Jesus with a sword. 14th-century fresco, Monastery of the Ascension, Kosovo
Does it require courage for a man of God to speak to the people of God?
It shouldn’t, but sometimes it does. God’s chosen people have consistently rebelled against God’s chosen leaders and messengers. They started against Moses. The rebellious church today continues in the same vein.
God called Ezekiel as prophet to the sons of Israel and told him not to be afraid of their looks or words.
And that’s after Ezekiel had seen four creatures that had four faces apiece. After it dawned on him that God himself appeared to him with them.… Read the rest
The Stoning of the Blasphemer / Charles Foster: The Story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation (1873)
In John 8:59, a crowd wanted to stone Jesus. Today I’m going to start there and work backwards for a while. Why, you might ask, would I do that?
Careful writers often proofread from end to beginning. They have worked on their draft for so long they know what it’s supposed to say.
So they read the last paragraph, then the previous paragraph, and so on to the beginning. It shows what they otherwise might easily miss.
Reading familiar Bible passages from the end to the beginning can also show details we have probably read past before.… Read the rest
Society acts like it’s a good thing! The church mustn’t.
Have you ever noticed that much of the American church today doesn’t like to mention sin?
Try saying aloud that something is sinful. If you’re not careful about what company you say it in, someone is bound to thunder, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
Why do they always quote it in King James? Simply because they have memorized it that way, and it becomes a handy club to beat up anyone who dares to criticize sin.
They have no clue that their use of the verse amounts to judgment of you, the one who dares to bring up the very idea of sin.… Read the rest
Rhoda leaves Peter outside the door
Peter was miraculously delivered from prison. He had more trouble getting into a prayer meeting.
The story is told in Acts 12. It has a haunting resemblance to Jesus’ first resurrection appearance. In both cases, people who should have had faith show the sin of unbelief instead.
The chapter opens with the murder of James, one of Jesus’ inner circle.
The king apparently planned to follow it by executing Peter after a public show trial. Passover interfered with his plans, so he put Peter in prison under heavy guard.
Peter had no apprehension the night before his scheduled death.… Read the rest
Pentecost / El Greco (1597)
Did your church acknowledge Pentecost? If so, how? The church has become divided over the significance of the events of the first Christian Pentecost.
Pentecostals emphasize the supernatural events and consider them normative. Others fear them and try to explain them away.
Some even teach that God no longer performs supernatural acts and that anyone who claims otherwise follows the devil! So what happened? And what does it matter now?
… Read the rest
The Manna Harvest / Giuseppe Angeli (18th century), but doesn’t it look more like the griping before the manna came?
Have you ever noticed that some people just like to complain? They don’t even need a legitimate reason. Alas, you can easily find them in churches.
But here’s a better question. What is the effect when griping goes into overdrive? It would try the patience of a saint. Or in the case of an Old Testament illustration, Moses. Nobody comes out looking good in the sorry story told in Numbers 11.
We often refer to the people Moses led out of Egypt as the children of Israel.… Read the rest
A small but vocal minority of people have managed to redefine marriage in the United States by judicial fiat.
Justice Kennedy excused his setting aside all of human tradition on grounds that most Americans now accept same-sex marriage.
Ten years ago most Americans rejected it. Why the change?
Because the church failed to be the church. It followed the sorry pattern of Old Testament prophets and priests.
Judgment is coming. It will not be pleasant. “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17
Someone on social media sarcastically noted that God did not send anyone to hell because of slavery, so why would he send anyone to hell because of same-sex marriage?… Read the rest
You have a gift from God. You are a gift to the church from Jesus. You do the gifts of the Holy Spirit as he chooses.
The Bible describes these varieties of gifts in Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 12-14. Ordinarily, when you get gifts, you rip off the paper and discard it.
With God’s gifts, the gift wrapping is as valuable as the gifts themselves, except you don’t have to rip it up to get to what’s inside.
The first time I taught a class on gifts, I pointed out three subjects that also appear prominently in all of these chapters.… Read the rest
. . . I do not want you to be ignorant (1 Corinthians 12:1). Despite Paul’s stated desire, most of the church is indeed ignorant, even fearful, of spiritual gifts. The New Testament described gifts in three passages: Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 12-14.
Some years ago, my church at the time bought a course on spiritual gifts, which was available in a version for congregations that chose not to acknowledge tongues. Why would anyone censor any part of Scripture?
The authors noted that each of these passages has some gifts apparently in common with other passage, and some unique to itself.… Read the rest
Holy wisdom icon (Yaroslavl) / Russian, 17th century
Paul’s epistle to the Colossians is the only one he wrote where he hadn’t founded the church.
The church was rife with heresy, and its leader Epaphras visited Paul in prison to get some guidance. Paul addressed the epistle not to the church at Colossae, but to the saints and faithful there.
Paul’s opening prayer for the Colossian saints, and I’m sure for all Christians anywhere, was that they would “be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9).
… Read the rest