Tag Archives: Scripture

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 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.


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!


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!