We started our academic discussion series by defining terms. One of my favorite sayings is “Don’t make the Bible say something it doesn’t say.” I enjoy a hearty discussion and even a little bit of friendly debate as much as the next guy, but we must be careful to build up not tear down other believers. There are many things that we simply cannot know. There are mysteries that will only be revealed to us when we come into God’s Kingdom. The ancient Greeks were occupied with continuous discussion and debate, but Paul encourages us to keep our eyes on the prize so to speak, focusing on what is of most importance.
In the 17th century an Irish bishop named James Ussher worked out a chronology of biblical events, based on male lines of lineage presented in scripture. His work is the basis of many young earth creationists, which it might be noted, was his particular bias when he started the started task. Continue reading →
And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them,“See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district. (Matthew 9:27-31, ESV)
Seeing is believing refers to the undeniability of events witnessed first hand. In other words, we believe because we see. The two blind men professed their belief that Jesus could heal them, and his response was “According to your faith be it done to you.” Their healing was based on their faith. Thus these men could see because they believed.
Today we walk by faith not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Someday our faith will be our sight. Oft quoted Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as “the evidence of things not yet seen.” Without faith those things will never be seen. So for us, like the two blind men, believing will be seeing.
Little is much when God is in it. This is a well-known saying thanks to the Gaither Vocal Band, the Statler Brothers and countless others, and there have been many sermons by the same title. While these exact words are not contained in a verse of scripture, the idea is certainly found throughout the Bible.
The one who goes before me, the one who stands behind is a reference to God leading Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness. He fought their battles for them; He defeated their enemies. God took a group of slaves without weapons or resources and made them a nation, in much the same way as Christians in 1 Peter. The one who reigns forever, he is a friend of mine should not be taken tritely. The maker of heaven and earth, the creator God that has ordained the events of history and in whose image we are made has called us his friends. Jesus told the disciples he was more than their master; they were his brothers in the faith and ultimately his friends.
Whom shall I fear? What is there to be afraid of? The people we worry about offending are created in the image of God but remain under his judgement unless they hear the Gospel and repent. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom 10:14) Sometimes people respond with arguments as if there is a debate to be won. We don’t have to win the debate. Arguing with the umpire about where the strike zone is will not change his call. The rules of the game were decided before hand and are not being made up as the it goes along. So it is with life. Heaven and hell are real places and God has decreed the standard or admittance. What are we afraid of? “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt 10:28)
God created the heavens and the earth, and all that lives on it. He establishes kings and kingdoms; Jesus told Pilate he would have no authority at all unless it was given to him by his Father. Noah, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Mary, Simon Peter etc. were not super saints with some extraordinary ability. Each person in the Bible that did anything for God was a mortal man or woman that acted in faith and God used. When God asked who he could send Isaiah responded “Here I am, send me.” We should say the same thing each day. The fields are white unto harvest; send me. There are hungry children starving in Africa; send me. There are hungry children and elderly Americans starving right here; send me. All around us people are hurting, searching, working themselves to death to obtain junk that will turn to dust, empty in their souls and ignorant of the Gospel. Send me, send my family, send my church.
Imagine being hired by a couple to babysit. You do not answer to the children you are caring for, but to the parents when they return. In a general sense all people everywhere are God’s children. Are they being cared for? We have an advocate with the Father. He will be with us to the end of the Age. The Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every believer. He is a friend of mine. Let me ask once more; whom shall I fear?
And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. (Mark 7:24-30 ESV)
Jesus’s response seems harsh. Is he calling this woman a dog? The short answer is yes. He was a Jewish messiah sent to the Jews, and she was of mixed Greek heritage and in short a Gentile. The Jews had two classifications of people, Jews and everyone else. But Jesus knew the thoughts and intents of her heart; her faith was in Jesus to heal her daughter. She was trusting him to do for her what no one else could. Jesus tested her in such a way as to make her faith public. Recall his words to the woman with the issue of blood: “Your faith has made you whole.” When put to the test, she passed with flying colors. Belief can be stated, faith must be demonstrated. Continue reading →
We’ve all heard stories of a single vote that decided the fate of an election, or remember the lesson of the Knight Rider: One person can make a difference. But have you ever been alone in a crowd when it comes to Christian faith? Even if no one says anything negative, the temptation is to clam up about anything religious, to simply go with the flow. Can one believer really make a difference? Continue reading →
The Second Sunday of Advent is about Faith, and we light the Bethlehem candle. Matthew 1 describes the encounter Joseph had with the angel Gabrielle, who told him that Mary’s child was of God. In faith Joseph took Mary as his wife. Luke 1 tells how the same angel spoke to Mary, explaining that the Holy Spirit would come up on her and that the child she would carry would be the Son of God. In faith Joseph and Mary make the journey to Bethlehem, believing God and waiting for the Promise. Continue reading →
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. -Matthew 7:24
Jesus says that everyone who hears his words and does them is like that wise man. Verse 26 describes the man that hears those same words but does not do them. (Read the full story here.) There is a obviously a difference between hearing and doing. There is even a difference between believing and doing. Faith is belief in action, and it is the action of the believer that makes all the difference. Continue reading →
One side of the debate says that the sinner’s prayer is not found in scripture. Okay, I’ll give you that. But you loose me on the premise that nowhere is such a prayer commanded nor implied anywhere in the New Testament. The Apostle’s Creed is not found in scripture, but that is the statement of faith regularly made by many believers. Each claim is based on scriptural truth. Below is the sinner’s prayer text, followed by several statements quoted directly from scripture. Continue reading →
It is an easy thing to say we have faith. Some may believe they have faith, until a trial actually arises and that faith is put to the test. Jesus, quoting Isiah, said that many people loved him with their lips but their hears were far from him. Some of the things Jesus said or did was because he sees through our speech and knows the heart. Consider these two examples:
When the Syrophenician woman came to Jesus his response seems pretty calloused. Her daughter was possessed by a demon, and she was asking Jesus to cast it out. His response is that it would not be right to cast the children’s bread to the dogs. He was a Jewish teacher, she was basically Greek. He literally and figuratively called her a dog. This was a test of her faith, and she responded wisely. “Yes Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Jesus tells her to go her way, that her daughter has been healed.
Just a few chapters later is the story of the rich young man. He is either lying to Jesus, or more likely has deceived himself, when he proclaims he has kept all the commandments since his youth. Jesus tells him he lacks one thing: “Go, sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” The man left very sad for he had great possessions. Regardless of what he said, his actions spoke louder than words. His faith was not in Jesus but in all that he had. He was depending on his wealth to see him through life, he could not let go and let God. By the way, don’t miss the part were Jesus looked at him, loved him, and then told him he lacked one thing. The testing of his faith forced him to be honest with himself and others about where his faith really was.