Christians have been awaiting the return of Jesus Christ since the very beginning of the church. In fact, as early as Amos (almost 800 years before Christ), people were looking forward to the Day of the Lord. And beginning with Amos, the prophets and apostles have warned us it won’t be a pleasant time.
The coming wrath of God is not a pleasant thought. Many Christians recoil because they can’t reconcile it with his love. But we must remember that every syllable of the Bible perfectly describes God’s love. Even the parts we don’t like. With that in mind, let’s take a careful look at 2 Peter 3.… Read the rest
Jesus warned his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees (Matthew 16:5-12). After a while, they understood that he was warning them against their teaching. Today, we speak much more of the Pharisees than the Sadducees. We have forgotten to beware of the leaven of the Sadducees in the church.
Mix leaven (yeast or baking powder) with a flour dough and the whole dough will rise. The leaven leaves no flour untouched. Although Jesus once compared the kingdom of heaven to leaven (Matthew 13:33), it usually signifies some kind of corrupting influence. If the leaven of the Sadducees corrupts good teaching, we need to consider what it is and how to identify it.… Read the rest
Someone left an interesting comment on an earlier post:
If we cannot lose our salvation why then did Paul say Walk out your salvation with fear and trembling.
And why did he say I pummel my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others I myself will not be cast away
It’s in reply to an earlier comment that claims it’s impossible to lose salvation once saved. Numerous Bible verses seem to point in that direction. Numerous other Bible verses seem to say that it’s possible, once saved, to lose salvation. Theologians have been arguing about it for centuries.… Read the rest
The church celebrates Christmas and Easter in a big way. Many churches at least devote a sermon to Pentecost, the birthday of the church. How many Christians know about Ascension Day? It’s exactly forty days after Easter, which means it always falls on a Thursday. It’s easy for it to come and go without notice. So why is Jesus’ ascension important?
Christians can probably quote some Bible verses about how Christ has redeemed us. Otherwise, we don’t use “redeem” much anymore these days. When we do use it, it has two basic meanings.
It used to be that we could take books of stamps to a redemption center and exchange them for a toaster. That is, we redeemed the toaster by presenting the stamps. We can still redeem something we’ve taken to a pawn shop. And we talk about redeeming a coupon, although we don’t say we redeem our discount by presenting the coupon.
Or second, when we fail somehow, we can do something to redeem ourselves.… Read the rest
If there’s one person in history who has the most personal reason to declare, “Christ died for me,” it’s Barabbas. All four gospels relate how Pilate wanted to release Jesus and how the priests’ mob demanded that he release Barabbas instead.
It’s easy to read past Barabbas and not think much about him. The possibility that he, too, bore the name Jesus gives us an opportunity to take a closer look. He’s much more important than he might seem at first.
A textual variant encourages us to take a closer look. Matthew’s gospel, at least in some manuscripts, identifies him as “Jesus Barabbas.”… Read the rest
Jesus is Lord. That’s the claim at the heart of Christianity. But “lord” is a term that long predates Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Greek kurios has several meanings.
Jesus’ conduct hardly ever looked like the most important ones.
Kurios can mean nothing more than “sir,” a term of respect addressed to social equals or superiors.
It can also mean owner. Owners have certain rights over what they own. The owner of a farm, for example, has exclusive rights to what grows in it. He has the expectation of profiting from it. He can choose to sell it. No one else has those rights over that same property.… Read the rest
Some people might be thinking, “No. The serpent tempted Eve.” Not quite. Adam and Eve in Genesis represent the entire human race. They started in a perfect place, the Garden of Eden. It took both the man and the woman to forfeit that position in what we know as the fall of man.
Genesis begins with three momentous events:
God created the heavens and the heavens and the earth, culminating with the creation of a man.
God planted the Garden of Eden, and while it grew, he gave the man the dignity of naming the beasts and looking for a suitable helper.
Jesus encountered a woman in Gentile territory at the end of a particularly hectic time of his life. We know her as the Syrophoenician woman from Mark’s account. Matthew’s account calls her a Canaanite woman. The incidents that finally drove Jesus out of Palestine to are recorded in Matthew beginning with 13:53 and in Mark 6-7.
Jesus taught in the synagogue at Nazareth. The townspeople were offended at his teaching. He could do no mighty works there because of their unbelief. That pairing of offense and unbelief is key to understanding his later two meetings with the Syrophoenician woman.
Someone in my Sunday school class suggested studying the book of Revelation. Someone else immediately vetoed the idea. She didn’t want to spend much time being scared.
Lots of people apparently think Revelation is scary and that therefore they shouldn’t read it. Actually, it’s the only book in the Bible that promises a special blessing for anyone who does read it (Revelation 1:3). In fact, the only people who ought to be afraid of it are the scoffers who won’t bother to look at it.
When the book of Revelation is explained, we can face it calmly and hopefully