Delivered out of the power of darkness

More than 30 years ago, we wrote an evangelistic study which we still use today, among others. In that study, the very first text we teach others is Genesis 1.1-3. A main point of this reading emphasizes God’s power as he created the universe with a word. His power is unlimited. He is more powerful than any other. He is omnipotent.

His power overcomes all others. This is what Paul affirms in a prayer in Colossians 1: Continue reading “Delivered out of the power of darkness”

Let there be life

The quote appears now and again, and each time I read it I appreciate it less and less. It is sometimes attributed to Francis of Assisi, but one never sees attribution, so it’s doubtful that the Catholic figure ever wrote it. It appears in several forms, sometimes one compound sentence; at other times, as two separate sentences.

I fail to appreciate it because it sets up a conflict of sorts between words and life. It expresses an unbiblical dichotomy. Continue reading “Let there be life”

Power in the epistle of James

It might seem a strange thing to consider the subject of power in the letter of James, since the principal word for it (Greek, dunamis) does not appear in the document at all. But there are other signs of James’s interest.

This servant of the Lord is not interested in power in any pure, static form, but in the effective working of God in a saint’s life. Continue reading “Power in the epistle of James”

Prayer as the Christian’s duty

Prayer is one of the great privileges of God’s children. The Lord has an open-door policy. We may approach his throne at any time. We may ask anything of him, according to his will. We may express any sentiment from the heart. He hears and answers our prayers.

Besides being a great privilege, prayer is also a great duty of the Christian. It is required in order to maintain and strengthen our relationship with God. It is a must for advancing the gospel in the world. Brotherly love requires that we pray often for the family of faith.

One small indication of the duty of prayer comes from the Lord Jesus, as Luke introduces one of his parables. Continue reading “Prayer as the Christian’s duty”

Hands pointed toward heaven. Man's duty.

What it means to be truly human, or the whole duty of man

In our Urbanova congregation, we memorize a Bible verse each week. For this twenty-fourth week of 2019, our verse is Ecclesiastes 12.13. I also used it as the text for my message June 9.

This month at Forthright Magazine, we highlight the theme of duty. So I’d like to share the points I mentioned in my message yesterday from Solomon’s great conclusion to his book.

He wrote in verses 13-14: Continue reading “What it means to be truly human, or the whole duty of man”

How to succeed by being weak

Christians are sometimes ashamed of their weaknesses, because the world will not — cannot — admit them. So we hide them, to our detriment. They are not to be flaunted, nor given rein, but they are to be confessed and delivered up to Christ, so that his power may work in them and through them.

The words of the apostle Paul about his weaknesses are not strange to us. But weakness is affirmed for the Lord Jesus as well.

“For indeed he was crucified by reason of weakness, but he lives because of God’s power. For we also are weak in him, but we will live together with him, because of God’s power toward you” 2 Corinthians 13.4. Continue reading “How to succeed by being weak”

This gift is direly needed in the church

To a church confused about the use of spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul wrote, “But you should be eager for the greater gifts” 1 Corinthians 12.21. And again: “Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” 1 Corinthians 14.1.

Paul urged them to desire some gifts more than others. He was speaking, of course, of miraculous gifts, such as prophecy. But if saints in the first century could pursue certain gifts, since they were more important than others, it stands to reason that today saints should value certain non-miraculous gifts above others. Continue reading “This gift is direly needed in the church”

26 Biblical points on sex and marriage

To accompany a recent sermon on sexual immorality, I wrote the following summary points on sex and marriage, focusing especially on the former. They have been translated from Portuguese.

These are basically bullet points designed for people who are coming to know God’s will. They’re designed to be starting points for further study. Continue reading “26 Biblical points on sex and marriage”

Sundries: Sex, memory, and a bad sort of minimalism

I avoid sensationalism, preferring the understated approach. Sex is one of those subjects that turns a lot of heads. In Brazil, money and religion are volatile subjects. So when addressing them, we try to deal with them in all sobriety. Last week, I posted for the congregation in Brazil 26 summary points on the biblical teaching about sex and marriage. Maybe I’ll share it here one of these days. (Update: Read them here.)

The points reinforced a lesson to the church on sexual immorality. To be holy means, in part, knowing how to deal with our sexuality.

Modern society is soaked in sensuality. The word is counted as a good thing. Not so in Scripture. It’s the door to immorality. Continue reading “Sundries: Sex, memory, and a bad sort of minimalism”