Have you ever noticed that the Bible attributes all the building blocks of civilization to rebels against God? Ungodly men started the world system.
Cain founded the first city. His descendants invented agriculture, music, and metal work. After the flood, Nimrod invented architecture, government, war, and religion.
We like to talk about the rise of civilization, but it all began as a consequence of the fall. Surely unfallen humans would have eventually invented all the best parts of it. But given its ungodly start, civilization hasn’t needed to rise. It has needed to be redeemed. God’s redemption of civilization started with Abraham. … Read the rest
I just came across a quotation about waiting on God from 19th-century American missionary Adoniram Judson:
I never prayed sincerely and earnestly for anything but it came; at some time–no matter how distant the day–somehow, in some shape, probably the last I should have devised, it came.
I have come to realize that if that’s not my experience, it is either because I have prayed without real faith, or I haven’t waited with real faith. As a consequence, when the answer has come, I haven’t recognized it as such.
God does not necessarily answer prayer in the way we expect when we pray.… Read the rest
We don’t pay as much attention to hope as to faith and love. I even heard a faith preacher disparage hope. He said it’s wrong to hope instead of believe. But Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the substance of things hoped for. How can we believe without hoping? How can we have real faith without real hope?
Part of the problem is that the technical vocabulary of Christianity seems so simple. If you see “polyphosphazenes” and you’re not a chemist, you know only know it’s technical jargon. You won’t misuse that word, if you ever try to use it at all.… Read the rest
Heaven is God’s throne, and the earth is his footstool (Isaiah 66:1). By grace, we have not only been raised with Christ, but seated in the heavens (Ephesians 2:6). Scripture commands us to seek what is in the heavens with Christ (Colossians 3:1). So isn’t the earth properly our footstool, too?
When I was growing up, we had some easy chairs in the living room with matching footstools. Those footstools were fairly substantial pieces of furniture. We could sit on them.
But now, most of my chairs are recliners. I pull on a lever, and the footstool rises from the front of the chair.… Read the rest
Jeremiah 29:11 ranks high on the list of favorite Old Testament scriptures. As much as we love it, do we really understand how much it promises? “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
“Prosper” translates the Hebrew word shalom, a word (a noun, by the way) so rich it has no good English equivalent. It usually appears in English translations as “peace.” In fact, many English translations of Jeremiah 29:11 say, “plans for peace” or something similar.
We usually think of death as the cessation of life. Scripture tells us it’s the beginning of life. How can that be?
Paul tells us to consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God (Romans 6:11). Elsewhere he says that we were once dead in or sins, but God made us alive in Christ and forgave all our sins (Colossians 2:13).
No, I don’t mean any comment that looks like a dress code. We all have earthly clothing. We have to take it off from time to time to wash both it and our bodies. It wears out and we have to repair or replace it.
Spiritual clothing is different. We need to have that on at all times. We are already clean, and spiritual clothing can never wear out or become soiled.
Probably anyone with a nodding acquaintance with the New Testament, believer or not, knows about the ending of 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul says that faith, hope, and love abide and identifies love as the greatest of the three.
Perhaps the very familiarity of the passage robs us of the power inherent in the juxtaposition of those three virtues. Fortunately, there are plenty of lesser-known passages where we can see the power with fresh eyes.
1 Thessalonians is the earliest extant letter of Paul. People study it less than some of the others not because it’s harder to pronounce, but because the themes that characterize Paul’s teaching are not yet fully developed.… Read the rest