“A person of illegitimate birth may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation no one related to him may do so. An Ammonite or Moabite may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation none of their descendants shall ever do so…You must not hate an Edomite, for he is your relative; you must not hate an Egyptian, for you lived as a foreigner in his land. Children of the third generation born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 23:1-8 NET).
It seems strange to those of us living in the twenty-first century that there were people whom God would not accept. Some Bibles put a title over this section of Deuteronomy: “Those excluded from the assembly.” Others have something like: “Purity in public worship.” Why would God exclude anyone from assembling with his people to worship him? Continue reading “The purity of God’s people”
In spite of the magical power of dragon talk, as Bilbo the Hobbit surveyed the underbelly of the powerful dragon Smaug, Bilbo thought to himself:
“Why there is a large patch in the hollow of his left breast as bare as a snail out of its shell!”
As Smaug would later discover when a metal dart penetrated his chest, although dragons might feel impenetrable and wield great power, genuine vulnerabilities can exist. Lacking some vital knowledge, Smaug mistakenly placed confidence in his invincibility. Continue reading “Vulnerabilities in the sinner’s prayer”
Every year our culture gives a gentle nod to Jesus through old TV specials, nativity scenes and Christmas carols. However, is there a reason to move beyond a seasonal sentimentality to take Jesus seriously throughout the year?
After all, Jesus’ story is just one narrative among many. From the conflicting voices of the world’s religions to the nay saying meta-narrative of evolution, many believe they have reason to dismiss the Christ.
However, this is not the end of the matter. Paul describes sufficient motivations for both considering whether it is worthwhile to explore if Christ might be significant for our lives, as well as resolving whether we ought to exalt Christ in our lives above the chorus of confusion. Paul accomplishes most of this within his Colossian letter. Continue reading “Connected to Christ: the importance, the moment and its impact”
Decades have passed since I made some promises to a young lady in two different languages. Those promises announced my marital commitment and intended faithfulness to my young bride. At that time, I slipped a tangible symbol of my vows upon her finger to remind her of what I had promised.
God has also made some promises and provided us with a tangible reminder of them. However, he has offered the greatest promises ever – promises offering hope, identity, peace and holiness. Furthermore, unlike us, God is always faithful to his promises. We can know and rest assured God will deliver. Continue reading “The promises and their impact”
Did Paul’s and Luke’s missionary companionship influence how they used the word believe? Did they share the same understanding of how to respond to Christ crucified? These are very interesting questions for two reasons.
First, as the evidence below suggests, Luke was not only comfortable using “believe” to describe a response to the gospel that could include baptism, it appears to have required it. If this is true, then when Luke recounted that someone believed, that conversion story encompassed more than just believing; it signified a faith response involving baptism.
Second, early Christian tradition asserts Luke wrote the gospel Paul proclaimed. If this is true, then Luke’s usage of believe might very well reflect Paul’s viewpoint. What can we discover regarding whether their perspectives aligned? Continue reading “Did Paul agree with Luke that to believe includes baptism?”
Money, politics and religion can stir up controversy. Within Christendom, opinions about church run deep. Yet, most agree what the New Testament teaches, such as its insistence there is one church. Disagreement arises over how this teaching should be applied to our world.
Can we understand how the Bible’s teaching regarding one church relates to our world? Can the confusion be untangled? I believe yes. Continue reading “One church: the intersection of scripture and today’s world”
Our actions often tell the world more than we want to reveal. The attitudes behind our behavior will be leaked to the world regardless of our intentions. Continue reading “The shocking reason they complained about two baptisms”
Our world abounds with controversial issues ranging from politics to scientific theories, from social policy to religion. Among the chorus of dissenting voices rise competing perspectives regarding baptism.
It is my belief that scripture provides an unequivocal voice inviting us to rely upon Christ in baptism in order that we might receive the benefits of our Savior’s death. My experiences have also led me to conclude that one major barrier against accepting this understanding lies not with scripture’s failure to positively teach about baptism, rather false assumptions about faith are negating the biblical message.
How might someone tackle such a scenario? Here is one possibility.
Continue reading “The gospel instructs: rely upon Christ in baptism to be saved”
What does it mean to be a disciple?
Many people think following Jesus means simply accepting him into their hearts. A disciple, however, is a follower and a learner of Jesus, not simply one who accepts him.
Being a disciple of Christ means more than just agreeing with the evidence that Jesus is the son of God. It means doing what Jesus says. In John 8:31, the Lord said, “If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine” (John 8:31 NASB). The statement he makes is conditional. He says “IF you continue in my word…” We must learn to live and conduct ourselves the way Jesus commands. A true disciple is not just one who agrees with the Master and then says, “I’ll just do part of what he says.” A true disciple is one who surrenders his will to be Master and does what he says. Continue reading “Being a disciple”
An employer suddenly emphasizes proper procedure or a spouse describes what needs to be accomplished. Does it make a difference whether someone understands these statements as belittling criticism or helpful instruction? Of course it does!
While correctly interpreting social interactions can be extremely significant in navigating relationships, our perspectives regarding how a biblical author intended his words to function can dramatically shape what we teach for better or for worse. For example, what was Paul’s purpose in Romans 4 and Galatians 3 regarding Abram’s faith? Did Paul define what constitutes faith or did this apostle defend the principle of faith? Or both? Continue reading “Romans 4 and Galatians 3: defining faith or defending faith?”