Are we worldly?

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NIV).

I visited a congregation in southwestern Bangladesh and on the way back out, near dark, the Banglas who were with me had me sit in the back seat, surrounded and mostly hidden, by them. After a few miles they stopped and I was able to get back in the front passenger seat where I usually ride. When I asked them why the “musical chairs” they replied, “That is an area notorious for robbers; we did not want them to see you and think we were a good target.” Continue reading “Are we worldly?”

When Christians disagree

It is difficult at times to distinguish what we believe and accept from what scripture actually says. Because we believe them both we often assume that all we believe is part of scripture. That can apply to our view of politics as well as other areas of life.

This is not a new problem, but one which Christians struggled with in the days of the apostles. Often the background to this was Christians who were of a Jewish background and Christians who from a Gentile background. Because they were brought up Jews, many would restrict what they ate or would do certain things on certain days. The discussion as Paul presented it in Romans 14 centered around what people ate as well as what days they considered to be special. Continue reading “When Christians disagree”

Saved through childbearing! What is this? (2)

A library story can contribute toward illuminating the phrase, “But she will be saved through childbearing.” Clarity, however, might challenge our perceptions on salvation as well as our views on gender roles within worship. Or it might be 1 Timothy 2:15 will confirm what we already accept as true.

Our reaction will likely reveal more about us than it does Paul’s message. His message never changed. Continue reading “Saved through childbearing! What is this? (2)”

The Ruler of this world

When man sinned in the garden, Satan won a significant victory. Sin entered the world. Man was separated from his God. The world, fashioned by the Creator, was spoiled. The struggle for men’s hearts became apparent.

Yes, Satan won a victory, but it would not be lasting. The God who declares the end from the beginning showed us the ending, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

God would be victorious over sin, over sin’s effects, and over sin’s greatest proponent. But that victory would not always be evident. At times, in the struggle with sin, Satan would appear to have the upper hand. Continue reading “The Ruler of this world”

The Savior of the world

Since earliest times people and nations have looked to earthly figures and political powers to save them. The people of Israel hoped Egypt would protect them from Assyria. Brazilians have long talked about a salvador da pátria (savior of the nation) to rescue them from their problems. It is a human trait to wish for, await, or appeal to someone to save.

Inevitably, however, humans disappoint. The prophet Isaiah wrote about Pharoah: Continue reading “The Savior of the world”

In limbo

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. . . . For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now, and not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:19, 22-23, NKJV).

During the Red-Shirt Rebellion in Thailand several years ago I was in Nepal, with return tickets to home on Thai Airlines with a layover in Bangkok. The Red-Shirts captured the airport through which I would be flying and stopped all travel for about two weeks. I inquired about changing my travel arrangements but the airline refused to deal with me until time for the flight to occur. For all of that time I was in a state of suspension, not knowing what would happen or when and how I might be able to return to the U.S. Thankfully, the rebellion was ended and the airport reopened just before time for me to travel. We completed our journey without difficulty. Continue reading “In limbo”

Passing judgment

One of the problems Paul addressed in his letter to the Christians in Rome was the relationship between Jewish and Gentile Christians. Some scholars have suggested that this could have been a problem amongst the Christians at Rome. In the first three chapter Paul shows that not only were Gentiles guilty of sin, but the Jews were as well. In fact, all sin and fall short of God’s standard. Although the second chapter deals with the Jews also being guilty of sin, there are practical lessons for Christians as we seek to live for Jesus.

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4 NIV)

Continue reading “Passing judgment”

Saved through childbearing! What is this? (1)

Among Paul’s instructions to Timothy we discover what appears to be a curious assertion. Perhaps we’ve heard an explanation satisfying our curiosity quelling any further inquiry. Yet those explanations might melt away upon closer inspection.

So what did Paul write? “But she will be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint” 1 Timothy 2:15. Continue reading “Saved through childbearing! What is this? (1)”

The creation of the world

In Job 38—39, after all the speeches and accusations are made, God appears to the suffering patriarch, pins him to the wall, and peppers him with question after question about the creation of the world and how it is maintained. He makes clear several things about being Creator and Sustainer of the Universe:

1. God is sovereign

This was Job’s big lesson to learn. He was allowed to question God. Now he had to learn to trust God. He knew so little, and could do even less — we know so much more, after all, we are privy to the heavenly conversation between God and the devil in the beginning of the book. What has been revealed to us is clear, but how little we still know! The best scientists still haven’t figured out the nature of the universe. How much less we know of the universe’s Creator! Continue reading “The creation of the world”