Rest for your souls

Weekends, holidays, vacation time — we want rest! Today we have more time off than people of any age. But some still think that the time they have for rest is little for so much work and responsibility.

Our problem is that the rest we need is for the soul.

In the greater context of chapters 11-12 of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus condemns the Jews for not accepting God’s emissaries (John the Immerser and himself) and for creating and imposing upon others their religious rules. To those willing to accept it, Jesus offers rest for the soul, with these conditions: Continue reading “Rest for your souls”

Careful righteousness

Jesus expects us to do works of righteousness. Our righteousness must go far beyond that of practitioners of religion, in order to enter God’s kingdom, Matthew 5.20. One way in which it must go beyond is in a superior motivation behind it.

“Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven” Matthew 6.1.

In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6, the Lord Jesus cites three examples of righteousness that we must practice: giving, prayer, and fasting. Continue reading “Careful righteousness”

Church as decentralized web

It’s not in my job description, or wouldn’t be if I had one. But I joyfully spend a not insignificant amount of time helping saints connect with other saints.

Except for Antartica, we’ve touched all the continents. We’ve helped people find churches in places like Japan, France, New Zealand, and Malawi. Even the American states of Virginia and Kentucky have not escaped our searches.

Today, it was closer to home. I finally got answers for a brother in Rio looking for churches or contacts in the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. Continue reading “Church as decentralized web”

Better to have never been born

Job expressed the desire to have never been born, so great was his suffering. In his moral confusion, Solomon considered better than both the living and the dead “the one who has not been born and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth” Ecclesiastes 4.3.

The Lord Jesus used this idea, of better to have never been born, for the one who betrayed him. Continue reading “Better to have never been born”

After 12 years of continuous writing, Richard Mansel leaves Forthright

February 21, 2017, will mark twelve years of consecutive articles on Forthright Magazine for columnist Richard Mansel, without missing a single week. Because of personal reasons, Richard says it’s time to leave. For several years during this period Richard also provided good leadership as Managing Editor.

Shortly after he came aboard, Richard fast became a good friend and someone to bounce ideas off of. We did not know each other personally, but he quickly gained our trust. Continue reading “After 12 years of continuous writing, Richard Mansel leaves Forthright”

Love for truth is love for Jesus

We think truth is hard and unpleasant. For the most part, man’s truth is exactly that. God’s truth, however, is sweet and blessed. It is something to be loved and cherished.

Love for truth is important because it has to do with eternal salvation. Rejecting love for truth results in loss of salvation, 2 Thessalonians 2.10: “They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved” (HCSB).

In the context of this verse, although some things are difficult to understand, several principles appear clearly. Continue reading “Love for truth is love for Jesus”

Christians are the spiritual Israel of God

Some people are surprised that the Old Testament is so much larger in size than the New. In my Portuguese Bible it takes up 764 pages out of a total of 994. That’s 76% of the whole Bible. Several explanations as to why may be adequate, but here is one thought, how the Lord was building up to, and preparing for, the time when Christ would come and fulfill his eternal plan.

In both Testaments, God created a people for himself. In the Old Testament, it was Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Each of Jacob’s sons became a tribe in Israel. In the New Testament, God’s people is the church, and they are variously described as the body of Christ, the family of faith, the temple of the Holy Spirit. No more is there a physical connection to define God’s holy ones. We are born into God’s family because we respond to his message and obey his commandments, John 3.3, 5. Continue reading “Christians are the spiritual Israel of God”

What it means to be a new creation

A look in the mirror will tell nothing. Except for perhaps a softer, more peaceful expression on one’s face, there is no noticeable difference in physical appearance after baptism than before. No one can publish any drastic before and after pictures, when it comes to conversion. No one sprouts wings. No halo appears. No special light or aura surrounds a new Christian’s body. We look the same.

But if one has obeyed the gospel according to the New Testament, something real and profound has occurred. God has acted, the old order has been damaged and diminished, the Spirit has breathed life into a soul, and the new life has appeared where before there was only death and the destiny of destruction. Continue reading “What it means to be a new creation”