Lessons worthy of a virus

The internet is full of memes about how bad the year 2020 has been. It has indeed had its difficulties. Some have died because of a virus that people cannot even agree on the name; others have suffered horribly, including some of our own writers.

In spite of the hardship that the sufferings this year have brought to many, the Lord continues to work among his people and to fulfill his promise to work all things together for good for those who love him, Romans 8.28.

It would be an easy thing to cite a list of concrete events and happenings how the Lord has brought blessing to his people. We’ll leave the comments section open for that, if someone has a contribution he would like to make. Continue reading “Lessons worthy of a virus”

The world and the Christian

“It’s complicated.” Modern man, who has largely discarded God’s standards in all things, often describes his relationships in this manner. The Christian’s relationship with the world is not complicated, that is, it is not difficult to discern, but it does have several facets that deserve attention.

I. Destruction of the world

Christians must always remember that the physical, material world will be destroyed, when Christ comes again. If we are merely cursory Bible readers, chapter 3 of 2 Peter, among other passages, still reminds us powerfully. Continue reading “The world and the Christian”

Exactly who or what does God love?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17, NKJV).

God’s love for the world is stated unequivocally in this much loved passage, often termed “The Golden Text of the Bible.” But what exactly does the key phrase mean? How is the word “world” to be understood?

A reader of the Bible will soon discover other passages which disapprove of loving the world, such as: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). How can it be that God can love the world, but humans cannot? Continue reading “Exactly who or what does God love?”

In his hands

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak, . . . For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are mine. . . . For the world is mine, and all its fullness” (Psalm 50:7, 10-12, NJKV).

To those who learned “religion” from the Bible, whether directly or second-hand from parents or culture, the idea that God is the ruler of the whole world is neither unusual nor difficult to understand. That was probably one of the first spiritual concepts to which we were introduced – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Continue reading “In his hands”

For the sins of the whole world

Religions are often identified with certain people groups. They are limited, mostly, to certain regions of the world. They make up a part of the culture of those groups. They do not always welcome outsiders. There are a few so-called world religions, but most of these are also limited.

Jesus died as the “atoning sacrifice” sent by God, “not only for our sins but also for the whole world” 1 John 2.1-2. This is a staggering affirmation. The apostle John writes it in the context of the need of a group of Christians to have a sacrifice for their sins and to be forgiven even after their conversion. It implies several things. Continue reading “For the sins of the whole world”

Are we worldly?

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NIV).

I visited a congregation in southwestern Bangladesh and on the way back out, near dark, the Banglas who were with me had me sit in the back seat, surrounded and mostly hidden, by them. After a few miles they stopped and I was able to get back in the front passenger seat where I usually ride. When I asked them why the “musical chairs” they replied, “That is an area notorious for robbers; we did not want them to see you and think we were a good target.” Continue reading “Are we worldly?”

The Ruler of this world

When man sinned in the garden, Satan won a significant victory. Sin entered the world. Man was separated from his God. The world, fashioned by the Creator, was spoiled. The struggle for men’s hearts became apparent.

Yes, Satan won a victory, but it would not be lasting. The God who declares the end from the beginning showed us the ending, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

God would be victorious over sin, over sin’s effects, and over sin’s greatest proponent. But that victory would not always be evident. At times, in the struggle with sin, Satan would appear to have the upper hand. Continue reading “The Ruler of this world”

The Savior of the world

Since earliest times people and nations have looked to earthly figures and political powers to save them. The people of Israel hoped Egypt would protect them from Assyria. Brazilians have long talked about a salvador da pátria (savior of the nation) to rescue them from their problems. It is a human trait to wish for, await, or appeal to someone to save.

Inevitably, however, humans disappoint. The prophet Isaiah wrote about Pharoah: Continue reading “The Savior of the world”

In limbo

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. . . . For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now, and not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:19, 22-23, NKJV).

During the Red-Shirt Rebellion in Thailand several years ago I was in Nepal, with return tickets to home on Thai Airlines with a layover in Bangkok. The Red-Shirts captured the airport through which I would be flying and stopped all travel for about two weeks. I inquired about changing my travel arrangements but the airline refused to deal with me until time for the flight to occur. For all of that time I was in a state of suspension, not knowing what would happen or when and how I might be able to return to the U.S. Thankfully, the rebellion was ended and the airport reopened just before time for me to travel. We completed our journey without difficulty. Continue reading “In limbo”