Are you righteous?

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left.

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. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You? ’

“And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these * brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you didn’t take Me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe Me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of Me.’

“Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You? ’

“Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

Little children, let no one deceive you! The one who does what is right is righteous, just as [Christ] is righteous. (1 john 3:7)

Righteousness doesn’t come from saying a prayer, being baptized, going to church, or reading scripture. We are righteous if our faith motivates us to do good works in obedience to Christ. And if we remain in Christ, there will be no fear of condemnation on the Day of Judgment.

Why aren’t you a missionary?

Are you a Christian? A follower of Jesus? A follower of the Way? Yes?

Are you radical? Yes?

THEN WHY AREN’T YOU A MISSIONARY?

Are you uncomfortable yet? I know I would be. I’m tired of hearing about how we all need to sell everything, move to a third world country, and suffer for God.

Of all the believers we read about in the New Testament, only a handful were missionaries. So why do we assume that the normal Christian life should look like the Apostle Paul’s life rather than the lives of those in the church who sent him out? Why do we tell ourselves that God is most pleased with missionaries and preachers and he just tolerates the rest of us.

I think it’s interesting that Paul instructed the new Corinthian believers to remain in the station of life they were in:

However, each one must live his life in the situation the Lord assigned when God called him. This is what I command in all the churches. Was anyone already circumcised when he was called? He should not undo his circumcision. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? He should not get circumcised. Circumcision does not matter and uncircumcision does not matter, but keeping God’s commands does. Each person should remain in the life situation in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? It should not be a concern to you. But if you can become free, by all means take the opportunity. For he who is called by the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called as a free man is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brothers, each person should remain with God in whatever situation he was called. (1 Corinthians 7:17-20 )

Paul also urged converts to live quiet lives:

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

About brotherly love: You don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. In fact, you are doing this toward all the brothers in the entire region of Macedonia. But we encourage you, brothers, to do so even more, to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, so that you may walk properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone. (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12)

I like this line from James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World:
“[R]edemption through Christ represents a reaffirmation of the creation mandate, not its annulment. When people are saved by God through faith in Christ they are not only being saved from their sins, they are saved in order to resume the tasks mandated at creation, the task of caring for and cultivating a world that honors God and reflects his character and glory.”

You may be thinking, What about the great commission? Don’t you care about the unsaved?

I certainly do care about the unsaved and I believe local churches should support missions. I’m excited when I hear about people who want to go to foreign lands to evangelize, make disciples, and plant churches. (My family did this for several years in Asia.)

But here’s the thing, God is sovereign.

God will raise up Christian missionaries. God will also raise up Christian mechanics, builders, lawyers, taxi drivers, etc. Stop beating yourself up for not being Radical enough!

If God is not leading you to go out as a missionary, then live a quiet and peaceful life exemplified by holy behavior and good works right where you are. Remember, you are an ambassador for the Kingdom of God, so be salt and light right where you are and know that God is pleased!

Are we asking the right question about “yom”?

When young earth creationists and old earth creationists debate the creation account in Genesis, one hot topic is always the meaning of the Hebrew word “yom“; does it means 24 hours or does it mean an unspecified period of time?

I think that may be an irrelevant argument, however, because it really doesn’t matter if “yom” means a 24-hr day, an unspecified period of time, or one of its other meanings. What matters is how the author intended it to be taken—literally or metaphorically.

For example, when the Bible talks about God’s “outstretched arm (zeroah),” it is obviously referring to a body part; however, we know it is to be taken metaphorically since God is spirit and therefore does not have arms.

So one can affirm with young-earth creationists that “yom” means a 24-hr day while at the same time affirming with old-earth creationists that in the creation account, it doesn’t refer to a literal 24-hr day.

Am I saying that “yom” is being used metaphorically in the Genesis creation account? No. But it is a possibility.

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To read more about Bible interpretation, click on this link: http://www.gci.org/bible/literally

Should Believers Be Baptized?

Since we know from examples in the New Testament that a person enters into the New Covenant established by Jesus Christ through faith and is indwelled by the Holy Spirit even before their baptism, is there a good reason to tell people to be baptized?

Grace Communion International (GCI) has a good article on their website explaining why believers should be baptized:

Is baptism essential to the Christian life? Should people be rebaptized if they change churches or denominations? Is it essential to be baptized in a specific way, such as sprinkling, pouring or immersion?

We can begin to answer such questions by asking: What is the example of the New Testament for those who accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? The answer is that they were baptized.

On the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection, when the Holy Spirit was given, Peter exhorted his listeners: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39). We are among those who are “far off,” and we can share in the grace of God along with those who heard Peter speak almost 2,000 years ago.

Note how the people responded to Peter’s call after he finished his sermon: About 3,000 accepted Christ that day, and were baptized (Acts 2:41). Baptism became a public testimony that these people had accepted Jesus as the Christ…

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To read the article in its entirety, click on this link: http://www.gci.org/gospel/believers

Thomas Aquinas on Prayer

We need to pray to God, not in order to make known to Him our needs or desires but that we ourselves may be reminded of the necessity of having recourse to God’s help in these matters.

[O]ur motive in praying is, not that we may change the Divine disposition, but that, by our prayers, we may obtain what God has appointed.

God bestows many things on us out of His liberality, even without our asking for them: but that He wishes to bestow certain things on us at our asking, is for the sake of our good, namely, that we may acquire confidence in having recourse to God, and that we may recognize in Him the Author of our goods.

Creating a Godly Value System

Sanctification involves a transformation of values. As we read the Bible, we become more aware of God’s love for us and this knowledge rearranges our value system.

Values such as acceptance, popularity, health, etc. often cannot be satisfactorily achieved and this leads to disappointment, frustration and low self-esteem; however, when our greatest value is knowing and pleasing God, our other values become less important.

As these secondary values become less important, we will experience greater contentment and happiness. As a result, we will find that we can love ourselves and others to a greater degree.

Should Christians love equally?

To answer this question, let’s first define love:

love (agapao) v. – a preferring; a deliberate choosing of one over the other(s).

How is love measured?

Love is measured through its demonstration. (The greatest love is sacrificial.)

Now, let’s look at how God loves:

God loves all people (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9), but he does not love all people in the same way. The Bible teaches that there is a love reserved for those who are “in Christ,” i.e, those who love and obey God. (Psalm 103:11, Luke 8:21, John 15:10, 1 John 3:1, Jude 1:21)

As Christians, how should this knowledge affect our behavior?

First and foremost, we should love God. Then we should love all people unconditionally, but we should love those who belong to the household of faith (our faith family) in a different way. (Matthew 22:37-39, 1 John 3:16-17, Galatians 6:10)

We should love like God. (Matthew 5:43-48, 1 John 3:18)