Archive | April, 2013

Are You Doing It Right?

April 30, 2013

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Is it just me, or is the world getting bolder in their demands that Christians change their ways? It’s supposed to be the other way around. I guess it goes back to what Solomon said – “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Paul was dealing with the same stuff in the first century.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:17-22 to get rid of the old you and quit living like those people. “Now” is always a good time renew yourself in God and try to be like him instead of the world. (Ephesians 4:23-24)

While it might seem strange to word it this way, Paul made a list on how to live a new life. Here is a few things on that list:

  • Tell the Truth
  • Be angry, but don’t let it make you sin
  • Get over your anger quickly so the Devil doesn’t use you
  • Work hard, don’t steal
  • Use what you earn to help the needy
  • Watch your mouth and say only good things
  • Be kind
  • Be forgiving – God gave his Son to forgive you.

But don’t take my word for it, remember to read them for yourself in Ephesians 4:25-32!

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Tossed To and Fro

April 29, 2013

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Being a part of Christ’s body, that is, being in Christ, takes dedicated effort on our part to maintain that status.

Paul wanted Christians to make an effort to mature. He set up a system of God’s word (Which was delivered originally by the apostles and prophets), elders and teachers to help us grow to the stature of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13) As we make progress in that growth, we are less likely to be pulled away to the world’s values, fall prey to false teachers or even fail by our own human nature. (Ephesians 4:14)

Our goal is to do everything we can to function well within the body. Whatever our role, we do it well. Whatever our maturity, we try to grow. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

Without that focus, the world will treat us like the sea does a derelict ship, tossing us to and fro without direction.

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A Vessel For God

April 28, 2013

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As we plan and mentally prepare for our next worship, let’s ask ourselves if we have a heart fit for the Spirit to dwell in it. (Ephesians 3:16-17)

That heart – one that is grounded in love – is the vessel for the “fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19) Our time with the rest of the body of Christ will give us the tools to enlarge that vessel.

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But, What Do You Do By Faith?

April 27, 2013

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God never accepted faith only from his people

Sacrifice of Isaac – Caravaggio – 1603

Ephesians 2:8-9 is the corner stone for those who build a case for salvation by faith only. The whole idea of “salvation through faith only” was started by Martin Luther, who was born in 1483. Since there is no evidence of the concept prior to that, we might say it is a “new” idea. But you see, Luther had a problem with his theory. The problem was the book of James. He insulted James and tried to cast doubt as to whether it was even a book of the Bible. James 2:24 says that man is not justified by faith alone. (This is also the only place in the Bible where the words “faith” and “alone” or “only” appear side by side!) James also says that faith without works is dead. (James 2:26)

Five Points that Counter “Faith Only” Doctrine

I just want to leave here a list of things to think about if you have need to debate the Gospel’s plan of salvation vs. the invented “faith only” route to salvation. These thoughts should be sufficient for negating Ephesians 2:8-9 as the proof text for “faith only” doctrine

  1. In Ephesians, the works Paul mentioned were words of the Law of Moses.
  2. In James’ letter, he is talking about works of faith.
  3. John 6:29 shows us that faith is a work
  4. Romans 2:6 is very clear that the judgment will include an account of our deeds.
  5. In Hebrews 11, a list of faithful men had to act on their faith to please God.

Faith is a necessity of salvation, to be sure. It is also a necessity to teach and follow the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:26-27)

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What the Bible says about “Faith Only”

April 27, 2013

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Here is an exhaustive listing of the places in the Bible that mention “faith only” (Or “faith alone” depending on your version)

  1. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. – James 2:24 KJV

Yes that’s it. The complete and unabridged list. While faith is a very important part of salvation, is it not the only part.

Please see my page on the Gospel Plan of Salvation for more.

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The Proof of God’s Power

April 26, 2013

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In every letter that Paul wrote, he mentioned the resurrection of Christ. In Ephesians 1:19-20 he shows us the power of God through Christ’s death and ascension.

Has today’s church gotten away from the awe of the resurrection that Paul felt? Paul wanted you to feel that awe. He wrote of God’s:

  • ability to accomplish his promises
  • active power to work
  • power to rule over his dominion
  • inherent strength

When we remain silent about the resurrection of Christ – when we forget to include it as the focus of our worship, we are giving our attention to something other than our God.

Let’s be more like the early church, and make everything about Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

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Carry the Load

April 25, 2013

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Galatians 6:1-5 is a bit of Scripture that looks simple at one glance and then difficult at the next glance. Some have even said it contradicts itself.

These are the notes I have in the margin of my Bible that help me remember how to understand what is being said there:

  1. Size up the situation
  2. Pick up the fallen
  3. Hold them up
  4. Size up yourself

It is good to have a Spiritual family that can help us bear our burdens. It offers some amount of safety, accountability and direction. Ultimately though, we will have to account for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:10).

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Qualities of Those In Christ

April 24, 2013

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Being In Christ is a Way of Life

Paul described often the condition of being “in Christ.” One who is in Christ is someone that has obeyed the Gospel and is faithful to God.

We know that Paul really liked to make lists when he wrote his letters, and he didn’t disappoint us in Galatians 5. One of the best loved passages in the New Testament is the “Fruit of the Spirit”. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Here is a glance at the qualities that make up the fruit of the Spirit with a link to previous articles about them.

  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Longsuffering
  5. Gentleness
  6. Goodness
  7. Faith
  8. Meekness
  9. Temperance


Bonus Scripture – Peter’s list of qualities that make us fruitful (2 Peter 1:3-11) These are known as the Christian graces.

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How the Christian Enjoys “Sonship” with Christ

April 23, 2013

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In a previous post, the Christian’s claim to the covenant God made with Abraham was considered. Galatians 4 reveals more of the benefits of our inheritance.

A Christian is not an heir of Abraham, but an heir with him, by virtue of sonship and union with Christ. (Galatians 4:6) The reason Paul stressed God’s fathership of Christ in Galatians 4:4 was God must be the father of Christ, in order to be the God and father of his people whom he chose in Christ.

The Christian’s sonship to God is derived from his unity with Christ, identity with Christ, as being “in Christ,” and thus a part of that spiritual body which “is Christ,” who is truly and actually the sinless and perfect Son of God.

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How to be Abraham’s Seed

April 22, 2013


When we become Christians, we become part of the covenant made by God to Abraham. The result is, we get to be counted as his seed. It doesn’t matter what color our skin is or our station in life, it applies to all Christians! This is the sum total reason why everything from Abraham to Christ’s resurrection happened.

The way to membership in that covenant then, is to get into Christ. Galatians 3 is a popular scripture to mislead people from the correct way to get “into Christ.” (I’ve posted about how to get into Christ before.)

The truth of Galatians 3 is this:

  1. We grow our faith by hearing about it, (Galatians 3:2, 5) and therefore reading and understanding the word of God (Romans 10:17)
  2. We become children of God by that faith in Christ when we are baptized into him (Galatians 3: 26-27)

If anyone uses Galatians 3 to try and tell you there is another way to get into Christ outside of these steps, don’t fall for it! It’s a trick!

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The Faith of Christ

April 21, 2013

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We should all know by now that we are saved by the faith of Christ (Galatians 2:16)

As we prepare for our next worship, I suggest that be the focus during that time. Christ had enough faith in God’s love and his plan that he went willingly to die for our sins.

Can you, like Paul, say that you have been “…crucified with Christ. It is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me”? (Galatians 2:20)

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Sojourning With God

April 20, 2013

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Church and Bible study attendance should be the number one thing on our schedule. By the schedule my congregation keeps, that is four hours a week, maybe a little more.

So is that the extent of the time we need to spend with God?

After Paul’s conversion he spent three years in Arabia in communion and study. (Galatians 1:17-18) This is probably where Jesus revealed the Gospel to him like he did for the other Apostles.

In the same way, we need to spend quality time with God. Even deeper than our daily reading habit, I propose that taking time out to “sojourn” – or getting away for a few minutes is the next logical step. What better way to reflect on your reading, pray, and just be in the presence of God? Taking a walk or even just sitting in a quiet place is an excellent way to do this.

Bonus – Paul’s Timeline

The Chronology of Paul’s conversion, his sojourn to Arabia and his meeting with the Apostles can be confusing when comparing Galatians 1 and Acts 9. Here is the way I reconcile it:

  1. Saul was struck down on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-8)
  2. Three days of blindness and prayer (Acts 9:8)
  3. Sight restored, baptized and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:10-19)
  4. Preached Christ and confounded the Jews (Acts 9:19-22)
  5. Made a sudden departure to Arabia for further study and communion with God (Galatians 1:17,18)
  6. Came back to Damascus and angered the Jews and they decided to kill him (Acts 9:23) (Three years later)
  7. Paul escaped to Jerusalem (Acts 9:24-25)
  8. The Christians were afraid of him (Acts 9:26)
  9. Barnabas took up his cause and recommended him (Acts 9:27-29
  10. The Jerusalem church sent him to Tarsus after more death threats(Acts 9:30)
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Falling for Different Gospels

April 19, 2013

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In 2 Corinthians 11:3-6, Paul’s writes of his concern for those at risk of falling for another Gospel. In Galatians 1:6-10, he expresses his astonishment at the Christians being so easily swayed by the popular false doctrine of the time.

I wonder what he would say if he were able to see the various “different gospels” (Galatians 1:6) being taught today.

No matter what is culturally popular, God’s word remains the only correct guideline for salvation.

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April 18, 2013

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At the time of this writing, it has been a tough week for some folks around the country. Unfortunately, we often hear that there has been an event that leaves people hurting. It is times like these when we understand exactly what “not guaranteed tomorrow” means.

We have the benefit of a lifestyle that provides comfort and reassurance that there is something better waiting for us. Paul often closed his letters with a few exhortations. (especially Philippians 4:4-9, 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22) I appreciate that he nearly always reminds us to rejoice. (2 Corinthians 13:11 – if you are using KJV, NKJV or ASV you will see “Farewell.” The correct word from the Greek is “Rejoice.”) The first century church was going through some very tough times, yet Paul keeps reminding them to rejoice.

I encourage you to keep living in a way that keeps you rejoicing, and be ready to give account for why you can when your friends ask. (1 Peter 3:15)

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Avoid the Other Gospels

April 17, 2013

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I have heard, often it seems, that a loving God wouldn’t condemn someone for (Fill in the Blank).

When I read my Bible, I find that God will display his wrath on those who are sinful. (See Genesis 6) God is righteous, and holy and pure. (1 Peter 1:15-16) What is sin? Unrighteous, unholy and corrupt. The very nature of each opposes the other.

Paul told those in Corinth that he was worried about them because they fell for a different gospel. (2 Corinthians 11:3-6) When one starts accepting a “gospel” without doing their due diligence, they become easy to trick out of their salvation.

God has given to us a list of things he finds good. We have to be careful not to in turn, try to tell him what we think is good enough.

Daily Bible Reading for April 17

God outlines the ritual for declaring a leper clean. Isaiah professes about Moab. Paul writes about the false apostles.

Psalm 107
Leviticus 14:1-32
Isaiah 15-16
2 Corinthians 10:13-12:13

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