Thoughts and Scriptures on: Confession

Introduction

Webster Definition: a disclosure of one’s sins in the sacrament of reconciliation; a written or oral acknowledgment of guilt by a party accused of an offense; a formal statement of religious beliefs

Translation:

  • Greek – ὁμολογέω (homologeo)  I confess, profess, acknowledge, praise
  • Hebrew – יָדָה (yadah)

 

What exactly are we confessing when we “confess Christ?”

(Matthew 10:32-33:) Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

Confess that Jesus is Lord [and that God raised Him from the dead?]:

> (Romans 10:8-10) “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you *confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and *believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

  • (Acts 2:32 “God has raised this Jesus to life, to which we are all witnesses.”)

>> (Philippians 2:9-11) “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

> (1 Timothy 6:12-14a) “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that…”

  • (John 18:33, 36-37 “Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ …Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’”)
  • (Accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke: “Then Pilate asked Him, saying, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ He answered him and said, ‘It is as you say.’”)

 

Confess that Jesus is the Son of God:

>> (1 John 2:23) “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

>> (1 John 4:15) “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

 

What does it mean in practice to confess Christ? / Does confession mean more than making a one-time affirmation prior to baptism? / Do Christians today view and practice confession like the early Christians depicted in scripture?:

>> (Matthew 10:17-32) “But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! *Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Therefore *do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. *Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. *So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

  • (Mark 13:9-13 says nearly the same thing as vs. 17-22.)
  • (Luke 12:3-9, 11-12 says nearly the same thing as vs. 17-20, 27-33)
  • (Luke 12:10 “And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.”)

>> (Hebrews 4:14; 10:23-29) “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. …Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

 

Is it necessary to make a formal confession before an audience prior to baptism?

We should be sure, before the baptism, that the individual to be baptized actually believes Jesus is the Lord, the Son of God – such as individuals growing up in African or eastern religions:

>> (1 Timothy 6:12-14a) “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that…”

>> (Acts 8:36-38) “As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”

  • (The portion in brackets may not be original, but it is certainly an indication of early Christian practice.)

The only other instance of confession at baptism, that we found, is the confession of sins:

>> (Matthew 3:4-6) “Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.

>> (Mark 1:4-5) “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.”

 

Is confession of sins any less necessary for salvation than confession of Christ as Lord?

Portrayed as something done alongside baptism:

>> (Matthew 3:4-6) “Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.

Explained as a requirement for receiving mercy and forgiveness:

>> (Proverbs 28:13) “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

>> (1 John 1:8-10) “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
When is it appropriate to confess a sin to God only vs. someone close to you vs. the whole church?

Public, well-known sins:

>> (Acts 19:18-20) “Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.”

Confessing to God, on behalf of self and each other:

(Nehemiah 1:5-7) “I said, ‘I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.’”

  • (Leviticus 26:40-42 “If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me—I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.” Now fast-forward to Nehemiah…)

Confessing to one another; so prayers of intercession can be made:

>> (James 5:15-16) “and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

Confessing to one another is needed, if we are to bear one another’s burdens:

>> (Galatians 6:1-2) “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

 

When confessing sin to the church, should the particular sin be named?

Confessing the nature of our sins – the weight of the the burden – is needed, if we are to bear one another’s burdens:

>> (Galatians 6:1-2) “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

If she had confessed the truth, she would not have suffered the same fate as her husband:

>> (Acts 5:10-11 [account of Ananias and Sapphira]) “And Peter responded to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?’ And she said, ‘Yes, that was the price.’ Then Peter said to her, ‘Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.’ And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.”

Pattern of church discipline, regarding a sin against a fellow member:

>> (Matthew 18:15-18) “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

 

How can one pray as effectively, without knowledge of what to pray for?:

>> (James 5:16) “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

 

Is the practice of private confession to a priest or elder scriptural?

Examples:

>> (2 Samuel 12:7-13 [A prophet]) Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your ]care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die….”

>> (John 20:21-23 [The apostles]) “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.’”

>> (James 5:14-15 [The elders]) “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

 

Why Macroevolution Isn’t Real Science

dna

Science enjoys a prominent status in the minds of millions as the gold standard of academic disciplines.  While philosophy, religion, art, music, etc. are created by humans and thus fallible, science is distinguished from them as an infallible discipline which uncovers incontrovertible truths.

I’m well aware that the majority of informed scientists would concede that nothing can be truly proven with 100% certainty, and I agree with them, but the fact remains that scientists go around claiming to have discovered things that simply cannot be denied by any rational person.

It bears consideration that we would exalt our certainty in one discipline above others.

Why are they so confident?  Why are we, as a society, so comfortable with holding up science as the pinnacle of certainty in such an uncertain and all-too-human world?  Human error saturates our relationships and experiences, but science, we feel, is different.  Are we justified in feeling this way?

In many cases, I think, yes.

We are justified in holding up science as a pinnacle of certainty, relatively speaking.  Not to the same extent that we can be certain of the rules of math and logic.  Not to the extent that I hold a personal conviction in the existence of God due to my own personal experiences.  But in a world where nothing is – technically speaking – certain, science has an impressive integrity that it derives from some corrective measures that it includes in its definition.

I should make it absolutely clear that at this point I am speaking of science as a method of gaining knowledge about the world around us and using that knowledge to make accurate predictions.  I am certainly not speaking on behalf of every branch of, and assertion made by, the field of academia known in the contemporary world as science.  But science, inasmuch as it can identify constant and therefore predictable behaviors in the world around us when variables are manipulated, is a pretty sure thing.

To give an extremely simple example, the laws we have discovered about gravity dictate that if I drop a rock out of my window, it will fall to the ground.  I do not technically know for sure that this will happen unless I try it, but this experiment has been performed so many times with the same results in so many places in so many time periods of human existence that my degree of certainty is extremely high.

So the reason why we lift up science as a pinnacle of certainty is because it involves repeated experiments and observations.  When we discover long term, stable, repeatable results from an experiment, we begin to trust those results as things of certainty.

This has allowed us to systematically create some amazing machines in the worlds of computers, engineering, and technology.  It is truly phenomenal what bright minds have done with science in the past several decades especially, and indeed in the last several centuries also.

So, does macroevolution qualify as this kind of science, and thus receive the status of certainty that we confer on other scientific discoveries?

Earlier this year I watched the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate concerning evolution vs. creation.  Ham repeatedly stated that evolution was historical science rather than observational science, and thus it was essentially reduced to mere conjecture.  I think Ham may have been on the right track, but his distinction was overly simplistic and lacked practical weight.

Yes, some sciences are historical, because they deal with understanding the past.  But it doesn’t necessarily follow that this makes a reasonable degree of certainty about the past impossible.  For example, on a crime scene, we expect investigators to dust for fingerprints, collect DNA samples, observe the many markers that the crime may have left on the scene, and come to relatively certain conclusions based on the data that they collect.

Now, does this kind of science lose a little bit of certainty.  Yes, a little.  Just because someone’s fingerprints are on the knife, and their DNA is on the victim, and rubber from their tires is on the street at the victims house, and they had a good reason to kill the victim, and an honest person said they saw the suspect do it, doesn’t make us certain that they committed the crime.  But to simply dismiss all of this evidence as “historical science” because it wasn’t actually observed is not justified.  Using observations made in the present to make reasonable assertions about the past is a practice strong enough to hold up in court.

And in fact, creationists do it, too.  We didn’t observe creation.  We weren’t there when God made the stars or the plants or the animals. But we have a satisfactory degree of certainty about the event based on what we have seen within our short lives.

So now I’d like to expand and adjust the argument Ham made:

Macroevolution isn’t science because its consistency is only demonstrated through “explanatory and predictive power,” and these are indicators of correlation, not causation.

Please let me clarify.

Macroevolutionary biology is championed by atheists and widely propagated by the scientific world.  Its validity is supposedly demonstrated by its power to explain why the world is the way that it is, and its ability to predict new discoveries about the way the world is.  No, macroevolution cannot be observed, but it can explain why we find the correlation we do between the morphological and genetic hierarchies of organisms, and a fossil record that matches both of these.

But can I just point out that there could literally be millions of theories that could explain perfectly why the world is the way that it is?  If I discover that morphological, genetic, and fossil data all cross-confirm each other and then say “AH HA!  The Flying Spaghetti Monster – sometimes used by atheists for satirical purposes – created the world so that it would be exactly this way!” then objectively speaking, my explanation has just as much explanatory power as macroevolution.

The point here is that you can’t observe the way the world is, then ask what could explain the world being that way, and then assume that this theory is true simply because it has “explanatory power.”

I would also like to point out that of course, if God used DNA as the blueprints for the physical features of all organisms, then wouldn’t we expect those organisms with more similar physical features to also have more similar DNA?  Then if we consider the possibility of a worldwide flood a few thousand years ago, I’m already seeing some plausible explanations for the fossil record, including the “Cambrian Explosion” that gives evolutionists such a hard time.

The “predictive power” of evolution can be investigated by a simple google search and a critical investigation.  This field, like any field, is much too vast to be addressed in one short article.  I think you will find that data is quite frequently interpreted to reinforce the predictions which the scientists already expected.  Here is an area where human error can easily creep into science: we tend to perceive what we expect.

If we say “evolution predicts that we will find transitionary fossils between other primates and man,” and we expect it to be so, and we also have millions of dollars of grant money on the line (sometimes I get the idea that the people with all the money want to degrade our morals,) then when we find an ancient skull with a larger jaw than the average human, we say “AH HA!” and invent a new species out of it.

I know I don’t have time to get into real scientific depth here, but all of the “transitionary fossils” that we find could easily be accounted for by variations within the bone structures of the organisms we see in the world around us today or in recent history.  That’s why the “evolutionary tree” illustration is actually more like a mile wide bush, getting wider and wider with new fossil discoveries.  But that wouldn’t look very nice in TIME magazine and would require a several page fold out.

The underlying principle here, is that a correlation between what a theory explains or predicts and the reality that we find, does not prove that the theory is true, only that its explanations and predictions correlate with the data.

From this perspective evolution and creation are rather equally matched, actually.  Both offer a means to explain and predict things about our world.  Neither can be observed or objectively, universally tested.  Of course, in my opinion, when you bring other scientific considerations, the human experience, and philosophy into the picture, Creationism comes out squarely on top. But the point of this article is that Macro Evolution is NOT science because the correlation between its “explanatory and predictive mechanisms” and our reality is woefully insufficient grounds for certainty. 

Besides the fact that there are no plausible explanations as to how we got the first living organism, with all of its necessary proteins, by mere chance with no intelligent intervention, or that genetic mutations, even when beneficial, don’t create new meaningful information in the genetic code and thus evolution has no viable mode of progression.

I suspect that within my lifetime we may have dispensed with the idea altogether.

Is Scripture Sacred? -Austin Gonzales

“Humans DID tamper with the Bible… and added what they wanted added, and took away what they wanted to take away, and every time the book is translated, something is always lost in the translation. That’s a simple Fact of Life.”

“God did not write the Bible; man did. …The stories in the Bible were passed down and dictated to scribes.” “Didn’t you ever play the game [‘Telephone’]? By the time the story reaches the last kid, it has changed so much, that it’s nothing at all like the story first started out. …Today’s Bible simply is nothing at all like the original scrolls that were written – by numerous men – in [different languages]. As languages evolved over time, so did the content of the ‘Bible.’”

“Every version of the bible has been altered. There are scriptures that have been removed from it… Meanings have been changed, just look at the different versions we have.”

“I …received a ‘visitor’ one night …my ‘visitor’ was an ‘angel’ …the meaning of that ‘dream’ was that… EACH core religious book is only ONE PIECE in a vast jigsaw puzzle, which you cannot possibly see the entire picture of if you only stare at one piece…”

(- Comments of people professing CHRIST, taken from a Facebook post)

How do we respond to statements like these? How do we convince fellow Christians, who are doubting, to understand the accuracy of the Bible, besides using the Bible’s own claims about itself? Here are some brief examples of some strong evidences for you to research:

Arguments using a minimum of scripture, with a lot of basic logic:

2 Timothy 3:16 – The original word for “inspire” literally means “breathed out.” What scriptures are spoken by/breathed out by God? ALL. This may be using scripture, but this means that if you believe even one verse of the Bible is from God (like verses spoken by/about Jesus), then according to the Bible itself; you must believe they all are from God.

Galatians 1:8 – Paul, an apostle of Jesus, wrote (before any of our friends today have received their ‘visions from angels’) that if just such a vision, or even if he himself, taught something contrary to the gospel already preached before the time of this writing; then they are to be accursed. Therefore, 1) just because an angel told them something, doesn’t mean that it was from God. And 2) other religious texts, if they are contrary to what the apostles had been teaching then, are also not actually from God – no matter how moral they may be.

Why would Christ have His followers record His teachings – only to allow it all to be severely altered beyond the point of recovery (Possibly use Mark 13:31)? Take a look at history, and you’ll see that He hasn’t:

Evidences from secular history:

Despite many powerful regimes’ attempts to rid the world of the Bible through force, the Bible has continued to be shared and reproduced and even become the world’s all-time #1 best-seller. But besides this:

We know that the Jews maintained near-fanatical strictness regarding the reproduction of the Old Testament. For example, they “…carefully counted every line, word, syllable, and letter to ensure accuracy.” The two Dead Sea Scroll copies of Isaiah were dated 1,000 yrs. before the oldest manuscript previously known, yet the mere 5% variation between them and our Standard Hebrew Bible “consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.” Finally, because Christ regarded the existing copies of the O.T. as authoritative, we know that the first-century text of the O.T. was a reliable reproduction of the original O.T. texts. Therefore, the only portions worth any concern must be found in the New Testament:

We have 24,500+ copies of New Testament manuscripts, from which we can back-up (or refute) ANY modern translation! “The degree of accuracy of the copies is greater for the New Testament than for other books that can be compared. Most books do not survive with enough manuscripts that make comparison possible” (There are only SEVEN extant manuscripts of Plato’s Tetralogies, for example!).

Within these copies, there are 150,000 differences between copies. However; many of these ‘variants’ consist of things like a missing letter, switching of two words, or omission of an insignificant word. Truly, only about FIFTY variants are any different from each other – out of 150,000! “And even then, no doctrine of the Christian faith or any moral commandment is effected by them.”

We have enough quotations from the early church leaders that even if we did not have a single N.T. manuscript, would still have all but eleven verses of the entire N.T., all recorded within 150-200 yrs. after Christ!

There were only 35-40 yrs. between the N.T.’s completion and the oldest manuscript fragments. 100 yrs. passed before copies of the earliest whole books were written. And we have copies of the entire N.T. as old as within 250 yrs. of its completion. Regarding other ancient texts, there were – for example – at least 1,200 yrs. between Plato’s Dialogues & his Tetralogies, and their earliest (fragmented) copies; and 1,400 yrs. between Aristotle’s Ode to Poetics and its earliest copy! But no one doubts that Plato or Aristotle say what they said! “…If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.”

Other considerations:

The only quotes of Christ’s teachings, that we have, are from the New Testament writers. So if we can’t trust the rest of the N.T., then we can’t even trust what Jesus said. But besides the historical evidences we’ve mentioned, nearly every one of the apostles and other N.T. writers became martyrs for the words that they were preaching and recording. People don’t die for their lies when they know that they’re lies.

We can find ancient, secular sources that back up the Bible’s many and detailed prophecies – often stated hundreds of years beforehand – and the Bible’s clues to its historical context. For example: the conquering of Tyre by the Babylonians and by the Macedonians.

Modern science backs up things that the Bible mentions – things that no man knew about for hundreds of years after scripture was written! I am running out of room to go into detail, but the Bible mentions things like; ocean springs and currents, a recipe for soap, the universe’s particle makeup, the connection between blood and life, the First Law of Thermodynamics, health risks of sexual promiscuity, and so forth. All of these things, and more, were not recognized by scientific communities for hundreds of years after the Bible records them. The kinds of things that no man or group of men could simply make up – not in such a large and accurate quantity!

Finally, it sounds cheesy but it happens: The Bible actively changes the lives of those who commit themselves to its instructions.

“Manuscript Evidence: New Testament vs. Plato, Etc.” by Dave Armstrong

“Manuscript Support for the Bible’s Reliability” by Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries

Scriptures and Thoughts: Repentance

Strong’s Greek 3340: μετάνοια “metanoia”

–       I change my mind, change the inner man

Strong’s Greek 3338: “metamelomai”

–       Literally: “I change one care or interest for another”, I change my mind (generally for the better), regret.

What all is involved in repentance?

( 2 Corinthians 7:8-11) “For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.”

(Acts 3:19) “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

(Acts 3:26) “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

(Acts 26:19-20) “So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.”

What does it mean to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance?”

(Matthew 3:7-10; Luke 3:7-9) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’”

(Matthew 7:15-20) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

Can a person change their sinful ways without truly “repenting” by the Biblical definition?

(Joel 2:12-13) “‘Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.’ Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.”

(Ezekiel 18:30-32) “‘Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,’ declares the Lord God. ‘Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord God. ‘Therefore, repent and live.’”

(John 5:28-29) “for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”

(Romans 2:5-11) “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 EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.”

Is it possible that a person has repented even if they do not achieve much success in turning from sin?

(Luke 17:3-4) “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

(Philippians 3:7-14) “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

(Matthew 13:45-46)  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

(Matthew 5:29-30) “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

When evaluating repentance, which is more important, the heart, the outward actions, or both?

(James 4:8-10) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

(2 Chronicles 7:13-14) “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

(Psalm 51:16-17) “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

(Revelation 2:5) “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place– unless you repent.”

(Jonah 3:9-10) “‘Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.’ When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”

Must a person demonstrate their repentance through a renewed lifestyle before they can be baptized?

(Acts 2:37-42) “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.’ And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’ So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

(Acts 16:31-34) “They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.”

What does the KJV mean when it says God “repented” that He had made man?

(Genesis 6:6)

“And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (KJV)

“And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” (ESV)

“The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (NASB)

(Jeremiah 26:3) “Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds.”

Should we repent after every sin we commit?

(1 John 1:5-7) “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

(John 3:20-21) “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

How can we repent of the sins we don’t know we commit?

(Psalm 38:18) “For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.”

(Psalm 9:12-13) “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.”

(Colossians 1:13-14) “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

(Hebrews 10:11-14) “Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

What should one do if the process of repenting begins to feel like a hollow routine?

(Luke 17:3-4) “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

(Matthew 18:21-22) “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’”

 

 

Beginning With the Scripture

Acts 8:26-35 (emphasis on the last words of verse 35)

We read in this passage of a man who first had a willingness to learn more from the what? The Bible. Where, above any dictionary or encyclopedia or website, do we attain the best information there is to gain?Where is it we find the ways to live so that we can enjoy an eternity of bliss? The Bible.

As Christians, we have been given the amazing chance to be a part of the greatest plan that has ever existed; spreading the truth of what the Bible has to say to the world is just that. Isn’t it? But do we do it without ceasing and with the eagerness and readiness that we read Phillip with? If God, with His magnificent voice spoke to you, the way He did to Phillip, would your immediate action be to get up, go, and run for the opportunity to study?

We may say, “Well I don’t know about running, but I’d get there eventually!”  Shouldn’t show the enthusiasm of spreading the knowledge of the Bible the way Phillip did? What would you consider to say to a man or women who had a question about the Bible? Where would we turn to find the answer? 2 Timothy 2:15 says we should study to show ourselves ready. Does this mean just for when we’re at church? Or just when we’re at Bible class? The answer is obvious. This means we should strive to know our Bible, our life’s guidelines, enough to able to answer any question for any one, or at least know where to find the answer! Often there are people who’s willingness to dive into their spiritual life’s development is not matched with their knowledge of how to do so. If we recall what the eunuch asked Phillip, in verse 31, we notice what many people deal with in this society.

Acts 18:24-28

It would not have been possible for the example Apollos sets to have been so significant if he had first not been familiar with the Scriptures as Acts 18:24 tells us . If our lives begin with the Scripture, we have an endless amount of opportunities to grow in our faith and spiritual strength.

When we think of the questions, “How does this apply to our life?” and “How does it apply to our Bible study?” we could answer those with another question, “How could it not?” This characteristic of our Christian life should be made a pillar! Beginning with a knowledge of the Scripture, making it a priority to know the Bible before we act, is what separates us from those who teach and practice false doctrine. Can we think of any occupation today that doesn’t require some type of knowledge beforehand? Of course not. How could we then, with the responsibility of saving souls from this world by teaching them the things in this Book, be able to do so without knowing the things in that book?

People may ask, “Well how do I learn all of that stuff, isn’t the amount overwhelming?” By submerging oneself into His Word in a willing manner and letting His Words prick the innermost part the heart, a person will gain the understanding of why a desire to stay connected with what has been preserved for thousands of years is so crucial to our faith. It may be a lot, but when we take into consideration the importance and affect the Bible has on the world, and on the eternity of the people we teach it to, it’s clear why the amount of material it contains isn’t insignificant.

In the passage we read earlier, it would seem that Apollos made the Scriptures a part of his life. Taking the message that the Scripture holds into the world requires a commitment to it that is and should be unparalleled by anything else that could occupy our time. In regards to what most of us title the Great Commission, our marching orders given to us by Jesus are “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.” (Matthew 28:19&20) In order to follow through with this command, a prior knowledge of what God has put in our hands is what’s essential to do so effectively.

Scriptures and Thoughts: “Faith”

Definitions of Faith
Biblical definition of “faith”: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. [Hebrews 11:1-3 NASB]

Webster’s definition of “faith”: firm belief in something for which there is no proof; something that is believed especially with strong conviction 

Translations:
Greek translation of the word “faith”: πίστις (pistis): faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness.

Hebrew concepts of the word “faith”: ‘Ᾱman: reliability, stability, firmness
‘āman-hiphil: to be certain, sure; to be assured
‘āman-niphal: to be true, reliable, faithful

Thoughts

“Faith” is a word and concept that has been spoken and re-spoken throughout time. From the first of man to the present age, this word and concept has been an active part of humanity. From Abel to Apollos, people’s faiths have shaped the history of Christianity, and has set a foundation for the faithful followers of today. Whether a person is referring to its meaning in its noun form or its meaning as a descriptive characteristic, if the individual that reflects on himself or herself can confidently say that they hold both meanings in their actions and thoughts, then that person is blessed indeed. When our attention is directed by Paul to Abraham in Romans 4, as he (being Abraham) is remembered as one of the ultimate examples of both having faith and living faithfully, the point is made that without faith, the promise of righteousness would not have been granted to him and those who were to be born under his faith. Other examples in the Old Testament provide like points of having faith in the Lord: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; Daniel in the den of lions; and Hosea in regards to his relationship with Gomer. Such a concept of significance is faith. How can we do this word justice by studying it without taking into consideration several perspectives?

What is faith?
(Hebrews 11:1) “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

(2 Corinthians 5:6-8) “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

(Ephesians 2:8-10) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

What does it mean to have a faith the size of a mustard seed?

Mustard seed parable about the Kingdom: (Matthew 13:31-32) (also Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19)

“31 He presented another parable to them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of theair come and nest in its branches.’”

Mustard seed parables about faith: (Luke 17:5-6)
“5 The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ And the Lord said, ‘If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and be planted in the sea”; and it would obey you.’”

(Matthew 21:21) “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” it will happen.’”
– It means anything is possible
(Mark 9:21-25) And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.”

(Mark 10:27) 27 “Looking at them, Jesus said, ‘With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’”
(Hebrews 11:17-19) “17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son18 it was he to whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your descendants shall be called.’ 19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.”

How is faith more than mere intellectual consent?
(Hebrews 11:3) “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

(Hebrews 11:6) “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

(James 2:19-26) “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?22You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,’ and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

Is faith all I need to be saved?

See verses in James in question above.  “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

How do we reconcile this with:

(Ephesians 2:8-10) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Should we have blind faith?

(Proverbs 3:5-7) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 7Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”

(Matthew 26:39) “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’”

Do we need evidence to have faith?
(Romans 1:18-21) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

(1 Corinthians 1:20-25) “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

(1 Corinthians 2:4-6) “and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

How can we grow in our faith?

(James 1:2-4) Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(Romans 10:17) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Does God answer prayers in proportion to faith?

(Isaiah 59:1-2) “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

(2 Chronicles 7:13-14) “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

(James 1:5-7) “5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

(James 4:3) “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

(James 5:16) Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
(1 Peter 5:7) “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

(Matthew 21:20-22) 20Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?” 21And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 22“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

(Matthew 7:11) “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

How can we use wisdom in allowing our faith/children’s faith to be tested?

 

We Have Been Entrusted

The “Parable of the Talents” can be found in Matthew 25:14-29. This is a passage that is frequently discussed, but as with all of the scriptures, there is much we can learn by returning to it again and again.

Notice for instance that in verse 14, Jesus includes the detail that the man “entrusted his possessions” to his servants. In many ways, this is exactly what Jesus has done to us. He laid the groundwork for His church, and then He left this earth having appointed a group of men to carry out what He had started. To this day, we as the church are described as the body of Christ, carrying out His work in the world. Just as Paul said that he was “under obligation” to preach the gospel to all people, so we have a responsibility with which we have been entrusted by God.

When the man returns from his journey, notice what the one talent man says to his master in verse 24 as an excuse. He suggests that his master is “a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed,” and for this reason he decided not to use the talent he was given. When we fail to use the resources that God has given us, are we also, perhaps in a less direct manner, making accusations towards God?

I would invest my talents, but others were given so much more, and it just is not fair. I would invest my talents, but God has put me in a place where my talents are useless anyways.

I would invest my talents, but God made a mistake by giving them to me, he should have given them to someone with more free time.”

If God has made the decision to entrust us with various abilities and resources, we must not insist that the best thing for us to do is sit idly by, and thus suggest that He made a mistake or is being unreasonable to expect us to bear fruit.

Lastly, notice that the one talent man is not reprimanded for having less to start with than the others did. After all, his master was the one who decided to give Him that one talent. Nor does the master does complain about the fact that the one-talent man has less now than the others do. Even if the one talent man had invested and had a good return, he might still have only had two talents, which would have been less than anyone else.

Instead, the one talent man is reprimanded for doing nothing.

It would seem that God is not angry with us simply because we are not particularly rich or talented. Rather, if He is displeased, it will be because we made excuses and did not use what we did have.

Scriptures and Thoughts about: Proclaim

Old Testament concepts:
To cry out (as the prophets)
To call upon one (often God) for help
To read aloud, or to appoint, or to be summoned

New Testament:
Kerusso – “to be a herald, to officiate as a herald; to proclaim after the manner of a herald, always with the suggestion of formality, gravity, and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed; to publish, proclaim openly something which has been done; used of the public proclamation of the Gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the apostles, and other Christian teachers.”
Does everyone have a responsibility to proclaim the gospel?

(Matthew 5:16) In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

(Matthew 28:16-20) “But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

(Mark 16:15-16) “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.’”

(Acts 8:3-4) “But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”

(Acts 4:29-31) “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”

(Matthew 9:37-38) Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

(Isaiah 6:8) And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

Is it okay to have a “paid” and “located” preacher?

(1 Corninthians 9:8-18) I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. 15But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. 16For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

(2 Corinthians 11:8-9) I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.

(Philippians 4:16) For even while I was in Thessalonica, you provided for my needs once and again.

(Acts 18:11) And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

(Acts 19:8-10) And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

(Acts 20:31) “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.

Is it okay NOT to have a “paid” or “located” preacher?

See references for question above.  Also:

(Acts 18:3) and he stayed and worked with them because they were tentmakers by trade, just as he was.

(1 Thessalonians 2:9) For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

(2 Thessalonians 3:8) nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. Instead, in labor and toil, we worked night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you.

(1 Timothy 5:17) The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 

Does the presence of a paid or located preacher relieve the other church members of some of the responsibility to proclaim?

(2 Timothy 4:1-5) I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 

(2 Timothy 2:2) The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

(Luke 12:8) “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God,

(Colossians 4:6) Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

(Proverbs 11:30) The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.

To what extent is the “preacher” in a recognized leadership position in the church?

Consider various elements of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus

(2 Timothy 4:5) As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.


(1 Timothy 4:11-16) 11Prescribe and teach these things. 12Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 13Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

(Ephesians 4:11-12) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

There are no qualifications given in scripture, does this have any bearing on the question?

Why is “evangelism” scary and how can we overcome our fears?

Evangelism is from the same word as gospel, and means good news.  What is so scary about sharing good news?

(Acts 4:29-31) “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”

(Romans 1:14-17) I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

(Romans 10:14) How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

(1 Corinthians 1:21) For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

Is there a method of proclaiming that you prefer?

(1 Corinthians 9:22) To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 

(1 Peter 3:15) But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

What can we learn from the illustration of a “herald?”

(2 Corinthians 5:20) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

(1 Corinthians 2:13) And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

“I am under obligation” – Romans 1

“All authority has been given to me… therefore go…” – great commission

(2 Timothy 4:1-4) 1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

(1 Timothy 4:13) Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.

Is street preaching effective?  Should we do it?

(Proverbs 1:20) Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square;…

(Acts 17:2) And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

(Acts 19:9-10) But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

(Acts 17:16-22) 16Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20“For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” 21(Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.) 22So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said

Scriptures and Thoughts about: Kingdom

Hebrew:

mamelakah and malekuh – closely related to “melech” meaning king.  Used to refer to kingdoms of the earth, the kingdom of Israel, God’s rule over all the earth, and a kingdom greater than Israel which is to come.

Occurs about 712 times in the Old Testament.

(1 Samuel 10:18) and he said to the sons of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought Israel up from Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the power of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’

(Deuteronomy 17:18) “Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.”

(Deuteronomy 3:21) I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings; so the Lord shall do to all the kingdoms into which you are about to cross.

(2 Samuel 7:12-16) When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’”

 

Greek:

Basileia – the reign of a sovereign, or the domain one rules over.

Occurs about over 160 times in the New Testament, over 80 times it is in direct association with God, and 31 times with heaven.

Refers to the kingdom of Israel, to the present church, and to the final heavenly state.

(Matthew 24:7) For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.

(Matthew 13:24-30) “24Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25“But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26“But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27“The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28“And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29“But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

(Revelation 12:10) Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.”

What is the “kingdom of heaven?”

(Daniel 2:44) And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever,

(Daniel 7:27) And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.’

(Luke 1:31-33) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
(Luke 13:28-29) In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.

(2 Peter 1:10-11) Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

(Revelation 11:15) Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

(Matthew 25:34) Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

(Matthew 13:31-33, 44-50)
31He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THEAIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.
33He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened…”

44“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49“So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Why did the preaching of John the Baptist and Jesus focus so heavily on the kingdom?  How should this effect our evangelism today?

(Matthew 3:1-2) Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

(Matthew 4:17) From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

(Matthew 4:23) Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

(Mark 1:14-15) 14 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

(Luke 4:42-44)When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.43 But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

(Acts 28:30-31) And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.

(Colossians 1:13) 13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

What does it mean to have a king?  How can modern people understand or illustrate this concept?

(Romans 12:1) Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

(1 Samuel 12:12-15) “When you saw that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ although the Lord your God was your king. Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the Lord has set a king over you. If you will fear the Lord and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the Lord, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. If you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.”

(Psalm 2:6-12)
6“But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
10Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

How can we properly honor God as king of our lives? 

(Matthew 6:33) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

(Psalm 47:7-8) For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with a skillful psalm. God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.

(Matthew 18:3) and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

(Matthew 25:14-28) “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. “To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. “But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’

(Matthew 22:1-14) Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. “And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. “Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”‘ “But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. “But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. “Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ “Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
(Romans 14:13-18) 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. 14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.

How is the Christian view of the kingdom different from the Muslim idea of a caliphate?

(John 18:36-38) Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”

(John 18:10-11) Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. 11So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”

(Luke 17:20-21) Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

To what extent is the kingdom physical?

(Luke 4:17-21) And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
18“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,
BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.
HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,
AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,
TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,
19TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”
20And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the
synagogue were fixed on Him. 21And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

(1 Corinthians 15:50) I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Strive for Spiritual Growth

Our creator is the absolute embodiment of wisdom, and those who follow Him have access to that wisdom through His written word. Not in human books, human social media updates, human blog posts, or human opinions expressed by preachers can the same degree of truth and wisdom be found.

Humans do our best to grasp at the truth. We try to say things that are meaningful and insightful. But ultimately, there is simply no substitute whatsoever for the scriptures.

With that in mind, I want to share with you a piece of scripture, and rather than making commentary about it, I just want you to really pay attention to it, and maybe even commit to considering it constantly throughout your week.

2 Peter 1:5-7

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence,
in your faith supply moral excellence,
and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
and in your knowledge, self-control,
and in your self-control, perseverance,
and in your perseverance, godliness,
and in your godliness, brotherly kindness,
and in your brotherly kindness, love.”

Please consider what these instructions would mean for your life if you took them seriously. What would it look like to apply all diligence to your pursuit of spiritual growth every day this week?

Here are some synonyms of the words used in the translation quoted above. These may help us better consider what it would be like to make a conscious effort to grow in these ways each day.

Faith – belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness
Moral excellence – virtue, perfection, goodness, uprightness
Knowledge – doctrine, wisdom, understanding
Self-control – self-mastery, self-restraint, continence
Perseverance – steadfastness, patient waiting
Godliness – piety, devotion, reverence
Brotherly kindness – brotherly love, affection
Love – benevolence, good will, esteem

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” (2 Peter 1:8-11)

Will you make growth in these qualities a goal for your life, one towards which you actively strive?