Reading through the New Testament, we find a controversy that seemed to plague the first Christians. It centered around whether a Gentile (someone who was not a Jew) could be a Christian and also how they became a Christian. The Jews took great pride in the covenant they had with God, represented by circumcision – they often referred to everyone else as the “uncircumcised” – and wanted to require Gentiles to be circumcised before being baptized. Although this might be difficult for those of us living 2,000 years later to comprehend, it is important to see how this impacted these first Christians.
Jesus stated quite clearly that the gospel was for everyone. He told his followers: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16 ESV). Continue reading “The gospel is for all”
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’”
Pilate was warned concerning Jesus.
Pilate knew Jesus was not guilty of sedition, but he ignored that innocence. He was warned by a troubled wife, but he ignored her warning. He was warned by his own conscience that Jesus was innocent, but he could not withstand the Jews clamoring for the Lord’s death.
“Why? What evil has he done,” Pilate asked knowing the crowd could not answer. The question meant nothing to the mob of Jews. They wanted the blood of this man who had only helped, healed, and given them hope. Continue reading “Standing with Pilate”
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it!” (Matthew 23:37 NET).
Jesus knew the city of Jerusalem so well. He had witnessed its founding and watched as King David took the city and made it his capital.
But he had also watched Jerusalem overcome by the idolatry and sin that characterized it in the Divided Kingdom and saw it led into bitter captivity to the Babylonians. Continue reading “My stubborn will”
A life without lessons isn’t worth living. Continual analysis of what we’re doing will keep us focused and alert. In everything, we must strive to grow and mature.
Bringing glory to Christ is our greatest responsibility (Ephesians 3:20-21). Accordingly, we should always give it our best and pass it along to others. Continue reading “Lessons from writing for God’s people”
Jesus was the kind of preacher who taught the masses (Matthew 13:2). He healed multitudes of people (Matthew 14:14). He had compassion on the multitudes (Matthew 15:32).
Jesus, however, did not just deal with crowds of people. He taught individuals, too. Continue reading “Teach just one”
God never does anything without a substantive reason. We can trust that he knows what he is doing (Titus 1:2; Romans 11:33-34). Continue reading “How lying threatens Christianity”
“They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).
Are we afraid? Continue reading “Who are: “They that are sick”?”
The Gospel of John is a treasure for students of the New Testament. It can fill our days and sustain us for many years. Yet, we must develop an appreciation for what the author is trying to accomplish.
Matthew, Mark and Luke were edifying their readers and bringing souls to Jesus. However, false doctrines about Christ were arising and needed to be addressed.
Who better to do so than the man who was probably the closest to Jesus among all those on earth? (John 13:23-25). Continue reading “Understanding the Gospel of John”
“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:43)
There are numerous things that vie for our attention in this digital age. Computers, smart phones, tablets, social media apps – they all ring, bleep, notify, chime and alarm us of the next seemingly important thing. Much of the time, it is just social candy that distracts us from more nourishing things in life.
This is also true spiritually. We can easily become distracted from our mission and purpose as Christians, if we’re not careful. Here are a couple of things that can distract us: Continue reading “Do these two things ever distract you?”