“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” 1 Peter 4:1
Christ suffered in the flesh for doing good and for being the Messiah. He had a mindset that went against what was common at the time. Since Christ suffered, Paul tells us to arm ourselves with the same way of thinking, think the same way that Christ thought. As His followers we will suffer in the flesh, since those who think like Christ have ceased from sin. Think like Christ. Do what’s right, even if it leads to suffering.
Since we are in Christ we focus on what’s truly important. Christ focused on the bigger picture. Instead of listening to the mindset of the day, He stuck to His purpose. Because of this, He went through with the plan and now we have forgiveness of sins. The world will tempt us to desert Christ. We don’t join in because we have developed a new mindset. We are reborn and no longer live like the world.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2). Paul’s reasoning is that if we have died to sin, why would we continue to live in it? We say no to the world because we have died to sin. The old life, the way we used to think, the way we used to act, the way we used to talk, is dead. We have a new mindset that is focused on God and eternal life.
Galatians 5:24 says, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Do you belong to Christ? If the answer is yes, then you no longer own yourself. God owns you and He expects us to have a mindset that mirrors His own. Self control is essential if we are to live Christ-like lives. To do this we must develop a new mindset. A mind that thinks differently from the majority. Making this choice won’t always be easy, but it’s what our Father desires of us as His children.
The problem of evil is a very difficult issue for many Christians. Most people reading this article have seen someone lose their faith or justify atheism with this exact problem. Maybe some of you have struggled with it too — I did for a long time.
Evil is dysfunction. What God made in the beginning was functional and good. At some point, forces outside of this earth rebelled against God. We don’t know when this happened, but it was before mankind sinned (Genesis 2.16-17, 3.4-5; Ezekiel 28), likely before humanity was even created.
But evil exists on earth because we introduced it. We opened that pandora’s box because we were given the freedom to do so. God warned us not to, but we did it anyway. So why doesn’t he stop bad things from happening to good people? He often does. Hebrews 1.14 and Matthew 18.10 prove that he uses angels to help his family. Evil still exists because it allows us to choose our own destiny.
We do have to remember, though, that satan runs the planet right now (II Corinthians 4.4). This is his time, before he’s tortured around the clock for eternity (Revelation 20.10).
When we introduced dysfunction to earth, it had far-reaching consequences (Romans 8.15ff). Evil is short-lived and on borrowed time. Jesus defeated satan when he came back to life (Hebrews 2.14; Colossians 2.14-15). Evil affects us all, but it won’t last forever. Just because it still exists now does not mean that God doesn’t exist or doesn’t love us. His unlimited forgiveness should be enough to get us through this life so we can leave evil behind forever (II Corinthians 12.8-9). It’s hard to have that mindset, but it’s worth it.
A question came up in class this past week that sparked some interesting discussion.
“There Are levels or degrees of reward in Heaven?”
Jesus told his followers each of them would receive a reward in heaven based on what they did here on earth. Consider the words of Jesus,
“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds.”
Let’s take a look at two key words in this verse.
The word recompense (apodidōmi) means “reward” or “to pay” and is determined by one’s
deeds (praxis), meaning “a doing, a mode of acting, a deal, a transaction.”
While some place these levels of reward into a speculative category, there’s more clarity on the flip side of eternity. Several passages indicate various levels of punishment. Consider the following examples.
“But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds…”
“The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
Some have argued that degrees of mental anguish which are based on a knowledge of the Truth is what these scriptures are referring to. One would spend their infinity thinking about what they could have, should have, or would have done differently in life. Scripture leaves no doubt that this will be the case for too many which should motivate us that we have a saving message and a mission to save.
While it may be difficult to imagine hell being any worse and heaven being any better on an individual basis, getting to heaven is the author’s main goal.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Paul’s days as a free man are behind him, and he is awaiting execution (2 Tim. 4:6-8). Yet, his pen has not been silenced and he spends his last days encouraging a young preacher he has mentored and trained. He repeatedly calls Timothy “my son” (2 Tim. 1:2; 2:1; Phil. 2:22; 1 Tim. 1:2; 1:18). Especially in this, the last of his letters, Paul seems to reveal a sense of urgency in revealing practical wisdom to help his young protege to productively serve Christ Jesus (2:1,3,8,10). He likens the work to soldiering (2:3-4), competing as an athlete (2:5), and farming (2:6). He points to how God renders aid and assistance to His faithful proclaimers (2:7-13).
Faithful proclamation of the truth is also something that is proven by taking the proper approach to the task. Paul is concerned about unfaithful men being entrusted with the stewardship of teaching others (cf. 2:2,14-26). Timothy is told to remind them and solemnly charge them “not to” do certain things (14) and to “avoid” (16) and “refuse” (23) certain traps that they could potentially fall into as teachers.
It seems that as we consider the visceral, virulent tack taken by voices of influence within our culture to any number of matters–politics, race, morality, religion, education, etc.–the church, tragically, has at times emulated that tack in our dealings with one another. Whereas Paul described it more as “biting and devouring” when addressing the churches of Galatia (5:13), he is extremely concerned that such a spirit has caught hold with some in Timothy’s circle of influence. Therefore, he warns the young preacher against three traps that those tasked with preaching and teaching the gospel fall into. They are still potent and existent today.
TRAP ONE: WRANGLING ABOUT WORDS (2 Tim. 2: 14)
Paul had warned Timothy about this trap in his first letter to him. He writes in 1 Timothy 6:4 about those advocating a different doctrine, including having “a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words….” (NAS, emph., NP). The inspired Paul does more than diagnose the problem. He addresses root causes like conceit, ignorance, envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction (4-5). He diagnoses the condition of such teachers, calling them “men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth” (5). To these, religion is simply a way to make money (5).
Now, in this second epistle, Paul warns of additional harm done by such wrangling about words (14). It does not serve a good, edifying purpose and it actually tears down. It’s useless and ruinous.
How might we fall into that trap in the 21st Century and in the current climate? Social media is a major culprit, where people–often laboring under the guise of defense or promotion of the gospel–mercilessly criticize what others post. What motivates such contrariness? According to Paul, it could things like conceit, ignorance, envy, etc.
Teachers and preachers might have or develop a reputation for being a gunslinger, ready to fight and argue about anything big or small. Watch or listen to their sermons and classes, and you can be fairly certain that this kind of wrangling will happen. No doubt, the gospel is adequately provocative and offensive to the sensitivities of the heart-hearted or ungodly, but God’s Word doesn’t need “help” from us through crude, sarcastic, mean-spirited attitudes and vocabulary. If we offend, let it be God’s Word presented in love rather than our vicious, sharp-tongued barbs.
TRAP TWO: WORLDLY AND EMPTY CHATTER (2 Tim. 2:16)
Again, this is a theme in Paul’s writing to Timothy. He actually warns against the profane or worldly three times in the first epistle. The law is for the “profane” (1:9; same word). He is told to have nothing to do with “worldly” fables fit only for old women (4:7; same word). Then, Paul closes warning him to avoid “worldly” and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge (6:20; same word). To define what Paul means, just look at the results. Such teaching leads to further ungodliness, spreads like cancer, and upsets the faith of some (16-18). It included claims and teaching that was outright false, in this case asserting that the resurrection had already occurred.
It can be hard to resist worldly and empty chatter in a world full of it. Our culture can get fascinated with vacuous, fruitless things from the latest trends, ideas, and causes célèbres. We consume all our time and energy on matters that ultimately will not matter. We need to examine what we teach and preach. Does it lead the worldly further down that road? Does it undermine their faith in God and His will? Whether we do that through being a devil’s advocate or encouraging wickedness (19), we do it at our own peril in addition to the peril of those who listen and follow us.
TRAP THREE: FOOLISH AND IGNORANT SPECULATIONS (2 Tim. 2:23)
These may be connected to the youthful lusts Paul has just mentioned (22) or the quarrelsomeness he is about to warn Timothy about (24). “Speculations,” depending on context, can refer to the noble act of searching for information and investigating (Acts 15:2,7; 25:20). But, almost entirely in the New Testament, it refers to matters for dispute or engagement in a controversial discussion (Arndt, et all, 429). It involves a clash of opinions (Kittel 300).
With the call for faith in matters of doctrine sufficiently divisive, what a tragedy when people of influence in the Bible leverage that authority by dividing brethren over what, when boiled down, is nothing more than opinion, speculation, and conjecture. Romans 14 makes clear that not everything is a matter of faith. Christian living necessarily involves judgment calls, and we fall into a trap to confuse either for the other. While a world is dying lost without hope, can we afford to devolve into debates over things that do not, of themselves, affect the salvation, the work, the worship, or the nature of the church?
The beautiful thing about Paul’s sobering words is that for each trap, there is an escape. More than an escape, it is a healthy, fruitful alternative. What is the escape for “wrangling about words”? A diligent, hard-working handling of the word of truth (15). What is the antidote for “worldly and empty chatter”? The firm foundation of God (20) and the proper preparation of self for every good work (19-21). What is the alternative to “foolish and ignorant speculations”? Labor as the Lord’s bond-servant, being “kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness corrections those who are in opposition” (24-25a).
The world is watching and we who teach, in whatever format on whatever platform, incur an especially strict judgment (Jas. 3:1). What a privilege to get to share Jesus with the lost and our brethren! As we do, let’s be aware of these teaching landmines. They are not necessary to effectively represent God; instead, they serve the opposite. Be on the lookout for how to please our neighbor for his good and edification (Rom. 15:2).
Arndt, William et al. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature 2000 : 429. Print.
Kittel, Gerhard, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament 1985 : 300. Print.
In Genesis 24, we meet a man who only identifies as “Abraham’s servant” (v. 34). This unnamed servant is most likely Eliezer, Abraham’s household servant, whom he expected to be his heir (Genesis 15.2). Jewish tradition is in favor of this. However, because the chapter fails to identify him, we will also refrain from doing so. Hence, this unnamed servant teaches us three things as he obeys his master’s will to obtain a wife for his son from among his relatives in modern-day Iraq.
The unnamed servant teaches us humility. The fact that the unnamed servant only refers to himself as a servant of his master says a lot. He considers his identity to be secondary to his position in his master’s household. Our Great Example was similarly humble, much like this servant. We can see that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the most humble person of all when he took on human form and died for the salvation of mankind (Philippians 2:5–10).
Humility is an essential virtue. Humility, according to the Bible, is necessary for Christians to cultivate. For example, the book of James says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NASB 1995) Thus, Christians are to approach God with modesty, acknowledging their shortcomings.
But we should not confuse humility with self-deprecation. God’s word doesn’t tell us to belittle ourselves or our accomplishments. Instead, humility involves acknowledging that all good things come from God, upon Whom we depend for our success (James 1.17). Humility also requires service. The Bible calls us to be the servants of others, just as Jesus modeled servant leadership (John 13.14-16). Humility consists in putting the needs of others ahead of our desires and ambitions.
And God doesn’t overlook this service. Instead, humility is a key to spiritual growth, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23.12 NASB1995). James reminds us: “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4.10 NASB1995)
Therefore, when Christians talk about humility, they stress the importance of knowing our limits and weaknesses, helping others, and coming to God with a humble heart.
The unnamed servant teaches us to trust in God’s Providence. The nameless servant believed that God’s providence would help him succeed in his task. So likewise, God’s word instructs us to trust in God’s providence throughout the Bible, which means we accept that God is in charge of everything and has a plan for our lives. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29.11 NASB1995). I would be amiss if I did not point out that this is not a personal promise to us, as it was spoken to the Israelites on the verge of Babylonian captivity. However, we can accept that it means that God has plans for His people.
Thus, God urges us to trust that His purpose for our lives is beneficial, even if it may not seem logical or beneficial. This trust is part of submitting ourselves to God’s will. Surrendering to God’s will is part of trusting in providence. Christians are urged to pray for God’s direction and guidance and believe that God’s plan for their lives is what is best for them. “I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps,” Jeremiah says again (Jeremiah 10.23 NASB 1995).
The Bible teaches us to trust in God’s provision, which implies that we believe that God will provide for our necessities (Matthew 6.33). Even in challenging circumstances, we know God will provide for our needs. So, the Christian doctrine of trust in providence stresses the importance of believing in God’s plan for each person’s life, submitting to His will, and trusting in His provision.
The unnamed servant teaches us to be shrewd. The servant who put Rebecca through the “camel test” was astute. Have you ever thought how this man must have appeared to the young Rebecca? The unnamed servant was a physically fit man. In addition, he needs other strong men to travel with him and a caravan of ten camels. Why, then, would he need a woman to bring him water and tend to his livestock?
What could this servant learn from administering the “camel test”? Rebecca’s response suggested much about her character. For example, what concern would she have for her family if she returned the water she had given a stranger to drink? Did she have the servant’s heart to recognize and want to meet a need when it was within her power? Did she consider others first? Finally, Rebecca had to demonstrate her worth to Isaac and, eventually, to Abraham, his master.
Jesus told his disciples to “be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10.16 NASB 1995). In other words, Jesus tells us to be wise and intelligent when we talk to other people but also to be kind and safe. The term “wise as serpents” might be understood to suggest that the disciples should be as intelligent and crafty as snakes in their relationships with others. But it’s important to remember that Jesus didn’t want his followers to lie or trick people. Instead, he wanted them to be honest and wise in their relationships with others. Likewise, “harmless as doves” alludes to the doves’ gentleness and lack of aggression. Even in challenging or hostile circumstances, Jesus pushes his followers to remain calm and non-threatening in their relationships with others.
Jesus asked his followers to be intelligent and astute in their interactions while being mild and non-threatening. We should apply this advice and use it when applicable.
The unnamed servant in Genesis 24 teaches essential lessons about humility, faith in providence, and shrewdness. His humble demeanor reminds us of the importance of admitting our flaws and prioritizing the needs of others. Trusting in God’s providence entails believing that God has a plan for our lives and that everything will work out for the best. Finally, being shrewd implies being wise and intelligent in our interactions with others while maintaining our integrity. As Christians, we can learn from the example of the unnamed servant and strive to live a life that honors God. The unnamed servant in Genesis 24 teaches essential lessons about humility, faith in providence, and shrewdness. His humble demeanor reminds us of the importance of admitting our flaws and prioritizing the needs of others. Trusting in God’s providence entails believing that God has a plan for our lives and that everything will work out for the best. Finally, being shrewd implies being wise and intelligent in our interactions with others while maintaining our integrity. As Christians, we can learn from the example of the unnamed servant and strive to live a life that honors God.
We’ve all been there. You make the decision to start going to the gym. You have a goal and vision set in place so you head to the gym and start working out. Sadly, you won’t see any progress after the first day. You could even spend 12 hours working out nonstop and still look the same (just sweatier). One trip won’t give you instant results. Two trips and you’ll still look the same. Honestly you won’t see much difference for quite some time. No one knows exactly when, but eventually you’ll start to see progress. If you have a deeply-rooted commitment and continue to workout even with a lack of visible progress, eventually you will get results. However, this period of time spent working out and seeing nothing can be a challenge to overcome. It takes drive, commitment and consistency. It all must be based on a deeply-rooted desire to achieve your goal.
The moment you are baptized doesn’t make you perfect. One day of studying scripture doesn’t make you a bible scholar. One worship service doesn’t make you holy. But if you have a deeply-rooted desire to be like Christ, you are consistent in study, things will begin to change. Christianity takes commitment and consistency to have the results God wants us to have.
Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” These Christians were devoted to the teaching and fellowship. This is exactly what God wants from each one of us.
So how is our dedication to Christ? Is it consistent? Do we have a deeply-rooted desire to imitate Christ? This won’t happen overnight. It is my prayer that as children of God we dedicate each day to him. Wake up with the intent to be a light, and you will be amazed at what happens.
This is a fun question to tackle. We won’t be able to do it justice in article format, unfortunately. But it’s very difficult to find out what’s actually true when it comes to almost anything. Many scientific disciplines are riddled (ironically) with dogma, bias, conflicts of interest, and corruption. Religion is surrounded by deafening opinions, zealots, and detractors. History is clouded, uncertain, and subjective. Everyone has an opinion and too much information bombards us relentlessly.
So we’re told “reality is an illusion” or “reality is a simulation” or “reality is undefinable” or “there is no good or evil, only balance,” etc. While each of these is an intriguing study, we’ll focus on what we know is true.
Christianity believes this to be true — God is real. He took a shapeless, empty rock and turned it into the beautiful earth we have now. He’s the only entity with unlimited power, but cares most about one group: us. We are nothing in the vast universe, but God cares about us (Ps 8.4).
The collection of books we call the bible is God’s message to humanity. I am fully convinced that the origins of this library are from not earth. Since the bible claims to be from God, and internal/external evidence overwhelmingly suggests a non-earth origin, I believe that it really is from God.
So what’s true? God made reality (Gen 1). He gave us consciousness and the ability to interact with the reality he made. He gave us complete freedom to choose our own destiny. He let humanity kill his son, just to bring his son back to life as tangible hope for all people. If we do what God wants, we get that second life too. There is good and there is evil, function and dysfunction. Good will last forever, but dysfunction will be destroyed permanently when Jesus comes back (Rev 20.9-15).
This earth is not going to last forever, a fact supported by both the new testament and mainstream science. This is truth. Where we’re going when the earth is destroyed is up to us.
That’s all we really need to know about reality — it’s as real as God is, and our next life will be as real as this one.
Real cowboys from the American frontier, both the good guys and the bad guys, had no interest in the big, bulky Stetsons that everyone associates with them. Contrary to our more modern cowboys, the most popular headgear among 19th century gunslingers was the bowler, sometimes called a derby.
Many people have an idea in their minds of what the church looks like, but it just might be the case that the image doesn’t match scriptural teaching.
The “church” in the Bible is a singular, unified group of God’s people spread out across the globe in the form of multiple likeminded congregations. Though the people are God’s— they’re still people. People have problems. The difference between His family and the world, though, is that there’s a solution and a hope for His own.
When New Testament Christians claim that there’s one church they don’t mean there’s only one group of people who have all the answers and can do no wrong. They simply acknowledge the Biblical truth that God made plans for only one church and that plan had been in motion before the creation of the world (Eph. 3.10-11).
The New Testament is largely made up of letters that were written to correct and admonish our natural human tendencies. When these things are left unchecked and unbridled they produce more pain and destruction, which can clearly be seen all around us. For most, the product of sin is self-evident but the power of the Savior isn’t— and that’s where the church comes in. The main function of the church is to seek, save, and keep the saved saved. This is done by walking, speaking, and acting like Jesus. The form and function of His family is simple because God’s goal is to save as many as possible (Jn. 3.16-17). The New Testament church is meant to be the hands, feet, and mouth of God. The church is to work, walk, and speak only the things He would and that’s only possible if a group of people are living by His instruction. Since God only wrote one book, there’s only one manual. Since following the instructions will produce one church family then there’s only one church. In the same way you can assembly an entertainment system wrong by incorrectly following the plans, you can also assemble the church wrong. There’s a right way and there’s a wrong way and one needs only to reference His instructions to be certain.