One God who forgives sins

When Jesus forgave the paralytic man of his sins, the scribes went berserk. Mounce’s translation bring to the fore a fascinating thought: “Why does this man speak like that? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins except the One God?” Mark 2.7. Most versions translate it as “God alone,” “only God,” or something similar. CEB puts it this way: “Why does he speak this way? He’s insulting God. Only the one God can forgive sins.”

The scribes were much like Job’s friends. Much of what they had to say was spot on, Matthew 23.1-3. But their application of it was way off. It is true that, in the absolute sense, only God can forgive sins. What the scribes missed was that Jesus is God. And God is one. The one God has one plan for forgiveness. Continue reading “One God who forgives sins”

Baptism and deathbed conversion

The following question and answer was published in Edificação magazine and translated for our editorial today. The questioner wrote that he was satisfied with the answer: “I never received an explanation as good as this.” Pray that he may soon be immersed into Christ.

Q: What is your opinion, based on the Bible, of people who accept Christ as they are dying? Is baptism a condition for the Christian to go to heaven? -S.P.

A: Questions about baptism are always welcome, since the subject is of great importance in the New Testament. It is also important to rely on the Bible as the word of God and its unique authority on any spiritual matter. Thus, the truths proclaimed by it do not constitute opinion, but rather revelation from God. Continue reading “Baptism and deathbed conversion”

Four steps to eternity

Walter Scott was a pioneer preacher. Born in Scotland, Scott immigrated to the United States in 1818 and subsequently moved west. Scott famously contrasted the tenets of Calvinism with a five-finger exercise.

When he came to preach in a community, Scott would teach children that Acts 2:38 teaches (1) faith, (2) repentance, (3) baptism, (4) forgiveness, and (5) the gift of the Holy Spirit. He’d then tell the children to tell their parents that he would be preaching that message later on in the day.

Scott’s mnemonic device is imminently scriptural, and provides a basis for more teaching on how God saves man. He helped people find salvation in Christ using this teaching method. However, if we are not careful, it can transform into something resembling a check-list, which after completion obligates God and satisfies our service.

I want to suggest a complement of sorts. Consider, if you will, four steps that will take you from where you are to eternity. Continue reading “Four steps to eternity”

Running out?

“And there was a great famine in Samaria; and behold, they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver” (2 Kings 6:25 NASB).

During this Covid-19 crisis the people of Nepal are under lockdown orders, which means they cannot work and therefore earn money. Relief packages are being prepared for many of the poor, consisting of about 60 pounds of rice, 12 pounds of dal (beans), a half gallon of cooking oil, 5 pounds of salt, 2.2 pounds of soybean nuggets, and 2 bars of soap. This is considered a month’s supply of necessities for a family of 5. The cost of one such package is $22. That may seem like a small amount to some, but is beyond the ability of a large segment of the population under these circumstances. Continue reading “Running out?”

God’s love and compassion

Hosea was the only writing prophet from the northern kingdom of Israel (Ephraim). He was not the only prophet who wrote to the north but the rest were from Judah. Hosea prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah and Jeroboam (II) of Ephraim. Jeroboam was the last king of the house of Jehu.

The reign of Jeroboam was a period of stability for the northern kingdom. His death lead to a period of instability and turmoil, ultimately ending with the fall of Ephraim to Assyria. After Jeroboam died there were six different kings during the next 25 years. Continue reading “God’s love and compassion”

God gives second chances? More like a complete makeover!

“God is a God of second chances.” This comforting message peppers blogs and sermons. It might even work its way into everyday conversations. We rightfully celebrate such good news. After all, the gospel with its message of forgiveness announces genuine hope and lifts heavy burdens.

Yet, to say that God is a God of second chances stops short. In fact, it could be misleading. Continue reading “God gives second chances? More like a complete makeover!”

Photo of a woman's long hair

Need forgiveness?

Sexual immorality is a terrible sin. It has always carried a stigma with it.

Jesus dined with a Pharisee named Simon one evening, and a woman with a reputation of immoral conduct entered the Pharisee’s home standing behind Jesus weeping. Why was she crying? This woman needed something only Jesus could give her. We don’t know how she found out about the Lord. She may have listened to one of his sermons or saw him heal someone. Continue reading “Need forgiveness?”

The beauty of Christ

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:1-3 ESV).

Beauty is attractive. There was “not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than [Saul]” (1 Samuel 9:2). It was likely that Saul’s looks and height made him appealing to the people as king. But his character failings were why he was rejected as king.

Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah is the clearest description we have of the physical appearance of Jesus. This prophecy informs us that Jesus had “no beauty that we should desire him.” God did not want people drawn to Jesus for superficial reasons like with Saul. Continue reading “The beauty of Christ”

Reunions

“And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. … He himself went on before him, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother” (Genesis 33:1, 3 ESV).

When we have been separated from someone for a long time, it is never certain what kind of reception we will confront when we are reunited. Jacob left Esau at a time of stress and enmity. His older brother had actually threatened to kill him. Jacob fled to the country of their ancestors. Continue reading “Reunions”

The power of forgiveness

Years ago, some men were talking after a church fellowship lunch about the news headlines. One man read about some government employees who went to jail convicted of conspiracy to defraud after filing false expense records.

The man said something that struck me in a way I’ll never forget. He said, “I hope these men get the maximum sentences for their crimes.” He didn’t stop there. “I can never forgive anyone for defrauding the government,” he said.

Recently, a Dallas jury convicted a former officer of murder in the shooting of a man. According to published reports, she said she fired because she thought a stranger was inside her apartment. During the sentencing phase of the trial, the victim’s brother said he forgave the officer and would not hold his brother’s death against her. That young man was a Christian, indeed. Continue reading “The power of forgiveness”