1. Stick with the Word
Some saints want to show themselves to be intelligent by dabbling in the philosophies of the world, the theologies of the denominations, or the politics of the nations. But the world has more than enough of these. Our message has to distinguish itself clearly from all these. We preach an almighty God whose love encompasses all of history and who glory has revealed itself in terms we can grasp. From creation we move quickly to the Book of Life, whose final author knows us better than we know ourselves. The Bible is the best argument for God’s existence. His power lives in it and from it people can be convicted of the truth.
How do we stick with the Word? Continue reading “How to be a Christian in a topsy-turvy world”
Back in the early days of our work in Brazil, we did research into the culture and religion of the area where we worked. Among other things we did, several of our mission team visited different religions and denominations for a better sense of their teachings and practices.
One day several of us visited a large denominational church near the downtown area of our city. I think I sustained permanent hearing impairment there.
At one point, I recall all of the denomination’s adherents praying at the same time. Four hundred people speaking simultaneously — and most of them did not speak in a low volume — made it impossible to understand anything. Continue reading “One at a time, please”
Men have thought it possible to have what one politician called “peace in our time.” Many worked in vain to bring together two warring parties. But there is no end to human wars. One ends, only for another to begin. Since the Fall, conflict has always been a part of mankind, on every level — among nations, political parties, social groups, and families.
Conflict reveals the basic problem of sin and separation from God. It all started from our desire to be independent from God. From there, man has struggled against dependence upon anyone. The more useless the struggle reveals itself to be, the more strident and violent man becomes.
Then God stepped in. He sent his Son into the middle of the war. By engaging the enemy, he won the critical battle. Often, he had to confront even those he came to save. But he could not be deterred. He rescued and restored and reconciled all who desired to give up the farcical struggle for freedom. Continue reading “What is peace with God?”
As Jesus said Paul would “carry [his] name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel” Acts 9.15, the apostle preached righteousness to Felix, the Roman governor.
The subject of righteousness makes up part of the gospel and should be proclaimed today. See these points from the text of Acts 24.
1. Righteous and unrighteous will be resurrected
As Paul answered the false charges against him, he noted the great truth shared between him and his accusers. Continue reading “Speaking to Felix about righteousness”
The world isn’t much concerned with doing right. It prefers to do what feels good. People look for immediate gratification rather than adhere to a standard and enjoy the fruit of righteousness. Opinions then become an individual’s guide and the arbitrator of what is good and right. This explains a major part of the mess the world is in.
Those who have decided to be right about what God’s message is, and to get right with God, can then be certain of doing right. They then have the possibility of doing right.
Being right and getting right are the framework within which any doing must possess in order for us to do right. That means that two people can perform the same actions, and one will be doing right and the other will be doing wrong. Continue reading “Do right”
Jesus pronounced a blessing upon the obedient: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” Luke 11.28. On the other side, he warned, “The one who rejects me and does not accept my words has a judge; the word I have spoken will judge him at the last day” John 12.48. Disobedience to the gospel brings condemnation, 2 Thessalonians 1.8. Christians are described as “those who obey the words of this book” Revelation 22.9.
So after we find the right information, after we have resolved to be right in terms of what the truth is, we can proceed to the next step: getting right with God. We get right with God only because he makes us right with himself. It’s a divine task, not a human one. At the same time, there is a path we must follow, which God himself has established, in order for that change of status to occur. (This is a short series that starts here.) Continue reading “Get right with God”
When it comes to arguments, most of us like to be right. We want to win the contest of words. And there are those few who always have to have the last word, who always have to be right about everything. We hate them, because we can never get the upper hand.
Being right, then, is a competitive sport. Opinions are lethal weapons with which we destroy the opposition, by making them into statements of Absolute Truth. Whether by force of volume or repetition, whether by subtle arguments or twisting logic, the goal is to make our Rightness prevail.
In the spiritual realm, we need to be right, but not by our own lights. More than that, we need to get right (with God) and to do right (obey God). We need to get right, because we are at cross-purposes with God. We need to do right, in order to reflect God’s right-doing. Continue reading “Be right, get right, do right”
All that is good comes from God. To each one he gives what is more than sufficient. In Christ, there are no shortages. God shares his fullness with all, and there is more than enough to go around.
Paul sums up in Romans 15.5 what God gives as endurance and comfort. He helps us go the distance and cheers us on to keep up our spirits. (Sounds like Philippians 2.13.) Continue reading “With one voice: Unity under the fullness of God”
The rich, as a rule, love their riches. Jesus observed how difficult it is for the rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew 19.23. As well, many saints, whose eyes are impressed by wealth, give preference to the more well-off in life.
Therefore, it is necessary that we all, as brothers and sisters who love each other without prejudice or conditions, hear again the word of God, which discounts completely the possessions that a person has, for “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” Luke 12.15. Continue reading “Christians still prefer the rich. How crazy is that?!”
Some people make it almost a life’s goal to avoid or remove any type of discomfort in their lives. They live by a dangerous misconception that happiness depends upon the absence of suffering and pain. Jesus’ gave us the supreme example of humility and also the supreme example of suffering. Following him is the key to joy and meaning.
Originally, man was created to enjoy life with God without suffering or pain. (Perhaps the deep-seated aversion to them and attempts to avoid them rise from this truth.) The Garden of Eden was the perfect place for man’s fellowship (relationship) with God. He had all he wanted or needed. Nothing lacked. Everything abounded in supply and variety. In the Garden, Adam and Eve had no worries, no cares, no difficulties. This was God’s eternal design. Continue reading “Jesus the supreme example of suffering”