Representing Christ

The final words of Jesus that are recorded by Matthew are instructions for His followers to carry out while He is away: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The idea of spreading out all over the world is itself a daunting task, but for many of the early missionaries for Christ, travel and culture shock were only the beginning of their troubles. People were going to HATE them for being Christians: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

This posed a real problem for the early church. Hatred can often lead to violence, and the Roman government had very little tolerance for troublemakers whose religion led to violence. So what could the church do, to maintain its credibility and its political freedom while also standing up for Christ? The book of 1 Peter appears to have been written as an answer to that question.

Peter writes the book specifically to the “aliens” who have been scattered all over the known world for the sake of Christ, and he addresses all kinds of difficult situations that they may encounter.

What if Christ’s people find themselves disagreeing with the governing authorities?
What if a Christian servant finds himself serving an unjust master?
What if a Christian wife finds herself with an unbelieving husband?
What if a Christian finds himself in an argument in which his faith is called into question?
What if there are arguments within the church itself?

All of these situations must have been common for the early church, and any of them could have ended badly for everyone involved, but Peter’s instructions contain a steady theme that runs throughout the book:

Stand up for Jesus Christ, but do so in a way that is above reproach. Do not give them any reason whatsoever to slander your character. Be respectful. Be gentle. Be humble. Demonstrate through your behavior just how beautiful and beneficial your religion really is.

As Jesus said in Matthew 7: “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.”

The world will judge our message not simply by what we say, but also by how we say it, and what we do to demonstrate it. When we argue on behalf of Christ, let us do it, as Peter says “with gentleness and reverence.”

After all, Jesus Himself is our ultimate example. He was unjustly nailed to a cross.   He could have called ten thousand angels. But instead He responded by praying for our forgiveness and entrusting Himself to the Father.

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Scriptures and Thoughts on Marraige

Is the distinction between civil and religious marriage important?
            Questions to concider:
What if a cohabitating couple is willing to be married, but is unable to obtain a marriage license due to financial or bureaucratic reasons?

If a government recognizes gay marriage, does this mean that a gay couple is also married in the eyes of God? If not, does this not indicate that civil and religious marriage are separate issues?

The definition in (Genesis 2) of “leave and cleave” seems to establish a criteria for marriage that is more basic than governmental recognition.

(Mark 10:9) “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

(Romans 13:1-2) “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”

What does submission in a marriage look like in the 21st century?

(Ephesians 5:22-24) “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

(Colossians 3:18-19) Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

(1 Peter 3:1-6) “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

(1 Corinthians 15:28) When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

(Acts 5:29) “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”

Are husbands also to submit to their wives?

(Ephesians 5:18-22) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” 

What marriage advice does the Bible give?

(2 Corinthians 6:14) Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

(Proverbs 5:18-19) May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

(Song of Songs 5:1) “I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. Eat, friends; Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.”

(1 Corinthians 7:3-5) The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control

(Deuteronomy 24:5) If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.

(Genesis 1:27-28) “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ”

(Mark 10:9) “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(Hebrews 13:4) Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

How should the Biblical view of marriage shape modern dating practices?

It is notable that the concept of dating is virtually absent from the text. Marriage is outlines as an endeavor of selfless giving, and dating should thus not be about simply having fun for one’s personal enjoyment.

(1 Corinthians 7:8-9) Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

How can a Christian use their marriage to portray Christ and the church to the world?

 (Ephesians 5:31-33) “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

(Isaiah 54:5) “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”

How can a wife respect her husband?

(Colossians 3:18-19) Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

(Proverbs 12:4) A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

(Proverbs 21:9) It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

(Proverbs 31:10) A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

(1 Corinthians 7:3-5) speaks of satisfying each other’s physical needs.

How can a husband love his wife as he ought to?

(Ephesians 5:25-29) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church

(Deuteronomy 24:5) If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.

(Colossians 3:18-19) Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

(1 Peter 3:7) 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.

How can a man dwell with his wife in an understanding way?

(1 Peter 3:7) 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.

Why is there no marriage in heaven?

(Matthew 22:30) Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

 

Let Justice Roll Down like Waters

In August of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In that speech, he alluded to the words of the prophet Amos when he said: “we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Indeed, it is right for us to be dissatisfied as long as there is injustice in our world. God Himself was truly unsatisfied with His people when he rebuked them in the book of Amos, in the passage to which King referred:

“I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings.
Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:21-24)

The people of Israel enjoyed festivals, sort of like we enjoy potluck meals and get-togethers. They had solemn assemblies, just as we bow our heads to pray for those who are hurting among us. They offered sacrifices both of animals and of song, even as we take up an offering from our weekly incomes and pour our hearts out through singing.

Yet God was profoundly dissatisfied with the state of things in Israel. The words He used to describe His feeling towards their religious observances are “I hate,” “I have no delight,” “I will not accept,” “I will not even look at,” “take them away,” and “I will not even listen.”

Why? Why would God reject all of Israel’s religion? Because they were not letting justice and righteousness flow through their lives.

Let this be a warning to us. Coming to church on Sunday, giving a few dollars, and singing a few songs is not sufficient to satisfy God.   He wants a people who live their lives in honesty, purity, and respect.

God wants a people who treat others the way they would want to be treated; who truly care about the ostracized, mistreated, and needy in their world. A people who are not content with injustice and who will not accept that “that’s just the way things are.”

As the Lord said in Hosea 6 and as Jesus repeated in Matthew 9, “I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Do you honor your husband, wife, parents, or children by the way you live, even when they are not around? Will you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and respond to their needs with love rather than judgment and bitterness? Do you care that others are being mistreated? Will you stand up for those who are being taken advantage of? Will you live a life that puts others first?

Will you refuse to be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream?

Show Love, Gentleness, and Respect to THOSE People?

The Ephesians were warned not to be “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming (4:14).”

Notice that the danger described here is not one of people who are dedicated to following God, but have accidentally missed something. It is a description of people who are intentionally using trickery and manipulation to turn people away from God’s will. Is there anything more angering or frustrating than knowing that there are people out there who are “scheming” about how to lead Christians astray?

What is an appropriate response in a situation like that? The answer is given in the next verse “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

This passage that we so often quote in reference to “speaking the truth in love” is indeed situated in a context of remaining firm despite “cunning,” “crafty,” and “deceitful” cultural or religious movements.

Consider another passage.

In 1st Peter 3:15, we read, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

We tend to imagine this passage playing out in a very non-confrontational way, perhaps when an acquaintance asks us out of nowhere why we believe in Jesus and then waits patiently for our response. But once again, this is not what the context primarily indicates.

The entire chapter of 1st Peter 3 is about suffering at the hands of our fellow humans simply because we choose to do right. Our verse about “giving a reason for the hope that is within us, yet with gentleness and respect” is sandwiched between verse 14 which speaks of suffering for what is right, and verse 16, which speaks of our being slandered maliciously because of our good behavior.

Speak the truth in love when a brother makes an honest mistake, and speak the truth with just as much love when its enemies work tirelessly to tear it down.

Be ready to give and answer with gentleness and respect when an honest seeker asks you an honest question, and be ready to give a gentles answer also when you are ridiculed or persecuted for your faith.

Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” (1 Peter 2:21-23)

How Should We Worship?

Contemporary religious groups worship in many different ways. Some have a choir and an organ, others have acoustic guitar and drums, others have laser light shows and men repelling from the ceilings. Some set a mood that is joyous and celebratory, others are serious and reverent. 

As with any aspect of life, so it is also with worship that God’s will is revealed in scripture. In John 4:24 Jesus said “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” These two concepts – spirit and truth – can provide a basic framework for considering our worship.

In scripture, the spirit is understood to be the core of one’s being, and the source of our desires, and emotions. We therefore understand worshipping in spirit to be a calling out from deep within ourselves. It is giving our all to Him both with our hearts and our minds.



Truth as understood from scripture is an objective reality that emanates from God. The truth about gravity, for instance, is that a person’s body will be pulled down towards the earth. As the gravity example illustrates, truth is not at the whim of our opinions. Worshipping in truth is about submitting to the realities that God has established regardless of our opinions.



Examples that illustrate the principles of worshipping in spirit, and worshipping in truth are both found in the Bible:

Romans 12:1 describes worship as the giving of our very selves as living sacrifices to God. Matthew 13:45-46 describes a man who joyously gives up everything that he has in his excitement at having found God’s kingdom. This man is worshipping in spirit, he is zealous for good and eager to give his all. Rather than worshipping out of compulsion or a sense of guilt, he worships because he is in awe.

Passages such as the rejection of Cain’s offering in Genesis 4, the consumption by fire from heaven of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10, or the striking dead of Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6 demonstrate the Biblical importance of worshipping in truth. For a New Testament example consider 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, in which the church is harshly reprimanded for taking the Lord’s Supper in a manner that is not in accordance with God’s will. All of these examples demonstrate that our “feelings” are not sufficient grounds to worship in a way that God does not accept.



Much confusion surrounding how to worship may come from an overemphasis on one of these principles to the detriment of the other. Our great zeal to worship God can be disastrous if it is unchecked by a deep respect for His will and the utmost concern for worshipping in a manner that He accepts. On the other hand, a solemn commitment to adhere strictly to God’s guidelines can still produce an empty worship if it is done out of obligation rather than true adoration.

The working out of the many implications of God’s desire for worship both in spirit and in truth is a subject too broad for a short bulletin article, but establishing these principles lays the groundwork for developing an understanding of worship that is full of both respectful obedience and heartfelt adoration.

Worship