Thursday, January 14 2021
Many lack faith in God by lacking faith in God’s promises. However, Abraham had no unbelief that hindered his faith. Paul reported, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness.’” (Romans 4:20–22 ESV). Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac because Abraham believed that God would allow him to return home with Isaac (Genesis 22:5). It is written, “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Hebrews 11:19).
Why did Abraham believe that God would resurrect Isaac? This is not because the Scriptures report that God told Abraham that He would resurrect Isaac. Abraham believed that God could resurrect the dead and would resurrect Isaac because God keeps His promises. God promised, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named” (Hebrews 11:18; cf. Gen 21:12). Many misotheists (haters of God) revile the Bible for teaching that God would command a father to kill his son. However, Abraham’s faith demonstrated that he believed God was just and there was no evil in sacrificing his son, because God promised to bless the nations through his son so God must intend to resurrect the innocent and just.
God saves those who trust in Him specifically those who share the faith of Abraham (Romans 4:13–16). God’s grace is promised to more than the Israelites who received the Law but to all who have faith among all nations of the world (Romans 4:16). For this reason, Paul reported that Abraham is the father of all the faithful among the nations. Paul wrote, “as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’ — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17). Trusting in God is believing that God brought everything in the universe into existence, so God can restore even recreate the bodies of the dead to life.
The Pauline writer of Hebrews declared, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). In other words, faith in God is the only view that accounts for everything and makes sense of reality. The universe did not create the mind to under the universe, but the Mind created the universe to be understood by other minds. The faith that perceives the attributes of the Creator in the creation is the faith that a Christian must have. The writer of Hebrews further explained, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Abraham believed in God’s power to create, resurrect, and prepare a place for the resurrected. By faith, Abraham obeyed God and went to live in the Promised Land because “he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Christians live the way that Abraham did because Christians like Abraham look forward to a city in a heavenly homeland that God has designed for them when they resurrect. Those who die in faith “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16).
For Abraham, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Do you have faith like Abraham? Do you believe God will resurrect the faithful among your family or do you fear God’s coming judgment for your loved ones? Jesus’s resurrection is the gospel of hope that Christians must proclaim. Thank God that Jesus bodily rose from the dead.
Tuesday, January 12 2021
People are fascinated with other worlds in books, movies, video games, and vacations. Most like to think of the experiences of traveling to foreign places. The anticipation in planning to travel is a part of the joy. Why does the anticipation of a better place appear to be innate within most people? Many dream of a better life. What about the afterlife?
Some describe death or the afterlife as a great adventure. Many debate whether life exists after death. Beliefs about the cause of all life determine what someone believes about the afterlife. While nothing is what rocks dream about, people dream of other worlds. Engineers design roving robots to detect their environment before they create them in one place and test them for use in anticipation for other locations. Why do humans desire better homes? Why do so many look forward to an afterlife?
People can see that the cause of the universe must exist beyond the universe and its natural laws. No mindless cause of the universe can decide how intelligent life would come to exist and understand its origin. However, the intelligent Cause would engineer intelligent life that can reason that the original cause of the universe is the intelligent Creator. Therefore, one must think rightly about God who created human life to want to keep living and who made every place of people to dwell. For God, another world to come is no challenge for Him.
By a reasonable faith in God, Christians hope for life in a renewed body resurrected never to die (Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:53). The Christian faith is the most reasonable hope for human life to be restored to life after death by the Creator of all living things. The afterlife is apparent in trusting the witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection. The hope of eternal life fills Christians with joy to live another kind of life now and forever. Those who rise again to eternal life must have a compatible place to live. Jesus gave hope to His followers by overcoming death and preparing a place for them (John 14:1–3; 1 Corinthians 15:20–28; 2 Timothy 1:10). Christians look forward to a city in a heavenly country designed and prepared by God for the faithful (Hebrews 11:10, 16).
In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus of Nazareth taught His disciples while sitting on a mountain by first proclaiming blessings as the conditions of joy and happiness that align with the character of those who are faithful to God. Jesus’s blessings foretold of the coming kingdom that His followers looked forward to entering (Matthew 5:3–12). Jesus described the kingdom of heaven as a place of comfort, fulfillment, and mercy for those who mourn sin, hunger for righteousness, and are merciful to others. The kingdom of God includes the meek inheriting the earth that is the heavenly land (Matthew 5:5; 19:28–29; cf. 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1–2). In that kingdom, the pure of heart will see God, and those who make peace will be called “sons of God” (5:8). Jesus encouraged His followers to express joy when others curse, persecute, and slander them (5:10–12). Why? The teacher taught His students that the kingdom of heaven is theirs. The kingdom of God is worth the trials of life, so we trust God.
Do we have the character of those who inherit the kingdom? The character of those entering the kingdom are humility in spirit, mourning human rebellion, meekness in self-control, hunger for righteousness, merciful in abundance, purity in heart, makers of peace, and enduring persecution for righteousness. By the hope of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus called His followers to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13–16). The glory of those faithful to God is like a city on a hill that no one can hide. The follower of Jesus is a light that illuminates an otherwise dark room so everyone can see (5:15). Followers of Christ give light so that others can see their works and praise God (5:16).
Thank God for the hope of eternal life! God help us to live by the character of the kingdom according to Jesus’s preaching!
Thursday, January 07 2021
How do most people study baptism? Initially, most who study what the Bible says about baptism gather as many scriptures as they can about baptism. Then, they read them and harmonize them to come to a conclusion. That is a word study. No one needs to be an academic to do this. Every Christian should continue to do word studies as long as they are understanding those scriptures according to the surrounding texts.
Despite such a common approach to studying a subject in the Bible, many people still directly contradict each other about baptism and more. Why do so many disagree with each other on biblical subjects? Some add teachings from their background that align with their family, friends and, or church to interpret baptism in a more agreeable way. Furthermore, many search out more scriptures that appear to disprove what other scriptures appear to say. That may be a confusing process, but this allows them to believe what they are comfortable with accepting. However, Christians can and must agree in unity. The apostle Paul wrote, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV). Agreeing to disagree about essential teachings is not a biblical option for Christians.
How people study the subject of baptism in the Bible does not reveal any fault with Jesus, His Apostles, or the Bible that they quote and added more by the guidance of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Peter 1:20–21). People feel ashamed for mishandling a message or action of those whom they respect. Reinterpreting someone's words to dismiss someone’s message has always been dishonest and wrong. Christians must remain honest in how we study and understand the Scriptures. The apostle Paul taught Timothy, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). Bearing false witness of the words of Jesus and His Bible is an act of great dishonesty to faithful followers of Jesus. The Bible is not always easy to understand, and no action worth its time is always easy. Peter observed about Paul's letters, "There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16). The ignorant and unstable are those who try to disprove scripture with scripture so they can support what makes them comfortable.
Paul warned Timothy, "Evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13). Furthermore, Paul urged him, "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:14–15). By these words and earlier warnings about living in the last days, the apostle declared, "Every Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16–17). In a chaotic world where everyone seems to contradict oneself from last month, Christians have an anchor and foundation for the truth that Jesus relied upon and taught.
Now when believers return to the subject of baptism, what do we find? Who should be baptized? What did Jesus say about baptism? What is the purpose of baptism? These are great questions that everyone needs to study honestly. Thank God for His written Word!
Monday, January 04 2021
God has given power and authority for Christians to act as free people. "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God" (1 Peter 2:15–16 ESV). For this freedom, Christians obey the governing authorities but obey God over government (Titus 3:1–2; Acts 4:19; 5:29).
While Christians live as free, how can Christians stand against oppression and tyranny (cf. Isaiah 1:23; Micah 7:3)? As has been said many times, if the righteous, God-fearing, pro-family, pro-life, hardworking, and freedom-loving people stay out of politics, then who does that leave to make policies under which we live and struggle to survive? The whole of the Christian life is freedom in full action against the oppression of evil. The Scriptures do not depict the church forming armies or ministers acting as informants to assassinate government officials (Ephesians 6:12; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:4). What can the faithful do especially when the "authorities" are illegitimate and act contrary to their laws and promises?
The church has a number of ways to stand against oppression and tyranny:
God brings justice to evil rulers (2 Thessalonians 1:6–9; cf. Psalm 2:10–12; 125:3). Throughout the Old Testament, God demonstrated His providential wrath on evil rulers and evil nations. The Israelite prophet Daniel declared, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings” (Daniel 2:21). God has not changed. He will judge all. Thank God for His justice and mercy!
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Every Wednesday night 7-8 PM, we have Bible lessons, crafts, games, and snacks for grades K-6.