How confident are we? Are we masters of the grill, gifted at our professions or perhaps certain of our flair for gab? Yet, who among us has not experienced an unexpected curve ball? The dinner turned out disappointing. A work project did not go well. We stood speechless.
What we expected slipped between our fingers. In such instances we discover our earlier confidence did not deliver. Just because we felt confident did not guarantee the results.
So what about really important things, like heaven? Can we surpass mere confidence to know for certain we are God’s forgiven people? Yes we can!
I imagine joyous exclamations: “by faith” and “by grace!” To be sure, these principles are intrinsically involved. Yet, throughout scripture a more fundamental principle exists.
Continue reading “Surpassing confidence. Possessing God’s approval.”
Would it surprise us to learn that within the New Testament’s original language, the label “believer” (pistos) is rather rare? I did not expect this. Did you? Or how surprised would we be if we discovered that perhaps the most common usage of believer today differs from what the New Testament meant by believer?
Continue reading “Believer surprises”
John Augustus Roebling envisioned a way to cross the East River in New York City and convinced state and local governments in 1867 to fulfill his vision for a suspension bridge. The naysayers opposed him, people belittled him, but he … Continue reading Bridging the gap
“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”
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’”
“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”
For many the following logic is simple, straightforward and irrefutable:
“Since salvation is by faith, if someone genuinely accepts Jesus by saying the sinner’s prayer, then he or she is saved. Baptism, therefore, can not be for salvation because the individual has already been saved by faith.”
However, a closer examination reveals this thinking is flawed. Scripture points in another direction. 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”
The previous article in this series is here.
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?”