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”

Being a disciple

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”

Romans 4 and Galatians 3: defining faith or defending faith?

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?”

Secret disciples

The unthinkable had happened. The Messiah – at least they thought he was the Messiah – had been crucified. None of his close followers had come to the place of execution, except for one, the one who is referred to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 19:26).

A strange darkness had descended on the land at noon. The sun disappearing at mid-day was unprecedented. Although some suggested an eclipse was happening, no eclipse had lasted more than ten minutes or so and this went on for three hours! Besides, being the Passover, the moon was full, so it couldn’t have been between the earth and the sun. Continue reading “Secret disciples”

God watched as humanity tackled its first job – identification

The words, God “brought them to the man to see what he would name them,” (Genesis 2:19) draws our attention to something beyond the truth that God sees everything. Here is a statement of focus and deliberate study. God wanted to see how Adam would reason.

Assigning names is no menial assignment. The labels we create as well as how narrowly or broadly we use those terms shape human perspectives for better or for worse. Continue reading “God watched as humanity tackled its first job – identification”

Of weddings and baptism

“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal (the NIV says ‘pledge’) to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21 ESV).

I often say to a couple who wants to get married that I am far more concerned with their marriage than I am with their wedding. It’s funny how people put so much emphasis on one day, and so little on what follows. They need to be prepared for life together, too! Continue reading “Of weddings and baptism”