Tag Archives: beliefs
My New Book “Bless-ed” Is Now Out! Almost. Blessing #6!
1. Some people are guilty of an eternal sin by blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mark. 3:29). Is this sin possible today? Yes, in the sense that rejecting the Spirit’s witness to the identity of Jesus excludes one from salvation.
3. Guilt remains on those who claim they can see spiritually, but reject Christ (John 9:41). A lack of awareness of one’s guilt doesn’t eliminate one’s responsibility.
6. The believer’s heart of guilt can by cleansed by repentance and a faith in the Lord (Heb. 10:22). Psalm 32:5 says, “And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
My New Book “Bless-ed” Is Now Out! Almost. Blessing #5!
My new book, Bless-ed! Fifty-Two Weekly Blessings You Have as a Believer and How to Help Your Lost Friends Find Theirs will soon be available on Amazon here. I have advanced copies if you are interested. I will send you a copy for $10 (which includes shipping). Here’s Blessing #5 in Bless-ed:
Bless-ed! 52 Weekly Blessings You Have As A Believer — and How to Help Your Lost Friends Find Theirs
Blessing #5: The Blessing of a Lifelong Mission
“This is the true joy of life: the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself to be a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” (George Bernard Shaw)
I’ve recently been challenged (by my time with my unsaved friend Mike) to think about what I have as a believer and what those who are lost don’t have. This may seem like a strange exercise, but it has a way of focusing my prayers and my priorities to genuinely care about my lost friends.
In sharing the biblical truth with Mike that he is “lost” and “unsaved” without Jesus, he responded with his conviction that he was just fine with God. But that’s not what God’s Word says. Another blessing that we who know Christ have is this –
5. WE HAVE A LIFELONG, SATISFYING MISSION IN LIFE!
What is my friend Mike’s “mission” in life? I suppose – if I were to ask him – he would probably say, “I want to be a good person, help others, be kind and compassionate, and die with my family by my side.” Those are good values and ambitious goals – but is that what life is about?
THE BLESSING: What about knowing the living God? What about helping to rescue people from God’s eternal wrath? What about sharing in any way possible the message of forgiveness and reconciliation that Jesus provides to those who believe? What about a life mission that will require all one’s energy and resources and priorities and insight and purpose? That’s what we believers have. And though at times it might seem like a burden, it is a blessing.
THE BIBLE Jesus prayed in John 17 for all who would follow Him. “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (v. 3). He commissioned His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 with the words:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Life’s purpose is to know the Lord and life’s mission (for those who believe) is to disciplize (my word) people everywhere to follow Jesus. This is the believer’s lifelong, satisfying mission. There is none greater than this.
Someone has said of the Christian, “You are either a missionary or a mission field.” Believer, are you fully engaged in this Christ-given mission to reach the world? Some action steps you can take:
1. Read through the book of Acts this week taking special note of the passion and commitment of the early Christians to fulfill the Great Commission the Lord gave to them. Take a few notes and perhaps share what you’ve learned with a friend.
2. Interview a real-life missionary (either active or retired) some time this week. Ask them questions like, “If you had to live your life over again, what would you do differently?” “What lessons have you learned about your lifelong mission that can help other believers?”
3. Read John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life and discuss it with a friend. Are there any points in that book with which you might disagree? Check out desiringgod.org for Piper’s many resources.
4. PRAYER: To be quite honest and blunt, in the words of Pastor John Piper, my friend Mike has wasted his life! But it’s not too late. And I pray he will come to Christ and use the remainder of his days to have a mission far greater than any he has ever dreamed of.
Are you concerned that your friend does not have God’s eternal mission in life? Pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to his heart – and remind him that he only has one life. And it can count for God!
My New Book “Bless-ed” Is Now Out! Almost. Blessing #4!
My new book, Bless-ed! Fifty-Two Weekly Blessings You Have as a Believer and How to Help Your Lost Friends Find Theirs will soon be available on Amazon here. I have advanced copies if you are interested. I will send you a copy for $10 (which includes shipping). Here’s Blessing #4 in Bless-ed:
Bless-ed! 52 Weekly Blessings You Have As A Believer — and How to Help Your Lost Friends Find Theirs
Blessing #4: The Blessing of a Proper View of Suffering
“The believer in God must explain one thing, the existence of suffering; the nonbeliever, however, must explain the existence of everything else.” (Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin, The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism)
I thank the Lord for my friend Mike. He does not know the Lord – yet – as his Savior, but God is using him to remind me of the many blessings which I have “in Christ.” This study is multi-faceted and is helping me enormously in taking stock of what I have as a follower of Jesus. And I purpose to not simply coast through my Christian life, oblivious to the many gifts which being in God’s family has given me.
The next “blessing” we want to consider might seem odd, but it is a really critical one. This is a broken world; we are broken as people; terrible tragedies and catastrophes happen on this planet (and to us) under the watchful eye of a sovereign God. How are we to understand pain and tragedy? Thankfully, as believers in Christ –
4. WE POSSESS A PROPER VIEW OF SUFFERING!
THE BLESSING The Bible does not sugar-coat this world’s fallenness with all its effects of “natural disasters” (earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc.) and man-made evil (crime, betrayal, anger, revenge, injustice, prejudice, greed, etc.). But how are we to understand this world’s suffering in light of the Bible’s picture of a God of love?
Scholars refer to this effort at understanding evil as a theodicy (a defense of God’s justice in the face of evil’s reality). Some religious systems deny the reality of evil (the cult Christian Science is an example), compromise God’s omnipotence or omniscience (Rabbi Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People is an example of the former; Greg Boyd’s open theism an example of the latter), or resign themselves to a kind of deterministic fatalism about evil (Islam is an example of this approach).
THE BIBLE The Bible provides the very best theodicy, for it affirms the real existence of evil and suffering while setting forth the goodness and justice of the biblical God. And God’s Word does not hesitate to show us godly people who had wrong views about suffering. One thinks of Job and his friends who were sure either Job had sinned greatly (and deserved what he was getting) or God was unfairly making Job His target (and needed to be sued in court for His [God’s] mistake). Even Jesus’ disciples cut to the chase theologically and thought the man-born-blind’s condition was because of sin (either his or his parents). Jesus corrects them by saying that “this happened so that the works of God would be displayed in his life” (John 9:3).
As God-manifest-in-the-flesh, Jesus allows death to take his friend Lazarus even though He had the power to keep him from dying (John 11). I’ve worked on this passage and entitled it “Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die!” But Jesus did.
One classic text on the issue of evil and suffering is Luke 13:1-5 where we read:
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
This brief theodicy by the Lord Jesus covers two areas of suffering and evil in our world. Notice the victims of a vicious crime in verses 1-3. Notice also the victims of a violent accident in verses 4-5. Neither the sin of the Galileans nor the guilt of those killed by the falling tower was the cause of their catastrophe. One man’s depravity (Pilate’s) and one tower’s gravity illustrate a basic fact: life is dangerous! Make sure you are right with God!
1. A bit of homework: There is much more in God’s Word that prepares us for suffering. See such texts as: 2 Corinthians 1:5-7; Philippians 1:29; 3:10; Colossians 1:24; I Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:8; 2:3; Hebrews 2:18; 10:34; James 5:10; all of 1 Peter; Revelation 1:9; 2:10. Take some notes on these passages this week.
2. Interview a believing friend this week who is going through severe suffering (cancer, the loss of a loved one, marital unfaithfulness). Ask them carefully what God is teaching them in their trial. Then offer to pray with them.
3. Read the excellent book by Chris Tiegreen entitled Why a Suffering World Makes Sense. Perhaps offer a small group study of the book in your church.
4. PRAYER: Pray for yourself to live a life of faith even in the midst of trials and pain. And ask the Holy Spirit to use whatever challenge comes in your friend’s life that he might see his need of getting right with the Lord.
Five Truths You Need to Believe about . . . Faith!
Five Truths about . . . FAITH:
Everyone, to some extent, lives by faith. I read somewhere that a question was sent in to a newspaper answer-man: “How does an elevator work?” The answer-man responded, “An elevator is essentially a small room dangling over a very deep shaft, held up by thin cables that are maintained by building employees who have tremendous trouble just keeping all the toilets working.”
We blithely eat the sandwich prepared for us at Subway without asking about the artisan’s background or hygiene. We (usually not men) ask total strangers for directions when we’re lost. We trust our political leaders — sometimes. Everyone “walks by faith” in some sense.
Faith can refer to one’s belief and confidence in how one looks at life. Or faith can refer to the content of truth which God has revealed to us. It is this latter definition that we want to closely examine.
“The FAITH” is used in the Bible to refer to the truths that God has disclosed to us about Himself, His world, and our need of a Savior. And we are to defend that faith vigorously (Jude 3).
Five Issues about FAITH:
1. The SOURCE of our FAITH: Where do we get our beliefs? Some cite their own reason or their experience for what they believe. Others will say they believe what some church authority tells them to believe. But the CHRISTIAN FAITH is derived from God’s supernatural revelation to us in the 66 books of the Bible.
2. The STUDY of our FAITH: We are to study the truths — the doctrines — of the Christian faith as revealed in the 66 books of the Bible. If we want to study, for example, the glory of God and we begin at Genesis and work our way all the way through the book of Revelation, that is an approach called “biblical theology.” If we collect all the Scriptures about the glory of God and put them into logical categories, that is an approach called “systematic theology.” Both study methods are useful and focus upon the data of God’s Word.
3. The CHALLENGES to our FAITH: We must ask, “whatever happened to heresy?” The term “heresy” literally means “a choice.” Jehovah’s Witnesses are heretics because they choose to deny the deity of Christ (as well as other doctrines). We must be aware of false teaching in our time and culture in order to refute it and present God’s truth. [I’ve touched on the issue of reading “boiling books” here].
4. The IMPLICATIONS of our FAITH: The Christian “faith” (the content of truth that God has revealed to us) has been given to mature us, to make us more like Christ. Knowing the truths of God is not enough. They must transform us. Our priorities, worldview, daily choices, affections must be challenged and formed by the biblical beliefs we affirm.
5. The SHARING of our FAITH: We are not to keep our FAITH to ourselves. We are under the great commission mandate to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt. 28).
TODAY’S HOMEWORK: Ask someone who is a friend what they understand by the word “faith.” When asked, explain to them the idea that one’s “faith” is one’s worldview, how one looks at reality. Feel free to write out a comment below!
Five Truths You Need to Believe about . . . An Introduction to the Series
Introduction to the Series:
These posts are in preparation for my writing a series of 30-page booklets which will be designed to teach and apply fundamental truths of the Christian faith. While they do not pretend to address all the issues in a particular area of Christian belief, they will cover some of the basics which every Jesus-follower should affirm and put into practice.
Theology — the study of God and the things of God — is, for most people, as attractive as an appointment for a root canal. But I have often said that “Theology is not boring. Theologians are boring!” The precious truths given to us by a loving and powerful God should excite us and empower us to live for Him. Spiral bound, these lay-flat booklets will provide space for study notes and exercises.
Unfortunately, many Christians look like they’ve been baptized in lemon juice. Some act as if, when they came to Jesus, He gave them a misery pill and told them to go out and medicate the world!
Professional Christians (pastors, missionaries, Bible college and seminary professors) often seem to reflect the idea that doctrine is boring or irrelevant. Listen to what Dorothy Sayers said about such ministers:
“It is not true at all that dogma [doctrine] is ‘hopelessly irrelevant’ to the life and thought of the average man. What is true is that ministers of the Christian religion often assert that it is, present it for consideration as though it were, and, in fact, by their faulty exposition of it make it so. The central dogma of the Incarnation is that by which relevance stands or falls.” (from Creed or Chaos).
We will show the biblical basis for each of the five truths we will discuss in each of these booklets. We will also take seriously the “So what?” factor. In other words, if I really believe X, what difference ought that to make in my life? Right here? Right now?
So, we will list and discuss the five truths about a particular area of Christian belief, investigate some of its practical implications for the believer, and recommend several resources for further study.
We will begin with . . . FIVE TRUTHS YOU NEED TO BELIEVE ABOUT . . . FAITH! in our next post.
Today’s Challenge: Ask yourself the question: Do you really believe the fundamental truths of the Christian faith? How can your beliefs be tested and lived out?
Uploaded Video for My Kirkland Students — Part 2 Christology
Friends: Due to the Coronavirus I am not allowed to meet face-to-face with my Kirkland cohort (many are lifers) for the next few weeks. I’m providing a couple of videos for them to watch. And you might like what I’ve done! The second video is about 15 minutes long. Let me know what you think! Dr. D.
Uploaded Video on Christology for Kirkland Students – Part 1
Due to the Coronavirus I am not allowed to meet face-to-face with my Kirkland cohort (many are lifers) for the next few weeks. I’m providing a couple of videos for them to watch. And you might like what I’ve done! The first video is only 11 minutes long. Let me know what you think! Dr. D.