Tag Archives: Bible

The Trinity: Not Just for Theologians!

Trinity

One thing that we as Christians have the tendency to do is focus on the practical aspects of Christianity and leave the doctrinal matters to the theologians. There is a feeling as if those deeper things are intended to keep pastors in business. However, Jesus prayed in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” The Greek word γινώσκω used for know in this passage implies more than just an acquaintance but instead implies a deep understanding and perception of God. As Christians, we are called to grow in our understanding of who God truly is. The reality is, no Christian can ever possess the ability to truly apply the Christian faith to his/her life without right doctrine. This can be seen vividly in the doctrine of the Trinity. To begin, the following question must be addressed:

How do we know that the Trinity exists?

The Scriptures, in both the Old Testament and New Testament, are full of examples of a Triune God. First, going back to the Old Testament, Genesis 1:1 used the Hebrew word Elohim for God. This word actually implies plurality as if to hint at the Trinity. Another example is found in Genesis 1:26 when God said, “Let us make man in our image.” Take the application of Elohim as you will, but this is a very clear indication of the existence of the Trinity. Later on in the New Testament in Isaiah 6:8, God ask Isaiah, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” While not as strong of an example as Genesis 1:26, this undoubtedly implies the Trinity. Moving on to the New Testament, the presence of the Trinity at the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:13-17 is a prime example. Also, and probably the most concrete example, the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. The Scriptures are saturated with the evidence of a Triune God. Now, a second and very important question must be asked:

Why does the Trinity matter to you?

            The Trinity matters to each and every Christian for a number of incredibly important reasons. First, the knowledge of the Trinity leads us to walk in humility. It is often our tendency to believe that God created us because He needs us. However, God has everything He needs in the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To say that God created us because He needs us would be to make human beings God’s savior. However, we must realize that God is OUR Savior. Second, the knowledge of the Trinity helps each and every Christian to worship Him in Spirit and Truth. We can never truly worship the Holy and Living God if we are worshipping Him in the image we have made. We must worship Him in the light of who He truly is. There is great liberty in coming to this place of worship. There is great discovery involved in this kind of worship. Third, the knowledge of the roles of the Trinity helps us to pray rightly. There is great confidence in realizing that when we pray we are praying to the Father through the Son with the help of the Holy Spirit. Seeing all three persons of the Trinity involved in our prayer lives is a beautiful reality. Lastly, seeing the Trinity helps us to understand that God is love because we see the love that exist between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To see the love of the Son for the Father while on this earth is a prime example to us in growing in our own love for God. To see the love that exist between all three members is a testament to the love that is to exist in our own relationships with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Understanding the Trinity is undoubtedly vital to our spiritual growth. The fact is, the more we understand who God is and how He works, the more we grow to love Him and worship Him. So, NEVER say to yourself that right doctrine is simply for the theologians and pastors. Instead, crave a deeper understanding of our Almighty God.


The Christian’s Relationship to the World (Part II): 1 John 2:15-17

NotWorldII

Do you enjoy popular detective TV shows such as Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, or maybe the classic Law & Order? Most of us do. In each scenario, the crime scenes are always littered with evidence left behind by a culprit that will soon be discovered by the shows most popular investigator. With that in mind, I want to ask you today to play the role of the chief forensic investigator of your life. I want to ask you to investigate your life and discover the evidence in it that will lead you to answer this question:

What do you TRULY love?

So many of us, if we are honest with ourselves, discover after evaluating all the evidence that our hearts are entangled with a deeply passionate love for one thing: the world and the things of the world. In my own life, the evidence has always been clear when this problem exist. For example, I can always look and see a distorted list of priorities. I see the demands of the world, the worries of the world, and the pursuits of the world commanding my life and I see my pursuit of God becoming a thing of convenience. In these seasons of my life, I begin to see my desire for the admiration of the world taking precedence over my desire for the pleasure of God. I begin to see an insatiable desire to please my most sinful desires in these seasons and I begin to feel my spiritual desires go into starvation mode. Lastly, I begin to see my pride in myself rise and my daily dependence upon a faithful God fall. All of these are the result of a growing love of the world. In this reality, John the disciple of Jesus gives us clear instruction about this love. He says, “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. For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life- is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Do no love the world or the things in the world.

What a clear statement in regard to our stance with the world! Clearly, this is not meant to imply that we are to lack compassion or care for the world. However, it is sternly proclaimed that our hearts must not be entangled with the things that this world offers. John mentions three things that we can so clearly identify with in our struggle with the world: the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life. These three things are devices clearly evident in the philosophies and ideologies that the world promotes. First, the world incites the flesh through appealing to our former and rebellious nature. The world is full of the promotion of the idea that we are to be liberated from the ways of God in order to live our own way. Simply, “I did it my way” has become the message of the human race. The world attempts to lead us to do things our way through selfish reasoning, sexual distortion, and a misguided quest for independence. Second, the world incites the eyes with the dual promotion of sexual images and incessant marketing. Both of these things lead their followers to discontentment and sinful behavior. Lastly, the world incites pride through the worship of ambition. Success in our world and through the eyes of the world has become God in many ways. What is the Christian to do with these things?

The Christian is to separate themselves from even the hint of love towards any of these devices. As Christians, our love is not to be poured out into a finite thing, which John says, “is passing away along with its desires.” (1 John 2:17 ESV) Instead, our love is to be poured into the infinite God that is faithful and will never pass away. From the beginning of Israel, God declared, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut. 6:5 ESV) That imperative continues to stand with all Christians today. We are to look within ourselves and discover what has captured our hearts. As we investigate, the world should never be the culprit. Instead, the culprit that we find as we examine the evidence must be an Awesome and Holy God that continues to steal our affections and command our loyalty. We must daily evaluate our commitments, measure our spiritual growth, and treasure the works of God in our lives. Today, do the investigation! Pray that you discover more and more that the heart thief in your life is God and God alone!


The Christian’s Relationship to the World (Part I): John 15:18-19

Earth

One of the primary questions that Christians find themselves asking at some point in their lives is, “What is my relationship with the world meant to look like?” It is clear that the common stance among the majority (not all) of your modern “mega churches” is that the Christian’s relationship with the world should be one that is non-offensive, politically correct, and culturally compliant. The message today is that the church must become like the world in order to reach the world. As a result, we see concerts replacing worship, pep-talks replacing preaching, and tolerance replacing Biblical truth. The question that every Christian must ask him/herself is:

Does becoming like the world really accomplish the goal of presenting the true message and purpose of Jesus Christ?

In order to answer that question, we will look at John 15:18-19. In this passage Jesus is informing His disciples of an incredibly important reality concerning their relationship with the world. Undoubtedly, Jesus wanted His disciples to be prepared for what they would receive in response to the message that He had given them concerning His salvation. Immediately, Jesus begins in verses 18-19 by saying, 18If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. There is an obvious truth in verse 19 that much of the modern church is missing today in its quest to be “culturally accepted”. That truth is found in the statement,

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own.

Who is it that the world loves as its own? Those that are OF the world. Those that fit into the world’s system and comply with it. To understand this, it is crucial that we understand what is meant by the world. First of all, Jesus said to Pilate in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from this world.” Jesus made a clear statement to Pilate that His kingdom is not bound by or operated within the world’s system. It is separate and empowered by the conquering hand of God. Why is this so?

It is because of the fact that the world and its system is in full control of Satan and is in complete rebellion against God.

Ephesians 2:1-2 tells us that we once walked in the ways of this world, controlled by the prince of the power of the air, meaning Satan himself. However, we no longer walk in rebellion, but in obedience. What does that tell us about how we as Christians will fit into this world? It tells us that we will NEVER fit this world’s system and we will not be accepted by the world’s system. Why? Because the message of Jesus Christ, if presented truthfully, is offensive to a world in rebellion against Him! That is exactly what Jesus told His disciples in John 15:1 when He said, “if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” The New American Commentary states, “Jesus modeled the standard of God and that meant his very presence in the world was a reminder to the world of its evil works and God’s resultant judgment.” [1] That is exactly why when the true message of Christ is presented, it is vehemently rejected by many. This reality can be seen in the martyrdom of Christians throughout history and it is still alive today.

We will not be accepted by the world because the world doesn’t accept our Master. Therefore, we shouldn’t strive to be accepted by the world but instead should strive to present the true message of Jesus Christ, unaltered and with conviction.

What does that mean that we should be ready for as Christians? It means that we should be ready for rejection and outright persecution. It means that we should seek God to boldly present His message, not one that the world would decide is proper. The message of Jesus Christ is a message that calls the world to give up their lives and surrender to Him as Lord and Savior (Matthew 16:24-25) and in return receive eternal life. It is a message of love, but it is also a message that confronts sin and reveals human bankruptcy. The message that the world accepts is one that grabs onto the idea of eternal life but without the sacrifice. The world wants a Jesus that offers the goods but doesn’t require devotion. When we conform to the world in our message, we are presenting Christ in that way. We as Christians must refuse to do anything but share the same message that Jesus taught His disciples. That is a message of surrender. That message is offensive, but it is the ONLY message that will truly bring the lost into relationship with Jesus.

[1] Borchert, G. L. (2002). John 12–21 (Vol. 25B, p. 154). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.


“Have I Prepared My Child for Life?”

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV

  

Think about this for a moment: If parents were to spend 30 minutes each day, 5 days a week teaching their children the Word of God beginning at age 6, those children would spend 1,560 hours with their parents in the Bible by the age of 18! That number may seem huge, but when placed in comparison to the number of hours our children spend involved in social media, sports, and academics, it is relatively small. As parents, it is so easy to focus on these seemingly important things when our kids are young. However, parents across the U.S. will be celebrating with joy and tears the graduations of their children this month and most will ask themselves the question,

“Did I prepare them for life?”

Before we can answer that question, however, it is important that we as parents understand what it truly means to prepare our children for life after leaving home. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” It is so tempting to be manipulated by our world into using their standards of preparation for the future such as academics, school involvement, and social and athletic prowess. Parents so often spend hours upon hours involving their children in activity after activity hoping for a bright and successful future for them. The statement is often made, “I want a better chance given to them than what I had.” However, using any of these preparatory measures is like building a straw house if the Word of God is not at the foundation. It does not take a very long look at our world today to see that the vast majority of the “successful” find themselves unhappy, unloved, and unstable. Why is this the case? For this very reason:

To train up a child in the way he should go is not to train up a child in the avenue of success and power but to train up a child in the way he should go is to train up that child in the Way of Life!

We as Christian parents must refuse to neglect the most important ministry that God has given us and that is the ministry to our own children. This responsibility was given to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 which says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” The magnitude of this command was not small but was meant to consume the daily lives of families throughout the nation of Israel! The commands of God were to be the first things coming from the mouths of parents to their children in the mornings, throughout their daily responsibilities, and the last things before resting at night. The New American Commentary states, “Sitting suggests inactivity; and walking, of course, activity. Together they encompass all of human effort. Likewise, to retire at night and rise up in the morning speaks of the totality of time. So important is covenant truth that it must be at the very center of all one’s labor and life.”[1] It is often the reasoning of parents that it is the responsibility of the church to instill Truth into their children. However, what a child gains from parental instruction in the Word of God grossly out measures the effect of the church. While the church is a wonderful source of spiritual growth, it is the parent that is the role model, the disciplinarian, the counselor, and the shelter for their child. We must take those responsibilities and use them wisely by instilling the Word of God in our children.

So, as we plan our schedules and prepare for the days and years ahead, we must ask ourselves the question, “Have I placed the Word of God at the forefront of my child’s life?” It will be the best question you will ever ask yourself.

[1] Merrill, E. H. (1994). Deuteronomy (Vol. 4, p. 167). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.


Our Sufficient Jesus

Isn’t it amazing how Jesus constantly seemed to look through a different lens at life throughout the Gospels? For example, when the rich young ruler in Luke chapter 18 asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, Jesus responded, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.” In John chapter 12 Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”. Again, when a man following Jesus said to Him in Matthew chapter 8, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father”, Jesus responded, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” All of these examples from the life of Jesus reveal that Jesus truly was looking through a different lens upon the issues of life than what the world looks through. The world looks through the lens that inflates the “value” of possessions, that gives justification for living life for “king self”, and that puts the “American Dream” ahead of the Great Commission. What can we learn from this drastic difference between the perspective of Jesus and the perspective of the world?

Jesus found His full satisfaction in His relationship with the Father. That relationship was completely sufficient to fulfill every need and passion that Jesus would pursue.

This concept is so difficult for many Christians and undoubtedly the world to grasp. In America, we are taught to pursue our dreams and to “be successful no matter what it takes”. The thing is, we often find that our dreams don’t have at their core a hard pursuit after the things of God. We often believe that our needs are sufficiently met through the worlds idea of satisfaction and happiness. However, to follow Jesus is to realize that He and He alone is fully sufficient for everything in our lives. Paul completely understood this. In one of the most often quoted passages in the book of Philippians chapter 4 verse 13, Paul said, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” We often take that verse to mean Christ will empower us to achieve whatever we set our minds to. However, the context of the passage reveals something very different. Paul was rejoicing, not in the fact that God had made him healthy and wealthy, but in the fact that God’s provision was sufficient in whatever circumstance he found himself in. Paul said in verse 12, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound, In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Paul understood this incredibly important reality for a child of God:

No matter if we find ourselves having little or plenty, facing sunshine or storm, our satisfaction in the person of Jesus Christ is fully sufficient to sustain us.

Our relationship with Jesus is beyond satisfying. Jesus is life and He is life eternal for all that trust in Him for salvation. The “American Dream” at some point will come to an end but the “Everlasting Life” that is promised through Jesus never will!


The Incarnation: The Difference of Christmas!

What is it about Christmas that sets it apart from other holidays such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Veterans Day? Perhaps the better question to ask in order to answer the first is what is it about Christianity that sets it apart from the other religions of the world? To many people around the world Christianity is simply thrown into the pile of “religion” and is viewed in the same light as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, etc. However, the beauty of Christmas reveals to us an incredibly unique Truth that is central to Christianity. So……

What is it about Christianity that sets it apart from all other religions of the world?

The answer can be found in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. This chapter begins in John 1:1-3 ESV with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” In reading those words alone a person would possibly reason that Christianity carries no distinction from other belief systems of the world. The fact is, pretty much any religion that you can find has an eternal “being” that has existed from the beginning of time and is responsible for the plight of humanity and its creation. However, one only needs to read the Word of God down to verse 14 to understand that Christianity reveals a very incredible and distinct Truth from all other religions of the world. To explain, John 1:14 ESV says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” What an incredible declaration! The fact is…..

It is the Truth of the statement, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” that the hope of all humanity hinges upon!

Take a minute and allow the implications of this Truth to penetrate your mind. The eternal Word that spoke the world into existence; the One that was before time began through which all life had its origin took on humanity and became flesh! In fact, John gives testimony that he and the other disciples had seen His glory! How? Because the Word that was from the beginning had now come to earth and in accordance with the declaration of the angel of the LORD to Joseph He would be called Jesus! It would be Jesus that would reveal Himself to the disciples as the Messiah. It would be Jesus that would perform miracles that only God Himself could perform. It would be Jesus that would humbly submit His life to be sacrificially given on a Roman cross for the sins of men. It would be Jesus that would not allow the grave to hold Him but would conquer death and rule as LORD today. How is all of this possible? Because God took on flesh. This statement is huge for a world that cant save itself! If not for God becoming flesh and living the life of sinless perfection we could never live we would all be hopelessly dependent upon ourselves for salvation. But God Himself provided the solution to the problem of sin by taking on humanity! Romans 8:3-4 ESV says, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” God did the work that man could never do. This separates Christianity from all other religions. For example:

  • Buddhists believe that to reach Nirvana, a transcendental state of bliss, a person must follow the Noble Eightfold Path. This process of personal effort and discipline will end suffering for the individual.
  • Hindus believe that one reaches Moksha—freedom from this world and the cycle of death and reincarnation—by practicing self-sacrifice, meditation, and certain levels of self-realization.
  • Muslims believe that Allah grants Paradise to those who live a life of moral uprightness, using the Five Pillars as basic guidelines.

All of these beliefs point to a method of works salvation. However, the incarnation of Jesus reminds us that we are saved by the work of God alone. That is the difference of Christmas!


Prayer: It’s Ok to Be Bold!! Luke 11:5-10 ESV

How do you pray? Hopefully that question has you replaying your times alone with God in an honest, introspective way. The ability to pray is one of the most valuable gifts that God has given to His people. It is no coincidence that one of the first lessons that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them was, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1 ESV). The disciples had the Creator of the universe at their side and could have asked any question but they asked for Him to teach them to pray. Undoubtedly they had seen Jesus spending hours alone with the Father as they had seen Him separate Himself from the crowds in order to go pray. How did Jesus respond to their requests? He responded by giving them an example prayer. Now, while so much can be pulled out of the entire example, I want to zero in on one particular aspect of what He taught them that is found in Luke 11:5-10. As we look at this, ask yourself this question:

Does my prayer life resemble a weak, dead, dried up ritual that is fit into my life for convenience?

Honestly, so many Christians today are able to identify with this type of prayer life and they find themselves spiritually drained because of it. One of the biggest reasons that our prayer lives are ineffective is because we come before Him as the hypocrites and Gentiles did as described in Matthew 6:5-8 ESV.  The hypocrites were guilty of only praying in order to receive self-glorification. Their prayers were in public in order for them to be seen being “religious” by the people passing by. The Gentiles were guilty of offering up long, ritualistic, empty prayers that were believed to be formulas to unlock the power of God. The fact is, so many Christians today find themselves having seemingly powerful spiritual lives on Sunday but empty prayer closets through the week! Also, so many Christians find themselves offering up prayers that are empty and recited in order to check off the box for the day! If these things are evident in our prayer lives we cant hope to have flourishing spiritual lives. So, the question remains, how should we pray?

Prayer should be characterized by a dependence upon God that is made known by the boldness and urgency by which we come before His throne!

In Luke 11:5-10, Jesus teaches the disciples of a man that has a friend come to him at midnight. The man was unprepared for his arrival and has no bread to set before him. To not have bread for a visitor in ancient Jewish culture was unacceptable and was considered an offense! So, the man goes to another friends house and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves.” Understandably, the friend is irritated and tells the man to go away because his children are with him in bed. I can understand this man because with four children of my own the prospect of waking them up and hearing them cry in the middle of the night is not very appealing! What amazes me is what Jesus then says about the situation to the disciples. In vs. 8-10 He says, “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Why would Jesus respond this way?

Because the man in need of the bread never quit knocking!

Now, in no way is this to be interpreted as a health, wealth, and prosperity example given by Jesus. In no way do we have a ticket to get whatever we want from God whenever we want it. Instead, it should be interpreted as an exhortation to follow the example of the man and seek God with the same kind of boldness and persistence! Jesus said to ask, seek, and knock. These are not examples of different ways to seek God at different times but it is how we should seek God at all times! Our prayer lives should be so desperate for the will of God for our lives that we find ourselves refusing to stop at simply asking and seeking but we are actually boldly knocking on the doors of Heaven! This is exactly what is seen in the Psalms over and over! David cried out in Psalm 5, “Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.” What boldness! David boldly asked God to listen to his cry and give ear to his words. Do we find ourselves seeking God in that way? Do we find ourselves praying for the revealing of the glory of God around us in that way?

Refuse to allow your prayer life to be another ritual. Refuse to allow your day and its busyness to take precedence over your time alone with God. Instead, treat prayer as the powerful source of spiritual life that it truly is!