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Showing posts from 2020

One Heart & One Soul: Will You Pray?

“And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).

Two things strike me as I read this sentence. One is great power, and the other is great grace. It seems to be possible to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus without great power, and it seems to be possible, too, to have a body of believers who do not have great grace resting upon them.

There was something special that preceded this statement: “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and one soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4:32).

People were not attached to their possessions, and they were of one heart. Maybe this is why there was great power and great grace? No, this was another evidence of that power and grace.

Here is the reason in verse 31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and…

Learning to Be a Mature Christian

The most effective teaching is by example and imitation. That is how we learned our native language. It is how we learned to do good things and bad things. Example and imitation are also God’s means of conforming us to the image of his Son:

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:21).

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children" (Ephesians 5:1).

"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).

"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith" (Hebrews 13:7).

Find a person who follows the example of Christ and then follow his example. You have considered the outcome of his way of life, and now you can imitate his faith.

There are not that many good examples, and you may not be near enough to imitate the ones there are. This was Paul’s solut…

Using Christian Resources Like a Christian

"Of making many books there is no end" (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

The Christian publishing industry is booming. We should rejoice that Christian teaching is being so widely circulated, yet at the same time we ought to pray that biblical standards be maintained.

A serious temptation accompanies the widespread availability of Christian books, blogs, and podcasts. Because so much has been written and spoken about a multitude of subjects, it is far too easy to turn to one of these sources before opening the Bible. Books and other resources produced by Christians are profitable only when they are approached as a supplementary source of guidance. True godliness is cultivated in those who labor in the Scriptures, for there we find the Lord’s counsel (2 Timothy 2:15, 3:15-17).

Luke commended the saints in Berea who measured the teaching of Paul and Silas against the Word of God: "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with…

Broken Cisterns & Works-Righteousness

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water" (Jeremiah 2:13).

Do you see the difference between these two sins? The first is forsaking an artesian well, a flowing spring of life-giving water. There is no end to the supply. God is this life-giving spring. To forsake Him is both evil and foolish.

The second sin has to do with recognizing the need for water, but trying to get it from a cistern. The sin is digging the cistern. It is salvation by effort. Digging a cistern does not provide water to fill it. Even if water came, it would be stagnant. There is another problem, too: it is a leaky cistern. Soon there will be no water, not even stagnant water. Digging this cistern is a foolish attempt at creating your own salvation. It does not provide life.

"Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I giv…

The Way to Continuous Revival

The Christian Church has been blessed with several revivals in recent history:

• The East African Revival of the 1930s -‘50s. See Roy Hession’s The Calvary Road, Norman Grubb’s Continuous Revival, and Festo Kivengere’s Revolutionary Love.
• The Welsh Revival very early in the 20th century, where tens of thousands were converted in a few weeks. See Jessie Penn-Lewis’ The Awakening in Wales.
• The Korean Revival and the North China Revival, also early in the 20th century. See When the Spirit’s Fire Swept Korea by Jonathan Goforth.
• The Great Awakening in the middle of the 18th century and the Second Great Awakening in the middle of the 19th century. These two hit England, Scotland, Wales, the Colonies, and the United States.

The United States did not experience anything in the 20th century that could remotely be called revival. We had two World Wars and the ascendancy of liberalism in the Church, but Europe took most of the damage in both.

The nations that did have revivals also exper…

Being Kind to Ungrateful People

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).

Notice that God is kind to the ungrateful and to the wicked. We are to be like and act like our Father in Heaven. Remember this as you think and pray for those you know who are ungrateful or wicked.

This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us!
Written July 1989.

Two Words to Remember in 2020

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… (Galatians 5:22a)

Love and peace are words which indicate things of indescribable value and quality. Today these words are used as synonyms for temporal, physical events such as sexual relationships and the absence of war.

I can think of two other words which are not as unlimited in meaning but where there has been no attempt to change the meaning. In fact, they are largely ignored. This is a time of violent expression and polarization of peoples, nations, and opinions. Even Christians find themselves choosing up sides and thereby refusing to use these words and to practice what they stand for.

The words are gentle and kind. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger, and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you."

Wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking are motivated b…

Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth: Violence, Justice & Vengeance in the Bible

You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42)

Justice or Vengeance?

Jesus quoted “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth” as “it was said.” It was said as a justification for vengeance and retaliation. Jesus countermanded this saying. But wasn’t it a quotation from the Old Testament? Yes it was, but it is not to the Old Testament passage that Jesus was referring. If it were, He would not have said, “You have heard that it was said.” He would have said, “It is written,” and He would not have disagreed with the Scripture. Jesus was disavowing the misquotation of this Scripture by people who wished to ex…

"Therefore I Would Not Hear"

Part of the freedom man has received from the Lord is having the ability to refuse to listen to Him. Man has exercised this freedom many times.

"But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts" (Zechariah 7:11-12 KJV).

But God has the same kind of freedom: "Therefore it is come to pass, [that] as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts" (Zechariah 7:13 KJV).

This is a dreadful statement. God had also said He would not listen one and two hundred years earlier in Jeremiah 11:11 and Isaiah 1:15. There is something He will listen to, though—a prayer of repentance. But repentance is more than just saying, “I’m sorry.” It is a change of hea…

What A Sophisticated Disobedience You Have

“And He said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition’” (Mark 7:9).

Rather than dwell on the specific instance Jesus mentions of evading the commandment, I would like to draw attention to His admiration of their abilities when He says, "You have a fine way." J.B. Phillips translates this, "It is wonderful to see how." Jesus may have been speaking in sarcasm, but regardless of how He spoke, He was pointing to the sophisticated effort the religious people made in order to disobey. Jesus quoted Isaiah, “This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”

Non-religious people do not need sophisticated reasons to disobey. They deliberately disobey, or remain ignorant of the commandments, or just do not care. Religious people come up with involved reasons to make their own wrongs look right. But they are not satisfied unless…

An Invitation to Dinner with Jesus

When one of those at the table with Him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ Then the master told his servant,…

The Good News: How Can They Believe?

"Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?" (Hebrews 3:16).

"Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, 'So I declared an oath in my anger, "They shall never enter my rest."' And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world" (Hebrews 4:1-3).

"For, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written…

Blinded Minds: Opening Eyes to the Right Source of Revelation

Today an increasing number of people believe that all beliefs are equally valid, that there is no one “right” source of revelation. This leads them to dismiss anything you tell them from the Bible. How do you approach someone who believes this in a way that will open the door to sharing the Word of God with them?

The unbeliever does not believe the Word of God. This is natural. Why does he not believe it? “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The Word is the only source of faith. Before he can believe it, he must hear it.

What the unbeliever wants or does not want to hear should not determine what you say. We get our orders from God, not from non-Christians. However, that does not mean we should force the Word on people. Before we give the gospel, their eyes must be opened so they can see its light:

"I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive…

As You Go, part 2: The Christian Duty of Evangelism

This is an expansion of my post from June 18. This is a part of the Christian life that applies to all Christians.

The Commands

"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age'" (Matthew 28:18-20).

There is a sequence to the commands laid out by Jesus in the Great Commission:

• Make disciples of all nations.
• Baptize them.
• Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.

The disciples are to obey everything, which includes these three commands. They are to obey everything, which includes teaching their own disciples to obey everything. We are all converts of that initial command. Every one of us is to make disciples of all nations.

"As you go, preach this message: &#…

Praying for Revival in Our Country

There is one major solution to our country's problems. That is Jesus Christ. If you are not doing so already, begin praying that we would turn to Him as a nation.

How should we pray for revival?

With confession. Since the last revival, the world has acted according to its nature. The church has not acted according to its nature and needs to take responsibility for the results this has had in the world.

In submission. The Holy Spirit is sovereign in revival and cannot be manipulated by prayer meetings, fasting, etc. We cannot produce revival - it must be given.

With optimism. If we want to ask for revival in a godly way, we should plead the promises of God in Scripture. In order to do this, we must have an optimistic eschatology.

Knowledgably. In order to pray for revival intelligently, we need to know what we are asking for. Read histories of previous revivals. The last revival in America was in the mid-nineteenth century.

With focus. We should pray for the church, not…

As You Go: The Christian Duty of Preaching

“And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of Heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 10:7).

Then I preached Christ, and when she heard the story, —
Oh! is such triumph possible to men?
Hardly, my King, had I beheld Thy glory,
Hardly had known Thine excellence till then.

Then with a rush the intolerable craving
Shivers throughout me like a trumpet call,
Oh! to save these; to perish for their saving,
Die for their life; be offered for them all.

- F.W.H. Meyer

"But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fearhating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh" (Jude 20-23).

In recent Christian history, preaching has been something that takes place only at a certain place, at a certain hour, not too often, and not for…

Church Growth in a Time of Turmoil

"They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand" (Acts 4:3-4).

"Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord" (Acts 9:31).

In the first passage, the church was persecuted. In the second, it enjoyed a time of peace. In both cases, the church grew. What did these times have in common? Preaching the gospel in power. Church growth is not directly related to persecution or peace. The church can die under persecution, but it does not have to. It can die in times of peace, but it does not have to. The church died in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey because of persecution. In the last century, the church in Northern Europe died without it. The birthplace of first-century Christians and…

The Real Solution to Our Country's Problems

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified…My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power" (1 Corinthians 2:1-2, 4-5).

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

These two texts bring us back to first priorities: preaching the cross and praying for kings. Both of these passages relate to the salvation of men. God, in His wisdom, decided that proclaiming t…

Paul's Prayers in Ephesians, Philippians & Colossians

Paul’s prayers are gradually making an impression on me. I have been conscious of them for 67 of my 72 years as a Christian. Notice some of the phrases from his prayers in Ephesians 1:15-19, 3:14-18, Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9-12:

• “His incomparably great power to us who believe”
• “that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”
• “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth and insight”
• “that you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ”
• “that you may please Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work”
• “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened”
• “the hope of His calling”
• “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints”
• “to know this love that surpasses knowledge”
• “that He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being”
• “to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding”
• “that you may live a life worthy of the Lord”
• “that you …

An Overwhelming Change

“But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel” (Colossians 1:22-23).

Wonderful phrases these: holy in His sight; without blemish; free from accusation. This is in contrast to the phrases in the preceding sentence: alienated from God; enemies in your minds; evil behavior.

This is what reconciliation means. It changes our relationship with God. The change is not minimal like from aliens to friends, but overwhelming: “alienated from God” to “holy in His sight”; similarly, from “enemies in your minds” to “without blemish” and “evil behavior” to “free from accusation.” Let us praise Him for His grace.

This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us!
Written December 1980.

Love without Discernment

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10).

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul writes of a knowledge without love. Here in Philippians it is suggested that it is possible to have love without knowledge.

Paul here assumes that love is normal for believers. He prays that their love might abound more and more. He also prays that this love be accompanied with knowledge and all discernment.

There seem to be two reasons for this discerning love:

1) So that we may approve what is excellent.
2) So that we may be pure and blameless.

These two reasons are close together. If we have love without discernment, we may end up approving things we should not approve. If we approve what we should not approve, we will not be blameless.

One of the reasons that love sometimes occurs without discernment is because love does not have a precise…

Reconciled to God & One Another

“His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:15-18).

From this we find out there were two kinds of people in the world, both kinds estranged from God and from each other—Gentiles and Jews. Both kinds were sinners—sinners far away and sinners close at hand. They both needed reconciling to God through the cross. The cross put to death their hostility. Jesus Christ is our peace. He preached peace to both and died for both. Now we have three kinds of people in the world, Jew, Gentiles and the church of God (1 Cor. 10:32).

This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us!
Written June 19…

So We Speak of It: The Fellowship We Have with the Father

“We write to you about the Word of life, which has existed from the very beginning: we have heard it, and we have seen it with our eyes; yes, we have seen it, and our hands have touched it. When this life became visible, we saw it; so we speak of it and tell you about the eternal life which was with the Father and was made known to us. What we have seen and heard we tell to you also, so that you will join with us in the fellowship that we have with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1-3).

“And we have seen and tell others that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever declares that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he lives in God” (1 John 4:14-15).

This is the Christmas story in 1 John. It is wonderful in itself; however, the incarnation is not the only truth here declared. Notice verse 2: “so we speak of it and tell you about the eternal life.” Verse 3: “we tell to you also.” Verse 14: “and tell others.” Verse 15: “Whoever declares

God's Rich & Merciful Grace Towards Us

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:4-9)

God has great love for us, is rich in mercy, and saves us by His grace. And grace is a gift, not earned.

And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6)

As God’s love is great and He is rich in mercy, so His grace also comes in great quantities.

His love has no li…

It’s Either/Or

I was reading John 15:15-21, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

I was impressed again with the either/or of belonging to Christ or the world. And it is the world that recognizes the difference and takes action. The question is, does the world recognize you as someone to love, or someone to hate?"

This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us!

His People: What We Can Learn from Jeremiah 24

My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. (Jeremiah 24:6-7)

This was written of the exiles of Judah in Babylon, so it does not apply directly to us. However, since God does not change, we can learn something about Him from it.

• He watches over His people for their good.
• He will build them up.
• He will not tear them down.
• He will plant them.
• He will not uproot them.
• He will give them a heart to know Him.
• He will have them for His people.
• He will be their God because they will return to Him with all their heart.

We are His people, too. God is good.

Not Just For Our Benefit: Being An Artesian Well

“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink’” (John 7:37).

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’ … Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:10, 13-14).

This spring of water is an artesian well, a flowing well, welling up to eternal life. Welling up has a sense of “leaping up.” This well provides living water in quality and abundance so that streams of living water will flow from within the Christian.

Notice in both texts that the person does not drink from this well. He does not have the well until after he drinks. “Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring ... If anyone is …

Who Is Like You, O Lord?

The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5)

This is God’s declaration of the sinfulness of man. God can speak about man’s state because His judgment is absolutely right. However, whether I can speak about God’s holiness is another thing. Even though I am redeemed and looking forward to the completion of that redemption, I do not yet see Him as He really is.

But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2b)

Until that time, we know Him as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures.

The Song of Moses

Moses and the Israelites sang about God’s holiness after Israel passed safely through the sea and the Egyptians were drowned:

Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11)

This song describes God in transcendent terms, not physical ones. Holiness

Taking the Long View

"They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor" (Habakkuk 1:7).

This is speaking of the Babylonians. In the previous verse, God said that He was “raising up the Babylonians.” This was in answer to Habakkuk’s complaint that God did not listen and tolerated wrong (vv. 2-3). God was going to punish evil nations with an evil nation.

Habakkuk further complains: "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?" (Habakkuk 1:13).

God gave several answers to these questions in Habakkuk 2:2-12, but in verse 13 He gives a comprehensive answer: "Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the se…

Bessie's Favorite Chapter

This was my wife Bessie's favorite chapter in the Old Testament, and close to being my favorite.

Isaiah 58

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for…

The Church Needs Solid Food - Are You Drinking Your Milk?

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3: 1-4).

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:1-3).

“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an …

Seeing Things As God Sees

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. (Acts 17:16)

When Paul arrived in Athens, his reaction was not awe at the beauty of the Parthenon; it was distress over the people’s idolatry.

You may have been to parts of the world where there are magnificent minarets, Shinto gates and shrines, and beautifully carved statues housed in ornate temples. Do we think like the Apostle Paul when we see these things? If not, is it because he saw them as God sees them and we see them like the rest of mankind? May God help us to be distressed over the worship of false gods.

In vain with lavish kindness
the gifts of God are strown
The heathen in his blindness
bows down to wood and stone.

—Reginald Heber, 1783-1826

Psalm 96

The 96th Psalm is one of my favorite Psalms. It is God-centered, joyous, worshipful for the right reasons, and all nations, nature, and the heavens enter into that worship.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peo…

Bad Theology Corrupts Good Character

You have probably heard this saying: "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character'" (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Perhaps you also know the truth taught in Romans 1:18-32, which is basically, “Bad theology corrupts good character.” Even though we know both of these truths, we can still wonder when some Christians end up in immoral situations. The wonder is increased when the Christian involved has emphasized “good company” (nearly to the point of legalism) and “sound doctrine” (to the point of arguing with all who differ).

I spend a good portion of my time with Christians who have fallen into major sin. Some of them turned out not to be Christians; that is a topic for another time. However, some of them were Christians. I have spent many hours listening to them. As they recounted the details of the sins they fell into, I could see that they had not kept bad company and that their theology appeared to be sound. Yet how could I account for their sin? After more que…