If you want to know God as he has revealed himself to us in Scripture, you need to hold together his justice and his love. These are not two different sides of God, as if God is a split personality like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Nor are these two different ways that God has dealt with his people throughout history, so that in the Old Testament he was all fire and judgement but in the New he is all love.
God has always been and always will be both just and loving toward us. At best, we can say love and justice are two different aspects of the same God, but one aspect never exists apart from the other. God does not have good days and bad days like we do. He does not wake up on the wrong side of the bed some mornings. He does not get hangry.
Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua. What did Joshua do for Israel? God used Joshua to save Israel from her enemies in the promised land.
Let us think about that for a moment. In the days when the angel spoke to Joseph, Israel was under Roman rule. Joseph may have thought this child would one day, like Joshua, save Israel from her Roman oppressors. The angel did not say that. He said, “he will save his people from their sins,” not from Rome but from their sins.
Like first-century Israel we often mistake the hope of the world for geo-political solutions. We say we want someone to save our nation, someone who will stand up for what is right in society, a hero by our standards who will take care of whatever or whoever we think our enemy is. Jesus does not save in this way; his salvation works on a deeper level.
“The Lord’s Prayer” or “Our Father” is one of the best known and most often recited portions of Scripture (Matthew 6:9-13). The words of this prayer have united Christians throughout history and across denominational lines. Every word of this prayer is packed with meaning. Let’s look at just the first petition. Continue reading →
Let me test your Bible knowledge. This question ranks like a high cash-value question on Jeopardy. Did the law of Moses require the nation of Israel to be perfectly obedient to God? If you answered in the negative, you correctly answered this question.
Why did God choose to make circumcision the covenant sign of Israel?
When people made covenants in ancient times, they often would perform a covenant sign to remind each other what would happen if either party broke the covenant. In the case of Israel – do not think too hard about this – God required every male Israelite to have a small, sensitive part of their body cut off. They were declaring that if the nation broke covenant with God through habitual disobedience, God, in his perfect justice, ought to cut them off from him, each other, and even life itself.
Just as Israel habitually broke the covenant that God made with them through Moses, we all have disobeyed God’s holy law. God’s justice requires we be cut off. Yet, Jesus allowed himself to be cut off for our behalf, so that we would not need to.
The esteemed pharisee Gamaliel once warned, “You might even be found opposing God (Acts 5:39)!” Jesus’ apostles were on trial for teaching in the name of Jesus. The Jewish Sanhedrin was on the brink of sentencing them to death when Gamaliel made this bold assertion.
Many today do not give much thought about the implications of the existence of God. Undirected, evolution, while a widely fanciful idea, has convinced many that the world we live in no longer requires the intelligence of a designer for its existence. Meanwhile, the latest science shows us, with every discovery, how narrow the margin of error for life’s existence is.
“…you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us (Acts 5:28).” This accusation was lodged against the apostles, and the world continues to lodge this complaint against Christians.
Few crimes are more grievous than murder. After Cain killed his brother Abel, God said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground (Gen 4:10).” Abel’s blood cried for justice!
God sovereignly ensures that the gospel of his Son always goes out into the world. Throughout church history the number of the faithful may wax and wane; nevertheless, a faithful remnant always remains to tell the world the good news of Christ.
Many people have tried to explain away verses in the Bible such as this one: “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).”
John Hick tried to describe all major religions as looking at the same thing from different perspectives. He said that all religions have equally valid paths of salvation. One might start here, he asserted, and another there, but they all really lead to the same place.
Pray we should. But how should we pray. Are there right and wrong ways? I think there are. Many give up on prayer because no one has ever taught them how to pray. Though not exhaustive in the least, the apostle’s prayer in Acts 4:23-31 gives us some pointers.