The (Prosperity?) Gospel

There are many manmade adaptations of the true Biblical gospel, and some of them are quite popular today. Among these false gospels is one, often referred to as the “prosperity gospel,” which basically teaches that if you follow Jesus, He will bless you with financial, social, and physical wellbeing. The idea is that if you will follow God the way He wants, He will give you all of the earthly blessings you desire.

This prosperity gospel is completely incompatible with scripture itself. Many have spoken out against it in no uncertain terms, insisting that in fact life often becomes harder, rather than easier, when we follow Jesus.

In some sense there is truth to the idea that following Jesus makes life harder. Look at the life of Paul as a prime example. He was a promising Jewish Pharisee with a bright future as a leader of the people, yet when he gave his life to Jesus, he traded all of that for a life full of beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, imprisonments, and all manner of hardship.

But let us make sure that we do not overreact to the prosperity gospel so extremely that we insist that following Christ is worse than it actually is! Paul, even after all he went through, stated plainly that he was happy about his decision to follow Jesus. In the ways that mattered most, following Jesus still made his life better, not worse.

“If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. 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.” (Philippians 3)

I would argue that the quality of Paul’s life did not go down, but rather it went up as a result of his dedication to Christ. He may have given up a lot, but he would do it all again in a heartbeat, for what he has gained is something of “surpassing value.”

Did not Jesus Himself say “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”?

Maybe there is some truth in the prosperity gospel after all… Not because God will make our way prosperous from a worldly standpoint in terms of material health or wealth, but because God will indeed teach us to prosper in our souls.

In his third epistle, John stated: “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”

In 2 Corinthians Paul said: “though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”

Will following God make you physically healthy and materially wealthy? It might. Or it might not. But what we do know, is that following God is the pathway to a prospering soul, full of the fruits of the Spirit.

“Better a little with the fear of the Lord
Than great wealth with turmoil.
Better a small serving of vegetables with love
Than a fattened calf with hatred.”
(Proverbs 15:16-17)

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Scriptures and Thoughts on Prophecy

What is prophecy?

 Hebrew – Naba – 123 times in Old Testament

“To bubble up,” “to boil forth,” “to pour forth words, like those who speak with fervor of mind or under divine inspiration, as prophets and poets.”

In Biblical usage, “to receive God’s speech and then to proclaim it, emphasizing the reception of divine communication by the Nabi.”

Greek – propheteuo – 216 times

“The Biblical proclamation of the divine, inspired message.”

(Exodus 7:1-2) Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land

(1 Samuel 9:9) Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.

(Amos 3:7) 7  Surely the Lord God will do nothing,  But he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

Are there still prophets/prophecy today?

 (Jude 3) 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

 (2 Peter 2:1) “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”

 (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

(Romans 12:6-8) Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

(1 Corinthians 12:4-11) Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

(1 Corinthians 12:27-31) 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

And I show you a still more excellent way.

(1 Corinthians 14:1-5) Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.

(1 Corinthians 14:29-33) Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

(Matthew 24:11-14) Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

(Matthew 7:15-20) 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Are there woman prophets in the Bible?

(Exodus 15:20-21) Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. 21 Miriam answered them, “Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”

(Judges 4:4) Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment.

(Kings 22:14) So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke with her.

(Nehemiah 6:14) Remember, O my God, all the evil things that Tobiah and Sanballat have done. And remember Noadiah the prophet and all the prophets like her who have tried to intimidate me.

(Isaiah 8:3) And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.

(Luke 23:6) “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;”

(Acts 21:8-9) On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.

(Ezekial 13:17-23) “Now you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who are prophesying from their own inspiration. Prophesy against them and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Woe to the women who sew magic bands on all wrists and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature to hunt down lives! Will you hunt down the lives of My people, but preserve the lives of others for yourselves? . . . therefore, you women will no longer see false visions or practice divination, and I will deliver My people out of your hand. Thus you will know that I am the LORD.”

(Revelation 2:20) “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.”

 What can we learn from the examples of the prophets of the Bible?

 (Acts 7:52) “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become;

 (Luke 20:9-19) “And He began to tell the people this parable: ‘A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. The owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.” But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, “This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.” So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.’ When they heard it, they said, ‘May it never be!’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘What then is this that is written: “The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone?” Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.’ The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them. “

(Matthew 21:45-46) 45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. 46When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet.

(2 Samuel 12:5-7) Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.” Nathan then said to David, “You are the man!

(Isaiah 6:8) Then 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!”

 (Jeremiah 20:9) But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.

(Isaiah 30:9-13) For this is a rebellious people, false sons, Sons who refuse to listen To the instruction of the LORD; Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions”; And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right, Speak to us pleasant words, Prophesy illusions. “Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel. Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, Since you have rejected this word And have put your trust in oppression and guile, and have relied on them, Therefore this iniquity will be to you Like a breach about to fall, A bulge in a high wall, Whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant,”

 What is the difference between prophecy and inspiration?

See notes on “what is prophecy.”

(2 Peter 1:16-21) “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

 What are some of the greatest and most impressive prophecies found in scripture?

(Jeremiah 25:11-12) This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 ‘Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the Lord, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.

This prophecy was written sometime from 626 to about 586 BC and was not fulfilled until about 609 BC to 539 BC (approximately 50 years later, depending on your calculation)

(Nahum 1:10) They will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; they will be consumed like dry stubble.

600 years later, Diodorus Siculus recorded of the Ninevites: “The Assyrian king gave much wine to his soldiers. Deserters told this to the enemy, who attacked that night.”

(Ezekiel 26:12) They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea.

250 years later Alexander threw stones, timber and rubble of Tyre’s mainland ruins into the sea to make a land bridge to the island of Tyre, one that exists to this day.

(Daniel 9:25) “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks of years and sixty-two weeks of years”

69*7=483 years. The time between Nehemiah’s request and Jesus’ revelation as Messiah? 483 Jewish years.

(Daniel 11:1-7) “In the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him. 2 And now I will tell you the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece. And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases. But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and givento others besides them. “Then the king of the South will grow strong, along with one of his princes who will gain ascendancy over him and obtain dominion; his domain will be a great dominion indeedAfter some years they will form an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the South will come to the king of the North to carry out a peaceful arrangement. But she will not retain her position of power, nor will he remain with his power, but she will be given up, along with those who brought her in and the one who sired her as well as he who supported her in those times. But one of the descendants of her line will arise in his place, and he will come against their army and enter the fortress of the king of the North, and he will deal with them and display great strength.”

(Psalm 22) “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning…All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, “Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him… 12 Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. 13 They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.”

(Isaiah 53) Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

Verses and Thoughts about the word “Christian”

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Christos – Christ, the Greek form of the Hebrews “Messiah,” which means anointed one.
-ianos – indicates that a person is the follower of a leader or the slave of a master.

Christianons – A person who follows and belongs to the Christ, the Messiah, the annointed one.

(Acts 11:26) “And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

(Acts 26:28) “Agrippa replied to Paul, ‘In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.’ (NASB) ” [or] ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ (NIV)

(1 Peter 4:15-16) “Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.”

Why do we use the term “Christian” so much more frequently than the Bible does? Is that okay?

The Context of all three passage cited above suggests that “Christian” was a name given and used by outsiders about the church. Thus, the NT writers had no habit of using it themselves.

Does our usage of the same term as the world reflect a concerning lack of distinctiveness in our thinking?

Perhaps a shift towards the language that the 1st century church actually used with frequency about themselves could help up demonstrate the distinctiveness of the true church?

Are there other terms we ought to use more often?

Brethren: (occurs 188 times in NT)

“Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.” (Acts 6:3)

“And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.” (Acts 11:29)

“Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.” (Acts 15:32)

“After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’” (Acts 15:36)

“And he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.” (Acts 16:2)

“After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.” (Acts 21:17)

“There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome.” (Acts 28:14)

Church: (occurs 112 times)

The church in Jerusalem.” (Acts 8:1)

The church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria” (Acts 9:31)

“They had appointed elders for them in every church.” (Acts 14:23)

The church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

The church that is in their house.” (Romans 16:5)

“All the churches of Christ greet you.” (Romans 16:16)

“The churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

“The church of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:2, 10:32, 15:9, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:13, 1 Timothy 3:5)

“The churches of God.” (1 Corinthians 11:16, 2 Thessalonians 1:4)

“The churches of Judea which were in Christ.” (Galatians 1:22)

“The churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea.” (1 Thessalonians 2:14)

“The household of God, which is the church of the living God.” (1 Timothy 3:15)

Saints: (occurs 61 times)

“Your saints at Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:13)

The saints who lived at Lydda.” (Acts 9:32)

“To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints.” (Romans 1:7)

“And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27)

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)

“as in all the churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

“But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” (Ephesians 5:3)

“To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.” (Philippians 1:1)

The Way: (occurs 5 times)

“So that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:2)

“About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way.” (Acts 19:23)

“But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets.” (Acts 24:14)

Is it okay to call someone a “Christian” if they have some false doctrines or practices? If yes, explain. If no, what should we call them?

(Matthew 7:21-23) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

(1 Corinthians 5:11) “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one.”

(2 John 1:10) “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;”

(Matthew 7:15) “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

(Revelation 2:2) “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;”

(Romans 14:1-4) “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables onlyThe one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

Given that the term “Christian” appears to have been imposed and mostly used by outsiders to refer to those who followed or claimed to follow Christ, does this effect our answer?

How can we honor God through the name “Christian?”

(2 Timothy 2:19) Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”

(1 Peter 4:12-16) Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name

(Acts 5:40-42) They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

(Acts 21:13) Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

What attributes should a Christian clearly exhibit?

(Acts 4:13) Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.

(John 13:34-35) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

(Acts 17:10-12) The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.

What does it mean to “be a good Christian” or to say “I need to be a better Christian,” and how can we do this?

Jesus did not Promise to Make Us Comfortable

There is much about the Christian life that makes it rewarding.

We receive riches:
Paul told the Corinthians that they had “become rich” and had “become kings” because of what Christ had done for them (1 Corinthians 4:8).
The Romans were told that God is “abounding in riches for all who call on Him” (Romans 10:12).
The gentiles in Ephesus were told of “the unfathomable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).
The Philippians were told that “God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

We receive abundant life:
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

We receive salvation:
Peter told his readers that they were “obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)

We receive more than we give up:
Jesus told his followers, “there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30)

But there are some things that we are not guaranteed, even as God’s children.

We are not guaranteed that life will be comfortable. Rather, we can expect:
Various trials.” (James 1:2)
Many tribulations.” (Acts 14:22)
Tribulation,” “distress,” “persecution,” “famine,” “nakedness,” “peril,” and “sword.” (Romans 8:35)
The hatred of the world. (Mark 13:13)
Insults, persecutions, and all kinds of false accusations. (Matthew 5:11)
Unjust suffering. (1 Peter 2:19)
Thorns in the flesh. (2 Corinthians 12:7)
The fiery darts of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)
Imprisonment. (Revelation 2:10)

By an accident of history and geography, we live in a land where the physical persecution of Christians is exceptionally rare. But this does not mean that the Christian life will be comfortable for us.

He has given us great riches in Christ. He has given us an opportunity for new and abundant life. He has offered us salvation. He has given us more than we could ever give back.

But He has not promised to make us “comfortable.” Will we not step out of our comfort zones, for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of the needy, and for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ?

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