by LeRoy J. Gardenier



Relying mainly on the King James Version of the Bible, I rarely use the many and varied translations that I have purchased over the years.  I do own a copy of James Moffatt's Bible and in it I came across the adjacent sentence from 2 Timothy. That particular wording seemed to express perfectly an idea that I had hid in my heart for some time. Some of the most profound guards of my faith have been provided by the following scriptures.

The first of these scriptures came to me after my son had previously taught on Romans 14 and the wonderful freedom we have in the area of faith. In that chapter and elsewhere in the Epistles, the Apostle Paul emphasizes certain matters, especially truths of faith that we need to be "fully persuaded" about. I know from 2 Tim. 4:16 that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteous­ness..." I certainly believe that important truth with all my heart. But when my son read from Romans 14:23 "...for whatsoever is not of faith is sin", I realized that that scriptural reality would be especially helpful, not just to memorize, but to get a hold of fully and make it an integral part of both my being and my living. At the time I was pondering the implications of this foundational verse I was employed by the security department of a local company. Naturally, I was very "security conscious" because of my job. Perhaps that influence helped me view this and other scriptures in a different light. But I know that Lord used both our study of Romans 14 and my current job to make me appreciate more fully the wonderful protective power of God's almighty Word! I knew that if I could truly apprehend and be able to act on the simple, but profound, reality expressed in Romans 14:23, then I'd be delivered from and securely protected against innumerable plans and projects that appeared to be sound but, because they were not of faith, would be not only displeasing to God but would, in fact, be an offense against Him. That one scripture verse has helped me sort out and discard both obviously sinful matters as well as many apparently good things that are prompted not by faith, but by my own flesh.

Another verse that has weighed on my heart and has kept coming back to me over the years is taken from Psalm 49. Actually, verses 12 and 20 in that unique psalm addressed to all the inhabitants of the world, says just about the same thing: "Man being in honor and understandeth not, abideth not; he is like the beasts that perish". Those words, directly from the Holy Ghost, have done more to inspire and incite me to share the Gospel with every person that I possibly can more than any other incentive. Those verses so strongly, but simply, express the true plight of unsaved humanity. These solemn words are a powerful stimulus for me to preach the Gospel, not only through this writing but also to anyone I personally encounter who I discern the Lord has prepared to receive. The "understandeth not" of verse 20 is not knowing Jesus!  It implies not having the revelation that He suffered and died to atone for my sins personally, to wash them away and to fill me with the Holy Ghost. All those who are related to me; those who I call friends and neighbors; all who are in any way associated with me - I don't want them to be without that understanding!

Proverbs 12:10 has spared me a lot of grief, disillusionment and multiplied disappointments. The Word here informs us: "... the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel". From God's viewpoint "wickedness" certainly admits of degrees, but here "the wicked" refers to all those still under the curse of fallen nature and still sentenced to the condemnation of the law. From the purely natural perspective we tend to separate people into "good people" and "bad people" according as we estimate they will either do us good or cause us harm. God sees things quite differently. Our Lord Jesus taught this measure of God's goodness to the rich young man who called Him "Good Master". The Master pointedly replied: "Why callest thou me good?  there is none good but one, that is, God..." (see Matt. 19:16/Mk. 10:17/Lk. 18:19). As Christians we ought to know beyond doubt, be fully persuaded, that all the truly good things in this life are associated with and come from Him, His Son, the Holy Ghost, and only those people and things the Blessed Trinity uses to bestow blessings and benefits upon us. All others should at least be suspect. The point is, only God knows what is genuinely good and what we really need. We should be cautious of people and things that merely appear good. At best the so-called good people and excellent things can provide us only with what we might want. God alone can arrange for us to obtain what we actually need and by that fulfill the deepest desires of our hearts.

Satan is a formidable foe. His devices for evil should never be underestimated. God's Word informs us that we need not be ignorant of his plots and plans (see 2 Cor. 2:11). The Lord informs us: "... greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world" I John 4:4. But the revelation of Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all else and desperately wicked" provides a perfectly balanced insight to our focus on spiritual enemies. This guardian statement is a vigilant sentinel against the fallacy of the frequently quoted accusation: "the devil made me do it!" Just as we should be loathe to get entangled in the restless activities of unbelievers who strive and strain, plot and plan to seek and enjoy the ever elusive "good life", so we should understand that the source of much evil is an unconverted heart that is sick unto death. And, let it be added, Christians who are more concerned about what they put into their bodies than what proceeds out of their hearts and mouths are not in line with the sentiments of their Savior. "And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him: Because it entereth not into the heart, but into the belly ... that which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man". Mark 7:18-23

The final scriptural security guard I'd like to consider for now comes from Luke's Gospel, chapter 16, verse 15. The biblical context is important for our Lord has just related to His disciples the parable of the unjust steward. In His follow-up to the story the Lord Jesus contrasts the unrighteous mammon (reliance on money and wealth) with the true spiritual riches. He concludes by warning that "No servant can serve two masters... ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Lk. 16:13). Now the Pharisees who overheard all this, being covetous, began to deride Jesus. His reply to them contains that portion in the verse that I would like to highlight. "And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." In Jim Bakker's prison story, I WAS WRONG, the most powerful and telling chapter is the 48th, which repeats the title of the book. It took the loss of his fame, reputation, material possessions and savings as well as the breakup of his family and loss of his personal freedom to bring him to the realization that he had been consumed by the love of money. He wrote; "I often preached a prosperity message", he writes, "at Heritage USA and on our PTL television programs. But when I began to study the Scriptures in depth while in prison, something I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I rarely took time to do at PTL, I was distressed at what I discovered. I realized that for years I helped propagate an imposter, not a true gospel, but a gospel that stated 'God wants you to be rich'. Christians are 'King's kids', as I often put it. And shouldn't the King's kids have the best the world has to offer? The more I studied the Bible, however, I had to admit that the prosperity message did not line up with the tenor of Scripture. My heart was crushed to think that I led so many people astray. I was appalled that I could have been so wrong, and I was deeply grateful that God had not struck me dead as a false prophet!" (I WAS WRONG, p. 394).

How cautious we must be not to get entangled in schemes that only appear to be good. How discerning we must be in the area of faith, lest we presume we're building on the solid rock of "the faith of God" when all the while our foundation is nothing more than the slippery sand of presumption. What a danger and what deep disillusionment follows when we equate the highly esteemed accomplishments of man with the preferences that God values and honors! As I write this article, the winter Olympics are being played out at Nagano in Japan. On the opening day, the first questions out of the mouth of a stateside anchorman to his television colleague across the Pacific were: "How's the security over there? Is it tight enough to prevent a tragedy?" We are living in tense times that require strict vigilance. I've mentioned just five separate Bible verses that can aid us "in keeping the great securities of your faith intact". The Scriptures are full of many more solid, reassuring truths that stand watch over the precious deposit of faith given to us. Besides the eight Beatitudes connected with the Sermon on the Mount, there are also seven separate blessings sprinkled throughout the gospels. The promise from Luke 12:37 is most pertinent to our present subject: "Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he comes shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." Let us all be more scripturally vigilant. For this is one blessing we surely won't want to miss!


   "O YE OF

by LeRoy Gardenier

     On four different occasions the Lord Jesus sharply rebukes His disciples for the poor quality of their faith. The Savior does not accuse them of having no faith at all, but He does chide them for the weak condition of their trust and belief in Him. In reprimanding His followers the Lord uses the expression, "O ye of little faith". Four of these incidents are recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. A rebuke that parallels the first situation of Matthew 6:30 is found in Luke 12:28. Before considering these separate censures let's look into the implications of that piercing remark: "O ye of little faith".
The Bible teachers tell us that the expression "little faith" is contained in just one Greek word, oligopistos. Oligo is the part that means little or a few. We find the same prefix in our word "oligarchy", which means "the rule of a few". Pistos is that all-important word for faith which means "to adhere to, cleave to, to trust, to have faith in; to rely on". One translation of this meaningful work takes some liberties and is a bit awkward, but I think it can help us understand what our Lord was getting at. The translation renders the rebuke as "O ye of underdeveloped faith"!

Shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith
Whether you consider the condition of the disciples' faith as little, underdeveloped or just plain weak, circumstances surrounding the five recorded incidents should give us some insight into the negative emotions or attitudes that endanger true faith and hinder its proper growth. The first episode is found in Matthew 6:30. This verse is part of the Sermon on the Mount. The Lord is giving us instructions about the right way to handle cares, worries and anxieties. He tells us not to be over anxious about our own life (or soul). As an antidote against ever threatening concern and lack of trust, He urges us to behold the Father's loving care of the birds of the air and to consider the glorious garments of the lowly lilies of the field. Birds and flowers; flocks and gardens. How fitting when so much of anxiety and mistrust stems from well-intentioned, but fallible, human counsel and advice that so often sends us on a "wild goose chase". Focusing of the harrowing, adverse circumstances of our daily lives, not to mention the critical consequences of a sudden serious illness or unforeseen financial failure we can easily become emotionally devastated. Relying on the sympathetic but unstable aid of uncomprehending relatives, ineffective friends and uncaring acquaintances can leave us feeling that we've been "led down the garden path". But in this particular portion of Jesus’ sermon about the reality of heaven being realized right here on earth, He assures all His true discples that worry and anxiety can be conquered and overcome. Actual, active, growing and maturing faith in His Father, in Him, in His unerring Word is the solution and the answer. We can be reckless in tossing out anxiety about ourselves. It is in no way irresponsible to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness truly believing that all the basic needs and necessities of life shall be added unto us. Describing such faith, one writer has affirmed that "we know if we care for God's cares that God will take care of our cares"!
It is not mere coincidence that our Lord repeats and confirms this foundational teaching about worry and anxiety right after concluding "The Parable of the Rich Fool" in Luke's Gospel. chapter 12:16-33 Here, Jesus specifies the birds as ravens, mentions again the lilies of the field and adds an important codicil to His commandment to "seek ye the kingdom of God". In the 32nd verse of that same chapter our Lord assures us that the Father is so delighted to give us the kingdom that we can let loose of all we possess, spend our lives in doing good and enjoy treasure in the heavens. He prefaces this inspiring section with the command to "fear not". This solemn injunction provides the perfect segue into a presentation of the second episode which is given in Matthew. 8: 23-27

Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?

     This, and the two concluding incidents take place in a nautical setting. Here, our Lord is sleeping when a tempest brings ominous waves crashing over their boat. His disciples are filled with fear and alarm. The actual danger of perishing was more in the disciples' imaginations than it actually existed in reality. But at least some were so fearful that they woke the Master. Before rebuffing the howling wind and heaving sea, Jesus first rebuked His companions asking, "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?" This storm appears to be the same as the squall described in Mark 4:37-41, but a few important differences show that they were unrelated occurrences. One of the most telling variations is that here Jesus first rebukes the disciples and then the storm. There (in Mark), He attends to the more threatening squall first, and then reproaches His fearful friends. More pertinent than these details are the similar reactions most of us exhibit when facing the storms of life. We need not be traveling in an unstable boat on a wave tossed sea to find unwarranted fear chill our hearts and threaten our surroundings. Sometimes the storm clouds gather slowly and menacingly on the face of a disgruntled family member. Other times waves of abuse rise up in the form of an angry colleague or partner. How often an innocent remark fans the fury of a verbal whirlwind. Like Jesus' earlier disciples we cry out in alarm: "Save me, I'm perishing!" And, praise God, if we can call on Him in faith, He is still there. Our saving Lord is "a very present help" right in the midst of that furious storm of anger, frustration, insecurity, misunderstanding and overreaction. If we do cry out to Him and rely on His power to intervene, a gospel consequence is sure to follow "there was a great calm". There is no guarantee that the offenses will never return, or that "the troubler of our souls" will be mollified. But if we remain in Christ our spirit will be soothed even in the midst of all the turmoil.

O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Matthew 14:31 pinpoints the third recorded threat to fully developed faith - doubt. Our Lord had recently fed a crowd of about five thousand. He left His disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee while He sought out a secluded mountain spot to spend some time with His Father in prayer. His friends ran into a sudden storm and had great difficulty in making the crossing. During the fourth watch of the night, somewhere between the hours of three and six in the early morning, Jesus appeared to them walking on the water. At first the disciples didn't know what to make of this phenomenon;  they thought it was an apparition. But after he had spoken to them and calmed their fears, Peter boldly asked if he could come to Jesus. Peter did walk toward His Master and was sustained by the Lord's encouraging invitation to come. But, like so many of us instinctively do, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and looked down at the angry waves. The Lord's very presence in the boat on that earlier occasion, His authoritative command of the wind and waves and the great calm that followed had shown Peter and the others that fear could be conquered. Now, despite Jesus' personal presence and His strong assurance of "Be not afraid", Peter equivocated in his mind. Contrary to his desire to believe and to act on his faith; even after his experiential test of walking toward Jesus, Peter gave in to doubt. Fear gripped his heart when he questioned God's Word and its attendant spiritual realities. The fear that he had earlier been delivered from returned and he began to sink. Worry, anxiety, fear and doubt - these are the principle emotions and reactions that militate against the attainment of a true and abiding faith. The world has its own techniques for handling and dispelling these and other negative dispositions. Sometimes their methods seem to work; most times they don't. One thing is certain: when real faith invites the Lord Jesus to intervene, things happen and people are truly saved and delivered. On this occasion our blessed Savior stretched forth His hand, caught Peter, saved him from drowning and delivered him from his doubtful self. Great good ensued from all this once again the turbulent sea was stilled. Peter with the others humbly worshipped their saving God saying, "Of a truth Thou art the Son of God"!

O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves?
"He that answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him." This 13th verse from the 18th chapter of Proverbs brings us to our final faith impeding incident. Once again Jesus and his disciples had taken a boat trip landing on the shores of Magdala. Similar to the second episode, our personal Provider had fed a crowd of four thousand with seven loaves and a few fishes. Although they had gathered seven baskets full of leftovers, it just happened that the disciples failed to have the foresight to take any of these loaves with them. A delegation of Pharisees and Sadducees had come to Jesus asking Him for a sign from heaven. After dismissing them and their insincere request, He warned His true disciples: "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees", Jesus said. His followers didn't under­stand what He meant, so they put their heads together and began to speculate and conjecture that the Master was upset because they had forgotten to bring bread. These men had heard what the Lord had said, but they really did not understand exactly what He meant. Jesus had issued a very important warning about the false teachings of the foremost religious leaders of that day. His followers might have missed this essential information had our Lord not intervened, rebuked them for their presumptions, and cleared up the matter for them. There is nothing wrong with using our reason; it, too, is a precious gift from God. But when we rely on the ability of our own wits or instincts and formulate erroneous conclusions that can only cause confusion. As the precious proverb implies; if we answer or act on a matter before really understanding what is precisely meant, then we'll only reap a harvest of shame and folly.

     In an era that promotes "virtual reality"; in a season when visualizing yourself out of some unpleasant or dangerous situation is professionally prescribed, I think that conclusions which arise from presumptuous interpretations or culpably misunderstood assertions should be exposed for what they are a threat and hindrance to true faith. Too many of us hear a term or statement and immediately mentally apprehend and run with it, reeling out a scenario that has little or nothing at all to do with the facts of the matter. The simple humility of admitting our ignorance and the patience of prayer can often avert a storm of confusion and misapprehension more destructive than the physical and social storms and strifes that surround us.  The Lord Jesus affirms that He is the good shepherd; that He knows His sheep and they not only know Him, but they also hear His voice.  What a privilege and blessing it is to hear from God! But we need to be alert to the mistake made by the disciples at Magdala. They, too, heard His voice but didn't take the time or trouble to be accurate about what the Master meant.
      The example of two outstanding saints of God can be an aid and guide to us in this important matter. In Daniel, chapter seven, God gave the prophet vital information about the end-times. Daniel faithfully recorded every essential detail, confesses his own perplexity and tells what he did about his own uncertainty. "As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance was changed in me; but I kept the matter in my heart". At the time when the youthful Jesus purposely disappeared during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, his mother Mary was both upset and perplexed. She clearly heard His words of explanation when he was finally found, but it is obvious that she did not immediately grasp their impact and full meaning. Referring to her and her husband's confusion, verse 50 of Luke 2 says: "And they understood not the saying which He spake unto them." Somewhat baffled, like Daniel, the next verse reveals what Mary did about her lack of understanding: "...but His mother kept all these sayings in her heart." At a time when worldly people are making resolutions in order to better themselves, I hope God's people of faith will avoid the pitfalls of anxiety, fear, doubt and presumptuous reasonings in order to better know, love, and serve Him.



     1.) What is a Christian?
     2.) Nativity: New birth/creation.
     3.) Believers get a new heritage
     4.) Rahab; Story of salvation
     5.) The Day the King's son died
     6.) Three Little Words and I knew
     1) Repentance from dead works
     2) Faith towards God
     3) Doctrine of baptisms
     4) Laying on of hands
     5) Eternal judgment
     6) Resurrection of the dead


       6)Brotherly Kindness

     3.) Perfectly Prepared
          and Ready
     4.) True Religion
     5.) Overcoming
     6.) Waiting