Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Evangelism and God's Choice

What effect does a belief in God's election (Ephesians 1:4; Romans 9:19-24; Acts 13:48) have on evangelism? The effect it should not have is discouraging us from doing it. God has called us to be the instruments He will use to spread His truth (Romans 10:14,15; Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:10). God uses means to produce His ends, and I am one of the means He uses. If  I refuse, God will still find a way to accomplish His purposes, but I am guilty of disobedience to His commands. What God's election does is help me avoid trusting in my abilities or even engaging in manipulation when it comes to evangelism (1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 2:3,4; 2 Timothy 4:3,4). If I believe that only the work of God can bring someone to Christ (John 6:44,45; 1:12,13; Romans 8:29,30), then while I should work to do things well, I should not trust in my ability or methods. Also, if I believe that only God can bring someone to Himself, I am less likely to be discouraged or even angry when I am rebuffed or my overtures are rejected. It therefore makes it easier to approach the situation with the gentleness required by Scripture (1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Colossians 4:6). It also helps to prevent discouragement if there is a lack of immediate results. If it is God who produces the results, I can persevere, trusting that God is in control of the situation (1 Corinthians 3:6,7; Matthew 16:18; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6). I would therefore conclude that God's election, properly understood, is an aid to evangelism rather then a hindrance.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Biblical Musings 3

Fish Pond at Tabgha, Tradition Site of the Feeding of the 5000
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." John 6:26-29 (NIV)

What is involved in working for the food that spoils? How do we avoid doing this?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Biblical Musings 2

Sculpture at Mensa Christi. Peter Told to Feed Christ's Sheep
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJ)

What is involved in this command? Who is expected to carry it out and why?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In the Midst of Battle

As Christians, we live in the midst of a battle (Ephesians 6:10-12; 2 Timothy 2:3,4). Our weapons are not physical ones but spiritual ones (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:8). Also, we live in a world that is under the power of the enemy (Ephesians 2:2; Hebrews 2:14,15). But there is a temptation to ignore this truth and to want to be comfort and at home in this present world. But this is something Scripture forbids (1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4). This is important, because how we face life depends on how we understand it. If we see life as a nice, safe place, where all our desires will be met, it will deeply disappoint us. We may even be tempted to give up fighting. But if we see that we are warriors in a raging cosmic battle, it puts the set-backs of life in perspective. Now we have been promised by God that despite our struggles now (John 16:33; Acts 14:22), we will be ultimately victorious (Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 2:14). For our Lord Jesus has already conquered and will give us the victory (Colossians 2:15; Philippians 3:20,21). Let us, therefore, live this life based on a clear understanding of these truths.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Biblical Musings 1

Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
1 Corinthians 15:12-14 (NKJ)

Why is the resurrection the central truth of the Christian faith?   What is its significance?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Castle

There were some travelers from a far-off village, who in an uninhabited land came across a beautiful castle on a hill. It was a magnificent building, full of beautiful tapestries and impressive ornaments. Also, as they entered the banquet hall they found food laid out for a feast. There were also many empty bedrooms with large four-poster beds. But the really mysterious thing was that every day the table was stocked with food at morning, noon, and evening, and every night they found the beds made with new linen. But they never saw the owner or any servants who did these things. And though they hid and watched for them and set traps for them, they could not catch them.

They went out to all the surrounding towns and told them about the wonder they had found. Many came and were inspired by the place to tell stories about it, often trying to explain its origin. There was many a ballad sung, many a play written, and many a portrait painted, based on these stories. Then came the more serious people, who tried to examine the castle to discover its secrets. They studied the murals, examined the food, and searched the whole house for unknown rooms or secret passageways. They came back with many plausible-sounding and contradictory theories about the castle and its owner. But as the owner remained elusive, there were those who claimed he had long ago departed and there were hidden machines that renewed the food and changed the linen. Others claimed there were physical laws that had produced the castle the way it was and that the owner, if he existed, was at most an observer. Others claimed the castle had been produced by chance, through the workings of the laws of probability, and there was no owner, or at least serious doubt he existed. And the various factions continued to argue with each other, each being convinced that it was right.

But there was a time, while the many were busy telling stories or concocting theories, that a mysterious man appeared among them. And this man claimed to be the owner of the castle and that any who followed him would learn the true story behind it. It was at least claimed that this man could do miraculous things and make the castle act according to his will. And there were those who were his pupils and taught others the truths they got from him. But the others rejected such things, considering the man a fraud or a madman or, long afterward, a tale created by his followers. But those who believed in the man claimed theirs was the only real answer. And their tribe persists to this day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Make the Problem Go Away

There is an idea that the power of God can make all the problems in our life go away. While the most prominent advocates of this are those in the Word-Faith Movement, it often is found far beyond them. God clearly states that, in this world, we who have put our faith in Christ for salvation will have problems (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 1 Peter 4:12,13) and we should not be surprised by them. We are also told that God uses these problems to help us grow in Him (Romans 8:28-30; 5:3-5; James 1:2-4). Also, He encourages us to look beyond them to a time when these things will pass away (2 Corinthians 4:17,18; Romans 8:18-25, Revelation 21:4).Therefore, while God, according to His will, may on some occasions miraculously take away our problems, there will be many times He will require us to go through them. Since this is the case, we need to trust Him to bring us through the troubles of life (Proverbs 3:5,6; Hebrews 11:13-16; 2 Corinthians 5:7).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Unity and Uniformity

Some would equate Christian unity to uniformity. That the ideal is that of a series of people exactly alike who are virtual clones of each other. But the Bible calls for a unity in diversity, different people with different abilities working together to accomplish God's purposes (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:10,11). This does not mean that we are individualists each following what we think best but that we bring together our own individual contributions within a common principle and purpose (Philippians 2:1-11; Ephesians 4:11-16; Galatians 3:26-29). This careful balance is harder to produce then simply pressing everyone into a mold or encouraging them to follow their own inclinations. But it is what God has called us to.