Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Galatians

Psalms Saturday #14 – Psalms 1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked

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Psalms Saturday #14 – Psalms 1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked – 05/07/2016

Psalms 1:1 (ESV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Thanks for looking at our Psalms Saturday article; I plan to go through this Psalm verse by verse starting in verse one…

V1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

To look at this appropriately we have to look at the Hebrew word “esher” which is the Hebrew word for “Blessed” and that talks mainly of happiness and contentment. Gives a much fuller meaning to the text don’t you think? If we replaced the word “blessed” with fulfilled or contentment then you will see what the Psalmist is driving at. I say that having read this Psalm many times and not bothered to dig any deeper than the words on the page. We see three things that make a man happy and content…

  • He walks not in the counsel of the wicked – The company you keep is important as you will modify your behavior to match the ones that you are trying to impress. When I became a Christian I slowly lost the friends that I had clung onto in my wilderness years because they did not want to do what I wanted to.

    Conversely now I take great delight in a Wednesday morning meeting I have at a local coffee house with likeminded believers as we sharpen each other and keep each other accountable. Finding friends like that is vital as you progress through your Christian life. The counsel you keep affects the way you think.

  • Nor stands in the way of sinners – Not just the counsel you keep but if you are living your life in the way of sinners then you will do what they do. The friends you have affect the way you behave. If you have trouble with alcohol will you still go to the bar rooms 4 times a week?
  • Nor sits in the seats of scoffers – If you dwell with the scoffers and mockers you will become just like them, you will start to belong there and it will erode your Christianity. How can you be happy and blessed in your Christian walk if you are always criticizing or tearing down (and often times this can be fellow Christians)

Like most Jewish poetry the Psalmist offers a contrast in the next verse and does not stop with what we should not be, but continues in what we should be. We see that “his delight is in the law of the LORD” that he is happy in the whole counsel of God, not just the first five books, that the word of God is a delight in his life and if you are not happy or excited to study the word of God then you may need to take a barometer of where you are as a Christian. Is there a hunger, a desire or even a willingness to get in the word regardless (and in some cases especially) of the circumstances?

This hunger us that real that “on his law he meditates day and night.” And that puts me to shame personally and that is something I want to do always, I do however ponder the word of God and a lot of thought and prayer goes into personal study as well as the articles here and I know that the crux of what he is saying is that we ponder it, understand it and commit it to our hearts and lives. I just wished that I did it day and night!

V3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

We see with the correct application of scripture the Psalmist uses the picture of a tree that if it is planted next to a place that will allow it to be fed, then it will continue in strength and it prospers and the application here would be that with that correct grounded knowledge of the word of God that has been meditated we will continue to grow and thrive in our Christian walk. Paul makes the same comparison in the letter to the Galatian church…

Galatians 5:19 (ESV) Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The fruit comes naturally from the tree because of what is going into the tree (streams of water) and I would ask would the same tree be as strong in say a desert where the water supply was a bit sparse? Or would it be more like a tree that is all withered and dead? Then you have to examine what type of Christianity you have, is it a by the cool streams or is it a desert Christianity? How strong is your tree? Will it withstand a few storms or will it break in the first sign of trouble?

V4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Again we see an example of the opposite. Have a look at this passage in Jude…

Jude 1:12 (ESV) These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

As strong as the tree is, the wicked are not strong. To understand what chaff is it is the shell that has to be removed before the grain is useable for the purpose intended, traditionally one of the ways of removing chaff from grain was to allow the air to go through and it separates on its own. I am convinced that this was not used in accident as it is the polar opposite and a good reminder that although we are in the world we are not of the world.

V5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

And we are concluding with these remarks and the Psalmist uses terms that we are familiar with from the book of Daniel when he spoke to King Belshazzar…

Daniel 5:13 (ESV) Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king answered and said to Daniel, “You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. 14 I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not show the interpretation of the matter. 16 But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. 19 And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. 21 He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. 22 And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. 24 “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.

Scary stuff huh? How is your relationship with God? Have you taken up his free gift of salvation so you are not found wanting? We see that the Psalmist talks about sinners in “the congregation of the righteous” and we will see the ones who persist in their sins and do not wish to change their lives peel off from our church congregations in the short term, however I do also believe that we will be surprised with some of the folks that we thought we would see in glory who were as religious as religious could be and did not know Jesus as their savior, that is scarier stuff!

V6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

I have peace like a river that I am being guided by the creator of heaven. I know that whatever befalls me in this life and however I am chosen to be removed from it that I have a loving father waiting to welcome me home with the words I long to hear “Well done my good and faithful servant” but I do lament for those who are my neighbors, in my streets and in my city and the cities that are close by me who tonight are dying in their sins. One thing is assured is that you have that choice to choose heaven or to reject God and deal with those consequences for all of eternity. My prayer is that if you have not done so then please contact me and I would love to talk to you.

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we will look at Psalms 13 looks at the sorrow of David and trusting in the Lord through trials. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ – Romans 5:1-11

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Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ – Romans 5:1-11 – 05/01/2016

Romans 5:1 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

Let’s start in verse one of chapter five…

V1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul has spent chapters 1-4 showing us the reasons that we are justified by faith now we have established that we see that Paul moves on to teaching more theology but at the same time explaining what he means by his past statements and showing correct teaching. He states that we are “justified by faith” harks back to Romans 1-3 where we were shown to be guilty before God and Paul showed the need for a savior. That is important because if you do not recognize your need for salvation then you may have issues accepting Jesus as your messiah. Even although we are guilty, God never meant for that to always be the case and we are “justified by faith” in Christa and what he has done for us on the cross.

This is why Paul states we “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” to quote the hymn writer “Jesus paid it all” on the cross. Paul evaluates this claim and shows how great that sacrifice was. Can you imagine that God would want communion with you so much that he would send to you the most precious in his eyes to die in your place in order that justice be served on your sins and that you can have peace with God?

“Peace with God” is a wonderful phrase showing that we are no longer against God or at odds with him due to sin. This is not a “catch all state” and we are still required to have faith and we are required to actually want salvation as God will not force himself upon those who do not wish to serve him. Like most peace treaties there is a negotiation and winners and losers, in this battle however both man and God win because God gets his beloved creation back and man has a way to be reconciled to God.

V2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Paul shows us that we have this position with God not through our own will, our own merits, skills or attributes; we have it entirely through God’s grace. None of us are favored by God and we are all there through grace, it is by grace that we are saved and we see that in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians…

Ephesians 2:4 (ESV) 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not 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, that we should walk in them.

That explains it way better than I ever could, we were dead in our sins before we were redeemed and our redemption is secured by our faith, talk about finding a precious jewel in a dollar store! That is reason alone to hope in the glory of God. We have an all access pass to the maker of heaven and earth, what a joy!

V3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Paul mirrors what is said in the book of James when he talks of “rejoicing on ones trials” let’s be honest, who does that?

Paul uses a great word for “sufferings” and he states that we can rejoice in them, I am sure that in your life you have had times that you would rather not talk about and trials that have flamed you to within an inch of your spiritual life and you have been tested. Perhaps you would rather just close that door to that part of your life and forget about it. What if God had a plan for that suffering in your life? What if you were to be used in the same way that this test became a testimony and you were able to ‘save someone else’s life” just because you have been through those things. Paul states that testing does the following…

  • suffering produces endurance
  • endurance produces character
  • character produces hope
  • hope does not put us to shame

James 1:2 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

So instead of begging God and saying “why me?” instead say “why not?” and I know that this is easy to put down in paper and when you are in the trenches it is a whole different story. I know that I would much rather not go through what God has me go through and just have the character and hope but that is not God’s way and Paul states why below.

Isn’t that the way with God? I cannot count the amount of times I have asked in faith in prayer for more money and rather than God just dropping me a check in the mail (that has happened too) he will often times give me the opportunity to earn money through overtime or a second job will come through.

Paul writes that “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Paul rounds that reasoning by stating that hope will not disappoint us and put us to shame because of God’s love. God when he created the heavens and earth created everything “good” and has intention to make it good again. Paul states this with great clarity but not having a cold theological feel to it. Paul realized this was life changing but also people lived their lives through this and by this.

God will pour out his love, it is not rationed and Paul desires us to have experience of this part of God. God desires us to know the Holy Spirit in its fullness. We have the Holy Spirit in our lives, but we have to ask ourselves if we are living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and walk day by day dependent on the Holy Spirit?

V6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God came and rescued us while we were weak, not strong! This is very God, that he would come to the most undeserving, to the weakest, to the ungodly and the wicked. Basically us! The very ones that Jesus was drawn to because he and the father are on the same mission. To heal the sick and to redeem those who wish redeemed. That is why Christ died for the ungodly and he did so at the right time. God knew what he was doing and his timing is always better than ours. (This is also reconfirmed in Galatians 4:4)

Think about it, God waited for an Empire to come along that would have an open border system all through their Empire, for a stable economy, for the right time for prophecies to be fulfilled. History may say that the gospel was hampered by the Roman Empire through persecution, but the ability to have it spread to three continents was enabled by the easy passage throughout the Empire.

If you had any doubt that God loved you then verses seven and eight will really open your eyes. God loved us so much that even although we were still against God, God showed that amazing love to send Jesus to the cross to be our substitute and give us that opportunity to be with him in heaven. God loves us much more than human love because even personally, there are not many I would gladly lay my life down for even although I am assured of heaven once I pass from this earth and I know that I am quite literally justified by the blood of Jesus.

V9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

We are saved from the judgment of God for our sins; we are saved from the penalty of what our error had condemned us to. We are saved by the love of God against the wrath of God, if the wrath of God was great how much greater will the love of God be? God literally reached out to his enemy, offered his own son, the firstborn without spot, blemish or sin and not only reconciled but adopted us into his family. What love and what saving grace being saved through the life of Jesus!

V11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Jesus is the key to Salvation, this much is true, there is no longer a need to cling to a holy law that you could never keep in the first place because our reconciliation with God was through Jesus. Jesus states this more clearly than I ever could in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John…

John 10:7 (ESV) So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we will look at verses twelve through twenty one in chapter five when we look at the second part of Paul’s explanation where he looks at the death of Adams sin and the new life in Jesus Christ. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:42-47 – Devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:42-47 – Devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers – 03/28/2016

Acts 2:42 (ESV) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is the new believer’s response to “Peter’s Sermon”. We see here how the church started and look at lessons we could use today. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse forty two…

V42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

After 3000 were added to their number we learn something really dynamic about this new and fledgling church and that was that they were not just about the Pentecost experience. They devoted themselves to teaching and desired to know more. They were keen to know all about this messiah Jesus and searched out the information, they were single minded in their devotion to seek out the truth of God from the apostles teachings and doctrine. This is paramount in the spiritual maturity and development of the new church that they get their doctrinal ducks in a row. That they be unified in a common faith and nail the basics from day one. That way they can avoid contentious arguments.

Not content with that basic fundamental, but they continued in fellowship, they invested in one another in a real way that we just don’t get in the Western church. In the Bible study I started under the direction of God I instituted a safe place where people could be real, not polished with a “Sunday smile” Much like a recent article (link) that I did talking about the comfort of God and the need for us in fellowship to be comforting one another and bearing one another’s burdens (another article in Galatians) and so fulfilling the law of Christ, see the full text in Galatians 6:2

Galatians 6:2 (ESV) Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I get all of my best ideas from the Bible! I want to see that idea replicated in our churches that we are real, that we are honest at where we are even if it sets us back in our ministry goal. Imagine the power that could be unleashed if we are proactively praying for the burdens that we do not know about. If you believe in the power of prayer and restoration then what is stopping you? If you don’t trust your church leadership then maybe it is time to reconsider going to that church.

And lastly, they broke bread and prayed together like a real family. Do you have any idea what an honor it is to be invited to dine at another’s table? The Greek word “koinonia” means participation, communion, fellowship, harmony and sharing in a common bond. Is that the type of association you are looking for in your church? Let me tell you that it starts with you! Yes it would be beneficial if the leadership of the church bought into it but if you set the example then that may be enough to start a change of culture in your fellowship.
They broke bread and prayed, with that common bond they also shared a common faith and when the people of God came together they were strengthened by prayer and for me that is a non-negotiable in any fellowship that I wish to participate in that prayer is important. They had such a strong foundation even though this was the first draft of the church, how simpler our lives would be if we followed this basic formula for church planting!

V43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

After all of the foundations were laid for a dynamic work of God it is hardly surprising that God blessed it! Often times we will try to push things along in our own speed and wonder why it is not what we thought it would be. How often do we cover it in prayer in the belief that God can handle this and leave the results up to God?

The evidence is in the reaction that awe (or fear) came upon every soul, a true conviction of the wrongdoing of man and a genuine repentance and also many signs and wonders were done and what tangible evidence of the blessing and power of God!

V44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

How I long for that in any fellowship I attend! They showed hospitality, served one another and looked for commonality in the fellowship they shared. Many of these new believers traveled to get to Jerusalem so the inhabitants would have shared their space and much more as we read below…

V45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Would you do that for your fellow believers? Sell your prized possessions for Jesus? Is there something you wouldn’t give up for Jesus? Maybe something you might want to look at there. I am of course not asking you to sell your stuff for Jesus but look at the change in people’s lives that helping their fellow brothers and sisters in the faith was better than having some expensive trinket in their house. Jesus was evidently number one in these people’s lives because their actions were fruit of their beliefs.

Some may equate this to an early form of Communism but in my view it cannot be described like that because it was something that was undertaken by the individual believer and was voluntary as we don’t see the apostles or leaders telling them to do so and we will see in Acts 5 what happens when some folks decided to fake benevolence on a grand level.

V46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Some people might be uncomfortable with this level of interaction but I love this idea. They were all singing from the same sheet, they realized that they were meant to be together, the early church did life together and it wasn’t what we are used to with only having a weekly interaction, so much more can be achieved in growth, in reality and in that common bond. They lived together, worshipped together, ate together and had great joy together. Sounds great huh?

For those of you who poo poo the idea and state “that could never work in today’s society” I am here to tell you that it can. I was part of a missions plant church in Glasgow that promoted these very ideals and it came from the Pastor down to the newest person in the church where if you wanted this level of involvement you could literally go through the week and fellowship all week if you wished. It got to the stage that we were bummed if we went more than 3 days without seeing someone from church. That was in 2007 not 37 AD!

You will also notice that those who received from others abundance received with “glad and generous hearts” and we observe that there was no drama from either the ones who gave or the ones who received. There appears to be no “lording it over” a fellow believer those who had more than others and the ones who required assistance praised God for having favor on all the people. We see no-one starving because the command to “love one another” was played out beautifully and literally in this new church blueprint.

God added to the number daily, what is important not that he added to the physical numbers but he added to the maturity of the believers also. What was not to like about this church? They looked after their own, they had a common bond and they loved one another. They had their doctrinal ducks in a row, they fellowshipped and they covered everything in prayer. If I ever set up a church plant I know this would be the formula that I would want to use and follow the will of God and leave the results up to him!

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter three verses one through ten where Peter and John encounter a lame man on their way to prayer. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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Abraham justified by faith – Romans 4:1-12

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Abraham justified by faith – Romans 4:1-12 – 03/20/2016

Romans 4:1 (ESV) What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” 9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

Let’s start in verse one of chapter four…

V1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?

Paul continues on what he was saying in Romans three and uses Abraham as an example to show his point. Abraham was known as the father of the Jewish people and was revered and esteemed by the Jewish people. Paul knew what he was doing when he chose this example. If Paul was looking at addressing the American people he would probably have used a similar analogy by using some of the names of the Founding Fathers.

V2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

After introducing Abraham he makes the question on whether Abraham was justified by works and whether he could boast in the good things that he has done, Paul comes back to Romans 3:23 and states that no he could not boast before God because we are all sinful by nature and have not and cannot attain God’s holy and perfect standard on our own.

V3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

And like any good teacher Paul bases his argument on scripture, he shows where it states that he was not indeed justified by works, but by belief and it was counted to him as righteousness. In context I have attached the scripture below…

Genesis 15:1 (ESV) After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

I love how Paul takes away any notions that Abraham was somehow exempt from the rules that the rest of mankind had to follow and that by the same train of thought he would have had to look at the possibility that God makes exceptions from his holy nature which of course is preposterous.

Abraham is never mentioned as being “perfect” but only mentioned as being counted as righteous and the reason for the righteousness was based on the action of the belief of God. I would say that Abraham sought after God’s will before the Law was given in the same manner that we would make deposits in a financial institution Abrahams credit worthiness or righteousness was high with God because God saw the heart of Abraham and knew who he was and that is why he was declared righteous.

You will notice that it only mentions how God saw Abraham and not how his fellow man saw him. This is convicting for me because man will look at the external package first and I am no different. I have been surprised by who God has used in the past and it is very God to use someone whom the world didn’t think much of. I am very much in that camp because often times I have been passed over for things (both in the world and in Christian circles) because of assumptions that people have made on limitations they perceived me to have.

V4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.

Paul uses the idea of a salary to compare and contrast the idea of grace versus works because as we know (those of us who have accepted Christ) that grace is a free gift given to those of us who does not deserve it. I often laugh internally if I hear someone praying “Oh Lord- give us what we deserve!” I then back away a little in case God takes them literally.

If a system of works was correct then that would mean that we were owed something by God, in which God would be in debt to us (in this case for a salary) I am uncomfortable with that because it puts you on some severely shaky theological ground. It is true that works will come as fruit of faith but I do not see that faith will come from God being in our debt.

V5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

Paul agrees with the above hypothesis by stating that belief is greater than works as the one who does not work but believes will have his faith counted as righteousness. Seems obvious huh? Not always though as Gods ways are higher than our ways. We are to believe in the one who justifies the ungodly (God himself) who grants grace and mercy to all who do not deserve it. God justifies us as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross where he took the punishment for our sins.

God is holy and hates sin, and he hates separation between his beloved creation and Him so he loves us enough to justify us despite our sin but we have to want to be saved. There is no “catch all solution” I do not doubt that God justifies the ungodly but I marvel at the sheer miracle that he does. (Going back to getting what we deserve!)

King David is mentioned and this is beautiful because he was described as a “man after God’s own heart” but he was a sinful man who committed murder and adultery but he was a man who strived after God and repented of his sins. (Sound familiar?) He was a man who understood sin, the impact and the repercussions of that sin and the relief and weight that is lifted off you when you are truly forgiven. If King David were judged based on his works, he would be sunk but the just God convicts him based on his belief as none of us can atone for our sins on our own.

V7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

And should God forgive your sins by belief (and He will for the truly repentant) then you truly are blessed because this forgiveness is based not on your nationality, genealogy, social status or where you were born it is based on your relationship with God. The sins are not just forgiven but they are covered and removed from sight! These verses are a quote from Psalm 32…

A Maskil of David.
Psalm 32:1 (ESV) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Make no mistake about it God should count our sin but we truly are forgiven and regardless of how holy we think we are we all stink and reek of sin, some of us smell a little better than others but we are all in the same boat. I am reminded of the following parable by Jesus…

Matthew 18:23 (ESV) “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

We are all debtors to God in relation to sin, sin is the debt that we cannot possibly pay and without Jesus we are in that hopeless situation. The good news is that the gospel is for everyone. This is why David was quoted because if we could work it off then we would all be at it like little worker bees and that would be easier and more palatable for the human mind, however God has decided to bless everyone who will just have faith and turn to him. Paul continues…

V9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.

The beauty of it is that we can do nothing for God but we have great joy in the grace of God. It truly is a blessing for us, not just the Jew but also the Gentile and uses Abraham as an example why circumcision, whilst it being a sign of obedience is not the be all and end all of entry into heaven. Paul asks a logical question if circumcision is the key to salvation and that question is “When was Abraham justified? Was it before or after circumcision?” and as we have looked at before we see that Abraham was justified in Genesis 15 and let’s now look at Genesis 17 when he was circumcised…

Genesis 17:9 (ESV) And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

As you can tell I like to back up the claims that I make with scripture to back it up! Paul states quite clearly that Abraham was circumcised AFTER the blessing and Paul closes this part of scripture with the following…

V11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

So the sign was exactly that A SIGN! He was to do this to show an outward sign that he was with God. As Christians we are reminded that the circumcision we go through is that of the heart and in remembrance of this please observe what Paul said in Romans 2…

Romans 2:25 (ESV) For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

You see if we wish to burden ourselves with the Law then we will be held accountable by the Law, Paul explains that in Galatians 5…

Galatians 5:1 (ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

The Christian faith is not a case of Christ+ (Christ and something else) What I mean is that Jesus was serious when he said “I am THE WAY” he is the definitive article, Son of God, part of the triune God and the only one who could be sacrificed for your sins. Just as today, the Jews of that day used circumcision to prove that they were in some way the true descendants of Abraham. Paul flips this on its head by asking “Why are you not walking in faith like Abraham did?” or “If you are Abrahams descendants then why are you not following in his footsteps?”

Lastly what Paul was stating was culturally sensitive as the Jews did not like the Gentile proselytes referring to Abraham as the father or their descendent. (That was their thing) And now Paul states that classification is available to all who are reconciled to God in Christ. That we have a share in Abrahams blessings, what a bountiful God we serve.

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we will look at verses thirteen through twenty five when we explore the promises that we looked at today being realized through faith, which is really a part two of what we look at today. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Genesis Two – Day Seven – The Seventh Day, God Rests – Genesis 2:1-3

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Genesis Two – Day Seven – The Seventh Day, God Rests – Genesis 2:1-3 – 02/23/2016

Genesis 2:1 (ESV) Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

This article is designed to be a slightly more in depth article than I did in the “creation series” elsewhere on this website, Lord willing I hope to look at the full creation week and examine the case for a Biblical creation from the mindset that the bible is accurate and a honest and truthful source of history in how we came to be here. I am not here to attack other mindsets as I appreciate that not everyone shares my view of a biblical history and I do welcome lively debate on the subject regardless of your thoughts or beliefs on how the earth was made.

In order to look at this from a biblical context we must first look at the text in question starting in chapter two verse one…

V1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

This is the day where a line was drawn in the sand. This verse shows that creation was a one off event and that God had finished creating it all. When he created the earth, the plants and even the humans, he created them fully grown and we read that the plants were blooming, the trees were bearing fruit and the man was fully grown. We read in the biblical accounts that there were no babies until the days of Cain and Abel.

V2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

The interesting thing about this account is that God is so big that he did not have to rest, he could have gone on creating for an indefinite amount of time if he wished, however the seven day example that God set out was an example for us as humans. He rested as an example that the creating work was done and we need to look at our own lives and make sure we are taking time for rest.

I say this because I am as guilty as the next man of taking on tasks or jobs that I have no business taking on. I do over-schedule, sometimes I do under-deliver and I do not take enough rest and God, who knows what is best for us designed the week for us to have a rest. It is good for our physical, our emotional and obviously our mental health.

God knew what was best for us and this was even in the days before electronic devices that consume our lives and take us almost like a prisoner. (Perhaps that is why they are called “cell phones”) and I saw good evidence of that this week when I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Every exhibit that I went to I found myself almost being rude and guarding my own little section of the glass where my family were trying to see the exhibits due to the “selfie culture” where folks would barge in front of you to try to get a picture or video of the animals rather than actually view them with the beautiful eyes that God gave them. I actually watched one of the keeper talks through someone else’s cell phone because the lady did just what I said earlier.

I am not against electronic devices and I own a cell phone, PC and a tablet but I do feel that we do need to take a Sabbath rest from these devices because we are becoming a culture of artificialness. I will give you an example where I am the butt of the joke if you will…
On Sunday I went to Calvary Monterey where I got up early and opened my tablet to google maps to map out my journey, I took the same tablet to church in lieu of a notepad and bible and for most of the next two hours I relied on an electronic device to guide my way, read the bible and to take notes based on the sermon text.

We need to unplug ourselves and rest but not for the sake of being lazy, we are supposed to remember God on our day of rest because it is a gift from God. God is not a tyrant or benevolent dictator, yes we are on God’s cycle of seven days but we are to realize that the seven day week is a foreshadow to the rest that we have in our messiah Jesus Christ, you see that even from the dawn of creation God had made a plan for a redeemer. Let’s look at verse three…

V3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

We see the Sabbath mentioned again in Exodus 20…

Exodus 20: 8 (ESV) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

In the Law given to the children of Israel there was a provision made for the Sabbath, again God was looking out for the children of Israel as they had just come from the worst slavery imaginable in the country of Egypt under the Pharaoh where they literally worked from dust till dawn making bricks out of straw, often having to forage for their own building materials building the great cities of the Egyptian empire, is it any wonder that the God who loved them so much had told them to literally “take a day off”.

Certain churches that are Sabbath keepers will have the Sabbath as holy as the teachings of Jesus but fail to realize the rest we are supposed to have in Jesus. There is a whole side issue of whether you should take a Sabbath, what day should it be? And that for me is a secondary issue. Paul makes this clear in the book of Colossians chapter 2…

Colossians 2:16 (ESV) Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

And who is to argue with the Apostle Paul, there truly are better things to focus our attention on and can we not address the sins in our lives with the same vigor and zeal that we rush into arguments like this? Let’s look at what Paul wrote to the Galatian church…

Galatians 4:8 (ESV) Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.


We have to be careful to not make the sacrament holier than it actually is. It is an observance and if you are convicted by God to keep a certain day over others then great. I know many pastors that take Monday as a day off because as you would expect they work on a Sunday. Lastly let’s look at what is written to the Hebrew church…

Hebrews 4:9 (ESV) So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

We have that Sabbath rest; remember I said that before – in our messiah Jesus. I put it to you that every day should be set apart for God and we should be living in that great commission to go out, evangelize, tell people the good news and allow the Holy Spirit to convict hearts and be an example that changes people’s lives. We are to go make disciples and show them who we are in our messiah Jesus Christ, who is in?

Lord willing, in our next article in Genesis we look at the creation of man and woman as we continue in chapter two in Genesis starting at verse four going through to verse nine. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

BIAY – Bible in a year – December 7th 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for December check out our December page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for December seventh.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Galatians 4-6.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

BIAY – Bible in a year – December 6th 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for December check out our December page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for December sixth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Galatians 1-3.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

Pray for kings and pray for paupers

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the second chapter of First Timothy.

Pray for All People

1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Paul categorizes this point in order of importance to what Paul wished to tell Timothy, the first chapter was a general greeting and a charge to Timothy personally to stay in Ephesus. Now we get into what is of top of mind in the mind of Paul and what he wished to share with Timothy and the greater church at large.

How should we worship?

Paul deals with the way we should worship, that when we pray we should not forget anyone, that no man is too lowly to not be prayed for. Paul lists four ways of communication to God, these are:

Supplications – asking for something, let’s be honest we all do it! We shouldn’t make it all about asking but we should know that God will supply our needs, perhaps not on our timescale but God is faithful.

Prayers – is a catch all term for all of our requests and dialogue with God, both individual and on a corporate basis.

Intercessions – We are told in Galatians 6 to “bear one another’s burdens” so it is just that we should pray for others, we should always make times to intercede for others, often times non-Christians who know that I am a Christian will make request of me to pray on their behalf, it is a humbling experience and can be done either in the persons presence or far away. When we pray for our mission’s people we are interceding and partnering in prayer with them to help them in the mission God has placed them in.

Thanksgiving – Not just a day where we eat too much in North America! This is vital in our Christian walk; we have been saved of so much, it is only right that we give thanks and praise. We have been plucked out of the bowels of eternal damnation and on many occasions, when I have not been thankful; I don’t fully give gratitude and don’t attribute what I should to God.

I have never met someone I could not pray for, however how many of us do? Yes I get it, we are busy and we prioritize our prayer life but as Paul states we should be praying for “all men”, that’s right, even the ones who despise us and hate us! We have to pray for them in the same way we pray for our kids, our spouses, our family, our friends and even our pastors. I would encourage you to pray for them more!

Pray for them all in the same way

V2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,

In Paul’s day Christians were often persecuted under the charge that they claimed there was someone higher than Caesar. In many cases this is the charge they would levy against Christians, and in all reality all the Christians could be tried for is trying to give the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul commends this and tells Christians to be good citizens, pay your taxes, pray for those who rule over you (much like he states in the book of Romans chapter 13) and be godly and dignified in every way. Don’t embrace the world but be a light to the world.

Pray for a revolution?

It is obvious that we would pray for calm and stability in our countries fortunes as who in their right mind would pray for anarchy and a tumultuous governmental structure? It is important to pray for the prosperity in the short and material term, but we must also pray for them spiritually, that they would turn to Jesus and that they would make decisions based on sound biblical and doctrinal standpoints.

In many cases Governments are areligious, they will not subscribe to a particular faith as to not lose a vote anywhere but we are not to conduct ourselves in a way that Christianity would become a target for government involvement. It sounds far-fetched in the western world, but there are many countries in the world today where it is illegal or restricted for people to profess a faith in Jesus Christ. My prayer for those people is that the Governments would leave them alone to practice their faith.

God is pleased when we honor those in authority.

V4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Let’s hear from Jesus

And this is why; God desires all to come to a knowledge and faith in his son Jesus Christ. Jesus stated in John 14:6 that “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (ESV) We should be doing it all in an effort to be evangelists to our leaders. Look at how Daniel conducted himself in the land of Babylon, he rose to prominence in a very pagan land but stayed true, loyal and faithful to God and lived a life that was an example to me.

God desires that all be saved but they have to come to that one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ states also in John 10:9 “I am the door. If any man enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and find pasture” (ESV) We have to make a response and accept Jesus as our Savior.

Jesus is attributed with “giving himself” he did that literally on a wooden grave for criminals in the cruelest possible way by one of the most barbaric methods of death ever devised for a criminal. He gave himself “as a ransom” because he did not deserve what he got; he became sin despite never committing one. He became a ransom in the most loving way when he paid a debt that we couldn’t in order to absolve our sins and reconcile man to God.

The reason for Paul’s position

This was the reason “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (V7) Paul preached what he preached. This was a massive U Turn in message from the man who used to persecute those who spoke of the exact same message. He was a preacher of this message and this was the reason why his life changed so dramatically.

Paul calls himself “a teacher to the Gentiles” Paul started off as a minister to both but it was a common pattern of the early church, the apostles, the believers and the new converts would attempt to reach the Jews first to confirm Jesus as their messiah, (they were still waiting for the messiah that they crucified) often times though they would not be received well and they would then go out to the Gentiles who would accept the testimony of Jesus Christ and the Word of God as truth.

Does God want only Gentiles? Only Jews?

Truth is God wants to be reconciled to you whether you are Jew or Gentile, we are all his creation and Jesus died for the sins of the world, not just the sins of a certain tribe or continent. No-one can be saved just by being born a certain way, you have to choose to follow your messiah, Jesus Christ

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

The Law, The Legalists and The Ungodly

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse eight of the first chapter of First Timothy.

The Law is good but use it lawfully

Leaders have to be careful about who they allow to do the ministry of God in our assemblies. But more on that should the LORD tarry long enough for me to do Chapter 2. Paul continues his thought in verse 8.

8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

Paul is keen to advise that the law that God gave is still a good law, it was created by a perfect God and was and is and is to come God’s perfect standard. There is nothing wrong with the law itself, the law is purposed with exposing the wrongdoing of the heart and shining a light on the personal sin of the sinner.

Paul writes to the Galatian church in chapter 3…

Galatians 3:11 (ESV) Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

And also…

Galatians 3:24 (ESV) So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,

Legalism or loving conviction?

The law was designed to convict the heart of the wrongdoing person, it was never meant as a club to beat someone with in a legalistic fashion. We are commanded to use the law lawfully. Yes, by all means hold your brother accountable in a loving way if he has fallen into error and correct doctrine and apostasy, but don’t use it as a substitute for walking by faith or use it to keep showing us righteousness.

Personally, if I was on the receiving end of such legalism and law clubbing, I would lose confidence in my faith very quickly and begin to question if the salvation that was done by Jesus on the cross was in fact enough for me to be saved. I know that it is but the standards set by God in the law were there to point to the one who would live a life according to what the Father said the law was.

I said this was a continuation in thought as when we looked at “sound doctrine” I touched on “sinful actions” and here again we see that the two are conjoined. If we do not have our doctrine straight it is far easier to fall into actions that will be problematic.

Really we have to have balance; I am not stating that we should not have standards, or that Gods standards are not correct, we have to live a good life according to biblical standards but this does not make us justified before God, save us from our sin or get us to heaven.

Who are the ungodly?

Paul then gives quite a list of types of people that would fall into this category. I will be contrary to many commentators and not spend much time on the list. The lost is somewhat self-explanatory. Many folks have used this passage for their own ends to prove a point against whatever sin they were preaching against that week.

Paul’s list is as follows…

1) Those who strike their fathers and mothers
2) For murderers
3) The sexually immoral
4) Men who practice homosexuality, 
5) Enslavers
6) Liars
7) Perjurers
8) Whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine

Paul lists the top 7 sins that folks were practicing in that area and in that time. He also leaves the last category for folks who do things that are contrary to a life lived in sound doctrine.

Paul is wise in doing so as people will try to use guidelines like this as a means to justify their wicked actions. (Well, what I am doing is not on Paul’s bad list) and this would be a mistake as we are approaching this with the wrong heart and trying to avoid repercussions as opposed to willingly serving and keeping ourselves clear of these things to glorify God.

Loving legalism

We have to be careful to not be in love with our own legalism as if the actions we do will justify us as much as the grace of God. It is important to not do these things and not be tainted by the world, but we can turn our actions into a semi-false doctrine of its own by claiming that it in some way will give us holiness.

Stay where you are planted

Paul lists what was going on in Ephesus and lists common behaviors and lists why it is important that Timothy remains where God has planted him regardless of the difficulty in his current mission. It does remind me of when Jesus spoke on the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13…

Matthew 13:1 (ESV) That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”

You can judge for yourself what type of ground Ephesus was, it certainly was not fertile soil, there was some growth but there was also a lot of the culture influencing the church and even today that is an area of concern in many churches. (I would be interested if you would state what seed you think the Ephesian church is in the comments and why)

It is easy when things get difficult to try to seek an easier place to serve the LORD. I write this as a man who is currently in a foreign country. I was born in Scotland and live in California in the USA. The only “service” I do for the LORD is a small bible study where I open up my house to allow folks to discuss the bible on a Sunday evening. (Obviously I write this blog and I am a father and husband)

I have found it harder than I would back home to have opportunities to serve as people simply don’t know me and coming from a missions church background where it was all hands on deck, I miss being in the thick of serving regularly. It would be easy to go somewhere else, but the truth is I haven’t been called elsewhere yet. (If it ever happens at all) Leaving would be contrary to God’s plan for this part of my life and I may miss out or delay valuable lessons God has for me.

Legalism versus the gospel of glory

We spoke on legalism and the replacement of real righteousness, legalism or works based faith cannot bring you one centimeter closer to God, but the “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted” can. Paul saw himself as a keeper of the flame, a guardian if you will of that true gospel that it be preserved, not perverted and kept the true word of God. He wanted the truth to remain the truth, untainted by error, what a mission!.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

Greetings and Salutations Timothy, my true child in the faith

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Greetings and Salutations Timothy, my true child in the faith

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the first chapter of First Timothy.

1st Timothy 1:1 (ESV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

My True Child in the faith

Paul writes this letter to Timothy at Ephesus during his missionary journey, Macedonia is mentioned and it is widely believed that the letter was penned whilst Paul was there. His opening benediction is typical of a Pauline epistle and describes Paul and gives an edited highlight of how he went from being Saul, the Pharisee persecutor of the people of “The Way”, the man who held the coats as Stephen was stoned and the man who was on his way to the modern Syrian city of Damascus with written permission to torture and persecute Christians in that region when Jesus literally stopped him in his tracks.

Blinded by the light

In Acts 9 Paul is blinded by the light. He is scrambling beneath a light that sent him into blindness and then asks the best question he possibly could ask, (being a theological man and zealous for the truth of God he asks “Who are you LORD?”) Jesus introduces himself and reveals himself as the messiah and Saul becomes Paul, the zeal he had to persecute Christians, he also had to spread the good news as a dynamic missionary all throughout the greater Mediterranean area.

Apostle literally by Christ Jesus

Paul was literally a man who was an apostle (messenger) literally sent by Christ Jesus. he had a literal command from heaven to use his skills as an orator and his theological knowledge to show to an audience that was made up of Jewish converts and Gentile new believers. To the Jews he showed how the law pointed to Jesus, to the Gentiles he emphasized the grace we have in Jesus Christ.

Paul gives his credentials in the same way that we would in modern times hand over a credit card, passport, ID card or driving license to prove who he was. His credentials were rich both in the heavenly realm and also on earth. The use of the word “Savior” would have been politically sensitive as the people who were in charge of Rome, the one who was called Caesar was often worshipped as a God and dependent of his political record could be seen as a type of Savior. Paul goes to great lengths to not conform to the standards that the world would like to place on him; he reiterates that Jesus was the one and only real “Savior”.

We can learn from this, we are called to be in the world not of the world. When we start to change our doctrine away from biblical principles in order to make it more palatable to an unforgiving audience, it is time to check where we are going. It is far better for a man’s soul to reveal an uncomfortable truth as opposed to a lie that will send someone to eternal damnation.

The hope we have in Christ

Paul speaks of “the hope we have in Jesus Christ” he talks about his own life and how a relationship with Jesus was a “game changer” he was still looking for the messiah when friends of his were crucifying the chosen one. God chose, in his own time to reveal the truth to Paul and to show him who Jesus was, gave him hope in the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus and a mission to spread that same hope.

Family that is not blood

Paul greets Timothy as “a true son in the faith” he saw him as family. Recently I saw on Facebook a graphic which had the following text…

“I have family that is not blood and I have blood that is not family”

And as tragic as that is to read, I believe that we as Christians should be the former to those who need us. Recently my wife and I have been blessed to facilitate a bible study in the town we live in and I see these people as family, they are my new brothers and sisters, I would do for them what I would do for my own family and I believe that in our “church family” life we would do well to remember this.

Bear others burdens

I have failed in this area so I am not “throwing stones” there are times I could have helped others but I have taken the more convenient route, there are times where I haven’t been willing to “bear others burdens” (Galatians 6:2) there are times when I wanted help and didn’t get it and held it against my brothers. This stuff is real folks and I lay it bare here to show that I am as guilty as any man and say this under this realization. I do this as to not seem “morally superior” as trust me I am not.

Who was Timothy?

Timothy is first introduced to us in Acts 16:1-5 as someone who “was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.” (Acts 16:2) His family is listed as a mother called “Eunice” (2 Timothy 2:5) he was taught the scriptures by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5: 3:15) and had a good foundational knowledge of the word of God.

Timothy was someone who was trusted as Paul left him there, despite his young age to deal with heresies that came up. The timeline of Paul’s journeys tell us that Paul himself would have dealt with these theological issues and then left “his man” Timothy to ensure that sound doctrine was preached and that they did not fall into error.

Paul was sure about who Timothy was and that Timothy was equipped, called and strong enough in the faith to carry out the mission that the LORD had told Paul to give him. This is important to read if you are a leader in the church or in charge of assignments in a ministry as an encouragement to look at a person’s “full package” (most externally and spiritually) and not go for a “popular choice”. I am a great believer in that if you honor God in private, he will honor you in public. I am talking about devotions, private worship time, taking the relationship with Christ Jesus seriously, growing in God, loving your spouse, family and whomever God blesses you come in contact with. Love more, show more grace and forgive the little because of the great amount that you have been forgiven.

I know that Timothy was called and sent to the church and this letter, although addressed to Timothy would have carried the same weight as if Paul was there himself and was intended to be used for proof, reproof and correction of doctrines that were not sound. I would imagine that the letter would either have been circulated or at the very least read out loud. It was by no means a private letter, but one that was useful and God inspired for public teaching.

Grace, peace and mercy

As said previously, Paul uses the typical Pauline greeting using the words “grace, peace and mercy” and this shows the heart of Paul, this letter is not a flowery “how are you doing Timothy? Hope the weather is nice” type of letter, there will be some real tough topics discussed in these six chapters of a letter. Let’s look at why? This was Ephesus, a church that Paul founded on his missionary journey, he had personal interaction and knew many of those who were causing problems and some who were helping heal them. He had spent actual time there, lived there, worked there, preached there and knew who he was talking about.

If you look at Paul’s letters we see that grace and peace are a common greeting, Paul also adds mercy to the letters to Timothy and Titus. These “Pastoral Epistles” involve a lot of correction and establishment of doctrine that may cause contention. Mercy would have to be allowed and given as some of these words may be a bitter pill to swallow for some. Timothy had a tough job and no mistake.

This is a timely reminder to us as we are required to have grace, peace and mercy on others (as stated prior in this article) I believe that the best way to do so is to earnestly pray for those who are in ministry, pray for your Pastors, for their families, for those who are contentious with you, those who have spoken evil of you, those who need your prayer the most. Often times it is the ones who you may not want to pray for are the ones that God moves you to pray for the hardest.

Timothy had a job

Timothy had a job as we will see to find, identify and train other men for the work of the ministry. (Paul goes into great detail of the type of man that he wanted to see in those roles.) Many of us have similar roles today; this book is a great resource for any man who wishes to be used by God in Christian service and ministry.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE