There was a peculiarity about Jesus’ ministry that may surprise you in today’s content-driven, media-crazed culture. Throughout most of his earthly ministry, Jesus kept his identity under wraps. If social media had existed in Jesus’ day, he would not have used it. He would have been the person at the party saying, “No photos online, please!” Continue reading
Imagine a signpost in a field nestling a tributary of the Pine Creek. On the sign is written the words, “The Big Event Before the Big Event!” No one knows what the big event is, let alone what the big event before the big event necessarily means. Nevertheless, everyone goes out to check it out. Cars line up and jam up traffic. Energy can be felt in the air, as well as excitement, intrigue, and mystery. Everyone goes out. Everyone wants to know what is going on and what will come next. Continue reading
The Apostle Paul said to the Colossian Christians, “I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments (Colossians 2:4).” In this information age, we need this exhortation no less than the Colossian Christians.
We have become a society obsessed with getting attention and support – financial and otherwise – from everyone and anyone. Politicians cleverly use polling data and test verbiage in order to secure a favorable outcome from voters. Websites, app designers, and social media platforms design complex algorithms aimed at stimulating the pleasure center of your brain, so that you keep coming back for more. Continue reading
Millions of Pacific Salmon migrate from their saltwater sea home to inland freshwater streams and rivers every year. They often traverse hundreds of miles against the current, facing barriers, predators, sudden shifts in temperature, and many other obstacles to reach their destination. Many do not make it, but those who do die within days or weeks of their arrival. Continue reading
Submitted by Andy McIlvain.
Recently my lovely wife and I took our grandsons to see the Disney movie Christopher Robin at our local theatre. It brought back wonderful memories of the original Disney Winne the Pooh and how the movie and the books helped me through difficult times as a child. C. S. Lewis said, “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” Continue reading
“Let me get this straight,” her sister told her, “this preacher told you that a person like you could do all the foolish, immoral things you have done all your life, and five minutes before you die, you can just repent and trust Jesus and be saved just like that? He told you that you don’t have to live a really good life to go to heaven? That’s offensive. It’s too simple; it’s too easy. I’ll never believe that! And you shouldn’t either.” The woman being spoken to was a single mother, with a string of broken relationships with men. Earlier that week, a pastor and deacon from the church next-door came to visit her. The pastor, whose name was Timothy Keller, told her about the freedom offered to all in Jesus Christ; she responded with joy and trusted Christ.
The gospel can seem offensive, even to Christians. We are prone to wander from it, because it opposes the operating principles of this world that say, “You need to earn it!” The Apostle Paul pleaded with the Galatian Christians to return to the true gospel. He reminded them of their previous way of life. They used to worship the “principles of this world (Galatians 4:3)” – likely a reference to the basic elements that were thought to make up the material world. The Greek mind believed that spiritual beings worked behind these principles to control people’s lives. To gain favor with them, people would make offerings to various gods and goddesses. Although the Galatian Christians looked very different then they had then, they were regressing to a similar state of spiritual immaturity. By adopting Jewish laws and customs to gain favor with God, they were simply replacing pagan rituals with Jewish ones. (Galatians 4:8-11)
We are prone to do the same. We can turn religion into forms of self-salvation. When the defense of a doctrine is elevated above the One the doctrine points to, we disparage Christ’s sacrifice. When we seek to appease God by attending special worship services – such as Christmas and Easter – we mock Christ’s sacrifice. Though it can be good, religiosity can morph into a form of self-salvation. Any addition to the gospel is actually a subtraction from it. Any addition says to Christ, “Your sacrifice was not enough; I need to add to it.”
Forms of Self-salvation will constantly rear their head in our spiritual walk. The remedy is to refocus on God’s provision in Christ, for nowhere else is salvation found.
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