January 26, 2014
My Topical Index of the New Testament is live at http://wp.me/p2dmj-Tt.
I wound up with 4,462 entries on 19 topics:
Backsliding/Apostasy (292 entries)
Fear God (23)
Love others (163)
Salvation Future (131)
January 24, 2014
The great enemies of salvation are selfishness and indifference.
One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home exhausted and hungry from a hunt. Esau said to Jacob, “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew you’ve made.” (This was how Esau got his other name, Edom — “Red.”) Jacob replied, “All right, but trade me your birthright for it.” “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?” So Jacob insisted, “Well then, swear to me right now that it is mine.” So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his younger brother. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate and drank and went on about his business, indifferent to the fact that he had given up his birthright. (Genesis 25.29-34, NLT’96)
October 19, 2013
Today, though we often (justifiably) preach these verses to unbelievers, they also (primarily) are directed to believers — people who would say they have fellowship with God and have been completely cleansed of sin.
Question: So what does it mean for us to go on living, day by day, “in the light of God’s presence” and what does that have to do with Jesus’ blood cleansing us from sin? (v.7)
So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness. We are not living in the truth. But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:6-10 NLT’96)
I count ‘if’ five times in five verses.
An even better question: What are the implications for believers who are not living, day by day, in the light?
Cross-posted from kainos
October 17, 2013
Strong words today from Peter:
We may testify about the day Jesus saved us, but our behavior today tells the tale. If we are consumed with the world’s self-indulgences, we are no longer slaves to Christ but have become, once again, slaves to sin and corruption.
“You are a slave to whatever controls you. When people escape from the wicked ways of the world by learning about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up with sin and become its slave again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the right way to live than to know it and then reject the holy commandments that were given to them. They make these proverbs come true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and ‘A washed pig returns to the mud.’” (2 Peter 2:19b-22 NLT’96)
Let us die to self, brothers and sisters, and wholeheartedly pursue the Kingdom above all else.
Cross-posted from kainos
October 16, 2013
Jesus made some wonderful promises to you! He has promised you will share in his divine nature. He has promised you will escape the decadence all around you. He has called you to receive his own glory and goodness. He has promised God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom.
So what is your part in this amazing deal? Your part is to keep getting to know Jesus better. Your part is to make every effort to apply the benefits of Jesus’ promises to your life. Your part is to work hard to prove you really are among those God has called and chosen.
Second Peter 1 says that as we become more familiar with Jesus, he gives us everything we need to live a godly life. Your faith produces a life of moral excellence, which leads to knowing God better, which in turn leads to self-control, patient endurance, godliness, love for other Christians and, finally, genuine love for everyone. The better you know Jesus, the more useful to the Lord you will become, like rich soil that produces an abundant harvest from a single seed.
Are you having trouble living a godly life? Do you want to ensure you will never stumble or fall away? Do you want God to open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom?
Get to know Jesus better.
Cross-posted at kainos
August 18, 2013
My quiet time this morning, in Hebrews 4, took me to two of my very favorite passages of Scripture, one on top of the other:
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart. No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account. (Hebrews 4:12-13 HCSB)
Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens – Jesus the Son of God – let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. (Hebrews 4:14-16 HCSB)
What powerful, life-changing truths! You could preach a sermon — write a book — on either of them. And sermons have been preached. Books have been written. Many of them.
But do you know what stood out most to me about these two passages this morning?
Out of context. The vast majority of the times I’ve heard these passages taught, they are not explained in context.
Hard to believe? Look at it. Read chapters 1-3. We’re talking about how the Hebrew prophets brought good news to the people: God has a place of special rest and you can enter it, if you will give him the honor he is due and walk in his way. But the people hardened their hearts and rebelled. They tested God and ignored 40 years of miracles in the wilderness. Finally, God said, “Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them” and he swore, “They will never enter my place of rest.” God’s people heard the good news but failed to enter because they disobeyed Him.
But wait! There’s more! “Now in these final days, God has spoken to us through his Son”! This Son is the spittin’ image of his Father. The Son became flesh and blood because only as a human being could he die and break the power of death that holds all of us in slavery. After he died to cleanse us and set us free from sin, God honored him by giving Jesus a seat at his right hand in heaven. God used Jesus’ suffering to make him the perfect leader to bring us into salvation — the special place of rest.
But wait! That’s not all!
– 2:1 So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.
– 2:3 What makes us think we can escape if we are indifferent to this great salvation that was announced by the Lord Jesus himself?
– 3:12-13 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
– 3:18-19 And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him? So we see that because of their unbelief, they were not able to enter his rest.
– 4:1b We ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.
–4:3 Only we who believe can enter his rest.
–4:11 Let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
The disobedience and rebellion of God’s people is not hidden from him. His Word cuts through the facade and exposes our innermost thoughts. He holds us accountable, and we know we fall short in many ways. Thankfully, we have a great High Priest who understands our weaknesses, because he faced all the same difficulties we face. We can come boldly to God’s throne, knowing we will find the grace we need, right when we need it most.
That’s great news! But keep it in context: We must keep trusting God day by day just as firmly as when we first believed. If we are faithful to the end, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. But, today as then, if God’s people harden their hearts and refuse to walk in his way, they will not enter his rest.
Many lives, my own included, have been profoundly affected by the teaching of these two passages in Hebrews 4. God honors the exposition of his Word — even more, I suspect, when we put it in context.
August 16, 2013
For some of my “dear brothers and sisters,” because your teachers may not ever actually tell you the fearful truth.
— Ponder the ‘if’ in “if we are faithful to the end.”
— Make sure you endure to the end.
— Rejoice that God’s promise still stands for those who trust him!
We are God’s household, if we keep up our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested God’s patience in the wilderness. There your ancestors tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ So in my anger I made a vow: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.'”
Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. But never forget the warning: “Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled.”
And who were those people who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Weren’t they the ones Moses led out of Egypt? And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom was God speaking when he vowed that they would never enter his place of rest? He was speaking to those who disobeyed him. So we see that they were not allowed to enter his rest because of their unbelief.
God’s promise of entering his place of rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to get there. For this Good News — that God has prepared a place of rest — has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t believe what God told them. For only we who believe can enter his place of rest. (Hebrews 3:6b – 4:3a NLT’96)