Supremacy in Christ

Christ is Supreme because He is God (Colossians 1:15). Paul uses very intentional words: the image of the invisible God. See Hebrews 1:1-3. In the Incarnation of Christ, God becoming man, God the Son enters time, space, and dimension. He becomes the image of the invisible God. The term “image” was a representation, or reproduction with precise likeness (portrait, coin, etc). The word image also means manifestation. More than being in the likeness of God, as are all persons created, Jesus was God Himself in human incarnation. When you see Christ, you see God. Jesus shows us what God is; He also shows us what all persons are meant to be. See 1 John 2:5-6.
 
In Christ we see who God is — Creator and Redeemer; what God is like — a God of mercy and love; and what God does —one who sends his Son to rescue people from the dominion of darkness and brings about the reconciliation of all creation through his death on a cross.
 
Paul also describes Christ as the Firstborn over all creation. This does not mean that Jesus was created by God. He is eternal. So firstborn, in this context, isn’t about the first to be created. This title is about status, not sequence (OT firstborn). The firstborn was the supreme authority of all siblings. So Paul’s use of this word simply affirms, again, the supremacy of Christ over all creation.
 
Christ is Supreme because He is Creator (Colossians 1:16-17). Paul states that all things were created in Christ, through Christ, and for Christ. What does this mean? All of creation is sustained by Christ and finds its ultimate purpose in Christ. Paul affirms for us that the world is not a purposeless accident in the chemistry lab of the universe. But he also makes clear that we cannot understand God, creation, or God’s purpose for creation apart from Christ. If creation has been created by Christ and exists for Christ, then it is never meaningless. See John 1:1-3. What does this mean of us today? It means that we are totally dependent on Christ. This dependence isn’t just for our salvation. But it is so much bigger than that. Christ holds all things together. If Christ holds the universe together, then Christ can hold my life together.
 
Christ is Supreme because He is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18). The church cannot properly function without the head. The head is always Christ. Christ is the source of the church’s life. The metaphor “head” designates him both as supreme over the church and as the source of the church’s life. In the image of a living body, the head not only directs and governs the body, it gives it life, strength, and purpose. The church does not exist to meet the needs of its members or to insure its institutional survival, but to fulfill the redemptive purposes of Christ, its head.
 
Christ is Supreme because He is our only Savior (Colossians 1:19-20). As the Creator, Christ watched as his perfect creation was corrupted by sin. In that one act of disobedience, a chasm was formed separating man from the intimate relationship with his Creator. Man cannot bridge the chasm of sin on his own. He is completely powerless to do anything to restore the relationship with God. Sin brings hopelessness and helplessness.
 
But the Creator wasn’t done with His creation — He has not given up. (He won’t give up on you now, either.) This is the most awe-inspiring demonstration of love, grace, and mercy of all time. Rather than scrapping HIs work and starting over somewhere else, the Creator has a plan to set all things right. He places himself into our story. He clothes himself with humanity. The image of the invisible God became visible and entered the plane of human experience in order to reconcile all things in heaven and on earth by means of his humiliating death.
 
See Colossians 1:21–22. Christ is not just Lord of the Universe, He is Lord of You. Paul reminds us of our need of a personal Savior and Lord in this passage. He reminds us of what we all once were: alienated from God; enemies because of our evil behavior.
 
BUT NOW…reconciled to God, holy in his sight, without blemish, free from accusation. Paul emphasizes that Christ has accomplished this perfection for us; it does not come from our own striving. But God’s goal of making us a holy and blameless people in Christ is still a work in progress, and it requires some response on our part. Christians need to recognize that they have been reconciled to God to live a life that God approves.
 
In the beginning, God created all things through Christ; in the end, God will reconcile all things through Christ. What is more, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ did not simply rectify the Fall but created in a human being the image that God had always intended to be in humankind. If we understand that through Christ we gain a new relationship with God, we also recognize that relationships can never remain static. They either grow or die. See Colossians 1:23.
 
What are you doing to see that your relationship with Christ grows?

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Faith in Christ

Read: Colossians 1:1-8. A key theme in this opening paragraph is: “Faith in Christ.” But what does Paul mean when he talks about “faith in Christ”? Faith is placing your confidence, allegiance and identity in Christ. This is evidenced by living a life that is truly “in Christ.” Faith acts on what it believes. So what does it mean to be “In Christ”?
 
To be in Christ means to be taken in to him so that he encompasses your entire life. This means that Christ influences and infuses everything in your life.
  • To be in Christ means that you are committed to him above all others. And all other commitments fall under this primary commitment.
  • To be in Christ means that He determines your attitudes and actions.
  • To be in Christ means that you are inseparably joined to Him. This means that nothing can separate you from Him and His love.
  • To be in Christ means that you are also joined to a new family where the dividing lines that separate and categorize people have been erased.
  • To be in Christ is to have a new identity not based on your past or current status.
  • To be in Christ is to have everything you need to thrive in this life and enjoy eternal life.
Then Paul shifts from a prayer of thanksgiving for their faith and lets them know how he and Timothy are specifically praying for them so that they will, in fact, stay rooted in Christ.
 
Read: Colossians 1:9-14. Paul shares the primary things that he is praying for them that I believe equally apply to us today.
 
God fills you with the knowledge of His Will. Often in the NT, the word “filled” means to be “controlled by.” Paul’s prayer, then, is that these believers might be controlled by the full knowledge of God’s will. The good news is that we don’t have to develop this knowledge in our own strength but is something that the Spirit gives. When Paul prays that his friends may have wisdom and understanding, he is praying that they may understand the great truths of Christianity and may be able to apply them to the tasks and decisions which meet them in everyday living. In the Christian life, knowledge and obedience go together.
 
Live a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing Him in every way. Paul then breaks down what it looks like to please God in every way:
 
Bearing fruit in every good work. Christians need to work out their faith in the way they live. When it comes to being a Christ follower, we do not have a shortage of knowing, we have a shortage of doing. We are not saved by our good works but they should be an overflow of our faith in Christ. See 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Ephesians 2:10.
 
Growing in the knowledge of God. This is important for two reasons: 1) Knowledge of God is necessary for proper living; and 2) Knowledge of God shields us from false teaching.
 
Being strengthened with all power. Paul asks God to give his readers not only discernment of his will but also the divine power to act on it. Living out your Christian faith may lead to adversity. That’s why Paul states that we need to be strengthened will all power “so that you may have great endurance and patience.”
 
Endurance is the power to cope and be content in all circumstances. But it does not mean endurance in the sense of simply giving in or succumbing to the events around you. It is a conquering endurance. It is the ability to deal triumphantly with anything that life can do to us.
 
Patience has to do with people. It is the quality of mind and heart which enables you to bear with people and never lose patience with, belief in, and hope for them.
 
Giving joyful thanks to the Father. Since Paul commands thanksgiving, it must be something we can decide to do. Therefore it can become a discipline in which we can grow. Gratitude, as the gospel speaks about it, embraces all of life: the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful, the holy and not so holy.
 

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Questions About Salvation

Question: Is the doctrine of predestination Biblical? If so, how does it coexist with man’s free-will and not violate the character of God?

The doctrine of predestination is that God predestinates some to eternal salvation and others to eternal damnation. See Romans 9:22-23; Romans 8:29-30.

Basic Calvinism:

  1. Total Depravity: every person is enslaved by sin and unable to choose God. 
  2. Unconditional Election: God has chosen from eternity those He will save. This choice is based solely in His mercy rather than any foreseen merit or faith in those chosen.
  3. Limited Atonement: the death of Christ paid the price only for the sins of the elect.
  4. Irresistible Grace: those whom God has determined to save will inevitably come to saving faith.
  5. Perseverance of the Saints: all those who have been chosen by God (the “elect”) will continue in faith.

 

Basic Arminianism:

  1. The salvation or ultimate condemnation of a person is the result of the God-given faith or unbelief of that person.
  2. The divinely provided atonement is sufficient for all persons but is applied only to those who trust in Christ. 
  3. No person can save himself or herself. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, no one can respond to God’s will that all be saved.
  4. God’s grace, applied by the Holy Spirit, is the sole source of good and of human salvation, yet this grace may be resisted.
  5. God’s grace in the life of the believer enables resistance of sin and Christ will keep them from falling. Whether one who has experienced this grace can ultimately forsake God “must be more particularly determined.”

 

The question reduces to this: Does God elect people because they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, or does God elect people in order that they will believe in Christ?

According to Arminianism, election is that act of God whereby he foreordains to eternal life those whom he foresees will respond in faith to the gospel. According to Calvinism, election is that act of God whereby he foreordains to eternal life those who, because of sin, cannot respond in faith to the gospel.

The primary argument against Calvinism has to do with the character of God. How can God predestine someone to hell, never allowing them the benefit of conviction and repentance? See 2 Peter 3:9.

The primary argument against Arminianism has to do with the Sovereignty of God and man’s inability to bring about his own salvation. See Romans 9:16-18. God’s Sovereignty is still satisfied in Arminianism by the role the Holy Spirit plays in salvation. See John 16:7-9.

It was man’s exercise of free will that brought sin into the world. It is also the exercise of man’s free will to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, repent of his sins that lead to death, and receive the salvation God provided all men through His Son. God “forcing” His salvation or damnation upon me seems contrary to His allowance of man’s free will to determine his final destiny. 

If all of humanity’s final destination is predetermined and will be effectual because of the Sovereignty of God, why preach the Gospel to the lost? See Romans 10:9-15. Why seem to offer a gift that cannot be accepted? It is difficult to see as “good” a supposedly loving God who elects some and passes over, or even deliberately damns, others. Such a view damages the biblical presentation of God as loving, kind, and just.

Could predestined, elect, chosen instead imply that God foreknew you would choose to follow him? See Romans 8:28-30.

Question: How can I tell I have the Spirit of God in me? I have given my life to God but I don’t know if he has accepted me.

See Ephesians 1:13–14. Upon salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up His residence in your life. You are saved through believing in Christ and confessing Him as Lord (Romans 10). Jesus said the same thing to Nicodemus. See John 3:16-18. See also Acts 15:8-9.

Those who are saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, will also be led by the Spirit. You should sense a difference in your life concerning your feelings about sin and your desire to know God better. See John 16:13-15. Paul reminds us that the Spirit himself will testify within us that we are God’s children (Romans 8:14-16). 

Question: I want to be water baptized. What does it mean for my past? I have a troubled past. Does it make me a new person in God’s eyes? What can I expect?

Water baptism doesn’t save a person. Water baptism is a symbolic act demonstrating what Christ has done in your life. Salvation is necessary before water baptism. 

When we are saved, our past is no longer held against us (Romans 4:7-8; Hebrews 8:12). When you ask God for forgiveness through Christ Jesus you are forgiven of all sin. You are also made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

So only God’s salvation made possible through Christ can forgive your sins (past, present, and future — no matter how troubling) and make you a new person in God’s eyes. Water baptism is just the outward expression of the work of salvation that took place inside you.


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Questions About Sickness and Suffering

Question: Is the disease in my body the “devil’s work”? It can’t be our Lord’s work. I am his child. He wouldn’t give this to me. 

What is the cause or origin of sickness and disease? See Genesis 3:16–19. Brokenness, corruption of the perfect creation, death — these are the universal consequences of sin. See Romans 5:12.

Death is the ultimate reminder that we have inherited the sinful nature from our “first parents”, Adam and Eve.

The good news is that God will set all things right in the new heavens and the new earth. It will be a place of perfection — no sin, no sorrow, no suffering, no sickness. But until that time, we are living within a body that is infected by and impacted by universal sin which leads to death. Chronic pain, illness, and disease are a form of death.

Disease, sickness, and suffering are a result of man’s rebellion against God. In that sense is indiscriminate — it’s no respecter of persons. Sickness and suffering falls upon the righteous and the unrighteous.

But can some sickness be the devil’s work? The Bible does appear to attribute some sickness and disease to Satan. See Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38.

There also appear to be times in Scripture that God does allow or send an illness or suffering upon an individual. Examples: Job, Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21), Herod Agrippa (Acts 12). Not many of us could claim the status of Job whom God allowed Satan to torment because of his exemplary faithfulness to God. The remainder of these examples show us that sickness, disease, and death that came from the Lord was due to personal wickedness. See John 5:14.

But there was also a time that the disciples wanted to attribute sickness to sin and Jesus corrected them. See John 9:1-3.

God’s allowance of sickness or suffering in your life does not invalidate His love, His power, or His compassion. Remember, we don’t define God through our circumstances or challenges. God can and will demonstrate his love, compassion, and grace in the midst of our suffering. See 2 Corinthians 1:3–11.

Even in the midst of suffering, God’s Word reveals some important truths that may give hope and purpose:

1. Suffering produces intimacy with God (Job 42:5). Intimacy with God is often nurtured right in the midst of suffering. Dr. Tim Hager: “There’s an opening of the soul that happens during times of stress or duress. During these times of suffering, we experience God at a deep, profound level.”

2. Suffering equips us to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Suffering gives us compassion for others who are hurting, enabling us to minister more effectively. Those who have suffered make the most effective comforters.

3. Suffering refines us (Isaiah 48:10). The meaning of this verse makes it clear the pain and suffering have a way of bringing our strengths and weaknesses to the surface. When the impurities (dross) float to the surface, God skims it off; he purifies and refines us to be His image bearer.

4. Suffering produces growth and maturity (James 1:2-4). If we can turn toward God in our pain, He can use our suffering to mature our faith.

5. Suffering conforms us into God’s image (Romans 8:28-29). We may be tempted to read these verses to say that God will bring good out of everything. While He can and does redeem pain in our lives (if we yield to Him), the verse speak of being conformed to God’s image through our suffering.

Remember, we serve a Savior who is familiar with suffering (Isaiah 53:3-5; Hebrews 5:7-10). Christ’s power is make perfect in our weakness. See 2 Corinthians 12:8–9.

Question: When someone you love is suffering a terminal illness, do we pray that death comes so they can be with the Lord or do we continue to pray for healing? What should we ask the Lord for? How do we pray in those circumstances?

See Philippians 1:21–23. First and foremost question is what is their spiritual condition. That will immediately give you a direction to pray. Second, where are they in the terminal illness process? A fairly coherent loved one may not appreciate you praying for the hastening of their death. As death appears inevitable, prayers should turn to prayers of comfort and assurance. This is when Scripture passages become very helpful. 

Question: Still curious if there is no suffering or sorrows in heaven, how will we feel if one of our loved ones doesn’t make it to heaven?

See Revelation 21:3–4. The Bible doesn’t address how we will feel if one of our loved ones doesn’t make it to heaven with us. I have a feeling that we will be so overwhelmed in the actual, unhindered presence of God that we will find ourselves thinking only of Him — He will be our focus, not us. We also know that God is perfectly just, and those who are in heaven will have every confidence that whatever has happened at the final judgment has been totally just and right. The terrible possibility that our loved ones might miss heaven should motivate us to earnestly pray and lovingly witness to them while there is still time in this life for them to experience salvation.


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A Leap of Faith

Read: Mark 2:1-12.
 
Jesus desires to cultivate an atmosphere of faith in our lives.
 
Jesus preached the word to them…
 
It stirs faith. See Romans 10:17.
 
That is why it’s important for us to be anchored into a church community that believes and values the teaching of God’s word.
It restores faith.Faith is like a muscle. If you don’t use it, you lose it!Faith begins at the hearing but it’s cultivated through application.
 
It builds faith. See James 2:14-17.
 
The reason we don’t often see a difference in our lives and families is because we fail to apply what we have learned.
 
Joining people on their journey, requires us to leap.
 
What barriers do you need to breakthrough in order for others to connect with Jesus? Social, Relational, Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, etc.?
 
God is moved to action through our faith and trust in Him! See Hebrews 11:6.
 
When we partner with people on their journey we can know and trust that God has the power to forgive their sins and heal their disease.
 
When you leap in faith, there will always be people there to criticize you.
 
Critics are often the one’s that you least expect.
 
Jesus was willing to leap in faith because he had come to “fulfill the will of the Father”. He knew that his public statement regarding the forgiveness of sins would cause judgement. But Jesus wanted us to know that He has the power to forgive us of our sins!
 
When God asks you to leap in faith, it may not always make sense. It may not be popular. But that it why, it’s a “Leap of Faith!”
So what is the leap of faith that you need to take today?Is it placing your faith and trust in Jesus?
 
Is it doing something like tithing, serving, or helping someone in need? Whatever God is leading you to do, it’s time to leap!

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Questions About God, Part 2

Question: Why does God seem so violent in the Old Testament and Jesus so loving in the New Testament? 

Many people have struggled with the apparent contradiction between the violence and vengeance of the Old Testament and the love and grace of the New Testament. To address this question appropriately, let’s review a few Bible basics:

  • The OT and NT are not separate “books.”
  • The OT and the NT each focus on primarily different time frames of redemptive history. The OT is primarily about God and His covenant people, the nation of Israel. The NT is primarily about Jesus and the origin of the Church, the body of Christ.

The characterization that God in the OT is angry and violent but that Jesus in the NT is loving and peaceful fits well with our polarized times. 

However, the idea that the OT God is opposite of the NT Jesus violates the clear teaching of Scripture and the nature of the Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — God is three in ONE.

God the Father and Jesus the Son are one and the same — they don’t have different personalities, they aren’t in conflict or contradiction with each other. In fact, during Jesus’ 3-year public ministry recorded in the NT, he never tried to separate or distinguish himself from the OT God. He never spoke against God’s activity in the OT.Just the opposite actually occurred. Repeatedly, Jesus emphasized that he and “the Father” were one and the same. See John 1:18; John 5:19; John 5:22-23; John 10:30; John 10:37-38.

 If OT God is righteous and forceful when dealing with sin, then we must expect that NT Jesus is the same. And if NT Jesus is loving and caring, so is OT God. Perhaps our greatest error has been to think of OT God and NT Jesus as two separate beings. Instead, we should be speaking of the “God of the Bible.”

The Bible reveals God as One who abhors evil and sinfulness, and He always will. The Bible also presents God as forgiving, merciful, and gracious, and He always will be.

The Old and New Testaments do not present one-sided, polar opposite depictions of the God of the Bible. Rather, the OT shows the full range of God’s character, and the NT also shows the complete spectrum of God’s attributes. In both Testaments, God the Father and Jesus the Son are revealed as compassionate, peace-loving, forgiving, patient, kind and judging. And they are also portrayed as being wrathful, powerful, and violent against evil and sin.

God’s approach to those he loves and his approach to sin and evil do not change from the OT to the NT. Any dissimilarity between the OT and NT can’t be attributed to difference in God Himself (who is immutable). Perhaps the reason we struggle with the full picture of God throughout the Bible is because our definition of love is too small.

We get in trouble when we just try to view God through only one lens or aspect of His character. We cannot view God’s perfect love without also viewing His justice. And we can’t view his justice without his love, mercy, and grace. God’s sense of justice and his holiness are undervalued components of his love. 

The cross is the primary example of the fullness of God’s love AND the fullness of God’s holiness and justice. Instead of God’s wrath being poured out against us in the OT form of plagues, army invasion, or fire from heaven because of our sin, Christ suffered. See 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 1 Peter 3:18. Jesus, God the Son, took the punishment we deserved and in so doing satisfied God’s holy and justifiable wrath against our sin and evil.

The thing that changed from the OT to the NT was not God’s wrath (or God’s love); it was our role in receiving it. God, in the greatest act of love and grace, took it on himself to protect us.

Together the OT and NT present one singular, compelling story. The overarching story of the Bible is God’s relentless pursuit of reconciliation with a humanity that rebelled against and rejected him. It takes both the OT and the NT to fully explain the magnitude and magnificence of God’s plan.


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Questions About God

Question: Where did God come from?

The basic answer to this question is that God did not come “from” anything or anywhere. God’s statement about Himself is that HE IS — a statement of His all-encompassing existence. See Exodus 3:14; Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8.

This question may be asking the question, “Who made God?” And again the simple answer is that no one made God. He has always existed. He is eternal which means He has no beginning and no end. Because He had no beginning, He did not need to be made.

I know that’s hard for us to understand, because everything we see around us had a beginning. But God had no beginning. See Isaiah 40:28. We must understand that God’s eternal nature transcends time and space. See Colossians 1:17; 1 Timothy 1:17; Psalm 90:2. His Existence, to express it from a human perspective, is from everlasting past to everlasting future. So God always has been, is right now, and always will be. He is eternal.

Question: Why does God declare what He will do and then allows His mind to be changed by appeals from David, Solomon, etc.?

What this question is addressing is the immutable nature of God. Immutable means unchanging over time and unable to be changed. God does not change. See Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29. So how do we reconcile the immutability of God with an event in Scripture when it appears as though He does change His mind? Biblical Example — Exodus 32.

If anyone were to change his mind, it must be because new information has come to light that was not previously known, or the circumstances have changed that require a different kind of attitude or action. Now, if God changed His mind, it cannot be because He has learned some bit of information that He did not previously know, for God knows all (Ps. 147:5). Therefore, it must be because the circumstances have changed that require a different attitude or action. But, if the circumstances have changed, it is not necessarily the case that God has changed His mind. It may simply be the case that, since the circumstances have changed, God’s relationship to the new circumstances are different because they have changed, not God. 

See Exodus 32:9-10. When Israel was at the foot of the mountain engaged in idol worship, God told Moses that His anger was burning against them and He was prepared to destroy them in judgment. However, when Moses interceded for them, the circumstances were changed. God’s attitude toward sin is always anger, and His attitude toward those who call to Him is always an attitude of mercy. See Exodus 32:11-14.

When Moses said that God relented, it was a figurative way of describing that Moses’ intercession successfully changed the relationship of the people to God. He brought the nation under the mercy of God’s grace, and out from under the judgment of God. God does not change, neither His mind, His will, nor His nature.

Question: Can you speak to the apparent Scriptural conflicts between the portrayal of God as all-knowing (ahead of time, what will happen) vs. God as being surprised or disappointed about Israel’s rebellious behavior (such that he grieved ever creating them)?

See Genesis 6:5–8. We also see examples of the “Lord’s regret” with Israel (golden calf in Exodus , 12 spies) and with making Saul king (1 Sam 15:28-29). The grief and pain of human sin was not felt only by humankind. God himself was grieved by the sin of humankind.

As a personal, relational Being, God’s activity in the world is subject to change and allows for all the same dynamics we have in our personal relationships. There was always bound to be conflict in covenantal history between God and human beings, but this does not mean there is conflict within God’s Himself. As God’s ways appear to us, there will be change and variation, but as God is in his character and essence there can be no variation of shadow due to change (James 1:17; Mal.3:6; Heb. 13:8; 2 Tim. 2:13).

When God reflects on the disobedience of his creation, he uses a word that makes sense to us: the word “regret.” But this doesn’t mean God was ignorant about their propensity to sin or caught off guard by their rebellion. 

As John Piper points out, God is quite capable of lamenting a state of affairs he himself foreknew and brought about (parenting example). In other words, God’s regret is not comparable in every way to our regret. God can look at His creation and say “I’m grieved that they sinned; I regret that I made them” while still maintaining, “I never change my mind.”

It is the nature of our covenantal relationship with God to know God as one who responds and reacts, which ought to appear to us all the more amazing because it is the nature of our covenant keeping God never to lie, repent, or change his mind (Num. 23:19).


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Questions About Cultural Hot Topics

Question: When someone tells me “that is what I believe”  then my response is a gentle “But that isn’t Biblical.” I’m sure there is a much better response — what would that be?

“For the Bible Tells Me So” isn’t going to work for most skeptics. So instead, let’s lean into the narrative, the example and teachings of Jesus, the principles in Scripture, instead of just one liner rules or answers. Blind obedience vs. informed and rational reasoning leading to choice.

Question: Where does the Bible stand on Abortion, homosexuality, aliens (legal and illegal)? These are hot points in our faith that have become politicized.

Traditional Christian faith holds that life begins at conception. So the taking of a human life, even an unborn child, is considered murder which violates God’s specific command “Do not murder.” Additionally, the Bible always recognizes the prenatal phase of life as that of a child and not a mere appendage to the mother’s body to be aborted at will. See Luke 1:31; Luke 1:36. In the prenatal phase both Jesus and John the Baptist were recognized as individual human beings well before the time of delivery. 

The Bible recognizes that God is active in the creative process of forming new life. See Isaiah 44:2; Psalm 139:13-16.

The Bible recognizes that God has plans for the unborn child. Only He knows the potential of this new life. See Jeremiah 1:5.

The Bible recognizes that God is sovereign in all things, including the quality of life of the unborn child. When people set themselves up as God to determine if a life is worth living they are usurping the sovereignty of the Creator.

God inspired Moses to include in the Scriptures a law that brings the sanctity of the lives of unborn children into focus. Exodus 21:22-23.

Homosexuality: already covered in previous messages.

Aliens (legal and illegal): While the Bible doesn’t speak directly to immigration, it does talk about how God’s people are to treat foreigners and strangers who lived among them. Israel, God’s chosen nation, always had foreigners among them. See Deuteronomy 10:18-19; Leviticus 19:33-34.

In the New Testament, the challenge placed before the Jewish Christians (disciples, etc.) was to promote equality and community for all races. See Galatians 3:26-28.

While we are citizens of this great nation (USA) we have a higher citizenship in heaven that calls us to show love and share Christ.

Question: I see more and more Christians drinking and posting on FB. Some only have a glass of wine and some drink a lot more. These are people who grew up in the church so I don’t understand it.

See Romans 12:2. Just culturally speaking, what does consuming alcoholic beverages communicate? In other words, for those of you who drink alcoholic beverages, what is your motivation? What message are you knowingly, or unknowingly, communicating? How is your consumption viewed by those who are watching (family, children, Christian friends, non-Christian friends)?

Under the banner of freedom in Christ, shouldn’t drinking alcoholic beverages be an expression of that freedom? Doesn’t Paul address that? See 1 Corinthians 10:23-24; 1 Corinthians 10:31-33. The question we should ask ourselves is not “Can a Christian drink?” but “Should a Christian drink?” Is it a sin? vs. Is it wise?

Since appeals to approve moderate drinking are often based on wine use in the Bible, it is critically important to understand the differences between the production and use of wine in biblical times, and the more deceptive and dangerous use of alcoholic beverages today. 

The Bible is very clear, however, on drunkenness. It is never painted in positive light. See Ephesians 5:18; Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:3-4; Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:20-21; Proverbs 23:31-35.

There are specific dangers inherent in alcohol, against which the Bible gives clear warning. Alcohol tends to alter one’s judgment (Proverbs 31:4–5), frequently brings woe, sorrow, and strife (Proverbs 23:29), and can cause physical harm (Proverbs 23:29,35). It can lower one’s inhibitions, leading to shameful behavior, loose speech, promiscuity, and violence (Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 5:11; Romans 13:13). Alcohol is a mocker, a deceiver that leads people astray. So deceptive is it that one tends at first not to realize the harm it is doing (Proverbs 23:35). 


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Questions About the Bible

To address questions about the Bible, we first need to affirm the authority of Scripture. See 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Question: When God spoke at the beginning why did everything appear?

What we can discern from Genesis 1 is that God created all things out of nothing by His creative, powerful spoken word. The words “God said” mark off the stages of creation, showing that God created by the word. God’s words were not empty, for the Spirit, who was present over the waters, empowered God’s words, bringing into being what God had spoken. See Psalm 33:6, 9; John 1:3; Romans 4:17. If things existed before God created them, what was the cause of their creation? In God’s creative power, He creates something from nothing. Hard for us to understand because all of our creation involves created things. That is why Hebrews 11:3 calls us to respond to this by faith.

Question: Did Adam have a 1st wife named Lilith before Eve?

Simple answer according to scripture is “No.” The legends vary significantly, but they all essentially agree that Lilith left Adam because she did not want to submit to him. According to the legends, Lilith was an evil, wicked woman who committed adultery with Satan and produced a race of evil creatures. None of this is true. There is no biblical basis whatsoever for these concepts. There is no one in the Bible named Lilith.

Question: Where in the Bible does it say to give your brother a help up not a help out?

There isn’t a verse in Scripture that is stated in this manner. There are Scriptural principles of helping others. See Philippians 2:3-4; 1 John 3:17-18; Proverbs 3:27. It would seem the essence of this question deals with truly helping a brother for his own good, not just allowing him to stay in his own trouble. In other words, we should be helping people in ways that truly help them — not in ways that condone laziness or an unwillingness to change. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 speaks to this concept.

Question: Can you address Mark 4:10-12; 4:33 where Jesus agrees to disclose the meaning of his parables to his disciples but hide them from everyone else? It seems inconsistent with John 3:17 and other passages of salvation. 

A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. A parable, then, is a teaching method which serves specific goals of Jesus, the Master Teacher. First, it is a familiar story which finds people where they live and gets their attention. Second, a parable has enough mystery to attract earnest seekers after Truth.

Here in Mark the mystery is the disclosure that the kingdom of God has drawn near in the person of Jesus Christ. The secret has been given to the disciples because they have responded in faith. “Those on the outside” alludes to Mark 3 and the rejection of Jesus by the teachers of the law and by his own family. For those with hard hearts, all things come “in parables.” To really get to the meaning of what Jesus is saying, let’s take a look at the context of the Isaiah passage that is quoted (see Isaiah 6:9-10). 

The main point is not salvation. But rather to examine what sort of heart a person brings to the teaching of Jesus. Jesus therefore teaches in parables both to reveal the truth to those who are receptive and to conceal it from those whose hearts are hardened. Read John 3:17-21.

The key to understanding this Luke parable passage is that Christ has a specific mission he was trying to accomplish. He needed to instruct his authentic disciples so that they could continue to build upon the basis of the gospel after His ascension into heaven. However, those whose hearts were hardened against Christ’s message also served His earthly mission for they were the very ones who would demand his crucifixion which became the means of our salvation.

The truth is that we need a Holy Spirit birthed revelation when we hear or read the good news of the gospel. The work of the Holy Spirit accompanies the message of the Gospel. Read Luke 10:21-22; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16. To be certain, God doesn’t want any to perish but all to come to repentance. However, their heart has to be open to the truth to actually receive it.

Question: In the song “God gives and takes away” my question is if he gives you something why would he take it away?

See Job 1:20–22. All of these events were allowed by the Lord to prove Job’s integrity, character and devotion to the Lord. It takes real faith to say in the midst of sorrow and suffering, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In this passage we see a couple of great principles: First, he renounces any claim on all that had been his (Naked I came … naked I will depart). Second, Job affirms the freedom of God to give and take as he chooses (The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away). So in this context, the Lord gives and takes away to prove the love and gratitude of one who trusts in him. See 1 Thessalonians 5:18. 

At other times, it is possible that the Lord may take away when we begin to form an unhealthy attachment to something and allow it to become more important to us than Him. It will also certainly remind us that all things come and go in our lives through the hands of God our provider. 

Question: Revelation 3:15-16

In the Christian life, there are three “spiritual temperatures”: a burning heart, on fire for God (Luke 24:32), a cold heart (Matt. 24:12), and a lukewarm heart (Rev. 3:16). The lukewarm Christian is comfortable, complacent, and does not realize his need. The point is to never allow compromise to settle in. We must be people who continually grow in our love, commitment, and obedience to Christ as we follow Him. This requires attention and intention — just like maintaining hot water or cool water. The normal process is toward lukewarmness.


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Sexual Sin & Gender Issues, Continued

Question: Because adultery, divorce are condemned in Bible, why is homosexuality so much more out there to Christians? There are some wonderful homosexuals out there. I am having trouble with this as a Christian.

According to the Bible, homosexuality is not so much more out there. Sexual sin is sin. We need to stop categorizing or measuring sin and see it as God does. 

I agree that there are wonderful gay/lesbian people — just as there are wonderful adulterers, porn addicts, liars, and so on.

So how should Christians treat those of the LGBTQ lifestyle? In the same manner in which Jesus treated those he met who were living with sexual sin and brokenness.

Examples: Woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11); Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-30); Woman anoints Jesus feet (Luke 7:36-50).

  1. He didn’t lead with condemnation but built common ground.
  2. He engaged them in conversation about their lifestyle.
  3. He didn’t compromise the truth but treated them with grace and dignity.
  4. He saw past their current condition and spoke toward a better way of life — redemption and salvation.
  5. He saw them all as worthy and able to enter a saving relationship with Him.

 

Unlike the Pharisee, who can only dwell on the sinner’s past record, Jesus prefers to see the potential that love and forgiveness possess for changing a person’s heart.

Question: How do you deal with a child who is living a transgender lifestyle when you are a Christian?

Addressed in previous question. Plus add a lot of prayer for yourself and your child.

Questions: Does the church, at least the Church in America, address the LGBTQ tsunami that has developed since the US Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in 2015? A spiritual pandoras box has been opened, it seems.

Unfortunately various denominations have had divided views on this issue. I believe I communicated my view today. 

Question: What if Oregon passes a law similar to the one in Canada that can fine someone for using gender pronouns that are contrary to the persons chosen gender, not birth gender? Would we comply?

http://www.canadalandshow.com/no-wont-jailed-using-wrong-pronoun/

I believe we need to begin this question by addressing: What is the motivation? This is a complex thing. Do I enter that person’s reality to build common ground? Or does that affirm their deception?

Question: What if Oregon passes a law similar to California’s AB2943 making it unlawful for a person or entity to counsel a homosexual that they can go back to being heterosexual, “conversion therapy” and possibly will lead to a ban on the sale of books that promote this teaching, including the Bible? 
 

We honor government, as Scripture declare, except then honoring government would require us to dishonor God. In that case, we obey the higher authority.

It’s time for the church to focus more on evangelizing and less on politicizing.

I know that we tend to politicize everything and that will create division everytime. That’s why the church isn’t called to politicize but rather evangelize. We have good news for all who are living subject to sin. This good news has the power to cross all political, social, and sexual boundaries. 


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