We are all sons of God

“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29 NET).

What a great privilege we have to be sons of God! The idea of being a “son” of God is no mere accident nor is it discriminatory. In fact, this was a very liberating concept! In most societies, up until fairly recently, it was the sons – the male descendants – who inherited. Yet in Christ, we all inherit, no matter who we are, through faith. We are all sons! Continue reading “We are all sons of God”

Scripture foils attempts to reduce gospel by calling it ‘exhortation’

In 1 Thessalonians 2.3, a section of the letter where he defends himself against accusations of disinterest or self-interest, Paul described his evangelistic work among the Thessalonians as “our exhortation.”

For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts.

The quotation above, from the NET Bible, translates “our exhortation” as “the appeal we make.” An exhortation is an urgent appeal for someone to take a course of action. An exhortation tells someone, “You ought to do this.” Continue reading “Scripture foils attempts to reduce gospel by calling it ‘exhortation’”

The purity of God’s people

“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”

Vulnerabilities in the sinner’s prayer

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”

Connected to Christ: the importance, the moment and its impact

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”

The promises and their 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 agree with Luke that to believe includes baptism?

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?”

One church: the intersection of scripture and today’s world

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”

The gospel instructs: rely upon Christ in baptism to be saved

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”