The story is told of a father who brings his oldest son to settle on a homestead. The father lays out the plans for his son: where to build the house and barn, where to lay out the fields for planting, and where to dig the well. The father then leaves this work to his son while he goes to collect his wife and younger children.
After many months the father returns and the son happily shows off his hard work. The house, barn, and fields are all in line with the father’s desires, but the well is in a different location. When asked why, the son replied, “Father, the house, the barn, and the fields were all in the right place. I agreed with your direction. But I did not agree with where we should dig the well. So I placed it here.” Continue reading “Compliance or submission”
Some modern Bibles render part of Romans 1:5 as “believe and obey” thus making faith and obedience two separate entities. This would seem to reflect more of the editors’ theological outlook than Paul’s mindset. Yet, we should not be surprised. How many people separate faith from obedient actions?
Paul joined faith and obedience into one unified idea. Yet, do we expect this?
Continue reading “Joining obedience and faith”
“Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:1 NIV)
Leprosy. Although the Hebrew word does not necessarily identify this as what we know today as leprosy, it was some type of skin disease that was undoubtedly unsightly and probably uncomfortable. For a soldier, a commander in the army, this would have been more than just inconvenient. Continue reading “But I thought …”
There are some bizarre definitions of faith in the world. One of the most prevalent seems to be that one only believes in Jesus, and that automatically confers salvation on that person.
Not even John the Baptist, however, agreed with that prevalent idea. In John 3, in a discussion by John with his disciples, the cousin of Jesus said, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him,” (John 3:36 NASB). Continue reading “Obedient faith or disobedience”
As the first king of the divided kingdom of Judah, Rehoboam drifted further from following God. When he died his son Abijah continued that trend during his three-year reign:
“He followed all the sinful practices of his father before him. He was not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had been” (1 Kings 15:3 NET).
When Abijah’s son Asa became king, it must have been a breath of fresh air! “During his reign the land had rest for ten years. Asa did what the Lord his God desired and approved” (2 Chronicles 14:1-2). Peace and a return to God’s ways. But to return to God, what did Asa have to do? Continue reading “Replacing sin with obedience”
Most everyone is familiar with John 3.16. It has become a favorite verse of many. God loves the world! But this fine summary needs to be supplemented with the full gospel. A good place to start for this is another word from Jesus, also in the gospel of John. Continue reading “Does God love everyone, or just selected ones?”
The first letter of John comes as a breath of fresh air to those who are trying to live for Jesus. People around us tell us so much that simply isn’t true. It seems many think if they say something often enough and loud enough that it becomes true! Let’s notice some of the truths that John gives us in the last chapter of this short letter.
“For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith” (1 John 5:3-4 CSB).
Sometimes we hear people complaining that doing what God wants is difficult. Obedience, we are told, is just too hard! So does it really matter, they think, if we obey God or not? Continue reading “Our confidence as Christians”
Jesus pronounced a blessing upon the obedient: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” Luke 11.28. On the other side, he warned, “The one who rejects me and does not accept my words has a judge; the word I have spoken will judge him at the last day” John 12.48. Disobedience to the gospel brings condemnation, 2 Thessalonians 1.8. Christians are described as “those who obey the words of this book” Revelation 22.9.
So after we find the right information, after we have resolved to be right in terms of what the truth is, we can proceed to the next step: getting right with God. We get right with God only because he makes us right with himself. It’s a divine task, not a human one. At the same time, there is a path we must follow, which God himself has established, in order for that change of status to occur. (This is a short series that starts here.) Continue reading “Get right with God”
“I am telling the truth in Christ (I am not lying!), for my conscience assures me in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed—cut off from Christ—for the sake of my people, my fellow countrymen, who are Israelites. To them belong the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 9:1-5 NET)
Why was Paul in anguish and would even wish he were cut off from the Messiah? It was because the Israelites, the Jews of his day, had rejected the Messiah. They did not accept Jesus as the Messiah who came to save all people.
Look at all the advantages the Israelites had (we can read about these throughout the Old Testament). They had been adopted as sons: God had taken a people who were in slavery and made them his people. They had access to his glory. He gave them his covenant through Moses to all the people. Part of this included his giving them his law, a law to live by to stay faithful to him in preparation for the coming Messiah. Later they received the worship in the temple. They had access to the promises of Abraham and eventually, through their line, came the Messiah. The Messiah is God over all. Continue reading “Don’t miss the trees for the forest”