to throw in the towel? Stop!! Look up!! Your redeemer is near! Satan can defeat you and I, this is sadly true. But he cannot defeat Jesus! Never! He is the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords! He is the Alpha and the Omega! He is the Altogether  Lovely!  Satan  may defeat you and I. We may be even allowed to be taken from this world. If we know Jesus Christ, do not let this worry you. Saved by His blood, you will never be taken from Him. Lift up you heads, for your redemption draws nigh. The Lamb of God who takes away our sin can never be defeated!

 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John.3:14, 15).

Published by Charles Woodruff- email:

Monday, August 15, 2011



Perhaps you need this verse today: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). To “glory” is “to boast”. Paul here says we can boast in nothing except the cross of the Lord Jesus. All of our prosperity, all of our fame (even if yours is more than 15 minutes!), all of our accomplishments, all of our power (even if you are a senator, or president or even a king), all of our doctrinal understanding, and even all the accumulated knowledge over our lifetime is nothing to glory about. We can boast only in the cross of Christ! Glory to His name! (Charles Woodruff)

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

To Christ, who won for sinners grace
By bitter grief and anguish sore,
Be praise from all the ransomed race
Forever and forevermore.

Isaac Watts -1707  (Charles Wesley reportedly said he would give up all his other
hymns to have written this one).
“Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen”
(Ephesians 6:24).

Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)

That against which we are here protesting is the God-dishonoring idea that His Word is merely a piece of literature, which may be "mastered" by a course of "study."  That which we would warn against is an undue occupation with the technical aspects of the Bible.  God's blessed Word is not for dissection by the knife of cold intellectuality -- but is to be laid to heart.  It is not given for us to display our cleverness and "brilliance" upon -- but to be bowed before in true humility.  It is not designed for mental entertainment -- but for the regulation of our daily lives.

Far, far more important than "method" is our motive when approaching the Word.  What we should seek is that which will subdue pride and bring us as supplicants to the footstool of mercy -- not to acquire that which will puff us up in our own conceit.  Of what value is a knowledge of the original Hebrew and Greek, or a thorough acquaintance with the history, geography and chronology of the Bible, if the heart be left cold and hard toward its Author?

I seriously doubt if God has called or requires us to [merely] "study" His Word.  What we need to do is feed thereon. "Nourished up in the words of faith" (I Timothy 4:6).  "Desire the sincere [pure] milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (I Peter 2:2).  This is the only nutritive food for the soul.  By all means, "Search the Scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11) in order to test all you hear and read.  Above all, beg God to write His Word more legibly and fully upon the tablets of your heart.  Put the precepts into practice, heed the warnings of Scripture, and then you will assimilate what you have fed upon.

Concluding Note:  May we humbly hear these words by Mr. Pink, adapted from an Editorial in his magazine, Studies in the Scriptures.  This should cause us to never argue the Bible in a heated debate, nor should we ever read or teach Scripture from mere intellectualism, for "God resists the proud." (James 4:6). (W.F. Bell)
 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).

Published by Charles Woodruff- email:

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


"Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now  Barabbas 
  was a robber" (John 18:40).

Jesus Christ was at the judgment bar of Pontus Pilate. He had already been examined by Annas and Caiaphas, who were joint Jewish high priests around the time of Christ’s birth, as indicated in Luke 3:2.“Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”  Thirty three years later they still had a sort of joint duty. Some scholars believe that since high priests were usually appointed for life, Annas still had that authority. Others believe he was acting as president of the Sanhedrin, or a coadjutor of his father-in-law, Caiaphas, the current high priest. “Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year” (John 18:12,13).

After they questioned and ridiculed Him, because they didn’t have authority to execute Him, Jesus was sent to Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Then Pilate sent Him to Herod when he heard that Jesus was a Galilean. Herod got no answers, neither did he see a miracle performed as he desired, so after he and some of his people mocked Jesus, they sent Him back to Pontus Pilate.

Now Christ was before Pilate. The Apostles Creed, that ancient document, which is really a bird’s eye view of the Christian faith, tells us “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.” It is true, but not because Pilate desired to see Him crucified. He had tried every way he could think of to release Jesus, especially after Pilate’s own wife came and pleaded with him; “When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19.)

                               JESUS THE INNOCENT

Pilate had likely already decided not to crucify Him before he even heard his wife’s words. Throughout the trial he declared Him innocent several times. “For I find no fault in Him” (John 19:6) -----“Nothing worthy of death is done unto him” (Luke 23:15)-----“Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him:” (Luke 23:22)-----“Why, what evil hath he done?” (Matthew 27:23).

Try as he may, Pontius Pilate could not convince the crowd that Jesus was innocent. Pilate totally believed this himself, but he was under great pressure, and feared the Jews. Why?  It was likely because an uprising would get him replaced by Caesar as a governor. He was already regarded by Rome as headstrong, and had some problems with Caesar before this. His last effort to convince the Jews involved the custom of releasing a prisoner of the Jew’s choice at a feast time, and now it was Passover time. So he suggested Jesus, confident that they would want Him released, and crucify Barabbas. After all, Jesus was innocent, and Barabbas was not only a robber, as our text states, but an insurrectionist, a murderer, a thief, a seditionist, i.e., a real enemy of Rome. He was not exactly morally superior to anyone.  Matthew 27:16 states “And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.” A notable prisoner (translated by some as a notorious prisoner). He was that, but his desire to overthrow the Romans certainly made him popular with the Jews.

                                  BARABBAS THE INSURGENT

Most of us have heard time and again the story of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, especially if we are Christians. It is the central theme of the gospel. But, have we really looked in depth at Barabbas? As we have seen he was a robber, insurrectionist, and all the rest. We have heard the word insurgent a lot during the recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Insurgency (1) is basically the same as insurrection. (2) We have already seen that he was guilty of that crime.

“And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection” (Mark 15:7). Who he murdered we are not told, but, this murderer was involved with some others who were also being held. Who were they? I believe two of them were those who were crucified at the same time as Christ. Barabbas was also set to be crucified at the same time, but God had other plans for him.

All we really know about Barabbas is found in the Gospels. Mention of him is most complete in Matthew. Likely he was a Jew, for his surname is a Hebrew word that means son of the father. Some of the early church testimony is that his first name was also Jesus. In the Syriac translation, and even some English translations, we read his name as Jesus Barabbas. This would make an interesting reading in some verses if it was truly supported by manuscript evidence. For instance: “So, when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Who do you want released? Jesus Bar-abbas or Jesus the so-called 'Christ'?" (Matthew 27:17, Moffat Translation). Also, the same verse in another version “So when the crowd came together, Pilate asked them, "Which prisoner do you want me to set free? Do you want Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?" (Contemporary English Version). Another English version has “So when the crowd gathered, Pilate asked them, ‘Which one do you want me to set free for you? Jesus Barabbas or Jesus, called the Messiah?"’ (Good News Bible)

It is a theory, and makes a sharp contrast, but there is no real textual support for this reading. It is definitely not the majority reading. Note from ISBE the following: “Origen knew and does not absolutely condemn a reading of Matthew 27:16; Matthew 27:17, which gave the name ‘Jesus Barabbas’, but although it is also found in a few cursives, and in the Aramaic, and the Jerusalem Syriac versions in this place only, it is probably due to a scribe's error in transcription
(Westcott-Hort) App., 19-20). If the name was simply Barabbas or Barrabban, it may still have meant that the man was a rabbi's son, or it may have been a purely conventional proper name, signifying nothing. He was the criminal chosen by the Jerusalem mob, at the instigation of the priests, in preference to Jesus Christ, for Pilate to release on the feast of Passover. (3)

Not only does Mark tell us that Barabbas was a murderer, but Luke states that he was cast into prison for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison” (Luke 23:19b). (4) “(Compare Acts 3:14). John calls him a “robber” or “brigand” (John 18:40). Nothing further is known of him, nor of the insurrection in which he took part. Luke's statement that he was a murderer is probably a deduction from Mark's more circumstantial statement, that he was only one of a gang, who in a rising had committed murder.(5)

How would you, or I, even known of Barabbas if the scripture hadn’t told us about him? You see, he was just a ruffian, an unknown scalawag except the Bible had told us these things about him. What would make him the choice of anyone to die instead of Jesus Christ? Was it merit? Did he have any merit, or worth? No! Barabbas was the worst of the scoundrels. He had no merit. He had no standing. He deserved to die on the Roman cross. Did he deserve to die more than his fellow criminals? We don’t know that answer. But we do know he had far more low life wickedness than Jesus Christ, who of all men had no wickedness.
                              YOU ARE BARABBAS!

            And so am I! At least, before our conversions, we were by nature robbers, criminals, seditionists, and more. We were adulterers, backbiters, liars, thieves, and even murderers! Barabbas was like us, and we like him. Even in his release, he is a picture of us who are saved. Christ died in his place; Christ died in our place. Without Christ, we could not have been set free. But, because of Him, we are. We are saved, are redeemed because He shed His blood in our place. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We “Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4a).

Barabbas was a man with guilt of many crimes and sins. He was deserving of the death penalty, which was common in those days. He had lived a despicable life. Likely his desire to overthrow Rome was self-interest as well. He did not come on the earth to be the divine deliverer as Jesus did. Others were not honored before himself. It seems positive to me that he was a self-motivated person. He was sentenced to death, and deserved death, and was scheduled to die.

Jesus Christ was a man without guilt. He was the only perfect, spotless, sinless being who has ever lived! What a contrast he was, and is, to any other being that has ever lived. He had to be this way, for the sacrifice for sin must be without spot or blemish. There had never been one like Christ, nor shall there ever be. He was born, lived and died without sin. If He is not claimed as your saviour; if He is not claimed as my saviour; if He is not claimed by all the lost masses of humanity, then there is no saviour! And, yes we are all lost in our sins without a saviour!

Was Barabbas saved by Him? The scripture does not declare him to be a righteous, justified man. It calls him a sinner. It calls him a thief. It calls him a murderer. It does not call him a redeemed person; a justified person; a saved person. Some say he was literally saved. All I can see in the Bible is that the right one died for him. Did he close with Christ? I personally think he did, but I cannot prove it, so I will leave it there. I know that he had the same one to pay for his sins as we did for own, so that ought to be enough. I think we will see him with us among the saints one day. Remember, there would be no Saint John; no Saint Matthew; no Saint Peter; no Saint Paul; no Saint Christopher; no Saint Thomas, nor any other without the risen Christ! Let us praise Him! Let us serve, and praise the Living Christ! He is the true and living saviour! He is real!
He says Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20)

Christ further says: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son
of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:14-19).

 (1).Insurgency-The quality or state of being insurgent; specifically: a condition of revolt against a government that is less than an organized revolution and that is not recognized as belligerency (Merriam Webster Dictionary, online).

2) Insurrection-The act or an instance of rebelling against a government in power or the civil authorities; insurgency (World English Dictionary, online). Strong’s Concordance on Mark 14:7 has the Greek word for insurrection (G4714), as στάσις; stasis; pronounced stas'-is. From the base of G2476; a standing (properly the act), that is, (by analogy) position (existence); by implication a popular uprising; figuratively controversy: - dissension, insurrection, X standing, uproar.

(3) Jesus Barabbas- Excerpted from the article Barabbas in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; Online edition, Bible Explorer 4.

(4) Sedition   Incitement of, resistance to, or insurrection against lawful authority (Merriam Webster online).

(5) Barabbas the Murderer op.cit.: ISBE in Bible Explorer 4, online edition.

Published by Charles Woodruff- email: